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mand of the sea, and a long struggle inclined in their
favor. In 1824, however, the sultan called to his as-
sistance the great pasha, Mehemet Ali, of Egypt, and the
powerful fleet that was now brought to the Turkish side
soon reduced the Greeks to despair. Unless they could
get help from abroad it was apparent that their cause was
doomed. Volunteers from other countries, notable among
whom was the English poet. Lord Byron, enlisted in their
service, but were able to accomplish little of importance.
The European governments, whatever the sympathies
of their people, were at first reluctant to intervene, be-
cause it was clearly understood by Metternich and the
principal statesmen then that any disturbance of the
existing arrangement might in the end destroy what had
been established by the Congress of Vienna. In 1823
Great Britain had recognized the belligerency of the
Greeks, and already the sympathy of the Russian people
had been stirred profoundly; but the only result was
negotiations which dragged on and led to nothing. Russia
wanted no independent Greece, while Austria and Eng-
land, fearing that a dependent Greek state would really


depend upon Russia, preferred, after a wliile, that the
Greeks be made entirely independent. In IH^T, however,
the combined fleets of England and France, attempting
to enforce a truce between the Greeks and the Turks,
destroyed the fleet of INIehemet Ali at Navarino. The
sultan now rashly declared war. Then a Russian army
entering the Balkans pressed on to Constantinople itself.

By the Treaty of Adrianople Turkey |)ra(tioally ac- The Treaty
knowledged the independence of Greece, which was defined o^ Adrxano-
and established at an international conference in London
three years later. At the same time she acknowledged
the autonomy of Servia; of Moldavia and Wallachia, the
Danubian Principalities, which became a Russian pro-
tectorate; and gave up to Russia such claims as she had to
certain districts in the Caucasus, which Russia afterward
acquired for herself. Thus by the settlement of 1829
Turkey lost her outlying European provinces — Greece,
Servia, and what was afterward the Rumanian Kingdom.

The old conditions continued in what was left to her, for Revolt of the
in the midst of the great growth and changes of the f "^f^^'
nineteenth century the Turks changed almost not at all.
There was the same stagnation, inefficiency, heavy op-
pression, and lack of progress, and the fierce wildness of
the rude and long-oppressed Christian population was
suppressed from time to time by outbursts of fearful
cruelty and destruction. About 1875 an insurrection
broke out in Herzegovina, a district to the west of Servia,
peopled by Serbs, but still under Turkish rule. \Mnle
the rebels were being encouraged by the surrounding
states, Montenegro, Austria, and Servia, in 187G the
inliabitants of Bulgaria, a large province east of Servia
and south of the Danube, and so nearer to Constantinople
and Turkish oppression, rose against the Turks also.
Servia and Montenegro declared war on Turkey, and
great sympathy was aroused in Russia, many of the
tsar's subjects enlisting to fight as volunteers. Generally


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the Turks were successful, hut llic IVarl'ul atrocities com-
mitted by them upon the Hulgarian jK-asauts aroused the
strongest indignation and horror in Europe, especially
in England, where Gladstone declared that the Turks
must be expelled "bag and baggage" from Europe, and in
Russia, which made ready to intervene.

In the spring of 1877 Russia did begin war. Rumania,
declaring now complete independence, joined her, and the
allies pushing rapidly southward soon seized the passes of
the Balkan IVIountains which were the gateway hi to the
country. At Plevna, in northern Bulgaria, where a net-
work of highways converged, Osman Pasha, an able Turk-
ish commander, fortified himself to oppose them. The
aUies had not sufficient forces completely to mask this
fortress and also advance against Constantinople, but for
some time they were unable to take it. In December,
however, Plevna fell, after a memorable siege. In an-
other month the Russians had pushed on and taken
Adrianople, and Constantinople itself would have fallen
except for the rismg jealousy of Austria now, and
above all the determined hostility of Great Britain. None
the less, in March, 1878, the Turks concluded with Russia
the Treaty of San Stefano by which at last was acloiowl-
edged the complete independence of Montent^gro and
Servia, to whom some territory was yielded; while almost
all of Turkey's European territory, except for a small area
including Adrianople and the capital and another area in
Albania on the Adriatic, was given to a new Bulgaria,
autonomous but tributary to the sultan.

This would have made Bulgaria the most important
state in the Balkans, and for some time, doubtless, she
would have been largely dependent on Russia. But
owing to the efforts of Austria and Great Britain this
treaty was almost at once undone at the Congress of
Berlin, which reduced Bulgaria and restored to the sultan
much of what he had lost, though Bosnia and Ilerze-

The Russo-
War, 1877-8

The Treaty
of San Ste-
fano, 1878

The Treaty
of Berlin,



decline of

Loss of
Bosnia and

Loss of

govina were put under the administration of Austria-
Hungary. The result of this was that Turkey, though con-
siderably reduced, still stretched from the Black Sea to
the Adriatic Sea and still rested on the Mgean. She con-
tinued to be the foremost power in the Near East.

In the generation that followed the old conditions
lasted on. The decline and decay of Turkey continued,
although after 1876 she was ruled by Abdul Hamid, a man
of sinister and evil reputation, but subtle and skilful in
upholding Turkey by playing upon the rivalries of the
powers. Meanwhile, the new Balkan states were growing
in experience and strength, and begmning to hope for the
day when the complete break-up of the Ottoman power
would enable them to become greater still.

At the end of the century as at the begmning, the decay
of the Turkish Empire continued. As the atrophy pro-
ceeded all the outlying members had dropped off or had
been cut away. In the early part of the twentieth century
nothing was left in Africa but Tripoli; Arabia and other
districts in Asia no longer obeyed Ottoman commands; in
Europe Turkish dominion had steadily shrunk in the Bal-
kans. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and
Herzegovina; and Bulgaria declared her complete inde-
pendence. In 1911 Italy — which had at last acquiesced
in French possession of Tunis and approved French
expansion in Morocco, on condition that France make no
objection to Italian occupation of what was left to take
east of Tunis — suddenly invaded Tripoliy A long and
exhausting struggle was maintained by the tribesmen in
their deserts, supported by officers from Turkey, but in
1912 the Ottoman Government was compelled to yield its
last African possession. These incidents were of much
importance in the changes of these years. The German
Government strongly disapproved of the attack on its
friend, but could not hinder its ally. On the other hand,
both England and France encouraged Italy and approved

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her action, and it was evident that Italy would he loath
now to offend these powers sinee they controlled ab-
solutely the Mediterranean, and only with their good will
could Italy keep her new possession. But more than that,
the annexation of Bosnia and the seizure of Tripoli opened
a new era, which led directly to tlie Great War. Since
1878 it had been a recognized axiom in European politics
that in Turkey and the Balkans lay the great danger
of Europe, and that any changes there were apt to be
fraught with the utmost hazard. It was for this reason
that Turkey had been allowed to die slowly, with the
Great Powers fearing to meddle, lest quarrels arise and
conflict begin. But Austria had broken a European treaty
and Italy had dared to make war on Turkey, regardless of
the effects so long feared, and they had taken what they
desired. The example was speedily followed.

In Turkey the old evils of misgovernment continued.
The Turks had been brave and admirable soldiers, and
under favorable circumstances they had revealed a char-
acter pleasant and with noble traits. But they had never
mastered the art of organizing and governing well. They
were often tricked and deceived by their subjects; and in
last recourse their method was usually nothing more than
to employ dull, stupid, and brutal force, and with the
greatest cruelty compel submission. In the country left
to them outside Constantinople their subjects were still
oppressed with ruinous and ancient taxes, held as inferiors,
and treated with contempt. In the western district, the
mountainous coimtry of Albania, Turkish authority was
defied; but in INIacedonia and Thrace the people groaned
under grievous misrule. The people of Macedonia were
Servians, Greeks, and Bulgars, mingled together. They
often looked with longing eyes to their brethren in Servia,
Greece, and Bulgaria, over the borders; and always the
governments of these countries, especially Bulgaria, looked
forward to the day when, on the dissolution of Turkey,

quences of
the seizure
of Tripoli

The Turks,
and the



and intrigue
in Mace-

Causes of

the First
Balkan War,

these populations would be incorporated in the greater
Balkan states of the future. Ceaselessly agents from
over the border tried to stir up the Christians of the Turk-
ish country to be ready for the day of deliverance, and al-
ways they tried to prepare the way for the incorporation
of as many of them as possible in their respective countries,
Servia, Bulgaria, and Greece. These three little nations
hated with a great hatred the Turk, who had once op-
pressed their fathers, but so acute had their own rivalries
become that in the earlier years of the twentieth century
they hated one another still more. It was accordingly
an extraordinary diplomatic triumph and a surprise to the
rest of Europe, when, after secret negotiations early in
1912, Bulgaria, Servia, Montenegro, and Greece con-
cluded an arrangement by which they agreed to act to-
gether. This agreement, it is believed, was largely the
work of the Greek statesman, Venizelos.

In 1908 the Ottoman Government had been overthrown
by a revolution. The new leaders, the Young Turks,
strove to reform the administration and restore the vigor
and power of the State. Actually, in the end it seemed
that they did more harm than good. They soon under-
took a policy of nationalization, attempting to assimilate
their various subjects. So they withdrew privileges from
the Christian peoples in Macedonia, and began bringing
Mohammedans in. This led to disorder, massacre, and
reprisal. The Balkan States desired that this should
come to an end. Apparently at first they did not wish to
go to war; but public opinion drove them forward. In
the autumn the Turks concentrated some of their best
troops north of Adrianople for maneuvers, and immedi-
ately the four Balkan States issued simultaneous orders
for mobilization, after which the Turks ordered mobiliza-
tion next day. It was evident that the little states of the
peninsula, encouraged by the example of Italy, were
really willing to go to war. The Great Powers in much


alarm endeavored now, too late, to prevent a conflict.
October 8 they issued a note in which tliey condemned
any act leading to war, and stated that if nevertheless a
war did break out "they will not admit, at the end of the
conflict, any modification in the territorial status quo in
European Turkey." But INIontenegro immediately de-
clared war, and her representative is reported to have said
that the Balkan States did not fear the Great Powers.
October 14, Servia, Bulgaria, and Greece presented
an ultimatum to Turkey, and the next day fighting began.
Such was the beginning of the First Balkan AVar.

This contest gave almost as great a surprise as had tlie
Franco-German War. Turkey was known to be in the later
stages of decay, but the Turks had always been brave
and steady fighters, and, weak though their state might be,
it was supposed that their army, organized and trained
by Germany, was still in fair shape, and it was believed to
be superior to any military force which the Balkan States
could assemble. But the four Balkan armies moved for-
ward at once, and struck a series of terrible blows by which
the power of Turkey in Europe was ruined. The little
Montenegrin army advanced to the southward and laid
siege to Scutari. The Servians defeated the Turks m the
great battle of Kumanovo, overran part of ^Macedonia,
presently captured a large Turkish force in the strong-
hold of Monastir, and even crossed Albania and reached
the Adriatic at Durazzo. The Greeks at once got control
of the iEgean Sea, the task that had been assigned them,
and, in addition, moved their army rapidly forward, push-
ing the Turks back and driving some of them into the
fortress of Janina and some into the seaport of Salonica.
Meanwhile, greater deeds were being done by the Bul-
gars. To them had been assigned the task of holding the
main Turkish forces in Thrace. At once they moved
down upon the principal fortress, Adrianople, sacred in
the eyes of the Turks, and key to the Thracian plain.

The Balkan
allies victori-

Great vic-
tories of the



The London

End of the
First Balkan

The Treaty
of London,

Near by they encountered a Turkish army, which was
defeated at Kirk-Kihsse, and driven from the field in total
rout. A week later they destroyed the military power of
the Turks in a greater and more desperate battle at Liile
Burgas. Thrace was now cleared, and the Bulgarians,
moving swiftly on in triumph, were stopped only by the
fortifications of the Tchataldja lines, which protect Con-
stantinople, and had in days of need long before stayed
other invaders from the north. Here the Bulgars were

The general result was that within six weeks Turkish
power in Europe had been destroyed. The Turks had
been defeated in the principal battles and had lost com-
mand of the sea. The relics of their forces had been
driven down upon Constantinople or were hopelessly shut
up in the beleaguered fortresses of Adrianople, Scutari,
and Janina. The Turks asked for an armistice, and a
peace conference assembled in London.

This conference between the Turks and their foes was
soon broken off, and at the beginning of February hostili-
ties were again begun. The Bulgarian troops at Tcha-
taldja were not able to force the Turkish lines and take
Constantinople, but no more were the Turks able to
drive them away. Meanwhile, the Greeks took Janina,
and the Bulgars Adrianople. The Great Powers had al-
ready proposed mediation, and April 19 an armistice was
signed. At the end of May a treaty was made whereby
an Albania was to be constituted by the powers, and the
Turks were to keep a small district outside of Constanti-
nople; otherwise what had belonged to Turkey in Europe
was to go to the victorious Balkan states. This would
probably meet the wishes of Greece and Bulgaria, provided
they could agree among themselves, but it debarred Servia
and Montenegro from getting a great part of what they
had expected, on the shores of the Adriatic, in Albania.
Servia yielded, because of the injunctions of the Great


Powers and because she hoped for compensation else-
where; but Montenegro, bent on having possession of
Scutari, continued the siege of that mountain stronghold,
and, defying the wishes of the powers, after prodigies of
valor her soldiers took it. Presently, however, the threats
of the powers compelled her to give it up again.

A second Balkan war soon followed. This struggle The Second
was directly the result of the decision of the powers not to Balkan War,
permit Servia, Montenegro, or Greece to take territory in ^^^^
Albania, and this had been done because of the insistence
of Austria that an Albania should be maintained. It harl
in the first place seemed almost inconceivable that the
Balkan states with their bitter rivalries would be able to
act in alliance, but they had carefully agreed beforehand
what each one should have, provided they defeated
Turkey, and it is possible that if there had been no inter-
ference they might have divided the spoils without fight-
ing. Now that it was forbidden to touch Albanian terri-
tory, however, Servia demanded that the agreement of
1912 be revised so that she would have compensation
elsewhere. A week later this was refused. Savage fight-
ing had already broken out between Bulgarians and
Servians and Greeks. At the end of June, suddenly, with-
out any declaration of war, the Bulgarian armies attacked
the Servian and the Greek forces, and a few days later
Montenegro, Servia, and Greece declared war on Bul-
garia, so recently their ally.

It is probable that Bulgaria had been encouraged by Bulgaria
the Teutonic powers to resist the Servian request, and it crushed
is certain that thej^ expected her to win an easy victory,
just as they had expected a Turkish triumph the preceding
autumn. But again they were grievously mistaken.
Neither the Greeks nor the Serbs were overwhelmed,
but began driving the Bulgars back before them.
While this struggle was being waged, with inconceivable
atrocities on both sides, the doom of Bulgaria was sealed



by the sudden action of the Rumanian Government.
Rumania had just seen all the Balkan states except herself
make lar^^e ^ains in territory and power. She now sud-
denly demanded that Bulgaria cede her a strij) of terri-
tory on her southern border. AMien this was refused the
powerful Rumanian army was moved down upon the
Bulgarian capital while the Greeks and the Serbs were
advancing from otlier sides. Nor was this all. The
Turks, seeing the difficulty in which Bulgaria was, re-
occupied Adrianople. All hope was at an end, and the king
of Bulgaria threw himself upon the mercy of his foes.

Li August the stern Treaty of Bucharest was imposed,
by which Bulgaria lost most of what her great victories
had gained from the Turks; Rumania took that which she
had demanded; and Servia and Greece got the territories
which they had taken in the First Balkan War, while
Bulgaria was engaging the main Turkish forces. It was
said at the time that this treaty would lead to other wars
in the future. Bulgaria was left greatly weakened, but
also burning with a sense of wrong and evidently waiting
for the day when she might strike a blow at Rumania, or
Servia, or Greece, to have revenge, and get back the terri-
tory which they had taken, in which, indeed, a large part
of the population was Bulgarian. Little mercy was
shown her, but she herself had cynically refused any gene-
rosity in the brief moment of her greatness.

The result of the two Balkan wars w^as that to Turkey
in Europe there was left only Constantinople and a small
area of territory northward. Steadily the state sank
lower and lower into feebleness, decrepitude, and ruin,
while foreign capitalists and diplomatic agents came in to
intrigue and control. Turkey had drifted away from the
old friendship with Britain and became more and more
dependent on the Germans. Early in the Great War
she was brought into the struggle to aid Germany almost
like a vassal state.

The Treaty



The relics of
the Ottoman




Servia, 1817,


Of the Balkan countries the oldest was Montenegro,
whose hardy population of rude mountaineers had never
been entirely conquered even when the Turkish dominions
extended far to the north of their district. Her bold war-
riors carried on constant war with the Turks, supporting
themselves by their herds and their flocks, by rude tillage,
and by forage for plunder, as the Scottish highlanders once
had done. Her complete independence was formally
acknowledged by the Treaty of San Stefano and by the
Congress of Berlin in 1878. The people were Serbs,
closely related to the population of Servia. Because
of the conditions of their life only slight material progress
was possible. Owing to the good offices of England
an outlet was procured for them in 1880 on the Adriatic,
at Dulcigno. The government was in theory a constitu-
tional monarchy, but actually the prince was a patriarch
and leader of a tribal people.

Next in age was Servia, who attained autonomous gov-
ernment in 1817, this autonomy being recognized more for-
mally in the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829. Her freedom
came after a long contest with the Turks. In 1804 the
struggle was begun by a peasant leader, Kara (Black)
George, the father of Servian independence. After suc-
cessful guerilla warfare in the mountains he completely
overwhelmed the Turks at Mischoz in 1806. For a few
years the Turks granted virtual autonomy, but when
Russia, the patron of the Balkan Slavs, was occupied in
the great struggle with Napoleon, the sultan again re-
duced the country. Presently, however, the Servians
rose under another peasant leader, Milosh Obrenovitch,
and Russia being free to intervene again, the sultan
yielded once more.

The circumstances of the Servian war of liberation were
unfortunate in that freedom was won through the efforts
of two leaders, both of whose families now desired to rule
the country. The result was that the country was torn


by family find dynastic disputes niiicli like the feuds of
Irish princes in the Middle A^es. In a country of peas-
ants, where tribal instincts were still very strong, it
would, in any event, have been difficult to avoid this.
In 1817 Kara George was assassinated so that the Obre-
novitch family might rule. This was avenged in 18(58
when Michael III was assassinated by partisans of the
Karageorgevitch house, and in 1903 wlien they murdered
Alexander and his queen. The Obrenovitch dynasty was
now extinct, and the throne came finally into the posses-
sion of the House of Kara George.

In foreign relations Servia long remained dependent on
Austria, with whom she made an alliance in 1881. Austria
supported and protected her in her rash war with Bulgaria
in 1886, in which she was badl}^ defeated at Slivnitsa. But
at the Congress of Berlin, eight years before, Austria-
Hungary had been given the administration of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, in which dwelt a large part of the Servian
race. As time went on Servia greatly hoped some day
to obtain these provinces for herself. Accordingly, the
friendship with Austria gradually cooled, and Servia,
getting more and more under Russian influence, strove to
free herself from economic dependence on her neighbor
to the north. In 1908, when Bosnia and Herzegovina
were annexed by the Dual Monarchy, and the last chance
of Servia acquiring them seemed to have gone, the Ser-
vians were filled with the rage of despair, and apparently
hoped to be able to fight against Austria along with Russia
as an ally. When Russia juelded to Austria and Germany
together it seemed for a moment that Servia would strike
by herself, but she also yielded and was compelled to

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 27 of 49)