Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #012-Alexander Karageorgjevid


The new reign was a period of growth and transition, in which a civil code was promulgated (1844) the judicial system completed (1846), a state printing press set up, the National Museum and Serbian Scientific Society founded. Primary and secondary education was encouraged, and an increasing number of young Serbs began to visit French and German universities. The publication of Vuk Karadzic's version of the New Testament (1847) was a landmark in literary progress: and his great services in collecting popular tales, bftllads and proverbs and issuing the first scientific Serbian grammar and dictionary were crowned by his philological reforms and a new phonetic Serbian orthography, which, following parallel lines with Gaj's revision of Croat orthography, made Serbo-Croat literary unity a reality and thus laid the basis for political unity.

In foreign policy Alexander leaned towards Austria. The racial war in Hungary which followed the revolution of 1848 caused great excitement in Serbia, numerous volunteers flocking across the river to help their Serb kinsmen against the Magyars-notably the Senator Stephen Knicanin. There were close confidential relations between Alexander, the Patriareh Rajacic and Meyerhofer, the Austrian Consul-General, who afterwards became governor of the autonomous Vojvodiita established by Austria (1849-59).

The Prince's chief minister Garasanin, an enthusiast for Western culture, but also infected by the Slavophil ideas current in Prague, travelled to the Court of Napoleon III. to appeal for French help, but Tsar Nicholas regarded him as a pupil of Kossuth and Mazzini and forced his dismissal upon the reluctant Prince. In the Crimean War Serbia found it difficult to choose between her suzerain and her protcctor. and maintained an uneasy armed neutrality which at least prevented an Austrian occupation.

The Treaty of Paris (1856) brought Serbia one stage nearer to independence: she was now placed under a special guarantee of the signatory Powers, and was assured full autonomy in administration, legislation, religion and trade. The Turkish garrisons remained, but armed interference in Serbian affairs was henceforth forbidden, save by consent of the Powers ( 21). Thus a quite illogical situation arose, in which (he sovereign rights of the I'orte were restricted by the Powers, who substituted a virtual protectorate of their own for that of Russia.

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #012-Alexander Karageorgjevid," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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