Following the death of Petar I Petrovic, his nephew, the 17-year old Rade Petrovic became Vladika Petar II Petrovic Njegos. The people called him by his first name, Vladika Rade. He was the second son of Tomo Markov Petrovic and Ivana Prorokovic. By historians' and literary consensus, Petar II Petrovic Njegos was the most impressive Montenegrin Bishop-Prince, who laid the foundation of the modern Montenegrin state and the subsequent Kingdom of Montenegro. And he was the most acclaimed Montenegrin poet.
A long rivalry had existed between the Montenegrin spiritual leaders (Bishops or Vladikas) from the Petrovic family and the Radonjic family, a leading clan which had long vied for power against the authority of the Vladikas. This rivalry culminated in Njegos's time. Njegos came out victorious from this challenge and strengthened his grip on power by expelling from Montenegro many members of the Radonjic family.
In domestic affairs, Njegos was a reformer. He introduced the first taxes in 1833 against stiff opposition from many Montenegrins whose strong sense of individual and tribal freedom was fundamentally in conflict with the notion of mandatory payments to the central authority. He created a formal central government consisting of three bodies, the Senate, the Guardia and the Perjanici. The Senate consisted of 12 representatives from the most influential Montenegrin families and performed executive and judicial as well as legislative functions of government. The 32-member Guardia traveled through the country as agents of the Senate, adjudicating disputes and otherwise administering law and order. The Perjanici were a police force, reporting both to the Senate and directly to the Vladika.
Facsimile of passport issued by Njegos identifying bearer as having Montenegrin nationality (73 Kb)
But Njegos is most famous for his poetry. His most acclaimed works include The Mountain Wreath (an epic poem), The Ray of the Microcosm (a philosophical poem) and The False Tzar Stephen the Small. The Mountain Wreath, written in the Montenegrin vernacular, has synthesized much of the wisdom of the people and became a key literary symbol of the nation's long struggle for freedom. Even nowadays in Montenegro, the proverbs and passages from the Mountain Wreath are used in everyday conversations to illustrate the universal human dilemmas.
You may return to the montenegro.org home page at any time. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
www.montenegro.org Last updated 25 April 1997