History of Montenegro: a fight for independence

Черногорская история - борьба народа за свободу

The history of the state of Montenegro is rich in interesting events. The Montenegro people had been fighting for their freedom for many centuries.

Even though the territory of Montenegro is quite small, its history is full of major events.

Ancient times

The state ‘Montenegro’ was first mentioned in old letters dated 1276. The legend says that the name of ‘Montenegro’ refers to the geographic position of the country as the area around the Mount Lovcen was covered with dark thick forest and seemed almost black.

  • The Roman Empire. During the Roman times the territory of Montenegro belonged to Duklja. Founded in 1077, Duklja was the first Balkan kingdom, and its first ruler was Mihailo Vojislavljević — a duke that got a status of the king from the Pope Gregory VII. Later Duklja changed its name to Zeta after one of the rivers.
  • The Byzantine Empire. Later the state of Duklja (already Zeta by then) was overtaken by the Byzantine Empire. However, Zeta managed to keep its independence within the Byzantine Empire thanks to a clever ruler from the Nemanjić dynasty.
  • Independent Montenegro. The XIV century was crucial in the history in Montenegro as under the ruling of Balša it became an independent federal state. Since then the territory of Montenegro had been increasing regardless of continuous wars with the Turks and the Albanians.

The state under the Turks and the age of the Crnojević dynasty

Montenegro under the rules of the Turks Constant attacks of the Turks had been a long-time problem of the Montenegrins. Their countless armies attacked the towns, robbed the villages, captured and killed numerous citizens.

Ivan Crnojević

After one furious and long attack the ruler of Montenegro, Ivan Crnojević, led the people to the Cetinje town, to the Mount Lovcen, in order to save them from the Turks. As a memorial to this day, a castle and a monastery were built later, and the town of Cetinje itself became a symbol of government and spiritual freedom.

Đurađ Crnojević

Đurađ was the son of the wise ruler Ivan Crnojević. His reign made a big influence on the history of Montenegro. The first-ever book on Balkans was printed then, and the first printing shop was open.

  • However, in 1496 the Ottoman Empire managed to force their control over Montenegro, but only at south-eastern territories of the former Zeta.
  • That had continued until 1645 when Montenegro finally became completely independent. After that the spiritual leaders — bishops — took government of the country. Official power was held by the Assembly of Heads of State and the Montenegrin Assembly.
  • 1697 became the first year of the Dynasty of Petrović-Njegoš. They started the union of religion and politics.

XVII-XIX centuries: declaration of the kingdom

Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš — the heritor of bishop’s power and the first secular ruler, the duke of Montenegro. He continued strengthening the Montenegro’s sovereignty started by his predecessors. During his reign the sovereignty of Montenegro was officially acknowledged and the hereditary monarchy was established. This was possible not the least due to his victory over the Turks in 1858 in the Battle of Grahovac.

Nicholas I Petrović-Njegoš — the king of Montenegro. His reign is also considered quite successful as his wise leadership allowed for the increase in territory by attachment of following areas:

  • Kolasin,
  • Nikšić,
  • Podgorica,
  • Bar, and
  • Ulcinj.

Montenegro is, in fact, the only Balkan country that fought against the Ottoman aggression.

In 1910 Montenegro was proclaimed the kingdom.

XX century: loss of independence

XX century was one of the hardest periods of Montenegro as the country completely disappeared from the political maps and lost its status of an independent country.

In alliance with Serbia, Montenegro joined the World War I, but after their capitulation in 1916 to Austria-Hungary, the king of Montenegro Nicholas was expelled from the country. After that all his efforts to influence the run of events in the country were fruitless.

In the result of annexation to Serbia, Montenegro lost all its accomplishments: the army, the governmental structure, and their royal house.

After World War II Montenegro became a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a separate country.

Later for some time Montenegro remained in the alliance with Serbia forming the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. Both countries had a common government composed of five ministries: the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Human and Minorities Rights Protection, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of International Economic Relations. The Parliament was also common.

The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro had been existing for about three years. In June 2006 Montenegro again became an independent state fulfilling the endeavour of its people.

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