Montenegrin people

Physically the Montenegrins are the world tallest people, with an average height for males of nearly 186 cm and a female average height of 171 cm !! Montenegrin people are among the tallest, the largest, the most masculine and the most handsome Europeans… Montenegrins are a race of well-knit warriors and belligerent highlanders who live in harsh limestone mountains, always ready to take arms against external encroachments, and equally ready to defend at home, what they regard as their perpetual rights… every man, even the poorest, has the bearing and dignity of a gentleman. For Montenegrin people there is the rule of life to strive to be as wise as the great Njegoš, and as brave as Serdar Janko Vukotić and as merciful as Marko Miljanov !

Varied landscapes of the present Montenegro has eversince attracted numerous rulers who greatly influenced the culture, economic development, lifestyle, ethnography, municipal and social organization, architecture and destinies of the local population in rivalry between the Great European Powers over the expansionist interests and domination upon the Balkan Peninsula and Montenegro. The ancient Balkan type of population in present Montenegro has been created by descendants of Wallachians, Illyrians, Thracians, Kelts, Tsintsars – Aromuni people and other peoples who in particular historical periods had resided in this part of the Balkans. Those parts of the Balkans in the territory of present Montenegro were throughout history controlled and administered by Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans, Austria-Hungarians, French, Russians, Italians, Germans,…. that created multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnical societies and civilizations in this part of Europe.

Montenegrin people are South Slavs who are primarily and strongly associated with Montenegro. The matter of Montenegrin nationhood is a controversial issue, primarily among the Serbs. With regard to history, language, religion and ethnic origin, Montenegrins are most closely related to the Serbs, although there are links with the other South Slavs, too. Numerous historical documents confirm that Montenegrins have felt that they have Serbian ethnic identity.

‘After the Berlin Congress in 1878, Serbia and Montenegro formally became recognized independent states. The Berlin Peace Treaty was composed of representatives of then great powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia and Turkey. The Berlin Peace Treaty was held from the 13 June until the 13 July under presidency of Otto von Bismarck with outcome of recognition of Serbia and Montenegro as sovereign states and Bulgaria as the autonomous principality under Ottoman authority. Serbia was largely extended and got the four counties – the Toplica, Nis, Pirot and Vranje, while Montenegro got part of Herzegovina with the Niksic area and the surrounding tribal parts of Drobnjak, Piva, Uskoci, Šaranci, Jezera, Duga and Oputna Rudina, as well as the Kolasin area and part of the Gornji Vasojevići, Zeta with Podgorica, Spuž, Žabljak, coastal area of the Skadar Lake from Godinje to the Tophala island, with the Rumija Mountain massif and the littoral area from the Bojana River to the Zeljeznica river, also with towns of Bar and Ulcinj.

The power of Ottoman empire in Europe and Asia was greatly lowered by this peace treaty. Influence of Russia in favor of Austria-Hungary was highly lowered that raised tensions between two empires. Besides, such organization of the Balkans led to new tensions in the area. The Berlin Peace Treaty lasted for a month with representatives of free countries of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro were not allowed to take part in the congress work but had right to express in written demands of their goverenments’. Historian Đorđe Vukmirović

During the existence of theocratic Montenegro, Princedom of Montenegro and Kingdom of Montenegro, absolutely all Montenegrins considered themselves as Serbs nationally and Montenegrins regionally. “Serbs of Montenegro are same in blood, language and aspiration, faith and heritage as people from Serbia and other Serb lands; We /Serbs and Montenegrins/ have common past which fills us up with enthusiasm, common ideals, heroes, sorrow and everything else that makes one nation really meaningful”. One of the most magnificent example of sacrifice in the First World War was the Battle of Mojkovac, on the Christmas Eve and the Christmas of 1916 when the Sandžak army of Kingdom of Montenegro stopped the military campaign of Austria-Hungary and helped the Serbian army to retreat direction Pec and across the Albanian and Montenegrin Alps – the Prokletije Mountains – the Accursed Mountains to the Adriatic coast and later to the Corfu Island. Differences between Montenegrins and Serbs are a matter of continuing controversy. Although isolated from each other for centuries during the Ottoman period, when Albanian families came to dominate the intervening Kosovo region, both ethnic groups retained their Orthodox religious traditions and many other common cultural attributes—including the Cyrillic alphabet. Due to such obvious commonalities, most Serbs see Montenegrins as “Mountain Serbs,” and many—but certainly not all — Montenegrins see themselves as Serbs in origin.

Balšićs – Baošićs – Balšites determine the medieval Montenegrin dynasty that ruled the State of Zeta from 1360 till 1421. Balsha I, the founder of the Balšići – Baošići – Balšiti Dynasty originally administered only one village and with help of his sons succeeded in ruling the Gornja Zeta, Shkoder and territories up to Kotor, possibly even the area of Bar. The Balsic Dynasty waged war with the Albanian nobleman Carlo Thopia who captured Djuradj and released him from prison in 1366 after the signed peace. Already in 1368 Djuradj also ruled the area of Ulcinj when he refused to recognize King Uros as his supreme ruler with whom he confronted. In 1375 Djuradj and Prince Lazar are mentioned as conveners of the church assembly which testifies on undoubted power and influence of Djuradj. Shkoder was the center of rule of the Balsic Dynasty founder, Balsha I who died in 1362. Soon the Balšićs managed to extend their rule up to Kotor and prospectively to some areas of Gornja Zeta where they have experienced the resistance of the other Zeta feudal lords, primarily with the Crnojevic Dynasty.

During the Nemanic Dynasty reign in the Zeta state, the Balšićs were one of the most powerful ruling noble families. After the death of Tsar Dusan (1355.) the Balšićs became the areal lords who only formally recognized the reign of the Serbian emperor. In the time when the Balsic Dynasty took over the reign in Zeta there was the dynasty founder Balsha I who had three sons : Stracimir (died in 1372), Djuradj I (died in 1378) and Balša II (killed in 1385). Stracimir was married to Jerina, daughter of the Albanian lord Progon Dukadjin with whom he had son Djuradj who ruled Zeta from 1385 until 1403 under the name of Djuradj II Stracimirović Balšić. Djuradj II Stracimirović Balšić was married to Jelena, daughter of the Serbian Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović who after his death married the Bosnian lord Sandalj Hranić (died in 1411). Son of Djuradj and Jelena was Balša III, the last ruler of the Balsic Dynasty who reigned the Zeta state from 1403 until 1421. The first wife of Balša III was Mara, daughter of the Albanian feudal lord Nicetas Thopia and the second wife was Bolja /daughter of Koja Zakarija/. From both marriages he had three children  – the son of unknown name and daughters Jelena, later wife of Stefan Vukčić Kosača and Todora who married Petar Vojsalić. Djuradj I the second son of Balsha I ruled the Zeta State already during his fathers life, from 1362 until 1378. He was first married to Olivera, daugher of Vukasin Mrnjavcevic, and later married to Teodora the daughter of despot Dejan. From both marriages Djuradj I had four children. The third son of Balsha I was known by the ruling name of Balša II and ruled Zeta from 1378 until 1385. The first wife of Balša II was Komnina – daughter of despot Jovan of Valona, and later was married to Jelena, the daughter of Radoslav Hlapen. They had one daughter from this marriage. The descendants of the Balsic Dynasty are last time mentioned in 1500.  and Adam Volynets

 The Petrovic Njegos Family from Njegusi village was one of the most famous and the most prominent ruling families of the newer Montenegrin history. This noble family gave the reputed Bishop Rade who wrote the national epic poem of Gorski vijenac /Mountain Wreath/, the duke Mirko, the Prince Nikola I Petrovic /1841-1921/. This prominent Serbian leader maintained acquaintance and friendship with the Russian tsar Alexander, the French Napoleon III, the Serbian kings Milan and Aleksandar of the Obrenovic dynasty. Prince Nikola Petrovic had close kinship relationship with Petar I Karadjordjevic whom he gave his daughter Zorka for wife. He used to say: “Ever-since it is known that the best Serbs live in Montenegro”. Jelena Petovic Njegos or Jelena Savojska – Helen of Savoy, the Montenegrin princess and daughter of Prince Nikola Petrovic was married to the Italian King Vittorio Emanuel III and the Italian queen in the period from 1900 till 1946.

According to the last census, 620,145 people live in Montenegro : 43,16 per cent are Montenegrins, 31,99 per cent Serbs, 7,77 per cent Bosniaks, 5,03 per cent Albanians, 4,34 per cent undeclared by ethnicity, 3,97 per cent Muslims, 1,1 per cent Croatians, 0,4 per cent Roma and 0.99 per cent of unknown origin. Montenegro is the least densely populated country in southern Europe (48 people per square kilometer).

Montenegro is unique in that it developed a tribal society from the earliest times, particularly in rural areas, which was quite different from society in Serbia and, though, was the only place where the tribe was the basis of the state. Scholars believe that the tribal framework in Montenegro developed from the fall of the medieval Zeta state to the Ottoman Turks. This patriarchal and hierarchical leadership of clans /bratstva/ and tribes in distinct geographic regions of Montenegro proved flexible enough for a variety of military actions from a small raid to a larger territorial defense involving thousands of warriors against encroaching Turkish armies. Montenegrin inhabitants valued their autonomy and had a highly developed sense of honor which committed them do defend their land rather than submit to the Ottoman rule. Very important dimension of the ethnic Montenegrin culture is the ethical ideal of Čojstvo i Junaštvo, roughly translated as “Humanity and Bravery“.

On 23 September 1866, Serbian Prince Mihailo Obrenović and the Montenegrin Prince Nikola I Petrović concluded an agreement on the joint battle for liberation from the Turks and the unification of Serbian lands. Prince Mihailo Obrenović then sent his delegate Milan Pirocanac to Montenegro to propose the Montenegrin prince an union of Serbia and Montenegro. Two Principalities agreed to work continuously on the liberation and unification of the Serbian people, as well as to constantly instigate armed rebellions in the border areas of the Ottoman Empire. Also, by signed agreement, Prince Nikola pledged that in the case of unification of the two countries he would renounce the throne in favor of Prince Mihailo“. Meet the Serbs

The idea of a common clan ancestor in Montenegro developed along with a strong oral tradition which passed down tales of heroic resistance to the Ottomans and rulers of foreign powers who for centuries ruled the Balkans and Montenegro by its huge authorities.  Various little-known behavior of members of such tribal social structure occurred that are the heavy burden of blood feud, as an expression of tribesmen noblest concepts of morality and honor and other most archaic features. To the tribal Montenegrin warrior honor was all-important and was maintained by the public degradation of warriors of other clans. In addition to the thousands killed, tens of thousands of men live in fear and seclusion as a result of the blood feuds. The strongly patriarchal Montenegrin society did not respect and esteem women due to the deeply rooted belief in the men unquestionable superiority and their right to control the lives of their women who are weaker, less intelligent and therefore entitled to be controlled by the stronger male. Even though the Montenegro borders on the Adriatic Sea, it had preserved it’s essentially mountain mentality and conservative and patriarchal family structures, which socialist modes of emancipation (including the emancipation of women) failed to significantly destabilize. The myth about a “strong woman” (a widow or grandmother) who copes with rural life and a harsh mountain environment is a recurring theme in several Montenegrin films and television series. However, “femininity” is, in masculine culture, associated exclusively with motherhood, whereas in socialism and in urban milieus, the mother is defined as a “working mother,” split between the work place and family. Other system of relationship is also found in Montenegro and other countries of the Balkans that is traditional Matriarchal. There theoretically acknowledge the male as the head of the partnership, in practice places the female in the position where she exercises subtle but powerful forms of control. Those results in her having the final say on many significant family issues. Matriarchal relationships tend to regard men as being at best, “little boys” who (when it comes to family matters) need to be guided by stronger women. This formally lasted until the mid-19th century when the prince-bishop (vladika), the nominal head of state, began to implement a government based on state institutions and a central authority rather than a state based on the tribal hierarchy. With the uprooting of blood feuds and theft, the state consolidated itself and assured its citizens security of person and property. The State won over the clan. The fierce Montenegrin regard for personal honor and autonomy curbed the power of clan and tribal chieftains and continues in modern Montenegro.

The modern Montenegro follows a concept of merging the traditional and the new. If you was invited to the Montenegrin home for dinner, in the past times it was likely that woman does all the cooking, serving of the meal and cleaning up. It was quite possible that an older hostess may not sit down and eat with you but spend her whole time fussing around the kitchen. Things are rapidly changing in last decades and women and increasingly independent and present in the workplace and political life thanks to the large number of tourists and business people from all over the world. Montenegrins are nowadays known for their caring attitude to women, for their love for the sister and the mother. Montenegro has a complex, multi-layer society in which tribe and clan roots barely influence attitudes and loyalties. The whole country of Montenegro is nowadays interconnected and almost everyone knows everyone else. Montenegro is nothing but a large family.