The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a Balkan state which existed from December 1, 1918 to mid-April 1941.
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The kingdom was formed in 1918 under the name Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Serbo-Croatian Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca, Slovenian Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev, short name Kraljevina SHS).
On December 1, 1918 it was proclaimed by Alexander Karađorđević, Prince-Regent for his father King Petar (Peter), who was formerly King of Serbia. The new Kingdom was made up of the formerly independent kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as a substantial amount of territory that was formerly part of Austria-Hungary, the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The lands previously in Austria-Hungary that formed the new state included Croatia, Slavonia and Vojvodina from the Hungarian part of the Empire, Carniola, part of Styria and most of Dalmatia from the Austrian part, and the Crown province of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A plebiscite was also held in the Province of Carinthia, which opted to remain in Austria. The Dalmatian port city of Zadar and a few of the Dalmatian islands were given to Italy. The city of Rijeka was declared a free city-state, but it was soon occupied, and in 1924 annexed, by Italy. Tensions over the border with Italy continued, with Italy claiming more of the Dalmatian coast, and Yugoslavia claiming Istria, part of the former Austrian coastal province which had been annexed to Italy, but which contained a considerable population of Croats and Slovenes.
The new government tried to integrate the new country politically as well as economically, a task made difficult because of the great diversity of languages, nationalities, and religions in the new state, the different history of the regions, and great differences in economic development among regions.
In 1921, the Constitution was passed, which established a unitary monarchy. Serb politicians regarded Serbia as the standardbearer of Yugoslav unity, as the state of Piedmont had been for Italy, and the nation of Prussia for the German empire. Over the following years, Croat resistance against a Serbocentric policy increased. Stjepan Radić, head of the Croatian Peasant Party, was imprisoned due to political reasons. After he was released in 1925, and returned to parliament, but only until 1928, when he made a critical speech and was subsequently shot on the parliament floor together with two other deputies from his party by a Montenegrin deputy Puniša Račić.
Not long after that, following the ethnic tensions triggered by the shooting, on January 6, 1929, King Alexander abolished the Constitution, prorogued the Parliament and introduced personal dictatorship (the so-called January 6th Dictatorship, Šestojanuarska diktatura). He also changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia and changed the internal divisions to use banovinas on October 3.
It was only in 1931 that the King passed a new Constitution and allowed de jure elections, so tensions grew. On October 9, 1934, the king was assassinated in Marseille, France by Yugoslav exiles, radical members of the political parties that he banned five years earlier (primarily the VMRO). His duties were taken over by his brother Prince Paul, (Pavle) acting as a regent for Peter II, the eldest son of Alexander.
In 1941 the Axis powers invaded the state and divided it. In 1945, the Soviet Russia-backed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia came into being, covering roughly the same teritory as the Kingdom had.
List of Kings
- King Petar I (1 Dec 1918 - 16 Aug 1921) (Regent Prince Aleksandar ruled in the name of the King)
- King Aleksandar (16 Aug 1921 - 9 Oct 1934)
- Regency headed by Prince Pavle (9 Oct 1934 - 27 Mar 1941)
- King Petar II (27 Mar 1941 - 29 Nov 1945) *exile from 13/14 Apr 1941
Map showing banovinas in 1929
Internally, the Kingdom was divided into provinces from 1929 onwards, each of them called banovina. Their borders were intentionally drawn so that they wouldn't correspond neither to boundaries between ethnic groups, nor to the pre-WWI imperial borders. They were named after various rivers. The capital of the kingdom was Belgrade.
- Dravska banovina (Banovina of Drava), with its capital in Ljubljana
- Savska banovina (Banovina of Sava), with its capital in Zagreb
- Vrbaska banovina (Banovina of Vrbas), with its capital in Banja Luka
- Primorska banovina (Seaside Banovina), with its capital in Split
- Drinska banovina (Banovina of Drina), with its capital in Sarajevo
- Zetska banovina (Banovina of Zeta), with its capital in Cetinje
- Dunavska banovina (Banovina of Danube), with its capital in Novi Sad
- Moravska banovina (Banovina of Morava), with its capital in Niš
- Vardarska banovina (Banovina of Vardar), with its capital in Skopje
- The City of Belgrade, together with Zemun and Pančevo was also an administrative unit
In 1939 the Banovina Hrvatska (Banovina of Croatia) was formed from the Primorska and Savska banovinas, with some border alterations. Like Savska, its capital was Zagreb.
- Full text of Constitution of 1931 (in English) (http://www.geocities.com/dagtho/yugconst19310903.html)