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MICHAEL OBRENOVICH III

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 360 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MICHAEL OBRENOVICH III. (1823-1868), Prince of 'Servia, was the youngest son of Prince Milosh, the founder of the Obrenovich dynasty. After the abdication of his father (1839) and the death of his elder brother Milan Obrenovich II. (184o) he ascended the throne of Servia. He wished to continue the work of his father, in liberating all the Servian people, and if possible all other Balkan Christians, from direct Turkish rule. But while this programme made the Sultan hostile, it also failed to win the support of Austria, which did not wish the Eastern Question to be opened by the ambitious Servian. The support which his aspirations found in Russia increased Turkey's and Austria's suspicions of the prince's activity. At the same time the political situation at home was not favourable to his anti-Turkish policy. The power was in the hands of men who had forced Obrenovich I. to abdicate, and feared that Obrenovich III. might avenge his father. They thought it safer for them to replace him on the throne by a man who was not an Obrenovich, and who would be personally obliged to them for his elevation. These motives were at the bottom of the revolt, started and led by Vuchich in August 1842, the outcome of which was that Prince Michael left the country and that his equerry, Alexander Karageorgevich, was elected Prince of Servia. As an exile Prince Michael lived principally in Vienna, improving his education by studies and travels, and frequently visiting England. He constantly refused to agree to suggestions for his restoration by forcible means. His device was Temps et meum jus, " Time and my right." He supported Servian authors and artists, and wrote himself a book in defence of his father Milosh against the attacks of Cyprian Robert. He wrote poetry too, and some of his songs, set to beautiful music, were very popular amongst the Servians. He married in 1856 the beautiful Julia, Countess Hunyadi. In 1858 the Servians, having dethroned Prince Karageorgevich, recalled Michael's father Milosh Obrenovich I. Michael returned to Servia, and on his father's death (186o) ascended the Servian throne for the second time.- His proclamation " that henceforth the law is the highest will in Servia," opened a new era of strict legality and at the same time of entire emancipation from foreign influences, and more especially from Turkey's interference with the internal affairs of Servia. The old constitution, granted to Servia by the sultan as the suzerain and the tsar as the protector of Servia as far back as 1839, was discarded and replaced, by one which limited the power of the oligarchic senate and gave a certain share in legislation to the " Narodna Skupshtina " (the National Assembly). He established the Servian national army and increased the regular army. Reforms in all branches of public administration were introduced, and Servia, until then a half-oriental and half-patriarchal state, was resolutely led to become a civilized country in a European sense. When in 1862 the Turkish garrison bombarded the town of Belgrade from its citadel, Prince Michael, supported by the European diplomacy, succeeded in obtaining evacuation of some of the smaller forts in Servia, but the strong fortress of Belgrade still remained garrisoned by the Turkish troops. Prince Michael now made vigorous political and military preparations for war against Turkey. He made secret arrangements with the Bulgarian, Bosnian and Albanian leaders, an alliance with Montenegro and an understanding with Greece, with the object that they all should rise if Servia declared war on Turkey. He even succeeded in obtaining Austria's promise, that it would observe an attitude of friendly neutrality and would have nothing against an eventual annexation of the largest part of Bosnia to Servia, and he secured to himself the sympathies of Napoleon III. and his government. In the beginning of 1867 he formally asked the Porte to withdraw the Turkish garrisons from the fortress of Belgrade, as well as from other two fortresses of minor importance (Shabats and Smederevo (Semendria)). For some time the chances were that a war would take place that spring (1867) between Servia and Turkey, but peace was kept by the action of Great Britain, who advised the sultan to withdraw the Turkish garrisons from the Servian fortresses; and this advice, backed by Russia, France and Austria, prevailed at last with the sultan. On the 26th of April 1867 the fortresses were delivered over to Prince Michael, who shortly afterwards went to Constantinople to thank the sultan personally. Prince Michael's policy had triumphed. But his success was short-lived. A group of young men, mostly educated in France and Germany, now started a liberal movement under the leadership of Yovan Ristich (or Ristitch). They wanted a more liberal constitution than that which Prince Michael had given; and this movement tended to qualify his popularity. Meanwhile the prince contemplated divorce from his wife Princess Julia, by whom he had no children, and marriage with the daughter of his cousin Madame Anka Constanitinovich; and the adherents of the exiled Karageorgevich dynasty were alarmed at the prospect of his eventually having legal heirs to the throne. A former private secretary to Prince Alexander Karageorgevich, and two of the same prince's brothers-in-law, formed a conspiracy, which resulted in the brutal assassination of Prince Michael on the 29th of May (June 10 (O.S.), 1868), whilst he was walking in the park of Koshutilyak, a few miles distant from Belgrade. (C. MI.)
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