Ristitch - Encyclopedia

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RISTITCH (or RrsTicH), JOVAN (1831-1899), Servian statesman, was born at Kragugevats in 1831. He was educated at Belgrade, Heidelberg, Berlin and Paris. After failing to obtain a professorship in the high school of Belgrade, he was appointed in 1861 Servian diplomatic agent at Constantinople. His reputation was enhanced by the series of negotiations which ended in the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the Servian fortresses in 1867. On his return from Constantinople he was offered a ministerial post by Prince Michael, who described him as "his right arm," but declined office, being opposed to the reactionary methods adopted by the prince's government. He had already become the recognized leader of the Liberal party. After the assassination of Prince Michael in 1868, he was nominated member of the council of regency, and on the 2nd January 1869 the first Servian constitution, which was mainly his creation, was promulgated. When Prince Milan attained his majority in 1872, Ristitch became foreign minister; a few months later he was appointed prime minister, but resigned in the following autumn (1873). He again became prime minister in April 1876, and conducted the two wars against Turkey (July 1876-1876-March 1877 and December 1877-March 1878). At the congress of Berlin he laboured with some success to obtain greater advantages for Servia than had been accorded to her by the treaty of San Stefano. The provisions of the treaty of Berlin, however, disappointed the Servians, owing to the obstacles now raised to the realization of the national programme; the Ristitch government became unpopular, and resigned in 1880. In 1887 King Milan (who had assumed the royal title in 1882), alarmed at the threatening attitude of the Radical party, recalled Ristitch to power at the head of a coalition cabinet; a new constitution was granted in 1888, and in the following year the king abdicated in favour of his son, Prince Alexander. Ristitch now became head of a council of regency, entrusted with power during the minority of the young king, and a Radical ministry was formed. In 1892, however, Ristitch transferred the government to the Liberal party, with which he had always been connected. This step and the subsequent conduct of the Liberal politicians caused serious discontent in the country. On the 1st (13th) of April 1893 King Alexander, by a successful stratagem, imprisoned the regents and ministers in the palace, and, declaring himself of age, recalled the Radicals to office. Ristitch now retired into private life. He died at Belgrade on 4th September 1899. Though cautious and deliberate by temperament, he was a man of strong will and firm character. He was the author of two published works: The External Relations of Servia from 1848 to 1867 (Belgrade, 1887) and A Diplomatic History of Servia (Belgrade, 1896). (J. D. B.)

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