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SECTION XXI.

FURTHER PERSECUTION.—A LULL IN ITS FURY UNDER THE SERBIAN CZAR,
STEPHEN DUSHAN.—THE REIGN OF THE TVART-KO DYNASTY

THE appeal to the King of Hungary and the Ban of Bosnia did not fail of effect. The persecuting edicts went forth in 1330; the inquisitor plied his satanic arts, and once more " the lilies of the field," as their elders were wont to call them, were trampled under foot. Many of their leaders and elders, as well as the believers, were burned or driven from the realm, and all the horrors of the old crusades were repeated. But all the zeal of the inquisitor Fabian, seconded by his royal coadjutors, did not suffice to materially diminish their numbers.

In 1337, Pope Benedict XII., who had succeeded John the Persecutor, made the discovery that Bosnia was as full of heresy as ever, and endeavored to start a fourth crusade against the Bogomils of Bosnia, calling to his aid the Bans of the adjacent states and the King of Hungary; but the Hungarian power was again waning, and the powerful Serbian czar, Stephen Dushan, was already reducing the adjacent banats to subjection. Availing himself of these facts, the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, who seems to have been a shrewd ruler, was able to divert them from their purpose.

In 1340 the Czar Dushan had assumed the over-lordship over Bosnia, what is now the Herzegovina, Croatia, Rascia, Sclavonia, Ruthenia, Dalmatia, and a part of Hungary. Dushan had no sympathy with the Church of Rome, but he was content to let things remain as they were. The monks made great efforts to convert the Bogomils, even professing to work miracles for that purpose, and the inquisitor tried and burned all he dared.

The Serbian over-lordship came to an end in 1355, with the death of Dushan, and the Ban, Stephen Kotromanovic, busied himself for the next three years with the effort to gain as his vassals some of the states which after the death of Dushan had broken off from the suzerainty of Serbia. He secured an over-lordship over the principality of Chelm (a part of the Herzegovina) and the banats of Rascia and Zeuta (the present Montenegro).

In 1358, Stephen Tvart-ko, a nephew of Louis the Great of Hungary, succeeded to the throne of the banat, and by his rare tact and ability added to his sway as vassals the Princes of Chelm and Zeuta, the Ban of Dalmatia, the Zupans of Canal and Tribunja. In 1376 he wrested from his uncle Louis the permission to assume the title and state of King of Bosnia. He aspired to still higher honors. He hoped to unite under his sole dominion all the Sclavonic states of the Balkan, and to rule as Czar over a wide and powerful empire. His lineage and that of his queen were connected with the reigning families of all the neighboring states, and, as the legitimate heir of several of these families, he had a claim on this extended sovereignty. In his reign of thirty-three years he included under his sceptre a larger territory than any other Bosnian ban or king. His administration was distinguished by wisdom and toleration. He was no theologian, and in his own personal belief leaned alternately to the Greek and the Roman Catholic churches, but his toleration of the Bogomils was steady, persistent, and generous. During his reign they were free from persecution, though the Franciscan friars complained to Pope Urban V. in 1369 that he was the protector of the Patarenes, and the pope attempted in vain to stir up his enemies against him, writing to the King of Hungary, his uncle, that King Tvart-ko, "following in the detestable footsteps of his fathers, fosters and defends the heretics who flow together into those parts from divers corners of the world as into a sink of iniquity."[32] The hopes which he had entertained of extended empire were crushed by the great and fatal battle of Kossovo, in 1389, and he died in 1391, greatly lamented, though his last days had been clouded by misfortunes.

The toleration of the Bogomils was continued during the short reign of Tvart-ko II. (1391-1396), and increased during the long reign (1396-1443) of his successor, Tvart-ko III., surnamed "the Just," who, together with the principal magnates of his realm, was an adherent to the Bogomil faith. During the long period of eighty-five years the demands and threats of the popes were of little avail. Though the reign of Tvart-ko III. was for a time disturbed by civil disorders, and there were at one time two, and at another three, princes professing to be kings of Bosnia, he was at no time so weak as to fear the incursions of the allies of Rome.[33]

 
 
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