Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #017-King Alexander


The regents, despite their own conservative leanings, found it necessary to entrust power to the Radical Party, under General Sava Grujic, which had a strong majority behind it: and its first achievement was to improve Serbian finances, reducing the deficit from 14.000, 000 dinars in 18S9 to 4.000, 000 in 1890 and to 686, 000 in' 1891. But internal progress was still delayed by the constant interference and public wrangling of Milan and Natalie, and even after the ex-king's solemn renunciation had been endorsed by parliament (March 1892) he plotted in the background, with Austrian backing.

The party struggle between Radicals and Liberals had reached a deadlock, when on April 14, 1893, the young king, by a sudden coup d'6tat ejected the regents, proclaimed himself of age and superseded the Liberal cabinet by one drawn from the moderate Radical wing. As, however, its first act was to impeach some of its predecessors, party feeling ran as high as ever, and turned into anti-dynastic lines.

Alexander, whose character bore traces of a hereditary taint and whose education had suffered fatally from his parents' misconduct, grew up suspicious, callous and arbitrary. Early in 1894 he recalled Milan from his Parisian amusements, and on his advice suspended the constitution of 18S9, reestablishing the more reactionary one of 1869. The Radicals went into violent opposition, but the situation was temporarily saved by a cabinet under the Progressive leader Stojan Novakovic, whose position was however undermined by the King's refusal to sanction his project of constitutional reform, on a two-chamber basis, and also by friction with Austria-Hungary, the secret treaty with whom lapsed in 1893.

At the elections of 1897 the Radicals maintained their majority, but Alexander refused to call them to power and formed a Cabinet under Dr. Vladan Gjorgjcvid, the doctor and intimate friend of King Milan, and known as a pronounced Russophobe.

Milan was appointed commander-in-chief, and though be increased the army by one-third, and worked hard at its reorganization, his methods of favouritism did much to introduce the spirit of faction and conspiracy into the officers' corps. An attempt on his life in 1899 was used as a pretext for drastic measures against all the Radical leaders, some of whom, without serious proof, were sentenced to banishment or hard labour.

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #017-King Alexander," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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