Sava Grujić

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Sava Grujić
Сава Грујић
General Sava Grujic.jpg
42nd Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia
In office
1 January 1888 – 27 April 1888
Monarch Alexander I
Preceded by Jovan Ristić
Succeeded by Nikola Hristić
45th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia
In office
7 March 1889 – 23 February 1891
Monarch Alexander I
Preceded by Kosta Protić
Succeeded by Nikola Pašić
49th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia
In office
5 December 1893 – 24 January 1894
Monarch Alexander I
Preceded by Lazar Dokić
Succeeded by Đorđe Simić
61st Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia
In office
4 October 1903 – 10 December 1904
Monarch Peter I
Preceded by Jovan Avakumović
Succeeded by Nikola Pašić
64th Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia
In office
7 March 1906 – 29 April 1906
Monarch Peter I
Preceded by Ljubomir Stojanović
Succeeded by Nikola Pašić
Personal details
Born 25 November 1840
Died 3 November 1913(1913-11-03) (aged 72)
Political party People's Radical Party
Occupation Military

Sava Grujić (Serbian Cyrillic: Сава Грујић, transcribed in English as Grujitch; 25 November 1840 – 25 November 1913) was a Serbian Radical Party politician, general, diplomat and writer.

As a diplomat he was the first to represent Serbia in Bulgaria and Serbia's representative to the Russian Empire, Serbian Deputy in Constantinople and Representative to the Serbian Minister in Athens. As a military officer, he participated in both Serbian-Ottoman Wars (1876–77; 1877–78) and served as Minister of War and Minister of Defence. From comparatively humble origins, he served as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia five times between 1889 and 1906 in the Governments of both Karađorđević and Obrenović. He was considered one of the builders of Yugoslavia and played an instrumental role in its creation. He was an able negotiator and diplomat and with some of his contemporaries put together ideas for the formation of a south Slav State working together with prominent liberals of his day.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sava Grujić was born on 25 November 1840 at Kolari, a village in the district of Smederevo, just ten years after Serbia became a semi-independent state after three and a half centuries of Turkish occupation. His grandfather, Vule Ilić, was a well-known vojvoda (duke or military commander) under Karadjordje who distinguished himself at the battle of Suvobor in 1809 during the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Once he finished his elementary education at the village school, his family could no longer afford to pay for any further education. A local Orthodox priest and a local public official recognized Grujić's potential and arranged for him to go to Belgrade for secondary education.[citation needed]

From the Military Academy to Minister of War[edit]

Sava Grujić

Military Education[edit]

After leaving high school Grujić entered the Serbian Military Academy in Belgrade where he stayed from 1856 to 1861. After graduating, he was promoted to second lieutenant of artillery and as top graduate was sent to Prussia, at the Prussian Military Academy (German: Preußische Kriegsakademie) to continue his military education and for the practical study of gunnery. When the Polish uprising started in 1863, inspired by new and modern liberal ideas, Grujić left Berlin to join the Polish fighters. He returned to Belgrade when the uprising collapsed.

Wanting to get a higher theoretical artillery formation, in 1864, Grujić entered the Russian service in the 23rd Artillery Brigade. In 1865, he enrolled at the Mikhailovsky Artillery Academy, spending the last two years at St. Petersburg's arsenal. After graduating in 1870 he returned to Serbia. Frustrated by the state of Serbian politics and involved with a liberal and progressive group of people, Sava wrote an article openly criticizing the Minister of War. As a result, he was fired from the army; however, later that same year he was reintegrated. He was appointed first chief of the arsenal in Kragujevac as expert in artillery and armaments and then chief of artillery control. The city became Serbia's main center for arms production and the modernization of armaments.[2]

The Serbo-Turkish war[edit]

In July 1875, peasants in Herzegovina rebelled against their Muslim landlords and Ottoman Turkish rulers. The insurrection quickly spread to Bosnia and aroused sympathy in Serbia, still an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire.[3] On 30 June 1876, Serbia, followed by Montenegro, declared war on the Ottoman Empire. Grujić was appointed chief of artillery serving under General Michael Cherniaev, a Russian who took Serbian citizenship. Grujić as Chief of Artillery took a leading part in the battle and by the end of 1876 was promoted to the rank of Colonel. On 24 April 1877, Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire and in December was joined by the Serbs and Montenegrins, the conflict is known as the Russo-Turkish War.[4]

Minister of War[edit]

After the war with Turkey, on 4 November 1876, Grujić was appointed Minister of War, for the next two years he organized major reforms in the army in order to improve her fighting capacity and giving her a new organization.[5] The formal independence of Serbia from the Ottoman Empire was internationally recognized at the Congress of Berlin of 1878, which formally ended the Russo-Turkish War and started Sava's diplomatic career.[6][7]

Diplomatic career (1878–1887)[edit]

Grujić quickly proved himself to be a versatile politician and a skilled diplomat, as such he was sent as ambassador and representative of the Serbian Kingdom around capitals helping secure Serbia's place in Europe. A few years later he became Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 1879, as foreign relations between the Principality of Bulgaria and Serbia were established for the first time, he was selected to be the first Serbian diplomatic representative in Bulgaria.[citation needed]


From 1882 to 1884, he moved to Athens where he was posted as Serbian Minister of the new Kingdom of Serbia. A reformer named Charilaos Trikoupis, having just been elected Prime Minister, was pushing through an aggressive program of reforms to make Greece into a progressive nation, Sava was involved into many negotiations between their respective governments and the Ottoman Porte.[citation needed]

Saint Petersburg[edit]

From 1885 to 1887 he became Serbia's representative to the Russian Empire and moved his family to Saint Petersburg. As a trusted political friend of Russia, he was sent as a special envoy to Constantinople, during the conflict between Russia, Turkey and Austria, to negotiate with the Turks on behalf of the Russian Empire.[8] In June 1887 he was promoted General and became Minister of War again (now Minister of the Army) in a coalition government.[9]

Political career (1888–1906)[edit]

Grujić joined the Radical Party in Serbia. In 1888, he became Prime Minister; his first act was to create a new constitution.[10] A year later he became Foreign Minister as well as Prime Minister. From 16 March 1890 to 11 February 1891 he was again Minister of War and then went to St. Petersburg as Serbian Minister, he was then sent as Serbian minister to Constantinople from 1891 to 1893.[11] Upon his return he became President of the new Government, Minister and Military Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[12]

The Serbian Radical party was not directly involved in the 1903 coup d'etat, but it was one of the groups that benefited the most from the overthrow of the Obrenovich dynasty. As the most popular political party within Serbia by far, it has been estimated that by 1903 as much as 80% of Serbia's population either supported or belonged to the Serbian Radicals, the transformation of Serbia into a parliamentary democracy meant that the Radicals would dominate the parliament, and that they would continually form the government and run Serbia.[13] On 15 June 1903, after Peter I of Serbia become the new Serbian head of state, Grujić was appointed President of the State Council and Prime Minister. He remained in that office until 27 November 1904. He became Prime Minister and War Minister again from 1 March to 17 April 1906, and finally President of the Council of State (1906–1910).[14]

Retirement and death[edit]

In 1901, Grujić headed the Serbian delegation to the second International Court of Justice in The Hague where he spent several months. In 1906 he retired from active political life but remained President of the State Council. In 1910 he retired from all activities. October 1913 saw the end of the Balkan War against the Turks when Serbia together with Greece and Bulgaria liberated the Balkan Peninsula from the Turks. The following month, Grujić died peacefully at home on his 73rd birthday.[citation needed]


Grujić wrote a number of military manuals and books. One of his best known publications which was very popular at the time was the History of the Serbo-Turkish Wars of 1816–1818 in four volumes.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Grujić married firstly in 1867; they had one child, a daughter, Angelina. His first wife died at a young age. He remarried, to Milica Radovenović; they had four children; two sons: Captain Boro Grujić and Captain Alek Grujić, and two daughters: Mara married to Cavalry Division General Vojin Tcholak-Antitch, Chief Inspector of Cavalry, Commander of the Order of the Légion d'Honneur and Olga, Royal Lady in Waiting to Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, married to Professor Milivoje S. Lozanić.


  • Honorary member, Serbian Academy of Science
  • Honorary member, Russian Archaeological Institute


Generala Save Grujića is a street of the western section of downtown Belgrade.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Histoire du peuple serbe by Dusan-T Batakovic, p. 189; ISBN 89-89205-20-4
  2. ^ Michael R. Palairet, “The Balkan Economies C.1800-1914: Evolution Without Development”
  3. ^ Info re Serbo-Turkish-War
  4. ^ Peter Sluglett, “War and Diplomacy: The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 and the Treaty of Berlin ”
  5. ^ Balcanica Issue 38, Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti, Balkanolos̆ki Institut, 2008
  6. ^ Charles and Barbara Jelavich, The establishment of the Balkan national states; ISBN 0-295-96413-8
  7. ^ The Serbs and Russian Pan-Slavism, 1875–1878, David MacKenzie; ISBN 0-8014-0283-2
  8. ^ Béla K. Király, Essays on war and society in East Central Europe, 1740–1920
  9. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica: a new survey of universal knowledge, Volume 20,Harry S. Ashmore
  10. ^ John V. Da Graça, Heads of state and government, p. 261; ISBN 978-0-333-78615-4
  11. ^ Alex Dragnich, The development of parliamentary government in Serbia; ISBN 0-914710-37-0
  12. ^ Wayne S. Vucinich, Serbia between East and West: the events of 1903–1908, Edward Arthur White, Stanford University
  13. ^ Milivoje Popovic, p. 90
  14. ^ Serbia between East and West: the events of 1903–1908, Wayne S. Vucinich, pp. 85, 98, 102
  15. ^ The Slavonic Review, Volume 2, University of London. School of Slavonic Studies


External links[edit]