PETER I. was a man of very different stamp from his predecessor. Energetic and able, bold in war and persuasive in the council-chamber, he was the first Montenegrin ruler who made Europe recognise the growing importance of his small mountain state. Austria, Russia and England did not scorn to accept, and even to solicit, his aid. His rude, untrained forces held the armies of the great Napoleon in check, and he resembled the French Emperor in the efforts which he made to organise his country, to codify its laws and to ensure their enforcement.
He had scarcely returned from the ceremony of consecration at the hands of the Serb Patriarch, who now resided at Carlovitz, when he was compelled to face a Turkish invasion. Kara Mahmoud, Pasha of Scutari, and a descendant of the renegade Montenegrin Prince Stanicha, was ravaging the Black Mountain, and set fire to the monastery at Cetinje, as his
AUSTRIA AND MONTENEGRO.
predecessors had done. The crafty Venetians, instead
of supporting the Vladika, were supplying his enemies
with provisions; Potemkin, the favourite minister of
Catherine H. of Russia, not only refused him assistance, but ordered him to quit St. Petersburg within
twenty-four hours. But, when Austria and Russia
declared war against Turkey in 1788, they were
anxious to use Montenegro as a catspaw. Austria
was particularly desirous of a Montenegrin alliance,
and offered in return to increase the area of the
principality beyond even its present limits. But
even the tempting offer of the Herzegovina, which is
still the "Naboth's vineyard" of Montenegro, did not
gain the active support of the Vladika, until Russia
had added her request to that of Austria. Meanwhile
the latter power, thinking that the redoubtable Kara
Mahmoud might be induced to revolt against the
Sultan, had sent an envoy to Scutari to treat with
him. The treacherous Pasha received the Austrians
well, but the escort, which he had sent with them,
murdered them on their way back by his orders.
The sole survivor of this massacre entreated the
Vladika to summon the nation to arms, and his
entreaties, seconded by those of Russia, prevailed.
But Montenegro had to fight, as usual, single-handed;
the Austrian soldiers contented themselves with
looking on from the top of Mount Lovčen; and
as soon as her great allies chose to make peace with
the Turks, Montenegro was worse than forgotten.
She was, indeed, mentioned in the Treaty of Sistova
but only as one of the revolted Turkish provinces!
Such a proceeding was to add insult to injury. But
PETER I.— BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
the war had incidentally contributed to the consolidation of the principality. The people of Trebinje in the Herzegovina, long noted for their independence and intolerance of Turkish rule, had been driven from their homes by the ravages of the Turks, and sought shelter among the Berda. The four nahie of that mountainous district, which had been virtually, united to Montenegro under Danilo I., were now formally combined with it into one state, and the eight nahie thus formed continued to compose the principality down to the year 1835, when the Koutchi voluntarily joined it. This important accession of territory did not fail to arouse the jealousy of the Turks. Kara Mahmoud resolved to prevent the union, and entered Montenegro at the point where the river Zeta separates it from the Berda. But his efforts were in vain. After a sanguinary engagement near the fortress of Spuž, the Pasha retired wounded from the field, and a subsequent expedition cost him his life. The Vladika, posting one half of his forces in one of those mountainous defiles which are so common in his country, and leaving a number of red Montenegrin caps upon the rocks to delude the Turks into the idea that his whole army was in front, surprised them with the other half in the rear. Taken unawares between the two fires, the invaders fell by hundreds Kara Mahmoud was slain, and when Sir Gardner Wilkinson visited Cetinje, fifty years later, he found the Pasha's skull still stuck, as a grim trophy of victory, on the battlements of the famous "Turks' Tower." The effects of the Turkish defeat were lasting; the union of the Montenegro and the Berda was secure
TREATY OF CAMPO FORMIO.
the hereditary foes of the Black Mountain ceased for
many years from troubling, and the pious mountaineers
applied to the battle of Kroussa the verse of the Kook
of Judges which tells how Midian was subdued before
the children of Israel. The Sultan no longer demanded
tribute from a nation which knew so well how to
defend itself. By a curious coincidence, the victory
THE "TURKS' TOWER," CETINJE, IN 1848.
took place exactly one hundred years after the selection of Danilo I. as Prince-Bishop.
But with the ensuing year (1797) Moutenegro was
brought into close contact with even a more formid-
able neighbour than the Turks. It would be difficult
to over-estimate the influence of the Treaty of Campo
PETER I.- BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
Formio upon the fortunes of the mountain-state, for its effects are felt at the present day. That memo-able arrangertlent assigned the Dalmatian possessions of Venice to Austria, and thus made the boundary of Montenegro conterminous with that of the Hapsburgs. The inhabitants of Cattaro, who had long enjoyed the protection of the Venetian Republic, sought the advice of the Vladika in their dilemma. They re-minded him that when Venice had undertaken to protect them, it was under the express promise that they should recover their independence if ever the Republic failed to fulfil her undertaking. The people of Budua also implored the presence of Peter; in fact, from that moment, the Serbs of the coast came to regard him as their natural head. Even the chiefs of the Herzegovina begged him, as their descendants begged the present Prince, to deliver them from the Turkish yoke. The Vladika, with diplomatic tact, advised the citizens of Cattaro to await the course of events. If the power of Venice were restored, they could once more place themselves under the sheltering wings of the Lion of St. Mark; if not, they could come to terms with Austria. Meanwhile, an Austrian army was occupying the Dalmatian towns, and Baron Roukavina, the Austrian admiral, wrote to Peter, asking him to use his influence with the people of the Bocche on behalf of the Power which had assisted him with ammunition in his recent campaign. Peter appears to have adopted the policy of neutrality which was followed by Prince Nicholas during the insurrection at Cattaro in 1869, and the Bocchesi made preparations to submit to their new master.
THE FRENCH AT CATTARO.
But scarcely had they admitted the Austrian admiral
to their magnificent harbours, when a French fleet
arrived off Ragusa and ordered the Austrians to
withdraw from the Bocche. In his distress, the
Austrian commander applied again to Peter, urging
him to join against the common enemy, and even
offering to serve under his command, The czar
seconded the request of his ally, and sent a special
envoy to Montenegro to enlist the support of its ruler
against Napoleon. But before the Vladika had taken
the field, the peace of Pressburg formally consigned
the Bocche to France. The Austrian commissioner
at Cattaro announced that in six weeks' time he would
hand over the forts.
Great was the indignation of the seafaring population round that beautiful fiord at this second surrender
of their liberties. A few welcomed Napoleon as a
"father and a mother," but the vast majority resolved
to resist. A deputation was sent to Cetinje, where
the Russian envoy still was, to ask the aid of the
Montenegrins by land and of the Russians by sea.
The Russian fleet was summoned from Corfu, and the
Vladika assembled his chieftains and vowed before
them that he would not only close the Bocche to the
French, but eject the Austrians as well. At the head
of a combined force of Montenegrins and Bocchesi,
and aided by a division of the Russian squadron,
he laid siege to the fortress of Castelnuovo, at the
entrance of the Bocche. The fortress surrendered at
once, and having thus turned out the Austrians, Peter
was able to devote his attention to the French. He
sent an urgent message to the Senate of Ragusa, then
PETER I.— RONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
an independent Republic, in order to prevent the French from crossing the Republican territory in their march upon Cattaro. But neither the representations of the Vladika nor the presence of the Russian admiral prevailed upon the timorous senators. Fearing the wrath of the French Emperor, they opened their gates to his general, Lauriston, whose first act was to suppress their ancient liberties. But the Montenegrins were not so easily daunted by the name of Napoleon. Aided by the Bocchesi and their Russian allies, they defeated the French in a four days' engagement, and drove them back within the walls of Ragusa. The city was surrounded, and would inevitably have fallen into their hands had not orders arrived from the Czar that the Bocche should be surrendered to the Austrians. As usual, the brave mountaineers found that they had been duped. Disgusted at this treatment, the Vladika withdrew from the siege. But the guerilla warfare which followed was conducted with the utmost savagery by his subjects and the people of the coast. No quarter was shown on either side. The story that the Montenegrins played bowls with the heads of the French soldiers and remarked how light-headed their enemies were, is probably an invention. But there is no doubt that they decapitated the French general, Delgorgues, who had been made a prisoner. When Marshal Marmont reproached Peter with this horrible custom of his people, the Vladika replied that there was nothing surprising in it; what did surprise him was that the French should have beheaded their lawful king. The Montenegrins, he
NAPOLEON I. AND MONTENEGRO.
added, might have learnt this barbarous practice from the French, with this difference, that the former only beheaded their oppressors, and not their prince or their fellow-countrymen. In the frequent skirmishes which took place, the French soldiers were no match for the mountain-bands, which harassed them on all sides. Lauriston, who meditated the occupation of Albania and the Herzegovina, tried to win over by promises the highland chief whom he could not crush by force. But Peter was not to be bought by the empty title of Patriarch of Dalmatia. He even warned his old enemies, the Turks, of the danger which threatened them. But when Turkey declared war against Russia at the end of 1806, he did not hesitate to accept the invitation of the Herzegovinian chieftains who sought his aid. But the attempt of the Montenegrins to seize the important fortress of Nikšić failed. It was reserved for Prince Nicholas to capture it seventy years later.
The peace of Tilsit in 1807 gave the Bocche to the French, and for the next six years they remained in almost undisputed possession of the coast. Their Emperor had learned by experience to consider the Montenegrins as dangerous neighbours, whom it was better to have as friends than foes. He accordingly lost no time in making overtures to their warlike ruler. Marmont sought an interview with Peter at the Fort of the Trinity above Cattaro, at which he made him an offer of his Emperor's protection. The Vladika coldly replied that that of the Czar was sufficient. But Napoleon did not despair of bringing this wild and independent mountain-folk under his
PETER I.- BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
control. He sent Colonel Vialla de Sommières, who
was French Governor of Cattaro between 1807 and
1813, to visit their country, and promised to station
a consul at Cetinje. De Sommières published some
years later an account of his journey, and his book
was for many years the standard work on Montenegro. But France gained no hold upon the people.
Napoleon's offer to construct a road at his own
expense across the principality was declined; for
the Montenegrins reflected that where carriages could
come up, cannon could come up also. It had always
been their settled policy to make access to their
country difficult, and not to destroy the natural
barriers of rock, to which, like the Swiss, they have
owed their independence. "When God made the
world, and was distributing stones over the earth "
so runs the quaint saying— "the bag that held them
burst and let them all fall upon Montenegro." It
is in these stones that the Black Mountain has found
its best fortifications—for artificial forts it has none
and it was not till the time of the present Prince that
the Napoleonic idea of making a road across the
country was ever carried out. Even now it is not
by any means certain that this improved means of
communication will not be a source of danger in the
future. Napoleon was furious at the rejection of his
overtures, and vowed that he would lay waste the
country with fire and sword, till its name became
Monte Rosso instead of Montenegro, the Red Mountain instead of the Black. But his threat was never
carried out. He took a mean revenge by depriving
the Vladika of his spiritual jurisdiction over the
THE CRY FOR CATTARO.
Bocche di Cattaro, but it was not till 1813 that the
war was resumed.
The Serbs of Montenegro took no part in the Servian revolution under Kara George in the early years of the century. Peter, indeed, entered into relations with the liberator of Servia, but was unable to assist him. He composed, however, a spirited poem upon the valour and successes of "the brave brother Serbs" and their leader, whose aim it was to form an alliance with Montenegro and drive the Turks out of Bosnia and the Herzegovina. In accordance with this plan, Peter sent a body of his subjects to co-operate with Kara George; but, as no news arrived from the Servian camp, military operations were soon suspended, and the famine, which prevailed throughout Montenegro in 1810, made a second campaign impossible.
When the news of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow
became known in Dalmatia, the Montenegrins were
not slow to avail themselves of the opportunity. It
had always been the desire of Prince and people to
obtain the beautiful harbour of Cattaro, which is the
principal outlet of their export trade. Even now
that they possess two seaports of their own at
Dulcigno and Antivari, they regret the old Illyrian
town, which in the fourteenth century belonged to
the old Serb kingdom and was regarded as an
appanage of the Montenegrin princes as late as the
reign of Stephen Crnoiević. In 1813, when the
principality had no access to the sea, but was cut
off from the coast like Servia to-day, the cry for "our
old city of Cattaro" went up loud and long. A
PETER I.- BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
British fleet, under Sir William Hoste, proved a valuable ally, and the Vladika bade Vouko Radonić, the civil governor, besiege the town, while he himself attacked Budua. Both operations were successful. The Serbs within the walls of Budua joyfully threw open the gates to their protector, and Peter, in the words of a ballad, "mounted on his big horse and light as a grey falcon, entered the town and offered up thanks to God." Cattaro, ably defended by General Gauthier and the French garrison, held out for three months, till on the 27th of December, 1813, it surrendered to the combined British and Montenegrin forces. It was the first time that the name of England had been mentioned in the story of the Black Mountain. But it was not to be the last. Sixty-seven years later, the efforts of the British Government secured to the old allies of 1813 the harbour of Dulcigno, and the good deed has not yet been forgotten in the humble cottages of the mountaineers. They speak still with gratitude of England, and point with pride to the photographs of Mr. Gladstone which hang upon their walls. Were the aged statesman to visit Cetinje— so a Montenegrin once assured the writer—the whole nation would line the road from Cattaro in his honour.
But that "hard-won haven" did not long remain the property of Montenegro. A joint meeting of Montenegrins and Bocchesi had indeed resolved upon the union of the Bocche di Cattaro to the adjoining principality. A solemn document was drawn up on the 29th of October, in the Serb and Italian languages, and signed by the Vladika and the civil governor,
CATTARO GIVEN UP.
representing Montenegro and the Berda, and by the chiefs of the coast tribes. A central commission was appointed under the presidency of Peter, and composed of nine Montenegrins and nine Bocchesi, to carry on the present war against the French and secure the future government of the whole country. The union, thus auspiciously inaugurated, did not exist merely upon paper. For the capture of Castelnuovo and Spagnuolo, as well as Cattaro, had placed the whole gulf at the power of the allies. Peter, desirous of the Czar's protection, despatched to Russia a trusty envoy, one of the famous Montenegrin family of Plamenac, whose name, the "flame of fire," is emblematical of its warlike renown. But Russia was indifferent, and Austria, to whom the chiefs of the Bocchesi looked for aid, sought to regain her former Dalmatian possessions. While the Vladika was governing his united dominions in anxious expectation of the Czar's approval, Russia and Austria had concluded an agreement by which Cattaro and the coast were to be given up to the latter. On the and of June, the coveted city, which was to have been the capital of a larger Montenegro, opened its gates to an Austrian general, and the Montenegrin day-dream was over, never to return. From that day, Cattaro has nestled beneath the wings of the Austrian double-eagle. The traveller cannot fail to notice the Venetian lions which still adorn the gateway and the ancient houses. But he will be chiefly struck by the frowning Austrian fortresses, which have been erected on every hill, and by the fleet of Austrian ironclads, which he will see lying
PETER I.- BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
at anchor in the Bay of Teodo. To Austria, the Bocche di Cattaro have been a valuable addition. From their shores she obtains the hardy seamen who man her ships; in their waters she finds an anchorage, finer than that of Pola, for her men-of-war. But to Montenegro, the loss of the Bocche and the strip along the coast has been irreparable. To be within a cannon's-shot of the sea, and yet to be shut off from it by a narrow piece of foreign territory, is a grievance hard to bear. Peter I. felt it bitterly; he retired from the unequal contest to his mountain-home. Russia and Austria had alike deceived him. No Montenegrin ballad narrates the story of his departure; it was regarded as too sad a subject for song. But Ragusan writers have given us their version of the surrender of Cattaro. The authors were prejudiced against the man who had laid siege to their own city; but they admit that the warriors of the Black Mountain did not evacuate Cattaro until they had fired their last cartridge. Even in their mountains, however, the protection of Russia was denied them. The annual subsidy which the principality had received since the days of the Empress Elizabeth, was stopped in 1814, and it was not till the accession of the Czar Nicholas I. in 1825 that it was renewed. The Black Mountain was under a cloud.
Peter had now time to devote to the internal organisation of his country. With the exception of the Turkish invasion of 1820, when the Pasha of Bosnia was defeated and committed suicide in disgust, the land had peace for sixteen years—an almost un
PETER ON HIS DEFENCE.
exampled period of repose for its warlike inhabitants. The Montenegrins, indeed, continued to raid the adjacent parts of Albania and the Herzegovina, in quest of food and booty, but the Turkish Government was far too much occupied with the risings in Greece and the Danubian Principalities to organise a war of revenge. But the Montenegrins, demoralised by their constant struggle for existence, and reduced to the greatest extremities by famine, were chiefly engaged in quarrelling among themselves, and so small was the respect which some of the more unruly spirits showed for their ruler, that they accused him of neglecting his ecclesiastical duties. Their complaints reached the ears of the Czar, who despatched an envoy to inquire into the truth of the charge. Peter defended himself in a lengthy document, his accusers repented of the indignity which they had inflicted upon their sovereign, and an understanding was brought about by the good offices of the Russian Consul at Ragusa. The incident is interesting as showing the influence which Russia exerted over the Black Mountain at the beginning of the present century, and the lack of cohesion among the subjects of the Vladika. The Montenegrin chiefs still lived, each a law unto himself, and the blood-feud, the border-raid, and other primitive institutions still flourished unchecked. But Peter was fully aware of the need of a strong government. As early as 1796 he had issued a new code of thirty-three articles, to which the chiefs swore to submit. Two years later, judges were appointed to decide disputes, and a general assembly of the people was sub
PETER I.-BONAPARTE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN.
sequently summoned, at which the Vladika explained the meaning of the new enactments, and insisted upon their prompt execution. Until the Code Danilo replaced them in 1855, the laws of Peter I. continued in force. In 1821 a species of police, known under the Turkish name of Voulouk, was introduced all over the country, but even when criminals were brought to justice and tried, it was not always easy to carry out their sentences. The ruler was severe, but public opinion often saw no harm in acts which he regarded as offences. Even to-day the Montenegrin sees nothing wrong in a skirmish with the Albanians on the border, though a stranger in his own land is sacred in his eyes. Still more difficult was the problem of feeding a population greatly disclined to labour, and unprovided with fertile fields. Famine has always been at once the scourge and the safety of the Black Mountain. The tiny patches of soil, a couple of yards square, scarcely visible among the masses of grey limestone which cover it, barely suffice for the needs of its inhabitants, and are wholly inadequate to support an army of occupation. Wholesale emigration to Servia and Russia was but a partial remedy, and Peter with all his energy could not prevent the frequent recurrence of famine.
Full of years and distinctions, Peter I. was peace-fully sitting on the 18th of October, 1830, before the fire in the vast room which was alike the kitchen and the audience-chamber of this primitive sovereign. He was speaking to the assembled company upon the theme which had occupied the last years of his life
—the need of harmony between the different districts
of his country. As he spoke, he felt a sudden faintness come on, and begged to be carried to the simple
and poorly-furnished apartment where he was wont
to sleep without so much as a fire to warm him.
That same day he had dictated his will to his secretary, in which he enjoined union upon the chiefs, and
begged them, as a token of respect to himself, to
keep a truce of God till the festival of St. George
in the ensuing year. As his successor, he nominated
his nephew Radatamova, a lad of seventeen, who
subsequently assumed the name and style of Peter
II. The chiefs swore to obey the dying Vladika's
behests, and with a prayer on his lips he peacefully
expired. His body was laid in the chapel of the convent at Cetinje amid the lamentations of his subjects.
When, four years afterwards, the coffin was opened
the corpse was found intact. The people declared
that a miracle had occurred, and the dead Prince-
Bishop was canonised as a saint. St. Peter Petrović
is still the object of every pious Montenegrin's veneration, and to his open coffin at Cetinje come pilgrims
from far and near.