Prince Peter of Montenegro

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Prince Peter
Grand Duke of Zahumlie[1]
Prince Peter of Montenegro.jpg
Born (1889-10-10)10 October 1889
Cetinje
Died 7 May 1932(1932-05-07) (aged 42)
Merano
Spouse Violet Wegner
House Petrović-Njegoš
Father Nicholas I of Montenegro
Mother Milena Vukotić

Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Duke of Zahumlie (10 October 1889 – 7 May 1932)[2] was a soldier in the Balkan and First World War and a member of the Royal Family of Montenegro.

Early life[edit]

Prince Peter was born in Cetinje, the youngest son of Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro and his consort, Milena Vukotić. He was baptised on 19 January 1890 in Rijeka, his sponsors were Emperor Alexander III of Russia and the Duchess of Edinburgh.[3] He was educated in Heidelberg.[4]

Prince Peter who served in the Montenegrin Ground Army, had been hoping for a war since the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908, writing to his nephew Crown Prince George of Serbia at the time, he stated his wish that they would meet on the "Crimson field".[5] It would be another four years before the outbreak of the First Balkan War (1912–1913) meant he finally saw action. Prince Peter symbolically began the conflict firing the first shot at the Turkish forces.[6]

As the youngest son of the king and thus unlikely to inherit to the Montenegrin throne, Prince Peter was talked about as a candidate for the throne of Albania after that country achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.[7] However nothing ever came of it and in the end the throne was given to the German prince William of Wied.

First World War[edit]

Prince Peter saw more action during the First World War. In late August 1914 during the first month of the war, Prince Peter was in command of the defence of Lovćen when it was attacked by the Austrians. With the help of an Anglo-French Naval Fleet he managed to lead a successful counterattack and his army managed to kill and capture many Austrian soldiers and artillery guns.[8] By March 1915 his army had progressed into Austrian territory holding a 30-mile stretch from Spizza to a southern fortress in the Bay of Cattaro.[9]

In May 1915 a highly controversial meeting took place at Budua between Prince Peter and the Austrian Colonel Hupka, former military attaché at Cetinje. All that Prince Peter would acknowledge took place at the meeting was a request from him for the Austrians to stop the bombardment of towns by their aeroplanes, and that he was acting on instruction from his father. However a number of arrangements also took place, these included supplying the Austrians with Serbian national sandals, so that they climb the rocks more easily; and giving a verbal, then written order to his two brigadiers that they must not resist the Austrians and allow them to capture Lovćen.[10]

After Prince Peter's surrender of Lovćen by 1916 the war had turned against Montenegro in favour of the numerically superior Austrians. In January of that year along with his parents Prince Peter left Montenegro heading first to Rome and then France where they joined the rest of the Royal Family, all except for his brother Prince Mirko of Montenegro who was left behind to organise the defence of the country.[11][12]

Exile and marriage[edit]

In the Autumn of 1918 while still in exile in France, Prince Peter met a married woman named Violette Brunet, (otherwise Violet Brunetta d'Usseaux) whose husband (Sergio d'Usseaux) was in the service of his father, King Nicholas I of Montenegro. Having fallen in love and wishing to marry her, Prince Peter wrote to his father instructing him to arrange the marriage. When his father objected, Prince Peter tried to blackmail his father, threatening to reveal damaging secrets about the surrender of Lovćen.[10] In any case, Prince Peter's father died in 1921. With the end of the First World War, Prince Peter and the Montenegrin Royal Family were exiled and denied the chance to return to their kingdom when the Podgorica Assembly chose to unite Montenegro with the other Slavic lands as part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

It was reputedly at the bedside of a dying friend, that Prince Peter met the London-born[13] music hall performer Violet Emily Wegner, daughter of William Wegner, a police detective, and his wife, Arabella Eliza Darby. Violet had married Sergio d'Usseaux in London in 1912. D'Ussueaux was the son of Comte Eugenio d'Usseaux who had been the Secretary General of the Olympic Committee responsible for reviving the games and administering the 1908 London Olympic Games. Eugenio died in mysterious circumstances in 1919 and his body was never received at the place of its intended burial. Eugenio had been seeking news of a son missing in Russia after the October Revolution which may have been his son Sergio. There is no confirmed information about Sergio's death. Prince Peter's proposal of marriage to Violet was accepted which suggests Violet's previous marriage was ended, probably by the death of Sergio. Violet's mother, it is said, persuaded the couple to delay marriage as Prince Peter had a claim of compensation against the Yugoslav government, (estimated at around £6million for the confiscation of the Royal Family's property in Montenegro). Violet's mother feared that if Prince Peter married her daughter, a commoner, it could jeopardise his claim. It is asserted she advised him to collect the money before he wed her daughter. After a number of years of failed attempts to secure the money, Prince Peter attempted to strike a deal with the Yugoslav government whereby he would drop his claim to £6million for a lower £2million. After going to Belgrade and signing paperwork he was told by the government that having agreed to accept £2million, the sum would still not be remitted to him until a later date.[14] Prince Peter nevertheless married Violet in Paris on 29 April 1924 before having received any pay out . After the marriage Prince Peter's wife became HRH Princess Violet Ljubica of Montenegro.[2]

In 1932, Prince Peter died in Merano aged 42. His wife Princess Violet Ljubica of Montenegro died in Monte Carlo on 17 October 1960. They had no children.[2]

Titles and styles[edit]

  • 10 October 1889 – 1910: His Highness Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Duke of Zahumlie
  • 1910 – 7 May 1932: His Royal Highness Prince Peter Petrovich-Njegosh of Montenegro, Grand Duke of Zahumlie

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maclagan, Michael; Louda, Jiří (1999). Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. London: Little, Brown & Co. p. 290. ISBN 1-85605-469-1. 
  2. ^ a b c Burkes Royal Families of the World. Volume 1 Europe and Latin America, p 414. Burkes Peerage, 1977.
  3. ^ Prince Peter, the third son of the Prince of Montenegro, was christened at Rijika yesterday. The Morning Post, 20 January 1890.
  4. ^ The Balkan Trouble. Grey River Argus, 18 October 1912.
  5. ^ Two Warlike Princes; Prince Peter Wants to Meet Prince George on the Crimson Field. New York Times. 13 October 1908
  6. ^ The Cosmopolitan. Boston Evening Transcript. 9 November 1912
  7. ^ The inner history of the Balkan war, p 239. London Constable, 1914
  8. ^ Allies' Ships save Montenegrin City; Drive off Austrians. The Pittsburgh Press. 31 August 1914
  9. ^ Our Smallest Ally. Poverty Bay Herald, 4 March 1915
  10. ^ a b Baerlein, Henry. The Birth of Yugoslavia p 263, 271. Volume 1. Leonard Parsons, London. 1922
  11. ^ Montenegrin King is in France now. Youngstown Vindicator, 25 January 1916
  12. ^ King Nicholas leaves for France. Evening Post, 24 January 1916
  13. ^ "London-born Balkan Princess dies at 73". The Canberra Times. Oct 19, 1960. Retrieved 6 Jan 2016. 
  14. ^ Gave Up a Throne To Marry a Policeman's Daughter. The Milwaukee Sentinel, 1 September 1929