The Balkans is in the south Eastern Europe which is situated at a major crossroads lying between the main land Europe and near east. The Balkans was controlled by the republic of Venice since the middle ages of until the year 1797. The republic of Venice, slowly, lost nearly all possession in Balkans and in the 18th century were only the Adriatic areas. The year 1797 king napoleon conquered Venice and caused end of control of Venice in the Balkans. The Ottomans were very powerful and most powerful civilians of the post-medieval time. The Ottoman Empire persisted from 1299-1923 until the end of World War 1 in the 20th century. The rule of ottoman over the Balkans main characteristic of a centuries of struggle for the freedom and liberty and periods protracted of stalemate with the Habsburgs at the border areas of Croatia, Hungary, Serbia.
Nationalism of Balkans in the 19th century
There was an awakening of the Balkans in the in the 19th century. The word awakening assumed the belief that every that all nations had the right of inherent human dignity and had to awaken if they were dormant in under the rule of any other power. The rise of nationalism in the declining Ottoman Empire led to the breaking down of the millet concept. As nationalism rose, it was very difficult to find reliable source that could make the concept of ottoman being a nation and the relations of many centuries between the house of ottoman and provinces, which had been turned into states (Sugar 37-43). The Serbia was the first to be liberated from the ottomans empire. However the liberated apart was a byproduct of the infiltration of the Austrians in to the region. The Greeks were the first in the year 1821 to defy the sultan’s authority. After the long blooded struggle whose origin was Moldavia diversion and the main revolution of the Peloponnese following, the later, in which alongside was the northern part of gulf became the first of the parts to liberate from the ottomans in the year 1829. Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania followed in the 1870s.
Nationalism in of the Balkans in the 19th century contributed to the outbreak in of world war in 1914. In the late 19th century there was a social unrest in the Balkan states which became a focal point of the many European powers. There was the Balkan Peninsula that war of great importance because of its territorial significance as well as economic significance. The Balkan states on the other hand was made up of many proud culture of different ethnic who never wished to be under any other authority other that rule themselves. At this period of late 19th there was the unification of countries and a strong patriotism which ignited the desires of Greeks, Slavs, Rumanians, Montenegrins and Bulgarians to gain independence and also revenge against the Turks for occupation of their land. This was a revolution that was sparked by the nationalistic views causing the second largest war in the existence of human beings.
The Balkans who were under the control of the Ottoman Empire up to almost early 20th had an opportunity to gain independence after the decline of the prestige and power of the Ottoman Empire. There was the unification and formation of Germany and Italy as countries which encouraged the Balkans revolt of 1875 to 1878. This revolt had spread greatly through the Balkan Peninsula and with the help of Russia turkey was defeated. The result was a stronger patriotic pride rising amongst the Serbia, Rumania, and Montenegro (Brown 194-1970). These Balkans states also increased their in their lands. Turkey was still governing the parts of the Balkans which angered them even more because they felt they were now capable of controlling themselves. In 1885 the Bulgarian population in the eastern Rumelia also revolted against Turkish rule and made the declaration of its union with the large Bulgaria. The Serbs felt threatened by this act and became furious declaring war. There Bulgarians surprisingly proved to greater match in the battle of Slivnitza and the Serbs were defeated. The Britain agreed to the unification of Bulgaria and eastern Rumelia and the Balkan states gained even more power through the intensifying nationalistic ideas.
There were religious tensions in Crete which added to the possibility of war revolting against turkey in 1897. Because of the killing of Christians and Muslims on the island, Greece and Crete declared a war on turkey. However they were swiftly defeated in a span of two weeks but her was a European powers intervention which led turkey being forced to give up the possession on mainland.
The Berlin congress in 1878 between 13 June and 13 July was a meeting of the Ottoman Empire and leading statesmen in oft the great powers of Europe. After the Russia victory of the war with the turkey the urgent need that was there was to stabilize and reorganize the Balkans and also creating new nations. Otto von Bismarck, the German congress who led the congress, undertook the task of adjusting boundaries so as to minimize the risks of major war at the same time recognizing the effects of the reduced power of Ottoman Empire and balancing the different interest of the great powers. The ottoman holding as a result rejected the whole idea sharply. Bulgaria was created an independent principality but with the Ottoman Empire but was not allowed to keep it’s all the previous territories belonging to him (Todd 157). Bulgaria in the result lost eastern Rumelia which was then given back to turkey under a special administration. Macedonian the other hand was also given back to turkey which promised to reform. Romania got its full independence but had to forego part of Bessarabia to the Russians. Serbia and Montenegro at last go their full independence but they had smaller territories. Austria took over Herzegovina and Bosnia and also took control of the province known as Novi Bazaar. Britain on the other hand took over Cyprus.
These resulted were at first praised as a very great achievement towards peace making and bringing stabilization. Most of the participants were however not fully satisfied and there arose regarding the results which persisted and expanded in the 1914 world war. Bulgaria Serbia and Greece who had made gains thought that they deserved what they got and it was not after a favour. The Ottoman Empire which was that that time referred to as the sick man of Europe was very humiliated and was also very weak rendering it more liable a domestic attack and also its vulnerability to attacks increased. Although Russia had been the victors of the war that led to the conference it was very humiliated by the way it was treated at Berlin and it resented the treatment. Austria had gained a great deal of the territory which as a result angered the south Slavs and had then caused decades of heightening tension between Herzegovina and Bosnia. Otto von Bismarck then become the target of the Russians and Pan-Slavist’s hatred and was found to have tied Germany too close to Austria in the Balkans (Jones 187-195).
The Cretan revolt also added to the Balkan nationalism and lead to formation of Balkan league. The league was formed by in 1912 by Bulgaria Serbia Montenegro and Greece with a common goal of foreseeing expulsion of the Turks from Balkan Peninsula. Due to the nationalism growing amongst them they sought prestige and power though defeating their old controllers. The difficulties that turkey encountered with the Turkish revolution and Turk-Italian war give the Balkans a chance for both sovereignty and retaliation. Balkan league in 1912 attacked turkey and started what was known as Balkan wars. The European powers on the other hand were alarmed by the success of the Balkan states. This was caused by the rapid and intense growth of nationalism which made them potential threats to larger countries. The treaty of London appeased the fears of the majority powers (Lyuboy 201-207).
The Balkans felt on the other hand cheated by the treaty and this created tension among the Balkan allies. The Bulgarians who were feeling most cheated went ahead and declared a war against Serbia and Greece. The Bulgarians who were in rage of enormous pride were then defeated by turkey, Serbia, Rumania and Greece this way sealing their own doom. With the decline of turkey and Bulgarian in the Balkans, the Serbs gained a great deal of prestige and powering the area. Austria Hungary on the other hand felt threatened by this growing power the Serbians were gaining and planed to finish before it was too late. The Serbs who were now very proud planed unification with the Slavs. The people of Bosnia who belonged to the same Slavic race at the Serbs belonged also wished to see the unification but they were controlled by Austria –Hungary. Serbians were angered by the control of Austria – Hungary and wished to see to it that Bosnia was made free. On 24th June 1914 a young Serbian was killed by the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand and this lit the fuse of the imminent war (Brown 157).
The congress aimed to revise the Stefano treaty and also to keep Constantinople in the hands of Ottoman. This effectively was disavowing the victory of Russia over the dying Ottoman Empire in the Russo- Turkish war. The Berlin congress returned to ottoman territories that had been given to Bulgaria and the most notable was Macedonia. Through the strong nationalism and patriotism of Balkan Peninsula there was outbreak of wars which were fought and lost and finally resulted to World War 1. The Balkans although they were somehow unimportant compared to the more powerful and prestigious countries, they played a very important role in self determination, in the history of Europe. Despite the tiny Balkan states, the nationalism of the 19th century erupted in a sea of patriotic fervors. However with their independence came a lust of power as well as excess patriotism leading to the break out of the First World War.
Sugar, Peter. Nationalism and religion in the Balkans since the 19th century. United States: University Of Washington, 1996.
Todd, Allan. The modern world. United kingdom:Oxford University Press, 2001.
Lyubov Mincheva. Comparative Balkan parliamentarism. United States: Indiana University.2006.
Fredman, Sandra. History of Balkans. United Kingdom. Oxford University Press, 2001
Jones, Gareth. Liberty of Balkans from Ottoman Empire. United States: Prentice Hall, 2001
Brown, Richard. The outbreak of the First World War. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009
Lester, Donald. Parnell, John. The Balkans in the 19th century. New York: Cengage Learning, 2003