1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nicholas (King of Montenegro)

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NICHOLAS (1841- ), King of Montenegro and the Berda, was born at the village of Niegush, the ancient home of the reigning family of Petrovitch-Niegush, on the 25th of September 1841. His father, Mirko Petrovitch, a celebrated Montenegrin warrior, was elder brother to Danilo II., who left no male offspring. After 1696, when the dignity of vladika, or prince-bishop, became hereditary in the Petrovitch family, the sovereign power had descended from uncle to nephew, the vladikas belonging to the order of the “black clergy” who are forbidden to marry. A change was introduced by Danilo II., who declined the episcopal office, married and declared the principality hereditary in the direct male line. Mirko Petrovitch having resigned his claim to the throne, his son was nominated heir, and the old system of succession was thus accidentally continued. Prince Nicholas, who had been trained from infancy in martial and athletic exercises, spent a portion of his early boyhood at Trieste in the household of the Kuetitch family, to which his aunt, the princess Darinka, wife of Danilo II., belonged. The princess was an ardent advocate of French culture, and at her suggestion the young heir of the vladikas was sent to the academy of Louis le Grand in Paris. Unlike his contemporary, King Milan of Servia, Prince Nicholas was little influenced in his tastes and habits by his Parisian education; the young mountaineer, whose keen patriotism, capability for leadership and poetic talents early displayed themselves, showed no inclination for the pleasures of the French capital, and eagerly looked forward to returning to his native land. He was still in Paris when, in consequence of the assassination of his uncle, he succeeded as prince (August 13, 1860). In 1862 Montenegro was engaged in an unfortunate struggle with Turkey; the prince distinguished himself during the campaign, and on one occasion narrowly escaped with his life. In the period of peace which followed he carried out a series of military, administrative and educational reforms. In 1867 he met the emperor Napoleon III. at Paris, and in 1868 he undertook a journey to Russia, where he received an affectionate welcome from the tsar, Alexander II. He afterwards visited the courts of Berlin and Vienna. His efforts to enlist the sympathies of the Russian imperial family were productive of important results for Montenegro; considerable subventions were granted by the tsar and tsaritsa for educational and other purposes, and supplies of arms and ammunition were sent to Cettigne. In 1871 Prince Dolgorouki arrived at Montenegro on a special mission from the tsar, and distributed large sums of money among the people. In 1869 Prince Nicholas, whose authority was now firmly established, succeeded in preventing the impetuous mountaineers from aiding the Krivoshians in their revolt against the Austrian government (see Cattaro); similarly in 1897 he checked the martial excitement caused by the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War. In 1876 he declared war against Turkey; his military reputation was enhanced by the ensuing campaign, and still more by that of 1877-78, during which he captured Nikshitch, Antivari and Dulcigno. The war resulted in a considerable extension of the Montenegrin frontier and the acquisition of a seaboard on the Adriatic. In 1883 Prince Nicholas visited the sultan, with whom he subsequently maintained the most cordial relations; in 1896 he celebrated the bicentenary of the Petrovitch dynasty, and in the same year he attended the coronation of the tsar Nicholas II.; in May 1898 he visited Queen Victoria at Windsor. In 1900 he assumed the title of “Royal Highness.” On the 28th of August 1910, during the celebration of his jubilee, he assumed the title of king, in accordance with a petition from the Skupshtina. He was at the same time gazetted field-marshal in the Russian army, an honour never previously conferred on any foreigner except the great duke of Wellington. The descendant of a long line of warriors, gifted with a fine physique and a commanding presence, a successful military leader and a graceful poet, King Nicholas possessed many characteristics which awoke the enthusiasm of the impressionable Servian race, while his merits as a statesman received general recognition. His system of government, which may be described as a benevolent despotism, was perhaps that best suited to the character of his subjects. His historical dramas, poems and ballads hold a recognized place in contemporary Slavonic literature; among them are — Balkanska Tzaritza and Kniaz Arvaniti (dramas); Haïdana, Potini Abenserage and Pesnik i Vila (poems); Skupliene Pesme and Nova Kola (miscellaneous songs). In November 1860 Prince Nicholas married Milena, daughter of the voievode Petar Vukotitch. Of his three sons, the eldest, Prince Danilo, married (July 27, 1899) Duchess Jutta (Militza) of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; of his six daughters, Princess Militza married the Grand Duke Peter Nikolaievitch, Princess Stana, Duke George of Leuchtenberg, Princess Helena, King Victor Emmanuel III. of Italy, and Princess Anka, Prince Francis Joseph of Battenberg. (J. D. B.)