The last years of King Milan’s life were marked by several events that contributed to his end. First of all, we are talking about the Midsummer assassination in 1899, which, as an attempt to kill King Milan himself, caused a great political upheaval in Serbia. The following year, in 1900, King Alexander’s marriage to his mother’s court lady Draga Mašin, as a disastrous political and personal decision from King Milan’s point of view, contributed to ruining his health. He settled in Vienna and in January 1901 he fell seriously ill. Already on February 10th, he passed away alone and far from his family, without a final farewell to his son. He was buried in Krušedol monastery, on Austro-Hungarian land at the expense of the emperor, and King Alexander was not allowed to transfer his body to Serbia.
We celebrate November 29th as the day of liberation of Kraljevo from the German occupation. After a 42-day siege, joint units of the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and the Red Army liberated Kraljevo on the night between November 28th and 29th, 1944. Kraljevo played an important strategic role in the operation to withdraw the German army from Greece, both because of its position on that important route and as an important railway hub. A bridgehead was erected around the city in a length of about 35 km, and numerous German units concentrated between 20,000 and 30,000 soldiers in the city. The army of the liberators was two to three times smaller.
With the return of King Milan to Serbia on January 21st, 1894, internal political relations were settled. Conspiracy related to Kraljevo industrialist Mihailo Čebinac, as well as the coup d’état of the young Alexander Obrenović on May 21st, which abolished the Constitution of 1888 and restored the one of 1869, are part of this instability. The famous military doctor, politician, and diplomat Vladan Đorđević became the Prime Minister, and the former King Milan became the commander of the active army. The former king’s activities laid the foundation for the glorious Serbian victories in the Balkan Wars and the First World War.
On this day, November 11th, 1918, the armistice between the Allies and the German Empress was signed in the railway carriage of French Marshal Ferdinand Foch in the city of Compiègne. The capitulation of the German Empire ended the First World War, or the Great War, which brought, until then, unprecedented destruction and human sacrifice. This important day in Serbia is celebrated as a national holiday. Our city, Kraljevo, was under occupation by enemy troops from November 1915 until October 22nd, 1918, when the Serbian army entered at around 07:00 p.m., after crossing the Ibar.
On this day, November 3rd, 2010, at 1 hour and 56 minutes local time, Kraljevo was hit by a strong earthquake of magnitude 5.3 – 5.4 on the Richter scale. The epicentre of the earthquake was 10 km northeast of Kraljevo, in the village of Sirča, along an 8 km long fault, in the Gruža river valley, in the Čačak-Kraljevo basin. The hypocentre of the earthquake was located at a depth of about 13 km. The earthquake was felt throughout Serbia, in neighbouring Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and on a global scale it is considered an earthquake of moderate intensity.
The life of King Milan after his abdication is more reminiscent of an exciting novel than of political history. It starts from a love affair with Artemisia, the wife of his secretary Milan Hristić, which included the birth of her son George in Constantinople, where she took refuge, through the king’s life in Paris accompanied by gambling and huge debts, to problems and conflicts with Queen Natalie and her return in Belgrade. But the coup d’état carried out by the young Alexander Obrenović will also bring a political turn for the King of Milan himself.
Today, October 7th, 2022, we celebrate King’s Day, the Day of the City of Kraljevo, when the Serbian Orthodox Church celebrates St. Simon, that is, the holy king Stefan Provovenčani, the founder of the Žiča Monastery.
Painters from Constantinople, who were between 1369-1421 emigrated to Kandia (Heraklion), they played a significant role in the creation of Cretan painting, bringing the iconographic and stylistic trends of the Byzantine capital. The new style brought to Crete by the artists of Constantinople and the influence of Western art encouraged by the Venetian presence on the island, as well as the appearance of a rich and educated bourgeoisie that supported art, influenced the appearance of great painters and a distinctive style in icon painting known as the Cretan school of painting or the Italo-Cretan school.
King Milan, faced with challenges and complications, was often preoccupied with the thought of resignation. Expecting a major conflict and war between the two empires in the Balkans, faced with indignation from Saint Petersburg, and unconvinced of the unconditional support of the official Vienna, the Serbian king did not believe that he would be able to persevere in his position for long. The defeat in the war with Bulgaria represented a new blow, and the divorce from Queen Natalie after the scandal in Wiesbaden brought a sense of shame and humiliation. Circumstances inevitably led to abdication in favor of the minor heir to the throne, Alexander.
Although the first years of the marriage of King Milan and Queen Natalie were extremely happy, the situation changed over time. Harmonious relations were disturbed by the numerous infidelities of the Serbian ruler, the dramatic difference in the characters of the spouses, and, finally, the opposites in political views surfaced.