Principality of Montenegro

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Principality of Montenegro
Књажевина Црнa Горa
Knjaževina Crna Gora

Flag Coat of arms
To Our Beautiful Montenegro
The Principality of Montenegro in 1890.
Capital Cetinje
Languages Serbian
Religion Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Government Principality
 -  1852–1860 Danilo I
 -  1860–1910 Nicholas I
Prime Minister
 -  1879–1905 Božo Petrović-Njegoš
 -  1905–1906 Lazar Mijušković
 -  1906–1907 Marko Radulović
 -  1907 Andrija Radović
 -  1907–1910 Lazar Tomanović
Legislature Parliament
 -  Secularization 13 March 1852
 -  Battle of Grahovac 1 May 1858
 -  Congress of Berlin 13 July 1878
 -  Constitution adopted 1905
 -  Elevation to kingdom 28 August 1910
 -  1852 5,475 km² (2,114 sq mi)
 -  1878 9,475 km² (3,658 sq mi)
 -  1909 est. 317,856 
Currency Austro-Hungarian krone, Montenegrin perper

The Principality of Montenegro (Serbian: Књажевина Црнa Горa/Knjaževina Crna Gora) was a former realm in Southeastern Europe that existed from 13 March 1852 to 28 August 1910. It was then proclaimed a kingdom by Nicholas I, who then became king.

The capital was Cetinje and the Montenegrin perper was used as state currency from 1906. The territory correspond to the central area of modern Montenegro. It was a constitutional monarchy, but de facto absolutist.


The Principality was formed on 13 March 1852 by Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš, when the latter, formerly known as Vladika Danilo II, decided to renounce to his ecclesiastical position as prince-bishop and got married. After centuries of theocratic rule, this turned Montenegro into a secular principality.

After the assassination of Knjaz Danilo on 13 August 1860, Knjaz Nikola, the nephew of Knjaz Danilo, became the next ruler of Montenegro.

Nikola sent aid to the Serb rebels in the Herzegovina Uprising (1875–78).

On 28 August 1910, it was proclaimed a kingdom by Knjaz Nikola, who then became king.

Battle of Grahovac[edit]

Main article: Battle of Grahovac

Grand Duke Mirko Petrović, elder brother of Danilo I, led a strong army of 7,500 and won a crucial battle against the Turks (army of between 7,000 to 13,000) at Grahovac on 1 May 1858. The Turkish forces were routed. The victory echoed to Serbian Vojvodina, where Serbs self-proclaimed a Serbian autonomous region within the Austrian Empire during the 1848 Revolution, which existed until its transformation into the Voivodeship of Serbia and Banat of Temeschwar. This victory forced the Great Powers to officially demarcate the borders between Montenegro and Ottoman Turkey, de facto recognizing Montenegro's centuries-long independence. Montenegro gained Grahovo, Rudine, Nikšić's Župa, more than half of Drobnjaci, Tušina, Uskoci, Lipovo, Upper Vasojevići, and part of Kuči and Dodoši. The glory of the Montenegrins was soon immortalized in songs and literature of all South Slavs.

The final wars of independence were in 1862 and 1875-1878.

Government and Politics[edit]

The historical war flags were the krstaš-barjak, plain flags with crosses in the centre. The Montenegrin war flag used in the Battle of Vučji Do (1876) was red with a white cross patty in the centre and a white border, and this flag was adopted from the Serbian war flag in the Battle of Kosovo (1389) which found itself in Montenegro after surviving knights brought it there.[1] The same flag was used in Cetinje in 1878,[2] upon recognition of independence by the Ottoman Empire at San Stefano. According to the 1905 constitution, the national flag was a tricolour of red-blue-white ("црвена, плаветна и бијела"),[3] which was the Serbian tricolour.[4]

  • Danilo I (13 March 1852 – 13 August 1860)
  • Nicholas I (13 August 1860 – 28 August 1910)

Constitution of 1855[edit]

Danilo I used the Law of Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, as an inspiration for his own General Law of the Land from 1855 (Zakonik Danila Prvog). Danilo's Code was based on the Montenegrin traditions and customs and it is considered to be the first national constitution in Montenegrin history. It also stated rules, protected privacy and banned warring on the Austrian Coast (Bay of Kotor). It also stated: "Although there is no other nationality in this land except Serb nationality and no other religion except Eastern Orthodoxy, each foreigner and each person of different faith can live here and enjoy the same freedom and the same domestic right as Montenegrin or Highlander."

Constitution of 1905[edit]

Flag of the Principality of Montenegro 1905-1910

At the beginning of the 20th century political differences were starting to culminate. Country was now enlarged territorially and saw almost four decades of peace, very unusual for the country that has been in war practically the whole time since it fell in the Ottoman hands. The ruler, prince Nicholas, was the longest reigning of all the Balkan royals, and by many perceived as the most experienced diplomat and politician. On the other hand, there was a growing population of unsatisfied young people, educated mainly abroad, who saw his rule as absolutistic and autocratic. Gathered in Belgrade, where they had support from certain political parties, they were demanding for the reorganisation of government administration, constitutionalisation and the introduction of parliament. The opposition grew as their demands were supported by certain number of old military leaders and various clans representatives. These primitive forms of nobility were mainly old and conservative, but due to their own personal antagonisms towards prince or because of their own political ambitions, they sided with the crowd which demanded the modernistaion of the country. For the long time prince and the circle of people around him were defending his standpoint with the explanation that the times were not right and that montenegrin society still hasn't evolved enough to understand the significance of constitutional monarchy. Moreover, they argued that the introduction of parliamentarism and of the political parties will again stir up the old feuds between clans and destabilise hardly achieved unity. Neighboring Serbia by this time has already changed five constitutions and saw fifty years of political struggle between various different political parties and fractions resulting in a coup and the assassination of the royal couple in 1903. Finally, Imperial Russia, the great protector of Montenegrin sovereignty in international politics and a model whose internal organisation was crudely copied by Montenegro, was still without a constitution. However, after the revolution of 1905 even Russia had to go through certain changes, thus leaving Montenegro to be the only country in Europe without constitution alongside Ottoman Empire, whose first constitution was short lived. Finally, after huge media campaign against him and wide public pressure, both domestic and international, the Prince at last decided to step back, so on 31 October 1905 he issued a public proclamation saying that he will grant the constitution. The proclamation also stated that he is giving the constitution out of his free will and that the changes it will bring won't be radical at first because he fells that the existing institutions should be preserved from sudden changes. This caused a reply from students in Belgrade in a form of text entitled "The Word of Montenegrin University Youth", in which they criticised his intentions, saying that the new constitution will be merely formal and labeling Prince as the brake which is holding back Montenegro from modernisation and prosperity. Naturally, he didn't want to give any power away, or to tie his own hands in any means, so he trusted his friend Stevan Djurcic, a conservative journalist from Serbia, with the task of writing the constitution. The outcome was the constitution that was basically a copy of the Serbian constitution from 1869 (aka The Regency Constitution) with slight changes made by Prince himself. The changes were minor and were necessary adaptations for domestic circumstances. The Constitution of the Principality of Montenegro was imposed by Nicholas I on 19 December (December 6 on Julian calendar) 1905 in his speech from the throne in parliament. The parliament did not get to discuss about the new constitution, and was dissoluted right after it formally accepted it, so despite being brought in parliament it was de facto imposed. It became remembered as St Nicholas day constitution. It had 15 chapters with 222 articles in total. The 1905 Constitution provided state organization, type of government, the state symbols (partially), competence of the state administration, election of the statesman, the military service, the finances, and the human and citizens rights.

Montenegro is now a constitutional hereditary monarchy. Legislative power is vested in Parliament as well as in Prince. The prince is the supreme commander of armed forces, representing the state in foreign affairs, he declares the war and signs the peace and alliances and also informs the parliament on the matter. He has the right to appoint government officials, he is the protector of all the recognised religions in country and he has the right of abolition and amnesty. He calls up the meeting of the parliament in regular and irregular sessions, opens up and closes the sessions personally, by speech from the throne or by Ministry council with his decree. He has the right to dissolute the parliament as well as to postpone parliament sessions. The dissolution decree must be countersigned by all ministers. The right to be elected for MP has every adult male citizen, who hasn't been convicted or was under any form of investigation, not mattering the amount of taxes he pays. Active officers, NCO's and soldiers in the army did not have the right to vote. Passive suffrage is available to every citizen older than 30, who permanently resides in Montenegro, enjoys full civil rights and pays at least 15 krones of taxes. Administrative officials cannot be elected to parliament. The elections were direct, and despite the fact that the way of voting was not regulated by constitution, it was usually done publicly. The deputies were elected to four years term. Aside from the elected MP's, there were 14 parliament seats for the so-called virile deputies (by the position they take in the government or society). These included the Metropolitan of Montenegro, the Archbishop of Bar and Primate of Serbia, the Montenegrin Mufti, the president and the members of the State Council, the president of the High Court, the president of the Main Control and three brigadiers named by prince himself.

No law can be passed, repealed, changed or reviewed without the acceptance of Parliament. However, the initiative for the law to be passed or for the existing one to be changed can come from Government to Parliament or vice versa, but formal legislative projects can be made by government only. The role and the position of the parliament was quite damaged by this fact. Parliament had the right to pass the budget, but for doing so it couldn't ask for the conditions that were not related to it. In other words, the repellence of the budget can't be used to dissolve a government, so, if the Parliament was to repeal the budget, the prince could extend the validness of the last year's budget to the following year. This particular example shows that the constitution didn't complete the task of limiting the ruler's power. Finally, no new tax can be imposed without the agreeance of parliament.

The Prince is the one who appoints and dismisses the ministers. The Ministry Council stands as the head of country's bureaucracy and is subortinated directly to prince. For their official actions, the ministers can be held responsible by either Parliament or the prince. Minister can be charged for treason, for acting against the constitution, for corruption, for damaging the state out of his own interest and if his actions are against the law in the cases set by Law of Ministreal Responsibility. Minister can be charged by government, parliament or prince and his statute of limitations is set on five years.

State Council, composed out of six members, appointed by prince, provides the role of supreme administrative court, reviews government's legal initiatives and has jurisdiction over some subjects of financial nature. There are also High Court and municipal courts. The courts are independent in providing justice. The judges cannot be transferred without legal standpoint. The constitution also introduced local self-management through municipal courts, municipal committees and municipal assemblies. It also provided civil rights and freedom, law equality, courts jurisdiction, abolition of death penalty for purely political reasons, excluding the attempt on the life of prince or the members of the royal family.The aforementioned abolition was also not valid in cases where aside from political quilt, some other criminal action was done, as well as in cases punished by death according to military law. Right to personal property, the freedom of press and the right of assembly were also guaranteed. The constitution was followed by Penal Law (1906), Penal Procedure Law, Commerce and Obligations Law and the Lawyer's Management Law (1910).

Despite all its flaws and restrictions, the Montenegrin Constitution of 1905 was an important introduction of modern liberal tendencies in European societies and of human rights and freedoms in a small patrimonial Balkan country.

Demographic history[edit]

Ethnic map from 1910
Dark: Serb language majority
Light: Albanian majority
Part of a series on the
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  • Bernard Schwartz estimated in 1882 that the Principality had 160,000 inhabitants, although a more usual estimate is that it was around 230,000 inhabitants.[5]
  • In 1900, according to international sources, the Principality of Montenegro had 311,564 inhabitants. By religion, it had 293,527 Eastern Orthodox (94.21%); 12,493 Muslims (4.01%); 5,544 Roman Catholics (1.78%). 71,528 (23%) were literate.[5]
  • In 1907, it had been estimated that there were around 282,000 inhabitants in Montenegro, with the majority of Eastern Orthodox population.
  • In 1909 the first official census was undertaken by the authorities. According to it, there was a total of 317,856 inhabitants, although the real number was close to 220,000 inhabitants. The official language, Serbian, was used as a mother tongue by 95%, while Albanian was spoken by most of the rest. By religion, there were 94.38% Orthodox Christians, the rest being mostly Muslims and smaller numbers of Roman Catholics.[citation needed]


The Metropolitanate of Cetinje was divided from the state by Danilo I. It was at the time nominally Serbian Orthodox, though de jure part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, it was largely independent. The Russian Orthodox Church uncanonically entered the Eparchy of Montenegro in their list of autocephalous churches (Sintagma, V, 1855). The Serbian Orthodox Church was re-established in 1920, by merging the metropolitanates of Cetinje, Belgrade and Karlovci.

In 1908, the Eparchy of Zahumlje-Raška was established, existing alongside the Eparchy of Cetinje.

The Metropolitans of Cetinje were: Ilarion Roganović (1876-1882), Visarion Ljubiša (1882-1884) and Mitrofan Ban (1884-1918).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ivanović (2006), Problematika autokefalije Mitropolije Crnogorsko-primorske, "Крсташ-барјак, познатији као вучедолска застава, је у ствари косовски крсташ-барјак, који су преживјели косовски витезови донијели у Црну Гору послије боја на Косову." 
  2. ^ Nenadović, Ljubomir P. (1929). O Crnogorcima: pisma sa Cetinja 1878. godine, Volume 212 (in Serbian). Štamparija "Sv. Sava,". p. 187. 
  3. ^ Grbovi, zastave i himne u istoriji Crne Gore. p. 66. "У члану 39. стоји: „Народне су боје: црвена плаветна и бијела". Ова уставна одредба може се сматрати првим законским утемељењем црногорске државне (народне) заставе. Претхо- дним планом (38) прописан је државни грб ..." 
  4. ^ Ivanović, p. 92, "... симболи буду засновани на тим традицијама. Државна застава Црне Горе кроз историју је била српска тробојница, што је ре- гулисано и Уставом Књажевине Црне Горе, у члану 39: „Народне боје су црвена, плаветна и бијела ..."  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b Encyclopedia Britannica 1911:

    In 1882 the population of Montenegro was estimated as low as 160,000 by Schwartz. A more usual estimate is 230,000. According, however, to information officially furnished at Cettigne, the total number of inhabitants in 1900 was 311,564, of whom 293,527 belonged to the Orthodox Church. 12,493 were Muslim and 5544 were Roman Catholics; 71,528

External links[edit]