Page:EB1911 - Volume 24.djvu/723

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693
SERVIA


Karageorgevich, the younger son of Karageorge, as prince of Servia. His reign (1842-1858) was quiet and prosperous, and the country made remarkable progress in culture and wealth. But he feared to summon the national assembly, was personally weak and vacillating, and in foreign politics was Turcophil and Austrophil rather than Russophil. Not only Russia but Servia also was dissatisfied with such a policy, and when Alexander Karageorgevich, forced by public opinion, at last dared convoke a national assembly, that assembly's first resolution was that Prince Alexander should be dethroned and replaced by the old Prince Milosh Obrenovich I. This change of the reigning dynasty was effected without the slightest disorder or loss of life. Milosh returned to power at the beginning of 1859, but died in 1860. His son Michael then ascended the throne for the second time. He was a man of refinement who had learned much during his long exile (1842-I8 59). His political programme was that the law should be respected as the supreme will in the country, that Servia's political autonomy should be jealously guarded, and every encroachment on the part of the suzerain power should be resented and rebuded. He introduced many important reforms in administration, and replaced the old constitution, granted to Servia by the Porte in 1830, by a new constitution which he himself gave to the country. When in 1862 the Turkish garrison in the citadel of Belgrade bombarded the town, he demanded the evacuation of all the Servian fortresses and forts by the Turks. Only a few of the less important forts were delivered to the Serbs at that time; but in 1863 Prince Michael sent his wife, the beautiful and accomplished Princess Julia (nee Countess Hunyadi), to plead the cause of Servia in London, and she succeeded in interesting prominent English politicians (Cobden, Bright, Gladstone) in the fate of the Balkan countries. Prince Michael organized the national army, armed it and drilled it, and entered into understandings with Greece, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Albania, for an eventful general rising against the Turks. In the beginning of 1867 he addressed to the Porte a formal demand that the Turkish garrisons should be withdrawn from Belgrade and other Serb fortresses. To prevent a general conflagration in the Balkan Peninsula, the powers advised the sultan to comply with the demand, and when the British government strongly supported that advice the sultan yielded and delivered all the fortresses on Servian territory to the keeping of the prince of Servia (March 1867). Prince Michael's great popularity in consequence of his diplomatic successes alarmed the friends of the exiled Karageorgevich dynasty, more especially when rumours began to circulate that the prince contemplated divorcing his childless wife Julia and remarrying. A conspiracy was formed, and Prince Michael was assassinated on the 10th of June 1868. The conspirators failed to overthrow the government, and the army proclaimed Milan, the son of Prince Michael's first cousin Milosh Obrenovich (son of Yephrem, brother to Milosh the founder of the dynasty), as prince of Servia. The choice was unanimously approved by the Velika Skupshtina, which had been immediately convoked. As Milan Obrenovich IV. was a boy of only thirteen, a regency, presided over by Iovan Ristich or Ristitch (q.'u.), was appointed to manage the government until the boy prince attained his full age, which took placein 1872. In 1869 the regency had substituted a new constitution for that of 1838. Prince Milan followed the policy of his dynasty, and, encouraged by the Russian Panslavists, declared war on Turkey (June 1876). His army, commanded by the Russian General Chernyayev, was defeated by Abdul-Kerim Pasha, whose advance was stopped by the intervention of Tsar Alexander II. But the situation created by Prince Milan's action in the Balkans forced the hand of the tsar, and Russia declared war on Turkey (1877). The Treaty of Berlin.-Prince Milan was educated in the political school favourable to Russia, and unhesitatingly followed the Russian lead up to the conclusion of the preliminary treaty of peace between Russia and Turkey at San Stefano. By that treaty Russia, desiring to create a great Bulgaria, took within its limits districts inhabited by Servians, and considered by the Servian politicians and patriots as the natural and legitimate V

inheritance of their nation. This act of Russia created great dissatisfaction in Servia, and became the starting-point for a. new departure in Servian politics. At the Berlin Congress the Servian plenipotentiary, Jovan Ristich, in vain appealed to the Russian representatives to assist Servia to obtain better terms. The Russians themselves advised him to appeal to Austria and to try to obtain her support. The utter neglect of the Servian interests by Russia at San Stefano, and her evident inability at the Berlin Congress to do anything for Servia, determined Prince Milan to change the traditional policy of his country, and instead of continuing to seek support from Russia, he tried to come to an understanding with Austria-Hungary concerning the conditions under which that power would give its support to Servian interests. This- new departure was considered by the Russiansespecially by those of the Panslavist party-almost as an apostasy, and it was decided to oppose Prince Milan and his supporters, the Servian Progressives. The treaty of Berlin (13th of July 1878) disappointed Servian patriots, although the complete independence of the country was established by it (art. 34). This was proclaimed at Belgrade by Prince (afterwards King) Milan on the 22nd of August.

The Progressive Régime.-The political history of Servia from 1879 to the abdication of King Milan on 3rd March 1889 was an uninterrupted struggle between King Milan and the Progressives on one side, and Russia with her adherents, the Servian Radicals, on the other. King Milan and his government were badly handicapped by several unfortunate circumstances. To fulhl the engagements accepted in Berlin and the conditions under which independence had been granted to Servia, ra.ilways had to be constructed within a certain time, and the government had also to pay to the Turkish landlords in the newly acquired districts an equitable indemnity for their estates, which were divided among the peasants. These objects could not be attained without borrowing a considerable amount of money in the European markets. To pay regularly the interest on the loans the government of King Milan had to undertake the unpopular task of reforming the entire financial system of the country and of increasing the taxation. The expenditure increased more rapidly than the revenue. Deiicits appeared, which had to be covered temporarily by new loans, and which forced the government to establish monopolies on salt, tobacco, matches, mineral oils, &c. Every such step increased the unpopularity of the government and strengthened the opposition. An attempt on the life of King Milan was made in 1882, and an insurrection in the south-eastern districts was started in 1883. But the majority of the people, and especially the regular army, remained loyal, and the revolt was quickly suppressed.

War with Bulgaria.-The union of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia inspired King Milan and his government with the notion that either that union must be prevented, or that Servia should obtain some territorial compensation, so that the balance of power in the Balkan Peninsula might be maintained. This view, which did not find support anywhere outside Servia, led to war between Servia. and Bulgaria (see Servo-Bulgarian War); the Servians were defeated at Slivnitza and had to abandon Pirot, whilst the farther advance of the Bulgarian army on Nish was stopped by the intervention of Austria-Hungary. An honourable peace was concluded between the two contending powers in March 1886. Then came the unhappy events connected with Milan's divorce from Queen Natalie; That domestic misfortune was cleverly exploited by King Milan's enemies in the country and abroad, and did him more harm than all his political mistakes. He tried to retrieve his position in the country, and succeeded in a great measure, by granting a very liberal constitution (January 1889, or Dec. 1888 O.S.) at a time when all agitation for a new constitution had been given up. Then, to the great astonishment of the Servians and of his Russian enemies, King Milan voluntarily abdicated, placing the government of the country in the hands of a. regency during the minority of his only son Alexander, whom he proclaimed king of Servia on the 6th of March 1889.

King Alexander: The Regency.—The leading man of the