The Rovčani (Serbian Cyrillic: Ровчани, pronounced [rǒ̞ʋt͡ʃani]) are a historical tribe of Montenegro and one of the seven highlander tribes of the Brda region, alongside the Bjelopavlići, Piperi, Kuči, Bratonožići, Moračani and Vasojevići. The historical region that they inhabit is called Rovca (Serbian Cyrillic: Ровца, pronounced [rǒ̞ʋt͡za]).


The Rovčani owe their name to the region that they inhabit, called Rovca, which is derived from Slavic rov, meaning “dent” or “trench”.[1]


Rovca borders the historical regions and tribes of the Moračani to the east, the Drobnjaci to the north, the Nikšići to the west, the Bjelopavlići to the southwest, the Piperi to the south, and the Bratonožići to the southeast. Rovca consists of the following villages: Višnje, Velje Duboko, Liješnje, Cerovica, Međuriječje, Mrtvo Duboko, Sreteška Gora, Gornja Rovca, Vlahovići and Trmanje.


The region of Rovca is first mentioned in the 1477 defter (tax registry) of the Sanjak of Herzegovina, which had been established in 1470.

Mariano Bolizza, a Venetian patrician, recorded in 1614 that “Riouzi” (Rovci) was inhabited by Orthodox Christian Serbs and had a total of 50 houses. The 120 men-at-arms were commanded by Ivan Rodonjin.[2] In 1689, an uprising broke out in Piperi, Rovca, Bjelopavlići, Bratonožići, Kuči and Vasojevići. This uprising broke out at the same time of a similar one in Prizren, Peć, Priština and Skopje, which expanded further in Kratovo and Kriva Palanka in October (Karposh's Rebellion).[3]

In 1768, the Rovčani helped the Bjelopavlići, who were attacked by the Ottomans.[4] In 1774, Mehmet Bushatli, the pasha of Scutari, broke into Kuči and "destroyed" it; the Rovčani housed and protected some of the refugee families.[4] On the request of Russian Empress Catherine, the Montenegrins and Herzegovinians took arms against the Ottomans in 1788. The call was gladly accepted by the Rovčani and Moračani who equipped gunpowder and weapons for the upcoming events.[5] However, the Ottomans heard of the intentions, and preemptively struck Morača, the centre of preparation.[6] In 1794, the Kuči and Rovčani were devastated by the Ottomans.[4] In 1796, the Montenegrin army under Metropolitan Petar I Petrović-Njegoš and with the assistance of the Piperi, defeated the Ottoman army at the Battle of Krusi.[4] The Montenegrin victory resulted in territorial expansion, with the tribes of Bjelopavlići and Piperi being joined into the Montenegrin state.[7] The Rovčani, as other highlander tribes, subsequently turned more and more towards Montenegro.[8] Metropolitan Petar I sent letters in 1799 to the Moračani and Rovčani, advising them to live peacefully and in solidarity.[8]

During the First Serbian Uprising (1804–13), the Drobnjaci, Moračani, Rovčani, Uskoci and Pivljani rose against the Ottomans and burnt down villages in Herzegovina.[9] In 1820, after the defeat of the Ottoman army at the Morača river, the Rovčani were incorporated into Montenegro, together with the Moračani.[10]

Rovčani was one of the tribes that supported the Montenegrin Greens, a faction that opposed what they saw was an annexation of Montenegro to Serbia and instead urged for a federation.[11] The Greens still declared themselves to be ethnic Serbs.[12] During the Christmas Uprising (January 7, 1919) two members of Bulatović family were flayed alive in Rovca by the Montenegrin Whites (the other political faction).[13]


The Rovčani tribe had historically viewed themselves as Serbs,[14] and in light of Montenegrin independence (2006), Rovca clan chief Nikola Minić said that "If Milo Djukanovic tried to divide Montenegro... we wouldn't live in his country... but remain united in a brotherhood with Serbia."[15]


According to local folklore, recalled by a Bulatović, the Rovca tribe ultimately descend from ban (duke) Ilijan, from Grbalj in the Bay of Kotor. This Ilijan allegedly married Jevrosima, the daughter of Grand Prince Vukan (r. 1202–04) and sister of Stefan Vukanović Nemanjić, who built the Morača monastery.[16] Ilijan had a son, Nikša, who was in conflict with ban Ugren of the Nikšić župa (county).[17] Nikša's son Gojak murdered Ugren, after which he was hid in the Morača monastery by his great-uncle (or uncle) Stefan, and then in the Lukavica mountain, where he is believed to have died.[16] Gojak had fours sons: Bulat (whose descendants are known as Bulatovići), Šćepan (whose descendants are known as Šćepanovići), Vlaho (whose descendants are known as Vlahovići) and Srezoje (whose descendants are known as Srezojevići).

The other part of Rovčani are descendants of knez (duke) Bogdan Lješnjanin, who fled from Čevo due to a blood feud, and firstly settled in the village of Liješnje in the Lješ nahiyah (subdistrict), and then after another blood feud there he settled in what would become Rovca, in the village of Brezno (which today is known as Liješnje). This happened in the first half of the 15th century, before the Ottoman conquest.

All of the Rovca tribe celebrate the Slava, St. Luke.


  • Rovca
    • Bulatovići
    • Šćepanovići
    • Vlahovići
    • Srezojevići
  • Bogdanovići

Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ Serb World. Neven Publishing Corporation. 1982. p. 26.
  2. ^ Elsie 2003, p. 154.
  3. ^ Belgrade (Serbia). Vojni muzej Jugoslovenske narodne armije (1968). Fourteen centuries of struggle for freedom. The Military Museum. p. xxviii.
  4. ^ a b c d Barjaktarović 1984, p. 28.
  5. ^ Marko A. Vujačić (1952). Znameniti crnogorski junaci: po istoriskim podacima, tradiciji i narodnoj pjesmi. Narodna Knjiga. p. 226. На позив руске царице Катарине, Црногор- ци и Херцеговци устали су на оружје против Турака године 1788« Овај позив радо су прихватили Ровчани и Морачани и опремили су барут и оружје за насту- пајуће догађаје.
  6. ^ Glasnik Srpskog istorijsko-kulturnog društva "Njegoš". Njegoš. 1994. p. 32.
  7. ^ Ferdo Čulinović (1954). Državnopravna historija jugoslavenskih zemalja XIX i XX vijeka: knj. Srbija, Crna Gora, Makedonija, Jugoslavija, 1918-1945. Školska knjiga.
  8. ^ a b Barjaktarović 1984, p. 29.
  9. ^ Vojislav Korać (1971). Trebinje: Istorijski pregled. Zavičajni muzej. p. 304.
  10. ^ Morrison 2009, p. 21.
  11. ^ Banac 1988, p. 285 "The Great National Assembly was held at Podgorica, away from Cetinje and the areas of greatest pro-Petrović sentiment in Old Montenegro. But in the nahije of Katuni (especially in the tribes of Cetinje, Čevo, Bjelice, and Cuce), elsewhere in Old Montenegro, and even in the Brda (Moračani, Rovci, Piperi) and Montenegrin Hercegovina (Nikšići, Rudinjani), the decision was understood as Serbia's annexion of Montenegro. But where the Green half of Montenegro nursed revenge against a burning shame, the Whites in the Brda (notably Bjelopavlići) and beyond (Vasojevići), and in Hercegovina (Drobnjaci, a part of Nikšići, and Grahovljani) celebrated effective Pan-Serbianism.".
  12. ^ Banac, Ivo (1992), Protiv straha : članci, izjave i javni nastupi, 1987-1992 (in Croatian), Zagreb: Slon, p. 14, OCLC 29027519, retrieved 12 December 2011, Posebno je zanimljivo da su se i »zelenaši«,...., nacionalno smatrali Srbima" [it is especially interesting that Greens also ... declared themselves as Serbs]
  13. ^ Banac 1988, p. 286.
  14. ^ Morrison 2009, p. 175.
  15. ^[bare URL plain text file]
  16. ^ a b Književnost. Prosveta. 2002. pp. 594–597.
  17. ^ Mirko Milojković (1985). Legende iz naših krajeva. Srpska književna zadruga. p. 174.