Vukmanovic, Ph. D.
Montenegrin Prince Nikola Petrovic and
Serbian King Aleksandar Obrenovic, Belgrade's
railway station, 1896
Visit of Montenegrin Prince Nikola Petrovic to Belgrade on St. Vitus Day, 1896
excerpt from the book:
Nikola I Petrovic Njegos - Biographic notes, Cetinje, 1990
translated by Stefan Branisavljevic
the time of prince Nikola and prince Mihailo was made agreement between
Montenegro and Serbia (1866). But after Mihailo's death, who was famous
exponent of liberation of Balkan nations, during reign of his successor,
king Milan, who had perpetually feared for his crown and for whom interests
of dynasty were on the first place, between Montenegro and Serbia arose
opened dissension and mutual denunciation about question of Serb unity.
This state of affair had improved a bit during regime of Aleksandar Obrenovic,
but Montenegrin political emigrants in Serbia still worsen it.
Despite all those controversies and dynastic rivalry, by initiative of prince Nikola,
came in 1896 re-establishment of closed ties between Montenegro and Serbia.
In that time began also "deed of approach and accord of Balkan states about
sphere of national aspirations and division among them lands of European
part of Turkey in which live peoples of this states somewhat changed".
Prince stressed from the very beginning his "old wish" to visit king Aleksandar
in Belgrade, although it was difficult to him that "gray-haired lord pays
a visit to young king". But when Serbian government stated that king Aleksandar
by himself wants to make journey on Cetinje, he immediately decided to
travel, insofar as it was advice of competent Russian political circles.
Before he visited king Aleksandar, prince Nikola went to Moscow on coronation
of tzar Nikolaj. From Moscow he traveled to Belgrade accompanied with its
retinue whom in Vienna joined deputy Djordje Simic. On the road to Serbia
prince had become more and more "in pompous and enthusiastic mood".
In Novi Sad he was greeted by delighted crowd of citizens whom Hungarian
authorities forbad to enter on station. Only Aleksandar Sandic, poet and
famous public worker, was allowed to come nearby train and he saluted this
eminent traveler. During the trip prince concerned about everything and
asked his minister of Education, duke Sima Popovic, who was born in Srem.
And when he landed on Serbian soil, on which, by his personal request and
previous warning, informed deputy Simic, he stridently exclaimed: "Caps
down!!!" Then he himself took of cap, kneeled and crossed.
On the Belgrade station king Aleksandar, army and huge crowd received prince.
Serbians emerged from all sides to see by own eyes "Serb light". Arrival
of prince was more magnified because it befell on St. Vitus Day - symbolic
day of people's glory and Serb unity. Meeting of two Serb rulers was very
touching. People raptly chanted to them. Prince hugged and kissed king.
This scene so filled Belgrade's public with joy as they have attended to
some great patriotic play. According to Slobodan Jovanovic "it seemed as
unification of Serbia and Montenegro was accomplished long time ago".
Facsimile from Belgrade daily
Vecernje Novosti, 15 June 1896,
St Vitus Day (Julian Calendar)
More ovations prince Nikola experienced when this same day was in Cathedral
on dirge of Kosovo victims. After held rite and patriotic speech delivered
from metropolitan Mihailo, in church, "completely crimped in black", he,
wearing golden Montenegrin attire and with Nemanjic sword on belt, "kneeled,
kissed ground and wept. Here on all spectators wept with him". And when
poet of anthem "Onamo, 'namo" (There, Over There) put silver wreath on
grave of prince Mihailo and went out, citizens of Belgrade glorified and
carried him on arms. He passed through streets of Belgrade and was cheered
as a new Obilic".
Coming of prince Nikola in Belgrade and time he spent there gained "significance
of the pan-Serb feast". People transformed this days in global happiness
and delightfulness. Prince, also, was hilarious and in good mood. He everywhere,
among people, army, in schools and in all institutions, who he visited,
experienced only honor and respect. King named him commander of IX infantry
regiment and Serbian Academy of Arts elected his favorite poet Jovan Jovanovic
Zmaj, who read one beautiful patriotic song "Prince Marko and the triple-head
"From Avala, from Lovcen
one trumpet blares;
Avala is nearing
to kiss Lovcen..."
Somewhere chorus sings poem "Onamo, 'namo" which everybody present accepts and continues.
Prince was very impressed by achievements and cultural progress of Serbia.
After this he intimately and in privacy tells Sima Popovic that he will
not allow anybody before him and in his country to criticize Serbians.
On festal meal, who was held in court, prince warmly thanked king on
hospitality. In toast which he had on that occasion, he displayed his political
and national program. "I came from home to home!" said prince after all
..."And I came on St. Vitus Day! Why I chose that day, day which is rather
baleful for our Serb tribe? I chose it therefore our people not spend this
day in sadness like till today. Since Lazar on this day it reminds them
on all their hardships, sufferings and captivities. Neither outnumbered,
nor born bravery of destroyers of our fatherland were not so fatal for
its survival as our own disunion.
Majesty! Providence marked two of us as rulers and leaders of Serb nation. Inspired
by this holy mission and most ardent wish to observe it in accordance with
God' s will, we are obliged to do everything for our noble and dear Serb
people which longings for unit. Therefore only in home united people is
powerful and respected from others.
And today on St. Vitus Day uprisings, my dear brother, and before face of our
dear Serbdom, I offer expression clear as first ray which lightness from
peak of my Lovcen, expression of that blessed unity and love which people
admire to exist among us. Embraced and connected by unity our good Serb
people, divided, with three religions, will bless; spirits of fallen Serb
martyrs will also bless us; Serb slavery will bless us. It will follow
our example, and united all will believe in one faith, redeeming faith,
faith of nationality.
Today entire Serbdom is spiritually with us, and what it wants we both want,
and our task is to lead it to direction of its intentions. Our people is
aware and just. It does not want foreign; it wants only own and none instead,
because of that is said: Stolen - cursed! Owners of everything we are responsible
to be eager compatriots of other happier peoples on field of progress,
growth and civilization...
I rise up this glass for your good Majesty, and for sake of Serb people!"
Prince Nikola's visit and his words said there "made strong", rightly "epochal
impression" on Serb people. "Since this approach and fraternization of
Serb rulers and states, Serbdom had expected its better days and believes
that sad advents from previous relationships definitely disappeared". Prince
Nikola had believed the same when he left Belgrade very pleased and with
great honors. In his heart he still carried idea of cousinhood with young
king through his daughter Ksenija, because his mother, queen Natalija,
very often asked about her. Thence he, consequently, expected his prompt
"Really, next 1897, on Saint George Day, baptized name of Petrovic, king Aleksander
visited Cetinje, although king Milan from Vienna used all possible means
to hinder his plans for trip, fearing him that "will die immediately after
arrival on Montenegrin soil". When he was far away from him, young king
had known to disobey father's will, so he did not listen . "All country
was excited to receive guest of prince best as possible". King was in very
good mood and spoke latter that he "has never felt better "than on Cetinje
and that days spent there will be the most beloved in life". But when ministers
of both governments, Serbian and Montenegrin, Mihailo Vujic, Djordje Simic
and Gavro Vukovic, announced that they made accord on separation of Sandzak
and Macedonia, which they had to liberate from Turks together, he vehemently
refused to give Prizren to Montenegrins. Also, he did not show will nor
in matter of marriage princess Ksenija, although his ministers, Vujic and
Simic, made serious attempts through Vukovic. In politics king Aleksander
was under influence of king Milan and in love his heart conquered Draga
Masin, court lady of his mother. This two moments broke plan on accord
between Serbia and Montenegro, and by return of king Milan in fatherland
began misunderstandings and secret friction between two Serb countries
that continued, with short interruptions, until death of king Aleksandar
(1903). This state of affairs and generally non-national policy of Obrenovic
dynasty, prompted their fall. But in that time, when Serbia had stronger
and stronger sweep, prince Nikola, who was considered as the greatest bearer
of Serb national thought, began to lose from his great popularity.
Quotes from works of Simo Popovic ("In Belgrade and on Cetinje"), Gavro Vukovic
("Serbia and Montenegro") and Slobodan Jovanovic ("The Personal Memories",
"The Memory of Stojan Novakovic")