The First Balkan War/War of the Balkan Alliance (1912) was essentially a continuation of the wars for independence from the Ottoman Empire. This meant by the 20th century dividing up the spoils of the Ottomon territories in Europe. Serbia saw the weakening situation in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) as a opportune time to attack. Serbia organized a military alliance of Balkan states (Bulgaria, Montonegro, Greece, and Serbia). The resulting conflict was one of the most confusing and complicated series of wars and armistaces in European history. The Alliances forces attacked Turkey in 1912 in an effort to drive the Ottomons entirely out of the Balkans. The objectives were Eastern Roumelia (Lower Thrace and Macedonia). An armistace between Turkey and the Balkan allies except Greece was signed in December 1912. Hostilities between Greece and Turkey continued. Unlike the other Balkan states, large numbers of Greeks lived in what is now Turkey. Represenatatives of Turkey and the Balkan allies (except Greece) met in London to discuss a peace settlement (December 1912). A revolution occurred in Constantinople (January 1913). The Ottomons as a result rejected the terms offered by the Balkan allies. Hostilities resumed.
The Oyyoman Empire had been decling for decades. Serbia and Bulgaria desired to complete the expulsion of the Ottomans from the Balkns and in doing so, expanding their territory. Their primary interest was Macedoni, the fabeled land from which Alexander sprng in ancient time. The Bulgarian government approched the Serbs, suggesting that the two governments should "reach an agreement as soon as possible concerning the territory of Macedonia-that is, to determine their share of the cake" (October 1911). Before a formal alliance could be negotiated, the two Balkan powers had to agree on how to divide the potential spoils of war. Bulgaria accepted that Skopje would belong to Serbia. Bulgaria in return wanted the eastern territories, Thessaloniki, Bitola and Veles. Bulgria abd Serbia were not the only Bualkn states interested in Ottoman possessions, but they were the two countries with the military forces caoable of waging war ith the Ottomans.
The Balkan states were not the only countries interested in Ottoman territory. Italy had its eyes on territorial acquisitions as well, peimarily Libya. Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empir (October 1911). Libya was of no interest to the Balkan states, but the War did help weaken the Ottomans.
The First Balkan War/War of the Balkan Alliance (1912) was essentially a continuation of the wars for independence from the Ottoman Empire. This meant by the 20th century dividing up the spoils of the Ottomon territories in Europe. Serbia saw the weakening situation in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) as a opportune time to attack. Bulgaria and Serbia organized a military alliance of Balkan states (Bulgaria, Montonegro, Greece, and Serbia). Bulgarian and Serbian diplomats contacted the smaller Balkan countries. Months of complicated negotiations followed. Finally the Blkan states pubically signed an Agreement of Friendship and Alliance (March 13, 1912). While a treaty of friendship, the Ottomans could only take it as a prelude for war which caused them to seek a quick end to the war withItaly. The Ottomans had real resons for concern. There were secret clauses to the Balkkn Frendship and Alliance. Article two of the secret clauses provided for the dustribution of Ottoman territory. Bulgaria would receive the Ottoman provinces east of the Rhodopes and the Strymon River. Serbia would obtin the territory north and west of Mt. Shar. These territirial adjustments were to be achieved within 3 months at which time 'all territorial gains would be realized by a joint action'.
The Balkan countries (Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia) as an alliance declared war on the declining Ottoman Empire
(October 18, 1912). The principal goal was the liberation of Macedonia, a lrgely Christian province sttill in Ottoman hands. This of course meant the prtition of Macedonia among the waring Balkan powers.
The resulting conflict was one of the most confusing and complicated series of wars and armistaces in European history. A reader in Belgrade writes, "There are serveral exhibitions here about the 1912 Balkan War. One exhibition is of postcards showing military scenes. 300 photographs of this war were taken. Solsiers liked to use these pictures to write home to their families. There is an open exhibition in the city pedestrian way about this War too. It was not a mechanised war. Infantry cavalry and horse drawn transport. Cars for general staff and a few trucks are shown.
Images show machine guns and field artillary. Soldiers had rifles and are shown to be fully equipt with uniform and associated belongings. Trench warfare seems to have been planned as soldiers are shown in defensive trenches."
The Alliances forces attacked Turkey in an effort to drive the Ottomons entirely out of the Balkans (October 1912). The objectives were Eastern Roumelia (Lower Thrace and Macedonia). This mean war accross a long border from the Albanian mountains to the Black Sea. The fighting was primarily conducted in Macedonia. The Balkan forces won several victories over the Ottoman Army. The most important was the Battle of Kumanovo (Battle of Kumanova / Кумановска битка) (October 23–24, October 1912). This was just a couple weeks after the outbreak pf the War. The Serbian Army won an important victory over the Ottoman army in Vardar Macedonia. After the battle, the Ottoman army abandoned much of Vardar Macedonia. They suffered heavy losses, not only battlefield losses, but many deseryions aw well. There were also heavy losses in war materiel that was difficult to replace. Much of the Ottoman modern weaponry and heavy arms had to be imported, often from Germany. The Balkan Coalition forces rapidly occupied most of Macedonia. The Ottomans were forced to request an armistice which was signed (December 4, 1912).
An armistace between the Ottomans and the Balkan allies except Greece was quickly signed (December 1912). Hostilities between Greece and the Ottomans continued. Unlike the other Balkan states, large numbers of Greeks lived in what is now Turkey, including western Antolia. Represenatatives of the Ottoman Empire and the Balkan allies (except Greece) met in London to discuss a peace settlement (December 1912). A revolution occurred in Constantinople (January 1913). The Ottomons as a result rejected the terms offered by the Balkan allies. Hostilities resumed wivh would lead to the Second Balkan War.
One impact of the First Balkan War was that Crete was unified with Greece. The Greek fight for independence was waged in Crete as well with great loss of life among both the Nuslim and Christaim population. when Greece achieved independence from the Ottomam Empire (1820s), however, Crete despite largely Greek population remained in Ottoman hands. Throughout the 19th century, the Cetans seaking union with Greece staged a series of bloody revols that failed throughout the 19th centyry. The largest was the great Cretan Revolt (1866-69). It failed, but the Ottomans granted a degree of sklf rule--the Organic Law. As a result og the Congrss of Berlin, the Pact of Halepa was a constitutional settlement creating a basically autonomous parlimentary state. Revolts continued and finally the Great Powers intervened annd expelled Ottoman troops. Their solution was an aitonomos Cretan state (Κρητική Πολιτεία) under nominal Ottoman jurisdiction (1998). The sovrign was Prince George of Greece and Denmark. AlexandrosAlexandros Zaimisreplaced the Prince (1906). The Cretan deputies on Parlaiment declared union with Greece during disorders in Turkey and Zaimis' absence. The union was not recognized by the great powers . The first Balkan War changed this (1912-13). Sultan Mehmed V accepted the loss of Crete by the Peace of Lonson (1913). Cretan deputies to take their place in the Greek Parliament. The Muslim minority of Crete initially remained in the island but was later relocated to Turkey under the general population exchange agreed in the Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey and Greece (1923).
Despite the carefully crafted negotiations before the War, differences developed within the Balkan Coalition. Both Serbia and Greece demanded some of the territory occupied by Bulgaria. While the Ottomans were driven out of Macedonia, Serbia was less succesful in the west where it hoped to gain access to the sea in Albania. Serrbia at the time was a land locked country tht wanted a sea port. As it was denied its hoped for outlet to the Adriatic Sea, The Serbs demanded compensation in Macedonia along the Vardar River. The Bulgarians rejected this as a violation of the already agreed to partition of Macedonia. And the Greeks wanted a share of the spoils. They demanded Thessaloniki which had aargely Greek population. The Greeks also wanted 'a certain part' of the eastern Macedonian territories. Bulgaria also rejected this demand.
Serbia had agreed to Bulgaria taking much of Macedonia because it planned on taking Albania from the Ottomans and obtaining an outlet on the Adriatic. This would have occured. The Ottomans could not defend Macedonia, let alone Albania. Austria-Hungary at this point intervened. Austria for good reason saw Serbia as a major threat to its multi-ethnic empire. Thus it refused to concede Albania to Serbia in the post-War settkement. The Serbs might have gone to war over Albania, but the Austrians gained support from Italy and Britain for a non-Serbian diplomatic sollution.
The solution was the creation of a new independent Albanian kingdom. The Serbs were forced to accept this, if grudgingly.
The second Balkan War pitted the Balkan Coalition partners against each other. This time Bulgaria was the main target. And the Romains entered the war. When Bulgaria rejected the Serbian and Greek demands for territory seized by the Ottomans, Serbia and Greece concluded a secret treaty (June 1, 1913). The Treary provided for joint action against Bulgaria. Romania to the north joined the anti-Bulgarian coaltion, desiring Southern Dobruja hich had aargely Romanian population. Russia intervened diplomatically in an effort to prevent the developing conflict between largely fellow Slaviv nations. Austria-Hungary was also concerned, primarily with the growing power of Serbia as Serbs were among the ethnic minorities in its territory, dspecually in Bosnia. The Austrians thus sided with with Bulgaria, and attemoted to break the developing coalition directed against the Bulgarians. This encouraged the Bulgarians who decided to stike force before the Coaltuon parners could mount a coorfinated attack on them (June 29, 1913). The Second Balkan War like the First was waged primarily in Macedonian, at least at first. Romania attacked from the north (July 10). The disebsion among Blkan allies prompted the Ottomans go also enter the War in the hope of regaining loss territory (July 14). The War was a disster for Bulgaria which found itself fighting a war on four fronts.
Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to Main Balkan Wars page>]
[Return to Main 20th century war page]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Freedom] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Ideology] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]