Realm of the Black Mountain

A History of Montenegro

August 2024 9781911723332 576pp, 26 colour illus
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Montenegro was admitted to the UN as its 192nd member in June 2006, thus recovering the independence it had lost nearly ninety years earlier at the Versailles Peace Conference. This is the first full-length history of the country in English for a century, tracing the history of the tiny Balkan state from its earliest roots in the medieval empire of Zeta through its consistently ambiguous and frequently problematic relationship with its larger neighbour Serbia, the emergence of a priest/warrior ruler in the shape of the Vladika and its emergence from Ottoman suzerainty state at the Congress of Berlin. More recently, the book focuses on its troubled twentieth century history, its prominent role in the Balkan wars, its unique deletion from world maps as an independent state despite being on the winning side in the Great War, its ignominious role in the wars leading to the disintegration of Yugoslavia and its final reemergence as a member of the international community on the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo in 2006.


‘A fascinating book. It is the history of Montenegro from its origins as Zeta to its emergence in early modern times as a defiant, violent and romantic principality ruled by elected Prince-Bishops until, in the eighteenth century, the throne became hereditary. The centuries of warfare against the Ottomans are described in gripping detail. […] This is an extraordinary book, plainly written, scholarly yet gripping, that presents, through the lens of a tiny, almost forgotten country, a new way of seeing and understanding the great events of modern history.’ —  Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Spectator

‘A richly detailed and timely new history of Montenegro.’— Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian

‘Elizabeth Roberts, a former diplomat who has taught Balkan history, has filled [a gap]. Now that she has produced such a thorough book, future historians may not bother again: if one history was enough for the last century, perhaps one is enough for this century too.’ — The Economist

‘[…] an intelligent, readable and very important study. A historical book could hardly be more relevant for the future, perhaps for the near future, than this one.’ — Aleksa Djilas

‘The need for an up-to-date study of Montenegrin history is self-evident. Elizabeth Roberts has provided a succinct, intelligent and readable account of this difficult and complex subject.’ — Prof. Richard Crampton, University of Oxford


Elizabeth Roberts is a Balkan scholar and former diplomat, who taught Southeast European History at universities in the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America. A recognised authority on Balkan history, she is the co-author of The Sandžak: A History, also published by Hurst.

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