Aviva Directory » Local & Global » Europe » Serbia

Serbia, officially called the Republic of Serbia, is a sovereign state situated at the juncture of southeast and central Europe, spanning the Balkans and the southern Pannonian Plain. It shares land borders with Hungary to the north, Bulgaria and Romania to the east, Macedonia to the shot, and Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro to the west.It also claims a border with Albania via the disputed territory of Kosovo. The capital is Belgrade and the official language its Serbian.

Until the late 1600s, all of the territories in which Serbs lived, and which would become Serbia, were under Ottoman rule. Many, if not most, of the Christians in those pashdoms were forced to convert to Islam.

Modern Serbia begins, more or less, in the 18th century, largely because the Napoleonic era and the French Revolution triggered the beginning of the old imperial order throughout all of the Balkans. In particular, the wars of that era brought changes in international relations as well as political and social processes which were important in the lives of the South Slavic people.

Miloš Obrenović, who would become the first Prince of Serbia from 1815 to 1839, fought in the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. This uprising was fought from February 14, 1804 until October 7, 1813. The uprising was crushed when the Serbia's Russian allied stopped fighting due to the end of the Russo-Turkish War, and the Ottoman Empire reconquered Serbia.

The Serbs continued the fighting in 1815 in what is called the Second Serbian Uprising. This uprising evolved into a revolution, was ignited after the Ottoman Empire re-annexed Serbia, which had been virtually independent for the 9 years of the first uprising. Prince Miloš both organized and led the Second Serbian Uprising, which lasted from 1815 until 1817. The Serbs prevailed and that victory resulted in the formation of the Principality of Serbia and partial autonomy, though they were still under Ottoman sovereignty. The last of the Ottoman troops remained in Serbia until 1867.

Prince Miloš abdicated the throne in 1839, and his 19-year-old son Milan, ascended to the throne. Milan had been sickly all of his life, and by many accounts, was essentially comatose at the time of his ascension. He died of tuberculosis 25 days later, never having regained consciousness. His 15-year-old brother Mihailo became Prince Michael III, and this, his first reign, lasted from 1839 until 1842. Young and inexperienced, Michael was overthrown during a rebellion. He was replaced on the throne by Aleksandar Karađorđević. He fled Serbia with his father and lived in exile in Vienna. He married while in Vienna, and they had no children, though he did reportedly have a child with his young mistress, Katrina.

In 1858, Aleksandar was forced to abdicate over his choices during the Crimean War, and Miloš was restored as prince. He reigned over Serbia until his death in 1860, when Mihailo began his second reign, again as Prince Michael III. It was he who gradually freed Serbia from control of the Turks. He also instituted judicial reforms and a regular army which he supplied with the help of Russia. He founded a state mortgage bank and revised the country's electoral laws. He was assassinated while riding through a park in his carriage on the outskirts of Belgrade. His mistress Katrina and her mother were with him, and both were also shot. Katrina survived her wounds, but her mother died along with Prince Michael III.

In 1914, a Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austria's Archduke Ferdinand, a killing which was one of the principal triggers for World War I. Austro-Hungary invaded Serbia, and despite being grossly outnumbered, the Serbs won the Battle of Cer, the first Allied victory in the war. Toward the end of 1915, however, Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria bested Serbia, causing the Serbian army to withdraw through Albania. The result was more than 240,000 Serbian casualties and Serbia was once again occupied. In 1918, they liberated their country from the Austro-Hungarian occupiers.

In 1918, there was a union with South Slavic people with the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and 11 years later, it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The word Yugoslavia means "Land of Southern Slavs." Yugoslavia was ruled by the Serbian dynasty of Karađorđević.

Yugoslavia disintegrated at the beginning of the 1990s, and the Yugoslav Wars from 1991 until 2001 resulted in the establishment of five new states, including Serbia.

 

 

Recommended Resources


Search for Serbia on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!