Nicholas I of Montenegro

(Redirected from King Nikola I)

Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола I Петровић-Његош; 7 October [O.S. 25 September] 1841 – 1 March 1921) was the last monarch of Montenegro from 1860 to 1918, reigning as prince from 1860 to 1910 and as the country's first and only king from 1910 to 1918.

Nikola I
Никола I
King of Montenegro
Prince of Montenegro
Grand Duke of Grahovo
Nicholas I of Montenegro.jpg
Nicholas I c. 1910s
King of Montenegro
Reign28 August 1910 – 26 November 1918
PredecessorHimself (as Prince of Montenegro)
SuccessorTitle abolished
Prince of Montenegro
Reign13 August 1860 – 28 August 1910
PredecessorDanilo I
SuccessorHimself (as King of Montenegro)
Born(1841-10-07)7 October 1841
Njeguši, Montenegro
Died1 March 1921(1921-03-01) (aged 79)
Cap d'Antibes, France
Burial1 October 1989
(m. 1860)
Nikola Mirkov Petrović-Njegoš
FatherMirko Petrović-Njegoš, Grand Voivode of Grahovo
MotherAnastasija Stana Martinović
ReligionSerbian Orthodoxy
SignatureNikola I Никола I's signature


Early lifeEdit

Nikola was born in the village of Njeguši, the home of the reigning House of Petrović. He was the son of Mirko Petrović-Njegoš, a celebrated Montenegrin warrior (an elder brother to Danilo I of Montenegro) and his wife, Anastasija Martinovich (1824–1895). After 1696, when the dignity of vladika, or prince-bishop, became hereditary in the Petrović family, the sovereign power had descended from uncle to nephew, the vladikas belonging to the order of the black clergy (i.e., monastic clergy) who are forbidden to marry. A change was introduced by Danilo I, who declined the episcopal office, married and declared the principality hereditary in the direct male line. Mirko Petrović-Njegoš having renounced his claim to the throne, his son was nominated heir-presumptive, and the old system of succession was thus incidentally continued.

Prince Nikola, who had been trained from infancy in martial and athletic exercises, spent a portion of his early boyhood in Trieste at the household of the Kustic family, to which his aunt, the princess Darinka, wife of Danilo II, belonged. The princess was an ardent francophile, and at her suggestion, the young heir-presumptive of the vladikas was sent to the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Unlike his contemporary, King Milan of Serbia, Prince Nikola was little influenced in his tastes and habits by his Parisian education; the young highlander, 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.

Nikola was a member of the "United Serbian Youth" (Уједињена омладина српска) during its existence (1866–1871).[1][2] After the organization was prohibited in the Principality of Serbia and Austro-Hungary, the "Association for Serb Liberation and Unification" (Дружина за ослобођење и уједињење српско) was established by Nikola, Marko Popović, Simo Popović, Mašo Vrbica, Vasa Pelagić, and more, in Cetinje (1871).[3][4][5]

Nicholas I of Montenegro was also reflected in literature. His most significant works are the Serb patriotic song "Onamo, 'namo!" (There, over there!), and the drama "Empress of the Balkan".[6]

Prince of MontenegroEdit

Prince Nicholas in 1909.

While still in Paris, Nikola succeeded his assassinated uncle Danilo I as prince (13 August 1860). At age 19, in Cetinje, on 8 November 1860, he married Milena, 13 years old, daughter of a Vojvoda named Petar Vukotić and wife Jelena Vojvodić.

In the period of peace which followed Nikola carried out a series of military, administrative and educational reforms. The country was embroiled in a series of wars with the Ottoman Empire between 1862 and 1878. 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 produced important results for Montenegro; considerable subsidies were granted by the tsar and tsaritsa for educational and other purposes, and supplies of arms and ammunition were sent to Cetinje. In 1871 Prince Dolgorukov arrived at Montenegro on a special mission from the tsar, and distributed large sums of money among the people. In 1869 Prince Nikola, whose authority was now firmly established, succeeded in preventing the impetuous highlanders from aiding the Krivosians in their revolt against the Austrian government; similarly in 1897 he checked the martial excitement caused by the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War.

King Nicholas I with his wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren and sons- and daughters-in-law in 1910.

In 1876 Nikola 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 Nikšić, Bar and Ulcinj. The war resulted in a considerable extension of the Montenegrin frontier and the acquisition of a seaboard on the Adriatic. Nikola justified the war as a revenge for the Battle of Kosovo (1389). In 1876 he sent a message to the Montenegrins in Herzegovina:

Under Murad I the Serbian Empire was destroyed, under Murad V it has to rise again. This is my wish and wish of all of us as well as the wish of almighty God.

The Congress of Berlin in 1878 recognised the independence of Montenegro, and in the succeeding decades Montenegro enjoyed considerable prosperity and stability. Education, communications and the army expanded greatly (the latter with support from Imperial Russia). In 1883 Prince Nikola visited the sultan, with whom he subsequently maintained the most cordial relations; in 1896 he celebrated the bicentenary of the Petrović dynasty, and in the same year he attended the coronation of Nicholas II; in May 1898 he visited Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.

King of MontenegroEdit

Styles of
King Nikola I
Reference styleHis Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

In 1900 Nikola took the style of Royal Highness.

According to Bolati, the Montenegrin court was not grieving that much over the murder of King Alexander Obrenović, as they saw him as an enemy of Montenegro and obstacle to the unification of Serb Lands. "Although it wasn't said openly, it was thought that the Petrović dynasty would achieve [the unification]. All procedures of King Nikola shows that he himself believed that".[7]

King Nicholas I triumphantly enters Shkodra in April 1913, after the siege.

He gave Montenegro its first constitution in 1905 following pressure from a population eager for more freedom. He also introduced west-European style press freedom and criminal law codes. In 1906, he introduced Montenegrin currency, the perper. On 28 August 1910, during the celebration of his jubilee, he assumed the title of king, in accordance with a petition from the Skupština. He was at the same time gazetted field-marshal in the Russian army, an honor never previously conferred on any foreigner except the Duke of Wellington. When the Balkan Wars broke out in 1912 King Nikola was one of the most enthusiastic of the allies. He wanted to drive the Ottomans completely out of Europe. He defied the Concert of Europe and captured Scutari despite the fact that they blockaded the whole coast of Montenegro. Again in the Great War which began in 1914 he was the first to go to Serbia's aid to repel the Austro-Hungarian Empire forces from the Balkan Peninsula.

In January 1916, after the defeat of Serbia, Montenegro was also conquered by Austria-Hungary, and the King fled to Italy and then to France. The government transferred its operations to Bordeaux. After the end of the First World War, a meeting in Podgorica voted to depose Nikola and annex Montenegro to Serbia. A few months later, Serbia (including Montenegro) merged with the former South Slav territories of Austria-Hungary to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. Nikola went into exile in France in 1918, but continued to claim the throne until his death in Antibes three years later. He was buried in Italy. In 1989, the remains of Nikola, his queen Milena, and two of their twelve children were re-buried in Montenegro.


Five of his daughters were married, each to princes and kings, giving Nikola the nickname "the father-in-law of Europe", a sobriquet he shared with the contemporary King of Denmark.

The present pretender to the throne is King Nikola's great-grandson Prince Nikola, Prince Michael's son.




In popular cultureEdit

  • King Nikola and the Kingdom of Montenegro are remembered briefly in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, where its eponymous main character reminisces on how for his accomplishments and heroic endeavors during the First World War the King confers unto him the highest honor of the Kingdom, the Orderi di Danilo. Gatsby duly presents the medal for his guest to examine which reads on the legend Montenegro, Nicolas Rex and on its reverse: Major Jay Gatsby - For Valour Extraordinary.[21]
  • The character of the King in Maurice Chevalier's movie The Merry Widow (1934) is based on Nicholas.


  1. ^
    After his death, he was initially buried in a Russian Orthodox church in Sanremo. On 1 October 1989, his remains (and the remains of his wife Queen Milena and their daughters Princesses Ksenija and Vjera) were repatriated to Cetinje where they were given a state funeral and interred in the Court Church near the Cetinje Monastery.


  1. ^ Matica srpska (Novi Sad, Serbia) Zbornik za istoriju, Volume 2, Odeljenje za društvene nauke, Matica srpska, 1970, p. 191: "У том смислу занимљиви су прилози: Николе Петровића, Историјско лес- то, улога и значај Уједин>ене омладине ..."
  2. ^ Jelena Danilović: Sto godina Opšteg imovinskog zakonika za Crnu Goru, Arhiv za pravne i društvene nauke, 1–2, 2006, str. 233
  3. ^ Миодраг Јовичић, Лексикон уставности Србије 1804–1918
  4. ^ Istorijski institut SR Crne Gore u Titogradu 1990, Istoriski zapisi, Volume 63, Istorijski institut u Titogradu, pp. 40–41
  5. ^ Мартиновић, Нико С. (1954) "Валтазар Богишић и Уједињена омладина српска Зборник" ("Belshazzar Bogišić and the United Serbian Youth") Матице српске (Matica Srpska), volume 9, pages 26–44, in Serbian
  6. ^ Glas Crnogorca, October 19, 1999: Jovan Markuš: Двије црногорске химне
  7. ^ Dragoljub R. Živojinović (1988). Petar I Karađorđević: U otadžbini, 1903–1914. godine. Beogradskĭ izdavačko-grafički zavod. p. 25. ISBN 9788613003243.
  8. ^ a b Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. pp. 342–349.
  9. ^ Romanoff, Prince Dimitri; [colours by Strüwing] (1980). The orders, medals and history of Montenegro. Copenhagen: Bent Carlsen. ISBN 978-8785216274.
  10. ^ "Ritter-Orden", Hof- und Staatshandbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie, 1908, pp. 57, 68, 98, retrieved 5 November 2019
  11. ^ Jørgen Pedersen (2009). Riddere af Elefantordenen, 1559–2009 (in Danish). Syddansk Universitetsforlag. p. 467. ISBN 978-87-7674-434-2.
  12. ^ "Rother Adler-orden", Königlich Preussische Ordensliste (in German), vol. 1, Berlin, 1886, p. 22
  13. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Großherzogtum Baden (1896), "Großherzogliche Orden" pp. 63, 77
  14. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch des Königreich Bayern (1906), "Königliche Orden" p. 7
  15. ^ "Ludewigs-orden", Großherzoglich Hessische Ordensliste (in German), Darmstadt: Staatsverlag, 1914, p. 6
  16. ^ Italia : Ministero dell'interno (1898). Calendario generale del Regno d'Italia. Unione tipografico-editrice. p. 54.
  17. ^ 刑部芳則 (2017). 明治時代の勲章外交儀礼 (PDF) (in Japanese). 明治聖徳記念学会紀要. p. 143.
  18. ^ Russian Imperial Army - King of Montenegro Nikola I Petrovich-Njegos (In Russian)
  19. ^ "Real y distinguida orden de Carlos III". Guía Oficial de España (in Spanish). 1887. p. 156. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  20. ^ Shaw, Wm. A. (1906) The Knights of England, I, London, p. 422
  21. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1925). The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner. p. 170. ISBN 0-684-83042-6.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Nicholas I of Montenegro
Born: 7 October 1841 Died: 1 March 1921
Regnal titles
Preceded by Prince of Montenegro
13 August 1860 – 28 August 1910
Proclaimed king
New title King of Montenegro
28 August 1910 – 26 November 1918
Montenegro annexed by Serbia
Titles in pretence
Montenegro annexed by Serbia — TITULAR —
King of Montenegro
26 November 1918 – 1 March 1921
Succeeded by