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king, officers, queen, coup and draga

ALEXANDER I (OBRENovircu), King of Serbia, second son of King Milan and Queen Nathalie: b. 14 Aug. 1876; d. 10 June 1903. He received his education chiefly in Serbia where he mingled with a band of young officers of no very high culture. Even from his early boy hood those officers poisoned Alexander's mind with distrust in the political friends who sur rounded him after the abdication of his father in 1889. From that time to 1893, as Alexander was under age, the executive power of the state was vested in a regency of three statesmen. But in April of that year Alexander, then only in his 17th year, by a cleverly prearranged coup &hat, proclaimed himself of age, ousted the regents, dismissed their government and took the executive power into his own hands. His act met with unbounded approval from the leaders of the then mighty Radical party and Alexander forthwith appointed a Radical ministry presided over by Mr. Pashitch. The Radicals, in their turn, were estranged when their king, by another coup d'etat, abolished the liberal constitution granted by his father in 1889 and restored that of 1869 which was not only conservative but even somewhat autocratic in character. During the summer of 1900, when King Milan was in Austria endeavoring to secure for his son the hand of a German prin cess, Alexander, to the amazement of all his friends, married his former mistress, Mme. Draga Mashin, the widow of a civil engineer and former lady-in-waiting to Queen Nathalie. Even Milan refused to condone this action, for Mme. Mashin was a woman much older than Alexander and of so impossible a reputation that the possibility, had it existed, of her bear ing an heir to the throne could not but be revolting to the Serbian people. Under Draga's influence Alexander initiated a rule of almost Neronian tyranny. The Radical party was

terrorized by one coup &flat after another; the vulgar Queen offered incessant insults to the highest dignitaries of the state and court officers, she roused the whole country to a white heat of excitement by a simulated accouche ment, and when the myth was exploded and the friendship of the Russian Tsar lost, she began to intrigue to secure the succession for her own brother, Lieutenant Nikodiye, a man as objectionable and arrogant as the Queen herself. Thus blunders and outrages followed each other under the most impossible couple that ever occupied a throne. King Alexander, in order to veil his ill deeds before the eyes of the people, granted a comparatively liberal con stitution (April 1901) only to suspend it by another coup d'etat (March 1903). This aroused the indignation not only of the members of the National Assembly (Skupshtina) and the Senate, but also, and especially, of the army officers. The end of Alexander and Draga came, however, on the night of 10 June 1903; a group of malcontent officers entered the pal ace and murdered the King. On this occasion Draga was also mortally wounded as revolver shots were exchanged in the complete darkness which reigned in the palace on account of the electric wires having been cut by the friends of the King. Draga s brother, the prime min ister, the minister of war and Alexander's aide de-camp were also assassinated. The next day the army proclaimed Prince Peter Karageorge vitch, son of Alexander Karageorgevitch and grandson of Kara-George Petrovitch, King of Serbia, which election was confirmed five days later by the National Assembly.