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|Sveti Petar Cetinjski
Saint Peter of Cetinje
Icon of Saint Peter of Cetinje
|Honored in||Eastern Orthodox Church|
|Feast||October 31 (Gregorian calendar), October 18 (Julian calendar)|
|Patronage||Cetinje, present-day Montenegro|
Petar I Petrović Njegoš (St. Peter of Cetinje) (1747–1830) (Serbian Cyrillic: Петар I Петровић Његош, Свети Петар Цетињски) was the ruler of Montenegro, the Cetinje Episcop of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Serbian: Владика or Vladika) and Exarch (claimholder) of the Serbian Orthodox Church throne. He was the most popular spiritual and military leader from the Petrović dynasty. During his long rule, Petar strengthened the state by uniting the often quarreling tribes, consolidating his control over Montenegrin lands, introducing the first laws in Montenegro (Законик Петра I or Zakonik Petra I) and launching the first program of national liberation and unification of Serbs.
He had unquestioned moral authority strengthened by his military successes. His rule prepared Montenegro for the subsequent introduction of modern institutions of the state: taxes, schools and larger commercial enterprises. He was made a bishop in 1784. During his trip to Russia (1785), Montenegro was attacked by Turkish forces. When Vladika Petar I returned from Russia, he began a war of liberation. At the crucial battle at Krusi (a village in Lješanska nahija) the Turkish Army of 30,000 led by Mahmut-Paša Bušatlija and assisted with seven French officers was defeated with heavy casualties by a force of 6,000 Montenegrins led by Vladika Petar I (3 Oct. 1796). In this famous battle Mahmut-pasha was killed. After the victory Petar enlarged the territory of Montenegro and became virtually independent of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1806, the troops of Napoleonic France advanced toward the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The Montenegrin army led by Vladika Petar I, aided by several Russian battalions and the fleet of Admiral Dmitry Senyavin pushed them back to Dubrovnik. But soon after, Russian Tsar Alexander I asked Montenegrins to relinquish control of Boka to Austria. However, after Montenegrins retreated to Herceg Novi, Alexander changed his mind again, and with a help of Montenegrins conquered Brač and Korčula. In the meantime, France encouraged Turkey to attack Russia, which withdrew its fleet from the Adriatic to defend the Ionian islands. The Treaty of Tilsit (1807) between Russia and France granted the control of the Bay of Kotor to France.
In 1807-1812 Turkish forces supported by France attacked Brda and Montenegro several times, but were defeated. In 1813, the Montenegrin army, supported by Russia and Britain, liberated the Bay of Kotor from the French. However, at the Congress of Vienna, control of the Bay of Kotor was granted to the Austrian Empire and Montenegro's independence was not recognised. Following this disappointment Montenegro entered very difficult times. Thousands of Montenegrins starved to death. Hundreds of Montenegrin families emigrated to Imperial Russia and Serbia.
This setback in victory was difficult not only on the Serb land of Montenegro and its people, but also on Petar I himself. Montenegro had thereby been deprived of an outlet to the sea, to the world, and was once again bound in shackles. The Bay of Kotor remained under foreign rule, deprived of even of those privileges its towns and captains had enjoyed under the Republic of Venice. Now it was one of many counties of a vast, multinational Habsburg Monarchy. Nevertheless, these wars had not been in vain. They brought the name of the Serb land of Montenegro to the fore, before Europe and the rest of the world.
The Russian historian Pavel Rovinsky writes, according to Francois Lenormant that there could have been no interest in Montenegro before the 18th century because to Catholic Europe Montenegro was a schismatic country. Nor had Montenegro's individuality come to the attention of the world before the 18th century. Not much was to be known about Montenegro even later. The German seventh edition of Brockhaus Enzyklopädie stated in 1827 that its capital was called Atinje and that it was inhabited by robbers -- "a free robber people."
Petar was the conceiver of a plan to form a new Serbian Empire out of Bosnia, Serbia, Herzegovina and Montenegro with Boka, with Dubrovnik as its Imperial Capital. In 1807, he sent a letter to the Russian General of the Danube Army regarding this subject: "The Russian Czar would be recognized as the Tsar of the Serbs and the Metropolitan of Montenegro would be his assistant. The leading role in the restoration of the Serbian Empire belongs to Montenegro."
He was canonised as Saint Peter of Cetinje by his successor Petar II Petrović Njegoš. The Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates him on October 31, Gregorian calendar, which is October 18 in the Julian calendar.
|Prince-Episcope of Montenegro