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© 2003 David Koeller.  All rights reserved.


The First Balkan War

1912-1913

 

The First Balkan War was started by an alliance made up of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, and Montenegro. It was a desire to liberate their kinsman and a response to repressive policies of the Young Turks (Ottoman Empire). The Balkan League agreed to ally themselves to take the offensive.

March 13, 1912, Serbia and Bulgaria signed a treaty which assigned northern Macedonia to Serbia, and southern Macedonia to Bulgaria. The two also contemplated war against Austria as well as Turkey if Austria destroyed the status quo. In May 1912, Greece and Bulgaria signed a similar treaty making use of military actions against Turkey. Montenegro's attachment to the league was secured by an informal arrangement with Bulgaria and Greece, and a treaty with Serbia concluded in September 1912.

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On October 8, 1912, Montenegro declared war against the Turks, and 10 days later the allies entered the war. Within a few weeks, Turkey had been pushed back to maintaining the defense of Constantinople. Albania, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace were now possessions of the Balkan States. Serbia had also reached the Adriatic at Durazzo, which gave them an important sea port. Both Austria and Italy were opposed to this acquisition because they feared that a Serbian port on the Adriatic would ultimately become a Russian port. Also, Austria and Italy could not allow this because it might threaten the Hapsburg Monarchy.

While fighting took place at Adrianople, Scutari, and Janina, the armistice was signed, and a peace conference met at London in December, 1912. The negotiations broke down when a coup d'etat occurred at Constantinople which brought into power a group of men who were determined upon resistance. The war resumed in Spring of 1913. Adrianople, Scutari and Janina fell, and the fighting ended. The Treaty of London ended the First Balkan War on May 30, 1913. Turkey ceded all possessions in Europe to the allies west of a line from Enos on the Aegean Sea to Midia on the Black Sea, with the exception of Albania. The Great Powers began to draw the lines of a new Albanian State. Turkish sovereignty over Crete was withdrawn and it was united with Greece. The Aegean islands which Greece occupied were left to the Great Powers.

The Treaty followed with a quarrel over the spoils of war and causes the Second Balkan War.

Sources:

Schevill, Ferdninand. History of the Balkan Peninsula, Frederick Ungar Publishing Inc. New York 1966.

Gewher, Wesley. The Rise of Nationalism in the Balkans, 1800-1930, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1931.

Jelavich, Barbara. Russia's Balkan Entanglements 1806-1914. Cambridge University Press, London 1991.

Wolff, Robert Lee. The Balkans in our Time. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 1956.

 


Edited by: Elizabeth Caliendo
Researched by: Amy L. Whittie
Written by: Joshua D. Hample
April 21, 1997

Text copyright 1996-9 by David W. Koeller . All rights reserved.

 

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