Slobodan Jovanović

For the Serbian businessman, see Slobodan Jovanović (businessman).
Slobodan Jovanović

Portrait of Slobodan Jovanović by Uroš Predić, 1931
19th Prime Minister of Yugoslavia
In office
12 January 1942 – 26 June 1943
Preceded by Dušan Simović
Succeeded by Miloš Trifunović
Personal details
Born (1869-12-03)December 3, 1869
Novi Sad, Austria-Hungary
Died December 12, 1958(1958-12-12) (aged 89)
London, United Kingdom
Occupation jurist, historian, politician

Slobodan Jovanović (Serbian Cyrillic: Слободан Јовановић) (December 3, 1869, Novi Sad, Austria-Hungary – December 12, 1958, London, United Kingdom) was one of Serbia's most prolific jurists, historians, sociologists, journalists and literary critics. He distinguished himself with a characteristically clear and sharp writing style later called the "Belgrade style".

Liberal in his social and political views, he was perhaps Yugoslavia’s greatest authority on constitutional law; also a master of Serbian prose style, he was for nearly half a century a leader of the Serbian intelligentsia. He graduated law in Geneva in 1890. In 1905, he was a professor at the University of Belgrade's Law School until 1941. He was also a politician while in exile in London during World War II.


Jovanović as part of a poetic circle in his youth.

Slobodan Jovanović was born in Novi Sad, then part of Austria-Hungary, on 3 December 1869 to Vladimir Jovanović and his wife Jelena. He was reportedly the first Serbian male to be named "Slobodan" (sloboda means "freedom" in Serbian), while his sister was named Pravda ("Justice"). He received an excellent education in Belgrade, Munich, Zurich, and Geneva, where he graduated with a law degree. From 1890 to 1892, he took post-graduate studies in constitutional law and political science in Paris before entering the Serbian foreign service. In 1893 he was appointed political attaché with the Serbian mission to Istanbul, where he remained for a couple years. It was at this time that he began to write and have his articles on literary criticism published in various publications throughout the land. He eventually left the diplomatic service in favour of academia and literary pursuits. In 1897 he was appointed professor at the University of Belgrade's Faculty of Law. For more than four decades, Jovanović taught at the law faculty gaining a reputation as an authority on constitutional law and Serbian language and literature. He was Rector of the University of Belgrade shortly before his retirement in 1939.

He had some influence on political life in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia due to his well established authority in the field of law and history, but he entered directly political life only in 1939 when the Serbian Cultural Club was established, and he was appointed as Club's president.

He was a pro-Western politician and when a pro-Western military coup took place in Belgrade on March 27, 1941, a pro-Western, essentially pro-British government was installed headed by General Dušan Simović. Jovanović was deputy Prime Minister in that government. The Third Reich attacked the Kingdoms of Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6, and soon defeated Yugoslav and Greek forces. Jovanovic moved in mid April together with King Peter II and other cabinet ministers to Jerusalem and he reached London in July. He became prime minister of the Yugoslav government in exile during World War II on January 11, 1942 and remained in that position till June 26, 1943. Tried in absence in Josip Broz Tito's communist state together with general Draža Mihailović, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail which he never served, as well as the loss of political and civil rights for a period of ten years, and confiscation of all property and loss of citizenship.

He spent his later years in exile in London (1945–1958). A memorial plaque in honour of "Professor Slobodan Yovanovitch. Serbian historian, literary critic, legal scholar, Prime Minister of Yugoslavia" may be found in London at 39b Queens Gate Gardens, Kensington.

After unofficial rehabilitation in 1989, his collected works were published in 1991. In Serbia, he is regarded as one of the most influential political thinkers of the turn of the century. Leading Serbian journal Politika on the occasion of his 70th birthday concluded that "his name has been carved as the highest peak of our culture up to now".[1] In the same issue four most prominent Serbian intellectuals assessed highly his accomplishments as a historian, jurist, sociologist and writer.

His analysis of the Karađorđević and Obrenović rulers ranks among the clearest and most astute. In Serbia, he initiated discussion about previously little known subjects (such as the question of cultural patterns). He also distinguished himself with literary criticism and essays on topics ranging from art to culture and politics.

Jovanović joined the Serbian Royal Academy in 1908, and was its President from 1928 to 1931. He was also a correspondent member of the Yugoslav Academy of Science in Zagreb from 1927.

He was one of the most prominent intellectuals of his time. In his career, he was also a lawyer, historian, writer, professor and rector at Belgrade University, and deputy prime minister and prime minister of the Royal Yugoslav government-in-exile.

His collected works were published in 17 volumes in 1939–1940. It contains the results of his unremitting labour as a writer, professor and politician for sixty years, and throws considerable light on Balkan history of the first half of the 20th century, as well as on the author himself. Although his works were not officially banned, any new issue of his books was not permitted in communist Yugoslavia until the late 1980s. Finally, a new edition of his collected works was published in Belgrade in 12 volumes in 1991. Since 2003 his portrait is shown on the 5000 dinar banknote, and his bust stands at the Faculty of Law in Belgrade. Official rehabilitation occurred on October 26, 2007 by the court in Belgrade. Since December 10, 2011, plateau in front of Faculty of Law in Belgrade bears his name.[2]


Slobodan Jovanović on a 5,000 Serbian dinar bill

Papers in English


  1. "Sedamdeset godina zivota gospodina Slobodana Jovanovica" [Seventy years of the life of Mr. Slobodan Jovanovic], Politika, December 4, 1939, p. 9.
  2. М. Четник (10 December 2011). "Slobodan Jovanović sahranjen u otadžbini". Politika. Retrieved 20 May 2012.


Further reading

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