After the stabilisation of the Slavic tribes along the Adriatic coast and the spread of Christianity, the first medieval states were to be formed. Vojislavljevics were the first Montenegrin dynasty to rule Doclea from the end of the X to the end of the XII century. Dynasty was named after Prince Vojislav, although the first ruler of this family, of which more is known, was Prince Vladimir, Vojislav’s uncle or uncle’s brother, and presumably the son of Archont Peter. Vojislav definitely liberated country from the Byzantine domination and extended its territory to Travunia and the region of Durres. Vojislav’s son Michael was the first who certainty had the title of King confirmed by Pope Gregory VII. The successor to King Michael, King Bodin expanded the country. He conquered Raska and Bosnia and rose the diocese of Bar in the rank of archdiocese. Bodin established a connection with the Normans of southern Italy and married Jacquint, the daughter of a normative ruler of Bari. He came in direct contact with the leaders of the 1099 Crusade. At the end of the XII century, Doclea reached its territorial peak. It covered the territory from the Vojuša to Neretva rivers and from the Adriatic Sea to the northern borders of Raska and Bosnia. After the death of King Bodin, the power of Duklja begins to weaken. The period of disintegration (1108 – 1185), frequent internal conflicts eventually destroyed it. The last kings of the Vojislavljevics dynasty were ephemeral. Vladimir, Dobroslav, Djordje, Grubisha, Gradhina, Prince Radoslav failed to save the state from Byzantine and Raska influence. In the end, byzantine influence prevailed in Doclea, and around 1185, the ruler of Raška, Stefan Nemanja, conquered medieval Doclea.
Archont Peter’s lead seal is the oldest material evidence of the Doclean state tradition. On the seal of Archon Peter, or Petrislav, there is an inscription in Greek: PETAR RULER OF DOCLEA AMEN. Despite the fact that Archont Peter was a Byzantine vassal from the middle of the 10th century, the state of Doclea was formed and clearly demarcated from neighbouring Slavic principalities and other Byzantine territory. The Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea says that the father of the Saint Jovan Vladimir was Archont Peter, and the establishment of the Church of St. Mary in Krajina is precisely attributed to him.
He ruled Doclea in the late 10th century, from about 990 to 1016. The territory of his country stretched between the river Bojana and Boka Kotorska, between the Adriatic Sea and the upper course of the Moraca River. Unsuccessfully, Vladimir tried to form an alliance with Byzantium in order to suppress the intentions of the Macedonian emperor Samuel to conquer Doclea, and in 997 Emperor Samuel attacked her. The first conflict between the Macedonian and Doclean armies occurred around the Bojana River. In that battle the Macedonian army won, and Prince Vladimir was captured and taken to Samuel’s court in Prespa. Prince Vladimir remained for some time in captivity of the Macedonian emperor. Marrying the Emperor’s daughter Kosara, he returned to Doclea as Samuel’s governor. In addition to the territory of Doclea, Vladimir was also in charge of the district of Durres. From then until the death of Emperor Samuel (1014), Prince Vladimir was loyal to the Emperor of Macedonia.
The new Macedonian ruler, Vladislav, who forcibly seized power from Emperor Radomir in 1015, intended to conquer the Doclea and Durres. Vladislav decided to remove Vladimir and invited him to his court in Prespa. After the Emperor’s promise that nothing bad would happen to him, Vladimir accepted the invitation and headed to Prespa. Emperor Vladislav did not keep his promise and killed Vladimir in 1016. Vladimir was buried in Prespa, and after three years his wife transferred the relics to Krajina in the church of Saint Mary of Krajina. He was proclaimed a saint and his cult was widespread in Doclea (Zeta), Albania and Macedonia. Hagiography of Saint Vladimir dates from the beginning of the twelfth century. The Greek legend of Vladimir was first published by the Archbishop of Cosmas in 1690. The relics of St. Jovan Vladimir in 1215 was transferred to Durres. Albanian feudal lord Carlo Topi, to contribute to the cult of St. Vladimir, built a church in 1381 in Elbasan, where he moved the relics of St. Vladimir from Durres. The cult of st. Vladimir is still present in Krajina today. On Mount Rumija, on Pentecost or Trinity Day, a procession takes place in which, according to an established ritual, the locals bring the oldest Montenegrin relic – the cross of St. Vladimir.
Although sources referring to him as Dobroslav, the dynasty was named after his name – Vojislavljevics. He took the throne of Doclea in about 1018 and ruled it as a Byzantine vassal. He succeeded in overthrowing the Byzantine rule and gaining independence for Doclea around 1035. This success was short, so in 1036 Doclea was again part of Byzantium Empire and Vojislav was taken as a hostage to Constantinople. He escaped from Constantinople and regained his independence in 1039 or 1040. He clashed with the Byzantine army in 1040 in the area of Crmnica, managing to win. In the uprising of the Macedonian Slavs against Byzantium, under the leadership of Petar Deljan in 1042, he supported the rebels of the Durres theme, which gave Byzantium an opportunity to take a new campaign against Doclea. A crucial clash between Doclea and Byzantium took place in 1042. The Byzantine army gathered in Durres, and marched towards Doclea. Byzantium was joined by the mayor of Raska, the Bosnian ban and the Prince of Hum Ljutovid, who took over the command of the entire Allied army. Attacks by the Byzantine army and its allies under the command of the Ljutovid began at the same time. The Byzantine army attacked from the direction of Shkoder, and Ljudovit from the direction of Trebinje. Vojislav first defeated the Byzantine army at Bar in October 1042 (Bar Battle), and then his son Gojislav defeated the combined Raska – Bosnian – Hum army in the vicinity of Klobuk. After these victories, Doclea completely overthrew the Byzantine authorities, occupied the entire Durres area to the Vojuša River and gained dominance over Travunia. Vojislav probably died in 1043. He ruled Doclea for about twenty-five years. He died in his palace. He was buried in the chapel of St. Andrew in the parish of Pripratna. He had five sons: Gojislav, Radoslav, Mihail, Saganek and Predimir.
After the death of his father Vojislav, he reigned in Doclea as a master with his brothers and mother. The parishes of Oblik, Prapratna and Crmnica were directly subordinate to him. Misunderstandings broke out between Michael and his brothers,. He could not impose his dominance, but entered into an agreement with them, recognising the supreme right of authority of Brother Radoslav and his successors. After his mother’s death, Michael succeeded in seizing the throne of Doclea around 1046. He changed the foreign political orientation of Doclea, establishing good relations with Byzantium. The second time he married a relative of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomah and received the title of protospator. He terminated the contract with his brother Radoslav and his sons and gave their territory to his eldest son from his first marriage Vladimir for the administration. His sons from the first marriage Vladimir and Bodin conquered Raska, but Michael entrusted the administration of Raska to his son from his second marriage, Petrislav. After a long alliance with Byzantium, Mihailo turned against when the uprising of the Macedonian Slavs broke out in 1072 under the leadership of George Vojteh. The rebels asked for help from Michael, and he sent them about three hundred soldiers with his son Bodin and Commander Petril. Michael is the first ruler of Dukla for who can be said to have had a royal title. In a letter dated January 1078, Pope Gregory VII addressed him as King of the Slavs. Michael probably died about 1082, and probably before 1085.
During the reign of his father, King Michael, he was involved in government affairs. Bodin conquered Raska with his brother Vladimir, and in 1072 assisted with the army of Doclea in the Macedonian uprising against Byzantium. In Prizren, the rebels crowned him as a Emperor, named Peter, after which he became the leader of the uprising. He led the rebel army in the Danube region and conquered Vidin, but soon he was defeated by the Byzantine army in Skopje, and was subsequently captured at Taon in southern Kosovo. He spent several years in Byzantium as a hostage. He was first imprisoned in Constantinople in the monastery of St. Sergio and Vlach, and then he was taken as a slave to Antioch (Syria). He managed to escape in 1078 and on his return to Doclea he was given the administration of the parish of Grbalj with Budva. In 1081, Bodin married Jacquint, the daughter of a Norman ruler from Bari. When King Michael died in 1082, Bodin became king, but only after a confrontation with his uncle Radoslav, whom he defeated and expelled to Travunija. He also clashed with Prince Branislav, the son of King Radoslav, but with the mediation of Bishop Peter, reconciliation took place. After settling internal conditions in the country, Bodin undertook raids in Raska and Bosnia in 1083 and 1084. Both actions were successful. Bosnia and Raska were annexed to Doclea. Bodin appointed two parishioners from his court, Vukan and Mark, as rulers in the conquered Raska. In Bosnia, Bodin appointed Stevan as prince.
In the fight against the Franks, he conquered the entire Durres area with the city of Durres in 1085 and then gave the city to Byzantium. He succeeded in raising the diocese of Bar to the rank of archdiocese. At Bodin’s request, office of Pope issued a letter of attestation on January 8, 1089, which made Peter the archbishop of Bar. The archdiocese of Doclea – Bar ruled over the dioceses: Doclea (Bar), Kotor, Ulcinj, Svach, Skadar, Drivak, Polatsk, Serbia, Bosnia and Travunija. At the end of the 11th century, internal conflicts in Doclea between Bodin and his brother’s, sons from his uncle Branislav (Predhina, Petrislav, Gradhina, Tvrdislav, Dragila, Draghina and Grubeša) were escalating. Bodin captured Branislav and thrown him into prison in Shkodra, while Branislav’s relatives took refuge in Dubrovnik, which was the reason for the war between Bodin and Dubrovnik. Duke of Bosnia Stevan besieged Dubrovnik with his army in 1104. Bodin managed to occupy Dubrovnik, expel his relatives, and then erected a fort, which he soon handed over to the people of Dubrovnik. After 26 years of reign, Bodin died in 1108 and was buried in the monastery of St. Sergio and Vlach on Bojana. During Bodin’s reign, Doclea reached its national and territorial zenith. After Bodin’s death, Doclea`s power declined sharply due to frequent conflicts between Bodin’s heirs.
Dynastic fights and decline of Doclea
Mihajlo Vojislavljevic, the eldest son of King Bodin, succeeded his father ojn the throne in 1108, but was soon overthrown. Dobroslav, son of King Michael Vojsilavljevic and the Byzantine princess, half-brother of King Bodin Vojsilavljevic was elected king by the will of the people, in opposition to the claims of the unpopular Queen Jacquint, Bodin’s widow. His reign did not last long, as the ruler of Raska Vukan with Kochapar, son of King Radoslav Vojislavljevic, attacked Doclea and defeated King Dobroslav in the battle of Moraca. Dobroslav was captured and taken to Raska, while the Raska`s army, with Kochapar and Vukan, captured Doclea. Kochapar failed to stay on the throne of Doclea, but fled to Zahumlje, where he died. Dobroslav was later released from prison and he returned to Doclea. Vladimir, imprisoned him in a Sakdar, and Bodin’s widow, Jacquinta, and her son, Djordje, plot a conspiracy against Dobroslav. They pulled him out of the prison and imprisoned him in the monastery of St. Serge and Vlach on Bojana where Dobroslav died as a monk. After the ruler of Raska Vukan conquered Duklja, he appointed Vladimir as Doclean king and his vassal. Vladimir was married to Vukan’s daughter. He was an exponent of the Raska in Doclea. He suffered as a victim of dynastic conflicts and was poisoned in 1118 by order of Queen Jacquinta and her son Djordje.
Djordje, the son of King Bodin Vojislavljevic, with his mother Queen Jacquinta confronted King Vladimir and influence of Raska in Doclea . Jacquinta and Djordje managed to poison Vladimir by court intrigue, after whose death Djordje became king in 1118 but his reign ended in the same year. Djordje intended to kill other relatives who claimed his throne. He tried to capture Prince Branislav’s sons, but they took refuge in Durres, where their uncle Gojislav was located. Byzantium attacked Doclea with the help of these Doclean emigrants. Djordje was forced to withdraw to the Oblik at Tarabos in front of the Byzantine army, which included his relatives. The Byzantine army conquered Shkodra and soon all of Doclea. Queen Jacquinta was captured in Kotor and sent as prisoner to Constantinople where she died. King Djordje took refuge in Raska ending his first reign in Duklja.
After the defeat of King Djordje, Byzantium appointed Grubesa as king in Doclea. Djordje attacked Doclea with the help of the Raska`s army. He defeated Grubeša in 1125 and seized back power. His power did not extend on the entire territory, he had to share power with the Grubeša brothers, Draghin and Dragila. He established good relations with them, and even at the suggestion of Dragil, King Djordje attacked Raska and conquered it. After consolidating his rule and expanding state territory, Djordje established power throughout Doclea and tried to destroy his relatives, who opposed him. He captured and imprisoned Michael, the son of King Vladimir, and Dragil, while Draghin and his sons managed to escape to Durres under Byzantine protection, where Draghina’s brother Gradhina joined them from Zahumlje. A second coalition was formed against Djordje by his relatives and Byzantium. A war soon followed. The Byzantine army, consisting of the emigrants from Doclea, occupied Doclea , but stopped its advance because the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine armies had to go to Constantinople. Dordje used that situation in the Byzantine army, and attacked the Oblik in which his relatives were fortified. Under Oblik, Djordje was defeated, followed by a Byzantine offensive, joined by Raska. Djordje withdraw under the advance of the Byzantine army and established himself in the fort of Oblun in Malo Blato. From there he resisted the Byzantine army. A rebellion broke out among Djordje`s soldiers and Oblun was conquered easely . King Djordje was captured and sent to Constantinople in prison, where he died. Gradhina was appointed king of Doclea.
After Byzantium defeated King Djordje in 1118, Grubesha became a Byzantine protégé and ruler in Doclea. Byzantium entrusted him with the administration of the conquered Doclea and the command of the army that fought against Djordje. He ruled until 1125 when he was defeated at Bar by Djordje, who with the help of Raska managed to regain power. Grubeša died at the Battle of Bar or shortly afterwards. He was buried in the church of St. George in the Bar. Gradhina, the last King of Doclea was son of Prince Branislav. After the Second Doclean-Byzantine war in which King Djordje was defeated and captured at Oblun Fort, Byzantium appointed Gradhina as King of Doclea. He was a Byzantine exponent, and the power and territorial scope of Duklja had already been greatly diminished during his reign. After his death, Gradhina was buried in St. Serge and Vlach on Bojana.
Radoslav was the last ruler of the Vojislavljevic dynasty. He inherited the throne from his father, King Gradhina, but in order to confirm his rule he had to go to Constantinople, where the Byzantine emperor Manojlo Komnen (1143 – 1180) granted him the authority to rule in Doclea. Unlike his father and all the rulers, Radoslav did not carry the title of king but duke, which was a sign of the degradation of the power and reputation of the Doclean state and its vassal position to Byzantium. Radoslav shared power with his brothers Jovan and Vladimir, and at the end of his reign or after his death, the ruler of Raška, Stefan Nemanja, conquered Duklja around 1185.