History of Montenegro

Reign of Đurađ IV Crnojević
1490 Jan 1 - 1496

Reign of Đurađ IV Crnojević


Đurađ IV Crnojević became ruler of Zeta in 1490. His rule lasted until 1496. Đurađ, Ivan's oldest son, was an educated ruler. He is most famous for one historical act: he used the printing press brought to Cetinje by his father to print the first books in southeastern Europe, in 1493. The Crnojević printing press marked the beginning of the printed word among South Slavs. The press operated from 1493 through 1496, turning out religious books, five of which have been preserved: Oktoih prvoglasnik, Oktoih petoglasnik, Psaltir, Molitvenik, and Četvorojevanđelje. Đurađ managed the printing of the books, wrote prefaces and afterwords, and developed sophisticated tables of Psalms with the lunar calendar. The books from the Crnojević press were printed in two colors, red and black, and were richly ornamented. They served as models for many books printed in Cyrillic.

After the rule of Zeta was handed to Đurađ, his youngest brother, Staniša, with no chance to succeed his father, Ivan, went to Constantinople and converted to Islam, receiving the name of Skender. As a loyal servant of the Sultan, Staniša became the Sanjak-bey of Shkodra. His brothers, Đurađ and Stefan II, continued the struggle against Ottomans. The historical facts are unclear and disputed, but it seems that the Venetians, frustrated by their own inability to subdue the House of Crnojević to their own interests, managed to kill Stefan II and deceitfully sent Đurađ to Constantinople. Principally, Đurađ visited Venice to work on the wide anti-Ottoman campaign, but was kept in captivity for some time while Stefan II was defending Zeta against the Ottomans. It is likely that upon his return to Zeta, Đurađ was kidnapped by the Venetian agents and sent to Constantinople under the accusation that he had been organizing a Holy War against Islam. There are some unreliable claims that Đurađ was given Anatolia to rule, but in any case the reports about Đurađ's whereabouts ceased after 1503.