Prince Danilo (252 Kb)
In his testament, Petar II Petrovic Njegos named his nephew Danilo as his successor. But when Njegos died, the Senate first proclaimed Njegos's elder brother Pero Tomov Petrovic as Prince (not Vladika). This indicated that Njegos himself most likely was preparing ground for the new ruler of Montenegro to be a secular leader. But in a brief struggle for power that followed Njegos's death, Pero Tomov lost to the much younger but savvy Danilo.
While the successor to Njegos was still undetermined, Danilo traveled to Vienna and then Russia, supposedly to be ordained as Vladika, not Prince. But to the surprise of Pero Tomov and his supporters, Danilo returned to Cetinje with the endorsement from the Russian tzar to become Prince of Montenegro. This gave him a decisive advantage and he became the Prince while Pero Tomov returned to his position as president of the Senate. Danilo Petrovic was thus the first Montenegrin secular Prince who did not also hold the ecclesiastical position of the Vladika. So Danilo's rule paved the way for Montenegro to become a kingdom under Danilo's successor Prince (later King) Nikola I Petrovic.
In military affairs, Danilo was a capable strategist and commander. He lead Montenegrins in major military victories. In 1858, he won a crucial battle against the Turks at Grahovo (or Grahovac). The Montenegrin army was led by the legendary Grand Duke Mirko Petrovic, Danilo's elder brother, and a charismatic military commander. This major victory prompted the great powers to officially demarcate the borders between Montenegro and Turkey, de facto recognizing Montenegro's centuries-long independence.
Facsimile of passport issued by Danilo identifying bearer as having Montenegrin nationality (62 Kb)
In domestic politics, Danilo was an uncompromising ruler who strengthened the central authority in Cetinje. This paved the way for consolidation of the modern functions of the state. But his restless temperament occasionally led him to use his power to the extreme. For example, the traditional tribal freedoms were sometimes at odds with the consolidation of the state apparatus, the central authority in Cetinje and Danilo's personal rule. So when the Kuci tribe in eastern Montenegro challenged his authority, his punitive campaign was swift and extremely severe, crushing all resistance to his authority.
Danilo developed the Law of Petar I Petrovic (Zakonik Petra I), into his own General Law of the Land (Opsti zemaljski zakonik or Danilov Zakonik), a common law, firmly rooted in the Montenegrin traditions and customs. This statute, consisting of 95 paragraphs, was a kind of national constitution, the first in Montenegrin history.
In foreign affairs, Danilo fought Turkey to consolidate and enlarge the territory of his state. He also looked to Russia for moral and military support, while trying to maintain good relations with Austria. And he courted France, whose culture and language he enjoyed. His wife Darinka, an educated woman and daughter of a wealthy merchant from Trieste (northern Italy), was a major source of his affection for the French. But Danilo's disillusionment with Russia's failure to deliver on a promise of support for Montenegro's international recognition of full sovereignty also played a role in his increasingly Francophile attitude. Danilo's good relations with France were ill-received in Russia, Austria and Serbia who saw the rapprochement between Montenegro and France as a threat to their interests.
Danilo was assassinated in August 1860 as he was boarding a ship at the port of Kotor. The motive for the assassination was the personal revenge of Todor Kadic, from the Bjelopavlici tribe, over Danilo's mistreatment of Kadic's family. But Kadic also received foreign, most likely Austrian support in carrying out the assassination.
You may return to the montenegro.org home page at any time.
www.montenegro.org Last updated on 25 April 1997