Stjepan Drzislav (969 - 997)

Stjepan Drzislav inherited the throne when his father Mihajlo Kresimir II died in 969. Croatia at this time was a robust and peaceful kingdom, due largely to his parents' reforms following the turbulence of the 940s and 950s. Drzislav built on his parents' feats and secured sovereignty over the Dalmatian thema, lost to Byzantium under Trpimir II. The thema of Dalmatia at that time included the towns (but not the hinterland) of Krk, Osor, Rab, Zadar, Trogir, Split (White Croatia) and Dubrovnik, Kotor, Budva (Red Croatia).

Stjepan Drzislav delegated much of his authority to his powerful governors (bans). He also invested considerable effort integrating the Latin minority with the Croatian majority.

Drzislav's rule was one of the longest of Croatian Kings, spanning nearly three decades. He left behind three sons: Svetoslav Suronja, Kresimir III and Gojslav, all of who were to hold the title of King over the following three decades.

It is probable that Svetoslav ruled concurrently with his father during the 990s. Stone panels from the altar of a 10th century church in Knin, reveal the following inscription in Latin: CLV DUX HROATOR IN TE PUS D IRZISCLV DUCE MAGNU. In English, this means: Svetoslav, Leader of the Croats at the time of Drzislav the Great Leader. The stone panels are kept at the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in Split.


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