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DURING this period the Bogomils, availing themselves of all their opportunities for missionary work, were sending aid and encouragement to their brethren in Bohemia and Hungary, and the Reformation under John Huss and Jerome of Prague was avowedly a Bogomil movement. At this time also their leaders were men of such learning and culture that Pope Pius II. in 1462 found it necessary to send the most learned men he could find to Bosnia to refute their heresies.[34]

But with the death of Tvart-ko III. there came a change. His successor, Stephen Thomas, was the illegitimate son of one of Tvart-ko's rivals, and was raised to the throne by the Bogomils, to whose communion he belonged. But he was a man of weak and vacillating temper, and when the crafty papal legate, Thomasini, threatened him with the rejection of his claims to the throne unless he abjured his faith and became a Roman Catholic, and promised to reconcile his rivals and to give him a consecrated crown if he yielded to his demands, the weak king, after a feeble resistance, consented, abjured, and was baptized into the Roman Catholic fold in 1444. one of his vassals, Stephen Cosaccia, Duke of St. Sava, was a strict Roman Catholic, and refused allegiance to him unless he thus abjured his faith. But no sooner had Stephen Thomas. the Bosnian king, commenced or permitted the persecution of the Bogomils than the Duke of St. Sava (the modern Herzegovina) cut loose from the papal party and joined the Bogomils himself.

In 1446, Stephen Thomas found the sentiments of his people so strongly arrayed against him that, like the English King John, he was compelled to assemble the magnates of his realm, and the Bogomil leaders among them, at Coinica, and grant them large privileges, and, among others, toleration for the Bogomils, but his cowardly and craven nature led him to falsify his oath and deliver them over to the power of the Inquisition. In 1450 the Bogomils, wearied and disgusted with his treachery and the cruelty of the Inquisition, turned for protection to the Turks, and compelled the king to buy an ignoble peace by the payment of a large tribute. In 1457 he appealed to the whole Christian world for help against the infidel, but he was said to have already made with the Turkish sultan that solemn alliance of sworn brotherhood known to the Sclavonic race as the Pobratimtsvo.* These constant changes and tergiversations had alienated all his friends from him, and his assassination on the field of Bielaj in 1459 by his step-brother and his own illegitimate son, Stephen Tomasevic, caused little sorrow.

*The Probratimtsvo was a secret rite, performed with much ceremony and the mingling of the blood of the two parties to it, by which they became sworn brothers and the recipients of each other’s fullest confidence. The violation of the vow of brotherhood was considered the most horrible of crimes.

The parricide at once usurped the throne, and proved a baser man than his father. He claimed to be a Roman Catholic pure and simple, and solicited the aid of the pope, Pius II (AEneas Sylvius), on the express ground of his desire to commence immediately the extirpation of the Bogomil heresy. In the first year of his reign he turned the arms of his troops against his unoffending Bogomil subjects, and in a few months had slaughtered or driven out of his kingdom forty thousand of them. In 1463 he again appealed to the pope, apparently in great distress at the near approach of the Turks. He had occasion for this appeal. He had continued his persecution of the Bogomils, and they, the majority of the population of his realm, and especially of the cities, were justly incensed against him.

The prospect of another influx of Romish heresy-hunters was not a pleasing one to them, and, finding that they had nothing to hope for from their king, they turned to the Turkish sultan and opened negotiations with him. An agreement was made that they would transfer their allegiance to him, and he in return guaranteed them their personal liberty, free toleration for their religion, freedom from taxation, protection of property, and other privileges.

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