Krvna osveta

Krvna Osveta (Serbian: Крвна освета, Blood feud) is a law of vendetta among South Slavic peoples in Montenegro and Herzegovina, practised by Montenegrins, Serbs and Bosniaks throughout history since medieval times. It is an oath of revenge for vendetta, meaning that the person must take revenge on whomever killed his relative by killing the murderer or one of the murderer's close relatives.[1]

The practice started in the Balkans in the 15th century, under Ottoman rule and the law decreased in the 19th century, when the Balkan countries slowly got their independence from the Ottoman Empire.[2] In pre-Ottoman Serbian principalities, blood money (Vražda) was paid, one half went to the Serbian Orthodox Church, while the other to the victim's family. Stefan Uroš (1240–1272) talks about the Vražda in his works. After Ottoman conquest of Serbia, self-governing clans often feuded with each other. Families in Serbia abandoned the tradition as the bigger threats to family integrity was ethnic Albanians and Turks rather than of their own ethnic group.

When a family member has been killed, the perpetrator's family (brotherhoods/clans Bratstva) has a "Blood debt" (krvni dug) which can only be removed when the victim's family (an appointed member, osvetnik) has had their revenge by killing the aggressor or any member of the murderer's family (Often a close male kinsman, preferably the brother, killing of children was not encouraged). Only then has the family of the victim received peace (However, the blood feud continues if a relative decides to revenge, regardless of who started).[3] However, killing in your own house is the worst action, representing unmorality, which is a great shame in Montenegrin culture. If a criminal was murdered, it often did not result in a feud as criminality was negative in the eyes of society, but in some cases the criminal's family went on to kill serdars and other high ranked people.

The Osveta is not limited to males, females that have their husbands or relatives killed could take on the blood debt, an instance is recorded from the Bjelopavlići clan, where a widow took out revenge for the murder of her husband.[3]

If a bratstva finds and captures a thief or murderer (in connection to the bratstva) they could go to the person's house or relatives and tell them that their relative is a murderer or thief and end with something like "If we kill him, we are not to be held for" If the relatives answers "Do what you like with him" -the bratstva, if they kill the captive, they don't have a blood debt to his relatives because they settled his fate.[citation needed]

The blood feuds resulted in major instability in Montenegro, Kosovo and diaspora of Montenegrins in later centuries.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

  • Gjakmarrja - the equivalent cultural practice among Albanians.


a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently (this note self-updates) recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.


  1. ^ Zora Latinovic, Krvna Osveta, 2005
  2. ^ "glas-javnosti". Retrieved 2015-08-27.
  3. ^ a b Blood Revenge: The Enactment and Management of Conflict in Montenegro and Other Tribal Societies at Google Books