Drobnjaci (Serbian Cyrillic: Дробњаци, pronounced [dro̞bɲǎːt͡si]) is a historical tribe and region, Drobnjak, in Old Herzegovina in Montenegro (municipalities from Nikšić to Šavnik, Žabljak and Pljevlja). Its unofficial centre is in Šavnik. Today Drobnjaci families are predominantly Orthodox, with a majority declaring as Serbs. The Orthodox families have St. George (Đurđevdan) as their patron saint (slava) and the majority of Drobnjak churches are devoted to St. George as well. Families of distant Drobnjak origin are present in all former Yugoslav republics.
Origin and early history
According to Serbian historian Andrija Luburić (1930), by oral tradition their origin was from Travnik in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and initially were called as Novljani. First mention of the name was in 1285 Ragusan document, where was mentioned Vlach Bratinja Drobnjak. The surname probably derives from tribal or regional name.
The tribal name Drobnjaci (Drobignaçich, Drobgnach, Droggnaz, Dropgnach,Drupinach, Idobrignach) in Herzegovina can be followed from 14th century Ragusan sources; Dragossius Costadinich vlachus Drobignaçich (1365), Goitan Banilouich et Bogosclauus Dessiminich vlacchi de chatono de Dobrgnaçi (1376), Vulchota filius Dobroslaui Drobgnach (1377), Dubraueç Chostadinich et Jurech Bogutouich Drobnachi (1377), and so on. Throughout 14th and 15th century they are specifically mentioned as katun "Vlachs" or "Morlachs". They inhabited lands around Jezera, Prijepolje (1423), Bijela (1443). Some individual examples - Milcien Clapcich, Vlachus de Drobnach in 1390 committed to pay 12 perpers to Jakov Gundulić and Pribil Mirković for one horse which was sequestered in Jezera; Vlach Radivoje Vukšić from Drobnjaci, the head of a caravan, in 1423 was accused in Ragusa for robery of an Italian and had to pay 40 perpers; certain Vlachus Drobnach sequestered 3 rams in Jezera from a Ragusan; in 1454 kidnapped some escorts, similarly in 1456 kidnapped certain Ragusan young man who was sold to the Turks. In Herzegovina they served lords Sandalj Hranić Kosača and Stjepan Vukčić Kosača.
Tribe's first mention in the documents from Bay of Kotor are from the very end of 14th century. In the second half of 15th and 16th century there is no mention. In concern mostly are personal values and silverware, as well lead. They were not mentioned as Vlachs, beside Radmanus Pethcovich de Drobgnacis Vlachus in 1443, and certain morlachus money in concern of some necklace made in "sclavorum" way.
The oral tradition recorded by Luburić (1930) of the tribe in Montenegro preserved stories about fierce conflicts with the native tribe Kriči. In the first Kriči won, and to make peace Kriči voivode Kalok married daughter of knez Kosorić. However, after several years Drobnjaci generated another conflict and along Onogoštan people, Riđani and Banjani defeated them. Kriči reunited at Foča and attacked Drobnjaci, but again were defeated, and moved over the Tara river. The tradition that on the lands of Drobnjaci started the war against the Greeks probably is reminiscence of the Prince Stefan Vojislav against the Byzantine Empire.
Brotherhoods began to be formed in Drobnjak only in the beginning of the 16th century.
In 1538, an Ottoman official in Bosnia, Husret Bey, attacked Drobnjak. He attacked again in 1541, in a battle in Mokro in which his forces were destroyed and he lost his life. Husret Bey is in fact historical figure of Gazi-Husrev Beg 
In the late 16th century, Serbian monks Damjan and Pavle of Mileševa sent a letter to the Pope, explaining "what is Serbia", among dozens of clan territories, Drobnjaci were also mentioned among other old katuns.
The burning of Saint Sava's remains after the Banat Uprising (1594) provoked the Serbs in other regions to revolt against the Ottomans. Fights also broke out from Bar to Ulcinj, and in Bjelopavlići. In 1596, an uprising broke out in Bjelopavlići, then spread to Drobnjaci, Nikšić, Piva and Gacko (see Serb Uprising of 1596–97). It was suppressed due to lack of foreign support.
17th and 18th centuries
On Đurđevdan 1605 the Drobnjaci defeated Ottomans in Bukovica, however, the same year they were forced to accept Ottoman rule. Drobnjak vojvoda Ivan Kaluđerović was forced to the Ottomans in Pljevlja, where he was murdered by Tataran-paša. According to folklore all Drobnjak families symbolically became pobratim (blood brothers) and adopted Đurđevdan as their slava and most important feast day after defeating the Ottomans. In 1620, the knez of Drobnjaci, Sekula Cerović, participated in the assembly of Serb chieftains in Belgrade, regarding liberation actions in which he would take an important role.
The Drobnjaci, as other tribes of Montenegro, Brda, and Eastern Herzegovina, joined Venice in the Cretan War. Drobnjak vojvoda Pavle Abazović fell in Piva in 1646, in a battle which is said to have taken three hundred Drobnjak lives. In 1649, knez Ilija Balotić with the Drobnjaci and other Herzegovinian tribes took over Risak and handed it over to Venice. In 1658 Herzegovinian chieftains requested that the Venetians dispatch to them as soon as possible. In 1662, the sanjak-bey of Herzegovina called 57 chieftains from Nikšić, Piva, Drobnjak and Morača, to come to Kolašin, where he killed them all, on the Grand Vizier's order due to cooperation with Venice. It is believed that during the Cretan War, in which the Drobnjaci supported Venice against the Ottomans, and the partially Islamized Kriči supported the Ottomans, the two tribes came into conflict. The Drobnjaci defeated the Kriči, and killed their vojvoda, and pushed them from the left to the right side of the Tara. The Drobnjaci now held Jezera. In 1664 Evliya Çelebi recounted that Sohrab Mehmed Pasha attacked nahija Drobnjaci, and although they captured a lot of people, Drobnjaci killed over 100 Pasha's soldiers.
The Vulovići, Đurđići, Kosorići, Tomići and Cerovići settled in the Drobnjak county in the 17th century, originally from Banjani. In 1694, Serb Uskoks, driven out by the Turks from Albania, settled in Drobnjak county.[better source needed]
According to folkore the Drobnjak vojvoda Staniša went to the Pasha of Scutari, Mahmud Pasha, and received the voivodeship of the Sanjak of Herzegovina and the alaj-barjak of Herzegovina for the Drobnjak tribe, in ca. 1778. In the 1780s he was murdered by the Ottomans after being deemed uncertain and unreliable to Ottoman rule.
In 1789, Ivan Radonjić, the governor of Montenegro, wrote for the second time to the Empress of Russia: "Now, all of us Serbs from Montenegro, Herzegovina, Banjani, Drobnjaci, Kuči, Piperi, Bjelopavlići, Zeta, Klimenti, Vasojevići, Bratonožići, Peć, Kosovo, Prizren, Arbania, Macedonia belong to your Excellency and pray that you, as our kind mother, send over Prince Sofronije Jugović."
Under Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro and the Congress of Berlin recognition (1878), the Serb tribes of Piva, Banjani, Niksici, Saranci, Drobnjaci and a large number of the Rudinjani formed the Old Herzegovina region of the new Montenegrin state.
Conflict with the Čengić lords
Smail-aga Čengić, an Ottoman feudal lord, fought frequently with the Drobnjaci clan, and in letters of Njegoš in 1839 it is known that Rustem-Aga, the son of Smail, had often raped local women of the Drobnjaci and Pivljani. The Drobnjaci had enough of the violations of their women, and approached Petar II Njegoš (who had lost eight family members in the Battle of Grahovo), organizing a plot against the Ottoman lords, planning to first kill Smail. The main conspirators were Novica Cerović and Đoko Malović. Podmalinsko Monastery was gathering place for members of Drobnjaci tribe who traditionally held meetings there, last time in 1840 to decide to kill Smail-aga Čengić. They started by asking Smail to collect the taxes himself, and in September 1840 the Aga is putting up his tent at Mljetičak, in eastern Drobnjaci. In the night, the force attacks the camp and Smail and a number of Turks are killed. The circumstances are mentioned in a letter to the Russian consul in Dubrovnik: "The notorious criminal, Smail-aga Cengic, the musselim of Gacko, Pljevlja, Kolašin and Drobnjaci, attacked our frontier regions with several thousand men almost every year. This year too he pitched his tent three hours away from our border, and started collecting troops to invade our tribe of the Morača. Our men found out about his evil intention earlier, and gathered about 300–400 men, and they attacked his tent on the morning of 23 September, cut down the Aga himself and about 40 of his like-minded criminals... This prominent person was more important in these regions that any of the viziers." The events are richly attested in Serb epic poetry.
In 1927, Drobnjaci had 40 settlements of 2,200 houses with 14,000–15,000 inhabitants. The capital was Šavnik.
On 1 April 1945, over thirty conspirators were executed in Šavnik, of whom a large number were of the Karadžići.
Brotherhoods and families
In anthropological studies, the brotherhoods (bratstva) of Drobnjak are divided into either Novljani, Useljenici, Uskoci, and displaced families; or Starinci, Novljani, Useljenici, Uskoci (further divided into Šaranci and Uskoci), and emigrant families.
- The Starinci ("natives") who settled prior to the 16th century, today number 57 families, with Mandić being the oldest.
- The Novljani, today number 113 families.
- The Useljenici, today number 119 families.
- The Uskoci.
The most notable brotherhoods (bratstva) of the clan are the Abazović, Cerović, Karadžić, Malović, Čupić, Kosorić, Jauković and Zarubica families. The brotherhoods of Vulovići, Đurđići, Kosorići, Tomići and Cerovići, were established when they settled in the Drobnjak from Banjani in the 17th century. The clan was originally formed by five related brotherhoods: Cerović, Đurđić, Kosorić, Tomić and Vulović (of whom are the Žugićs). The Drobnjaci are Orthodox in majority, the notably mixed Muslim/Serb family is Kalabić, the Muslim families are Selimović and Džigal.
- Mandić, starinci, tribe's oldest family, originate from Old Serb Milešević.
- People from Drobnjaci
- Novica Cerović (1805–1895), warrior, senator and Drobnjak chief; born in Tušina, Šavnik.
- Radovan Karadžić (born 1945), former president of Republika Srpska; born in Šavnik area.
- Tomislav Karadžić (born 1939), president of the Serbian Football Association; born in Šavnik area.
- Igor Zugic (born 1981), Yugoslav born Canadian chessmaster
- Zoran Lakić (born 1933), Montenegrin historian and academic
- By ancestry
- Stojan Cerović (1949-2005), famous Serbian journalist
- Vanja Bulić (born 1947), Serbian journalist and author
- Živojin Mišić (1855–1921), general, and participant in all of Serbia's wars from 1876 to 1918, and Chief of the General Staff of Army of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 1920–1921; great-grandfather from Žabljak area.
- Mladen Milovanović (c. 1760-1823), one of the leaders in the First Serbian Uprising; father fled Tušina after a blood feud.
- Veselin Šljivančanin (born 1953), Yugoslav officer; born in Palež, Žabljak.
- Predrag Drobnjak (born 1975), Montenegrin basketball player; ancestry
- Anto Drobnjak (born 1968), former Montenegrin football player
- Branislav Drobnjak (born 1961), former Montenegrin football player
- Dragiša Drobnjak (born 1977), Slovenian basketball player
- Filip Kasalica (born 1988), Serbian-born Montenegrin footballer
- Darko Karadžić (born 1989), Montenegrin footballer
- Miodrag Karadžić (born 1987), Montenegrin footballer
- Milutin "Mima" Karadžić, Serbian actor and producer; ancestry
- Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787–1864), Serb linguist, major reformer of the Serbian language; parents from Drobnjaci.
- Dragomir Brajković (1947-2009), Montenegrin Serb writer and journalist
- Mladen Krstajić (born 1974), former Serbian football player
- Danica Krstajić (born 1987) former Montenegrin tennis player
- Meša Selimović (1910-1982), Yugoslav writer
- Borislav Pekić (1930-1992), Serbian political activist and writer
- Goran Žugić (1963-2000), Montenegrin State Security operative, personal aide of Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Đukanović; father from Žabljak.
- Miloš Cerović (born 1980), former Serbian swimmer
- Goran Grbović (born 1961), former Serbian basketball player
- Nikola Peković (born 1986), famous Montenegrin basketball player
- Rade Lončar (born 1996), Serbian basketball player
- Marko Lopušina (born 1951), Serbian journalist and publicist
- Žarko Laušević (born 1960), Serbian and Montenegrin actor
- Miraš Dedeić (born 1938), Head of the uncanonical Montenegrin Orthodox Church
- Miladin Šobić (born 1956), Montenegrin singer and songwriter
- Uroš Vemić (born 1987), Montenegrin football player
- Petar Čurović (born 1984), Montenegrin volleyball player
- Drobnjačka međa, in Banjani, Montenegro
- Drobnjaci, in Skopska Crna Gora, Republic of Macedonia
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