Serbs of Montenegro

Serbs of Montenegro
Srbi u Crnoj Gori
Срби у Црној Гори

Serbian Orthodox church in old town of Kotor
Total population
(178,110 (2011)[1])
Serbian Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups

Serbs of Montenegro (Serbian: Srbi u Crnoj Gori / Срби у Црној Гори) or Montenegrin Serbs (Serbian: Crnogorski Srbi / Црногорcки Cрби) [a], compose the second largest ethnic group in Montenegro (28.7% of country's population[2]), after the Montenegrins. In historiography, the Orthodox people of Montenegro were called Serbs. In the constitutions of the Principality of Montenegro and Kingdom of Montenegro, the Montenegrin people's ethnonym was Serbs. With the formation of Socialist Yugoslavia, the censuses showed a majority of people declaring as Montenegrins.


Following the Slavic settlement of the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries, several principalities were established in the Western Balkans towards the Adriatic. Duklja, first mentioned in the De Administrando Imperio (c. 960), was one of the Serbian principalities that came under Byzantine rule in 1018 after Basil II's conquest of Bulgaria. The Serbs were the Empire's "most important but insubodinate subjects in the western Balkans". Duklja broke away from Byzantine rule in 1042 under ruler Stefan Vojislav and became the leading Serbian state until the 12th century. All of what is today Montenegro came under the rule of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanjić dynasty, after 1180. Zeta, formerly known as Duklja, became a less important region in the Serbian state.[3] Nevertheless, it remained a crown land, given to the heir of the monarch. Several monasteries date to this period, such as: Praskvica, Banja, Morača, Vranjina, and others.

Saint Sava, born in Duklja, was a Serbian prince and the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Church

Montenegro saw independence under the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty, firstly as a principality and then as a kingdom. Both Kingdoms fought together as independent states in the Balkan Wars and in the First World War. At the end of the war in 1918 tensions arose between the two states as the Montenegrin Whites with Serbian support deposed Nicholas I of Montenegro and proclaimed Montenegro's unification with Serbia as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed into Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929), while the Montenegrin Greens opposed it. The conflict led to the Christmas Uprising, in which the Whites with support from the Serbian army defeated the Greens.[4] During the period of the monarchic Yugoslavia, ruled by the Serbian Karađorđević dynasty, the tensions between Serbs and Croats were increasing and most of the Montenegrin politicians supported the Serbian proposed centralised state.

Serbian Kingdom from 1217 to 1346, led by the Nemanjić dynasty

During the Second World War both Serbs and Montenegrins were very active in both resistance movements, the Yugoslav Partisans and the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland known as the Chetniks. At the end of the war the socialist Yugoslavia was created and the two became republics within the Yugoslav federation.

Yugoslav Partisan Milovan Djilas described himself as a Montenegrin Serb and described Montenegro as the spiritual homeland of Serbs, saying "I am not a Montenegrin because I am a Serb, but a Serb because I am a Montenegrin. We Montenegrins are the salt of the Serbs. All the strength of the Serbs is not here [in Montenegro] but their soul is."[5] Djilas also has said "The Montenegrins are, despite provincial and historical differences, quintessentially Serbs, and Montenegro the cradle of Serbian myths and of aspirations for the unification of Serbs.".[5]

After the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia in 1991 and 1992, SR Montenegro held the Montenegrin referendum in 1992 which ended with a 95.96% of votes in favour for a state union with Serbia and with the changing of the socialist political system towards a multi-party one. The country was renamed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In this period between 1990 and 1998 Montenegro was ruled by Momir Bulatović who had close relations with the Serbian president Slobodan Milošević and who was very supportive to keep close ties between the two republics within the state union. Montenegro was also included by the economic sanctions imposed to Serbia during the 1990s. During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia both Serbia and Montenegro suffered the attacks of the NATO forces and several targets inside Montenegro were also bombarded. All this contributed to the rise in power in Montenegro of Milo Đukanović who was known to be much less sympathetic towards the Serbo-Montenegrin ties and would become an open supporter of the independence of Montenegro. In 2006, six years after the fall of Milošević in 2000, and after insisting on international diplomacy, the former Yugoslavia became known as the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. The process of becoming a single state union ironically lead to the separation of the two states - a change which was officiated by the referendum on Montenegrin independence on 21 May 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. Of them, 230,661 votes or 55.5% were in favour of independence and 185,002 votes or 44.5% were against.[6]

Serbian Orthodox monasteries
Left: Ostrog, Right: Reževići Monastery

Since independence, the Montenegrin society has been divided among many issues. The independence supporters are advocating for the creation of a separate Montenegrin language, regarded before as a dialect of the Serbian language, including the creation of a new Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet which is basically the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet with the addition of two new letters. The Serbian population of Montenegro is opposed to the idea of a linguistic separation, just as they are opposed to the separation of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church from the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Montenegrin language lacks ISO code, and the Montenegrin Orthodox church is canonically unrecognized.

The links between the two nations remains strong, and the fact that for the last two centuries a great number of Montenegrins had emigrated to Serbia further strengthens the ties. The Montenegrin littoral is still the main turistic destination for citizens of Serbia, and a large population of Serbians own property in Montenegro. Many of these properties consist of summer homes, and contribute to a seasonal influx of Serbs in Montenegro, during the summers. Despite the geopolitical separation, the economic balance and relationship shared between the two countries continues to be strong.


Ethnicity map of Montenegro, Serbs in blue

According to the 2011 census, Serbs are second largest ethnic group and constitute 28.7% of population of Montenegro. They are absolute majority in three and relative majority in another three municipalities, and constitute less than 20% of population in only four out of total 21 municipalities in the country. Percentage of Serbs in municipalities of Montenegro is as follows:



Linguistic map of Montenegro, Serbian in blue

The national language of Montenegro has historically and traditionally been called Serbian.[7] According to Pavle Ivić, two sub-dialects of the Shtokavian dialect (of the Serbian language) were spoken in Montenegro: the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect and Zeta-South Sanjak dialect. The Eastern Herzegovinian dialect is spoken in Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Today, the national standard is based on the Zeta-South Sanjak dialect.

Some 42.9% of the population of the country speak Serbian as their mother tongue, including 37% of the declared Montenegrins. Serbian was the official language of Montenegro until 2007 when the new Constitution of Montenegro replaced the Constitution of 1992. Amid opposition from pro-Serbian parties,[8] Montenegrin language was made the sole official language of the country and Serbian was given the status of a recognised minority language along with Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian.[9]


Left: Serbian orthodox church in Kotor
Right: Cetinje Monastery, Serbian Orthodox monastery

The Serbs are adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the strongest religious institution of Montenegro (with a total of 460,383 followers or 74%).[10] One of the largest places of worship is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica.

The future of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has been threatened by the newly formed Montenegrin Orthodox Church which has claimed Serbian Orthodox churches in Montenegro, and is backed by a small percentage of the Orthodox Christians in Montenegro. The government has recognized the church, however none of the Eastern Orthodox churches have. The leader is the controversial Miraš Dedeić, a former Serbian Orthodox clergyman with Serbian nationalist views that after being suspended from the Serbian Church, went to Rome and became a Greek Orthodox clergyman.

He was later suspended by the Serbian Orthodox Church after committing adultery with a younger woman. In 1997 he was excommunicated by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Montengrin Orthodox Church's leader is anathemized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and banished from Orthodoxy.

Folk attire

Main article: Serbian dress

The Montenegrin cap is a traditional hat for ethnic Serbs in Montenegro and in later times the self identifying Montenegrins, originally in the shape of a flat cylinder, having a red upper surface (called tepeluk) not dissimilar to the Herzegovina and Lika caps. It was wholly red until Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš surrounded it with a black rim (called derevija),[11] and the definition given was as a sign of grief of occupied Kosovo. The Kosovo Myth was very popular in the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro. The enforcement of the cap upon the Montenegrin chieftains by Peter II was a mark of expression of then's dominating Serbian national identity.[12] The national telling recorded the most often version of the cap as following: the black wrapper was sign of grief for the once big Empire, the red the bloody defeat at the Battle of Kosovo[13] and the five small stripes on the top represent the remaining remains of the once greater Serbian realm,[14] which became increasingly popular amongst the common folk during the reign of Prince Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš. Within the stripes is angled a six star, representing the last free part, Montenegro, shining upon the fallen and conquered.[15] Worn by the rulers and chieftains, the version with the Four Ocil symbol in the star's place had become across the years with growth of nationalism excessively popular amongst the ordinary people, the symbol of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which effectively worked on maintaining and raising the national identity.

Notable people

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Serbs of Montenegro.


  1. ^ The correct political terms are Serbian: Црногорcки Cрби – Crnogorski Srbi, meaning "Montenegrin Serbs", and Cрби Црногорци - Srbi Crnogorci, meaning "Serbs Montenegrins". Specifically, Their regional autonym is simply Crnogorci (Црногорци) – , literal meaning Montenegrins,[16][17] the same as the ethnic group of Montenegrins). In the early modern times, before the Kingdom of Montenegro, people [living within present-day borders] were divided by the identities of Brđani (Brda), Hercegovci (Old Herzegovina), Bokelji (Boka Kotorska) and Crnogorci (Old Montenegro). Срби у Црној Гори - Srbi u Crnoj Gori, meaning "Serbs in Montenegro".


  2. "Official results of the 2011 Montenegrin census" (PDF).
  3. David Luscombe; Jonathan Riley-Smith (14 October 2004). The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 4, C.1024-c.1198. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266–270. ISBN 978-0-521-41411-1.
  4. Banač, Ivo (March 1988). The national question in Yugoslavia: origins, history, politics. Cornell University Press. p. 285. ISBN 978-0-8014-9493-2. Retrieved 11 December 2011.
  5. 1 2 Elizabeth Roberts. Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro. London, England, UK: Cornell University Press, 2007. Pp. 1.
  6. "Montenegro vote result confirmed". BBC News. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  7. cf. Roland Sussex, Paul Cubberly, The Slavic Languages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006; esp. v. pp. 73: "Serbia had used Serbian as an official language since 1814, and Montenegro even earlier.".
  8. "''Pro-Serbian parties oppose Montenegro constitution''". 26 October 2007. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  9. "Ustav Crne Gore". Retrieved 5 November 2011.
  10. see: Religion in Montenegro
  11. "Crna Gora i Crnogorci" by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić
  12. "O najstarijoj kapi kod Jugoslovena..." by Miodrag Vlahović
  13. Crna Gora... Narodni život i običaji" by Andrija Jovićević
  14. "Crnogorska muška kapa" by Zorica Radulović
  15. "Fizicki lik i izgled Njegosa" by Jovan Vukmanović
  16. Charles Seignobos, Political History of Europe, since 1814, ed. S. M. Macvane, H. Holt and Company, New York, 1900, pp. 663–664; excerpt from chapter XXI The Christian Nations of The Balkans, subchapter Servia and Montenegro, passages Montenegro
  17. "Projekat Rastko Cetinje – Slavenko Terzic – Ideoloski korijeni crnogorske nacije i crnogorskog separatizma". Retrieved 5 November 2011.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Serbs of Montenegro.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.