For a queen-regnant, we know close to nothing about Helen of Bosnia. Most queens-regnant leave behind almost too much information for us, such as Mary, Queen of Scots, Joan of Navarre, Juana la Loca, and Cleopatra Selene II, but Helen left almost no information. There aren’t even any portraits of her for us to at least see what this mysterious woman looked like.

Helen was born circa 1345, probably to the noble Nikolić family. The earliest mention of her is in a charter from 1392, mentioning her as the wife and queen consort of Dabiša, King of Bosnia. Helen and Dabiša had one daughter, Stana Kotromanić, and possibly more children. Helen’s family would have gained a lot more power during her time as consort, and Helen herself probably had a significant amount of influence in the kingdom.

In 1394, Dabiša made Sigismund of Hungary his heir, and, following his death the next year, Sigismund was ready to become the next King of Bosnia. However, the nobles were not so keen on this idea and refused to allow Sigismund to become King. Sigismund began raising an army to take the throne of Bosnia, and Helen was elected the new monarch. Sigismund gave up his attempt once he heard Helen was Queen with the support of most of the nobles.

We cannot be sure of many details concerning Helen’s reign, but we know that Helen was probably only a puppet, with the nobility approving many of her charters. When the nobility takes control of a country, things normally do not end well, and there was a lot of internal conflict during the reign of Queen Helen. Sultan Bayezid I of the Ottoman Empire attacked Bosnia, and even though he was defeated, Helen was deposed in the spring of 1398, probably due to the growing influence and power of her family.

Many of Helen’s family members decided to flee, but Helen stayed in Bosnia, where she was treated with honor and respect that one would show to any queen dowager. Helen was replaced by a relative of her husband’s, King Ostoja. The last mention of Queen Helen is in a letter dated 18 March 1399. Helen died sometime after that date, possibly due to an epidemic in the area.

As no images of Helen (except one on the side of a seat) exist, the image used above is of Margaret of Burgundy, Queen of Sicily and Naples, whom I think represents Queen Helen well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s