Unlike their neighbors, the Montenegrins managed to avoid complete submission to the Ottomans: for centuries this country retained a certain autonomy, the Turks seized only the lands adjacent to the Skadar Lake. This is explained not only by some exceptional love of freedom and military prowess of the inhabitants of Montenegro, but also by the peculiarity of the territory they controlled: it was then much smaller than modern and was a harsh and inaccessible mountainous area. On this map you can see what Montenegro looked like back in the XNUMXth century, and how the territory of this state was gradually increasing:
The Montenegrin rulers still formally recognized the power of the Turkish governors, who were located in Skadar (Shkoder). The sons of the Montenegrin princes from the Crnojevic family periodically went to Constantinople as hostages and even converted to Islam there. The situation changed in the 1692th century, when the Ottomans tried to introduce kharaj (tax on the use of land by the Gentiles) in Montenegro. This led to a series of uprisings and an attempt to go under the protectorate of Venice, which then failed to provide Montenegro with sufficient military assistance. In XNUMX, the Turks even succeeded in capturing and destroying the seemingly impregnable Cetinje Monastery.
Metropolitan rulers of Montenegro
Since 1516, Montenegro has been a kind of theocratic monarchy: at the head of this country were metropolitan-lords, the first of whom was Vavila. True, the so-called governors were at first in charge of secular affairs under them. But since 1697, the secular power was also in the hands of the metropolitans, who began to pass this dignity (or - already the title?) By inheritance. Later, the descendants of these metropolitans became princes of Montenegro. The founder of this strange dynasty was Danila the First Petrovic-Njegos.
It was under the leadership of Danila that the famous Cetinsky monastery, destroyed in 1692 (5 years before his election), was restored. It was rebuilt away from the old building, but the stones left over from the first were used for its construction.
At the same time, the Metropolitan of Montenegrins for the first time acted as allies of Russia in the struggle against Turkey and even inflicted defeat on the Ottomans in the battle of Tsarev Laz (in which Danila himself was wounded). However, the unsuccessful Prut campaign of Peter I left the Montenegrins alone with a stronger enemy. In addition to a large number of villages, the city of Cetinje was again captured and the recently rebuilt monastery was again ruined.
In 1715, Danila visited St. Petersburg, receiving money for the restoration of churches and assistance to those who suffered in the war with the Turks, church books and utensils.
In 1716, the Montenegrins defeated the Ottomans in the battle near the village of Ternine, and in 1718 they fought against the Turks on the side of the Venetians.
For two centuries, the troops of the Metropolitans of Montenegro fought with the Ottoman armies, often defeating them. But sometimes they were defeated, and the country found itself in the most desperate situation. Only the help of Venice or Russia saved then the Montenegrins from complete conquest and revenge of the angry Turks. It is curious that the Orthodox Church and the common people of Montenegro have traditionally advocated an alliance with Russia, while noble people have always focused on the Republic of Venice, with which they were tied by trade interests.
"Peter III" on the Montenegrin throne
The most mysterious of the rulers of Montenegro was Stefan Maly, whom everyone unanimously took for the Russian Emperor Peter III, who was killed in Ropsha. He himself did not directly deny this, but he never called himself Peter.
Even in Turkey and Europe, at first they could not confidently assert that an impostor had appeared in Montenegro. Catherine II herself gave a reason for doubts, who did not appear at the funeral of her husband, who allegedly died of "hemorrhoidal colic" decency). In addition, the burial place of Peter III was not the imperial tomb of the Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress, but the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. All this led to the appearance of rumors that instead of Peter, either some soldier, remotely similar to the emperor, or a wax doll was buried. Not surprisingly, more than 40 impostors soon appeared, the most famous of whom was Emelyan Pugachev.
In Montenegro, Stefan was extremely popular, and the nickname under which he entered history, traditionally interpreted in this way: they say, he was "good with good people, little - small." Under pressure from the people, Metropolitan Vladyka Savva was forced to cede power to Stephen. This impostor ruled from November 1767 to October 1773. His fate was described in the article Stefan Small. Montenegrin adventures of Peter III, we will not repeat ourselves.
The road to independence
Montenegro became virtually independent from the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 1785th century. After the Turks were unable to protect it from the invasion of the Albanian army of Kara Mahmud Bushati in 1795, and in XNUMX, the Montenegrins themselves defeated the army of this robber prince, but they did not let the Turkish pashas come to them either. This happened during the reign of Metropolitan Peter I Petrovich-Njegos, who, according to legend, personally cut off the head of “Black Mahmud”. Later this Metropolitan Vladyka was canonized by the Orthodox Church.
Peter I Petrovic-Njegos, Saint Peter of Cetinje
However, the independence of Montenegro was officially recognized only in 1878.
Under Metropolitan Peter I Njegos, Montenegrins in 1806-1807. acted as allies of the Russian army during the battles with the French in Dalmatia. The Russians then remembered their stubborn unwillingness to take prisoners: according to a long-standing tradition, they cut off their heads to opponents who fell into their hands. And they, following the same consecrated centuries and traditions, considered any property on enemy territory as their legal prey. The nationality and confessional affiliation of the owners of the belongings they liked did not matter.
In 1852, Vladyka Metropolitan Danilo II Petrovic-Njegos accepted the title of Prince of Montenegro (and from that time he began to be called Danilo I).
Alexander III called his nephew and successor Nicholas I Petrovich-Njegos “the only friend,” while he himself once said to the Russian envoy Y. Ya. Solovyov:
For me, there are only orders from the Russian emperor. My answer is always the same: I listen.
And then among ordinary people there was a well-known saying:
Together with the Russians, we are 150 million, and without the Russians - two vans.
Another version of the second part of the proverb: "we are without the floor of the camion floor" - the floor of the truck.
A poster paraphrasing this saying was displayed in Belgrade by Crvena Zvezda fans on March 23, 2017 during the meeting of the basketball team of this club with the Greek Oliampiakos. This was done on the eve of the friendly match between the football teams "Crvena Zvezda" and Moscow "Spartak", which was to take place two days later, on March 25:
During the reign of Nikola I (in 1875), Bosnia and Herzegovina rebelled against the Ottomans. In April 1876, an uprising began in Bulgaria, which was brutally suppressed, up to 30 thousand people became victims of the punishers. In June 1876, Serbia and Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire. About 4 thousand Russians volunteered for that war, among whom were: General M. Chernov, artist V. Polenov, revolutionary populist S.M. Stepnyak-Kravchinsky, famous surgeon N. Sklifosovsky and even the notorious Erast Fandorin - the hero of B. Akunina.
V. Polenov. Serbian heads on a palisade in a Turkish village, 1876
We will talk about this in more detail in another article, which will talk about Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Only the tough position of the Russian authorities then saved both Serbia and Montenegro from complete defeat: under the threat of Russia's entry into the war, Turkey concluded a truce with these countries. However, a new Russian-Turkish war nevertheless began in April 1877 - after the Ottomans rejected the decisions of the International Conference of Constantinople, which provided for the receipt of autonomy for Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina. This war ended with the defeat of Turkey on March 3, 1878, when a peace treaty was signed in San Stefano (a suburb of Constantinople). It was under the terms of this treaty that Montenegro gained independence - simultaneously with Serbia and Romania.
By the way, in Bulgaria, March 3 is still a public holiday - the Day of Liberation from the Ottoman yoke.
Montenegro in the XX century
After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, Montenegro declared war on Japan. Regular units of the army of this country did not participate in hostilities in the Far East, but some Montenegrin volunteers turned out to be there. The most famous of them, perhaps, was Alexander Saichich, who became famous as an unsurpassed swordsman. In 1905, he responded to the call of a Japanese samurai and killed him in battle, was wounded in the forehead, nicknamed "Muromets" and a life "pension" of 300 rubles from Nicholas II.
Other well-known Montenegrin volunteers were Philip Plamenac, a full Knight of St. George, who also took part in the Chinese campaign against the Ikhetuanians (1900-1901), and Ante Gvozdenovich, a member of the Akhal-Teke expedition of M.D.Skobelev.
It is curious that the peace treaty between Japan and Montenegro was concluded only on July 24, 2006. It is usually said that Russian and Japanese diplomats were mistaken in forgetting to include a mention of Montenegro in the text of the treaty. But there is an opinion that Montenegro was left in a state of war with Japan deliberately: both sides were dissatisfied with the terms of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty and wished to have a reason for a new war.
On August 28, 1910, Montenegro became a kingdom, and Nikola Njegos became the first and last king of this country.
It is curious that it was small Montenegro that on October 8, 1912, was the first to declare war on the Ottoman Empire, and only 10 days later other Balkan states - Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece - joined it.
Montenegrin mitraleses (in France now all machine guns are called so) 500 meters from the Turkish positions, 1912
Two daughters of Nikola I Njegos were married to members of the Russian imperial family: Militsa became the wife of Grand Duke Peter Nikolaevich, Anastasia became the wife of Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich (he was her second husband). At court they were called "Montenegrins" or "black women".
Militsa and Anastasia
It was they who brought Grigory Rasputin into the imperial palace (but when he acquired "excessive" influence on Nicholas II and especially on his wife Alexandra, they switched to the "high society opposition" and became enemies of the "Elder"). After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, they desperately intrigued, seeking through their husbands Russia's entry into World War I. This war destroyed the Montenegrin kingdom. The first successes of 1914 were replaced by the failures of 1915, in January 1916 the Montenegrin front collapsed, the capital of the country, Cetinje, fell on the 14th, and on January 19, King Nicholas I left the country, which was occupied by Austria-Hungary.
On July 20, 1917, the Allies in the Entente decided to transfer the territory of Montenegro to Serbia, which happened on November 26, 1918. Serbian troops entered Montenegro; on December 17, 1918, the Njegos dynasty was declared deposed. Thus, the kingdom of Montenegro lasted only 8 years.
However, in Montenegro, not everyone agreed to join Serbia, as a result, for several years, part of the Montenegrins waged a partisan war.
Nicholas I never returned to Montenegro. He died on March 1, 1921, his son Danilo died on September 24, 1939 in Vienna.
In 1941, after the rapid defeat of the royal troops of Yugoslavia, Mussolini wanted to include Montenegro in Italy, and the Croats and Albanians intended to divide the Montenegrin lands among themselves. However, the Italian monarch Victor Emmanuel III, under the influence of his wife Elena, daughter of Nicholas I, restored the kingdom of Montenegro, but faced an unexpected problem: there were no people willing to become a fake Montenegrin king. Mikhail Njegosh, the grandson of King Nikola and the son of Danila, refused to play the role of an Italian puppet; after him, the great-grandson of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I Roman Petrovich and his son Nikolai evaded this dubious honor. Thus, being a kingdom on paper, Montenegro was ruled at first by Italian governors, and then came under the authority of the German administration.
The first clashes between partisan detachments and the invaders began in July 1941 in Serbia. And then an uprising began in Montenegro, where the partisans took control of almost the entire territory of the country. Most of all, the invaders were shocked that this uprising began on July 13 - the day after the announcement of the creation of a fake independent kingdom of Montenegro (for which, however, as we already know, there was no monarch).
July 13 in a united socialist Yugoslavia was celebrated as the Day of the uprising of the Montenegrin people. And after the collapse of the SFRY, this date is celebrated as the Day of Statehood of Montenegro.
Within a week, the number of Montenegrin rebels reached 30 thousand people. As a result, the Italians had to transfer over 70 thousand soldiers and officers here, as well as formations of Yugoslav Muslims and Albanians. By mid-August, the uprising was suppressed, but up to 5 thousand partisans continued to operate against the occupiers in the mountains. In Serbia, units of Tito's partisans were gaining strength. The Italians could not cope, and to fight the rebels, the Germans transferred up to 80 thousand soldiers to Yugoslavia and two aviation squadrons from Greece, and in November 1941 - even one division from the Eastern Front. Units of Croatian Ustasha and Bosnian Muslims were also widely used, in particular, the SS Khanjar volunteer mountain rifle division (in which Croats, ethnic Germans of Yugoslavia and Muslims served). More details about the Croatian Ustash and SS volunteer divisions will be discussed in other articles.
At the same time, the Resistance forces in Yugoslavia were divided into two parts: the "red" partisans of Tito and the Chetnik monarchists, significantly inferior to them in number.
Chetniks of the 2nd Ravnogorsk corps
It is curious that after the landing of the Allies in Italy, many soldiers of the Italian divisions "Taurinense" and "Venice" went over to the side of the Yugoslav partisans, from which in December 1943 the division "Garibalbdi" was formed, which became part of the 2nd corps of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia ...
In the fall of 1944, the troops of the German Army Group "E" under the blows of the NOAU and the Red Army formations went to Hungary through the territory of Montenegro and Bosnia. In total, over the years of occupation, 14 and a half thousand Montenegrin partisans and over 23 thousand civilians of Montenegro were killed.
In July 1944, at the Anti-Fascist Assembly of National Liberation in Kolasin, it was decided that after the end of the war Montenegro would again become part of Yugoslavia. In the new socialist Federation, she received the status of a republic.
After the collapse of the SFRY, Serbia and Montenegro in 1992 united into a new union state, whose fate turned out to be sad: it was disbanded after a referendum held in May 2006, in which the Montenegrins voted for independence.
Montenegro in the XXI century
In 2004, even before the collapse of the last Yugoslav state, Montenegro renamed the Iekava form of the Serbian language (Srpski ezik ekavskogo conspiracy) into “mother ezik” (native). This was done to "make it possible to speak it without calling it Serbian." Meanwhile, in 2011, 43% of Montenegrins named the Serbian language as their native language, while 32% of ethnic Serbs in Montenegro. It is curious that according to the 1909 census, there were no "Montenegrins" in Montenegro at all: 95% of the respondents then called themselves Serbs, 5% - Albanians. That is, the situation was the same as in Ukraine at the end of the 1874th century, when N. Kostomarov (in XNUMX) wrote:
In folk speech, the word "Ukrainian" was not used and is not used in the sense of the people; it means only an inhabitant of the region: whether he is a Pole or a Jew, it doesn't matter: he is a Ukrainian if he lives in Ukraine; it doesn't matter how, for example, a citizen of Kazan or a Saratov citizen means a resident of Kazan or Saratov.
The Montenegrin language, according to linguists, is one of the dialects of Serbian - the already mentioned Iekava form, which refers to “Ekovitsa” (vowels are pronounced softer), while in Serbia itself “Ekovitsa” is widespread (vowels are pronounced more firmly).
Only in 2009 was the first spelling set of the newly invented Montenegrin language published: to emphasize its difference from Serbian, two new letters were added. And in 2010 the first Montenegrin grammar appeared.
The Cyrillic alphabet (vukovitsa) in Montenegro is now crowded out by the Latin (gaevitsa), in which all official documents are drawn up. In Serbia, the workflow is in a letter, and there are even proposals to fine for the use of the Latin alphabet.
Vukovitsa and Gayevitsa
In 2008, the Montenegrin authorities recognized the independence of Kosovo, which the Serbs called a betrayal and a "stab in the back"; the Montenegrin ambassador was even expelled from Belgrade.
In December 2013, the Montenegrin government denied Russian warships a 72-hour technical stop at the port city of Bar to replenish fuel and food supplies, for which payment was guaranteed. In the Russian media, this next foreign policy failure was practically not covered, but in the Balkans, where Montenegro has long been considered Russia's most loyal and consistent ally, this news made a great impression. In March 2014, Montenegro even joined the European sanctions against Russia. And in June 2017, Montenegro joined NATO, becoming its 29th member and pledging to increase defense spending to 2024% of GDP by 2. We can only guess against whom this country is going to fight - together with the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and other states of this alliance.
In 2019, the President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, said that “in order to overcome the split between the Montenegrins and Serbs living in the country,” Montenegro needs an autocephalous church separate from the Serbian. Its current head is Mirash Dedeich, excommunicated from the Church, just like the Ukrainian Mikhail Denisenko, better known as Filaret. In Ukraine, for some reason, such actions did not greatly contribute to the establishment of peace between the parishioners of different churches, and in Montenegro, the police had to force the supporters of Dedeich to drive away from the Cetinje monastery, which they wanted to seize. In addition, as you know, the cunning Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople deceived the Ukrainian schismatics by giving them a completely onerous tomos.
On June 11, 2019, Filaret stated:
We do not accept this tomos, because we did not know the contents of the tomos that were given to us. If we knew the content, then on December 15 we would not have voted for autocephaly.
But not everyone likes to learn from other people's mistakes, many need their own.
In the following articles, we will talk about Croats, Macedonians, Bosnians and Albanians in the Ottoman Empire.