Alexander I of Serbia

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Alexander I
King of Serbia
Reign6 March 1889 11 June 1903
Coronation 2 July 1889
Predecessor Milan I
Successor Peter I
Born(1876-08-14)14 August 1876
Belgrade, Serbia
Died11 June 1903(1903-06-11) (aged 26)
Belgrade, Serbia
Spouse Draga Mašin
House House of Obrenović
Father Milan I of Serbia
Mother Natalija Keşco
Religion Serbian Orthodox

Alexander I or Aleksandar Obrenović (Serbian Cyrillic : Александар Обреновић; 14 August 1876 11 June 1903) was king of Serbia from 1889 to 1903 when he and his wife, Draga Mašin, were assassinated by a group of Royal Serbian Army officers, [1] led by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijević.

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for Serbo-Croatian, developed in 1818 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić. It is one of the two alphabets used to write standard modern Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin, the other being Latin.

Draga Mašin Queen of Serbia

Draginja "Draga" Obrenović, formerly Mašin (Машин), was the Queen consort of King Aleksandar Obrenović of the Kingdom of Serbia. She was formerly a lady-in-waiting to Aleksandar's mother, Queen Natalija.

May Coup (Serbia) military assassinations of royal couple and government officials in Serbia

The May Coup was a coup d'état in which Serbian King Alexander Obrenović and his wife, Queen Draga, were assassinated inside the Royal Palace in Belgrade on the night of 10–11 June [O.S. 28–29 May] 1903. This act resulted in the extinction of the House of Obrenović which had been ruling the Kingdom of Serbia since the middle of the 19th century. The assassination of the royal couple was organized by a group of army officers led by then-Captain Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis. After the May Coup, the Serbian throne passed to the rival House of Karađorđević.



Young Alexander with his father King Milan in 1888 less than a year before Milan abdicated the throne in favour of his underage son. Divlad Milan szerb kiraly 1888-32.jpg
Young Alexander with his father King Milan in 1888 less than a year before Milan abdicated the throne in favour of his underage son.

Alexander was born on 14 August 1876 to King Milan and Queen Natalie of Serbia. He belonged to the Obrenović dynasty. [2]

Milan I of Serbia king of Serbia

Milan Obrenović was the ruler of Serbia from 1868 to 1889, first as prince (1868-1882), subsequently as king (1882-1889).

Natalie of Serbia Serbian queen

Natalija Obrenović, née Keschko, known as Natalie of Serbia, was the Princess of Serbia from 1875 to 1882 and then Queen of Serbia from 1882 to 1889 as the wife of Milan I of Serbia. Of ethnic Romanian origin, she was the daughter of Russian colonel Petre Keşco and Romanian noblewoman Princess Pulcheria Sturdza.

In 1889, King Milan unexpectedly abdicated and withdrew to private life, proclaiming Alexander king of Serbia under a regency until he should attain his majority at eighteen years of age. His mother became his regent. His parents were second cousins. In 1893, King Alexander, aged sixteen, arbitrarily proclaimed himself of full age, dismissed the regents and their government, and took the royal authority into his own hands. His action won popular support, as did his appointment of a radical ministry. In May 1894 King Alexander arbitrarily abolished King Milan's liberal constitution of 1888 and restored the conservative one of 1869. His attitude during the Greco-Turkish War (1897) was one of strict neutrality. [3]

A regent is a person appointed to govern a state because the monarch is a minor, is absent or is incapacitated. The rule of a regent or regents is called a regency. A regent or regency council may be formed ad hoc or in accordance with a constitutional rule. Regent is sometimes a formal title. If the regent is holding his position due to his position in the line of succession, the compound term prince regent is often used; if the regent of a minor is his mother, she is often referred to as queen regent.

Greco-Turkish War (1897) war between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire

The Greco-Turkish War of 1897, also called the Thirty Days' War and known in Greece as the Black '97 or the Unfortunate War, was a war fought between the Kingdom of Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Its immediate cause was the question over the status of the Ottoman province of Crete, whose Greek majority long desired union with Greece. Despite the Ottoman victory on the field, an autonomous Cretan State under Ottoman suzerainty was established the following year, with Prince George of Greece and Denmark as its first High Commissioner.

In 1894 the young King brought his father, Milan, back to Serbia and, in 1898, appointed him commander-in-chief of the Serbian army. During that time, Milan was regarded as the de facto ruler of the country. [3]


In the summer of 1900, King Alexander suddenly announced his engagement to the widowed Madame Draga Mašin, formerly a lady-in-waiting to his mother and 12 years his senior. The proposed union aroused great opposition: not only was Draga of unequal birth and from an obscure family, but at 36 years of age, the chances of her bearing an heir were slim. Alexander was an only child, and it was imperative to secure the succession.

King Alexander 1894. Aleksandar ob heinrich wassmuth 1894.jpg
King Alexander 1894.

Before making the announcement, Alexander did not consult with his father, who had been on vacation in Karlovy Vary and making arrangements to secure the hand of German Princess Alexandra zu Schaumburg-Lippe for his son, or his Prime Minister Dr. Vladan Đorđević, who was visiting the Paris Universal Exhibition at the time of the announcement. Both immediately resigned from their respective offices and Alexander had difficulty in forming a new cabinet. Alexander's mother also opposed the marriage and was subsequently banished from the kingdom. She was known to have been seen in the nearby countries, such as Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.

Karlovy Vary Statutory City in Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary or Carlsbad is a spa town situated in western Bohemia, Czech Republic, on the confluence of the rivers Ohře and Teplá, approximately 130 km (81 mi) west of Prague (Praha). It is named after Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, who founded the city in 1370. It is the site of numerous hot springs, and is the most visited spa town in the Czech Republic.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Prime Minister of Serbia Head of the Government of Serbia

The Prime Minister of Serbia, officially the President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, is the head of the Government of Serbia. The role of the Prime Minister is to direct the work of the Government, and to submit to the National Assembly the Government's Program, including a list of proposed ministers. The resignation of the Prime Minister will cause the fall of the Government.

Opposition to the union seemed to subside somewhat for a time upon the publication of Tsar Nicholas II's congratulations to the king on his engagement and of his acceptance to act as the principal witness at the wedding. The marriage duly took place in August 1900. Even so, the unpopularity of the union weakened the King's position in the eyes of the army and of the country at large. [3]

Politics and the constitution

King Alexander and Queen Draga King Alexander I Obrenovic of Serbia and Queen Draga, ca. 1900.jpg
King Alexander and Queen Draga
Summer residence of King Alexander in Smederevo. Obrenoviceva vila u Smederevu.jpg
Summer residence of King Alexander in Smederevo.

King Alexander tried to reconcile political parties by unveiling a liberal constitution of his own initiative in 1901, introducing for the first time in the constitutional history of Serbia the system of two chambers ( skupština and senate ). This reconciled the political parties but did not reconcile the army which, already dissatisfied with the king's marriage, became still more so at the rumors that one of the two unpopular brothers of Queen Draga, Lieutenant Nikodije, was to be proclaimed heir-presumptive to the throne. [3]

Meanwhile, the independence of the senate and of the council of state caused increasing irritation to King Alexander. In March 1903 the King suspended the constitution for half an hour, time enough to publish the decrees dismissing and replacing the old senators and councillors of state. This arbitrary act increased dissatisfaction in the country.


The general impression was that, as much as the senate was packed with men devoted to the royal couple and the government obtained a large majority at the general elections, King Alexander would not hesitate any longer to proclaim Queen Draga's brother as the heir presumptive to the throne. [3] In spite of this, it had been agreed with the Serbian Government that Prince Mirko of Montenegro, who was married to Natalija Konstantinovic, the granddaughter of Princess Anka Obrenović, an aunt of King Milan, would be proclaimed heir-presumptive in the event that the marriage of King Alexander and Queen Draga was childless. [4]

Apparently to prevent Queen Draga's brother being named heir-presumptive, but in reality to replace Alexander Obrenović with Peter Karađorđević, a conspiracy was organized by a group of Army officers headed by Captain Dragutin Dimitrijević also known as "Apis", and Novak Perisic, a young Greek Orthodox militant who was in the pay of the Russians, [5] as well as the leader of the Black Hand secret society which would assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Several politicians were also part of the conspiracy, and allegedly included former Prime Minister, Nikola Pašić. [6] The royal couple's palace was invaded and they hid in a cupboard in the Queen's bedroom. (There is another possibility, used in a Serbian TV history series The End of the Obrenović Dynasty in which the royal couple was hidden in a secret panic room hidden behind the mirror in a common bedroom. The room contained an entrance to a secret passage leading out of the palace, but the entrance was inaccessible due to the placement of the queen's wardrobe over it after the wedding.)

The conspirators searched the palace and eventually discovered the royal couple and murdered them in the early morning of June 11, 1903. King Alexander and Queen Draga were shot and their bodies mutilated and disemboweled and, according to eyewitness accounts, thrown from a second floor window of the palace onto piles of garden manure. [6] The King was only 26 years old at the time of his death. King Alexander and Queen Draga were buried in the crypt of St. Mark's Church, Belgrade.


  1. Dorich, William. Kosovo. ISBN   0-317-05074-5.
  2. Kane 2014, p. 12.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Mijatovich 1911.
  4. Leroy, Pierre Olivier (2004). "Biography of Prince Mihajlo Petrovic Njegos". The Njegoskij Fund Public Project. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2007.
  5. C. L. Sulzberger, The Fall of Eagles, p.202, Crown Publishers, New York, 1977
  6. 1 2 Sulzberger, p.202

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Alexander I of Serbia
Born: 24 August 1876 Died: 11 June 1903
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Milan I
King of Serbia
6 March 1889 11 June 1903
Succeeded by
Peter I