Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #013-The Return of Milos and Michael


In 1858 discontent against Alexander's weak rule culminated in an attempt of the oligarehy to establish a kind of Kaimakamate or regency. But the new Assembly through which they hoped to secure this result, was almost as hostile to Vucic and his friends as to the Prince, and in December, after proclaiming Alexander's deposition, promptly recalled Milol Obrenovic, who skilfully secured the Porte's approval before returning.

The leading oligarehs were imprisoned, and Vufid died in prison under suspicious circumstances. Milos, now nearly eighty, governed as highhandedly as ever, but was quick enough to check any encroachments on the part of the Porte. In September 1860 he was succeeded by Michael, Serbia's ablest modern ruler, who introduced more Western methods of government, but set himself to strengthen the princely power: by the new Constitution of 1861 he had the right to nominate and dismiss members of the Council, and ministers were responsible to him and to it jointly, not to the Skupstina.

Helped by a French officer, Captain Mondain, as Minister of War, he completely reformed the Serbian army, and in 1862 when the Turks in the fortress of Belgrade bombarded the town, he pressed the question of complete evacuation upon the Powers. The opposition of Britain and Austria postponed a solution, though the Turkish garrisons were reduced to four and the Turkish civil population withdrawn from Serbia. But in 1867 (Austria having lost prestige after the war of 1866 and Stanley following less Turcophil lines than Russell) the Powers persuaded the Porte to hand over the four fortresses, though the Turkish flag was still to fly beside the Serbian.

Michael meanwhile pursued far-reaching designs of policy, negotiated with Kossuth and Cuza, worked out plans with the exiled Bulgarian committee for a joint Serbo-Bulgarian state, corresponded with the Croat and Serb leaders in Habsburg territory and concluded secret alliances with Montenegro, Greece and Rumania, for joint action against the Turks. These ambitious dreams suddenly collapsed on June 10, 1868, when Michael was murdered in the park of Topcider, outside Belgrade, by adherents of the rival dynasty.

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #013-The Return of Milos and Michael," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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