History of Montenegro

From Academic Kids

The history of Montenegro begins in the early Middle Ages after the arrival of the Slavs into the part of the former Roman province of Dalmatia that is today known as Montenegro.



The Montenegrin tribes organized into a semi-independent dukedom of Duklja by the 10th century. In 1077, Duklja was recognized as an independent state when its King Mihailo (Michael) of the Vojisavljević dynasty founded by nobleman Stefan Vojislav was recognised by Pope Gregory VII as rex Doclea (King of Duklja). The kingdom, however, was a tributary to the Byzantine Empire; it gave birth to the later medieval kingdom of Serbian Great Zupan (serb. župan) Stefan Nemanja who originated from Duklja.

The independent principality of Zeta (which more closely corresponds to the early modern state of Montenegro) asserted itself towards 1360. Zeta was ruled by the Balsic (1360s1421) and Crnojevic (14211499) dynasties, and it was never fully conquered by the Ottoman Empire which controlled the lands to the south and east since the 15th century.

In 1516, the secular prince Djuradj Crnojevic abdicated in favor of the Archbishop Vavil, who then formed Montenegro into a theocratic state, under the rule of the prince-bishop (vladika) of Cetinje, a position held from 1697 by the Petrović-Njegoš family of the Riđani clan. Petar Petrović Njegoš was perhaps the most influential vladika, reigning in the first half of the 19th century. In 1851 Danilo II Petrovic Njegos became vladika, but in 1852 he married, threw off his ecclesiastical character, assuming the title of knjaz or prince, and transformed his land into a secular principality, the independence of which was soon recognized by Russia.

Danilo was assassinated in 1860, and Nicholas I was proclaimed his successor on August 14 of that year. In 18611862, Nicholas engaged in an altogether successful war against Turkey; but in 1876 he joined Serbia and in 18771878 Russia against his hereditary foe, with the results that 1,900 square miles were added to his territory by the Treaty of Berlin; that the port of Antivari and all the waters of Montenegro were closed to the ships of war of all nations; and that the administration of the maritime and sanitary police on the coast was placed in the hands of Austria.

The reign of Nicholas I (18601918) saw the doubling of Montenegro's territory and international recognition of her independence (1878), the country's first constitution (1905), the ruler's elevation to the rank of King (1910), and further territorial gains following the Balkan Wars (1913), though the newly-captured city of Skadar had to be given up to the new state of Albania at the insistence of the Great Powers despite the Montenegrins having invested 10,000 lives into the liberation of the town from the Turkish forces of Esad-pasha.

World Wars

Montenegro suffered severely in World War I. At the first invasion of Serbia by the Austrian armies, Montenegro lost no time in declaring war against the Central Powers. Although the army numbered only about 50,000 men, they were at once placed in the field. A separate army was dispatched by Austria to invade Montenegro and to prevent a junction of the Serbian and Montenegrin armies. This force, however, was repulsed, and from the top of the strongly fortified Mount Lovcen, the Montenegrins carried on the bombardment of Cattaro held by the enemy. On August 10, 1914, the Montenegrin infantry delivered a strong attack against the Austrian garrisons, but they were unable to make good the advantage they first gained. They successfully resisted the Austrians in the second invasion of Serbia and almost succeeded in reaching Sarajevo in Bosnia. With the beginning of the third invasion, however, they were compelled to retire before greatly superior numbers, and Serbia was finally overrun by Austro-German armies. Montenegro was also invaded (January 1916) and for the remainder of the war was in the possession of the Central Powers.

King Nicholas fled to Italy and then to France; the government was tranferred to Bordeaux. Montenegro was eventually liberated from the Austrians by the forces of Serbia. A newly convened National Assembly of Podgorica (Podgorička skupština), supervised by Serbian forces, accused the king of seeking a separate peace with the enemy and because of that deposed him, followed by a ban on his return. Montenegro was subsequently annexed to or united with Serbia on November 29, 1918.

In the period between the two World Wars, the Yugoslav government was dominated by King Alexander who was a grandson of Montenegro's king Nicholas, but who worked against the idea of Montenegro as an independent state from Serbia and Montenegrins outside a wider Serb whole. The Communist Party of Yugoslavia on the other hand supported the equality of the Montenegrin nation (with Serbs, Croats and others), in recognition of the desire of the majority of Montenegrins who fought in World War II for liberation and emancipation. This fact made the Communist party popular in Montenegro, which was all but ignored as a backward province during the reign of the Karadjordjevic monarchy in the First Yugoslavia. The Partisans won the war and acknowledged Montenegro's massive contribution to the war against the Axis Powers and its desire for a renewed status by establishing it as one of the six republics of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Montenegro became economically stronger than ever since as it was largely helped from federal funds as an under-developed republic, and it became a tourist destination as well.

After the breakup of Yugoslavia

In 1992, after the breakup of Communist Yugoslavia and the introduction of a multi-party political system, it became part of the Serbian-Montenegrin Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The ruling party was the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro under the pro-Serbian leader Momir Bulatović. Montenegro, unlike all other Yugoslav republics, peacefully maintained a union with Serbia, although the referendum of March of 1992 that decided this wasn't conducted in fair and democratic conditions, as the country was openly involved in a war during the poll.

Since 1997, the leadership of Montenegro switched to Milo Đukanović, formerly Bulatović's prime minister, whose government supports the idea of independence for Montenegro.

In 2003, after years of insistence from Montenegro, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was renamed to Serbia and Montenegro and officially reconstituted as a loose commonwealth. A new referendum on independence or union is expected to be called in 2006.


The name Montenegro is derived from the Venetian "black mountain", the black appearance of Mount Lovćen's pine forests inspiring early Venetian conquerors. Crna Gora calques Monte negro in Serbian or Montenegrin language.

See also

External links

Former Yugoslavia (SFRY) Missing image
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Bosnia and Herzegovina | Croatia | Macedonia | Montenegro | Serbia | Slovenia
Autonomous provinces of Serbia
Kosovo | Vojvodina
de:Geschichte Montenegros

es:Historia de Montenegro sr:Историја Црне Горе


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