Peasant socks of king Petar I Karadjordjević

Serbian king Petar I Karadjordjević ordered a monument to be built in memory of Makrena Spasojević, a brave peasant woman and a loving mother who searched for her only son in the snow covered mountains of Albania during the retreat of the Serbian army in World War I.

King Petar Karadjordjevic, first of his name
King Petar Karadjordjevic, first of his name

During the World War I retreat of the Serbian army across the snow covered Albanian mountains in winter of 1915/16, a rather peculiar event took place. A woman gave the Serbian king Petar I Karadjordjević, retreating with the entire army, government and a large part of the population, a pair of woolen socks – to wear them and give them to her only son when he finds him.

Makrena Spasojević made the socks for her only son, who, despite being very young, joined the army. She caught up with the army and started looking for him in the snow-covered mountains, but after weeks of searching, she didn’t have any more strength to continue.

Somewhere in Albania she met king Petar I Karadjordjević and gave him the socks. Makrena made the king promise her he will give the socks to her son after he finds him, and returned to her village.

Thanks to some peculiar circumstances a wounded Austrian soldier heard Makrena crying and her sorrow reminded him of his own mother. His last wish was to be mourned by Makrena and she granted him the wish. She died crushed with sorrow over her own son on the soldier’s grave. Probably having foreseen her own loss.

King Petar I Karadjordjević managed to Makrena’s son who died of cold somewhere in Albania, but couldn’t tell her the sad news. The king received the news of Makrena’s death only after the war was finished, as he had sent his counselor to find her. On her grave a monument was built by the orders of king Petar himself.

King Petar I Karadjordjević died soon after that. The socks Makrena gave him he always kept close – under his pillow. The story says that he asked to wear them on his deathbed.

Milovan Vitezović, a Serbian writer, recorded the story about the king, the woolen socks and the unselfish love of a mother for her son in a book, and the monument in Makrena Spasojević’s honor still stands in a small village of Slovac near the town of Lajkovac in Serbia.


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