Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

. (page 20 of 31)
Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

having promised him a safe - conduct through that
country when he was on his way to consecrate a church
for a Montenegrin settlement. The engagement was
violated and the Vladika seized, ill-treated, and detained
until a large sum of money was procured for his ransom.
On his return to his country an act of signal vengeance
was determined on in return for this deed of perfidy, and
Christmas, 1703, was signalized by a general massacre of
all the Mahometans who were to be found within the
limits of the Black Mountain. The dreadful deed was
perpetrated during the night, and on Christmas morning

Chap. XI. Struggles with the Turks. 249

the people assembled at Cetinje, exclaiming with shouts
of joy that then, for the first time since the Battle of
Cossova, their country was truly free. From that time
the office of Vladika continued to belong to the house of
Niegush, one of that family, though not necessarily the
nearest of kin, being appointed by the holder of the office
during his lifetime as his successor. After this deed of
blood, as might be expected, the Turks did not leave
them long unmolested. In 17 14 they invaded their
territory, but were repulsed with great loss ; returning,
however, two years after with overwhelming forces under
Duman Kiuprili, they succeeded in inflicting on them
the severest blow they had hitherto experienced. But it
was rather by craft than by force of arms that the
victory was won. The Turkish general offered them
favourable conditions, and on the strength of a solemn
promise thirty-seven Montenegrin chieftains entered the
Turkish camp in order to negociate the treaty ; they
were immediately seized, and their country, being thus
deprived of its bravest leaders, was invaded and overrun.
Cetinje was taken, the church and convent burnt, the
inhabitants of the country districts butchered without
respect of sex or age, and more than 2000 persons
dragged into captivity. Notwithstanding this we find
them, in 17 18, assisting the Venetians, who were block-
aded by the Turks in Antivari and Dulcigno ; but for
the next half century they remained comparatively

Russia was the first of the European powers to recog-
nize the existence of this small but warlike state. In the
early part of the i8th century Peter the Great, perceiving
that the Montenegrins might be of use to him as a
thorn in the side of the Ottomans, offered them his
protection on condition that they should co-operate with

250 Mojitejiegro. Chap. XI.

him when at war with the Porte, and should acknowledge
his sovereignty. The results of this agreement were
insignificant for many years, but in the latter half of the
century it gave rise to the following very curious episode.
An adventurer, named Stephen the Little, had settled in
the Venetian territory on the borders of Montenegro,
and after practising for some time as a doctor, succeeded
in persuading the person in whose house he was living
that he was Peter III., Emperor of Russia, who was
believed to have been strangled by order of the Empress
Catherine, in 1762. When the report had spread, he
transferred his residence to Montenegro, and, notwith-
standing the protests of the Vladika, was acknowledged
as chief of the country. So general was the credence
given to his story that the Servian patriarch sent him a
splendid horse as a present ; and ultimately the Russian
Court found themselves obliged to take some steps in
the matter, and sent a Prince Dolgorouki to denounce
him as an impostor. On his arrival the Vladika con-
vened the chief men, and when they heard from the
Russian agent that Peter III. was certainly dead, at first
they seemed disposed to believe him ; but when Stephen
was afterwards confined in the upper story of the con-
vent at Cetinje, he contrived to regain their confidence
by a device, Avhich could only have succeeded with a
very simple-minded people. He exclaimed to them that
they might themselves perceive that the Prince acknow-
ledged him to be the Emperor, for otherwise he would
not have placed him above himself, but beneath : and
the eff"ect of this declaration was so great that Dolgorouki
was forced to leave the country without effecting his
object. Stephen the Little ruled Montenegro for four
years, but his reputation was impaired in a war with the
Turks, in which he did not display the prowess that

Chap. XI. The two last Vladikas. 251

the mountaineers expected of him ; and ultimately,
having lost his sight in the springing of a mine, he
retired into a convent, where he was murdered by his
Greek servant at the instigation of the Pasha of Scodra.

The two last of the Vladikas were at the same time
the two most distinguished, and their names are held in
the greatest reverence by their countrymen. The elder
of these, Peter I. — who, at the end of his long reign of
fifty-three years, was declared a saint by the unanimous
voice of the people, on account of his wisdom and his
virtues — was distinguished alike by his administrative
ability in peace and his courage in war. Having been
educated at St. Petersburg, and having travelled much
in Europe and learnt many European languages, he was
in every respect superior to his countrymen, and contri-
buted greatly towards the introduction of civilized arts
among them. At the same time he showed considerable
skill in negotiating with other powers at the time when
Cattaro, and the neighbouring coasts and islands of the
Adriatic, were the scene of a prolonged struggle between
the French and Russians in the early part of the present
century. As a warrior he distinguished himself by a
crushing defeat of the Turks, who had invaded his
territory in 1796, in which the whole Turkish force was
destroyed, and their leader, Mahmoud Pasha of Scodra,
killed, and which has ever since secured the inde-
pendence of Montenegro. At his death, in 1830, he was
succeeded by his nephew, Peter II. — the poet-priest of
whom we have already spoken — by whose influence the
reforms and schemes of improvement that had been
initiated by his great namesake were carried into effect.
With him the union of the spiritual and temporal autho-
rity, which had now continued for more than three
centuries, came to an end. Prince Danilo, his successor.

252 Montcjiegro. Chap. XI.

having fallen in love with a young Servian lady at
Trieste, contrived that the two offices should be sepa-
rated, and allowed the ecclesiastical power to pass into
other hands. He also has been described as a ruler of
great ability and large ideas, but the designs which he
set on foot were cut short by his premature death. His
nephew, Prince Nicolas, the present governor of the
country, succeeded him in 1858, being at that time only
eighteen years of age.^

^ Cyprien Robert, ' Les Slaves de Turquie,' i. pp. 124, foil. ; ' British and
Foreign Review,' xi. pp. 121, foil.

( 253 )


MONTENEGRO (coutimtcd).

Cetinje — Political Constitution of the Country — Population and Revenue
— Need of a Port — The Monastery — Right of Asylum — The Archi-
mandrite and Bishop — The Montenegrin Church — Ecclesiastical Views

— Feeling of the People towards England — Piesmas or National Songs
— Sitting of the Senate — The Credit Mobilier — Prince Nicolas —
Mirkho — Descent to Rieka — Estimate of the Montenegrins — Their
Political Importance — Atrocious Murder — Lake of Scodra — Fishery

— Pelicans.

Nothing could well be less romantic than the capital of
the Black Mountain : except for the absence of water, it
might easily be mistaken for a Dartmoor village. It
consists of one long street of plain stone houses of two
stories, and whitewashed, from the middle of which
another wider street projects at right angles, leading up
to the palace. Owing to its position at an angle of the
plain, which has no outlet for its waters except a small
subterraneous passage, the place is often flooded, espe-
cially on the melting of the snow, which sometimes lies
on the ground for three months together in the winter :
in consequence of this, the ground floors of some of the
houses are uninhabited. This was the case with the
locanda at which we were housed, — a wretched abode in
the middle of the village, consisting of two rooms on the
upper floor, one of which served as a kitchen, the other
as a bedroom for strangers, and a place of general resort
for other persons, who came to take their meals there.
In this narrow apartment there was but one small
window, cold being evidently the principal enemy to be
guarded against ; and round the walls were hung small

254 Montenegro. Chap. XI L

prints of the Emperor and Empress of Austria, the late
Prince Danilo, and his wife the Princess Darinka, toge-
ther with a few others. For the sake of future travellers,
we were glad to see that a large inn was in course of
erection at the end of the main street, — a much more
spacious building, in fact, than could ever be required
for visitors ; but we were led to understand that it was
intended also to accommodate such of the senators as
came from other parts of the country to reside there
from time to time. The publicity of our room, however,
had its advantages, as it enabled us to see more of the
people, and to get more information about the country,
than we could otherwise have done. First came in a
Servian who could speak a little German ; he was
employed as inspector of small arms for Montenegro, as
many muskets were being refitted which had been taken
from the Turks or obtained from other quarters. When
dinner-time arrived (for we had reached Cetinje before
noon), there appeared the imposing figure of one of the
senators. Pope Elia Plamenatz, a peaceful-looking giant,
as most of these warriors of the Black Mountain are : he
was the head of the Montenegrin representatives in a
commission which was shortly to assemble, to arrange
with the Porte some disputed points about the frontiers
of Turkey and Montenegro. After dinner the Prince's
secretary, M. Va^lik, arrived, a Bohemian by birth,
though a naturalized subject of this Principality : he
proved to be a very intelligent and well-read man, and
as he could talk French as well as other languages, his
society was an inestimable advantage to us. Those who
know this country best say, that he has more head and
more sense than any one in it ; and that his temperate
counsels, as far as they are allowed to have weight, are
of o-reat benefit in counterbalancing the restless and

Chap. XII. Political CoJistitution. 255

warlike spirit of the people. The pleasure of meeting
seemed to be mutual, for he expressed himself greatly-
delighted at the opportunity of an interchange of ideas, as
they see very few strangers (we were the first who had
visited the country that year), and amongst themselves
the conversation, month after month, is one everlasting
round of local and national topics. It was from him that
we principally obtained the following information.

The constitution of Montenegro is in form a limited
monarchy, but in reality approaches very closely to the
patriarchal system. There is a senate of sixteen persons,
a body of recent institution, but the whole system
centres in the person of the Prince, or Gospodar, as he is
called ; it is to him the people look, and he holds them
together, and prevents them from falling asunder into a
number of small clans. The senate, of whom ten are
generally in residence, are elected by the people and
confirmed by the Prince ; but in these and similar
appointments the Prince consults the wishes of the
people, or, when he has to decide between rival candi-
dates, chooses the man who has won most honours — in
war, of course. It was modelled to some extent on the
Russian senate, and is at once a deliberative and judicial
body. At its head is Mirkho, the father of the present
Prince, who was passed over in the succession on account
of his fire-eating propensities — an arrangement which was
made before Danilo's death, and acquiesced in by
Mirkho — as it was thought that his hasty temper would
embroil them with the neighbouring countries. He has,
however, received the highest offices under his son, as
commander of the army and president of the senate,
only he surrenders the latter office to the Prince when he
is present. There is some talk now of forming a sort of
Ministry, by giving the senators separate offices, so as to

256 Montenegro. Chap. XII.

relieve the Prince of some part of his labours, and leave
him more time for study ; for he is a great student, and
a poet withal, being at present occupied in writing a
tragedy. As it is now, all the people come to their
Gospodar on every possible occasion ; if a peasant's crop
has failed, he applies to him for advice and assistance ;
and similarly every matter, whether small or great, is
referred to him, so that he has no leisure. The change,
if it is made, will be an experiment, for it is doubtful
whether the people, with their strong personal feeling
towards their Gospodar, will be satisfied with applying
to a secondary agency ; and the Montenegrins are not
very tolerant of changes, as was shown at the time of the
introduction of the senate. The history of this, which is
at the same time the history of the political exiles — of
whom I have spoken in connexion with Cattaro — is as
follows. Under the old regime, besides the Vladika or
Prince-Bishop, there was another officer of great import-
ance in the administration of the state, the civil governor,
who was the representative of a sort of hereditary
aristocracy, possessing considerable local influence. The
effect of this system was that the power was lodged in
the hands of very ignorant persons, who usually offered
a determined opposition to all schemes of reform. The
office was suppressed by Peter II., who seized the oppor-
tunity of the civil governor being suspected of treachery ;
and the aristocracy itself was done away with, as a
power in the state, by him and his successor, and the
elective senate substituted in its place, in order that
distinction should be won by merit alone. But these
measures, as might be expected, called forth strong
opposition, and a reactionary party was formed who
became dangerous to the Government, and at last were
exiled or retired from the country. It was one of them

Chap. XII. Population and Revemic. 257

by whom Prince Danilo was murdered at Cattaro.
M. Va^lik was one of his companions on that occasion,
and had just helped him to land from a boat when he
was shot through the body.

The population of the whole country is estimated at
200,000, of whom 25,000 are reckoned as forming the
army ; but, in theory, every Montenegrin is supposed to
be a soldier, and indeed it is necessary enough that all
should be ready to serve, considering the length of the
frontier they have to defend relatively to their numbers.
This, too, agrees with the idea of the Black Mountain
being a camp, the inhabitants of which should always be
ready to act on the defensive. The National Guard is a
picked body of 100 men, whose head-quarters are at
Cetinje, but they are employed as a rural police to keep
order throughout the country. Besides these the Prince
has a body-guard of ten men, but this is hardly more
than nominal. The whole revenue amounts to about
12,000/., of which not more than one thousand goes into
the Prince's privy purse, and out of this he supports
twenty-five scholars at his own expense at the school at
Cetinje, and pays also in great measure for the education
of his young cousin in France. Voyvode Mattanovitch,
the father of this young man, is one of the wealthiest
men in the country, having an income of about 100/.
a year. There is also a sum of money which is paid
annually by Russia to the Montenegrins, amounting to
about 3400/. ; this, however, is not, as has sometimes
been stated, a subsidy from that Power, but an indemnity
for the losses which they sustained in assisting the
Russians to drive out the French from Dalmatia. The
revenue is now raised by taxation, though, as usual in
countries unaccustomed to it, it was a work of no slight
difficulty to introduce the system. Formerly they used


258 Montenegro. Chap. XII.

to support themselves by tcJietas, or raids into the
Turkish territory ; and when that custom was abo-
lished, and they were expected to pay themselves what
before they had levied from their enemies, the people
murmured, and even rose against it, complaining that
they were being brought into servitude, and no better off
than the raydis in Turkey. Accordingly the demand
was for a time withdrawn, but afterwards it was re-insti-
tuted, and now the money is paid without opposition.

The principal exports, besides the supplies which they
send to Cattaro, are seodano, a wood used in dyeing ;
castradina, or meat smoked and prepared in a peculiar
way ; scoranzi, small delicate fish, great quantities of
which are found in the Lake of Scodra ; and insecticide
powder, which is collected from a flower that grows
plentifully on the mountains. Wine and oil are not
exported in any large quantities, most of what is pro-
duced being consumed in the country : but they are
rather proud of sending their potatoes to Scodra, as the
only supply of that vegetable which is to be had there,
or, in fact, anywhere in Albania, comes from the Black
Mountain. But their great want, of which they are
continually and with great reason complaining, is that of
a port. At present, it is true, both Austria and Turkey
allow them free export and import ; but this has not
long been the case, and they have no guarantee that it
will continue : they feel that they ought not to be thus
dependent on others, and that the regular and peaceful
employments which depend upon trade can never flourish
while they are so. One of the reasons why they look
upon England with affection is, that they remember how
that country gave up Cattaro to them, when they took it
from the French in 18 13, only they were forced by
Russia in the following year to cede the place to the

Chap, XII. Need of a Port. 259

Austrians. Even now they do not doubt that if England
desired the Turks to give them a port, they would do so ;
and that Austria, if she cared to interfere, would not
avail to prevent it. That this would probably be the
case I have been assured by one who is well acquainted
Avith the views of the Turkish authorities about these
parts, and no partisan of Montenegro. Their fear is, no
doubt, that by this means they would be enabling the
mountaineers to obtain an unlimited supply of arms,
which would be used against themselves ; but whatever
danger there might be of this would, even from this point
of view, be fully compensated by a decrease of that
restlessness, arising from want of occupation, which
makes them at any moment ready for war. When I
enquired how the people employed themselves during
the winter months, and when the snow was on the
ground, thinking that they might turn their hands to
such things as are required to be prepared for the
coming season, the answer I received was, " They do
nothing in the world except try to keep themselves
vvarm." Yet these same men, when they go abroad in
companies to work, remaining for several years together
at Constantinople, Varna, and other places, where they
are employed in making roads and similar occupations,
are considered excellent workmen.

In the course of the afternoon we went to the monas-
tery to visit the ecclesiastical authorities. This building,
which lies on the hill side, just where the ground begins
to rise behind the palace, was formerly the residence of
the Vladika, but now is made to serve a variety of pur-
poses, as it contains a prison and a school, as well as the
dwelling-places of the Archimandrite, the bishop, and one
secular priest. These buildings rise on three sides of a
court, the fourth being formed by a blank wall, on the

S 2

26o Montenegro. Chap. XI L

outside of which is a stone tablet with the double eagle
of Servia in relief; this was brought from an older
monastery, that stood in the plain, and was destroyed on,
the approach of the Turks, when on one occasion they
penetrated to Cetinje. We were told that some time ago
two Evangelia with metal bindings were found in wells
near its site, and they hope sooner or later to find other
treasures which were secreted on that occasion. Above
the rest of the monastery rises a tower, which contains
the library. The chapel is a plain building with a gilt
iconostase, the ornaments being in the Russian rather
than the Greek style ; but it is regarded as a great sanc-
tuary, as it contains the tomb of the sainted Peter I., and
that of Danilo. On the first of these a cross was laid ;
on the latter the sword which he wore at the time of his
death. When we inquired about the prison, we were
told there were but few prisoners, and those mostly for
slight offences ; what they are said to feel more than the
confinement is being deprived of their arms, which is a
great disgrace to a Montenegrin. The punishment for
theft is flogging, the offender being stretched over a
cannon taken from the Turks, which is placed for that
purpose, together with a number of others, in front of the
palace. The people in general are said to be very honest ;
when we visited the Prince's stables, which lie a little way
out of the village, we found them unguarded and the
doors open, though some of the bridles that hung there
had ornaments of solid silver ; and at the meeting of the
two streets there is a tree, where we noticed a musket
suspended, that being the place where missing things are
left to be reclaimed by their owners. One custom which
used to exist in former times, and in theory, I believe,
exists still, is remarkable as illustrating the primitive
idea of the right of asylum. So absolutely was "every

•Chap. XII. Right of Asylum. 261

man's house his castle," that if a criminal took refuge in
his home, there was no means of forcing him to surrender
himself to the law ; and when Peter II., in the course of
his reforms, had to meet this difficulty, he did so by
setting fire to the building where the offender was con-
cealed. Now, however, it is said that order is so well
maintained throughout the country that the criminal has
no option but to surrender himself when ordered to do
so by the chief of his district, the only alternative being
to fly the country, that is, in other words, to go into
Turkey or Austria, which few Montenegrins would think
of doing.

We were first introduced to the Archimandrite, or
head of the monastery, whom we found in a commodious
and well-furnished room. He was a man of magnificent
appearance and almost colossal proportions, the effect of
which was still further increased by his long dark robes,
open in front and lined with crimson, which reached
nearly to his feet ; under this he wore a cassock with
a crimson sash, and from his neck was suspended a
cross richly ornamented with diamonds, turquoises, and
other gems. His hair was long and flowing, and his
open, intelligent, kindly, and humorous countenance was
extremely prepossessing ; he has the name of being
a truly good man, an excellent priest, and a brave
warrior. He came originally from the Herzegovina, and
accordingly, when the Turks attacked Montenegro in
1862, to him was entrusted the office of raising those
of the mountaineers whose territory bordered on that
district. Though the office of Archimandrite is main-
tained, there are now no monks in the convent, their
place having been taken by scholars, of whom there are
sixty at present in the school. This same change has
passed over most of the other monasteries throughout

262 MontC7iegro. Chap. XI L

the country, and by this means, and the building of
schoolhouses in the principal villages, education is
spreading, though it is retarded by want of funds. After
some conversation with this dignitary (M. Vaglik inter-
preting for us, as he spoke no language but Slavonic), we
went with him to the apartments of the bishop, whose
name was Hilarion, a middle-aged man, with a very dark
complexion, and dark hair and eyes ; here we remained
some time longer, conversing about their church and their
political views. In the midst of our conversation a
violent thunderstorm came on, accompanied by heavy
rain, which caused great rejoicing, as it had long been
looked for and was much wanted.

The Montenegrin Church, though a part of the ortho-
dox communion, is wholly independent, owing no sub-

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 31)