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Alexander

Alexander, 1888–1934, king of Yugoslavia (1921–34), son and successor of Peter I. Of the Karadjordjević family, he was educated in Russia and became crown prince of Serbia upon the renunciation (1909) of the succession by his brother George. He led Serbian forces in the Balkan War of 1912, became regent in June, 1914, led the Serbian army in World War I, and became (Dec., 1918) regent of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia). In 1922 he married Princess Marie of Romania. After his accession increasing disorder arose from the Croatian autonomy movement. After the assassination (1928) of Stjepan Radić, the Croat Peasant party leader, Alexander in 1929 dismissed the parliament, abolished the constitution and the parties, and became absolute ruler. To emphasize the unity he hoped to give the country, he changed (Oct., 1929) its official name to Yugoslavia. Although he announced the end of the dictatorship in 1931 and proclaimed a new constitution, he kept power in his own hands. His authoritarian and centralizing policy brought him the hatred of the separatist minorities, particularly the Croats and Macedonians, as well as the opposition of Serbian liberals. In foreign policy he was loyal to the French alliance and to the Little Entente. In 1934 he debarked at Marseilles on a state visit to France. A member of a Croatian separatist organization fired on his car, assassinating the king and fatally wounding the French foreign minister, Louis Barthou. Alexander was succeeded by his young son, Peter II.

See study by S. Graham (1939, repr. 1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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