Mrs Anka Konstantinović Was Also Killed
Anka Obrenović, who was also called Ana, was self-confident and fearless. She loved her last name and luxury. Because of her love of Viennese fashion, she was nicknamed “Anka Pomodarka”. She was killed in 1868 in the Topčider forest during the assassination of Mihailo Obrenović, and it is little known that she tried to protect her cousin with her body. — Zivana Vojinović, biographer
On the day that Prince Mihailo Obrenović of Serbia was assassinated, his cousin was killed as well. They were riding in a carriage, along with Anka’s daughter Katarina, when they were approached by two of the Radanović brothers, both wearing black suits.
An argument ensued with the Prince about a third Radanović brother, Ljubomir, who was being held in prison.
Shots were fired. Prince Mihailo fell dead. Katarina was wounded, and Anka – fighting the assassins, was shot once in the head and once in the heart.
The headlines of the newspapers in Serbia read, “With His Royal Highness, his cousin Mrs. Anka Konstantinović was also killed.“
The carriage ride through the park near Topčider was not as innocent as it sounded. Anka was Mihailo’s first cousin. And he daughter, Katarina, was Mihailo’s mistress.
Prince Mihailo had announced that he planned to divorce his wife, the Hungarian Julia Hunyady, and marry the very much younger Katarina, with whom he was already engaged in an affair. It had shocked and scandalized the court, and even resulted in the sacking of the Prime Minister, Ilija Garasanin.
Anka and Katarina were living at the Serbian court, and for her part, the young Katarina absolutely enjoyed rubbing her affair in the Princess Julia’s face at every opportunity.
The whole ordeal was creating a massive and resonating problem, compounded with the increasingly autocratic moves of Mihailo, who had begun his reign as an absolute, but enlightened, monarch. Enemies were being made.
Katarina’s free spirit and wanton affair with her cousin were not unique to her. Her mother, Anka, had been lauded as the most beautiful young women in Belgrade before her marriage. She spoke fluent French and German, owned and played one of the only pianos in Serbia, left aside the traditional Turkish-style clothing and wore modern European dresses. She instituted western-style salons in Serbia, which were attended by authors, artists, and philosophers. She taught classes to the women of the newly-rich merchant class on the European manner of behavior and domestic life. At a time when very few Serbian women were educated, Anka was more educated than most men.
She even published the first collection of translations ever by a Serbian woman.
Anka had men all over Serbia falling in love with her, but she chose to marry Aleksander Konstantinović.
When Aleksander died while still young, Anka did not behave as every other widow in black; she had an affair with her former brother-in-law that resulted in a daughter just over a year after Aleksander’s death.
The daughter, named Simeona after Anka’s sister and her BIL’s dead wife, would grow up to marry a Romanian diplomat and serve Queen Elisabeth of Romania.
Anka obviously did things the way she wished to do them, and it’s not surprising that Katarina felt and acted in the same manner.
In any case, Katarina was married to someone else before the year of her lover’s and mother’s death was out.
The whodunnit of the assassination of Mihailo Obrenović was never adequately explained. The perpetrators were caught and put to death. Their brother Ljubomir, in jail at the time of the attempt, was also put to death. But there was also a connection between the Radanović family and the Karađorđević family – rivals for the Serbian throne.
It was another Obrenović who took the Serbian throne this time, however; Milan, Anka’s nephew.
Milan also had marital problems, and while estranged from his wife Natalja, it was Katarina who fulfilled the duties of the consort. She never did marry the Prince, but she did get to act as a princess again.
For more about the history of Serbia, please click here.
- June 11, 2021