PETAR II PETROVIĆ NJEGOŠ - BIOGRAPHY
• Njegoš’s Childhood and Youth • Njegoš as Ruler • Njegoš and Russia •
• Njegoš and Austria • Njegoš’s Printing House and First Schools in Montenegro •
• Njegoš’s Works •
Njegoš’s Childhood and Youth
Petar II Petrović Njegoš (Njeguši, 1.11.1813. – Cetinje, 19.10.1851.) – Montenegrin bishop, ruler (1830- 1851), poet, writer and philosopher was born in the village of Njeguši. His father was Tomo Markov, brother of Petar I and his mother was Ivana Proroković. He was baptized with the name Radivoje, or shorter Rade.
In his youth, Njegoš studied in Savina monastery with the priest Josif Tropović. He spent two years in this monastery. Before Tropović, Njegoš had been taught to the basic literacy by Cetinje’s monks Misail and Jakov Cek, secretary of Peter the First. Sima Milutinović Sarajlija had a great impact on Njegoš’s education. He woke up a love for poetry in the future Montenegrin Ruler and gave him the basic concepts of mythology and folk art and developed Njegoš’s interest in philosophy.
Shortly after the death of Petar I, his will, according to which his nephew Radivoje - Rade Petrović became heir to the throne of Peter I, was read before the assembled nobles and the people, on the threshing floor in front of the Cetinje Monastery. Assembly of Montenegro and the Hills confirmed this choice. Archimandrite of the Ostrog Monastery, Josif Pavicevic ordained a bishop"s successor, according to the church rules. In the monkhood he was given the name Petar. In February of 1831, Prizren’s Bishop Hadži Zaharija Antonija ordained Peter II for hierodeacon and priest and made him Archimandrite in the Assumption church on the island of Kom, in the Skadar Lake.
Njegoš as Ruler
Objectives of Njegoš’s state policy can be summarized in four basic principles: work on the political liberation of the Slavs in general; expansion of the territory of Montenegro, building the internal legal, administrative and military organization, raising the religious, educational and cultural life of the nation. By this, he was building a Montenegrin reputation in the World.
At the beginning of Njegoš’s rule, resistance towards his authority emerged by the Montenegrin governor. Aided by chiefs, Njegoš abolished governor rank in 1830, and expelled the last governor Vuk Radonjić from Montenegro in 1832. In October 1831, he formed Senate of Montenegro and the Hills. In the same year, he formed units called Gvardija and Perjanici. He changed the structure of the central and local authorities throughout the country. He managed to create a strong state apparatus which firmly implemented decisions of the central government. Tribal autonomy was significantly suppressed by this and the conditions for the country"s unity were created.
In 1833, a general tax obligation was introduced. He established the state treasury and budget from the tax income and financial assistance that he was receiving from Russia. Bodies which exercised judicial power, kept order in the provinces, prevented conflicts and guarded the border were paid from the state budget. Since 1837, the state has maintained regular tax incomes and the tribes that refused to pay state taxes were being punished. In 1838, he raised his Biljarda (Billiard House) and placed the Senate and his residence in it.
The internal situation in Montenegro at the time of Petar II was burdened by the Montenegrin and Ottoman border relations. Montenegrin ruler undertook two unsuccessful attacks to liberate Podgorica in late 1831 and at the beginning of 1832. After two attacks on Podgorica, Njegoš withdrew from further conflict with the Ottomans. Russia, who was the main protector and patron of Montenegro at the time, insisted on the maintenance of peace between Montenegro and Ottoman Empire. However, turbulences on Montenegrin and Ottoman border have always existed, equally towards Herzegovina and Shkodër sanjaks. Disagreements between Montenegro and Herzegovinian Pasha were about Grahovo. Grahovo was the meeting place of hero troops called “hajduci” who raided from Montenegro on Herzegovina. These troops were aided and encouraged by Petar II, who wanted to annex Grahovo to Montenegro. Therefore conflicts between Herzegovinian Ali-Pasha Stočević Rizvanbegović and Njegoš arose. An increase in conflict occurred in Grahovo in 1836, when the Ottoman army defeated Montenegrin. Njegoš continued to help people from Grahovo so Ali Pasha finally agreed to resolve the dispute peacefully. Bishop and Ali-Pasha met in Grahovo. A peace agreement was reached on October 20th of 1838. According to this agreement, Grahovo remained part of the Ottoman Empire, but the population got benefits and safety and property were guaranteed to them. The final agreement on the Montenegro and the Ottoman Empire borders separation towards Herzegovina was signed on September 24th of 1842 in Dubrovnik.
By developing a strong propaganda among tribes from hills and Herzegovina, Bishop Petar II intended to unite the Orthodox population in the fight against the Ottomans. One of the most dangerous enemies to these bishop’s plans was Smail-Aga Čengić. That’s why during 1840, the bishop summoned chiefs from Drobnjaci and Morača three times in order to agree on how to kill Smail-Aga. One Drobnjaci troop attacked on September 23rd the camp of Smail-Aga in the village of Mljetičak. After a brief struggle, Smail-Aga was killed.
Many more problems Njegoš had with the Ottoman governors from Shkodër, especially with Osman Pasha Skopljak, who in 1843 became pasha of Shkodër. In 1846, while Njegoš stayed in Austria, Osman Pasha organized a rebellion in Crmnička nahija. The rebellion was supressed in 1847, and the leaders of the rebellion were later captured and executed.
Osman Pasha was bribing tribes of Kuči, Vasojevići, Bjelopavlići and Piperi and thus directly influenced on establishing and maintaining a strong Ottoman political power within these tribes. This was a barrier to the integration of these tribes in Montenegrin state policy.
Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš died of tuberculosis on October 31st of 1851, at the time the most tragic for Montenegro, when Omer Pasha Latas was preparing to attack. He was buried in Cetinje Monastery, and later his remains were transferred to the chapel on Lovćen, which he built in 1845.
Njegoš and Russia
In Russia he was consecrated for Metropolitan.
During Njegoš’s stay in Russia, the President of the Senate Ivan Vukotić and Vice President Matej Vučićević established a relationship with unsatisfied nobles in order to gain power. Upon arrival, Petar II expelled both of them from the country. When in 1836 a famine broke out in Montenegro, dissatisfaction with his rule was expressed. Because of intrigues that circulated around Petar II, the Russian government has formed a special committee headed by Consul Jeremije Gagić in order to examine the merits of this dissatisfaction. The investigation completed in favor of Petar II Petrović Njegoš. Severe internal and external circumstances have caused his second trip to Russia in 1837. He was well received in St. Petersburg. It was accepted that Montenegro, in order to strengthen the state power, in the future receives a subsidy of 80,000 assignation rubles. Assistance to Montenegro was increased from one thousand to nine thousand ducats. Lieutenant Jakov Ozereckovski arrived from Russia to Montenegro with Njegoš with a task to personally collect information about Montenegro for the Emperor, to provide useful advices to the Bishop and to consider all the accusations against him. After Ozereckovski, Russian emissaries - Mining Officer Jegor Kovaljevski and Officer Čevkin stayed in Montenegro
Njegoš and Austria
In the relations between Montenegro and Austria during Njegoš’s rule, the main subject of dispute was the undefined border between the two countries, as well as the question of status and ownership of the monasteries Maine and Stanjevići, who were on the Austrian territory, but owned by the Montenegrin Metropolitan. Since because of these issues the relations between Montenegro and Austria were intense, Austria proposed separation of borders in the disputed areas to the Bishop. In the notice that Viennese government sent to Njegoš and Senate, Montenegro is treated as an independent state with which it is necessary to establish the fair relationship of mutual interest. Bishop at first refused to agree to the division which was proposed by Austria. He demanded that Austria previously recognizes Montenegro"s right to Stanjevići and Podmaine, but they did not agree to that. Austria was particularly anxious to finally extrude Montenegrins from the Coast by threatening them that if they do not agree, it will prohibit Market in Kotor and cut off any commercial relationship between Montenegro and Boka. Bishop was eventually forced to negotiate with Austria on demarcation. He previously sold Maine Monastery to Austria in 1837, and during the separation of borders between Montenegro and Austria in 1839, he sold Stanjevići Monastery. Njegoš got 35.000 thalers for both monasteries. After work on the demarcation being interrupted on several occasions and followed by armed conflicts, an agreement on the final demarcation was signed in 1841 with arbitration of Russia.
Njegoš’s Printing House and First Schools in Montenegro
At the very beginning of his reign Njegoš decided to work on improving educational opportunities in Montenegro. In 1833 Bishop bought a printing press thanks to the financial support he received from Russia and got a large number of books for church purposes and for his personal library.
In 1834 Njegoš opened the first secular school in Montenegro. School operated in Cetinje Monastery.
The Montenegrin yearbook and magazine Grlica (1835–1839) was published in the newly established printing house. In this printing house Njegoš has printed his works: Lijek jarosti turske, Pustinjak cetinjski (1835), Oda stupljenija na presto Ferdinanda I imperatora austriskoga i kralja madžarskoga i pr. i pr. i pr.; Trebnik (1837); works of Dimitrije Milaković: Srbska gramatika – sastavljena za crnogorsku mladež i Srbski bukvar; Preprava za istoriju sveta by August Ludwig von Schlözer; Dika crnogorska by Sima Milutinović Sarajlija; Narodne srpske poslovice i druge različne, kao one u običaj uzete riječi by Vuk Stefanović Karadžić.
Petar II Petrović Njegoš belonged to one of the most educated rulers and statesmen of his time. He had read the original works of Voltaire, Hugo, and Buffon’s Natural History. He maintained connections with renowned writers of his time: Vuk Karadžić, Ivan Mažuranić, Stanko Vraz, Petar Preradović, Ljudevit Gaj and others. Contemporaries say that Njegoš spoke French and Italian fluently and was able to use German language. In his personality Petar II Petrović Njegoš united an Orthodox metropolitan, statesman, poet and philosopher.
He began writing poetry at the age of 14. The first poems were written under the influence of epic folk poetry that left a strong mark on his entire creation. One of his first writings was a funny poem about nuptials from Ćeklići. In 1833, in his Pjevanija crnogorska i hercegovačka, Sima Milutinović published five Njegoš’s heroic poems. In 1834 Njegoš printed his first collection of ten poems. The most significant are: Zarobljeni Crnogorac and Crnogorac k svemogućem Bogu. That same year he published four heroic poems: Pjesma za Vida i Mirčetu, Vuk prijatelj ovčji, Udarac na Martiniće and Lijek jarosti turske. Njegoš wrote nearly eighty lyric and epic poems. The most of them was published during his lifetime.
During forties, Njegoš’s creation moves to a higher stage. There could be noticed a new quality in the expression, spirit, mind and language. New poetic structures show that Njegoš mastered the highest forms of art. From this kind of inspiration a poem Misao was born in 1844. This song was kind of a prolegomena to the famous poem Luča mikrokozma. Key ideas and motive of Ray could be found here in less developed form.
Njegoš’s most mature philosophical work is Luča mikrokozma, which he dedicated to his master, Simo Milutinovic
Sarajlija. Work was printed in 1845 in Belgrade. Title of the work is symbolic. Ray represents: the spirit, the idea, the particle of spiritual fire in man. It also represents an artfully arranged version of the pre-existence of human life in terms of New Platonism. Situation before the creation of the world and the creative forces that participated in the process of organizing and creating are being described. The goal of creating and rules of world order too. Luča mikrokozma is a complete cosmogony and theogony significantly related to ancient works that have attempted to discover the secret of creation and the meaning of human existence on Earth.
All the wealth of Njegoš’s thoughts and his inner necessity to provide an answer to the complex problems of existence reached the greatest poetic expression In Luča. Njegoš used the religious and mythological storyline in order to express his basic ideas about humans, the world, God, immortality, the universe, the First Cause, the laws of nature. However, a deeper understanding of the theoretical basis of Luča mikrokozma leads to the assumption that the plot of the poem is in the function of poet‘s outstanding interest in philosophical and metaphysical problems, the specific characteristics of the world"s beings, such as: spirit, matter, light, nature, substance, movement, atoms, space, time, eternity, space, chaos, infinity, finality, causality, purpose, necessity, coincidence, process... He included these characteristics in his general view of the world. Poem seeks to answer a number of anthropological, ontological, religious and metaphysical questions. Here are noticeable influences of: Hesiod, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Byron, Lessing, writers like Klopstock, Milton, Goethe, Lamartine, the Bible, etc.
During his stay in Vienna in 1846 and 1847, Njegoš published his biggest and most important work Gorski vijenac (The Mountain Wreath – 1847) the printing house of Armenian monastic order of Mechitarists. According to many authors, this is the greatest work of Yugoslav literature. Formal subject of Gorski vijenac is "the persecution of Christians who had been converted to Islam”, a historic event in Montenegro in the early eighteenth century. But the real subject of the poem is constant struggle. It is a clash of people, nations, civilizations, their ideas and views, confrontation of different philosophical and religious movements and understandings of the world. Gorski vijenac is a political drama whose main subject is the freedom and liberation of the people, by which it occupies a very important place in the patriotic literature. It has served as an inspiration to many generations in their literary and artistic acts. Base of Gorski vijenac is made of epic consciousness and ethics of people, the impact of eminent works of world literature, and connections with numerous philosophical influences of the time. All the history of the Montenegrin people, its morality, culture, experience, psychology, traditions, political and social thought is included in Gorski vijenac. But it is also the work in which the Yugoslav idea is clearly emphasized. Therefore Gorski vijenac expresses universal values close to all of our people. In the cultural tradition of the Yugoslav people there is no greater interest to any literal work.
Besides these works he has written Svobodijada, Kula Đurišića and Čardak Aleksića, and published a collection of poems Ogledalo srpsko. The last work that Njegoš has written is Lažni car Šćepan Mali, published in Trieste in 1851.
Istorijski leksikon Crne Gore / [autori Šerbo Rastoder ... et al.]. – Knj. 5: Per-Ž, Podgorica : Daily Press, 2006, pages 999-1002.
Tomović, Slobodan: U povodu 175 godina Njegoševa rođenja, Susreti: revija Matice iseljenika Crne Gore, god. IX, br. 100 (januar 1989), page 28.