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The Principality or Princedom of Montenegro was a principality in Southeastern Europe. It existed from 13 March, 1852 to 28 August, 1910. It was then proclaimed a kingdom by Knjaz Nikola, who then became king.

The capital of the Principality was at Cetinjemarker and used the Montenegrin Perper as its currency from 1906. The area of the principality roughly consisted of the central area of modern Montenegromarker. It was a Constitutional Monarchy but de-facto absolutist.


The Principality was formed on 13 March 1852 by Knjaz Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš, when Knjaz Danilo, then known as Vladika Danilo II, decided to overthrow his ecclesiastical position of the Vladika and get married, which, after centuries of theocratic rule, turned Montenegro into a secular principality.

After the assassination of Knjaz Danilo on 13 August 1860, Knjaz Nikola, the nephew of Knjaz Danilo, became the next ruler of Montenegro.

On 28 August 1910, it was proclaimed a kingdom by Knjaz Nikola, who then became king.

Battle of Grahovac

Grand Duke Mirko Petrović, elder brother of Knjaz Danilo, led a strong army of 7,500 and won a crucial battle against the Turks (army of between 7,000 to 13,000) at Grahovac on 1 May, 1858. The Turkish forces were routed. A considerable arsenal of war trophies were left in Montenegrin hands, to come in handy again in the final wars of independence in 1862 and 1875-1878.

This major victory had had even more diplomatic significance. The glory of Montenegrinmarker weapons was soon immortalized in the songs and literature of all the South Slavs, in particular the Serbs in Vojvodina, then part of Austria-Hungary. This Montenegrin victory forced the Great Powers to officially demarcate the borders between Montenegromarker and Ottoman Turkey, de facto recognizing Montenegro's centuries-long independence. Montenegromarker gained Grahovo, Rudine, Nikšić's Župa, more than half of Drobnjaci, Tušina, Uskoci, Lipovo, Upper Vasojevići, and part of Kuči and Dodoši.

Government and Politics

Constitution of 1855

Knjaz Danilo used the Law of Petar I Petrović-Njegoš, as an inspiration for his own General Law of the Land from 1855 (Zakonik Danila Prvog). Danilo's Code was based on the Montenegrin traditions and customs and it is considered to be the first national constitution in Montenegrin history. It also stated rules, protected privacy and banned warring on the Austrian Coast (Bay of Kotormarker). It also stated: "Although there is no other nationality in this land except Serb nationality and no other religion except Eastern Orthodoxy, each foreigner and each person of different faith can live here and enjoy the same freedom and the same domestic right as Montenegrin or Highlander."

Constitution of 1905



Schwartz estimated in 1882 that the Principality had 160,000 inhabitants. Although, a more usual estimate is that it was around 230,000 inhabitants.


In 1900, according to international sources, the Principality of Montenegro had 311,564 inhabitants. By religion:

By literacy:
  • 77% illiterate
  • 71,528 (23%) literate

The Principality had besides the Montenegrins, around 5,000 Albanians and a colony of 800 Roma.


In 1907, it had been estimated that there were around 282,000 inhabitants in Montenegro.

The supermajority being Eastern Orthodox.


Ethnic map from 1910
Dark: Serbian majority
Light: Albanian majority
The 1909 official census was undertaken by the authorities of the Principality. Ethnicity was decided according to the mother tongue, the official language, then being the Serbian language:

Total: 317,856 inhabitants.

By language:

By religion:

The total population was overestimated for political reasons. It was at about 220,000 inhabitants.


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