Montenegro: Political And Ethnic Boundaries 1840–1920

ISBN:  (13) 978-1-85207-905-5   First published: 2001
Extent:  2 volumes, 1,800 pages
r: B. Destani, with an introduction by former President M. Djukanovic
Paper: Printed on acid free paper  
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish  
See sample pages: not available


The documents in this collection describe in detail the history of Montenegro, first as the independent principality and later as the sovereign state. There is extensive correspondence between the British Government in London, and the Embassy in Constantinople, and directly with Prince Nicholas in Cettigné; naturally a large proportion of the documents are concentrated around 1878. These documents form an invaluable first-hand research base for the study of this politically important state and in his introduction the Montenegrin President Milo Djukanvic recommends this work to the research community as well as to the broader readership.


The histories of Montenegro and Serbia are intimately linked. From the mid-15th century both territories were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. When the Austrian Hapsburg armies pushed the Turks back south of the Danube in 1699 Montenegro became an independent principality but Serbians found that the lands they regarded as native to them, present-day Kosovo and southern Serbia, were still under Turkish control. It was not until the early 19th century that Serbian independence movements began, and not until 1876-1878, when Montenegro and Serbia went to war together against Turkey in support of Bosnian rebels, that both countries at last gained their independence. The tragedy for Montenegro would be that over the next forty years it would fight at the side of Serbia both in the Balkan wars and in the first World War, only to find itself after almost 200 years of self-government, forced into becoming part of a greater Serbia. The Christmas Uprising, which was the reaction of the Montenegrin population to the actions of Serbia, began in 1919 and became a war which lasted until 1926. The hoped-for support from the Great Powers never materialised and the sovereignty of Montenegro was lost.


The period covered by this study, 1840 to 1920, begins under the Bishop-Prince Petar II Petrovic Njegos, continues throughout the years of Prince Danilo I Petrovic and into the reign of King Nichola I Petrovic, ending in 1920. The documentation shows that in the 19th century the main Montenegrin concern was to define and formalise its boundaries. Subsequently, internal ethnic pressures combined with events in neighbouring Balkan states, particularly Serbia, obliged Montenegro constantly to defend its territorial integrity and its statehood.
Hitherto historians interested in this period of Montenegrin history have commonly relied on Russian sources and to a lesser extent on French archives. However, research in the British archive has produced material that adds detail to the knowledge of the processes by which the Montenegrin State came into being in the second half of the 19th century. In its aspiration to be free and to preserve its own identity the small Montenegrin nation resisted many powerful enemies in those times. This resistance was rewarded by the international recognition of Montenegro at the Berlin Congress in 1878.
From the Foreword by President M. Djukanovic
”These historical documents not only confirm the emergence of Montenegro as a state in modern times, but also demonstrate how it was unjustly erased from the map of the world. ... There is some symbolism in the fact that this rich archive material will see the light of day just at this time, at the start of the 21st century, when Montenegro has regained its state dignity, and has been decisively moving in the direction that opens up democratic and European vistas. The material in this Collection is an affirmation of how rightful Montenegro is in its present aspirations, and how justified are the wishes of its young generation to revive Montenegro´s state, and its cultural and national identity. ...Present generations in Montenegro look upon their history with pride and respect, but above all they are looking forward to their European future. The validity of that history is once again confirmed by these original documents from the British archives, which I feel free to recommend both to the research community and to the broader readership.”