Serbia (Russian: Сербии; Serbian: Србија) is a landlocked Russian protectorate located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. It was annexed by the Russian Empire after a purchase between Emperor Vladimir I and Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II on November 15, 1745, as part of the Treaty of Constantinople (the same agreement that ceded Cyprus to the Russian Empire).
Unlike other Russian provinces and protectorates, Serbia enjoys many freedoms and a more independent government. The current governor of Serbia is Grand Duke David III, the Russian Emperor's son. The Grand Duke has complete jurisdiction over the province, but nonetheless answers to the Emperor.
In the early 13th century, the Kingdom of Serbia first rose to dominance in the Balkans. Well-trained Serbian soldiers called Vlastel became famous throughout Europe, and soon helped usher in the Serbian Empire, which even rivaled regional factions such as Bulgaria, Hungary, and Austria. The Serbian Empire, however, was short-lived, for Serbia was soon conquered by the Ottoman Empire following the Siege of Belgrade in 1456.
Serbia, home to one of Eastern Europe's largest Christian Orthodox populations, initially did not respond well to their Muslim conquerors. A series of revolutions within Serbia made this message clear to the Ottomans who, in 1595, after the Banat Uprising, allowed freedom of religion within their empire. Even still, the ethnic Serbs had trouble relating to their oppressors, due to large cultural, social, historical, and linguistic differences. The people of Serbia looked towards Russia, a rising power whom they felt they could identify closely with. Due to their strong Slavic ties and liberal urges for reform, Russia and Serbia soon grew close.In the Third Russo-Turkish War of 1673, the people of Serbia reluctantly sided with their Slavic brothers, Russia, and soon erupted in revolution against the Ottoman Empire. Following the war, the Turks remained a steady stranglehold on Serbia and all surrounding Danubian provinces, much to Serbia's chagrin and disapproval.
In 1743, Emperor Vladimir I came to power in Russia. In several attempts to Europeanise Russia, as his father, Peter I "the Great", had begun, Vladimir set out to claim more land to further connect Russia with Western Europe. Vladimir's key prospect was the island of Cyprus, located in the warm waters of the eastern Mediterranean. Gaining Cyprus would certainly mean increased trade for the Russian economy, and easier naval access by surpassing the heavy tolls of Constantinople and the Dardanelles. The island was in possession of the Ottoman Empire, who had been relatively friendly and peaceful toward Russia. Therefore, in 1745, Vladimir I sailed from Odessa to Constantinople, and met the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II, in the Topkapi Palace, to begin territorial negotiations. After three days of discussions, the Treaty of Constantinople was signed by the two monarchs on November 15, 1745. In the agreement, Sultan Mehmed II would cede Cyprus to the Russian Empire in return for the Russian province of Armenia and the Azerbaijani state of Nakhchivan.
An addendum of the treaty concerned Serbia, which Vladimir had brought up several times in his talks with the sultan. After heavy negotiations, and as an added appendage to the document, Vladimir purchased the Ottoman province of Serbia for 4,500,000 Rubles (£90,500). The additional land in the heart of Eastern Europe has offered Russia wider access to the European scene, and Russia's rule of Serbia has been met with widespread approval by the people of Serbia, glad to no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire. Grand Duke David III, Emperor Vladimir I's youngest son, was instated as the sovereign of Serbia on July 23, 1746.
Serbia is located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. It is the only exclave of the Russian Empire, not being connected to mainland Russia at any border. To the north, Serbia borders the Hapsburg kingdom of Hungary; to the northeast, east, south, and southwest, the Ottoman controlled vassals of Roumania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania respectively; and to the northwest the Austro-Venetian provinces of Croatia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.
The coastal Serbian sub-province of Montenegro (Zeta) allows access to the Adriatic Sea to Serbia, and thus, to Russia, especially through the Montenegrin capital of Kotor. There have been conflicts in recent years regarding to the Serbian northwestern border with Bosnia; Serbia draws the border slightly to the east of the provincial capital of Sarajevo, whereas Bosnia, controlled by Austria, marks the border just west of the Serbian mining town of Užice.
The interior of Serbia is dominated by the Pannonian Plain, a major series of grasslands and foothills that offer the province a strong agricultural production. Virtually all borders of Serbia, however, are made up naturally of staggering mountain ranges, some reaching 10,000 feet in height. The Dinaric Alps rise in the south, forming the border with Greece, whereas the Carpathian Mountains surround almost the entire rest of the country, forming all remaining borders. There is a slight break in the Carpathians in the Serbo-Roumanian border, where the Wallachian Plain extends into Serbia. This grants a convenient route for anybody traveling from Roumania into the rest of the Balkans.
GovernmentSerbia is a grand duchy currently under the rule of Grand Duke David III, of the House of Romanov. The grand duke exercises complete control of the region, even being able to overrule the Serbian legislative assembly. However, the province of Serbia, still being the property of the Russian Emperor, remains an integral part of the empire and the grand duke must first and foremost answer to the emperor, in this case Vladimir I. Only the emperor has the ability to remove the Grand Duke of Serbia at anytime. The grand duke resides in the Beli Dvor, or White Palace, in the Serbian capital of Belgrade.
The grand duke is backed by a unicameral parliament, the Serbian National Assembly (Народна скупштина). This legislative chamber is composed of elected officials who are able to ratify new bills and law to the people of Serbia. However, before anything can be passed, they must seek approval from the grand duke. Currently, the Serbian National Assembly has a membership of 150 men, more than three-fourths of which are ethnic Serbians, and the remainder are elected Russian politicians. The National Assembly meets and conducts business in Pašić Square, located in the heart of Belgrade.
Unlike most provinces of the Russian Empire, Serbia maintains its own independent economy. Whilst traditionally (and still largely) based on agricultural production, Serbia has begun to modernise and lean towards a more industrial-centred economy; something Russia has yet to do. Also unlike mainland Russia, Serbia passed the Freedom Act in 1730, a bill that outlaws the serfdom and slavery of any kind. An agrarian powerhouse, Serbia's chief exports include wheat, barley, and vegetation. The mountains within and surrounding Serbia, namely the Carpathian ranges, are known for their rich iron ore and coal depots. Modern production centres in Belgrade and Novi Sad have become chief steel manufacturing sites within the province and the Russian Empire as a whole.
Like the rest of the Russian Empire, the currency of Serbia is the Russian Ruble. However, the Serbian Perper is still legally used in some parts of the province.
According to a 1745 census (the first conducted by the Russian Empire in a new province), the current approximate population of Serbia is 4,350,000 people, more than a quarter of which live in the provincial capital of Belgrade. Serbs are by far the largest ethnic group within Serbia, making up more than eighty per cent of the population. Another ten per cent is made up of Bosnian peoples.
The remaining population identifies themselves as Albanian, Croat, Roumanian, Russian, or Greek.
The official state religion of Serbia is the Serbian Orthodox Church, which nearly ninety per cent of the country follows. The Russian Orthodox Chuch, in accordance to Russian ownership, is also an official state religion, though only about five per cent of the population follows that. As with the rest of the Russian Empire, religious freedom is a granted right among the citizens of Serbia. Religious minorities in the province include Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and others.
|Name (English)||Name (Serbian)||Population (1745)|
|2.||Novi Sad||Нови Сад||430,000|