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Diocletian Dynasty - House of Vojislav

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Diocletian Dynasty - House of Vojislav=


Vojislavic Dynasty ruled Diocetia from X to XII century. The most prominent representatives of the dynasty were Prince Jovan Vladimir, Prince Stefan Vojislav, King Michael and his son Constantine Bodin. Nemanjic Dynasty is a branch of the Vojislavic. Nemanja's grandfather, count Vukan, along with his brother Marko, was sent to rule Rascia in 1083/4 A.D. by the King Bodin.

What do we really know about Diocletian dynasty?

Rudger, Archbishop of Bar, wrote "Gesta Regum Sclavorum" (GRS) at the end of 13th century, outlining the history of Gotho — Slavic rulers from Roman times to the Comnenos era. Although this work is an important historical source for early medieval history of Balcans, one must approach to it with caution, because of the abundance of data that are far from authentic.

icn_favorite.gif Suspicious GRS data can be divided into several groups:

1. Apparently mythological

Apparently mythological informations are related to Gothic – Slavic kings, as well as to other rulers whose deeds have been modeled after a Biblical, or another literary prototype.

2. Persons and events do not correspond to the chronology introduced by the autor himself.

When the writer sets the event in a broader historical context that can be reliably dated, while apparently giving fictitious information not consistent with the facts we already know. In this way, in the period between the death of Tsar Peter (969 A.D.) until the death of Jovan Vladimir (1016 A.D.), which makes only 49 years, the author names seven generations (Prelimir - Boleslav - Sylvester - Tugomir - Hvalimir - Petrislav - Jovan Vladimir).

3. Information that might be plausible, but not confirmed in other sources.

In the third data set, we may include traditions and legends noted by the author, which could include some sort of historical foothold for, otherwise fictional persons or events. Thus, for example, a fictional description of the death of King Caslav, probably had the foundation in a legend about the death of Rascia Count Caslav at war with Hungarians.

icn_favorite.gif Gesta Regum Sclavorum

If one has this in mind reading GRS, chapters XXX, XXXIV XXXV, reveal following events:

Chapter XXX

After the death of Bulgarian Tsar Peter (969 A.D.), Jovan Tsimirskis has conquered Bulgaria, which influenced the change of ruler in Rascia. Former ruler, an ally of the Bulgars, fled to Diocletia to his son-in-law. Diocletian ruler was married to the princess of Rascia for political reasons in his second marriage. From his first marriage, he had sons. After the uprising of Komitopuloi (976 A.D.), Diocletian ruler was still on the throne, and he helped his father-in-law to regain power in Rascia.

Chapter XXXIV

The ruler of Diocletia had three sons, one of which was archon Peter, whose seal from the end of the X century was published by G. Schlumberger. Other two sons were Dragomir and Miroslav.

Chapter XXXVI

Peter was succeeded by his son Jovan Vladimir, a young and still a bachelor ruler. During the conquest of Diocletia in 1009/10 A.D., Samuel took a young ruler in captivity, where he married the Emperors daughter Kosara. Later, Vladimir was returned to the throne. He was killed on May 22 1016, by the Emperor Jovan Vladislav.

Chapter XXXVII

After the death of Jovan Vladimir, his uncle Dragomir, married to the daughter of Rascian count (+ before 1018 A.D.), attempts to seize power, but was killed in 1018. Dragomir's son (Stefan Vojislav Dobroslav) grew up in Dubrovnik, where he married a daughter of Roman Gavril Radomir in 1015/16 A.D. This sovereign was the real founder of Diocletian Vojislavic dynasty.

There are no sources other than GRS for kinship of Viseslavic dynasty and ancesters of Stefan Vojislav. Although we can not confirm allegations about the escapement of Caslav's successor to Diocletia, and dynastic marriage with the local ruler, this scenario is not impossible for the epoch of the late 10th century. However, we must reject as completely false the whole genealogy of King Prelimir over the next several generations, all until Hvalimir. The latter is excluded because, according to the Hagiography of Jovan Vladimir, he was listed as Vladimir's grandfather.

If we assume that the information in the Hagiography is correct, we will come to the conclusion that Hvalimir ruled probably until 80's of the 10th century if not longer, at the same time when his ancient mythical ancestor, King Prelimir married for the second time.

Beginning of Peter's reign can not be earlier than 976 A.D., and lasted until c.1000 A.D. If we consider that Jovan Vladimir has succeded the throne as a child, we may as well assume that his father had a short reign. It is possible that he came to the throne not long before 990 A.D.

If Hvalimir ruled Diokletia at the time of the death of Tsar Peter (969 A.D.), then we might assume that at least some distant references (e.g. the dynastic marriage) to him could have been preserved in Rutger's story about Prelimir.

How could have author mistaken Hvalimir and Prelimir?

One should bear in mind that both of these figures were several centuries before Rutger's time, and not part of his memory. If we closely observe the naration related to the wedding of Prelimir and Princess Prehvala of Rascia, we will notice that the central figure in this legend is not the ruler of Duklja. The focus in chapter XXX is on Byzantine conquest of Rascia and the escapement of Rascian count; dynastic marriage and his subsequential return to power.

It is interesting that in this chapter, the author gives us the names of Rascian count's children, as well as areas that his sons have been given on administration, while Prelimir's sons are not mentioned individually.

If this story has preserved a legend about the history of Rascian rulers, Rutger might have not even realise that it involves Hvalimir, but he could have used the legend to build a family tree of Voislavic instead.

The highlight of the dynasty was marked by an event which, in the course of centuries, will blur the memory of a dynasty that produced it. The event was seting of brothers Vukan and Marko as counts in Rascia, an event which will create a new dynasty, known as the House of Nemanja.

Count Vukan, probably the son of King Bodin's relative Petrislav was born about 1050 A.D. in Diocletia. He ruled Rascia since 1083/4 A.D. to 1112 A.D. Vukan was succeeded by his son Zavida.

Zavida was born before 1080 A.D. His sister was married to King Vladimir of Diocletia. He had four sons, Tihomir, Stracimir Miroslav and Stefan Nemanja.


  • T. Zivkovic, Gesta regum Sclavorum II, Belgrade, 2009.
  • T. Zivkovic, Portreti srpskih vladara, Belgrade, 2006.
  • J. V. A. Fine, The Early Medieval Balcans, University of Michigan Press, 1991.