Clasic Montenegro Stamps

Turkey today is a country with only moderate influence in areas that most often make headlines in American newspapers. But until World War I Turkey was often an important player in the European theater. Turkey, through Byzantium, later named Constantinople, was at the heart of the Eastern Roman Empire, and though Rome itself was sacked in the fifth century and the western Roman Empire formally ended at that time, the empire in the east continued until the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in the fifteenth century. The Ottomans continued to dominate the politics of Eastern and Southern Europe and nowhere was this more evident than in the Balkan area. The Balkans are a mountainous area in southeastern Europe that have been at the fulcrum of much European turmoil. Because of its geographic location the Balkans have been the path from Asia to Europe and so have been a buffer for both Turks and Europeans wishing to secure their borders. Montenegro is a small and mountainous country along the Balkan coast and today has a population of about 650,000. Since about the twelfth century Montenegro has always had a degree of autonomy. The people are independent and the country would be hard to occupy and secure so the Byzantines and later the Ottomans were happy to secure influence through a series of suzerainty relationships, which left Istanbul in control of Montenegro’s foreign affairs and left the Montenegrins in charge of themselves. In 1878, under Prince Nicholas I (who is on the first Montenegrin stamps) Montenegro obtained formal independence and one of its first acts was to issue postage stamps. These stamps have many varieties and were issued in sufficient quantities that even today most are readily available. After WWII Montenegro was absorbed into Yugoslavia, a nation state that consolidated many of the Balkan States and which has fallen apart in recent years with such disastrous consequences for the region.

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