Milan I of Serbia

Last updated
Milan I
MilanIDeSerbia--dasknigreichse03kaniuoft.jpg
King of Serbia
Reign6 March 1882 – 6 March 1889
Successor Alexander I
Prime Ministers
Prince of Serbia
Reign10 June 1868 – 6 March 1882
Predecessor Mihailo Obrenović III
Born(1854-08-22)22 August 1854
Mărășești, Moldavia, Ottoman Empire
Died11 February 1901(1901-02-11) (aged 46)
Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Burial
Spouse Natalija Keşco
Issue Alexander I
Prince Sergei
George Obrenovic (illegitimate)
House Obrenović
FatherMiloš J. Obrenović
Mother Marija Obrenović
Religion Eastern Orthodoxy (Serbian)
Signature Kralj milan potpis.jpg
Styles of
Milan I of Serbia
Royal Monogram of King Milan I of Serbia, Variant.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty
Alternative styleSir

Milan Obrenović (Serbian Cyrillic : Милан Обреновић; 22 August 1854 11 February 1901) was the ruler of Serbia from 1868 to 1889, first as prince (1868-1882), subsequently as king (1882-1889). [1]

The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script for the Serbian language, 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.

Contents

Early years

Seal of Milan Obrenovic. Pecat kralja milana.jpg
Seal of Milan Obrenovic.

Birth and infancy in exile

Milan Obrenović was born in 1854 in Mărășești, Moldavia where his family lived in exile ever since the 1842 return of the rival House of Karađorđević to the Serbian throne when they managed to depose Milan's cousin Prince Mihailo Obrenović III.

Mărășești Town in Vrancea County, Romania

Mărășești is a small town in Romania in Vrancea County. It is 20 km (12 mi) north of Focșani. It administers six villages: Călimănești, Haret, Modruzeni, Pădureni, Siretu and Tișița.

Moldavia principality in Southeast Europe between 1330–1859 (nowadays historical and geographical region in Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine)

Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova, pronounced [molˈdova] or Țara Moldovei, Цара Мѡлдовєй is a historical region and former principality in Central and Eastern Europe, corresponding to the territory between the Eastern Carpathians and the Dniester River. An initially independent and later autonomous state, it existed from the 14th century to 1859, when it united with Wallachia as the basis of the modern Romanian state; at various times, Moldavia included the regions of Bessarabia, all of Bukovina and Hertza. The region of Pokuttya was also part of it for a period of time.

Principality of Serbia 1804-1882 principality in Southeastern Europe

The Principality of Serbia was a semi-independent state in the Balkans that came into existence as a result of the Serbian Revolution, which lasted between 1804 and 1817. Its creation was negotiated first through an unwritten agreement between Miloš Obrenović, leader of the Second Serbian Uprising and Ottoman official Marashli Pasha. It was followed by the series of legal documents published by the Porte in 1828, 1829 and finally, 1830 — the Hatt-i Sharif. Its de facto independence ensued in 1867, following the expulsion of all Ottoman troops from the country; its independence was recognized internationally in 1878 by the Treaty of Berlin. In 1882 the country was elevated to the status of kingdom.

Milan was the son of Miloš Obrenović (1829–1861) and his Moldavian wife Elena Maria Catargiu (known in Serbia as Marija Obrenović). Milan's paternal grandfather (Miloš's father) was Jevrem Obrenović (1790–1856), brother of the famous Serb Prince — Miloš Obrenović. Milan was therefore Prince Miloš's grandnephew. Milan had only one sibling — sister Tomanija.

Marija Obrenović Romanian noble

Elena Maria Catargiu-Obrenović, known in Serbia as Marija Obrenović, was a Moldavian and Romanian boyaress. She was the daughter of Costin Catargi(u), a great landowner and Moldavian separatist, the former wife of Miloš Obrenović of Serbia (1829–1861), the mistress of Domnitor Alexandru Ioan Cuza of Moldavia and Wallachia (1820–1873), and the mother of King Milan I of Serbia, Alexandru Al. Ioan Cuza and Dimitrie Cuza. Her younger sons, Dimitrie committed suicide in 1888 and Alexandru died the following year.

Jevrem Obrenović Serbian noble

Jevrem Teodorović, later known as Jevrem Obrenović, was the youngest brother of Serbian Prince Miloš Obrenović and was also the youngest of his nine siblings.

Shortly after Milan's birth, his parents divorced. Several years later on 20 November 1861, at the age of seven, Milan lost his father Miloš who died fighting the Turks near Bucharest as a foreign mercenary in the Romanian Army, meaning that mother Marija got a legal custody. Marija, however, lived a lavish aristocratic lifestyle, soon becoming Romanian ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza's mistress and bearing him two sons — Sașa and Dimitrie. As a result, she showed little interest in her children from the previous marriage with Miloš. Therefore, an agreement was reached for young Milan to get legally adopted by his cousin Mihailo Obrenović III who in the meantime, following the 1858 expulsion of the Karađorđevićs, had returned to Serbia where he became the ruling prince in 1860.

Bucharest Capital of Romania

Bucharest is the capital and largest city of Romania, as well as its cultural, industrial, and financial centre. It is located in the southeast of the country, at 44°25′57″N26°06′14″E, on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, less than 60 km (37.3 mi) north of the Danube River and the Bulgarian border.

Alexandru Ioan Cuza Prince of Wallachia and Moldavia

Alexandru Ioan Cuza was Prince of Moldavia, Prince of Wallachia, and later Domnitor (Ruler) of the Romanian Principalities. He was a prominent figure of the Revolution of 1848 in Moldavia. He initiated a series of reforms that contributed to the modernization of Romanian society and of state structures.

Alexandru Al. Ioan Cuza was a Romanian aristocrat and politician. He was the eldest son of Domnitor Alexandru Ioan Cuza, by his mistress Maria Catargi-Obrenović, and adopted by Cuza's wife Elena Rosetti-Cuza. His father's rule was the earliest political union between the two Danubian Principalities, which was to form the Kingdom of Romania in 1881. When Alexandru Ioan was ousted and replaced with Carol of Hohenzollern (1866), Alexandru Al. Ioan followed him into exile. He settled back in Romania after his father's death, attempting to create a current of opinion against Carol. He later helped journalists Alexandru Beldiman and Grigore Ventura in founding the anti-Carlist newspaper Adevărul.

Arriving in Serbia

Milan was brought to Kragujevac by Prince Mihailo Obrenović III who also arranged for a governess to raise the youngster. Decades later, once Milan became a king, details of his mother's personal life were often used by his political opponents, notably People's Radical Party leader Stojan Protić who went as far as making an untrue accusation in his paper Samouprava that King Milan's father is actually Alexandru Ioan Cuza, referring to King Milan pejoratively as Kuzić instead of Obrenović.

Kragujevac City in Šumadija and Western Serbia, Serbia

Kragujevac is the fourth largest city of Serbia and the administrative center of the Šumadija District in central Serbia. It is situated on the banks of the Lepenica River. According to the official results of the 2011 census, the city administrative area has a population of 179,417 inhabitants.

Governess woman employed to teach and train children in a private household

A governess is a woman employed to teach and train children in a private household. In contrast to a nanny, she concentrates on teaching children instead of meeting their physical needs. Her charges are of school age rather than babies.

The People's Radical Party was a political party in the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) formed on 8 January 1881. The party was abolished after the establishment of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1945.

After bringing his nephew to Serbia, Prince Mihailo also took care of the youngster's education, sending him to Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris where young Milan reportedly displayed considerable maturity.

Lycée Louis-le-Grand French school in the heart of the Quartier latin in Paris, France

The Lycée Louis-le-Grand is a prestigious secondary school located in Paris. Founded in 1563 by the Jesuits as the Collège de Clermont, it was renamed in King Louis XIV of France's honor after he extended his direct patronage to it in 1682. It offers both a sixth-form college curriculum, and a post-secondary-level curriculum, preparing students for entrance to the elite Grandes écoles for research, such as the École normale supérieure (Paris), for engineering, such as the École Polytechnique, or for business, such as HEC Paris. Students at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand are called magnoludoviciens.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Prince of Serbia (1868–1882)

On 10 June 1868, when Milan was only fourteen years of age, Prince Mihailo Obrenović III was assassinated. As the late prince did not have any male heirs, the question of who was to succeed him on the Serbian throne became a pressing one. In the post-assassination chaos and the resulting power vacuum, influential senior statesman Ilija Garašanin re-emerged in Serbian political life, despite only eight months earlier being removed by the late prince from the post of Prime Minister of Serbia and replaced with Jovan Ristić. While consolidating forces within the state to prevent the conspirators from taking over the power, Garašanin also reportedly contemplated solving the throne issue by starting a third royal dynasty. General political consensus was that the new ruler should be selected by the Visoka narodna skupština (Grand National Council). However, cabinet minister Milivoje Petrović Blaznavac was rapidly increasing his power and influence. He had managed to consolidate his control over the army and stage a coup d'état. So when Blaznavac suggested the young Milan as the successor to Prince Mihailo, Garašanin had no choice but to yield to the more powerful authority.

Regency of Milivoje Petrović Blaznavac

As Milan was still underage to rule on his own, a regency was established to rule in Milan's name. The three-man council was headed by Blaznavac. Statesman and historian Jovan Ristić and Jovan Gavrilović, a politician and historian from a wealthy merchant family rounded out the trio.

Young Milan was brought back to Serbia from Paris and enthroned in front of the Topčider assembly while the Blaznavac-controlled army surrounded the building just in case. Furthermore, prominent Serb nobleman from Dubrovnik, Medo Pucić, was brought to Belgrade to serve as teacher and adviser to the prince.

Under Blaznavac's tutelage, both personally and politically, the prince deferred to the head of the regency council in all matters of state. Prince Milan did not benefit from a large inheritance from his wealthy family as all of Prince Mihailo's vast property went to Mihailo's sisters (Prince Miloš's daughters) Petrija's and Savka's children. [2] The only property young Prince Milan did inherit was his late father's compound in Mărășești that had an overwhelming amount of debt associated with it. [2]

On 2 January 1869, the third Serbian constitution, mostly Ristić's creation, was promulgated.

In 1871, the prince faced two separate incidents although it is unclear as to whether these were genuine attempts on his life. In May as he exited the National Theatre building, a bomb exploded a couple of hundred metres away on Terazije. Buried under a footpath, the exploded device didn't cause anyone injuries. At the time and there was speculation in Serbia that it was Blaznavac who had organised the explosion in order to scare and confuse the young prince who was nearing his age of majority into remaining reliant on Blaznavac. The event became known as the Terazijska bomba (Terazije Bomb) in the Serbian historiography.

Several months later, on 6 October, Prince Milan was involved in another incident, this time during a visit to Smederevo. At some point, he went to an outhouse to relieve himself and while above the pit toilet, the wooden floor caved in under his weight and he fell into the pit. As he was armed at the time, the prince began shooting from his pistol in order get the attention of his entourage who rescued him. Historical accounts of the nature of this event differ. Historian Slobodan Jovanović thinks the occurrence was "likely coincidental". [3] On the other hand, historian Leontije Pavlović in his book Smederevo u XIX veku (Smederevo in the Nineteenth Century) states the conspirators doused the wooden floor with nitric acid that ate away at the planks. However, these claims couldn't be confirmed as he based them on an item from the historical archives that has since disappeared. [3] The entire episode is known as the Smederevski nameštaj (double meaning: The Smederevo Furniture or the Smederevo Setup). [3]

Prince reaches the age of majority

On 22 August 1872, Milan was declared of age, and he took government into his own hands. He soon demonstrated great intellectual capacity, coupled with a passionate headstrong character. Eugene Schuyler, who observed him about this time, found him to be a very remarkable, singularly intelligent and well-informed young man. The Principality of Serbia was still a de jure part of the Ottoman Empire though in reality it already had long functioned as a semi-independent state whose politics and economy was much more dependent on other Great Powers, particularly Austria-Hungary and Russian Empire, than on its formal ruler, the declining Ottomans. Milan carefully manoeuvred between the Austrian and Russian geopolitical interests in Serbia, with a judicious leaning towards the former.

When Serbs from the neighbouring Bosnia Vilayet (also part of the Ottoman Empire though a lot more integrated and loyal one due to its large Muslim population) began an uprising in July 1875 on the outskirts of Nevesinje, protesting the tax system as well as harsh treatment under local beys and aghas, Prince Milan condemned the uprising and refused to take part in it. The rival House of Karađorđević, whose members lived in exile across Europe, had a different approach, taking part in organising and implementing the uprising. Their actions included the 31-year-old Petar Karađorđević going to the Herzegovina region in order to fight under the pseudonym Petar Mrkonjić. As the uprising grew, spreading to the rest of Herzegovina and soon engulfing the entire Bosnia Vilayet, domestic pressure in the Serbian principality increased on young Prince Milan to help his Serb brethren.

Marriage

Queen Natalie of Serbia Natalie of Serbia c1875.png
Queen Natalie of Serbia

Milan married Natalie Keschko on 17 October [ O.S. 5 October] 1875 at the St. Michael's Cathedral, Belgrade, Serbia. [4] Natalie, sixteen years of age, was the daughter of Petre Ivanovich Keschko, an Imperial Russian Army colonel. Natalie's mother, Pulcheria, was by birth a Sturdza, meaning that the couple were fairly close second cousins because Milan's mother Elena and Natalie's father Petre were the children of two sisters, meaning that Milan and Natalija shared a set of great-grandparents. [2] This relation meant that their marriage had to be specifically approved by the church, namely Metropolitan Mihailo Jovanović, the Metropolitan of Belgrade, however, this wasn't done. [2]

A son, Alexander, was born to Natalija and Milan in 1876, but their relationship showed signs of friction right from the start.

At the end of the Serbo-Turkish War (1876–78), Europe's powers induced the Porte to acknowledge Serbian independence at the Treaty of Berlin.

King of Serbia (1882–1889)

Milan Obrenovic IV in the uniform of the Serbian Army during the Wars for Independence 1876-1878. Kralj Milan I Obrenović 05.jpg
Milan Obrenovic IV in the uniform of the Serbian Army during the Wars for Independence 1876-1878.

On 6 March 1882, Principality of Serbia was declared a kingdom and Milan was proclaimed King of Serbia. [5]

Acting under Austrian influence, King Milan devoted all his energies to the improvement of the means of communication and the development of natural resources. However, the cost of this, unduly increased by reckless extravagance, led to disproportionately heavy taxation. This, coupled with increased military service, rendered King Milan and the Austrian party unpopular.

Milan's political troubles were further increased by the defeat of the Serbians in the war against Bulgaria from 1885–1886. In September 1885, the union of Eastern Rumelia and Bulgaria caused widespread agitation in Serbia. [6] Milan promptly declared war upon the new Bulgarian state on 15 November. After a short, decisive campaign, the Serbs were utterly routed at the Battle of Slivnitsa and at the Battle of Pirot. Milan's throne was only saved by the direct intervention of Austria-Hungary. Domestic difficulties now arose which rapidly assumed political significance.

In his personal life, Milan was anything but a faithful husband, having an affair with most notably Clara Frewen (sister in law of Lord Randolph Churchill and aunt to Winston Churchill) among others, while Queen Natalija was greatly influenced by Russian sympathies. In 1886, the couple, mismatched both personally and politically, separated after eleven years of marriage.

Natalija withdrew from the kingdom, taking with her the ten-year-old Prince Alexander (later King Alexander I). While she was residing at Wiesbaden in 1888, King Milan succeeded in recovering the crown prince, whom he undertook to educate. In reply to the queen's remonstrances, Milan exerted considerable pressure upon the metropolitan, and procured a divorce, which was afterwards annulled as illegal. King Milan now seemed master of the situation.

On 3 January 1889, Milan adopted a new constitution much more liberal than the existing one of 1869. Two months later, on 6 March, thirty-four-year-old Milan suddenly abdicated the throne, handing it over to his twelve-year-old son. No satisfactory reason was assigned for this step. Milan settled in Paris as a private individual.

Post-monarchical role

Tomb of Milan I, at Krušedol monastery. Grob kralja Milana.jpg
Tomb of Milan I, at Krušedol monastery.

In February 1891, a Radical ministry was formed. Queen Natalija and the ex-Metropolitan Mihailo returned to Belgrade, and Austrian influence began to give way to Russian. Fear of a revolution and of King Milan's return led to a compromise, by which, in May 1891, the queen was expelled, and Milan was allowed a million francs from the civil list, on condition of not returning to Serbia during his son's minority.

In March 1892, Milan renounced all his rights and even his Serbian nationality. The situation altered dramatically, however, after the young Alexander I had effected his coup d'etat and taken government into his own hands in April 1893. Serbian politics began to grow more complicated, and Russian influence was rife. In January 1894, Milan suddenly appeared in Belgrade, and his son gladly welcomed his experience and advice.

On 29 April, a royal decree reinstated Milan and Natalija, who in the meantime had become ostensibly reconciled, in their position as members of the royal family. On 21 May, the constitution of 1869 was restored, and Milan continued to exercise considerable influence over his son. The queen, who had been residing chiefly at Biarritz, returned to Belgrade in May 1895, after four years of absence, and was greeted by the populace with great enthusiasm. At this, the ex-king, again left the country.

After reconciliation with his son, Milan returned to Serbia in 1897, to be appointed as commander-in-chief of the Serbian army. In this capacity he did some of the best work of his life, and his success in improving the Serbian military system was very marked. His relations with the young king also remained good for a time. The Serbian pro-Democratic opposition blamed him for the increasingly authoritarian rule of the young King, and a member of the Radical Party attempted to kill him on 6 July 1899 (24 June OS), on the Orthodox holiday of Ivanjdan (Birth of St. John the Baptist).

The good relations between father and son were interrupted, however, by the latter's marriage to Draga Mašin in July 1900. Milan opposed the match to the point that he resigned his post as commander-in-chief. Alexander subsequently banished Milan from Serbia. Milan left Serbia to Karlsbad, then to Timișoara and finally retired to Vienna. On 11 February 1901, Milan died unexpectedly. He was buried in Krušedol monastery, next to his grandaunt Princess Ljubica, Prince Miloš's wife.

Orders and decorations

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References

  1. Ian D. Armour, "“Like the Lord Lieutenant of a county”: the Habsburg monarchy and Milan Obrenović of Serbia 1868–1881." Canadian Slavonic Papers 55.3-4 (2013): 305-342.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Milan i Artemiza;Vreme, 26 March 2009
  3. 1 2 3 Kralj umalo doživeo bizaran kraj;Blic, 31 October 2010
  4. Alimpije Vasiljević; Radoš Ljušić (1990). Moje uspomene. Srpska književna zadruga. Исте јесени, 5. октобра, беше у београдској Саборној цркви свечано венчање кнеза Милана са кнегињом, доцније краљи- цом Наталијом.
  5. Vaso Trivanovitch, "Serbia, Russia, and Austria during the Rule of Milan Obrenovich, 1868-78." Journal of Modern History 3.3 (1931): 414-440
  6. Trivanovitch, 1931.
  7. Timok Rebellion on IMDB
  8. Timok Rebellion on YouTube Film
  9. The End of Obrenović Dynasty on IMDB
  10. Ilka on IMDB
  11. Ilka on YouTube TV Film
  12. The Last Audience on IMDB
  13. Albatross on YouTube TV Film

Sources

In other languages

Milan I of Serbia
Born: 22 August 1854 Died: 11 February 1901
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mihailo Obrenović III
Prince of Serbia
10 June 1868 – 6 March 1882
Became king
New title King of Serbia
6 March 1882 – 6 March 1889
Succeeded by
Alexander I