Montenegro called by the natives Tchernagora, and by the Turks Karadagh, i.e., Black Mountains, in view of the dark appearance of the wooded hills of this remarkably mountainous country, is a semi-independent Slavish principality, between lat. 420 10' and 420 56' N., and long. 180 41' and 200 22' E.; bounded on the north by the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the south and east by Albania, and on the west by the Dalmatian circle of Cattaro, and covering a territory of 3738 square miles, with a population of about 311,000.
General Description. — The country is very mountainous, and agriculture is therefore prosecuted to a moderate extent only, and in a very rude and primitive manner. The products are like those of other European lands of the same latitudes. "The general aspect of Montenegro," says Wilkinson, the celebrated English traveller, "is that of a succession of elevated ridges, diversified here and there by a lofty mountain-peak, and in some parts looking like a sea of immense waves turned into stone. Trees and bushes grow amid the crags, and in the rugged district of Ceoo the fissures in the rocks are like a glacier, which no horse could pass over without breaking its legs. The mountains are all limestone, as in Dalmatia; but in no part of that country do they appear to be tossed about as in Montenegro, where a circuitous track, barely indicated by some large loose stones, calling itself a road, enables a man on foot with difficulty to pass from the crest of one ascent to another. Some idea of the rugged character of the country may be formed from the impression of the people themselves, who say that 'when God was in the act of distributing stones over the earth, the bag that held them burst, and let them all fall upon Montenegro.' The chief productions cultivated there are Indian corn and potatoes; cabbages, cauliflowers, and tobacco are also grown in great quantities, and vegetables are among the principal exports of Montenegro. Potatoes, indeed, have been a most profitable acquisition to the poor mountaineers, as well for home consumption as for exportation, since their introduction in 1786" (Dalmatia and Montenegro London, 1848, 2 volumes, 8vol, 1:411-413). Besides agriculture, the chief occupation of the Montenegrins is fishing. There are few who exercise any trade, though some perform the offices of blacksmiths, farriers, or whatever else their immediate wants may require. They are knit together in clans and families, and have many feuds among themselves, which are perpetuated by the hereditary obligation of avenging blood. In their disposition towards strangers they are, like most mountaineers, hospitable and courteous, and bear a friendly feeling for those who sympathize with their high notions of independence and devotion to their country. They are cheerful hi manner, and though very rude, yet by no means uncouth. Education among them is at a very low ebb; in fact, it is held in contempt, and many, even among the priests, are unable to read or write. In 1841 several schools were established, and the art of printing introduced; but the unsettled state of the country has hitherto prevented much improvement. Their language is a very pure Servian dialect, called by Krasinski "the nearest of all the Slavonian dialects to the original Slavonic tongue; that is, that into which the Scriptures were translated by St. Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century, and which still continues to be the sacred tongue of all the Slavonian nations who follow the Eastern Church." There are no towns in Montenegro, and the largest village contains only 1200 inhabitants. Cettigne or Tzettinie, the seat of government, contains between twenty and thirty well-built houses, besides a convent and the palace of the prince of Montenegro. The villages are unwalled; the houses, or rather huts, which compose them are very rarely provided with chimneys, and in the elevated districts are more wretched in appearance than even the mud-hovels of Ireland. "The houses," says Wilkinson, "are of stone, generally with thatched roofs, but many are covered partly or entirely with wooden shingles, a mode of roofing very common in Slavonic countries. Some of the better kinds are roofed with tiles, on which large stones, the primitive nails of Montenegro, are ranged in squares, to keep them from being torn off by the wind. Each house generally contains one or two rooms on the ground-floor, with a loft above, occupying the space between the gables, where they keep their Indian corn and other stores. The ascent to it is by a ladder, applied to a square hole in its floor, calling itself a door; and this floor, which performs the part of ceiling to the lower room, is frequently of wicker-work, laid on rafters running from wall to wall. The lower room is at once the parlor, the sleeping-room, and the kitchen; but in the small villages the houses have no loft, and their style of building is very primitive, the walls being merely of rude stones, without cement, and the roof of the coarsest thatch. In the better kind of houses is a bedstead, standing in one corner of the room. It may be styled a large bench, and generally consists of planks resting on a simple frame, having the head and one side to the wall; and a foot-board, with a post running up to the ceiling, completes the whole wood-work. Those who can afford it have a large mattress and quilt, or blankets; but no Montenegrinbed is encumbered with curtains or sheets, and the only extras seen upon it are intended for warmth, in which the struccha [somewhat like the Scotch plaid, and worn by both sexes over their shoulders] performs an essential part. Native visitors are satisfied to roll themselves up in their strucche and lie on the floor, which is the bare earth; and the poorer people, who cannot afford bedsteads, do the same at their homes, though this is no great hardship to the Montenegrin, who is accustomed, as long as the season will allow him, to sleep out of doors, upon the ground, or on a bench made of stones and mud. But whether in or out of the house, in a bed or on the ground, the Montenegrin always keeps on his clothes, his arms are close to his side, and when aroused by any alarm, or by the approach of morning, he is up at the shortest notice; and no toilet intervenes, on ordinary occasions, between his rising and his pipe. The embers of the fire, which had been covered up with ashes the night before, are then scraped up, and the usual habits of the day begin. The fireplace, which is in another corner of the room, is a raised hearth on the floor, with a caldron suspended from a ring above; it also serves as an oven, the Montenegrin bread being merely dough baked in ashes, as by the Arabs now and by the patriarchs of old, and without leaven. Chimneys are an unknown luxury in most Montenegrin houses, and the smoke escapes as it can. The furniture is not abundant, consisting of a bench, a few wooden stools, and a simple table; and the only brilliant-looking objects in the house are the arms and dresses of the inmates. Clocks or watches are also luxuries unknown to Montenegro, except at Tzettinie and the convents, and the only mode of ascertaining time is by watching the sun, or by common hour-glasses, and an occasional sundial. In some of the wildest mountain districts the houses or huts are of the meanest character, made of rough stones piled one on the other, or of mere wicker-work, and covered with the rudest thatch, the whole building being merely a few feet high. Few houses in Montenegro have an upper story, except at Tzettinie, Rieka, and some other places, where they are better built than in the generality of the villages, of solid stone, and roofed with tiles. Warm houses are indeed very requisite there in winter, when it is very cold, the level of the whole country being considerably above the sea, amid lofty peaks covered with snow during many months, and subject to stormy winds that blow over a long range of bleak mountains. The climate, however, is healthy, and these hardy people are remarkable for longevity.
"Both men and women are very robust, and they are known to carry as much as 200 funti (about 175 pounds) on their shoulders, over the steepest and most rugged rocks. All appear muscular, strong, and hardy in Montenegro; and the knotted trees, as they grow amid the crags, seem to be emblematic of their country, and in character with the tough, sinewy fibre of the inhabitants. But, though able, the men are seldom inclined to carry anything, or take any trouble that they can transfer to the women, who are the beasts of burden in Montenegro; and one sees women toiling up the steepest hills under loads which men seldom carry in other countries. They are therefore very muscular and strong, and the beauty they frequently possess is soon lost by the hard and coarse complexions they acquire, their youth being generally exhausted by laborious and unfeminine occupations. The sheaves of Indian corn, the bundles of wood, and everything required for the house or the granary are carried by women; and the men are supposed to be too much interested about the nobler pursuits of war or pillage to have time to attend to meaner labors. As soon as the tillage of the lands is performed, they think they have done all the duties incumbent upon men; the inferior drudgery is the province of the women, and the Montenegrin toils only when his inclination demands the effort. The men therefore (as often is the case in that state of society), whenever active and exciting pursuits are wanting, instead of returning to participate in or lighten the toils necessity had imposed on the women, are contented to smoke the pipe of idleness or indulge in desultory talk, imagining that they maintain the dignity of their sex by reducing women to the condition of slaves. The men wear a white or yellow cloth frock, reaching nearly to the knees, secured by a sash around the waist; under it is a red cloth vest, and over it a red or green jacket without sleeves, both richly embroidered, and the whole covered by a jacket bordered with fur. They wear a red Fez cap, and white or red turban, below which protrudes at the back of the neck a long lock of hair. The women wear a flock or pelisse of white cloth and open in front, but much longer than that of the men, and trimmed with various devices, and with gold ornaments in front as well as around the neck. The red cap of the girls is covered with Turkish coins arranged like scales. The red cap of the married women has, instead of coins, a black silk border, and on gala days a bandeau of gold ornaments. Women and men wear opanche (sandals), the soles of which are made of untanned ox-hide, with the hair taken off, and that side outward, and these enable them to run over the steepest and most slippery rocks with facility. The marriage ceremonies are celebrated with great signs of rejoicing. Eating and drinking form a principal part of the festivity, with the noisy discharge of guns and pistols, and the duration of the entertainment depends on the condition of the parties." When a young man resolves on marrying, he expresses the wish to the oldest and nearest relation of his family, who repairs to the house of the girl, and asks her parents to consent to the match. This is seldom refused; but if the girl objects to the suitor, he induces some of his friends to join him and carry her off; which done, he obtains the blessing of a priest, and the matter is then arranged with the parents. The bride only receives her clothes, and some cattle, for her dowry.
Political Divisions and Government. — Montenegro is divided into the districts of Montenegro Proper and Brda or Zjeta, each of these being subdivided into four "nahies" or departments, and these are further subdivided, each subdivision having its own hereditary chief. Some islands in the Lake of Scutari also belong to Montenegro. Until 1852 the head of the government was the Vladika ("metropolitan," or "spiritual chief"), who, besides his proper office of archbishop and ecclesiastical superior, was at the same time chief ruler, lawgiver, judge, and military leader. This theocratic administration became (1697) hereditary in the Petrovitch family, but as the vladika cannot marry, the dignity was inherited through brothers and nephews. (See below.) Since 1852 the two offices have been disjoined, and the vladika is restricted to his ecclesiastical office, while the cares of government devolve upon the "Gospodar" (" hospodar") or lord, though the common people still apply to him the title "sveti gospodar," which properly belongs to the vladika alone. The vladika Pietro II (1830- 51) established a senate of sixteen members, elected from the chief families of the country, and in this body the executive power is vested. The public officers, local judges, and public representatives are appointed by popular election. From time to time an Assembly of all the adult males of the country takes place in a grassy hollow near Cettigne, the capital; but the powers of this assembly are very undefined. For defraying the expenses of government, taxes are levied on each household. The prince also receives from Russia a subsidy of 8000 ducats (£3733), and from France one of 50,000 francs (£1980). As the Montenegrin, even when engaged in agricultural operations, is always armed with rifle, vataghlan, and pistols, an army of 26,000 men can be summoned on the shortest notice, and in desperate cases 14,000 more troops can be raised. Their intense love of independence and heroism in defence of their country are worthy of the highest respect; but out of their own country they are savage barbarians, who destroy with fire and sword everything they cannot carry off.
History. — Montenegro belonged in the Middle Ages to the great Servian kingdom, but after the dismemberment of the latter, and its conquest by the Turks at the battle of Kossovo (1389), the Montenegrins, under their prince, who was of the royal blood of Servia, maintained their independence, though compelled to relinquish the level tracts about Scutari. with their chief fortress of Zabliak, and confine themselves to the mountains (1485). In 1516 their last secular prince resigned his office, and transferred the government to the vladika. The Porte continued to assert its claim to Montenegro, and included it in the pachalic of Scutari; but the country: was not conquered till 1719, and on the withdrawal of the Turks soon afterwards, it resumed its independence. In 1710 Montenegro sought and obtained the protection of Russia, the czar agreeing to grant an annual subsidy on condition of harassing the Turks by inroads, and this compact has, down to the present time, been faithfully observed by both parties. Another part of the agreement was that the vladika be consecrated by the czar, and this continues to be done even now, though this officer is at present only an ecclesiastical ruler. In 1796 the prince-bishop, Pietro I, defeated the pacha of Scutari, who had invaded Montenegro, with the loss of 30,000 men; and for the next quarter of a century we hear no more of Turkish invasions. The Montenegrins rendered important aid to Russia in 1803 against the French in Dalmatia, and took a prominent part in the attack on Ragusa, the capture of Curzola, and other achievements. Pietro II, who ruled from 1830 to 1851, made great efforts to civilize his people and improve their condition. He established the senate, introduced schools, and endeavored, though unsuccessfully, to put an end to internal feuds and predatory expeditions into the neighboring provinces. Some Turkish districts having joined Montenegro, the Turks attacked the latter in 1832, but were repulsed. A dispute with Austria regarding the boundary resulted in a war, which was terminated by treaty in 1840. In 1851 the last prince- bishop died, and his successor, Danilo I, separated the religious from the secular supremacy, retaining the latter under the title of gospodar. This step caused the czar Nicholas to withdraw his subsidy (which was renewed, and the arrears paid, by the czar Alexander II), and the imposition of taxes thus rendered necessary caused great confusion. This was taken advantage of by the Turks, who, under Omer Pasha, invaded the country; but the intervention of the great powers compelled a treaty, February 15, 1853. Danilo, however, in vain endeavored to obtain the recognition of Montenegro as an independent power, though he repaired to the Paris Conference in 1857 for this purpose. He, moreover, greatly improved the laws and condition of the country. In 1860 the Montenegrins excited an insurrection against the Turkish rule in the Herzegovina, which was soon suppressed, and in return they themselves were so hard pressed by the Turks that they were glad to agree to a treaty (September 13, 1862) by which the sovereignty of the Sublime Porte over Montenegro was recognised, though the word itself consigning such authority is not stated in the compact. The present ruler of the country is Nikita, a man of good education, secured in Paris and Berlin, and an excellent politician, who has been actively engaged in seeking support from Austria, Russia, and Germany to establish the complete independence of his realm. Since the commencement of the Pan-Slavic movement he has enjoyed many favors from Russia, and received from its emperor in 1869, while on a visit to St. Petersburg, a historical sword, with the Servian inscription "God save the king." In 1874 new complications arose with Turkey on account of murders committed on the Albanian borders, and Montenegro declared war in January 1875; but a compromise was effected towards the end of the month. Since 1871 a political weekly has been published at Cettigne, and there are now telegraphic connections in the Montenegrin possessions. There is also a postoffice department, which was established with the aid of the Austrian government in 1872. The most recent improvements are of a character indicating a very rapid progress in culture.
Religion. — The Montenegrins are members of the Non-united Greek Church, excepting only a few Roman Catholics and Jews. The czar of Russia is recognised as the highest authority, for to him belongs the ordination of the Vladika, the spiritual head of the Montenegrin Church. As we have seen above, the vladika was formerly both temporal and spiritual ruler. He is now prince-bishop, and next to him in authority stands the archimandrite of the convent of Ostrok. Priests, of whom there are about 200, are ordained by the vladika, and are charged thirty dollars for admission to holy orders, the money going to the state. They join in war and in the other occupations of the people. The priests must also be married before they can come up for consecration, but the vladika is not allowed to marry; and as the office must be kept within the family to which it has descended since 1516, the succession always falls to a nephew, or some other male relative. The vladika has an annual revenue of $10,000.
The Montenegrin Greek Christians, who number, according to the Statistical Year-book of the Russian Empire (volume 2, 1871), 125,000, hate the pope equally as the Turks. They reject images, crucifixes, and pictures, and will not admit a Romanist without rebaptizing him. Monasticism exists to a small extent. Their principal convents are those of Tzetinie, Ostrok, and St. Stefano. See Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, volume 1, chapter 6; Krasinski, Montenegro and the Slavonians in Turkey (Lond. 1855); and the same author in the Brit. and For. Qu. Rev. July 1840; Vaclik, La Souverainte du Montenegro (Leipsic, 1858); Ubicini, Les Serbes du Turquie (Paris, 1865); Noe, Montenegro (Leipsic, 1870); Nightingale, Religious Ceremonies, pages 99-112; Daniels, Geographie, 2:61 sq.