History Files

European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe


Principality of Monte Negro
AD 1697 - 1918

In 1875 an anti-Ottoman rebellion started in Bosnia and quickly spread to Bulgaria. The Ottoman Turks brutally suppressed the rebellions and in the process aroused strong European opinion. After a spell of dithering, Russia declared war on Turkey. At the end of a victorious campaign, the Treaty of San Stephano ended the war and freed large swathes of the Balkans. This threatened to upset the European balance of power, so the Congress of Berlin redressed the balance a little. Serbia, Rumania, and Monte Negro all became independent, with increased territory, but Bulgaria was divided, with the major portion (the northern segment) being allowed autonomy. Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Novipazar were made protectorates of Austria.

The name Monte Negro originates from an Italian version of its Serbo-Croat original, and means 'Black Mountain'. The region possessed one of the earliest traditions of local autonomy under Ottoman rule.

1697 - 1737

Danilo I Petrovich Njegosh

Prince-Bishop (Vladika). Petrović Njegoš.

1737 - 1782

Sava Petrovich

Nephew. Prince-Bishop. Died 1782.

1744 - 1766

Vasili Petrovich

Nephew. Coadjutor.

1766 - 1774

Stephen the Little


1774 - 1782


Nephew of Vasili. Coadjutor.

1782 - 1830

Peter I

Brother. Prince-Bishop.

1830 - 1851

Peter II

Nephew. Son of Sava. Prince-Bishop.

1851 - 1860

Danilo II

Prince-Bishop (1851-1852). Prince (1852-1860).

1851 - 1854



1860 - 1918

Nicholas I

Prince (1860-1910). King (1910-1918).


On 28 November 1918 Monte Negro is forcibly united to the kingdom of Serbia. King Nicholas is thrown out, ending both Monte Negro's absolute monarchy and its independence. Three days later, on 1 December 1918, it is incorporated into the 'Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes'.

1918 - 1921

Nicholas I

Deposed king and claimant to the title.


Danilo III

Son. Crown Prince of Montenegro. Abdicated after 1 week.

1921 - 1986

Michael / Mihajlo

Grandson of Nicholas. Son of Mirko. Prince of Montenegro.

1963 - 1990

The Socialist Republic of Croatia is established as part of communist-governed Yugoslavia. A growing movement for independence results in the Croatian Spring of 1971, which is suppressed by the authorities. The 1974 Yugoslav constitution does provide its federal divisions with more autonomy. In the 1980s the situation becomes more unstable, with nationalist sentiment being fanned by the Serbian SANU Memorandum in 1986 and then the 1989 coups in Kosovo, Montenegro, and Vojvodina.

1986 - Present

Nicholas II / Nikola

Son. Prince of Montenegro.


Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia loses Montenegro (which is how the name is usually shown in modern texts), following a vote in the latter for full independence, and thereby completing the break-up of the Yugoslav state.

Modern Montenegro (Crna Gora)
AD 2006 - Present Day

Following a century of dominance by the kingdom of Serbia and then its successor, Yugoslavia, the former principality of Montenegro emerged as a sovereign state after just over fifty-five per cent of the population opted for independence in a May 2006 referendum. Situated at the southern end of the Dinaric Alps, this western-central Balkans state is neighboured to the north by Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the east by Serbia and the autonomous region of Kosovo, and to the south by Albania, while Italy lies across the Adriatic Sea. Its people swing back and forth between recognising their ethic origins as 'Mountain Serbs' who had successfully resisted conquest by the Ottoman empire and concentrating more on their modern Montenegrin identity. The country also contains sizable minority populations of Bosniaks (Muslims) and Albanians.

The final split from Belgrade in 2006 completed the break-up of the former federal Yugoslav state. Technically, the state had been terminated three years before, in 2003, when the federated 'Union of Serbia and Montenegro' had replaced it as a reluctant acceptance that Serbia had certainly lost its former dominance over the other constituent parts of the kingdom. The EU-brokered deal that formed the union was intended to stabilise the region by settling Montenegrin demands for independence from Serbia while also attempting to prevent further changes to Balkan borders. The same deal also contained the seeds of the union's dissolution. It stipulated that after three years the two republics could hold referenda on whether to keep or scrap the union. Montenegro opted for the latter.

Montenegro (or Monte Negro until the later twentieth century) is the Italian name for 'black mountain'. Its native name of Crna Gora means precisely the same thing. About half of the country is covered in thick forest while the rest of it encompasses an Adriatic coastline which it has not always possessed, lowlands, and high mountain ranges. The River Tara canyon is the deepest and longest in Europe, while the capital is Podgorica, formerly Titograd between 1946-1992, in the south of the country. The city gained its name in 1326, having previously been known as Ribnica while it fulfilled the role of a feudal state capital. Its origins lie in Birziminium, a Roman trading post which had probably begun as an Illyrian tribal centre.

Modern claimants to the lost throne of Montenegro are shown below with a shaded background as heads of the House of Petrović-Njegoš. Since 2011 the acceptance of a supporting role by the titular prince for the republic has largely negated any claim, but the succession is included for reasons of completeness.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804-1920, Charles Jelavich & Barbara Jelavich (A History of East Central Europe, University of Washington Press, 1986) and from External Links: Government of Montenegro, and BBC Country Profiles, and Encyclopaedia Britannica.)

1986 - Present

Nicholas II / Nikola

Prince of Monte Negro. House of Petrović-Njegoš.


In the lead-up to the vote on independence, there had been fears of unrest in areas of Montenegro in which ethnic Serbs, who make up roughly a third of the country's population, had formed a majority opposition to separation from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Most ethnic Montenegrins and ethnic Albanians living in Montenegro had supported the move towards independence and, in the event, no such unrest takes place.

2006 independence
Unlike much of the separation of the Balkan states from Serbia, Montenegro's course towards independence was free of violence


On 12 July the Montenegrin parliament passes the 'Law on the Status of the Descendants of the Petrović Njegoš Dynasty'. It serves to rehabilitate the former royal house of Monte Negro and, in effect, enables a limited parliamentary monarchy to exist which could succeed the former absolute monarchy that had existed until 1918.

In its own words, the law 'governs the important issues regarding the status of the descendants of the Petrović Njegoš dynasty [for the historical and moral rehabilitation of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty], whose dethroning was contrary to the Constitution of the Principality of Montenegro, a violent act of annexation in the year 1918'.

In practical terms the law provides a pension for the representative of the royal dynasty (ie. its current claimant to the title), which shall be taken from the monthly income of the new republic's presidential office, along with supplying official representation and official residences. The royal house is essentially being invited to participate in representing the country without infringing upon the running of the republic or raising any claim to assume the power of the president or any office.

The coastal town of Kotor is encircled by a extensive walled fortification system which has had to contend with Ottoman sieges, Venetian and Habsburg rule, Russian occupation, and even a British attack


In October the government accuses Russian-backed forces of attempting to launch a coup on the eve of parliamentary elections. A total of fourteen people are later indicted, including two Russian citizens.

Prince Boris of Montenegro

Son and heir apparent. Born 1980.