Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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SERVIA, Principality of. A semi-sovereign state, the youngest member of the European family, to use the expression of an English publicist, formed of a part of the old Servian empire founded by Douchan the Strong in the fourteenth century, the dismemberment of which followed soon after the death of that prince (1356). After the fatal day of Kossovo (1389), which paved the way for the subjection of the different Slave states of Turkey in Europe, the Servians acknowledged themselves vassals of the Ottoman porte by virtue of particular agreements, the tenor of which recalls the capitulations concluded about the same time between Turkey and Moldo-Wallachia, and which succeeded no better than the latter in protecting the national independence. Deprived of its despotes, or native chiefs, Servia was gradually reduced to the condition of a simple paschalic, until the day when, at the call of Kara-George and Miloch, it rose en masse against its oppressors, and alone, without other aid than its courage and the diplomatic assistance of Russia, forced, after twenty-two years of fight and negotiation (1804-1826), the porte to restore to it a part of its former rights. In 1826 the additional act of the convention of Akkerman (Oct. 7), confirmed three years after by the treaty of Adrianople, raised Servia into a tributary principality of the Ottoman porte, with the privileges of an independent internal administration.


—These privileges were stated and specified in a Hatti-shérif of Sultan Mahmoud, dated Aug. 3, 1830, which fixed the limits of the new state, and recognized, by a berat dated the same day, Miloch and his descendants forever as kniazes (princes) of Servia: a title which had been unanimously conferred upon the liberator three years before the Servian grand skoupchtina (national assembly). A second Hatti-shérif, promulgated in December, 1838, framed the oustav, or Servian statute, in sixty-six articles relative to the government, administration, finances, etc.


—The rights and immunities derived from these Hatti-shérifs received a new sanction by the treaty of Paris of 1856, which abolished the protectorate that Russia had established over Servia, substituting for it the collective guarantee of the contracting powers, and stipulated, at the same time, for the neutrality and inviolability of the Servian territory, as may be seen from articles twenty-eight and twenty-nine, worded thus: "Art. 28. The principality of Servia shall continue to depend upon the sublime porte, in conformity with the imperial Hattis which fix and determine its rights and immunities, placed henceforth under the collective guarantee of the contracting powers. Consequently, the aforesaid principality shall preserve its independent and national administration, as well as full freedom of conscience, legislation, commerce and navigation. Art. 29. No armed intervention shall take place in Servia without previous agreement between the high contracting powers."


—The situation of Servia, stationary during the reign of Alexander Karageorgevitch (September, 1842, to December, 1858), was improved both externally and internally in consequence of the revolution which called the Obrenovitchs to the throne. In 1862 the Turks consented to evacuate the fortresses of the Danube and the Save, with the exception of Belgrade, Semendria and Chabatz, which, in turn, were not long afterward restored to the Servians (1867). Two years after (July, 1869), the oustav was abolished by the skoupchtina, and replaced by the constitution which now rules Servia.


Political State. It results from the preceding that Servia enjoys exactly the same rights as a state, and is placed in the same position toward Turkey, as Roumania. Like the latter, its government and administration are completely independent of the suzerain power, to which it is only obliged to pay an annual tribute of 4,600 Turkish purses. It furnishes neither troops nor money in time of war. It preserves its national flag of tricolor bands with the arms of the principality embroidered in relief (a field of gules with a cross of silver, strewn with four sabres, and surmounted by a crown), and maintains at Constantinople, like Moldo Wallachia, an agent or resident (kapou kiaïa) accredited to the porte.


Area and Population. The area of the principality is estimated at 49,500 square kilometres. It forms five great territorial circumscriptions, divided, for administrative purposes, into seventeen departments (eighteen with the city of Belgrade), subdivided into sixty arrondissements, comprising 1,199 communes, of which forty are city communes and 1,159 are rural communes, with 2,200 villages.


—The population amounted, according to the census of 1866, to 1,215,576, as follows: Servians, 1,057,540; native Wallachians, 127,326; Jews, 5,539; and Bohemians (gypsies), 25,171. The domiciled foreigners (6,960) are not included in this number.


Government. The government is a constitutional monarchy, hereditary in the family of Obrenovitch. The prince, or kniaz, with the title of most serene highness, as well as the domnu of Roumania, exercises the powers and enjoys the prerogatives devolving upon the sovereign in constitutional states, promulgates the laws and ordinances, appoints the public officials, commands the military forces, signs agreements and treaties, and alone represents the nation with foreign powers. He governs with the aid of responsible ministers. The number of ministerial departments, limited to three by the oustav of 1838, was raised to seven by the law of 1861, interior, finances, foreign affairs, justice, public instruction and worship, war, public works. The prince shares the legislative power with the national assembly (skoupchtina). There are two kinds of skoupchtinas: the ordinary skoupchtina, which assembles every year, and the extraordinary or grand skoupchtina, convoked only in certain exceptional and fixed cases. The ordinary skoupchtina is composed of representatives elected by the nation, and of deputies (one-third) appointed by the executive power. Every tax-paying Servian is an elector at twenty-one years of age; every elector paying thirty francs tax is eligible. The constitution guarantees to the citizens equality before the law, individual liberty, religious liberty, liberty of the press, and the abolition of confiscation.


Administration. The departments (okroujie) are administered by prefects (natchalnik), the arrondissements by subprefects appointed by the government; the communes by kmètes elected by the inhabitants, and fulfilling both the functions of mayors and justices of the peace.


Justice. Justice is administered: 1, by a court of appeal (Belgrade), divided into three chambers; 2, by a court of appeal also sitting at Belgrade; 3, by tribunals of first resort sitting in chief towns of the departments; 4, by rural courts, established from time immemorial in each commune, and composed of the kmète and two assessors. The jury system was introduced in 1871, but only for certain cases. The proceedings before all the tribunals are public and oral. The death penalty is no longer inflicted in political offenses. Moreover, it is resorted to only in cases of premeditated murder. The duration of the punishment of forced labor of imprisonment can not exceed twenty years.


Public Instruction. According to published official accounts, there were in the principality, at the end of the scholastic year 1870-71, 484 communal schools, which furnish only elementary instruction, eighteen establishments of secondary instruction, one academy (Belgrade), composed of three faculties (law, science and philosophy); in all, 505 establishments, attended by 27,761 pupils (10,973 in 1861), which is only an average of 2¼ to every 100 inhabitants. But it is only just to remark that before 1830 Servia did not possess a single school, and that instruction was so far from being general, that the two founders of Servia's independence, Kara-George and Miloch, did not even know how to read. Instruction in all the schools is gratuitous; primary instruction is, in a certain measure, obligatory.


Worship. The prevailing religion is the Greek Catholic. All other creeds are freely professed. The Servian church is autocephalic (autonomous), that is, it governs itself, entirely independent of the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople, by a synod composed of the archbishop of Belgrade, metropolitan of Servia, and three diocesan bishops of Chabatz, Négotine and Oujitzé. The four dioceses together contained, in 1871, 379 churches and chapels, with 742 priests, and 42 monasteries, with 135 monks. The bishops are chosen by the synod and confirmed by the prince. The metropolitan is appointed directly by the synod.


Internal Relations. The principality maintains official relations: 1, with the Ottoman porte by means of a Servian chargé-d' affaires at Constantinople; 2, with the six guaranteeing powers (France, Austria, Great Britain, Italy, Prussia, Russia) through the medium of agents and consuls general of these powers accredited to the prince at Belgrade; 3, with Roumania, by means of the Servian agency at Bucharest (1862), and the Roumanian agency at Belgrade (1863). The principality also sends a delegate to the permanent river commission of the Danube, established by article seventeen of the treaty of Paris.


Military Forces. The military forces are composed of two distinct elements, although each completes the other: the standing army, which is, properly speaking, only a collection of the organizations of different sorts; and the militia, the organization of which resembles somewhat that of the Prussian landwehr. The first, which is recruited by lot, does not exceed 4,000 men. The second, composed of all the citizens from twenty to fifty years of age who do not form part of the standing army, is divided into three classes or bans. The first ban, formed of men from twenty to thirty years of age, has an effective force of 68,364 men, infantry, cavalry and artillery, divided into five commands, or voïvodies.


Finance. There are few countries in which the finances are administered with more wisdom than in Servia. Almost all the budgets show an excess of receipts. Thus the budget year 1870-71 showed an excess of receipts of 1,352,281 francs, out of a total of 14,309,242 francs. The principal sources of revenue are the direct taxes (7,661,200 fr.) and the customs (2,363,296 fr.). Among the expenditures (12,956,096 fr.) figure the general services of the ministries for a total of 10,765,090 francs, the civil list of the prince (504,000 fr.), the tribute to the Ottoman porte (494,027 fr.), the dotation of the legislative bodies (163,461 fr.), etc.


Commerce. The value of the imports for the four years 1868-71 presents an annual average of about 25,000,000 francs. The average of the exports for the same period was 29,426,100 francs. In 1868, in consequence of the extreme abundance of cereals, it rose to 38,000,000. The principal articles of export are: hogs, cattle, wool, hides, tallow, suet, brandy (plum) and cereals, which, until 1865, figured among the articles of import.*105


Notes for this chapter

The independence of Servia from Turkey was established by article thirty-four of the treaty of Berlin, signed July 13, 1878, and was solemnly proclaimed by Prince (now King) Milan at his capital, Aug. 22, 1878.

—The revenue of Servia is derived chiefly from direct imposts, including a general capitation tax, classified as to rank, occupation and income of each individual, and which is assessed, in the first instance, on the different communes or parishes. The budget for 1883 is as follows: revenue, £1,392,000; expenditures, £1,391,000; showing £900 surplus; and being an increase of revenue to the amount of £86,500 over the previous year. The increase (about the same) in the expenditure is chiefly due to the expenses incurred in reorganizing the Servian army on the German system. The national debt is about £5,500,000, £3,500,000 being incurred for the new railway (Belgrade-Vranja), the interest and amortization of which, during fifty years, is 6 percent.; £1,500,000 for a lottery loan, to repay the war requisition; £250,000 due to Russia; and £250,000 incurred in 1882 to pay the claims of the disinherited Turks in the annexed provinces. The interest and expenses on the debt amount to £310,000 in the budget for 1883.

—The standing army of Servia, on a peace footing, is 9,710 men—infantry, artillery, engineers and cavalry. Besides the standing army, there is the national militia; so that, on paper, in 1882, the total war force of Servia amounted to 210 battalions, with 225,000 men in all. This army has 810 officers, and some 300 pieces of artillery. The army is, however, being reorganized on the German system. By the new law every able-bodied Servian will be in the army from his twentieth to his fiftieth year. At twenty he enters for two years the regular army, afterward passing into the reserve until he reaches his thirtieth year. From thirty to thirty-seven he is in the first-class militia, and from thirty-seven until fifty in the second-class militia. The infantry will have fifteen battalions, and the cavalry two regiments. The total war force will be 135 battalions, with 160,000 men.

—Servia had, in 1883, a population of nearly 1,750,000. The inhabitants are almost entirely Slaves, the Turkish population on the territory (4,250 square miles) acquired from Turkey by the Berlin treaty having rapidly disappeared. There are leas than 2,000 Jews (who have much of the commerce of the country in their hands). The gypsy population, it is stated, is turning to the cultivation of the land, on the advantageous terms offered to them by the government.

—The state is divided into twenty-one counties. In religion Servia is almost independent of the patriarch of Constantinople. There are about 10,000 Roman Catholics, chiefly subjects of Austria-Hungary, with about 460 Protestants. The excess of births over deaths amounted to 15,355 in 1880, and to 36,836 in 1881.

—The chief trade of Servia is with Austria. Besides, with that country, as remarked above, commercial intercourse is mainly carried on with France, the United States, Turkey and Roumania. The total imports are officially valued at about £2,000,000, and the exports at considerably less, mainly to and from Austria and Turkey. Live animals are the chief article of export, particularly pigs, which are kept in countless herds, feeding on the acorns which cover the ground for miles. Large quantities of cereals, hides and prunes, are also exported. The commercial resources of Servia are as yet wholly undeveloped, chiefly for want of roads, but a railway from Belgrade to Vranja is being constructed. There are 1,370 miles of telegraph.—F. M.


End of Notes

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