QUEEN KATARINA, A TRAGIC HEROINE OR JUST AN ORDINARY QUEEN

QUEEN KATARINA, A TRAGIC HEROINE OR JUST AN ORDINARY QUEEN

The position of a woman in society changed as time changed. Women in the Middle Ages haddifferent roles. They could be wives, mothers, nuns, and some women took up more social positions, such as the queen. Men always had a prominent role in society, and women were in a shadow, seemingly invisible, often a supply of peace and a means of exchange. Regardless of whether they are noblemen or “ordinary” women, they were considered as father’s, but also as husband’s property. The rights of women differed depending on class affiliation and marital status. Women in that period did not have the right to be the part of the Parliament, they were deprived of their education and all public functions, and their only task was to dedicate themselves to the household. As such, women did not have the right to vote. Marriage as the foundation of society played an important role. Marriage was pre-arranged, and women become man’s property, without the right to vote, because as they said then the only good woman was a silent woman. A woman couldn’t decide anything because there was a thought that males were smarter than females.

Now imagine the period of Middle Ages, the great castles, chambers, servants, the glittering gold, and all the benefits that bring money and power. Imagine impeccable suits, big and long dresses, and expensive jewelery. Imagine a woman. A woman who came to this home without choosing itand wanting being in it. A woman who had to fight for her right to vote, her position, respect, but also her love. As such was Queen Katarina, the woman who remained without her husband, children and homeland. She experienced the destiny of her people and her family, and she went to refuge to save the same people. In Middle Ages it was not easy being a woman, especially not at the court. As much as it seemed to us that they lived in splendor and well-being, that they were valued and respected, it was not easy to be a woman from the royal palace. Many of them did not know what love and freedom were. They got married for political and social reasons. Tha’s how it was with queen Katarina. Her marriage was a guarantee of peace between her father Stjepan Kosača and the future husband Stjepan Tomaš. She married quite late, because her father repelled the plague until someone showed up enough for his interests. Somebody like the Bosnian king. Katarina’s marriage was supposed to make a political balance in those areas. The wedding was performed by the Catholic Department in the court of Mihodra. As a well-educated nobleman, she married her to goodness, toughness and humility. She followed her husband on all travels, and many churches were built together, including the Church of St. Katarina in Jajce.

Then life of Queen Katarina was in the shadow of two powerful men, her father and her husband, and therefore there are not many details about her reign. There are only stories and legends that say that she loved her people a lot. Women learned household chores, and the most beautiful relationship. Very young, at age 37, she became widowed with two children, son Sigismund and daughter Katarina. Stjepan Tomašević, son of Stjepan Tomaš and Vojača, confesses to Katarina as a queen and her mother. Queen Katarina had difficult times. After empty promises and agreements, the Sultan had moved to the Bosnian kingdom. Bobovac fell quickly into the hands of the Ottomans. King Stjepan Tomašević was in Jajce, but after he realized that he could not go there for a long time, he went to Ključ. After some time spent in Ključ, because of the lack of weapons and food, the king decided to surrender on condition that the Sultan’s army guaranteed his life. However, the king was executed in Jajce in 1463. While winning, Bosnian Queen Katarina was in Kozograd. When she heard of her people’s guilt, she decided to go south to Konjic and then to Dalmacija. In one of the parades the queen went with the escort, and in the other were her children. Later, that decision became disastrous. The hostile army stopped the procession in which her children were and captured them. The queen learned this late, only in Dubrovnik. Just like every mother and queen, she was too, in a great pain for her children, but also for the disaster that has struck her people. She was a mother and a queen. She was trying to find out about her children for a long time, but everything was unsuccessful. Then, the queen went to Dubrovnik where she expected to find help and arm of salvation, but to the people of Dubrovnik it was not appropriate for them to find the queen of the lost kingdom, and they were most afraid of the conquest of Sultan Mehmed II. The Queen went to Rome where she found comfort in her faith. She became a member of the Third Order of the Franciscan Order and helped the sick. She spent all those years in sorrow and grief for her children and her homeland. She found out that her children converted into Islam. Later, it would be known that Sigismund became Ishak-beg, called Kraljević, and that he received a lesser faction in Asia. There was no historical data about her daughter, Katarina. Whether she married, where she lived, how and where she died, nothing   is known. With all these concerns, the suits for children and homeland, the queen falls short on the patient’s bed and expresses her desire to write her will. In the will she wrote that she left her kingdom to her children if they find them and if they accept the faith of her father. However, she was aware that this might never happen, and therefore left the kingdom to the Holy See.

Queen Katarina died 5 days after writing her last wish, October 25, 1478. She was buried in the Franciscan church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ara Coeli. On her grave the figure of a proud queen with a crown was displayed showing the coats of arms of the Bosnian state and the Kosaca family, and at the bottom the inscription was written by a Bosnian woman. A pious, intelligent woman, the great-hearted queen, left a deep trail among her people, and especially among women. The face of Queen Catherine depicts the sad and tragic destiny of many women who have lost their husbands, their children, and their homeland. There is hope for never repeating such events and no woman will experience the suffering and the pain that Queen Catherine has been fighting against.

 

 

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Stećak (tomb) or “stone sleepers” are are inexhaustible source of inspiration

Stećak (tomb) or "stone sleepers" are are inexhaustible source of inspiration

The complex value of tombs called “stećak” in cultural, artistic, architectural, religious and historical sense is unique, not only in the Balkans, but throughout the whole Europe as well as in the world. Even today they are inexhaustible source of inspiration and despite many researches, mysticity of these tombs makes no one apathetic. ‘Stećak is for me what it is not for the others, what others did not know to see. Yes, it is a stone, but is also a word; it  is earth,  but it is also sky; it is substance, but it is also spirit; it is scream, but it is also the song; it is death, but it is also life; it is the past, but it is also the future.’ – Mak Dizdar The synthesis of language and written forms, faith, customs and culture is sealed into the mysticity of stećak and they represent one of the most important medieval Bosnian legacy. Most of these tombs originate from the period between 12th and 16th centuries and are located in Bosnia and Herzegovina (there are 59.593 tombs at 2687 places), Croatia (4447), Montenegro (3049) and Serbia (2267). One of the most important characteristics of tombs on the location of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the fact that all three church organizations had the same medieval understanding of death. It is logical to assume that every of the church organizations at that time cared for their deceased by their traditional patterns, but it can be considered safe that the tombs were used as the tombstones in the Catholic, Orthodox and Bosnian Church. Ornaments and decoration on tombs are in various shapes, but they cannot help us with defining  decedent’s religion, but sometimes texts on the tombs can discover to which one of three church organization that existed in medieval Bosnia and Hum (later Hercegovina) decedent belonged. Texts on tombs called “epitafi” are extremely important for the study of language and they are written in bosančica. They show symbolism that characterizes medieval art, but also art from romanticism era and gothic art, and the whole life of decedent’s life is tagged, his abilities, how he died, his relation to death and love towards earth. Thanks to many legends about stećak, they are not forgotten through the time. In 1950 in Paris was held exhibition of Yugoslav medieval painting and plastic and on that exhibition were presented tombs. After that exhibition the interest for this phenomenon characteristic for medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina suddenly grew between scientists and public. “Stone sleepers”, as Dizdar names them, ensued in different occasions and are mostly related to the medieval location of Bosnia and Hum. They represent an authenticity and a long tradition of Bosnian – Herzegovinian culture and they are worthy historical heritage which makes us emotional and inspirational.

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