1902 Encyclopedia > Montenegro


MONTENEGRO, often pronounced and sometimes written MONTENERO (Montenegrin, i.e., Servian, Crnagora, Russian Tchernogoriya, and Turkish Karadagh, all equi-valent to Black Mountain), one of the smallest of Euro-pean countries, lies on the eastern side of the Adriatic, and is bounded by Dalmatia, Herzegovina, Bosnia, and Albania. Previous to 1878 it had an area variously esti-mated at 1669 square miles (Kaptsevitch), 1711 (Kiepert), and, including the Kutchi territory, 1796 (Behm). The enlargement to about 5272 square miles proposed by the San Stefano treaty (1878) would probably have swamped the Montenegrin nationality, and the Berlin congress brought the total area only up to 3680 miles, or almost exactly half the size of Wales.

Apart from her new maritime district, Montenegro seems little better at first than a chaos of mountains, but on closer examination it appears that there are two distinct groups, an eastern and a western, divided by the Zeta-Moratcha valley. The loftiest summit is Dormitor, 8146 feet high, in the new territory near the north frontier, next come Kom Kutchi (8031), Kom Vassoyevitzki (7946), and Dormitor Schlime (7936). Had the original frontier of the Berlin congress towards the south-east been retained it would have run along the still higher Prokletia range. Many of the mountain-tops remain white with snow for the greater part of the year, and from some of the dark ravines the snow never disappears. The south-western portion of the country consists of limestone, the north-eastern mainly of Palaeozoic sandstones and schists with underlying trap. In their general aspect the two regions are strikingly distinct. The former seems, as it were, one enormous mass of hard crystalline rock, bare and calcined, with its strata dipping to the south-west at an angle often of 70 degrees. Its whole surface has been split by atmo-spheric agencies into huge prismatic blocks, and the cracks have been gradually worn into fissures several fathoms deep. In some places the process has resulted in clusters of im-mense sharp-pointed crags, the sides of which are furrowed by rain-channels, while in others there are countless funnels running down into the rock for 200 feet and more. In like manner the interior of the mass is hollowed out into immense galleries and caves, and during the rainy season subterranean landslips frequently produce local earthquakes, extending over an area of 10 or 12 miles. The sandstone region, on the other hand, presents lofty but rounded forms, clothed for the most part with virgin forest or rich alpine pasture, broken here and there by dolomitic peaks.

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Map of Montenegro.

The watershed between the Adriatic and the Black Sea crosses the country from west to east in a very irregular line, the southern districts being drained by the Zeta-Moratcha river system, which finds its way to the Adriatic by Lake Scutari and the Boyanna, while the streams of the northern districts form the head-waters of the Drina, which reaches the Danube by way of the Save. The Zeta, rising in Lake Slano, is remarkable for its subterranean passage beneath a mountain range 1000 feet high. At a place called Ponor the water plunges into a deep chasm, seeming almost to lose itself in foam, but at a distance of several miles it reappears on the other side of the mountains. Its whole course to its junction with the Moratcha is about 30 miles. Rising in the Yavorye Planina, the Moratcha sweeps through the mountain gorges as a foam-ing torrent till it reaches the plain of Podgoritza; then, for a space, it almost disappears among the pebbles and other alluvial deposits, nor does it again show a current of any considerable volume till it approaches Lake Scutari. In the neighbourhood of Duklea and Leskopolye it flows through a precipitous ravine from 50 to 100 feet high. In the dry season it is navigable to Zhabliak. The whole course is about 60 miles. Of the left-hand tributaries of the Moratcha the Sem or Tsievna deserves to be mentioned for the magnificent canon through which it flows between Most Tamarui and Dinosha. On the one side rise the mountains of the Kutchi territory, on the other the immense flanks of the Prokletia range,—the walls of the gorge varying from 2000 to 4000 feet of vertical height. Lower down the stream the rocky banks approach so close that it is possible to leap across without trouble. The Ryeka issues full-formed from an immense cave south-east of Cettinye (Tsettinye) and falls into Lake Scutari. The three tributaries of the Drina which belong in part to Montenegro are the Piva, the Tara, and the Lim, respect-ively 55, 95, and 140 miles in length. The Tara forms the northern boundary of the principality for more than 50 miles, but the Lim leaves the country altogether after the first 30 miles of its course. Great alterations have taken place on Lake Scutari in recent times. The river Drin, which previous to 1830 entered the Adriatic to the south of Alesia near S. Giovanni di Medua, subsequently changed its course so as to join the Boyanna just below its exit from the lake; one of the chief results has been to raise the level of the lake, and so to flood the lower valleys of the tributary streams. When the International Frontier Com-mission was at Scutari in April 1879, the water stood 8 feet deep in some of the principal streets, and the inundation of city and suburbs lasted that year eight months. A few small lakes are scattered among the mountains, and it is evident that their number was formerly much greater. The plain or hollow of Cettinye was doubtless filled with water at no very distant (geological) date, and even now, when the sudden rains cannot escape fast enough by the ordinary subterranean outlet, the royal village suffers from a flood.

3 Duklea is the name still borne by the ruins of the Roman Doclea, often, but wrongly, called Dioclea from its association with the family of Diocletian.

If the new territory be left out of view, there is but little farming land in Montenegro; the peasant is glad to enclose and protect the veriest patches of fertile soil retained by the hollows in the mountain sides, and one may see " flourishing little crops not a yard square." " The largest landed proprietor is the holder of 60 acres" (Denton, Montenegro, p. 143); the other freehold estates vary from 2 to 20 acres, and it is usually not to the individual but to the house or family that the ownership belongs. Woods and pastures are the common property of the clan (pleme). The people live in small stone-built cottages, grouped for the most part in little villages, and their whole life is marked by extreme simplicity. Chastity is a national virtue, and in time of war the women and children of the Turks have often found their safest asylum among their hereditary foes. The main stock of the people is of Servian descent; and, though the purity of both blood and language has been to some extent affected by foreign elements, mostly Albanian and Turkish, the national unity has not been im-paired. The curious Gipsy colony, which, though speaking Servian, never intermarries with the Montenegrins, is numerically of little importance. The great mass of the people belong to the Orthodox Greek Church, only some 7000 being Roman Catholics, and 3000 Mohammedans. According to Kaptsevitch, the population was 10,700 in 1838, 120,000 in 1849, 124,000 in 1852, and 170,000 in 1877, but in 1879 it was found that, inclusive of the new territory, the number could not exceed 150,000; since then about 15,000 have been added with Dulcigno. The official returns for 1882 (not based on a census, however) give 236,000 as the total, of whom some 23,000 live in the so-called towns.

Fauna. —Bears are still found in the higher forests, and wolves, and especially foxes, over a much wider area. A few chamois roam on the loftiest summits, the roebuck is not infrequent in the backwoods, the wild boar may be met with in the same district, and the hare is abundant wherever the ground is covered with herbage. There are one or two species of snakes in the country, including the poisonous Illyrian viper. Esculent frogs, tree frogs, the common tortoise, and various kinds of lizards are all common. The list of birds observed by Baron Kaulbars includes golden eagles and vul-tures, 12 species of falcons, several species of owls, nightingales, larks, buntings, hoopoes, partridges, herons, pelicans, ducks (10 species), goatsuckers, &c. The abundance of fish in Lake Scutari and the lower course of the Ryeka is extraordinary, the shoals of bleak (scor-antza, Leuciscus albumus) that come up the river forming almost solid masses. Both trout and salmon are caught in the Moratcha.

Flora.—The flora of Montenegro is comparatively scanty. In the forest districts the beech is the prevailing tree up to a height of 5000 or 5500 feet, and then its place is taken by the pine. The chestnut forms little groves in the country between the sea and Lake Scutari, but never ascends more than 1000 feet, and the olive also is mainly confined to the neighbourhood of the Adriatic. Pomegranate bushes grow wild, and in many parts of the south cover the foot of the hills with dense thickets, the rich blossoms of which are one of the special charms of the spring landscape. Wheat, rye, barley, maize, capsicums, and a little tobacco are grown in the north, and in the south, vines, figs, peaches, apples, cherries, citrons, oranges, &c. The potato, introduced in 1786, is cultivated con-siderably beyond the local demand ; the planting of mulberry trees and the rearing of silk-worms is of growing economical importance.

Towns.—CETTINYE (CETTINJE; CETINJE) (q.v.), with about 2000 inhabitants, is the capital of the country. Podgoritza (about 6000 or 7000 in 1879, since reduced to 4000) is the principal trading town ; it lies at the foot of the mountains (as its name imports), at the junction of the Ruibnitza with the Moratcha, and in Turkish hands was one of the strongest of their fortresses towards Montenegro. Dulcigno (see vol. vii. p. 520) has 3000 inhabitants (before the transfer 5000 to 7000). Niksitch, a fortified place on a slight eminence in the midst of a plain, is about the same size. Antivari (see vol. ii. p. 138), so called from its position opposite Bari in Italy, suffered greatly in the war 1879-80, and lost half of its 5000 inhabitants. Danilovgrad, with 2000, lies on the north side of the Zeta valley ; in the vicinity is Orialuka, the prince's palace with its mulberry nurseries, and the monasteries of Zhdrebanik (burnt by the Turks in 1877, but since rebuilt), while Tcheliya, Moratcha (the most ancient in the principality), and Ostrog (visited annually by about 10,000 pilgrims) are not far off. Spuzh (Spouge), a little lower on the same side of the stream, is a fortified post with about 1000 inhabit-ants. Nyegush or Nyegosh (1200), about three hours distant from Cettinye on the road to Cattaro, is the native seat of the reigning family, which originally came thither from Nyegush in Herzegovina. Zhabliak (1200) was once the "capital," and has been a fortified post since the time of the Venetian power. Ryeka (1500), on the river of that name, is next to Podgoritza in commercial importance ; the prince has two residences in the town. Grahovo (2000) is famous for the great battles of 1851 and 1876.

Montenegro is an absolute hereditary monarchy, vested accord-ing to the principle of primogeniture in the family of Petrovitch Nyegush. The prince bears the title "Prince of Montenegro and the Berda (mountains) "—Montenegro here meaning the old Mon-tenegrin nahias (provinces) of Katunska, Tzrmitza, Ryetchka, and Lyeshanska, and Berda the territory added in the 18th century, or the provinces Byelopavlitchska, Piperska, Moratchska, Vasoye-vitchska, and Kutska. A responsible ministry was introduced in 1877, and there are now separate departments of justice, foreign affairs, war, and finance and education. The highest administra-tive body is the council of state, instituted in 1879, and consisting of eight members appointed by the prince. Justice in ordinary cases is rendered in primitive fashion. Formal codes were drawn up by Peter I. (1798) and by Danilo (1855), but the real statute book is national custom. A great court, consisting of the minister of justice, and five members named by the prince, is held in the capital, and there are inferior courts in each of the captaincies (86 in 1S79). While formerly the very president of the senate, Mirko Petrovitch {ob. 1865), wdiose songs are the delight of his countrymen, could neither read nor write, primary education has been widely diffused during the reign of Prince Nicholas (Nikita). In 1851 there was only one school, but before the recent war they had increased to 58, nearly every clan having one for girls as well as for boys. The female Montenegrin Institute (founded and sup-ported by the empress of Russia) attracts pupils from beyond the frontier. It was from the printing-presses of Cettinye and Ryeka that the first books in the Slavonic languages were issued between 1483 and 1493, under the patronage especially of Ivan Beg and George (IV.) Crnoyevitch, "waywodes of the Zeta," but this pro-mise of literary productiveness was soon cut off by wars with the Turks. Peter Petrovitch Nyegush (1813-1851), who w'as called to rule in 1830, is recognized as perhaps the greatest of all Servian poets,—his Gorski Viyenac, or "Mountain Wreath," giving dramatic expression to the "very soul of the Serbian people." Though the press which he established in 1834 was destroyed in the war of 1852-53, another was soon obtained, and under Prince Nicholas, himself a poet, his memory has proved a potent stimulus to intellectual culture. The first Montenegrin newspaper, Ornogorac, now Olas Omogorca, began to appear in 1870 ; the first book-shop was opened in 1879.

The Montenegrins, however, have had more to do with the sword than with the pen. " Every man, dressed in the picturesque costume of his tribe, carries his pistol and yataghan in his girdle." Nominally the age of military service is between sixteen and sixty-five, but when war breaks out schoolboy and superannuated veteran are equally eager for the fray. When Prince Nicholas tried to prevent an old man of eighty from joining his forces, the insulted warrior drew his pistol and shot himself. War with the Turks, indeed, is the essence of Montenegrin history. On the death of the Servian king Stephen Dushan, Prince Balsha became independent lord of the province of the Zeta ; and when the Servian power was shattered by the Turks in the battle of Kossovo (1389) his territory formed the asylum of all those who determined to make another stand for freedom. In 1485 Ivan Crnoyevitch, finding Zhabliak untenable, fixed his " capital" at Cettinye. In 1516 his son George, who had succeeded him, left his country to its fate; but the people chose their bishop as their chief. Prince-bishops or vladykas, elected by the people, continued to lead them with success against the common foe of Christendom till 1697, when the authority was handed over to Petrovitch Nyegush, with the right of appointing his successors, subject to national approval. At length, in 1851, Danilo, nephew and nominee of the previous vladyka Peter II., prevailed on the "skuptchina" to declare Mon-tenegro a secular state with the hereditary government of a prince. His nephew Nicholas succeeded to the throne in 1860, and at the close of the war 1876-78 Montenegro was declared a sovereign principality. For an account of the defeats and victories (the latter ty far the more mimerous) which have marked the national struggle for existence during its four centuries, the reader is referred to Denton's Montenegro (Lond., 1877).

See Observations on Montenegro (St Pet., 1881), by Baron Kaulbars, Russian member of the International Commission; Wilkinson's Dalmatia and Montenegro (1848); Wingfield, Tour in Dalmatia, &c. (1859); Viscountess Strangford, The Eastern Shores of the- Adriatic (1864); A. J. Evans, Illyrian Letters (1878) ; W. E. Gladstone in the Nineteenth Century, i. ; Freeman, in Macmillan's Mag., 1876; Sehwarz, Montenegro (1882). See also the bibliographies in Bull, de la Soc. de Geogr. (Paris, 1865) and Valentinelli, Bib. delta Dalmazia (Agram, 1855). (H. A. W.)

The above article was written by: H. A. Webster.

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