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Monastery on a Montenegro island

History of Montenegro – the origins of your second home

History of Montenegro is very colourful, but as so many things on the Balkans, not as straightforward. Most of the time, the events that occured in this part of the world centuries ago, had a tendency to weigh heavily on the public’s consciousness. This is not that strange, and you might even say it’s typical for this part of the world, with the turbulent history of Montenegro being heavily spiced up by so many different people. 

The curious objective about Montenegro is that every single part of our tiny country can tell you a story about a different period of time, a story of Roman Empire or the story of modern Montenegro, but all the same a kind of story you will love hearing, and a kind of story we are about to start telling

Why is it important to know the history of Montenegro?

The answer could not be easier – history is a way you fall in love with a country. It is a first contact, a way to establish a connection of the times passed and understand the profound story it’s telling. History and tradition create trust, an unbreakable bond, allowing you to really appreciate the remnants of the past, and the legacy that is still tactile. Alive. 

We believe that Porto Montenegro marina is a great, luxurious addition of the great, heroic past and story we are about to present in the following lines. We believe that the way you look for your second home should lead through history, tradition and a rich heritage

All of these values are present and consisted in the life less ordinary we strive to provide for you, and we wouldn’t be able to do that without tapping into the past and allowing it to inspire us every step of the way.

Stormy weather in the bay

Montenegro history – the overview

The name Montenegro, as in the name of the state in this form was first mentioned in the Charter of King Milutin in 1276. It is widely believed that it got its name after the dense and thick forests on the mountain Lovcen, as well as the surrounding hills, since they seem almost black to the viewer. 

During the Roman Empire, Montenegro didn’t exist under that name. Instead, this territory was called Dulja (Doclea), or more precisely, it included the territory of Skadar lake and its surroundings. The state of Doclea got its independence in 1040. and a few decades afterwards (in 1077.), it was proclaimed Kingdom, thus becoming one of the first independent states in the Balkans

After becoming a kingdom, Doclea got a new name – Zeta. Being that we already established that the history of Montenegro has always been tumultuous, it wasn’t long before the political upheavals and the general unrest brought Zeta under the dominion of one other powerful empire – Byzantium, but that is a of story of Montenegro history worthy of its own introduction.

The Illyrian and Roman mark on the history of Montenegro

You know that the life of a certain area was long when its legacy dates back to BC era. The Illyrians were the first to inhabit the area during the Iron Age, with their language and culture spreading all cross the Balkan peninsula. Today we have material proof in the form of distinct Illyrian art such as amber and bronze jewelry. 

Since the federation that Illyrian tribes created on the Montenegrin territory was loose, the maritime Greeks managed to create their first coastal colonies on the sites of some Illyrian settlements.

The beginning of Slavic era in history of Montenegro

Being that Montenegro is majorly a Slavic country today, they had to arrive at some point of history of Montenegro. It is widely believed that they moved in the wake of the Avaras, highly conquering and invasive group of people, that had a huge impact on overall history of Europe. 

A great portion of history of the Balkans is dedicated to them, not to mention many renowned historians reflecting on their influence. Avars tangled with the Byzantines, desolating Doclea while rushing through the Balkans. 

However, they were crushed by the Byzantines in the end, putting a stop to their ambitious conquering endeavours. Their demise made room for Slavic people to spread rapidly through the Balkans, reaching the Adriatic by the early 7th century. Beside the Slavs that populated today’s Montenegro area, two related groups – Serbs and Croats, settled along the coast too as well as the mainland.

What became a distinct feature of these Slavic groups is that all of them were under the influence of Byzantine culture, which allowed Christianity to spread, leaving a mark on the overall history of Montenegro. 

Coastal town in Montenegro

First Slavic kingdoms

Soon after creation of first Slavic states – the Bulgarian and Serbian state (Raška), Duklja sprung out of the Roman town of Doclea, marking another important point in Montenegro history. Under its leader lord Vladimir, Duklja managed to expand its territory to Dubrovnik and remains of Raška. 

The expansion fueled confidence into Duklja, reinforcing to take first steps and rebel against Byzantium, and expand furthermore. This time, Duklja expanded along the Dalmatian coast and established the capital at Skadar lake – todays Shkodra in Albania. The highest extend Duklja got in the beginning of the 11th century when it managed to absorb the territory of the modern Bosnia. 

Zeta as the antecedent of modern Montenegro

Throughout the rise of Serbian state Raška, that including the period from 12th to 14th century, Zeta (the new name of Duklja), remained distinct from Serbia, due to its nobles reluctance to submit to the rulers of Raška. 

Nevertheless, rulers of Raška still appointed their heirs to oversee Zeta, which indicated the further separation of the two states. Raška went on to become Serbia, and Zeta is considered to be a true antecedent of Montenegro.

The history of Montenegro and its Ottoman chapter

While Raška was going through the death of their beloved conqueror king Dušan, inherited by his only son Uroš, Zeta too was going through a turmoil of its own. The Balšić family rose to prominence and established a base near Skadar, thus beginning claiming territories along the Adriatic coast.

North of the country was already unstable being that the Venetians reappeared, taking control of Kotor by 1420. Now, while this was going in Zeta, Serbian young king Uroš died, which caused the barons to begin squabbling amongst themselves. A simple conclusion can be derived – none of them were aware of the bigger threat steadily approaching the Balkans – the Ottoman Turks. 

By the 1441. the Ottomans managed to run through Serbia, and by 1470. rushed through the previously unbowed Zeta. Its then ruler – Ivan Crnojević,managed to bring a small fraction of survivors to easily defensible location high up on the Lovćen mountain, where he established a court and a monastery in what was to become an old capital of Montenegro – Cetinje

However, the Ottomans eventually managed to overrun Cetinje in 1514., thus opening a new chapter in Montenegro history – a period of Ottoman control.

The bay of Kotor

The Ottoman control and the coup

Even though the Turks managed to garner control over Montenegro, they eventually withdrew. The remote area where Cetinje is situated has always been inhospitable and barren, and the control of the Adriatic coastline has always been much more of a benefit to the Ottoman empire.

This part of Montenegro history is crucial, since Cetinje became a bastion of Orthodox church, the last stand holding out against Islam. This had happened due to the fact that Turks managed to take over Belgrade in 1521., that way ascertaining the indisputable dominance over Balkans.

However, thanks to Cetinje, Zeta maintained a certain degree of autonomy. The uncontrollable, warrior like nature of the Montenegrins in the lead the Ottomans to leave willingly, allowing the Venetians to extend control over the Adriatic coast and its numerous forts. 

This way, Zeta found itself between the clutches of the Venetian empire on one side, and the Ottoman on the other. 

The rettribution

The 17th century brought certain revelations. A series of different wars in Europe have exposed certain weaknesses of the previously invincible Ottoman war machinery. They even decided to remove the concession they previously bestowed on Montenegro, disrupting the peace, driving Montenegrins to coup.

The final rebellion against the Ottomans in Montenegro history

Centuries have passed, and yet, despite some sort of the autonomy, the Ottoman grip on Montenegro was still strong. The final rebelion first broke in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1875., where both Serbs and Montenegrins joined the coup, which escalated with serious territorial gain. 

Montenegro then managed to garner control over Nikišić, Podgorica, Žabljak, and a territory around Lake Skadar and the port of Bar. Finally, they got control over Ulcinj region on the Adriatic coast. With the Congress of Berlin in 1878. granting Montenegro and Serbia independence from the Ottomans, the Montenegro history finally caught a peaceful turn. 

But, the tumultuous soil of the Balkans never stood peaceful for long, and neither did the history of Montenegro continue along the path of peace.

The Balkan wars and the first Yugoslavia

Even though the turmoil got serious long before the beginning of the 20th century, the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) were the times when Montenegrins joined forces with Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks in an effort to overthrow the Ottomans once and for all. 

During the wars, Montenegro managed to gain Bijelo Polje, Berane and Plav, which is the first time the country’s boundary came close to Serbian border, for the first time in 500 years. This is also the time when Serbian-Montenegrin union was first suggested as an option – pragmatically supported by royals of the both countries. 

World Wars, Yugoslavia and the prelude to modern Montenegro history

Before the said union took place, the World War One intervened, and Montenegro entered it on the side of Serbia and the allies. When the Great War had its course, in the year of 1918. Montenegro ceased to exist, and became conjoined to the newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes – the first Yugoslavia. 

This caused a great deal of resentment in some fractions of the people, even more increased by the abolition of the Montenegrin church, which was now under the supremacy of the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate in Belgrade. This all took place during the first half of the 20th century, around the same time the Yugoslav Communist Party arose, with Josip Broz Tito became leader 1937. 

The boat and the bay

Tito and the Second Yugoslavia

This period was also marked by turmoil, with WWII coming very soon after the Great War. The devastation was out of the proportion, leaving millions dead, homeless and displaced in every possible way. For the Balkans area, also including the Montenegro history course, it has finally ended in 1944., when Tito marched into Belgrade with the Red Army by his side.

Soon after, the communist federation of Yugoslavia was established, a state where Tito was determined to create an environment where no ethnic group will dominate the political landscape. In this environment, Montenegro became one of the six republics, together with Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, BiH and Slovenia. 

This use to be a tight union, but nothing lasts forever, and neither did Yugoslavia. The union became fragile after Tito’s fallout with Stalin, until it finally ceased to exist upon Tito’s death in 1980. 

Modern history of Montenegro and its final independence

The modern history of Montenegro, especially after the crush of Yugoslavia, was probably the most tumultuous sequence in Montenegro history altogether. With the former republics dropping off the union one by one, the Milosevic regime, the bloody war in Bosnia and NATO bombarding of the country, Montenegro again insisted on garnering and defining their own distinct identity. 

Finally, in 2006, a majority of Montenegrins voted for independence, and the modern state of Montenegro was formed. In 2011. the country adopted the law that admits the role of the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty, mainly in promoting the country’s values and culture. 

Porto Montenegro – a shiny example of the new course in Montenegro history

As we mentioned earlier, the past is our great inspiration, and we have an earnest and immense desire to display it in subtle details, primarily in the architecture style we used, as well as interior design and the insistence for exploring and deeply discovering our country and its rich heritage. 

We hope you fall in love with it too, its history, its nature and its candor, and choose Porto Montenegro rentals to be your second home!