The Vasojevići (Serbian Cyrillic: Васојевићи, pronounced [ʋâso̞je̞ʋit͡ɕi]) is a historic Montenegrin Highland tribe and a territorial unit in northeastern Montenegro, in the region of Brda ("the Highlands"). It is the largest of the historical tribes, occupying the area between Vjetarnih Lijeva Rijeka in the South and Bihor under Bijelo Polje in the North, Mateševo in the West to Plav in the East. The tribe (pleme) is one of seven Highland tribes (Vasojevići, Moračani, Rovčani, Bratonožići, Kuči, Piperi and Bjelopavlići). Vasojevići is also the name of the region inhabited by the Vasojevići. Most of the tribe's history prior to the 16th century has naturally been passed on through oral history.

Although the unofficial center is Andrijevica in north-eastern Montenegro, the tribe stems from Lijeva Rijeka in central Montenegro. The tribe was formed by various tribes that were united under the rule of the central Vasojević tribe. These tribes later migrated to the Komovi mountains and the area of Lim. The emigration continued into what is today Serbia and other parts of Montenegro.

Though sense of tribal affiliation diminished in recent years, is not a thing of a past. Tribal association and organizations still exist (e.g. Udruženje Vasojevića "Vaso"). It could be clearly seen during the 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum with the Vasojevići united opposition.


It occupies the area between Vjetarnih Lijeva Rijeka in the South and Bihor under Bijelo Polje in the North, Mateševo in the West to Plav in the East. In modern Montenegro the area of Vasojevići falls into following municipalities: Berane, Podgorica, Kolašin, Plav and Bijelo Polje (around 15% of Montenegro).[1] One of the highest mountains of the modern day Montenegro is named after the tribe: Kom Vasojevićki (2461 metres) and the whole area inhabited by the tribe is frequently called "Vasojevići".[2][3]


Vasojevići is not a tribe (pleme) of common patrilineal ancestry, but was formed under the rule of a central tribe that extended its name to many other brotherhoods as it expanded in new territory.[4]

Likely of Albanian origin, the Vasojevići (Albanian: Vasaj, also Vasoviqi or Vasojeviqi) underwent a process of gradual cultural integration into the neighboring Slavic population.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Accounts of locals and foreignersEdit

Johann Georg von Hahn recorded one of the first oral traditions about Vasojevići from a Catholic priest named Gabriel in Shkodër in 1850. According to it the first direct male ancestor of the Vasojevići was Vas Keqi, son of a Keq who fleeing from Ottoman conquest settled in a Slavic-speaking area that would become the historical Piperi region. His sons, the brothers Lazër Keqi (ancestor of Hoti)), Ban Keqi (ancestor of Triepshi), Kaster Keqi (ancestor of Krasniqi) and Merkota Keqi (ancestor of Mrkojevići) had to abandon the village after committing murder against the locals, but Keq and his younger son Piper Keqi remained there and Piper Keqi became the direct ancestor of the Piperi tribe.[14][15]

According to a memorandum created by the Austro-Hungarian consul F.Lippich, which studied the demographic structure of the area,the Vasojevići are considered the northern linguistic border of Albanian and constitute a case of slavicised Albanians.[16][17]

Marie Amelie von Godin in her travels still reported traces of bilingualism in the area of Vasojevici. According to her reports, although Albanian was no longer spoken in the area, some laments and oaths were still being sung and recited in Albanian.[18]

According to a folk myth, the founder of the tribe was Vaso.[19] According to one myth Vaso was a descendant of the medieval Serbian Nemanjić dynasty.[20][unreliable source?] Vaso's great-grandfather was Stefan Konstantin, the rival King, who was defeated by his half-brother Stefan Uroš III in 1322. Stefan Konstantin had a son, Stefan Vasoje, who was brought up at the court of Dušan the Mighty. Stefan Vasoje participated in the battles of Dušan, and when he had received sufficient experience, he was put by the Emperor as voivode at Sjenica. Stefan Vasoje had a son, Stefan Konstantin II (1342–1389, known as Vojvoda Vasojević Stevo in folklore), who participated in the Battle of Kosovo (1389), where he died.[21][22] is believed to be either the grandfather or great-grandfather of Vaso.[19][2] The legend further alleges that Vaso, one of five sons of Stefan Konstantin II (all brothers are founders of clans), moved to Lijeva Rijeka.[23] After the fall of Smederevo fortress (1459) and the subsequent fall of the whole Serbian Empire, Serbs from Kosovo, Metohija and Šumadija fled from the incoming Turks to Bosna and, after its fall (1463), into Herzegovina. Vaso, the founded of the tribe, fled along with these waves of refugees. In 1465 he moved from Herzegovina to Lijeva Rijeka in Zeta (modern day Montenegro).

Pasture at Komovi

Local legend has it that Vaso had a fourth son, by the name of Đuro, who left home and settled in Crmnica, where he founded the brotherhood of Đurovići. The legend also recounts how after the Second Battle of Kosovo, defeated Janos Hunyadi (Sibinjanin Janko in Serbian epic poetry) along with his wounded (according to some traditions already dead) nephew Banovac Sekula retreated to the safety of the high Komovi mountains. There he was received by Vaso and his sons, who all gave him a gift respectively: Rajo a sword, Novak a horse, and Mijoman a gun. However, suddenly there was a shout to the arms as the enemy was approaching, and both Novak and Mijo took their gifts back. Rajo, on the other hand, did not want to, so he equipped himself with another weapon. Hynadi blessed him for this, and predicted that he and his brothers will be great heroes, as well as their descendants, but that his own will always be the largest and that they will always be the leaders of the tribe.

Vaso's descendants gradually expanded to the north-east and inhabited the region by the river Lim called Polimlje – the area around the Komovi mountains, Andrijevica and Berane [19][2][3] Thus, they formed the largest tribe (pleme) of all seven highland tribes of Montenegro (i.e. Vasojevići, Moračani, Rovčani, Bratonožići, Kuči, Piperi and Bjelopavlići). Part of the tribe that stayed free from the Turkish rule lives in the area of Lijeva Rijeka and Andrijevica (Upper Nahija) – they are all called Upper Vasojevići. Lower Vasojevici (or Lower Nahija) inhabited the area of Berane. Most of the Lower Vasojevići were within the Turkish reign until Balkan Wars in the 20th century.[3]


It is a tradition of all brotherhoods to show respect to ancestors by knowing precisely genealogy and the history of the tribe and a family. This also allows members of the clan to be unite, to act together and always to recognise kin.[19] In terms of traditional customs, up to the end of the 19th century traces of a variant of the northern Albanian kanuns remained in use in Vasojevići.[24] Two story houses were known as Kula[25] Traditional clothing in Vasojevići is similar as that of the other tribes of the Albanian-Montenegrin borderlands. The women wear a woolen bell-shaped skirt named dzupeleta (from Albanian xhubleta or oblaja.[26][27]

Tribe members were perceived as noblemen and rarely mingled with common folk – people who did not have a common ancestor. Vasojevići called them Ašani (earlier also Asa and Hasa)[28] and today this term has come to denote Vasojevići of other origin.[19][2][3]

Among the members of the tribe, the non-Vasojevici, Serbs who lived in the areas the Vasojevici expanded, were known as Srbljaci, which literally means "Serbs".[29]


Early historyEdit

The Vasojevići are first attested in 1444. At that time, they hadn't fully formed yet but were a small brotherhood organized in semi-permanent katun typically used by Albanian and Aromanian pastoral communities.[30] There it is described as not a tribe, but as an ethnic group (a people). The Ragusan Senate report filed by Ragusan merchants dating to October 29, 1444, speaks of the Vasojevići (and their leader Vaso[31]), living near Medun, in Rikavac, having together with the Bjelopavlići and Piperi attacked Ragusan merchants, doing material damage.[32] According to some historians, the fact that the Vasojevići were not mentioned in the 1455 document, points to them having migrated from Upper Zeta.[33] Vasojevići is mentioned in the 1485 Ottoman cadastre of Shkodër, where the village of Reçiça was known by the alternative name Vasojević. This village corresponds to modern Lijeva Rijeka.[34] According to the 1485 defter, the Vasojevići and Bratonožići were not yet established tribes.[35] Some branches of Vasojevići migrated to Kosovo, and were slavicised after their arrival.[36]

17th centuryEdit

In 1613, the Ottomans launched a campaign against the rebel tribes of Montenegro. In response, Vasojevići along with the tribes of Kuči, Bjelopavlići, Piperi, Kastrat, Kelmend, Shkrel and Hot formed a political and military union known as “The Union of the Mountains” or “The Albanian Mountains” .In their shared assemblies, the leaders swore an oath of besa to resist with all their might any upcoming Ottoman expeditions, thereby protecting their self-government and disallowing the establishment of the authority of the Ottoman Spahis in the northern highlands. Their uprising had a liberating character. With the aim of getting rid of the Ottomans from the Albanian territories[37][38]Mariano Bolizza recorded in 1614 that Vasojevići had a total of 90 houses, of the Serbian Orthodox faith. It was commanded by Nicolla Hotaseu (Nikolla Hotasev) and Lale Boiof (Lale Bojov) and could field up to 280 soldiers.[39]

In 1658, the seven tribes of Kuči, Vasojevići, Bratonožići, Piperi, Klimenti, Hoti and Gruda allied themselves with the Republic of Venice, establishing the so-called "Seven-fold banner" or "alaj-barjak", against the Ottomans.[40] In 1689, an uprising broke out in Piperi, Rovca, Bjelopavlići, Bratonožići, Kuči and Vasojevići, while at the same time an uprising broke out in Prizren, Peć, Priština and Skopje, and then in Kratovo and Kriva Palanka in October (Karposh's Rebellion).[41]

18th centuryEdit

In the 18th century the folklore of the tribe was influenced by the Orthodox millenarianism that had developed during the mid Ottoman era. According to one such folk legend, an elder of the Vasojevići, Stanj, foretold Greek priests the advent of a Serbian messiah, a dark man (crni čovjek) who would liberate the Serbs from the Turks. These myths as part of the official Serbian Orthodox doctrine provided both a de facto recognition of Ottoman rule and the denial of its legitimacy.[42]

World War IIEdit

During the Second World War, the Vasojevići were divided between the two armies of Serb Chetniks (royalists) and Yugoslav Partisans (communists) that were fighting each other[43] (vojvoda Pavle Đurišić formed the most successful Chetnik units out of mainly Vasojevići). As a result, the conflict spread within the tribal structures.[43] The partisans formed a distinct Vasojević battalion. In battles, against Chetniks and the Fascist Italian army, it routed 200 Chetniks and 160 Italian soldiers in defense of the position of Pešića Lake during the advance of the Chetniks from Kolašin.[44]

Montenegrin independence referendum, 2006Edit

In May 2006, Montenegro gained independence after a referendum on the future of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. However, 72% of voters in Andrijevica municipality, the unofficial centre of the Vasojevići region, voted against Montenegrin independence. It was the second highest result against breaking the state union with Serbia (after Pluzine municipality).[45]

The People's Assembly of Vasojevići stated many times that, apart from being Montenegrin, all Vasojevići are Serb[46][47][48] and, thus, strongly oppose and have always opposed Montenegrin secession from Yugoslavia.[49][50] The Montenegrin census of 2003 revealed that 89,81% of the Vasojevići declared themselves as Serb while 9,43% declared themselves as Montenegrin.


During the War in Ukraine, some locals of villages of Andrijevica, part of the Vasojevići tribe, decided to sell and give up land for free to Russia, stating that "we are brothers".[51]


The people of the Vasojevići consider themselves as the descendants of three Vaso sons: Rajo, Novak and Mioman. Hence the great clans (bratstva) of the Vasojevići:[2][52]

  • Djukici
  • Rajevići
  • Novakovići
  • Mijomanovići

In a book "Pleme Vasojevići" written in 1935, R. Vešović describes the structure of the Vasojevići.[2] The list of families was exhausting when the book was completed but since then new families may have developed. Sometimes, with the very distant genealogy, slight variations of names, chronology and relationships exist concurrently but there is no doubt among the Vasojevići members which family belongs to which brotherhood, branch and sub-branch.[19] Never has any family questioned the structure depicted below.[2]

Notable peopleEdit

Serbian historiography considers Karađorđe Petrović originated from the Vasojevići

By the beginning of the World War II there were more than 3600 Vasojevići “houses” in Polimlje and Lijeva Rijeka.[2] Many notable Serbs (or people with Serbian roots, are Vasojevići by origin, e.g.:


  1. ^ Pribijanje uz rođake
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h R-J. V. Vesović, 1935, "Pljeme Vasojevići", Državna Štampa u Sarajevu, Sarajevo
  3. ^ a b c d M. P. Cemović, 1993, "Vasojevići" (IInd edn), Izdavacki cavjet Zavicajnog udruzenja Vasojevicia, Beograd
  4. ^ Vucinich, Wayne S. (1975). A study in social survival: the katun in Bileća Rudine. University of Denver. p. 30. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  5. ^ Gjergji, Andromaqi (2004). Albanian Costumes Through the Centuries Origin, Types, Evolution. Indiana University: Acad. of Sciences of Albania, Inst. of Folc Culture. p. 118. ISBN 9789994361441.
  6. ^ Robert Elsie, 2015, The Tribes of Albania: History, Society and Culture, #page=3
  7. ^ Arifi, Arben; Tetaj, Luan (2020). "The Monastery of Deçan and the Attempts to Appropriate It". Richtmann Publishing: 67. In Montenegro, Albanian tribes such as Kuçi, Bjellopavliq (Palabardhët), Piprraj, Vasoviq, and others were among the assimilated ones Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Miranda, Vickers (1998). Between Serb and Albanian: A History of Kosovo. Hurst & Company. p. 8. In Kosovo, especially in its eastern part, most Albanians were gradually assimilated into the Eastern Orthodox faith by numerous methods, including the baptism of infants with Serbian names and the conducting of all religious ceremonies such as marriages in the Serbian language. In Montenegro entire tribes such as the Kuc, Bjellopavliq, Palabardha, Piprraj and Vasovic were assimilated; those who resisted assimilation retreated into the hills of what is now northern Albania.
  9. ^ Murati, Qemal (2012). "Sprovë Për Një Fjalor Etimologjik Onomastik Shqiptar". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 19.
  10. ^ Rudolf, Vogel (1964). Südosteuropa-Schriften - Volume 6. p. 176. Auch die montenegrinischen Stämme der Piperi und Vasojevići sind ihrer Herkunft nach stark albanisch fundiert
  11. ^ Buda, Aleks (1977). La Conférence nationale des études ethnographiques, 28-30 juin 1976. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. p. 197.
  12. ^ Brendel, Heiko (2019). Lieber als Kacake als an Hunger sterben. Campus Verlag. p. 51. ISBN 9783593510354.
  13. ^ Duicu, Ioana (2015). "Metal Adornments Of/With Balkan Influences, Components Of Women's Folk Costumes In Oltenia And Banat" (PDF). Cogito. “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University: 126.
  14. ^ von Hahn, Johan Georg; Elsie, Robert (2015). The Discovery of Albania: Travel Writing and Anthropology in the Nineteenth Century. I. B. Tauris. pp. 125–35. ISBN 978-1784532925.
  15. ^ Drançolli, Jahja (2017). "ŠUFFLAY - NJERI NDËR ALBANOLOGËT MË TË SHQUAR TË BOTËS". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 47.
  16. ^ Stavro, Skendi (2015). The Albanian National Awakening. Princeton University Press. p. 33. According to a memorandum sent on 20 June 1877, by the Austria-Hungary's Consul in Skodra F. Lippich to Vienna: The northern linguistic Albanian frontier runs from west to east, starting from the Adriatic coast somewhat below Antivari, above the mountain ridge and the northwestern corner of the Shkodër lake, following the Sem (Zem) upstream above Fundina through Kuči to Vasojević and Kolašin; the latter two districts, although Serbian-speaking in the majority, still seem to be in part of Albanian origin—perhaps the only instance of a slavization of Albanians.
  17. ^ Verli, Marenglen (2009). "The data of the year 1877 for the main features of Albanians and the demographic structure of some sancaksjournal=Studime Historike". Studime Historike (1–02): 158.
  18. ^ Gostentschnigg, Kurt (2017). Wissenschaft im Spannungsfeld von Politik und Militär Die österreichisch-ungarische Albanologie 1867-1918. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. p. 189. ISBN 9783658189112.
  19. ^ a b c d e f I. R. Dragović, Beograd, 1997
  20. ^ Bogdan Lalević-Ivan Protić, Vasojevići u crnogorskoj granici, Srpski etn. zbornik 5, Beograd 1903
  21. ^ Kosovski ciklus epskih pjesama
  22. ^ "Pogibija Pavla Orlovića i Steva Vasojevića na Kosovu"
  23. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2011-10-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ Martucci, Donato (2021). "Il mio destino balcanico" L'illirismo di Antonio Baldacci tra viaggi di esplorazione e senilità. University of Salento: Palaver. p. 317. Nella tornata del 12 aprile 1940 al Convegno di Tirana degli Studi Albanesi, discutendosi dell'importanza del Kanun per il folklore io feci osservare che esso vigeva nel 1890 e 1891 (quando esplorai per la prima volta il Montenegro) ancora come fondamento giuridico consuetudinario nelle tribù montenegrine dei Kuči, dei Vasojevići e dei Piperi (che fino al Trattato di Berlino non facevano parte del Principato del Montenegro e continuavano ad essere considerate nel dominio ottomano): fu in quella tornata che proposi diestendere le ricerche sul Kanun nelle regioni suddette per raccogliervi le ultime vestigia colà resistenti di esso.
  25. ^ Krasniqi, Mark (1982). "Gjurmë e gjurmime". Studime Etnografike: 342.
  26. ^ Gjergji, Andromaqi (2004). Albanian Costumes Through the Centuries Origin, Types, Evolution. Indiana University: Acad. of Sciences of Albania, Inst. of Folc Culture. p. 185. ISBN 9789994361441.
  27. ^ Maretič, Tomislav (1962). Zbornik za narodni život i običaje južnih slavena. Jugoslavenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti.
  28. ^ Predanja o zajedničnom poreklu nekih crnogorskih i nekih arbanaških plemena "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-03-13. Retrieved 2009-02-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^ Gledišta (in Serbian). Belgrad University. 1983. p. 213.
  30. ^ Gorunović, Gordana (2017). "Mihailo Lalić and Serbian Ethnology: Ethnography and Mimesis of Patriarchal Society in Montenegrin Highlands". Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology. 12 (4): 1212. doi:10.21301/eap.v12i4.10.
  31. ^ Vukić 1969, p. 7
  32. ^ Dašić 1986, p. 154
  33. ^ Dašić 1986, p. 157
  34. ^ Pulaha, Selami (1974). Defter i Sanxhakut të Shkodrës 1485. Academy of Sciences of Albania. pp. 371, 424–425.
  35. ^ Vlado Strugar (1987). Prošlost Crne Gore kao predmet naučnog istraživanja i obrade. Crnogorska akademija nauka i umjetnosti. p. 135. ISBN 9788672150018.
  36. ^ Mirdita, Zef (1999). U povodu knjige Noela Malcolma "Kosovo. A Short History". Croatian Institute of History. p. 553. Kako se o pravoslavnoj zajednici na Kosovu u ovo doba veoma malo govori, srpski povjesničari to tumače kao razdoblje teškog pritiska nad tim stanovništvom, odnosno stalnog useljavanja Albanaca na Kosovo. Malcolm tu tvrdnju odbija i ističe privilegirani položaj pravoslavaca i visoke pravoslavne crkvene hijerarhije u odnosu na katolike i Katoličku crkvu. Uz to autor tvrdi daj e na Kosovo došao velik broj različitih naroda, primjerice Vasojevići i pravoslavni Vlasi koji su se postupno srbizirali
  38. ^ Mala, Muhamet (2017). "The Balkans in the anti-Ottoman projects of the European Powers during the 17th Century". Studime Historike (1–02): 276.
  39. ^ Bolizza, Mariano. "Report and Description of the Sanjak of Shkodra". Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  40. ^ Mitološki zbornik. Centar za mitološki studije Srbije. 2004. pp. 24, 41–45.
  41. ^ Belgrade (Serbia). Vojni muzej Jugoslovenske narodne armije (1968). Fourteen centuries of struggle for freedom. The Military Museum. p. xxviii.
  42. ^ Roudometof, Victor (1998). "From Rum Millet to Greek Nation: Enlightenment, Secularization, and National Identity in Ottoman Balkan Society, 1453–1821" (PDF). Journal of Modern Greek Studies. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  43. ^ a b Djilas, Milovan (1977). Wartime. ISBN 9780151946099.
  44. ^ Dedijer, Vladimir (1990). The War Diaries of Vladimir Dedijer. University of Michigan. p. 125. ISBN 0472101102.
  45. ^ OSCE Referendum o drzavnom statusu
  46. ^ "Vasojevicki Zakon u Dvanaest Tocaka, part 1".
  47. ^ "Vasojevicki Zakon u Dvanaest Tocaka, part 2".
  48. ^ Milija Komatina, Crna Gora I Srpsko Pitanje: Prilog Izucavanju Integrativnih i Dezintegrativnih Tokova (Montenegro and the Serbian Question: A Contribution to the Study of Integrative and Disintegrative Currents) (Belgrade: Inter Ju Press, 1966), page 171
  49. ^ Udruzenie Vasojevicia Vaso
  50. ^ Vasojevici za Srpstvo i Jugoslaviju
  51. ^ "Васојевићи нуде земљу Путину".
  52. ^ Miomir Dašić,Duka Vasojevići: od pomena do 1860. godine, Narodna knjiga, Beograd 1986
  53. ^ Stojančević 1982, p. 23; Banac 1984, p. 45; Roberts 2007, p. 118; Morrison 2008, p. 21.
  54. ^ Király & Rothenberg 1982, p. 23.
  55. ^ López, JMC (2000). SISTEMAS SOCIALES E INTERCULTURALIDAD. p. 72. Es probable que algunas de las estas alturas tribus eslavas de Montenegro deban estado de origen albanés. De esta manera Karađorđe, fundador del estado serbio, es probable que fuera de descendencia albanesa, y más si se considera que su tribu de origen, los Vasojevići (Васојевићи), y las tribus albanesas vecinas de Hot y Krasniqi tenían el mismo ancestro
  56. ^ a b "Borislav Milošević laid to rest in Montenegro". B92 News. 1 February 2013. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  57. ^ Лесковац, Младен; Форишковић, Александар; Попов, Чедомир (2004). Српски биографски речник (in Serbian). Будућност. p. 176. ISBN 9788683651627. Потиче из познате официрске породице братства Вешовића. Основну школу
  58. ^ Dimitrije-Dimo Vujovic, Prilozi izucavanju crnogorskog nacionalnog pitanja /The Research of the Montenegrin Nationality/ (Niksic: Univerzitetska rijec, 1987), p. 172.
  59. ^ (Guberinić 1996, p. 145):"Бригадир Авро Цемовић (1864-1914) Бригадир Аврам-Авро Цемовић, рођен је на Бучу."
  60. ^ Momcilo Cemovic, 1993, "Preci i potomci"
  61. ^ Rakočević, Donko (August 14, 2017). "МИЛА ЈОВОВИЋ: Снимићу филм о Голом отоку!". Sedmica (in Montenegrin). Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  62. ^ "Petar Bojović | Petar Bojović | Biography".
  63. ^
  64. ^ "Novosti".
  65. ^ a b c d e


About the tribe

External linksEdit