We are introduced as children to the stories about people who deserved their place in history books and who are mentioned in the folk tales. Today in the age of the internet, you are able to find out many fascinating facts about the historical characters.Unfortunately some of them were not picked up by a historical facts so many things remain unknown about them even though they were able to be a beacon of their respected epochs. Throughout history Montenegro was home to many intelligent and renowned people whose ideas carried to the end of the world. Among them are the following peculiar personalities, somewhat forgotten protagonists of history.
Russian emperor on the throne of Petrovic dynasty
The Montenegrin people had spent most of the seventeenth century fighting their oppressors and most of these battles were pitched in mountainous terrain, there were also inner tribal clashes, substantially it was fight for every day survival. An unknown man, a herbalist, and an outstanding orator, had presented himself in front of the Montenegrins in 1766. The rumors are spread that he is nobody else then the executed Russian Tsar Petar III Romanov. The appearance of “Russian Tsar” was a very exciting event for that day’s Montenegrins. Shortly after that this stranger was elected as an overall ruler of Montenegro by a tribal assembly in 1767. “Russian Tsar” who was an archbishop (vladika) of Montenegro is known in history as a False Tsar Scepan The Little (lažni car Šćepan Mali). This capable and educated man who probably originated from the central Montenegro or one of the western Serbian lands, was able to make the Montenegrins to believe that he is the one who is going to bring them peace and freedom.
The rule of Scepan Mali was ended in 1773, as he was killed by his servant which is ordered by foreign powers. In spite of his names “little” and “false”,, Scepan Mali also could deserve to be called “Great” and ” Lawmaker”. For the reason that he managed to: make amends between the warring tribes: centralize the power and form the first permanent legislative body in Montenegro; and he was calling on the liberation and unification of all Balkan’s Serbs.
Antun the Casanova’s friends from Budva
Antun Ante Zanovic was possibly born in 1720 in a rich Croatian merchant family in Montenegrin Budva. He and his numerous family had lived in Venice for many years and he was a tavern keeper. Zanovic was a big lover of cards and his gambling houses were favorite places for everyone who want some entertainment to play cards and have a good time. The legend goes that he was a close friend to a great lover Casanova. Their friendship had ended when Zanovic was thrown out by Venetian authorities due to huge gambling scandals. His two sons Stjepan and Pribislav followed in their father’s footsteps, their life stories can be made in to a movie. Stjepan was an intellectual whose pen friend was Russo and other French reformists, he had a published an interesting literary work called “Turkish letters” in Italian and French. Zanovic was a welcomed guest in French and Prussian court, a great friend of the Polish hetman. There were some dark sides of him such as gambling problems, business frauds, planning of royal coup d’état. This adventurer planned to become a king of Poland, he had tried to persuade the Prussian King Friedrich the Great to hire Montenegrin mercenaries and he asked the tsarina Catharine the Great to make him a Cossack hetman.
Stjepan Zanovic had honored himself with many titles such as the duke of Albania, king of Poland and the heir to Raska. Just like his father Stjepan was a friend with Casanova, and available records show that he was not far behind Casanova when we are talking about the seductive skills. Casanova had wrote in his memoirs that Stjepan Zanovic died in the Dutch prison in 1786, convicted as scammer, Zanovic choose to take his own life.
Polish ally, the Duchy of Holmia
The first decades of XIX century had shown clearly that the Ottoman Empire is drawing its last breath and that is only surviving due to the help from itswestern allies. Russian, British, Austro Hungarians, Polish migrants shared different thoughts about the future of the Balkans. Confusing times are enabling to the adventurers, fraudsters and day dreamers to shine. One of these was Nikola Rodncic Vasojevic. He was an engineer but an adventurer was his true call, as well as he was a man of trust for the British, Russian Imperial officer, a spy for Ottoman Porta. In 1835 Vasojevic gets the title of Dutchy of Vasojevici from a Montenegrin ruler Petar II Petrovic Njegos. Vasojevici is name of the biggest tribe in Montenegro who is located in the north part of the country.
He is working as a military engineer for Milos Obrenovic in rebel’s Serbia. Thanks to his friends in high places from Constantinople, Vasojevic becomes a British Vice Consul in Novi Pazar but after short periof he was ordered to leave by Turkish authorities. Pressed by heavy financial situation he turns to a new amazing project in 1840s.
The independent Duchy of Holmia would have engulfed the territory of modern Montenegro settled by Vasojevic clan and parts of Northern Albania. This Duchy would have been supported by the UK, France and the Vatican, especially it would have been a stepping stone for Polish immigration to found their own country. The aforementioned facts were part of the deal between Nikola Vasojevic and the leader of the Polish immigration count Czartoryski. Incredible project of Duchy of Holmia is also remembered by a very interesting detail. Nikola Vasojevic, the future ruler of Duchy of Holmia planned to convert his subjects to Catholicism. In spite of the strong support from count Czartoryski , the Vatican did not believe in Vasojevic’s intentions. He only managed to make Serbian and Montenegrin rulers as well as the mighty Russian Empire angry as they detested these kind of attempts. This project failed before it had started as it creator died in shady circumstances.
The unlucky duke of an imaginary country Holmia was murdered in 1844 and there are many theories about his death, some claiming it was ordered by Petar II Petrovic Njegos.
The aforementioned “forgotten heroes of history” had a lot in common. They were very well educated for their times, they had managed very well in politics, they tended to commit frauds and tricks. They are a true picture of their region, where only the the most skillful persons can reach the top.