Knez Jovan Vladimir 1000-1016

Serbian ruler of the state of Duklja (Serbian Cyrillic: Дукља; Greek: Διόκλεια, Diokleia; Latin: Dioclea)

On the 3rd of May 2017 an auction took place in London United Kingdom in Roma Numismatics auction house. A coin was labelled as Bulgarian and as unique. It sold for £2000 plus auction fees and postage so around £2450 or 2900 euros in total.

I have seen it but became aware of what it might be for the first time when Robert Kavazovic contacted me around 4 years later in March 2021. Some month later in July 2021 Rasko Ramadanski was a guest in a program called "Čačkalica" and was talking about the first Serbian coin of Knez Jovan Vladimir dating back to the end of the 10th century and beginning of the 11th century.

I had conversations with Rasko as well and it turned out that a colleague in Bulgaria Dr. Vladimir Ovcarov had the same thoughts in his research that as there were only 2 other Vladimir rulers in that time, Bulgarian and Russian, but as they both used Cyrillic description on their coins with royal references and Bulgarian ruler was against Christianity so he wouldn’t use cross on the coins, this coin with no royal references and with a cross in the middle must be from a Serbian ruler.

It turned out that a colleagues from Croatia and Serbia simultaneously, independent from each other and at the same time, 4 years after London auction, arrived at the same conclusion.

Very exciting and important discovery!

On the map below covering a period from 9th to 11th century you can see medieval Serbian lands mentioned in many medieval documents especially from the time of Stefan Nemanja the Grand Prince of the Serbian Grand Principality from 1166 to 1196.

In one such document Stefan Nemanja is writing:

“… нашимb прадћдомb и нашимb дћдомb wвладати сиювb земловb срbбbсковb.”

(“… our great grandfathers and our grandfathers ruled all this serbian lands.”)

His son king Stefan The First Crowned 1217-1228, later wrote the names of those Serbian lands:

"Стефанb,... вћиbчани прbви кралb вbсе срbпскиѥ земле, Диwклитиѥ и Травоyние и Далbмацие и Захлbмне,..."

(“Stefan,… the first crowned king of all serbian lands, Duklja and Travunia and Dalmatia and Zahumlje,…”).

Both documents are published in Monumenta Serbica spectantia historiam Serbiae Bosnae Ragusii book by F Miklosich in Vienna in 1858.

From this, conclusion is very clear. This is a first Serbian coin ever minted. Minted more then 1000 years ago at the time when only 4-5 nations in the world minted coins!

Ruler is featured without crown and without REX royal title holding cross and a scepter pointing out to his rule as a prince or earl and not king. On the reverse there is cross in the middle and letters BLADIMIRVS (VLADIMIR) around. Cyrillic B and rest of the description in Latin.

First copper coin is top left is 18,5mm, 2,04g and third one on the right is from auction 20mm, 2,59g.

Jovan Vladimir minted first Serbian coins and is first Serbian to become saint in Roman Catholic church and is a first saint in Serbian Orthodox church.

There is also a claim that his father Petrislav (Peter) has minted coins in the 10th century and that 2 coins have been found in the area of the territory of the medieval Duklja between modern city of Ulcunj and Skadar of which one is currently being held in Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral in Cetinje.

The only information on his father is from a seal found in the 19th century, which is decorated on the obverse with a bust of the Mary, mother of Jesus, holding a medallion of Christ with two cross shaped monograms.

The text is in Greek letters, saying ΠΕΤΡ[Ο]Υ ΑΡΧΟΝΤΟΣ ΔΙΟΚΛ[Ε]ΙΑ[Σ] ΑΜΗΝ (Petr[o]u, Archontos Diokl[e]ias, Amen - PETER, ARCHON OF DUKLJA, AMEN".

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