Military


Cattaro / Kotor

Cattaro, the capital of the circle of the same name, is a small fortified town of 4000 inhabitants as of 1910. Cattaro is situated in magnificent scenery, at the extremity of the deep winding gulf, and at the foot of the lofty mountains of Montenegro. The white houses and villages in its neighbourhood, scattered along the shores, among trees and vineyards, added a softer beauty to the sterner features of the rocky cliffs behind.

The Bocche di Cattaro is famous for wild scenery, but no other part compares with Cattaro itself, surrounded as it is by mountains which soar aloft as superbly as those of any Norwegian fjord. The mountains which comprise Montenegro, dull and cold, gaunt and bare, rise majestically from the smiling blue waters of the bay to a smiling blue sky above. To the right of the town is Lovtchen, or Monte Cella, as it is also called, hanging threateningly over the city "like a frowning demon awaiting an opportune moment to pounce upon and devour the frightened little town crouching at its feet.

The Bocche di Cattaro is the Rhizonicus Siimt of the Romans, Rhizon being the modern Risano. On the right is the fort called Punta d'Arza, and on an island in mid-channel the fort Mamola. The first basin of the Bocche is named after the picturesque town of Castelunovo. The others are those of Teodo, Risano, and Cattaro. The walls and forts of Castelunovo are old, but it has nothing else of interest. The mountains are more and more stupendous, and the waterway narrower, until the channel called Le Catene, or The Chains. Here the people of Cattaro defended themselves against the Venetian fleet by chains stretched from shore to shore. Next, the basin of Risano opens on the left, surrounded by high mountains. Close to Perasto are two islets, each with a monastery and a green-domed church. One is that of S. Giorgio, the other that of the Madonna dello Scalpello, with a very holy portrait of the Virgin, attributed to St. Luke. Passing Dobrota and Perzagno, at the end of the gulf and amid scenery of amazing boldness we find Cattaro itself.

Cattaro, a town of 2000 people. is one of the most curious places in Europe. Crowded on to a strip of beach between the water's edge and the precipices of Loveen or Monte Sells, it is hemmed in by limestone mountains so high that Constantino Porphyrogenitus, in his account of the place, declares that the sun only reaches it in the height of summer. Above the town the fortification walls cling to the cliff, and leap at odd angles from rock to rock, till they culminate in the Castle of S. Giovanni, perched on an aiguille that projects from the mountain-side ; and, over all, the seemingly perpendicular mass of Lovden towers to a height of 3000 ft., scored by the innumerable zigzags of the Cettinje road.

By the end of the 19th Century even in Cattaro the Roman Catholics barely outnumbered the Orthodox, while among the Bocchesi they were in a minority of one to three. Italian was generally understood, but very badly spoken, among the townspeople. At that time Montenegrin bazaar was held outside the Porta Finmara, and good costumes may be seen there. The Montenegrins may be known by the monogram H l (Nicholas First) on their caps. The 2nd and 3rd of February were kept as holy days in honor of St. Trifon, the patron of the town, and celebrated with processions, shooting, dancing, and feasts.

The buildings of Cattaro are not of the splendor to which other Dalmatian towns are accustomed, the Italian influence has given way to an almost purely Slavonic population. The Cathedral of San Trifone has twin towers of the 16th century, with large archway and rose. Within are columns of cipollino and granite with antique capitals. Outside the central apse is a good window. The Duomo has a striking facade, composed of a low deep entrance arch between two lofty towers, but the detail is baroque. The Romanesque interior is very lofty, with a nave arcade like that of Zara. The columns are probably Roman. There is a noble pyramidal baldacchino, like that at Trail, with a silver-gilt pala, both dating from 1362. A Byzantine doorhead in the sacristy and a rich window outside the central apse are worth notice. Adjoining the cathedral is a series of fine marble reliefs, illustrating the life of S. Trifone. The Collegiata has a plain nave in three bays, of which the central one is domed, while another forms the apse. On a projecting rock immediately behind the town stands the castle, a strong fortification, and rendered nearly inaccessible by the precipices around.

The domed Church of S.M. Infunara, dating from 1220, is of some interest ; and so is the Greek Church of S. Luca, restored and consecrated in 1368 on the site and with the arrangement of an older church. To many travellers from the North this would have been their first sight of a church arranged for the Greek ritual, with the iconostasis or screen hiding all the altars from view. There was a Roman town, Ascrivium, on this site, fortified A.D. 535 by Justinian. In the 11th cent, Cattaro was leagued with Ragusa against Servia, to whom, however, in 1184 she submitted, on condition that her municipal liberties were respected. By the 13th century, the commerce of Cattaro had so far increased that she could make treaties with Ragusa. The struggles between Hungary and Venice followed as a matter of course, and in 1420 the Venetian admiral Pietro Loredano took possession, followed in 1478 by the Turks. The 16th and 17th centuries were a record of earthquake and plague. In 1797 came the Austrian occupation ; and in 1806 Cattaro was ceded to France, but seized by the Russians until the peace of Tilsit.

The harbor of Cattaro was ceded to Napoleon as part of Dalmatia ; and he attached particular value to it as an inlet to the Balkan peninsula. In 1806 Napoleon meant to get possession of Montenegro, come to an understanding with Ali Pasha of Janina. and so gain influence over the Sultan and counteract the policy of Russia. The Russians and Montenegrins were alarmed at the prospect of French troops at Cattaro ; and, before their arrival, the Austrian officer who was in command there was persuaded to hand over the place to a Russian force from Corfu. The French army was on the point of evacuating Austria when this news reached Napoleon. He sent orders at once that the troops should halt, and that firauuau should be reoccupied. He informed the Court of Vienna that hostilities would be resumed if it failed to put him in possession of Cattaro ; if the Russians refused to give it up, Austrian troops must join with French troops in besieging it. Francis appealed to the Tsar, but Cattaro was not given up ; and Napoleon had to content himself with seizing Ragusa.

In 1813 the English, under Hoste, took the town, which was held by Montenegrins until the final occupation by Austria in 1814. Under the Dual Monarch the frontier of Montenegro was very close, though a small piece of territory here was given to the Austrians under the Treaty of Berlin, 1878. The Austrians carried, by numerous zigzags, a splendidly constructed military road up to the frontier. The market held outside the eastern gate of Cattaro was frequented by the Montenegrins, whose rich dress and silver-mounted arms may there be admired.

A new road, constructed by the Austrians, and a splendid feat of modern engineering, had replaced a perilously steep and rough foot-path that was in use for centuries by peasants in their long journeys over the mountains. This "Ladder of Cattaro," as it is called, mounts the steep side of the Lovtchen, seeming to lurch from side to side like a drunken man, onward and onward, passing the castle and zigzagging its weary way over a wilderness of rock.

Early in 1915 Montenegro had met with an attack similar to that which had crumpled up so completely her friend and neighbor, Serbia. The Austrian onslaught, which had been a long time in preparation, was prosecuted with violence, and menaced several important positions close to and on the Adriatic coast. The great Montenegrin stronghold, Mount Lovtchen, behind but overlooking Cattaro, had been easily taken. The Austrians here delivered furious attacks, supported by a hurricane of uninterrupted fire from warships and forts off or near Cattaro. The capture of the mountain was not only a severe blow to Montenegro, but to Italian prestige in the Adriatic.

Mount Lovtchen dominated the Austrian naval port of Cattaro, and Cattaro controlled the Dalmatian coast. To reduce Cattaro and its guardian trols the Dalmatian coast. To reduce Cattaro and its guardian forts at Vermatz, and to force the Austrian fleet hiding in the Bocche di Cattaro out into the open sea, had been an objective of the Allies since the war began. From behind the mountain islands which obstruct the waters of Cattaro had issued the submarines, which successively sank the French battleship Leon Gambetta and the Italian armored cruisers Amalfi and Giuseppe Garibaldi. In losing Lovtchen, Montenegro lost its western bastion, and Austria gained a height which had threatened its best naval base in Dalmatia.

Vice-Admiral Nicholas Horthy de Nagybanya's supreme exploit, the one that brought him the rank of Admiral was the quelling of the naval mutiny at Cattaro in February 1918. It was a most characteristic exploit in more than one sense. The mutiny began at Pola, but it broke out almost simultaneously at Cattaro. It was among the workmen that the rising began at Pola. They demanded the abolition of various disciplinary measures and punishments inflicted both on and ashore. The movement soon spread to the ships in the harbor. The crews left their posts and thronged the decks, shouting, hurrahing, and acting as they pleased. There there seems to hate been no fighting. The naval authorities parleyed with the men and finally all the sailors and workmen's demands were granted. At Cattaro the mutiny took a more serious turn.

The men who rebelled at Cattaro were, like the majority of the Austro-Hungarian naval personnel, Jugo-Slavs, Croat-speaking Dalmatians - since Roman days among the best sailors in Europe. What caused the mutiny is not quite clear - some say it was too much Jugo-Slav national feeling, others, too much sauerkraut. One day the red flag was hoisted on several destroyers and light cruisers in the harbor, and officers on board were disarmed. The mutineers got the upper after three days became masters of the port. There was a fleet of German submarines in the Straits of Otranto. A squadron was dispatched at full speed to deal with the mutineers. The submarines entered the harbour. A few shots were fired. The mutineers consented to surrender the vessels on receiving written guarantees that no action would be taken against, any man, and that a number of the grievances would be settled. The Cattaro fleet then returned to its allegiance after having been in open revolt for eight days. When all was over Horthy appeared on the scene. His cruiser hoisted the Imperial ensign; the ship's band struck up the Imperial anthem; and henceforth Horthy was known as the Hero of Cattaro. He court-martialled the rebels and had a number of them shot. Soon he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral. In consequence of the mutiny Emperor Charles cashiered a number of high officers on the ground that it was their slackness that had permitted the outbreak.




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