Like nature, the history of Montenegro is very rich. The Balkans have always been at the crossroads between east and west, hence the constant desire of large neighboring powers to subordinate this small mountainous territory to their will. Perhaps the constant need to win or defend their independence gave birth to the proud and original people of Montenegro – a small country on the Adriatic coast.
However, the history of these places does not begin with the arrival here in the VI century AD. Slavic tribes, which later became Montenegrins, and even in the 5th – 4th centuries BC. with the arrival of Greek colonists on the shores of the Bay of Kotor. At the bottom of the bay, the remains of Greek ships are often found, which exported wine and wheat from these places. In addition, the warlike tribes of the Illyrians lived there, who hunted for raids on Macedonia and piracy in the Adriatic Sea. In the III century BC. Illyrian pirates led by Queen Teuta, who had a headquarters on the territory of the modern city of Tivat were defeated by the Romans. Then, in the 2nd century BC, in response to renewed piracy, the Romans once again launched a successful military campaign against them. Over the next 100 years, the Romans waged separate campaigns here, but did not proceed to the final capture. By the end of the 1st century BC. Illyria becomes a Roman province, which is then divided into two parts Pannonia (inland) and Dalmatia (coastal strip). Check a2zdirectory for old history of Montenegro.
Christianity began to spread in these places quite early. The Apostle from 70 Titus, a Greek, a native of the island of Crete, visited Dalmatia in his apostolic missions. In the 4th-5th centuries, after the Edict of Milan, the construction of theaters and amphitheatres almost completely stopped, and at the same time, Christian churches began to be actively built. At the end of the IV century, the Roman Empire broke up into Western and Eastern, and the modern territory of Montenegro was just on their border. As the Roman Empire declined, this part of the Adriatic coast began to suffer from constant raids and movements of barbarians, mostly Goths in the 5th and Avars in the 6th century, soon driven out by the Slavs. Slavic tribes were ruled by leaders, who were called zhupans. By the middle of the 7th century, the Slavs settled in the Roman province of Prevalis, where at that time there were the Roman cities of Kotor, Risan, Budva, Bar, Ulcinj and Dioklea, located on the territory of modern Montenegro. They formed a state Dukla and gradually mixed with the local population, voluntarily adopting Christianity from it.
In the period between the 7th and 9th centuries, feudalism intensifies, and in the second half of the 9th century, the Slavic Duklja becomes a principality. The first prince of Dukla about whom anything is known was Peter. By that time, Duklja had already been converted to Christianity and was in vassal dependence on Byzantium. Vladimir (1016) becomes the first nominally independent prince, but only his son Stefan Vojislav, who ruled from 1018 to 1043, achieved real independence. Prince Vojislav defeated the Byzantine troops in 1042 at the Battle of Bar, thus marking the end of Byzantine influence in Dukla. Since that time, in some sources, the principality began to be called Zeta.
Dukla / Zeta achieved prosperity and significant expansion during the reign of the Vojislavovich dynasty : the son of Stefan Vojislav – Mikhailo ruled from 1046 to 1081, and his son Bodin from 1081 to 1101. It should be noted that at that time the inhabitants of Dukla were predominantly Catholics. In 1077, Pope Gregory VII blessed Prince Mikhailo to reign. In 1081, after a short struggle for power with close relatives, his son Bodin ascended the reign. Fighting with the Byzantines, he expanded his possessions and subjugated the states of Raska (the territory of modern Serbia) and Bosnia. In 1089, the Pope of Rome conferred the status of an archbishopric on Bar, which was a great honor in those days. However, with the death of Bodin, unrest began, and the struggle for power undermined the position of Dukla.
Around 1166 Stefan Nemanja came to power in neighboring Raska . This led to the subjugation of Zeta between 1183 – 1186, thus ending the first period of independence in the history of Montenegro. Despite the severe destruction during the conquest and the forced conversion of the population to Orthodoxy, Zeta remained one of the most developed parts of Raska. In the second half of the 12th century, the Church of St. Tryphon was built in Kotor, which is one of the main shrines on the Adriatic coast. From 1183, the writings of an unknown priest from Duklyan “Kraljevstvo Slavena” have come down to us, which are one of the first written sources about the life of that time.
In 1190 Stephen’s son Nemanja Vukan became the ruler of Zeta. In order to subjugate the local feudal nobility, he converted to Catholicism and in 1199 restored the archbishopric with the blessing of Pope Innocent III. In 1219, Zeta’s eldest son George becomes ruler. His heir was his second son Stefan, who built the monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin in Moraca in 1251. Between 1276 and 1309. Zeta was ruled by Queen Elena, the widow of the Serbian king Uros I, a Catholic by religion. She achieved the greatest autonomy of Zeta within Raska, and in addition, she restored and founded about 50 monasteries. At this time (1296) the name Montenegro (Crna Gora) was first mentioned in a document from the monastery of St. Nicholas in Vrazhin. The name Montenegro referred to the area around Mount Lovcen in Zeta when it was ruled by Raska. From 1309 to 1321 Zeta was ruled by Prince Stefan, the eldest son of the Serbian king Milyutin. Similarly, from 1321 to 1331, Zeta was jointly ruled by Stefan and his son Dusan, who later became king of Raska. After his death in 1355, the Serbian kingdom began to collapse, which the Zetans did not fail to take advantage of, who did not abandon their attempts to regain independence.
By 1360, the power in Zeta was seized by the Balshevich family, named after its founder Balsha I. He had 3 sons: Stratimir, Djuradzh and Balsha II. The Balshichi were Catholics. Juraj I (1362 – 1378) was the most prominent ruler of this dynasty. During his reign, he alternately fought and made alliances with his neighbors: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia. After the victory over the prince of Herzegovina in 1373, Zeta received the cities of Trebinje, Konavl and Drachevitsa. Under the rule of Juraj, Zeta flourished and trade prospered. After his death, his brother Balsha II (1378 – 1385) ruled, he made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Kotor and died in battle with the Turks. The power of Balsha II was not recognized by all the feudal lords of Zeta, the most influential family among them were Chernovichi, who enjoyed the support of Venice. From 1385 to 1403, his nephew Juraj II, son of Stratimir, ruled. His power was even more unstable, the largest feudal lords came under the vassalage of Venice, and on the other hand, the Turks threatened. Djuraj II remained in power only thanks to the policy of playing off his strong rivals, in this case Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Many rulers of Montenegro, both before and after him, managed to maintain the independence of the country thanks to just such a policy. Balsha III (1403 – 1421), son of Juraj II, became the last ruler of Zeta from the Balshichi dynasty. His reign was influenced by Serbian princes and he made Orthodoxy the official religion of Zeta.
After the death of Balshi III, Zeta was ruled by his stepfather, the Serbian ruler Stefan Lazarevich (1421-1427). However, after his death, the Chernoviches, the most powerful Zeta family, seized power. In 1435, Stefan Chernovich established his leadership in the clan and became the de facto ruler of Zeta. Since that time, the country is increasingly called Montenegro.. On the one hand, the possessions of Stefan Chernovich were threatened by the Venetians, on the other hand by the Turks. And despite the fact that at first he fought with Venice, in 1455 Stephen concluded a military pact with Venice against the Ottoman Empire. He managed to protect his state from formidable external enemies and make it a symbol of independence for all the Slavic peoples of the Balkans. Stephen’s heir was his son Ivan Chernovich (1465 – 1490). At the beginning of his reign, he fought in Venice for the city of Kotor, but later, like his father, he concluded a military pact. After the defeat of the coalition by the Turks, the Montenegrins were actually left to their own devices. Therefore, Ivan moves the capital to a mountainous region near Mount Lovcen. In 1484, he founded an Orthodox monastery there, which is how the cultural capital of the country, Cetinje , appeared.. After Ivan’s death, his eldest son Juraj (1490 – 1496) inherited the throne. He was an educated ruler, under him the first books in Eastern Europe were printed (1493). But he was destined to become the last ruler from the Chernovichi dynasty: in 1496 Montenegro was subordinated to the Ottoman Empire.
After the death of Djuraj Chernovich, his brother Stefan, who became a Turkish vassal, took control of Montenegro. Montenegro became part of the Skadar province (1499 – 1514), but a small area around Mount Lovcen remained independent. Since 1514, Montenegro became a separate province, which until 1528 was ruled by Skender-bek, a prince from the Chernovichi dynasty who converted to Islam. But in fact, the Turks had no real power in Montenegro. Since 1516, a new political stage, unique for Europe, began in its history – theocracy. The country was ruled by rulers, who were both governors and metropolitans of Montenegro. Members of the best families were elected to this position at a general national meeting. In 1603 and 1613 the Montenegrins won two important victories over the Turks under the leadership of Bishop Cetinje. However, Cetinje itself sometimes ended up in the hands of the Turks.
The next stage in the history of Montenegro was marked by the reign of the Petrovich dynasty (1697 – 1917): first the metropolitan lords, then the grand dukes and, finally, the kings. Danilo I (1697 – 1735), the founder of the Petrovich dynasty from the Njegosh clan, was elected lord at a difficult time for the country. His position was distinguished by the fact that he himself appointed a successor from the Petrovich family. Since the metropolitans were bound by a vow of celibacy, power usually passed from uncle to nephew. Bishop Danilo made great efforts to unite the country. In 1701, he built the monastery of St. Peter of Cetinje on the site of the palace of Ivan Chernovich. In 1709, on Christmas night, after the fiery appeals of Danila, a massacre was carried out on those who converted to Islam, and Orthodoxy asserted its positions. In addition, Vladyka found a powerful patron in the person of Peter I and the Russian Empire. In 1712
After the death of Danila, power passed to Bishop Savva (1735 – 1782) and Bishop Vasily (1750 – 1766). Savva Petrovich was more interested in spiritual affairs than in politics. However, Vladyka Vasily maintained good relations with Empress Elizabeth and traveled three times as an ambassador to Russia. In 1768, a Russian adventurer appeared in Montenegro, posing as Tsar Peter III, who had fled Russia. The Montenegrins called him Stepan Maly, despite the cruelty of his methods, he managed to unite the disparate clans. After his assassination in 1774, Savva Petrovich again became the ruler of Montenegro.
Vasily’s nephew Peter I Petrovich became Savva’s heir (1782 – 1830). He began to rule very young and was in power for almost 50 years, during difficult times for Montenegro. In 1796, under his leadership, the Montenegrins won two important victories over the outnumbered Turks. In 1798, Vladyka Peter I introduced the first set of laws (“Lawyer of Peter”) and adopted many innovations in the structure of the state, having managed to subdue the scattered and warlike clans of Montenegrins. In 1806, Bishop Peter, with the help of Russian troops, stopped the advance of Napoleon’s troops, however, according to the Treaty of Tilsit, the Bay of Kotor fell to France. After the war of 1812, in which the Montenegrins participated with the financial support of the Russian Empire, France was driven out of Kotor, but it remained under the influence of another strong power – Austria. Montenegro has not been able to achieve recognition of its independence in the international arena. Montenegrins were forced to continue constant skirmishes with the Turks, and often the whole country was starving, and the population was on the verge of extinction. Bishop Peter I Petrovich during his lifetime enjoyed the respect and support of his people, and after his death he was canonized as a saint of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.
The heir of Peter I was his 17-year-old nephew Peter II Petrovich Negosh (1830 – 1851). He faced the fact that the Radonici, the strongest clan in Montenegro, did not want to recognize his authority. Njegos brutally crushed the Austrian-backed uprising, driving many Radonichs out of the country forever. Still using the financial support of the Russian tsars, he continued to fight with Turkey. The most important victories were won in the battles of Kosovo Lug (1839) and the village of Dodoshi (1850). In addition, Vladyka became a reformer of the structure of the state, introduced three branches of power and taxes. It cannot be said that the local freedom-loving population liked this, and therefore Peter II Petrovich needed a strict centralization of power to suppress discontent. Despite the harsh methods of government, Njegos did a lot for his country: he opened the first schools, brought a printing press, built roads. His cherished dream was the unification of the Slavic peoples in the struggle for independence. Peter II was not only a strong ruler, but also a poet and thinker. The most famous are his poems “The Crown of the Mountain” and “The Ray of the Microcosm”.
According to the will, his nephew Danilo was to become the heir of Peter II Petrovich. After a short struggle for power with relatives, and with the approval of the Russian Tsar, he became not a lord, but a prince, the first secular ruler of Montenegro in the long years of theocracy (1852 – 1860). The internal policy of Prince Danila was cruel, he evicted or destroyed entire clans that were not subject to his authority. Despite the desire to centralize power, his policies led to progress in the structure of the state. Prince Danilo updated the lawyer of Peter I Petrovich, creating the first constitution of Montenegro, conducted a census of the population and introduced additional taxes. Danila’s foreign policy was very complex, he tried to take advantage of the patronage of two great powers at the same time: Russia and Austria-Hungary, and besides, he went for rapprochement with France. Its main goal was to recognize Montenegro as independent in the international arena, that he did not succeed. Despite the difficult foreign policy situation, in 1858 the Montenegrins won a convincing victory over the Turks at Grahovets, after which the borders between Montenegro and the Ottoman Empire were determined. Prince Danilo was a controversial figure, he had many personal and political enemies, and in 1860 he was killed in Kotor.
The last ruler of Montenegro from the Petrovich dynasty was the prince, and later King Nikola I (1860 – 1918), who was Prince Danila’s nephew. Nicola studied in France and was a supporter of secular manners, 6 of 9 of his daughters married members of European monarchic families. Prince Nikola continued the exhausting wars with Turkey for independence, but only in 1876-1878. a number of important victories were won, after which the independence of Montenegro was recognized at the Berlin Congress. The territory of the country doubled, the cities of Niksic, Podgorica, Kolasin, Bar and Ulcinj were recaptured. Following the recognition of the independence of Montenegro, rapid development followed, schools and colleges were opened. The executive power was separated from the judiciary, and in 1888 the famous lawyer Baltazar Bojisic prepared a new set of laws. Small business developed, roads and ports were built.
In 1905 the first constitution was adopted, and in 1910 Montenegro became a constitutional monarchy. Montenegro emerged victorious from both Balkan wars. In World War I, she fought on the side of the Entente, and in 1915 was occupied by Austria-Hungary. King Nikola fled Montenegro in 1918. For the first time in centuries-old history, the name of Montenegro disappeared from the political map of Europe, the country became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes(since the mid-20s – the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). Nicola died in exile in France in 1921 and was buried in Italy in San Remo.
Montenegrins were dissatisfied with their position in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In response, the authorities tried to change the structure of the state by introducing provinces and governorships, but political conflicts continued to escalate. At the beginning of World War II, Montenegro was attacked by Italy. During the war, 10% of the population of Montenegro was killed in battles with the invaders and local fascist detachments. On July 13, 1941, Montenegrins raised an armed uprising, which played a significant role in the anti-fascist movement in Yugoslavia.
In 1946, after the end of the war, Montenegro became one of the 6 equal republics of Yugoslavia. The development of industry and infrastructure in the republic began, and in the 70s the active development of the tourism industry began. The military conflict that took place in the early 90s after the collapse of the SFRY and the secession of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina bypassed Montenegro. In 1992, Montenegro, together with Serbia, formed a new state – the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. However, due to disagreements between the republics, the FRY lasted a little over 10 years and was liquidated on February 4, 2003. On the same day, the formation of the State Community of Serbia and Montenegro was proclaimed.
On May 21, 2006, a referendum was held in Montenegro, as a result of which the majority of the population voted for separation from Serbia and declaring independence. On June 3, 2006, at an extraordinary session, the Assembly of Montenegro declared the independence of the country. Already on June 8, Iceland was the first country in the world community to recognize the independence of Montenegro. So Montenegro entered a new stage of its development, and its people confirmed their inexhaustible desire for independence.