Serbs of Montenegro
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Serbs of Montenegro
Serbs of Montenegro
? ? ?
Srbi u Crnoj Gori
Flags of the Serb community in Montenegro
Total population
Serbs in Montenegro: 178,110 (2011)[1]
Serbs-Montenegrins: 2,103 (2011)
Montenegrins-Serbs: 1,833 (2011)
Serbian Orthodox Church
Related ethnic groups
Other South Slavs, especially Montenegrins[a]

Serbs of Montenegro (Serbian: ? ? ? / Srbi u Crnoj Gori) or Montenegrin Serbs (Serbian: ?c C / Crnogorski Srbi),[b] compose the second largest ethnic group in Montenegro (28.7% of country's population),[4] after the Montenegrins. Additional 0.64% of the population is made up of Serbs-Montenegrins (?- / Srbi-Crnogorci) and Montenegrins-Serbs (-C / Crnogorci-Srbi). Serbs are a native population of Old Montenegro, Old Herzegovina, Brda, Ra?ka, Bay of Kotor and Zeta.


During the Slavic migrations of the 6th and 7th centuries, the territory of modern-day Montenegro was settled by Serbs, who created several principalities in the region.[5] In southern parts of modern Montenegro, Principality of Duklja was formed, while western parts belonged to the Principality of Travunija. Northern parts of modern Montenegro belonged to the inner Principality of Serbia. All of those early polities were described in historiographical works of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenetos (944-959).[6]

In 1018, all of Serbian principalities came under the supreme rule of the Byzantine Empire.[7] Regions of Duklja and Travunija broke away from Byzantine rule c. 1034-1042, under prince Stefan Vojislav, founder of the Vojislavljevi? dynasty. His son Mihailo I Vojislavljevi? (d. 1081) liberated Zahumlje and inner Serbia, creating a united Serbian polity and taking the title of king (c. 1077).[8] The reign of his son, King Constantine Bodin (d. 1100), was followed by a period of regional fragmentation, lasting throughout much of the 12th century.[7]

After 1180, all of what is today Montenegro came under the rule of Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja, the founder of the Nemanji? dynasty. The region of Zeta, formerly known as Duklja, became a crown land of the united Serbian state.[9] It was given to Vukan Nemanji? (d. 1208), the oldest son of Stefan Nemanja, and later to crown prince Stefan Radoslav, son of King Stefan Nemanji?, who succeeded his father as Serbian King in 1228. Thus it became a custom to grant the region to the heir of the throne or some other member of the royal family. In 1219, two dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church were created on the territory of modern-day Montenegro, Eparchy of Zeta centered in the Monastery of Holy Archangel Michael on Prevlaka, and Eparchy of Budimlja centered in the Monastery of ?ur?evi Stupovi. Several other monasteries also date to this period, such as: Mora?a, Praskvica, Vranjina, and others.[10] Serbian Despotate is the last independent medieval Serb state and it included most of modern-day Montenegro.

Saint Sava, born in Duklja, was a Serbian prince and the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Church

Montenegro saw independence under the Petrovi?-Njego? dynasty, at first as a principality and then as a kingdom. Both the Kingdom of Serbia and the Kingdom of Montenegro fought together as independent states in the Balkan Wars and in the First World War. At the end of the war in 1918 tensions arose between the two states as the Montenegrin Whites with Serbian support deposed Nicholas I of Montenegro and proclaimed Montenegro's unification with Serbia as part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed into Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929), while the Montenegrin Greens opposed it. The conflict led to the Christmas Uprising, in which the Whites with support from the Serbian army defeated the Greens.[11] During the period of the monarchic Yugoslavia, ruled by the Serbian Kara?or?evi? dynasty, the tensions between Serbs and Croats were increasing and most of the Montenegrin politicians supported the Serbian proposed centralised state.[]

Serbian Kingdom from 1217 to 1346, led by the Nemanji? dynasty

During the Second World War both Serbs and Montenegrins were very active in both resistance movements, the Yugoslav Partisans and the Yugoslav Army in the Fatherland known as the Chetniks. At the end of the war the socialist Yugoslavia was created and the two became republics within the Yugoslav federation.

Yugoslav Partisan Milovan ?ilas described himself as a Montenegrin Serb and described Montenegro as the spiritual homeland of Serbs, saying "I am not a Montenegrin because I am a Serb, but a Serb because I am a Montenegrin. We Montenegrins are the salt of the Serbs. All the strength of the Serbs is not here [in Montenegro] but their soul is."[12] ?ilas also has said "The Montenegrins are, despite provincial and historical differences, quintessentially Serbs, and Montenegro the cradle of Serbian myths and of aspirations for the unification of Serbs.".[12]

After the secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia in 1991 and 1992, SR Montenegro held the Montenegrin referendum in 1992 which ended with a 95.96% of votes in favour for a state union with Serbia and with the changing of the socialist political system towards a multi-party one. The country was renamed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In this period between 1990 and 1998 Montenegro was ruled by Momir Bulatovi? who had close relations with the Serbian president Slobodan Milo?evi? and who was very supportive to keep close ties between the two republics within the state union. Montenegro was also included by the economic sanctions imposed on Serbia during the 1990s. During the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia both Serbia and Montenegro suffered the attacks of the NATO forces and several targets inside Montenegro were also bombarded. All this contributed to the rise in power in Montenegro of Milo ?ukanovi? who was known to be much less sympathetic towards the Serbo-Montenegrin ties and would become an open supporter of the independence of Montenegro. In 2003, three years after the fall of Milo?evi? in 2000, and after insisting on international diplomacy, the former Yugoslavia became known as the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. The process of becoming a single state union ironically lead to the separation of the two states - a change which was officiated by the referendum on Montenegrin independence on 21 May 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. Of them, 230,661 votes or 55.5% were in favour of independence and 185,002 votes or 44.5% were against.[13]

Srbija na kraju XIII vijeka i sadasnje granice Crne Gore Dr?ava Nemanji?a, krajem XIII vijeka: 1. Milutinova teritorija; 2. Dragutinova dr?ava; 3. Dana?nje granice Crne Gore.(Izvor : Redakcija za Istoriju Crne Gore "Istorija Crne Gore, knjiga II-1, Titograd,1970.")
Nemanji? dynasty Serbia in the late XIII century and contemporary borders of Montenegro. 1.King Milutin's Serbia; 2.King Dragutin's Serbia; 3.Contemporary Montenegro;
Serbian Orthodox monasteries
Left: Ostrog, Right: Re?evi?i Monastery

Since independence, the Montenegrin society has been divided among many issues. The independence supporters are advocating for the creation of a separate Montenegrin language, regarded before as a dialect of the Serbian language, including the creation of a new Montenegrin Cyrillic alphabet which shares the same letters with the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet except for the addition of two new letters. The Serb population of Montenegro is opposed to the idea of a linguistic separation, just as they are opposed to the separation of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church from the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Montenegrin language eventually gained international recognition and was assigned the ISO 639-2 and -3 code [cnr] in December 2017.[14][15][16] However, the Montenegrin Orthodox Church is canonically unrecognized as of 2021.

In 2006, the NGO Serbian People's Council of Montenegro was created, headed by Mom?ilo Vuksanovi?, and in 2008 an official representative electoral body of Serbs in Montenegro was formed as the Serbian National Council of Montenegro, with Mom?ilo Vuksanovi? as president.[17]

The links between the two nations remain strong, and the fact that for the last two centuries a great number of Montenegrins had emigrated to Serbia further strengthens the ties. The Montenegrin littoral is still the main tourist destination for citizens of Serbia, and a large population of Serbians own property in Montenegro. Many of these properties consist of summer homes, and contribute to a seasonal influx of Serbs in Montenegro, during the summers. Despite the geopolitical separation, the economic balance and relationship shared between the two countries continues to be strong.[]



Miroslav Gospel created by order of Miroslav of Hum, Montenegrin Serb ruler.

The national language of Montenegro has historically and traditionally been called Serbian.[18] According to Pavle Ivi?, two sub-dialects of the Shtokavian dialect (of the Serbian language) were spoken in Montenegro: the Eastern Herzegovinian dialect and Zeta-South Sanjak dialect. The Eastern Herzegovinian dialect is spoken in Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Today, the national standard is based on the Zeta-South Sanjak dialect.

Some 42.9% of the population of the country speak Serbian as their mother tongue, including 37% of the declared Montenegrins. Serbian was the official language of Montenegro until 2007 when the new Constitution of Montenegro replaced the Constitution of 1992. Amid opposition from pro-Serbian parties,[19]

Montenegrin language was made the sole official language of the country and Serbian was given the status of a recognised minority language along with Bosnian, Albanian, and Croatian.[20] Since 2006, both in linguistic and other aspects of cultural life, ethnic Serbs of Montenegro have been exposed to gradual "non-coercive" "Montenegrinisation".[21]


Left: Serbian orthodox church in Kotor
Right: Cetinje Monastery, Serbian Orthodox monastery

The Serbs are adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the strongest religious institution of Montenegro (with a total of 460,383 followers or 74%).[22] One of the largest places of worship is the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica.

The future of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro has been threatened by the newly formed Montenegrin Orthodox Church which has claimed Serbian Orthodox churches in Montenegro, and is backed by a small percentage of the Orthodox Christians in Montenegro. The government has recognized the church, however none of the Eastern Orthodox churches have. The leader is the controversial Mira? Dedei?, a former Serbian Orthodox clergyman with Serbian nationalist views who, after being suspended from the Serbian Church, went to Rome and became a Greek Orthodox clergyman.[23]

Folk attire

Left: A Montenegrin cap with the Serbian cross
Right: Du?anka vest

The Montenegrin cap is a traditional cap worn by Montenegrins and Montenegrin Serbs, originally in the shape of a flat cylinder, having a red upper surface (called tepeluk) not dissimilar to the Herzegovina and Lika caps. It was wholly red until Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrovi? Njego? surrounded it with a black rim (called derevija),[24] and the definition given was as a sign of grief of occupied Kosovo. The Kosovo Myth was very popular in the Prince-Bishopric of Montenegro. The enforcement of the cap upon the Montenegrin chieftains by Peter II was a mark of expression of then's dominating Serbian national identity.[25] The national telling recorded the most often version of the cap as following: the black wrapper was sign of grief for the once big Empire, the red the bloody defeat at the Battle of Kosovo[26] and the five small stripes on the top represent the remaining remains of the once greater Serbian realm,[27] which became increasingly popular amongst the common folk during the reign of Prince Danilo I Petrovi?-Njego?. Within the stripes is angled a six star, representing the last free part, Montenegro, shining upon the fallen and conquered.[28] Worn by the rulers and chieftains, the version with the Four Ocil symbol in the star's place had become across the years with growth of nationalism excessively popular amongst the ordinary people, the symbol of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which effectively worked on maintaining and raising the national identity.


Ethnicity map of Montenegro, Serbs in blue
Linguistic map of Montenegro, Serbian in blue

According to the 2011 census, Serbs are the second largest ethnic group and constitute 28.7% of the population of Montenegro. They are absolute majority in three and relative majority in another three municipalities, and constitute less than 20% of population in only four out of total 21 municipalities in the country. The percentage of Serbs in municipalities of Montenegro is as follows:

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ See: Controversy over ethnic and linguistic identity in Montenegro
  2. ^ The correct political terms are Serbian: ?c C / crnogorski Srbi, meaning "Montenegrin Serbs", and C / Srbi Crnogorci meaning "Serbs Montenegrins". Specifically, Their regional autonym is simply / Crnogorci, literal meaning "Montenegrins",[2][3] the same as the ethnic group of Montenegrins). In the early modern times, before the Kingdom of Montenegro, people [living within present-day borders] were divided by the identities of Br?ani (; Brda), Hercegovci (?; Old Herzegovina), Bokelji (; Boka Kotorska) and Crnogorci (; Old Montenegro). ? ? ? / Srbi u Crnoj Gori, meaning "Serbs in Montenegro".


  1. ^ "Stanovni?tvo Crne Gore prema polu, tipu naselja, nacionalnoj, odnosno etni?koj pripadnosti, vjeroispovijesti i maternjem jeziku po op?tinama u Crnoj Gori" [Population of Montenegro by sex, type of settlement, national or ethnic affiliation, religion and mother tongue by municipalities in Montenegro] (PDF) (in Montenegrin). Retrieved 2021.
  2. ^ Charles Seignobos, Political History of Europe, since 1814, ed. S. M. Macvane, H. Holt and Company, New York, 1900, pp. 663-664; excerpt from chapter XXI The Christian Nations of The Balkans, subchapter Servia and Montenegro, passages Montenegro
  3. ^ "Projekat Rastko Cetinje - Slavenko Terzic - Ideoloski korijeni crnogorske nacije i crnogorskog separatizma". Retrieved 2011.
  4. ^ "Official results of the 2011 Montenegrin census" (PDF).
  5. ^ ?irkovi? 2004, p. 11-12.
  6. ^ Moravcsik 1967.
  7. ^ a b Fine 1991.
  8. ^ ?irkovi? 2004, p. 26-27.
  9. ^ David Luscombe; Jonathan Riley-Smith (14 October 2004). The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 4, C.1024-c.1198. Cambridge University Press. pp. 266-270. ISBN 978-0-521-41411-1.
  10. ^ ?irkovi? 2004.
  11. ^ Banac 1992, p. 285.
  12. ^ a b Elizabeth Roberts. Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro. London, England, UK: Cornell University Press, 2007. Pp. 1.
  13. ^ "Montenegro vote result confirmed". BBC News. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 2011.
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference iso6392 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ Cite error: The named reference iso6393 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  16. ^ "Montenegrin language ISO code [cnr] assigned o - MeP". 11 December 2017.
  17. ^ NARS (2010): Fourteenth Sitting of the Committee on Relations with Serbs Living Outside Serbia
  18. ^ cf. Roland Sussex, Paul Cubberly, The Slavic Languages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006; esp. v. pp. 73: "Serbia had used Serbian as an official language since 1814, and Montenegro even earlier.".
  19. ^ "Pro-Serbian parties oppose Montenegro constitution". 26 October 2007. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ "Ustav Crne Gore". Retrieved 2011.
  21. ^ Financial Times (2007): Neil MacDonald, Montenegro's ethnicity debate intensifies
  22. ^ see: Religion in Montenegro
  23. ^ Kostic, Stevan. "Rat i Mira?, ko je i ?ta pri?a prvi ?ovek nepriznate CPC" [War and Mirash, who is and what is the story of the first man of the unrecognized CPC]. Radio Television of Serbia (in Bosnian). Retrieved – via
  24. ^ "Crna Gora i Crnogorci" by Vuk Stefanovi? Karad?i?
  25. ^ "O najstarijoj kapi kod Jugoslovena..." by Miodrag Vlahovi?
  26. ^ Crna Gora... Narodni ?ivot i obi?aji" by Andrija Jovi?evi?
  27. ^ "Crnogorska mu?ka kapa" by Zorica Radulovi?
  28. ^ "Fizicki lik i izgled Njegosa" by Jovan Vukmanovi?


Primary sources
Secondary sources

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