Milena of Montenegro

Milena Petrović-Njegoš (née Vukotić, Serbian Cyrillic: Милена Петровић-Његош; 4 May 1847 – 16 March 1923) was the only Queen consort of Montenegro as the wife of Nicholas I (28 August 1910 – 26 November 1918). She was regent of Montenegro during the absence of her spouse in 1869 and in 1883. She also served as titular regent for the titular king-in-exile Michael in 1922–1923.

Milena Vukotić
Черногорская княгиня Милена Вукотич. Конец XIXв ГИ e1t3.jpg
Queen consort of Montenegro
Tenure28 August 1910 – 26 November 1918
Princess consort of Montenegro
Tenure8 November 1860 – 28 August 1910
BornMilena Vukotić
(1847-05-04)4 May 1847
Čevo, Cetinje, Montenegro
Died16 March 1923(1923-03-16) (aged 75)
Cap d'Antibes, France
Burial
Spouse
(m. 1860; died 1921)
Issue
Names
Milena Petrović-Njegoš
HousePetrović-Njegoš (by marriage)
FatherVoivode Petar Vukotić
MotherJelena Vojvodić
ReligionEastern Orthodox Church
SignatureMilena Vukotić's signature

Early lifeEdit

Born in the Montenegrin village of Čevo, Milena was a daughter of Voivode Petar Vukotić and wife Jelena Vojvodić born in Viš, Danilovgrad.

Her father was one of the greatest landowners in Montenegro and a close friend of Voivode Mirko Petrović-Njegoš with whom he had fought in the wars of the 1850s.[1] The two friends decided to consolidate their alliance with the union of their children.[1] In 1853, Milena, age only six, was betrothed to Mirkos's only son, Nikola, age twelve. Nikola was the nephew and heir of the childless reigning prince of Montenegro Danilo I.[1]

In 1856, after the death of her mother, Milena was sent to Cetinje, to be raised in the household of her future in laws.[1] Having grown up according to the rudimentary customs of Montenegro at that time even in prominent families, Milena was illiterate. Between 1856 and 1860 she grew up in the household of Mirko Njegoš, her soon to be father in law, raised alongside Mirko's daughter, Anastasia.[1] During those four years she became close to her new family:

"My father and mother loved her as their own daughter" wrote later King Nikola. "My late uncle (Prince Danilo), also loved her greatly and treated her as his own child, and she showed him her love and respect in every way. She was very beautiful, sweet, kind, gentle and devout."[2]

In those years Milena seldom saw her future husband.[3] Six years her senior, Nikola meanwhile was educated first in Trieste and later in Paris.

Princess and Queen consortEdit

The assassination of Prince Danilo, on 12 August 1860, unexpectedly made Nikola the reigning prince of Montenegro at age eighteen. Shortly after, Nikola was close to death ill with pneumonia.[3] When he recovered, it was decided to arrange his marriage as soon as possible in order to provide Montenegro with an heir. Milena's father traveled to St Petersburg and informed Tsar Alexander II of Russia, Montenegro's greatest ally and supporter, of the marriage.[2]

In Cetinje, on 8 November 1860, at the age of 13,[4] Milena married Prince Nicholas I of Montenegro, then aged 19, who later became King in 1910. The wedding was a simple affair and was held in the Vlach Church in Lovćen valley.[2] The marriage was political: her family had played an important role in Montenegin politics and was befriended with the House of Petrović-Njegoš, her husband's family.

Only in her early teens at the time of her marriage, Milena's early years as Princess consort were difficult. She was inexperienced and was a solitary figure initially overshadowed by Princess Darinka, widow of Prince Danilo, who was close to Nikola.[5] During the first four years of her marriage, she did not have any children. She was tutored in the Serbian language and learned French.

Milena asserted her position after Darinka left Montenegro for good in 1867. In 1865, Milena gave birth to the first of her twelve children. Between 1865 and 1869, she had four daughters in quick succession, with a son and heir, Prince Danilo, born in 1871, and seven more children would follow.[5] Milena's relationship with her husband solidified with time and she became respected and influential.

While her husband was away in visits to Austria-Hungary and Russia in the winter of 1868–1869, Milena was in charge of court affairs.[5]

She was appointed regent when Nicholas visited Russia in 1869.[6][7] She also served as regent during Nicholas' visit to Constantinople in 1883.[8]

She had visited Istanbul with her husband after the invitation of Sultan Abdulhamid in 1899. She was one of the foreigners who had the opportunity[clarification needed] to enter the Sultan's harem.[9]

Later life and deathEdit

After the annexation of Montenegro by the Kingdom of Serbia in 1918, the royal family was forced into exile. Milena and Nicholas settled in France with their two youngest daughters. Nicholas died in 1921, leaving the title of king-in-exile to his son Danilo, who however renounced it to his nephew Michael. Michael was placed under the regency of Milena, who acted as titular regent of the titular king from 1922 to her own death in 1923.[10] Milena died in France, two years after her husband, and was buried in San Remo, Italy.

In 1989 her remains, together with her husband's and Xenia's and Vera's, two of her daughters, were transferred to Cetinje and reburied in the Court Church in Ćipur.

IssueEdit

The couple had twelve children: three sons and nine daughters, some of whom married European royalty.

HonoursEdit

[11]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Houston, Nikola & Milena, p. 86
  2. ^ a b c Houston, Nikola & Milena, p. 87
  3. ^ a b Houston, Nikola & Milena, p. 85
  4. ^ "Milestones: Mar. 24, 1923". Time.com. 1923-03-24. Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  5. ^ a b c Houston, Nikola & Milena, p. 103
  6. ^ King, Edward (1888). "Descriptive Portraiture of Europe in Storm and Calm: Twenty Years' Experiences and Reminiscences of an American Journalist".
  7. ^ "McBride's Magazine". 1876.
  8. ^ "The History of the Year". 1883.
  9. ^ Özcan, Uğur. "II. Abdülhamid’in Diplomasisinde Yüksek Topuklar: Karadağ Prensesi Milena ve Sultan Abdülhamid." Osmanlı Tarihi Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi OTAM 32.32 (2012): 113-140.
  10. ^ Royalty Who Wait: The 21 Heads of Formerly Regnant Houses of Europe
  11. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. pp. 257–258.

ReferencesEdit

  • Houston, Marco, Nikola & Milena: King and Queen of the Black Mountain, Leppi publications, ISBN 0-9521644-4-2
Regnal titles
Preceded by Princess consort of Montenegro
8 November 1860 – 28 August 1910
Proclaimed queen