THE appointment of the Bishop as ruler of Montenegro saved that country from the fate which had befallen Servia and Bosnia. Raised by his ecclesiastical functions above all the chieftains, who would have resented the elevation of one of their own number over their heads, the Bishop was the greatest security against civil war. At the same time a dignitary of the Church was the last person likely to commit an act of apostasy such as that which was so keenly remembered in Montenegro. But it was not the intention of George Crnoiević that the Bishop should have no one to assist him in the work of government. Accordingly, an official, known as the civil governor, was appointed, whose special duty it was to superintend the military defence of the country. The civil governor, invariably chosen from the head-men of the Katunska nahia or district, in which Cetinje is situated, was, however, subordinate to the Vladika. There was thus no rivalry between them. The civil
THE ELECTIVE VLADIKAS.
governor, although the dignity came to be hereditary in certain noble families, while that of the Vladika was for long only elective, knew his place, and the only attempt at usurpation in the long history of the office led to its abolition in 1832. The history of Japan furnishes us with an almost exact parallel, for the relations between the Mikado and the Tycoon were until lately almost similar. The only personage to whom the Prince-Bishop owed allegiance was the Serb Patriarch of Ipek, who once in every seven years visited his diocese and consecrated every fresh Montenegrin prelate.
For one hundred and eighty years after their first appointment, the Vladikas were elected by the chiefs and people—an arrangement which was ultimately abandoned in favour of the hereditary system. During the greater part of this period the history of the country consisted of little more than one continuous struggle for existence against the Turks, amid which it is difficult to distinguish the shadowy figures of the successive prelates. Babylas himself was allowed to reign in peace, devoting his attention to the printing-press at Obod, which issued books of devotion, still extant, bearing his name on the title-page. His successor, German, was not left unmolested. A pretender, one of the Crnoiević family who had turned Mussulman, invaded the principality just as Stanicha, thirty years before, and with the same result. Voukotić, the civil governor, repulsed the renegade, and such was the zeal of the Montenegrins for the Christian cause, that they marched into Bosnia and raised the siege of Jajce, where the Hungarian garrison was
DESTRUCTION OF THE PRESS.
closely hemmed in by the troops of the Sultan. The
Turks were too much occupied with the Hungarian
war to take revenge, and it was not till 1570 that
Montenegro had to face another Ottoman invasion.
The next three Vladikas, Paul, Nicodin, and Makarios, availed themselves of this long period of repose
to increase the publications of the press, and numerous
psalters and translations of the Gospels were produced in this small and remote principality. But
the Turkish governors of Skodra revived the claims
of Stanicha to the Montenegrin throne. Ali, Pasha
of that district, defeated in his first attack, renewed it
with disastrous results to Montenegro. Pachomije,
the Prince-Bishop at that moment, was unable to
reach Ipek for the ceremony of consecration, and his
authority was therefore weakened in the eyes of his
people. The renegades, allowed to settle in the
country at the time of Stanicha's defeat, welcomed
the Pasha's army with open arms, and, thanks to
their treachery, he was able to seize the fortress of
Obod and destroy the precious printing-press, which
Ivan the Black had established there a century earlier.
The national historians are silent upon the subject of
the haratch, or tribute, which the invaders are said to
have exacted from the inhabitants of the free mountain, and which defrayed the cost of the Sultan's
slippers. But there can be no doubt that Montenegro suffered greatly from the depredations of Ali.
The refusal of its high-spirited people to pay tribute
any longer may have been the cause of the Pasha's
invasion in 1604 during the reign of Bishop Rufin,
when the Turks were driven back with heavy loss
THE ELECTIVE VLADIKAS.
Eight years later the Sultan determined that he
would sweep the defiant mountaineers off the face of
the earth. An army of twenty-five thousand men
was despatched against the principality. The decisive
battle took place not far from Podgorica. But the
Turkish cavalry was useless in such a country. The
small band of Montenegrins held their ground, the
enemy threw himself against their rocks in vain, and
the flower of the Ottoman chivalry was left dead on
the field. Next year a still larger force was collected
by Arslan Pasha, and if wars were always decided by
mere numbers the fate of Montenegro would have
been sealed, for the invaders were twice as numerous
as the whole population of the principality. Six
months were occupied in skirmishes and ambuscades,
and it was not till the 10th of September, 1613, that
the two armies met on the spot where Stanicha had
been defeated more than a century before. The
Montenegrins, although assisted by some neighbouring tribes, were completely outnumbered. But their
valour and prowess were out of proportion to their
numbers. Seldom have the Turks received so overwhelming a blow. Arslan Pasha was wounded, and
the heads of his second-in-command and a hundred
other Turkish officers were carried off and stuck on
the ramparts of Cetinje. The Ottoman troops fled in
disorder; many were drowned in the waters of the
Morava, many more fell by the swords of their
pursuers. No quarter was given.
Much light is thrown upon the condition of Montenegro at this period and the causes of its invariable
success in war even against fearful odds are explained
CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY.
by the accounts of a contemporary writer, Mariano
Bolizza, This author, a patrician of Venice, residing
at Cattaro in the early part of the seventeenth century,
spent a considerable time in the Black Mountain, and
published in 1614 a description of the country. At
that time the whole male population available for
war consisted of 8,027 persons, distributed among the
ninety-three villages which Montenegro contained.
But these few warriors were continually practising.
The rapidity of their manœuvres was extraordinary,
and for guerilla warfare they were unrivalled. In
battle they always took care to have the advantage
of the ground. Their rocks afforded shelter, from
which they could aim at their enemies in the open,
and they made the most of the smallest cover. The
women, accustomed from their infancy to lift heavy
burdens, could roll huge masses of rock down upon
the heads of an advancing army, and the Turkish
cavalry, invincible in a champaign country, was
helpless in that sea of limestone. A high military
authority, after a visit to the Black Mountain, has
recently stated that he perfectly understood the
failure of the Turks to capture it.
The condition of the country at this period was
naturally unsettled. War was the chief occupation
of its inhabitants from sheer necessity, and the arts
of peace languished. The printing-press, so active a
century earlier, had ceased to exist ; the control of
the Prince-Bishop over the five nahie, or districts,
which then composed the principality, was loose; the
capital itself was a mere village of a few houses.
Still, even then, there was a system of local govern
THE ELECTIVE VLADIKAS.
ment. Each nahia was divided into tribes, or plemena, each presided over by a headman or kniez, who acted as,a judge in disputes between the tribes-men.
The successes of the Montenegrins gained them notoriety outside the borders of their own country. Accordingly, when Charles de Nevers, the last
descendant of the Paleologi, planned his new crusade against the Sultan with the support of Cardinal Richelieu in 1614, he invited the Montenegrin warriors to assist him. He found them nothing l0th, but they declined to move until he began. The accidental destruction of his ships put an end to the crusade,
and the whole affair ended in smoke. Another similar attempt, made a little later by a son of Mohammed III., named Jahja, who had embraced Christianity and styled himself Count of Montenegro, was equally futile. This adventurer, whose life was one long romance, laid claim to the throne of Constantinople, and at the head of a body of Montenegrins made a foray into Turkish territory. But the inhabitants of the Black Mountain had soon enough to do to defend themselves. In 1623 Soliman, Pasha of Skodra, with 80,000 men, marched into the country with the intention of finally annexing it. For twenty days the opposing forces were engaged in almost ceaseless conflicts. But the invaders at last drove their enemies back upon Cetinje. The capital was taken, and the monastery of Ivan the Black sacked. A tribute was again imposed upon those who submitted, while the bolder spirits retired to the inaccessible heights of the Lovčen, and thence descended upon the Turkish camp. But nature was once more on the side of the mountaineers. The Pasha realised the truth of the saying that in Montenegro "a small army is beaten, a large one dies of hunger." The bare rocks afforded no subsistence to his host; so, leaving a small army of occupation behind, he returned to the fertile plains of Albania. At once the Montenegrin eagles swooped down from their eyrie upon the Turkish garrisons, while the warlike tribes of the Koutchi and Klementi on the Albanian border fell upon the main body near Podgorica and almost annihilated it. Montenegro was once more free. Had the Albanians of the frontier finally thrown in
THE ELECTIVE VLADIKAS.
their lot with their fellow-Christians in Montenegro, the combination would have been irresistible. But the unfortunate division between the Eastern and the Western Church prevented their union. The Koutchi and Klementi had adopted the Roman Catholic faith at the instigation of Italian missionaries, while the Montenegrins have always been devoted to the Greek Church. The effects of this schism have been lasting. Montenegro looked calmly on while the Turks attacked its Catholic neighbours, while the Catholic Albanians usually allowed the Mussulman armies to enter Montenegro with impunity. It was only on rare occasions that the instinct of self-preservation prompted the Albanian chiefs to combine with the warriors of the Greek Church for mutual protection.
For over sixty years no serious attempt was made to conquer the country. But in 1687, the Venetians urged their old allies to assist in a campaign against the Turks, whose power had just received a severe shock at the hands of Sobieski under the walls of Vienna. Forgetful of the selfishness of Venice, and eager to come to blows with their hereditary foes, the Montenegrins consented; and, aided by the firearms, which now for the first time became general among them, soon dislodged the Turks, who had landed on the shores of the Bocche di Cattaro. But in the following year Venice made peace with the Sultan, who now turned his undivided attention to Montenegro. In vain the Vladika Vissarion reminded the Republic that it was for her sake that he had incurred the enmity of the Turks. Not only was he left to his
WAR WITH THE TURKS.
fate, but a Venetian officer, who commanded part of
his army, was recalled at a critical moment. Deserted
by their allies, the Montenegrins were taken at a
disadvantage. Cetinje was once more destroyed,
and the monastery of Ivan the Black, with all its
precious books and relics, was blown up by the
monks, who preferred death to surrender. The loss
was irreparable; and, though Cetinje was speedily
rebuilt, the convent lay long in ruins. But the
destruction of the capital did not mean the capture
of the country. Unable to dislodge the Montenegrins
from a strong position which they had occupied,
the Turkish commander withdrew, leaving a small
garrison at Obod. In spite of the bitter experience
which they had had of alliances with the great
European Powers, the mountaineers promised to
assist the Emperor Leopold I. next year in his
campaign against the Turks in Servia and Bosnia.
As usual, they were ignored at the peace by their
allies. Indeed, the Venetians are accused of having
poisoned the Vladika Vissarion in order to please
the Sultan. But the man was at hand to save the
liberties of the Black Mountain. Sava, who succeeded Vissarion, found the Turks too much occupied
with the war on the Lower Danube to disturb his
brief reign; and by the time that they were once
more at liberty to attack Montenegro, Danilo, first
hereditary Vladika of the House of Petrović, was
ready to defend it.