Sava Petrović

Sava Petrović (Serbian Cyrillic: Сава Петровић; 18 January 1702 – 9 March 1782) was the Metropolitan of Cetinje between 1735 and 1781, ruling what is known in historiography as the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro; the polity in the hands of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty. He succeeded his relative Danilo I as Metropolitan in 1735, having served as Danilo's coadjutor since the 1719, when he was consecrated by Serbian Patriarch Mojsije I.

Sava Petrović
Metropolitan of Montenegro, Skenderija and the Coast
Vladika sava.jpg
ChurchSerbian Patriarchate of Peć
Term ended1781
PredecessorDanilo I
SuccessorArsenije Plamenac
Personal details
Born18 January 1702
Njeguši, Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro
Died9 March 1782
Podmaine monastery, Republic of Venice (now Montenegro)
DenominationEastern Orthodox Christianity (Serbian)
ParentsIvan Petrović
Coat of armsSava Petrović's coat of arms

Sava was a lesser memorable figure in Montenegrin history, having served during a period of constant and bitter tribal rivalries and power struggles in tribal leadership.[1]


A contemplative who was happier as a studious monk than resolving conflicts, Sava preferred to leave his countrymen as they had been in the past, dependent on Venice and thus necessarily paying taxes to the Ottoman beys.

In 1735, the year in which Sava officially became the Metropolitan (vladika, rendered as "prince-bishop") of Cetinje, a new war broke out between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, which Austria soon entered on Russia's side. Predictably this was welcomed by the Serbs in Austria-Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro in particular, who were ready to sacrifice everything in their long struggle for total independence. hajduk (bandit and rebel) activity increased, threatening not only Ottoman-controlled Bosnia and Herzegovina but also the coastal territory of Dalmatia ruled by Venice and by neighbouring Republic of Ragusa. Unable to impose firm leadership, Sava obviously had little or no influence on events that transpired; he still continued to seek some sort of appeasement with Venice, a policy that suited his conservative nature. Sava's goal was to secure more open borders for Montenegro, which was already suffering under blockades imposed by its invading Western and Eastern neighbours on all sides.

The Austrian government had induced the Serbs to leave their villages and towns and join the Austrian army. The good will of the Serbian hierarchy was needed by the Austrians in the continuing wars against the Ottoman Empire. Meanwhile, early Austrian successes in the campaign against the Ottomans, supported by Serb volunteers, were followed by serious reverses, after which Austria was forced to yield territory; by autumn 1739 the Austrians had been forced to sign the Treaty of Belgrade which saw the Kingdom of Serbia (including Belgrade), the southern part of the Banat of Temeswar and northern Bosnia to be ceded to the Ottomans (these were mostly gains in the wars of 1714–1718).

In Montenegro, the pattern of raids and counter-attacks continued unabated with Highlander tribes (in Brda) taking the brunt of Ottomans reprisals. In 1740, the new Pasha of Scutari[who?] began preparations for an offensive in the region on a scale that appeared to make successful resistance impossible. Opting for negotiations instead of warfare, the Highlander tribes sent forty of their chieftains to an arranged location for talks only to have them captured and decapitated, and another 400 of their compatriots taken into slavery on the orders of the paša himself.

Hard-pressed, Sava decided to follow his predecessor's example by seeking help from Orthodox Russia, offering to provide troops to serve in the Imperial Russian armies in return for some form of Russian protectorate over Montenegro. At the end of September 1742[2] Sava set off in person, and on reaching St. Petersburg the following spring he presented Montenegro's case to the newly enthroned Empress Elizabeth. The empress promised financial aid, including further funds for the Cetinje monastery, but was unwilling to broach the question of a political arrangement that would afford Montenegro any military protection. Journeying back by way of Berlin, Frederick the Great gave him a beautiful golden cross, but such tokens of consideration, though well intended, fell short of meeting his hopes, and his journey far from proving a turning-point in Montenegro's fortunes, served rather to prompt his withdrawal from public life. From 1744 to 1766, Metropolitan Vasilije Petrović Njegoš, Sava's coadjutator, became effectively the highest authority in Montenegro and its representative abroad. After Vasilije died at St. Petersburg in 1766, Sava again resumed his duties as Metropolitan (Prince-Bishop).

In 1766 the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć was banned by the Ottomans (the Greek clergy also applied pressure in this matter). Sava then responded by writing to the Moscow Metropolitan that "the Serb Nation is under hard slavery" and so asked the Holy Synod of Russia to help the Serbian Patriarch. Sava also wrote a letter to the Russian Empress asking "Protect the Serbs from the Greek and Turkish intruding [...] We are ready to pay Russia in blood". He enumerated the Montenegrins among this "Serbian nation".[3]

In 1767, he wrote to the Republic of Ragusa that the Cetinje Metropolitanate was "happy that the [Ragusan] government still used our Serbian language".[4]

He was succeeded as Metropolitan by Arsenije Plamenac.


  • When introducing himself to Empress Elizabeth of Russia (r. 1741–1762), he used "Metropolitan of Skenderija, the Coast and Montenegro — (mitropolit skenderiski i primorski i Črne Gore povelitelj)[5]
  • "Metropolitan of Montenegro, Skenderija and the Coast, and Exarch of the Holy Throne of the Slav–Serb Patriarchate in Peć" — ("Митрополит црногорски, скендеријски и приморски и егзарх св. пријестола словеносрпске патријаршије у Пећи".)


  • Name: In modern historiography his full name is sometimes written Sava Petrović Njegoš (Сава Петровић Његош), or Sava Petrović-Njegoš. Other spellings include Sava Petrović Njeguš (Сава Петровић Његуш)


  1. ^ Srdja Pavlovic (2008). Balkan Anschluss: The Annexation of Montenegro and the Creation of the Common South Slavic State. Purdue University Press. pp. 33–. ISBN 978-1-55753-465-1.
  2. ^ Borivoje Marinković (2008). Заборављени братственици по перу. Службени Гласник. p. 93. ISBN 978-86-7549-767-7.
  3. ^ Vukcevich, Bosko S. (1990). Diverse forces in Yugoslavia: 1941-1945. p. 379. ISBN 9781556660535. Sava Petrovich [...] Serbian nation (nacion)
  4. ^ Delo. 63. A.M. Stanojević. 1912. 1767. год. пише црногорски владика Сава Петровић ду- оровачкој републици и каже: "и драго намв е владане ваше, кои се ви иош,е од нашега србскога иезика находите, кои за- повиедате" (I. и III. глава).
  5. ^ Vladimir Ćorović (13 January 2014). Istorija srpskog naroda. eBook Portal. pp. 562–. GGKEY:XPENWQLDTZF.
Eastern Orthodox Church titles
Preceded byas Bishop of Cetinje Metropolitan of Cetinje
("Montenegro, Skenderija and the Coast")

Succeeded byas Metropolitan of Cetinje