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Prince Bishop (Vladika) Danilo - The Founder of Petrovic Dynasty
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Prince Danilo Petrovic
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Montenegro Under Vladikas from Petrovics' Dynasty (1697-1851) - Vladika Danilo

Prince Bishop (Vladika) Danilo PetrovicOttoman Empire in 1699: Only Montenegro, Raguza (Dubrovnik), and Venetian Republic are free from the Turkish ruleThe end of XVII century was particularly merciless to Montenegrins. The loss of their influential vladika Visarion Bajica, and ruining and burning down of Cetinje monastery by the Turks, were accompanied with devastating illnesses and starvation. In a search for new vladika, Montenegrins refused to nominate candidates of Serbian Patriarch Arsenije III Carnojevic, as well as one of the Patriarch of Pec's Kalinik, who considered, at the time, that Cetinje's diocese was under his jurisdiction. Instead, in 1694, Montenegrins elected Sava Kaludjerovic from Ocinici to be the next vladika. He was from their own tribes and clans and was elected by the traditional popular assembly. His rule, however, was short-lived. After the death of Sava in 1697, the new vladika, chosen by popular acclamation was, former deacon (jeromonah) of Cetinje Monastery, Danilo Petrovic (Cetinjski ljetopis, Cetinje, 1962, p.48a). He came from the Njegusi clan, and was called Scepcevic after his father Scepan. Vladika Danilo Petrovic established the hereditary theocracy in the Petrovic family. Since Vladikas, as Orthodox Bishops, were celibate, the office of Vladika passed from uncle to nephew. This was a beginning of Petrovic family rule in Montenegro, and lasted until 1918, except for two short spells; (1767-1773 Scepan the Little, and 1781-1784 Arsenije Plamenac).  

In order to become vladika Danilo needed to be appointed as a bishop by a Patriarch. Danilo refused to be appointed as a bishop by the Patriarch of Pec, Kalinik, since Kalinik was under Turkish influence. He was appointed as a bishop (vladika) by the Arsenije III Carnojevic, in Secuj (Hungary) in 1700, (''va bogom spasaemuju jeparhiju Skenderiskiju"). According to syncellus (sindjelija)of Arsenije III, Danilo received under his church power, apart from Montenegro and Brda, eparchies in Grbalj, Pastrovici, and Ljustica in Primorje, as well as Turkish towns of Antivari (Bar), Ulcinium (Ulcinj), Shkoder (Skadar), and Podgorica (Jagos Jovanovic, Stvaranje Crnogorske drzave i razvoj Crnogorske nacionalnosti, 1947, Obod-Cetinje ).  

Vladika Danilo worked particularly hard to unite Montenegrin tribes and clans. He believed that blood feuds and converts to Islam were as much dangerous for Montenegro as the Turkish forces themselves. In order to "cleanse Montenegro of Turkish spirit", and to "cleanse malice from sheepfold" so that "we can regain as a knights our freedom which is covered with scraps by the foreign dogs", Danilo organized execution of converts to Islam on the Christmas eve in 1709. The "Montenegrin Vespers" took place in Ceklici, Ceklin, Cetinje's clan, and everywhere where the converts lived (Jagos Jovanovic, Stvaranje Crnogorske drzave i razvoj Crnogorske nacionalnosti, 1947, Obod-Cetinje).  

After Turkey declared war to Russia in 1711, Petar the Great sent his confines to Balkan in order to encourage local Christians to rise against 'Peksian evil' who are "oppressors of the church and orthodox people". The 'gramata' sent by the czar to Danilo aroused Montenegrins enthusiasm for the plan, so that Vladika Danilo enthusiastically declared: "we are one tribe with Russia, and of one faith, so hopefully we may become neighbors. Thus, brother Montenegrins, arm yourselves together with myself, without pity for possessions or even life, I am ready to go to serve to Christian tzar and our ancestrally, as to liberate Christendom from the Turkish oppression, begging our too lenient God to help us and guide us" (J.Jovanovic, ibid.). However, soon after these first contacts of Montenegrins were made with Russia, the later accepted unfavorable peace treaty with Turkey and Danilo was left to defend his country against Turkish revenge on his own.  

During the intrusion of Pasha Cuprilic into Montenegro, Vladika Danilo visited Petar the Great who gave first Russian aid to devastated Montenegro. The aid included 2700 ducats, and 13400 Rubles for the reconstruction of churches and monasteries and to help those who suffered most during Turkish intrusion. In addition the tzar declared that Russia would send 500 Rubles every third year as a help to Cetinje (Jagos Jovanovic, Stvaranje Crnogorske drzave i razvoj Crnogorske nacionalnosti, 1947, Obod-Cetinje).  

Prince Bishop Danilo PetrovicFollowing the examples of the previous vladikas, Danilo led Montenegrins in many battles against the Turks. He won a decisive, major battle at Carev Laz in Ljesanska Nahija, on July 17. 1712 . The Turkish army of around 50 000 men was defeated by 8 000 Montenegrins. The estimates of Turkish losses vary, but in any case losses were significant and amounted up to 20 000, whereas Montenegrin losses are said to be as low as 300 (Jovanovic, ibid.). The explanation for the such account of the battle are found in the fact that the terrain where battles are fought was entirely unfamiliar to Turkish forces, so they were slaughtered, making large piles of dead (lazine) and place is named after the battle -Carev Laz. This battle, although disputable among historians, is generally regarded as a landmark in the Montenegrin history of wars for independence(Jagos Jovanovic, Stvaranje Crnogorske drzave i razvoj Crnogorske nacionalnosti, 1947, Obod-Cetinje).  

Among the many defeats inflicted on Turks it is worth mentioning the battle on Trnjine in 1717, where, Montenegrin clans, Cuce, Bjelice, Cevljani, and Velestovci under vladika Danilo command, defeated Turks and captured around 70 of them, including beg Ljumovic and two brothers Cengics.  

Vladika Danilo (in 1701) built the monastery on the site of the former court of Ivan Crnojevic. In 1724 the monastery was rebuilt after the Ahmet-Pasha burned it down. Since then, the monastery has been ruined and rebuilt many times but its basic structure has not changed.  

During his life Danilo built up six churches and equip them with religious books and icons, predominantly with the money and presents received from Petar the Great. Vladika Danilo had significant success in uniting Montenegrin clans and towards the eradication of blood feud. For this purpose his most effective weapon was the use of curse for those who would not compromise.  

Orlov krs - The grave of Prince Bishop Danilo
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Last updated  August 1997