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A kingdom in the Balkan Peninsula, on the east coast of the Adriatic Sea; the territory was in ancient times a portion of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Emperor Diocletian made Southern Dalmatia a separate province, Praevalis (Dioclea, Dioclitia) with Dioclea as its capital. From the seventh century the north-western portion of the peninsula began to be invaded by Slav tribes; one of these, the Serbs, settled in the territory which they still possess, and founded there several principalities (Zupanate), the most southern of which was called Zeta, or (after the ancient Dioclea ) Duklja. From Zeta sprang the Nemanjiden family, under whose autocracy the Servian Empire attained its greatest power. Stefan I Nemanja was recognized as Chief Zupan by Emperor Manuel I, in 1165; having reduced into submission the stubborn lesser Zupans, he embraced the Orthodox Faith, and then began to organize the Servian Church. His youngest son, Sawa, or Sabas, after being appointed first Orthodox Archbishop of Servia in 1221, founded a see for Zeta in the monastery of St. Michael near Cattaro. In the Empire of the Serbs, each heir apparent to the throne was first appointed administrator of the Province of Zeta. However, under King Stefan Dusan (1331-55) a member of the Balscicz family was named Governor of Zeta. From 1360 to 1421 this family ruled in Zeta, notwithstanding the constant opposition of the Cernojevic family, settled in Upper Zeta. On the destruction of the Great Servian Empire by the Turks after the battle of Amsfeld in 1389 Zeta became the refuge of the most valiant of the Serbs, who refused to submit to the Turkish yoke.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the Venetians established a settlement on the eastern coast of the Adriatic, and conquered a portion of the Servian Empire in spite of the opposition of the people. As vassal of the Venetians, Iwan Cernojewic, the son of Stefan (brother-in-law of Skanderbeg), secured for himself sovereign authority. He founded the monastery of Cetinje about 1478 or 1485. It was during this period that the land received the name of Crnagora, or Montenegro. Under Iwan's son, George (1490--), the first Slav liturgical books were printed at Obod (1493-5). In 1516 he abdicated and the people invested the bishop (vladika), who was also superior of the monastery at Cetinje, with supreme secular authority . Subsequently the bishop, who until 1697 was always chosen by the National Assembly was both spiritual and temporal ruler of the little state, although he named a secular governor to conduct war and administer justice. The Turks made repeated attacks during the fifteenth century on the freedom of the mountain kingdom. The Montenegrins, notwithstanding their heroic opposition, were finally forced to make their submission, and from about 1530 had to pay tribute to the Sanjak of Scutari. In domestic affairs, however, they remained independent, and the sovereignty of the Porte was mostly of a purely nominal character. Frequently the little nation, which (according to the description of the Italian Mariano Bolizza in 1611) then contained 90 settlements and 8027 armed men, engaged in war with the Turks, being often assisted with money and arms by the Venetians.

In 1696 Danilo Petrovic, of the Njegos family, was elected vladika, and made the episcopal dignity hereditary in his house, the vladika, who as bishop could not marry, being succeeded on his death by his nephew or brother. As prince of a nation recognizing the Orthodox Church , Danilo inaugurated closer relations with Russia, which held the same religious beliefs, and Peter the Great undertook the protectorate of Montenegro in 1710. Since that date the Montenegrins have always shown themselves the faithful allies of Russia in its wars against the Turks ; although at the end of these wars they usually reaped no advantages. The Russians, however, often made large contributions of money to their poor allies: in 1714 Peter I contributed 10,000 rubles towards the relief of those whose property had been burnt and for the rebuilding of the destroyed monasteries ; in 1715 he assigned an annual contribution of 500 rubles and other presents to the monastery of Cetinje; and in 1837 Emperor Nicholas I assigned to the prince a fixed annual income of 9000 ducats.

The most prosperous era of Montenegro opened with the reign of Vladika Peter I Petrovic (1777-1830), who repelled unaided a fierce attack of the Turks in 1796 and rendered valuable aid to the Russians against the French during the Napoleonic wars. Because of his glorious reign, Peter was proclaimed a saint by the people in 1834. He was succeeded by Peter II Petrovic (1830-51), who was educated at St. Petersburg; this monarch, who was a distinguished poet, rendered valuable services to his country by raising its intellectual and commercial condition. Having abolished the office of governor, which had been too frequently the occasion of strife, he took into his own hands the secular administration, founded schools, instituted a system of taxation, organized a guard as the nucleus of a standing army, and established a senate of twelve members. His successor and nephew, Danilo (1851-60), changed Montenegro into a secular state, dispensed with episcopal consecration, and undertook the administration as a secular prince. At a national assembly held at Cetinje on 21 March, 1852, the separation of the spiritual and secular powers of the vladika was decreed, and the supreme ecclesiastical authority entrusted to the archimandrite of the monastery of Ostrog. In the same year Russia and Austria recognized Montenegro as an hereditary, secular, and independent state. The Porte, however, which still regarded the country as "a portion of its Rajahs temporarily in revolt," refused its recognition and sent an expedition of 60,000 men against it. When the land seemed about to be overwhelmed by such huge forces, Austria interfered in its behalf, and compelled the Porte to discontinue the war. The political position of the land, however, remained still undefined. In 1858, when the Turks attacked Montenegro without any declaration of hostilities, the European Great Powers, especially France and Russia, came forward as its protectors, and a commission of the Powers fixed the frontiers of the country, whose territory was increased by a few districts.

In 1860 Danilo was shot by a Montenegrin deserter, and, as he left behind only a daughter two years old, his widow secured on 14 August, 1860, the election of the youngest son of Danilo's brother, who still reigns. Montenegro's participation in the insurrection of Herzegovina led in 1862 to a war with Turkey, during which the Turks invaded the land and occupied Cetinje. The Peace of Scutari conceded to the Turks various fortresses along the road leading from Herzegovina through Montenegro to Scutari. In 1870, however, the Porte surrendered its right to occupy these fortresses. In 1875, when the insurrection occurred in Bosnia, Nikita, who controlled an army of 15,000 well-armed troops, formed an alliance with the Bosnians against the Turks, and prosecuted the war with success until 1878. Not only did he repel all the Turkish attacks, but he even succeeded in capturing Antivari (thus securing a long-desired maritime outlet for his country) and Dulcigno in 1878. At the Congress of Berlin Turkey recognized the political independence of Montenegro (13 July, 1878), the territory of which was now more than doubled. According to Article 29 of the Treaty of Berlin, however, Montenegro might neither keep ships of war, nor fortify the coast, and was obliged to recognize the right of Austria to police the coast. It was only in 1909 that the country secured a release from these conditions. When Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in October, 1908, and thereby annihilated the dreams of Montenegro and Servia of a United Servian Empire, Montenegro protested in common with Servia and, encouraged by Russia, demanded from Austria the annulment of Article 29 of the Treaty of Berlin and the evacuation of Spizza. In April, 1909, Austria agreed to the abrogation of Article 29, but refused to surrender Spizza, and secured the retention of that portion of the Berlin Treaty, which forbade the transformation of Antivari into a naval station. In 1905 Nikita granted the country a constitution and a national assembly elected by popular suffrage. Although the economical resources of the land are small, and its cultural conditions, notwithstanding the great progress made in the last fifty years, leave much to be desired, it occupies a position of increased consideration and importance with regard to the Balkan politics of the European powers on account of the ability of its ruler and its intimate relations with Russia, Italy, and Servia. In 1900 Prince Nikita received the title of Royal Highness, and in August, 1910, with the consent of all the powers he had himself crowned king. On that occasion Russia gave expression to the ancient friendship existing between the countries by naming the new king General Field-Marshal, the heir- apparent Major General, and Prince Mirleo Lieutenant Colonel of the Russian Army.

Montenegro has an area of 3630 sq. miles and a population of 250,000 inhabitants, of whom the great majority are of unmixed Serb stock. About 223,500 belong to the Greek Orthodox Church ; 12,900 are Catholics (mostly Albanians ), and about 14,000 are Mohammedans. The capital is Cetinje. The earlier plenary power of the prince has not been substantially lessened by the Constitution of 6 (19) December, 1906. The members of the popular assembly (Skupschtina) are elected by public direct suffrage every four years; the assembly includes twelve ex-officio members, among whom are the Orthodox metropolitan, the Catholic Archbishop of Antivari, the Mufti of Montenegro, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, etc. The state religion is the Greek Orthodox; all other religious bodies recognized by the State are at liberty to practice their religion, but every attempt on their part to gain converts from among the Orthodox is forbidden. The Orthodox Church of Montenegro is autocephalous, i.e., independent of the Patriarch of Constantinople; its spiritual head, who bears the titles of Metropolitan of Skanderia and Parathalassia, Archbishop of Tsetinia, etc., is chosen by the National Assembly from the ranks of the native unmarried secular clergy or monks, and is consecrated by the Russian Holy Synod at St. Petersburg. He resides at the monastery of St. Peter at Cetinje. In 1877 a second see, that of Brda and Ostrog, was erected. The protopresbyterates number 17, and the parishes about 160. The priestly office is as a rule hereditary, since each priest trains his son for the priesthood : the office of protopresbyter is similarly in the possession of certain families.

Since the convention between the Holy See and the Prince of Montenegro of 18 August (ratified 8 October), 1886, the Catholic Church enjoys the official recognition of the State. Its head is the Archbishop of Antivari, who is immediately subject to the Holy See. There are 13 secular priests, 10 regular priests, 27 churches and chapels, and eleven elementary schools. The number of parishes is thirteen, but a law recently passed by the Skupschtina, in contravention of the Convention and without consulting the Roman authorities, reduced the number to seven. The archiepiscopal see is at present (1910) vacant, its administration being carried on by Don Metodio, O.S.F. Negotiations concerning the filling of the see and the alteration of the Convention are being carried on between the Holy See and the Montenegrin Government (1910).


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Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

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