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Dordje Vid Tomasevic
Retired professor of Anthropology at the Buffalo University in New York and member of Crown Council

Montenegrins and other Serbs

[translated by Stefan Branisavljevic]

In relation to Serbia and Montenegro differences are in statehood only. There are two historical sources of equal Serb statehood, not two ethno-linguistically, confessionally and culturally different nations. Ancient Roman Dioclea, from the seventh century Slav Duklja, from the eleventh century Serb Zeta, from the fifteenth century more Serb Montenegro, is Serb land near the shore as well as Raska is Serb land within countryside. They are both forerunners and descendants of the Kingdom and Empire of the Nemanjics, St. Sava's Orthodoxy, the same epic tradition and the common struggle for the liberation and the unification.

All Montenegrins and other Serbs speak Serb, write in cyrillic alphabet, celebrate slava and consider as theirs all Serb heroes and leaders from the whole Serb lands. One of the first medals came to Nikola Tesla from prince, later king, Nikola.

A perfidious malevolence

A relation between Serbia and Montenegro reminds on once suspicious kingdoms of German Empire. However, nobody intelligent speculates about Prussian, Wittenberg or Bavarian nation, but they are all Germans, as inhabitants of Piedmont, Toscana or Neapolitan Campaign are equally Italians despite enormous regional differentiation.

In both Raska and Zeta emerged ethno-biological mixture of Romanized natives and outnumbering Slav invaders but without fundamental distinctions in the ethnogenesis of Montenegrins towards other Serbs. Although at the beginning Serbized ethno-amalgam consisted more Iliric, and one in Raska more Thracian blood, they had mixed and equilibrated after Kosovo battle due to the massive migrations from Morava and Vardar valleys to highlands of Montenegro, and from them, especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, back to more fertile areas of Moravska Serbia.

The majority of people in Belgrade pashaluk, before First and Second uprising, were originally from Montenegrin and Herzegovina mountains, including both of Serbian dynasties - Karadjordjevic from Vasojevic and Obrenovic from Bratonozic clan. I have said Serbian because these two and one at the Cetinje, Petrovic-Njegos, were at the same time and equally Serb, i.e. Serbian and Montenegrin.

Wrong dichotomy Serb (instead of Serbians) and Montenegrins is perfidiously and evilly created therefore it is an implication and, beyond any discussion, intentionally disuniting. If you do not believe me, please read what on it think other scientists, ethnologist Jovan Erdeljanovic and anthropo-geographer Jovan Cvijic, who call Montenegrins Zetan, i.e. Dinaric Serbs. A famous Croatian historian Ferdo Sisic sees in old Dukljans Serbs, and Ivan Bozic considers Zetan population ethnically Serb. That is also the scientific opinion of American experts, who were from Serb origin, a professor Voja Vucinic, Mihailo Petrovic, Aleksa Dragnic and Dimitrije Djordjevic, as also many other scholars who were non-Serbs as well as famous Czech Constantine Jiretzek.

Also, there are opposite views about it, although less competent. Ethnologist Spiro Kulisic and his school unconvincingly "prove" that Byzantine and local sources from the eleventh century saw in Dukljans a separate ethnical group, so-called different either from Serbs or Croats. During WW2 a tiny minority of extreme Montenegrin separatists of Sekula Drljevic was expelled by Montenegrin monarchists of Djordje Lasic and Aleksa Dujovic to Croatia of Ante Pavelic. Marxist historians allow a possibility that so-called Montenegrin nation developed from wider Serb ethnos under specific socio-historical circumstances. Ivan Milutinovic, nevertheless, witnesses that even some Montenegrin communists had refused the thesis on specific Montenegrin origin as an artificial and harmful idea for the people's interests, underlining that Montenegrohood does not deny Serbdom.

Persistence in the mistake

My former professor at the University of Belgrade (1946-47), an ethnologist Mirko Barjaktarevic, himself from Montenegro, has considered Montenegrins as Serbs linguistically, ethnically and historically. It is also the attitude of academician Matija Beckovic as of historian Dimo Vujovic, who emphasize that Montenegrins have always declared as Serbs. It same proves much earlier Stanoje Stanojevic, quoting words of bishops Danilo, Sava, Vasilije and governor Jovan Radonjic, who all speak or write "in the name of Montenegrins and other Serbs" or "all Serbs of Montenegro, Herzegovina and so on". Let us mention that Njegos and Vuk, as well as Stjepan Mitrov Ljubisa, Marko Miljanov and king Nikola I, felt emphatically and declaratively as Serbs.

During the declaration of Montenegro to kingdom on 28 August 1910, king Nikola said as following: "Aware of glorious role of our side in the history of Serb nation during the reign of mighty kings and lords of former Zeta, the cradle of the glorious Nemanjics, I approve renewal of the ancient kingdom convinced that all great powers would hail, besides one kingdom in Serb Podunavlje, another in Serb Littoral... and Slavdom and all Serbs as one more guarantee for a survival and better future of Serb tribe..." (Note: I found this text in marvellous "New history of Serb nation" written by mister dr Batakovic, Protic, Samardzic and Fotic).

Ignoring those king Nikola's words, as once dr V. Nikcevic, then today mister R. Rotkovic stresses cases of kings Mihailo (1077) and Stevan Prvovencani [The First Crowned] (1217) are the key proof of the so-called ethnical separateness regarding to (other) Serbs. They persistently, but mistakenly, think: if Zetan king Mihailo had been a Serb ruler, he would, instead of Stevan Nemanjic, be called Prvovencani.

Those gentlemen separatists either do not know, or intentionally ignore that Mihailo received only king's title from the pope and uncompleted king's signs, and Stevan title, crown and personal visit od pope's legate. Therefore he is Prvovencani. King Mihailo Vojislavljevic was never crowned. On that issue discussed educationally and convincingly in Politika, in far 1979 late professor Vukasin Radonjic, one of many innocent victims of Tito's Goli otok. This honourable and educated expert of history from its decisive but not always stressed details finishes his article with: " ...We historians can still disagree on question of the beginning of ethnogenesis of Montenegrin nation. It could be tolerated. But maintaining view that Montenegrins are not originally Serbs is an undocumented tale which science does not tolerate in its annals..." (Politika, 12 April 1979, p.12).

A reader might ask: if there is not same nation, does there exist a need or an excuse for separate states? My opinion is yes for specific, but no for separate!

The heroic defence

In great Mojkovac battle, on Christmas 1916 few Montenegrin army had heroically defended withdrawal of the Serbian army towards Albania. After the victory, unfortunately, the unification of Montenegro and Serbia in 1918, though supported by will of majority of people in both Serb states, was not implemented tactfully, although the return of king Nikola blocked France more than Serbia.

According to my opinion if there were more human understanding and political wisdom, both old father-in-law, king Nikola, and old son-in-law, king Petar, should have returned in their united fatherlands with life long king's titles, respects and a pension but with no political power which already was in hands of regent Aleksandar, grandson of former and son of the latter Serb ruler. Today also majority of Montenegrins, who consider themselves Serbs and do not want break off with Serbia, try to preserve their ancient and honourable statehood, but in equal alliance with Serbia. With wisdom and willingness from both sides it is possible.

About behaviour of some politicians and groups in Montenegro, especially after the departure of Slobodan Milosevic, it seems for some of them is more important a personal vanity, career and ambitions than long term interests and survival of Montenegro and Serb people itself. Acceptable form of unity for equal Serb sister-states could and must be found as it was in more complicated cases of Germany and Italy.