Balša II

Balša II
Lord of Lower Zeta
Reign 1378 — 18 September 1385
Died 18 September 1385(1385-09-18)
Saurian field, near Lushnjë
Spouse Komnina, daughter of John Komnenos Asen
Issue Ruđina
Family Balšić
Father Balša
Religion Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Serbian Church)

Balša Balšić (Serbian Cyrillic: Балша Балшић; died September 18, 1385), known in historiography as Balša II, was the Lord of Lower Zeta from 1378 to 1385. He managed to expand his borders towards the south; defeating the Albanian duke Karl Thopia.

He was a member of the Balšić noble family, which ruled Zeta (with Scutari) from ca. 1362 to 1421.

Early life

Balša II was the youngest of three sons of Balša. According to Mavro Orbini, Balša, the progenitor of the Balšić family, was a petty nobleman who held only one village in the area of Lake Skadar during the rule of Emperor Dušan the Mighty (r. 1331-1355). Only after the death of the emperor, during the subsequent weak rule of Emperor Uroš V, Balša together with his friends and his three sons (Stracimir, Đurađ and Balša II) gained power in Lower Zeta,[1] which had previously been the lands of gospodin Žarko (fl. 1336-1360). Balša's people then turned for Upper Zeta, which was held by Đuraš Ilijić and his relatives; the Balšić brothers murdered Đuraš, and had some of his relatives imprisoned.[1] Balša died the same year.[1] Orbini further described the personalities of the brothers, claiming that Balša II was "good-natured and an accomplished horseman, but not of great mind".[1] The Balšići managed to elevate themselves from petty nobility to provincial lords,[2] becoming powerful after 1362, and it seems that they had an active part in the conflict between Emperor Uroš V and Simeon Uroš in Skadar, helping Uroš V.[1]

Seal of the Balšić brothers, January 17, 1368.

In January 1368, a Ragusan document reported that the three Balšić brothers: Stracimir, Đurađ and Balša II, were preparing for a campaign against Karlo Thopia. They were camped on the Mati River, of which Karlo's lands lay south of. The fighting was apparently small-scale as two months later, Karlo had no difficulty capturing Dyrrhachium from the Angevins.[3] In 1372, Balša II married Komnina, the daughter of John Komnenos Asen, the Despot of Valona.[A] As a dowry, Balša gained the cities of Valona, Berat and Kanina (in modern-day southern Albania), located in Asen's province.[4]


On January 13, 1378, he came to power in Zeta after the death of his older brother, Đurađ I. His power was felt only in the region around Scutari and in the eastern part of Zeta's coast. The most prominent feudal lords who did not recognize Balša's rule were their sworn enemies, the Đurašević-Crnojević family, who were allies of the Republic of Venice.

In 1385, Balša II started the war for the conquest of Durazzo, taking it following four attempts. In 1385, the defeated ruler Karl Topia appealed to Murat I for assistance, and the Ottoman Army led by Hajruddin Pasha routed the Balšići at the Battle of Savra, on the Saurian field, near Lushnjë. The Ottomans chopped Balša's head off and sent it as an exclusive gift to Hajreddin Pasha. This marks the end of the rule of his family over Durazzo.

Siege of the city of Kotor by Balsa II


Balša's widow, Komnina, and their daughter Ruđina, later took control of Balša's territory in southern Albania to protect it from Turkish invaders. Komnina seemed to be the Duchy of Valona's main ruler, until her death in 1396. In the meantime, the Muzaka family had gained control of Berat. In 1391, however, Ruđina married Mrkša Žarković. Žarković succeeded the duchy, calling himself Lord of Valona. He reigned over the city until his death in 1414. Ruđina took over her late husband's position and ruled Valona until 1417, when it, as well as its citadel in Kanina, was seized by the Turks.[5] Ruđina fled Albania and sought asylum in Zeta. Her nephew, Balša III, then-ruler of Zeta, granted her asylum and entrusted her with governorship of the coastal town of Budva.[6]


His title was gospodin (lord), while after taking over Durazzo, he had the right to add the title of duke.[7]


  1. ^ According to not completely reliable chronicle of Gjon Muzaka (repeated in some historical works) Comita, one of the daughters of Andrew II Muzaka, married Balša II. Other authors confirm that Balša II married in 1372 and gained control over the territory south of Durazzo, including Valona and Kanine, as dowry. Still, many scholars believe that Balša II did not marry Comita Muzaka but Komnena, daughter of John Komnenos Asen who succeeded control over Valona and Kanine after the death of her brother Alexander in early 1372.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Fajfrić 2000, ch. 44
  2. Recueil de travaux de l'Institut des études byzantines: Volume 21 1982, "За разлику од Лазаревића, Бранковића и Драгаша, ближих или даљих рођака Немањића и потомака најугледцијих властеоских породица, први Балшићи су прави скоројевићи који су из редова ситне властеле доспели ..."
  3. Fine 1994, p. 372
  4. Fine 1994, p. 372
  5. Fine 1994, p. 391
  6. Fine 1994, p. 514
  7. Miloš Blagojević (2001). Državna uprava u srpskim srednjovekovnim zemljama. Službeni list SRJ. Када је у пролеће исте године Балша II Балшић постао господар Драча, стекао је истовремено право да својој титули „господина" дода још и титулу „дуке Драча" (херцега), а затим и право да на свом двору уведе досто- јанство ...
  8. Revue internationale des etudes balkaniques (in French). 1. 1935. p. 185. en 1372 le Serbe Balša apparait comme...
  9. Konstantin Jireček (1892). Spomenici srpski. U Državnoj štampariji Kraljevine Srbije. p. 11. Г. 1372 јављају се први пут Балшићи као господари ове приморске државице у средњој Албанији , на име „magnificus dominus Balsa Balsich, Gente. Canine et Aualone dominus.“)
  10. Monumenta spectantia Historiam Slavorum Meridionalium. 1874. pp. 219–.
  11. Miklosich 1858, p. 202.


External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Balša II.
Balša II
Born: ? Died: 1385
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Đurađ I
Lord of Lower Zeta
Succeeded by
Đurađ II
Preceded by
Karl Topia
Duke of Durazzo
Succeeded by
Đurađ II
Preceded by
Alexander Komnenos Asen
Duke of Valona and Kanina
With: Komnina (jure uxoris)
Succeeded by
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