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Anto Gvozdenović

Anto Gvozdenović (26 January 1853 – 2 September 1935) was a Montenegrin, Russian, and French general, a member of the Imperial Russian Privy Council, and a diplomat and statesman. He was the ambassador of Montenegro to the United States of America and was the President (Prime Minister) of the Government of Montenegro in Exile for two terms and the Regent to King Michael I.

In his last years, General Gvozdenović returned to Montenegro, where he rebuilt his home in Vući Do, Ceklići.

He died at his home in 1935, aged 82.


The House of Gvozdenović descended from Prince Rade Gvozdenović (1672–1750) who was elevated following his heroism at the battle of Tsarev Laz in 1712, of which a number of famous ballads were written and references made by the literary figure Vuk Karadžić. From Prince Rade came the name Gvozdenović (Gvozden-ović meaning son of Iron).

The Grandfather of General Gvozdenović was Prince Dumelja Gvozdenović (1813–1866). He married Maria Petrović-Njegoš (as her second husband), who was the aunt of King Nicholas I of Montenegro and sister of his father, Grand Duke Mirko of Montenegro. The heroism and exploits of Grand Duke Mirko of Montenegro and Prince Dumelja were recorded in accounts of the famous battle of Grahavac.

General Gvozdenović's nephew, Peter Gvozdenović married Joka Vukotić, niece of Queen Milena of Montenegro and the Granddaughter of the Montenegrin National Hero, Serdar Janko Vukotić. Peter Gvozdenović was one of the leaders of the 1918 Christmas uprising against the decisions of the Podgorica Assembly to merge Montenegro with Serbia.


General Gvozdenović was the last Prime Minister of Montenegro, having entered his countries political life late in his career. He was born in 1853 in Vuci Do. After graduating from the Cetinje Seminary, thanks to the backing of his godfather Prince Nicholas, he went on to study medicine in Moscow. An exceptional personality in many respects, overpoweringly intelligent, Gvozdenović won over his colleagues and professors who choose him as student representative at congresses in Berlin and London.

As a boy the future General had been sent to St Petersburg by his godfather, King Nicholas I of Montenegro, where he was to study in the Russian Military academy.

Following his studies, Dr. Gvozdenović joined the Imperial Russian Army and, under the command of General Skobelyev, took part in the expedition against Turkmenistan.

The General returned to Montenegro whenever he could and whenever there was a need. Back in 1876, as a student of Moscow University, upon hearing the news of a war with Turkey, he went back to Montenegro to participate in the defense of its freedom. His contribution in this war was immeasurable. An intellectual and a polyglot, Gvozdenović was assigned as an interpreter to V. Stillman, famous English publicist, painter and journalist and correspondent for the Times of London.

At the time Britain, in tune with its Bosporus policy, was on the side of the Turks in this war. However, Stillman's reports, articles and books, written under the great influence of Anto Gvozdenović, are filled with admiration for Montenegro, its history and its just battle for freedom. Stillman's texts greatly contributed to turning British public opinion in favour of Montenegro in her efforts to free the subjugated Balkan peoples. Even Gladstone himself spoke in favour of Montenegro, while Tennyson wrote his "Ode to Montenegro," one of the most beautiful poems devoted to that state.

In 1904, Gvozdenović went to Manchuria to serve in the Russo-Japanese War.[1] He was honored with the Russian Order of St. Stanislas with swords; and he received the rank of General of the Imperial Army.

Two of King Nicholas's daughters went on to marry Russian Grand Dukes, and Anto Gvozdenović played a role in affairs leading to the marriage of these kinsmen. In particular he remained close to Princess Anastasia with whom he had often played as a child at the Royal Palace in Cetinje. Princess Anastasia's marriage to Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaievitch came in 1907. The Grand Duke was the Uncle of Tsar Nicholas II and younger brother of Tsar Nicholas I and during the first World War Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Russian Armies.

General Gvozdenović remained close to the Imperial family and had large estates in the Crimea, he was a noted soldier, having fought in eight wars and was awarded with the Russian Imperial Military Order of the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious (St George); a Military Order awarded to officers for outstanding gallantry on the field of battle, and with the Russian Order of the Saint Apostolic Prince Vladimir (St Vladimir) awarded to those who had saved others from mortal danger; to persons who had achieved great distinction‚ while the bow on the sword indicated exceptional accomplishment while serving in the army.

The Tsar appointed General Gvozdenović to the Imperial Russian Privy Counsel before his retirement and return to Montenegro. Here he kept a suite of rooms at the Grand Hotel, Cetinje, and rebuilt and renovated a family property in Vući Do. Anto Gvozdenović kept an apartment in Rome and a permanent suite at the Hotel Maurice in Paris for some time.

Although already at a relatively advanced age, the news of the First Balkan War again saw the General return to Montenegro to fight for its freedom as a volunteer.

During World War I, after exile from Montenegro, General Gvozdenović was enlisted by France to be the Deputy Chief of its Medical Corps. During the battles that raged on the Western Front, carrying the insignia of the French Army, Gvozdenović stood in the front ranks. In the later stages of this war, General Gvozdenović once again placed himself at the disposal of King Nicholas, in the role of adjutant, ADC and personal adviser.

Following Montenegro's capitulation, General Gvozdenović remained permanently at King Nicholas's side and accompanied him on many diplomatic missions to European courts and to Allied front lines.

From 7 March 1921 to 16 March 1923 General Gvozdenović became co-Regent of the Kingdom of Montenegro with Queen Milena while King Michael I was still a minor. Between 17 March 1923 and 14 September 1929 he was Regent following Queen Milena's death.

General Anto Gvozdenović died on September 2, 1935 in the house he had built for himself in the grounds of his ancestral home. It was recorded that his last words were, "So, I am packing! Traveling off," as he twirled his gold pendant with four engraved aces, he said, "This is my only memento of Monte Carlo, where I played as a champion of the Russian Tsar. All has passed and all passes."

General Anto Gvozdenović is undoubtedly among the most prominent people that Montenegro has produced, an exceptional historical personality of the mid-19th and the early 20th century.

Persian armour

Among the numerous exhibits of exceptional value held in Montenegro's National Historical Museum, prominent position is given to a suit of Persian armour that belonged to General Gvozdenović . This rare work of art dates from a time when art flourished in the East. The lettering and rich ornamentation indicate that the armor was made in Persia, during the period before the use of the gun. The exquisitely worked gold decoration, the richness of the ornamentation and the beauty of the craftsmanship undoubtedly show that the armour to have been the property of a high Eastern feudal lord or ruler. The armour, along with the Order of St. Vladimir with crossed swords, were presented to General Gvozdenović in 1881 by General Skobelyev, in a citation that read 'for courage, intrepidness and military skill displayed in wars in Bulgaria and Turkmenistan'.


  1. Montenegrina, digitalna biblioteka crnogorske kulture (Montegreina, digital library of Montenegrin culture), Istorija: Đuro Batrićević, citing Batrićević, Đuro. (1996). Crnogorci u rusko-japanskom ratu (Montegegrans in the Russo-Japanese War); retrieved 2011-05-12; compare Dr Anto Gvozdenović: general u tri vojske. Crnogorci u rusko-japanskom ratu (Dr. Anto Gvozdenovic: General in Three Armies; Montegegrans in the Russo-Japanese War)


  • Batrićević, Đuro. (1996). Crnogorci u rusko-japanskom ratu (Montegegrans in the Russo-Japanese War). Cetinje: Obod. OCLC 040389738
  • __________. (1994). Dr Anto Gvozdenović: general u tri vojske. Crnogorci u rusko-japanskom ratu (Dr. Anto Gvozdenovic: General in Three Armies; Montegegrans in the Russo-Japanese War) Cetinje: Obod. 10-ISBN 8630501693/13-ISBN 9788630501692; OCLC 164797877

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Preceded by
Jovan Plamenac
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Montenegro in Exile
1 March 1921 – 13 January 1922
Succeeded by
Milutin Vučinić
Preceded by
Milutin Vučinić
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Montenegro in Exile
13 February 1922 – 13 July 1922
Succeeded by
position abolished

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