Mihailo Obrenović, Prince of Serbia

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Михаило Обреновић III
Prince of Serbia
Reign8 July 1839 – 14 September 1842
PredecessorMilan Obrenović II
SuccessorAlexander Karadjordjević
Reign26 September 1860 – 10 June 1868
PredecessorMiloš Obrenović I
SuccessorMilan Obrenović IV
Born(1823-09-16)16 September 1823
Kragujevac, Principality of Serbia
Died10 June 1868(1868-06-10) (aged 44)
Belgrade, Principality of Serbia
SpouseJúlia Hunyady de Kéthely
FatherMiloš Obrenović I
MotherLjubica Vukomanović
ReligionSerbian Orthodox
SignatureМихаило Обреновић III's signature

Mihailo Obrenović (Serbian Cyrillic: Михаило Обреновић, romanizedMihailo Obrenović; 16 September 1823 – 10 June 1868) was the ruling Prince of Serbia from 1839 to 1842 and again from 1860 to 1868.

His first reign ended when he was deposed in 1842, and his second ended when he was assassinated in 1868. He is considered to be a great reformer[1] and the most enlightened ruler of modern Serbia,[2][3] as one of the European enlightened absolute monarchs. He succeeded in negotiating an evacuation of Ottoman troops from Serbian soil, while retaining certain Serbian ties to Constantinople. He advocated the idea of a Balkan federation against the Ottoman Empire.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Mihailo was the son of Miloš Obrenović, Prince of Serbia (1780–1860) and his wife, Ljubica, Princess of Serbia (1788–1843, Vienna). He was born in Kragujevac, the second surviving son of the couple. In 1823, he became the first person in Serbia to be vaccinated against smallpox, which took away the lives of three of his siblings: Petar, Marija and Velika.[6] He spent his childhood in Kragujevac, then in Požarevac and Belgrade. Having finished his education in Požarevac, Mihailo left Serbia with his mother to go to Vienna. His elder brother by four years, Milan Obrenović II, born in 1819, was frequently in poor health.[1]

First reign[edit]

Prince Mihailo speaks to the Society of Serbian Scholarship members at the first meeting on 8 June 1842.
Princess Maria Josefa of Liechtenstein (1835-1905), Mihailo's first love
Princess Julia Obrenović

Initially, Prince Miloš abdicated in favour of his firstborn son, Prince Milan Obrenović II, who was by then terminally ill and died after just one month of rule. After the death of his elder brother, Mihailo came to the throne as a minor, having been born in late 1823, and proclaimed prince on 25 June 1839.[7] He was declared of full age the following year. Few thrones appeared more secure, and his rule might have endured throughout his life but for his want of energy and inattention to political developments. During his first reign, on 19 November 1841 he has founded Society of Serbian Letters, but his inexperience meant he did not cope well with some other important challenges Serbia faced. On 14 September 1842, his reign was ended by a rebellion led by Toma Vučić-Perišić,[8] which enabled the Karađorđević dynasty to assume power and stay on the throne for another sixteen years.

Life in exile, forbidden love, marriage[edit]

After the overthrow, Prince Mihailo withdrew from Serbia across the rivers of Sava and Danube with around one thousand of his adherents.[9] His destiny was decided by Austria and Turkey. Prince Mihailo was directed to the estate of his sister, Princess Jelisaveta Obrenović, Baroness Nikolić de Rudna (1818-1848), while his mother, Princess Ljubica was sent to Novi Sad. She died there alone in 1843. Mihailo organized her burial at Krušedol monastery.[10]

He wrote to Vučić in 1853 to say that he did not want to recover the throne by violence. The prince later moved to Vienna with his father, Prince Miloš Obrenović.[11] There he managed his father's large estate. At that time, he wrote the poem "Što se bore misli moje" ("Why do my thoughts torture me"). It was dedicated to his first love, Princess Maria Josefa von und zu Liechtenstein (1835-1905), youngest daughter of Prince Karl Joseph of Liechtenstein (1790-1865) and his wife, Countess Franziska von Würben und Freudenthal (1799-1863). He asked for her hand, but her father initially declined, as Mihailo was an Orthodox and she was a staunch Catholic. Furthermore, Karl Joseph thought that Maria Josefa was a too good catch for a deposed Prince, member of the House of Obrenovic, an upstart vassal dynasty whose wealth came from trading. At the time, Obrenović family were living in exile, while Serbia has been ruled by the rival Karadjordjevic dynasty. After being rejected and insulted, Mihailo, broke all social contacts with this line of the Liechtenstein family, who were also living in Vienna. Princess Maria Josepha later married Prince Ferdinand Bonaventura Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau (1834-1904) and is ancestor of many royals, including the ruling Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein.[12]

On 1 August 1853, Mihailo married Countess Júlia Hunyady de Kéthely[13] (26 August 1831 – 19 February 1919) in the Russian chapel in Vienna. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Count Ferenc Hunyady de Kéthely (1804–1882) by his wife, Countess Julia Zichy de Zich et Vásonkeő (1808–1873). The marriage proved to be unhappy and childless, although Mihailo had one illegitimate child, Velimir Mihailo Teodorović by his former Styrian mistress Maria Berghaus (1831-1863). While living in exile, he spoke French and German fluently.[14]

Second reign and assassination[edit]

Litography of V. Katsler illustrating the assassination of serbian prince Mihailo Obrenovic and his cousin in 1868
Mihailo's mistress and cousin, Katarina Konstantinović
Mihailo's sister, Princess Jelisaveta Obrenović, Baroness Nikolić de Rudna (1818-1848) by Miklós Barabás

Mihailo was accepted back as Prince of Serbia after 18 years in exile, in September 1860, after the death of his father who had regained the throne in 1858. For the next eight years, he ruled as an enlightened monarch.[15] Mihailo sought to reduce the authority and immunity of Serbian senators.[16] During his second reign, the People's Assembly was convened just three times.

Prince Mihailo's greatest achievement was achieving a complete evacuation of Turkish troops from Serbia in 1862.[17][18] The Turkish presence had previously been restricted to a few fortresses and a designated neighborhood in Belgrade. [16] Serbians were eventually allowed into the Turkish neighborhood with altercations ensuing sometimes reaching the point of major disturbances. After one such riot in the wake of the Čukur Fountain incident in June, 1862, which threatened the Turkish Belgrade Fortress, the Turks responded by bombarding the city. A Turkish inquiry ensued and the Great Powers which had allowed a Turkish presence in Serbia during the settlements of the Crimean War, summoned a conference at Constantinople in order to broker a conference between Serbs and Turks. [16]

On September 4, 1862, the conference reached an agreement in which it was decreed that all Muslim inhabitants should be withdrawn from Serbia with the exceptions of existing garrisons in Belgrade, Fetislam, Šabac, and Smederevo. Prince Michael meanwhile continued to negotiate for all Turkish troops to be withdrawn from the country. Prince Michael wrote a letter to Grand Vizier Mehmed Fuad Pasha, emphasizing the lack of national interest the Ottomans had in maintaining troops in Serbia, and expounding upon the importance that the Serbs placed in the departure of all foreign troops.[16]

The Sultan did not permit complete Serbian independence, but Serbian troops in service of the Ottoman government were permitted to replace Turkish troops at the garrisons, and the Serbian flag was allowed to fly over the fortresses alongside that of the Turkish flag. [19]

This was not viewed as a sufficient concession by Serbian nationalists and partisans of the Karađorđević dynasty, still viewing the prince with enmity at having displaced their preferred royal family.[19]

In 1866–68, Mihailo forged The First Balkan Alliance by signing the series of agreements with other Balkan entities.[citation needed]

During his rule, the first modern Serbian coins were minted.[20] He was also the first in modern Serbian history to declare Belgrade the official capital city of the country.[21]

Mihailo wished to divorce his wife, Julia, in order to marry his young mistress, Katarina Konstantinović,[22] the daughter of his first cousin, Princess Anka Obrenović. Both resided at the royal court at his invitation. His plans for a divorce and subsequent remarriage to Katarina met with much protest from politicians, clergy and the general public. His astute and gifted Prime Minister Ilija Garašanin was dismissed from his post in 1867 for daring to voice his opposition to the divorce. However, the divorce never took place.[citation needed]

While Prince Mihailo Obrenović was gradually introducing absolutism, a conspiracy was formed against him. The main organizers and perpetrators were the brothers Radovanović, who wanted to avenge their brother, Ljubomir Radovanović, who was in prison. Kosta Radovanović, the main perpetrator, was a wealthy and respected merchant. His brother, Pavle Radovanović, was with him during the assassination, and the third of the brothers, Đorđe Radovanović, was also involved.[23] Prince Mihailo Obrenović was also member of the masonic lodge.[24]

On 10 June 1868 Mihailo was travelling with Katarina and Princess Anka in a carriage through the park of Košutnjak near his country residence on the outskirts of Belgrade.[25] In the park appeared Pavle and Kosta Radovanović in formal black suits, and pointing a loaded gun at the Prince, Kosta approached the carriage. Prince Mihailo Obrenović recognized him, because of a dispute over his brother Ljubomir. The last words of the prince, which Kosta himself admitted when on trial, were: "Well, it's true." Mihailo and Anka were shot dead, and Katarina wounded.[26] Further details of the plot behind the assassination have never been clarified; the sympathizers and cousins[27] of the Karađorđević dynasty were suspected of being behind the crime, but this has not been proven.[citation needed] The National Assembly declared the House of Karađorđević perpetually excluded from ruling and proclaimed Prince Michael's fourteen year old cousin Milan as the legitimate heir to the Serbian throne. [19]

Anka's granddaughter Natalija Konstantinović was married in 1902 to the Montenegrin Prince Mirko Petrović-Njegoš (1879–1918), whose sister Zorka had married King Petar Karađorđević I in 1883.[28]

Prince Mihailo was awarded Order of Prince Danilo I, Order of the White Eagle (Russian Empire), Order of Saint Anna,[29] Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky, Order of the Redeemer, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Order of the Medjidie, Order of Glory (Ottoman Empire) and Order of Leopold (Austria).[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kako bi izgledala Srbija da je knez Mihailo preživeo atentat". Nedeljnik. Archived from the original on December 12, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  2. ^ Ugrica, Luka (August 16, 2019). "Velimir Teodorović Obrenović – zaboravljeni srpski princ". CMJP (in Serbian). Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  3. ^ VolimSrbiju. "Knez Mihailo Obrenović UBIJEN je u strašnoj zasedi na Košutnjaku, a poslednje što je rekao bile su OVE TRI REČI". Volim Srbiju. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  4. ^ "Кнез Михаило Обреновић - трагични заточеник српске државотворне мисли". Културни центар Новог Сада (in Serbian). November 28, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  5. ^ "Knez Mihailo-čuvar Balkanske kapije-feljton Novosti". Scribd. Retrieved December 12, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Prvo vakcinisanje u Kragujevcu".
  7. ^ Mijatovich, Chedomille (1911). "Michael Obrenovich III." . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). p. 360.
  8. ^ "Gospodar Vučić 1842. sa Metinog Brda bombardovao Kragujevac". Prvi Prvi na Skali. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  9. ^ "Кнез Михаило Обреновић". Србске Новине (in Serbian). September 5, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "First Serbian Lady".
  11. ^ GTOKG. "Кнез Михаило Обреновић". gtokg.org.rs (in Serbian). Retrieved December 12, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ http://www.berne.mfa.gov.rs/odrzavanje/stampa.php?id=1550502816&archive=>
  13. ^ Jovanović, Jelena; Kovčić, Tijana; Nikolić, Jelena (2018). "Mihailo Obrenović: 150 godina od ubistva kneza" (PDF). Istorijski Arhiv Beograda. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ GTOKG. "Кнез Михаило Обреновић" (in Serbian). gtokg.org.rs. Retrieved December 12, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Cox, John K. (2002). The History of Serbia. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 44. ISBN 9780313312908.
  16. ^ a b c d Ward, Prothero & Leathes 1921, p. 647.
  17. ^ Ratković-Kostić, Slavica (1998). "Prince Mihailo Obrenović". Vojno Delo. 50 (1): 210–234. ISSN 0042-8426.
  18. ^ "Кнез Михаило Обреновић - трагични заточеник српске државотворне мисли". Културни центар Новог Сада (in Serbian). November 28, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Ward, Prothero & Leathes 1921, p. 648.
  20. ^ Pantelić, Svetlana (2014). "Monument of the Serbian freedom and progress" (PDF). Bankarstvo. 2: 2.
  21. ^ InfoKG. "STARI KRAGUJEVAC- Premeštanje prestonice". InfoKG - Mesto gde se informišem (in Serbian). Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  22. ^ Jovanović, Jelena; Kovčić, Tijana; Nikolić, Jelena (2018). "Mihailo Obrenović: 150 godina od ubistva kneza" (PDF). Istorijski Arhiv Beograda. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  23. ^ "O čemu se nije smelo govoriti". Nedeljnik Vreme. June 4, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  24. ^ Nenezić, Zoran D. "Freemasonry in Yugoslavia". www.skirret.com. Retrieved September 21, 2023.
  25. ^ Celia Hawkesworth Voices in the Shadows: Women and Verbal Art in Serbia and Bosnia, Google Books, 2000, retrieved June 16, 2010
  26. ^ "O čemu se nije smelo govoriti". Nedeljnik Vreme. June 4, 2008. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  27. ^ Jovanović, Jelena; Kovčić, Tijana; Nikolić, Jelena (2018). "Mihailo Obrenović: 150 godina od ubistva kneza" (PDF). Istorijski Arhiv Beograda. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  28. ^ "Natalija Petrović-Njegoš". April 27, 2022.
  29. ^ Acović, Dragomir (2012). Slava i čast: Odlikovanja među Srbima, Srbi među odlikovanjima. Belgrade: Službeni Glasnik. p. 544.

Further reading[edit]

Mihailo Obrenović, Prince of Serbia
Born: September 16 1823 Died: 10 June 1868
Regnal titles
Preceded by Prince of Serbia
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prince of Serbia
Succeeded by