Not until I was well into this book did I realize how much it is needed. The son of illiterate Serbian immigrants from Montenegro, I knew almost no early Montenegrin history. Some of that history is noble, some confused, and some characterized by treachery and double-dealing. There were plots and counterplots. Agreements were always of short duration, and reliability and trust were rare. Significantly,
there were no ancient peoples whose territory corresponded to modern Albania or Serbia, much less to Montenegro . . . it was only when Serbs from different regions were able to unite in opposition to Byzantium, under the Nemanjic dynasty, that they were able to create a successful Serbian state.
Thomas Fleming describes the rise of Zeta as a prelude to “The Serbian Golden Age”—when the Serbian state, for over 100 years, was the strongest empire in the Balkans. The period saw the building of the finest of the Serbian monasteries and the creation of Tsar Dusan’s legal code, one of two of Europe’s historic codes. Before his death in 1355, Dusan was on the verge of conquering what was left of the Byzantine Empire. But following his death came division and decline and, in 1389, the defeat by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Kosovo. In the centuries after Kosovo in all Serbian lands, and especially in Montenegro,