George Obrenovic
Milan George Obrenovic born Obren Christich was the natural
Legitimacy (law)
At common law, legitimacy is the status of a child who is born to parents who are legally married to one another; and of a child who is born shortly after the parents' divorce. In canon and in civil law, the offspring of putative marriages have been considered legitimate children...

 son of King Milan I of Serbia and his mistress Artemisia Christich (née Joanides). After the regicide
The broad definition of regicide is the deliberate killing of a monarch, or the person responsible for the killing of a monarch. In a narrower sense, in the British tradition, it refers to the judicial execution of a king after a trial...

 of his half brother King Alexander in 1903 George became a claimant to the Serbian throne in opposition to the new king, Peter Karageorgevich before ending his life in obscurity.

Birth and family background

Although commonly known as George Obrenovic he was born in Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where the Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. According to official results of Census 2011, the city has a population of 1,639,121. It is one of the 15 largest cities in Europe...

 as Obren Christich. Acknowledged by King Milan as his son, he was given the name Obren at birth to underline his kinship to the ruling House of Obrenovic
House of Obrenovic
The House of Obrenović was a Serbian dynasty that ruled Serbia from 1815 to 1842, and again from 1858 to 1903. They came to power through the leadership of their progenitor Miloš Obrenović in the Second Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire, which led to the formation of the Principality of...

. The husband of George’s mother was Milan Christich, the king’s private secretary and son of the Serbian statesman Filip Christich
Filip Hristić
Filip Hristić was Prince's Representative , Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Education, Governor of National Bank, permanent Extraordinary Minister Plenipotentiary of Serbia in Constantinople, Vienna, Berlin and London, and an honorary member of the Serbian Royal Academy.-Early:Filip...


The relationship between the parents of George and the fact his mother was living in the Royal Palace, caused a great scandal and resulted in Queen Natalie fleeing Belgrade with her son Crown Prince Alexander for Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden is a city in southwest Germany and the capital of the federal state of Hesse. It has about 275,400 inhabitants, plus approximately 10,000 United States citizens...

 in the German Empire. His mother’s husband was subsequently removed from his position as private secretary and sent abroad as Serbian Minister to Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 on condition his wife stays in Belgrade. This appointment fell through however after the Berlin court made it clear he was unwelcome so he was instead sent to Rome. Although King Milan had given a written promise of marriage to Artemisia his attempts to divorce Queen Natalie were opposed by Michael, the Metropolitan of Belgrade.

Eventually both of George’s parents secured divorces from their respective spouses. Five months after his divorce on 6 March 1889 King Milan abdicated from the Serbian throne angering George’s mother. After eventually growing tired of ex-King Milan’s demands for money from her, Artemisa took George to live in Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 where her father lived and had acquired substantial wealth first as a landscape gardener and architect to the Ottoman sultan and later in Banking. Ex-King Milan then broke off his promise of marriage and turned instead to the Serbian government for financial assistance and was eventually even reconciled with his ex wife Queen Natalie on 8 March 1893.

Serbian pretender

With the breakdown of the relationship of his parents George was raised in a privileged environment by his mother in Constantinople. Following the death in 1901 of his father in exile in Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, George’s life changed. Some of his late father’s friends who were appalled by his half brother King Alexander’s treatment of King Milan took an interest in him as a possible candidate for the Serbian throne. One friend, the Hungarian count Eugene Zichy, assumed the role of his guardian. Count Eugene generally treated him as his own son and attempted to get the agreement of Emperor Franz Joseph I
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 to enrol George in the Theresian Military Academy
Theresian Military Academy
The Theresian Military Academy is an academy, where the Austrian Armed Forces train their officers. The Academy is located in the castle of Wiener Neustadt in Lower Austria.- History :...

. However as his pretensions to the Serbian throne were not viewed favourably in Vienna the emperor refused to allow his enrolment.

Although the natural son of King Milan and even though his half brother and his consort Queen Draga were without an heir George was not seen by his half brother as a possible successor to the throne. Instead the queens brother Nikodije Lunjevica and Prince Mirko of Montenegro
Prince Mirko of Montenegro
Prince Mirko Dimitri Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro, Grand Voivode of Grahovo and Zetà was born at Cetinje, the second son of King Nicholas I of Montenegro and Milena Vukotic...

, who was married to Natalija Konstantinović
Natalija Konstantinović
Natalija Konstantinović was a Princess of Montenegro as the wife of Prince Mirko Petrović-Njegoš. The couple had five sons; however, two died in early childhood. They divorced in 1917, a year after the royal family was forced to flee the kingdom...

 (granddaughter of Princess Anka Obrenović
Princess Anka Obrenović
Princess Anka Obrenović was a member of the Serbian royal Obrenović dynasty as the niece of the dynasty's founder Miloš Obrenović I, Prince of Serbia. She was also a society leader and writer whose translations in 1836 were the first literary works compiled by a woman to be published in Serbia...

) were talked of as being named the heir.

After the regicide of his half brother King Alexander and his consort Queen Draga in 1903 the throne of Serbia was offered to Prince Peter Karageorgevich whose family had a decades long feud with the Obrenovic’s over the throne. As the sole male line descendant of the Obrenovic’s, George’s guardian Count Eugene claimed that his father King Milan had legally adopted him and as such this was enough to legitimise him, and his claims to the throne and make him the heir to his father and half brother. George had support within Serbia in the aftermath of the regicide with his supporters posting proclamations in Belgrade and fighting with supporters of the newly elected king, Peter Karageorgevich. Although there were reports that George and his mother were to cross over into Serbia nothing came of this and the Ottoman sultan advised his mother that he should be kept off the streets over fears that he would be assassinated.

In 1906, three years after the death of his half brother and the accession of King Peter Karageorgevich, George made an unsuccessful attempt to gain the throne of Serbia. In June while studying in Klausenburg, Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 a dispute in a coffee shop led to a duel
A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two individuals, with matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules.Duels in this form were chiefly practised in Early Modern Europe, with precedents in the medieval code of chivalry, and continued into the modern period especially among...

 with swords being fought between George and a university student. Although he survived the duel he came off worse sustaining injuries to his head, shoulder and breast. He suffered a further blow at the end of that year when his guardian Count Eugene Zichy died on Boxing Day leaving George little in his will having used his own money to support his pretensions, as King Milan had left nothing to his son. All was not lost however as he still had a large inheritance to look forward to from his grandfather in Constantinople.

Fall into obscurity

Back in the Ottoman capital in February 1907 George survived an assassination attempt when a man wielding a dagger attempted to stab him in his chest, however he escaped with just a scratch after the dagger hit a thick pocket book he was carrying. Five months later in July 1907 a bomb went off outside the US Embassy in Constantinople. As George lived in a house adjourning the embassy word spread that it was an assassination attempt by agents of King Peter Karageorgevich. This explanation for the bombing was met with some scepticism and viewed by some as an attempt to use the explosion to keep George in the public eye. The following month it was reported that he had attempted to take his own life after the Ottoman authorities had refused to allow him to assume the surname Obrenovic. There may however have been other issues on his mind as an investigation into the bombing concluded that George had set it up himself to make it look like an attempt on his life. As a result he was expelled from Turkey by the Sultan. The discovery also cost George his inheritance from his grandfather who was furious at his grandsons actions wrote him out of his will. His grandfather died later that year before any chance for reconciliation could ever take place.

Now banished from Turkey George made his way to Paris before heading to Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 where he received some support from his late father’s friends who saw the potential that he may oneday ascend the Serbian throne. To help boost his finances failed attempts were also made to secure a rich wife from Austria-Hungary or America for him. When the support came to an end he largely disappeared from view travelling around Europe and falling into debt. Eventually he fell into comparative poverty and tried his hand at a number of different jobs to survive. After his attempt to work in the Austro-Hungarian state ministries failed due his lack of qualifications he worked at various jobs such as a stable boy and professional jockey before trying his hand at singing in Café’s and on stage, until he was forced to abandon that career by the police due to the fact he had been billing himself as a prince. He then went on to work as a waiter, and a porter in sleeping cars on the Orient Express
Orient Express
The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train service originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. It ran from 1883 to 2009 and is not to be confused with the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train service, which continues to run.The route and rolling stock...

. His name reappeared in connection to his old pretensions during the Great War when it was falsely reported in January 1916 that he had been proclaimed King of Serbia by the Germans and Austro-Hungarians.

George later went on to became a writer however the only book he ever wrote, which was about the life of his father King Milan, was suppressed by the Serbian government. George Obrenovic died penniless in a Hungarian poorhouse
A poorhouse or workhouse was a government-run facility in the past for the support and housing of dependent or needy persons, typically run by a local government entity such as a county or municipality....

 on 9 October 1925.

Possible descendants

According to a 2003 article by the Serbian media company Novosti AD
Novosti AD
Novosti AD is a Serbian media company founded in 1953.Among its assets, the company holds high-circulation daily newspapers Večernje novosti and JSL Sport as well as various periodicals...

, George had a son called Stefan who served as a cavalry captain in the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

. Stefan in turn had a son named Panta (Panka) Obrenovic (also known as Mark Eme) who served as chairman of the "Fund Obrenović" until his death in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

in early 2002.
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