Balkan Wars (1912-1913)

Two successive military conflicts that deprived the Ottoman Empire of almost all its remaining territory in Europe. The First Balkan War was fought between the members of the Balkan League--Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro--and the Ottoman Empire. The people of Balkan states had suffered a long and cruel yoke for 5 centuries. The ottomans deprived of any trace of civilization and culture, considered their christian subjects as second class citizens (rayas = beast) and used them just to work and to pay taxes. Christian people hated their previous masters and wanted back the territories which belonged to them before Seljuk turks' invasion in 12th century. The christian league was able to field a combined force of 750,000 men. Montenegro opened hostilities by declaring war on Turkey on Oct. 8, 1912, and the other members of the league followed suit 10 days later.

The Balkan allies were soon victorious. In Thrace, the Bulgarians defeated the main Ottoman forces, advancing to the outskirts of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and laying siege to Adrianople. In Macedonia, the Serbian army achieved a great victory at Kumanovo that enabled it to capture Bitola and to join forces with the Montenegrins and enter Skopje and Monastirion.

The Greeks, with crown prince Constantine as its Commander-in-Chief, freed Elassona, Katerini, Grevena and Kozani, and later liberated Thessaloniki in October 27, 1912, which had stayed for 5 centuries under barbaric occupation. The decisive battles took place in Sarantaporo (October 9) and Giannitsa (October 19). Later a crucial battle took place in Bizanion (February 20-21) and same day Esat Pasha surrendered the historical city of Ioannina, which was surrounded by the greek forces. Also Argyrokastro and Koritsa of northern Epirus were liberated. Under a peace treaty signed in London on May 30, 1913, the Ottoman Empire lost almost all of its remaining European territory. Albania became independent state.

The Second Balkan War began when Serbia, Greece, and Romania quarreled with Bulgaria over the division of their joint conquests in Macedonia. On June 1, 1913, Serbia and Greece formed an alliance against Bulgaria, and the war began on the night of June 29/30, 1913, when King Ferdinand of Bulgaria ordered his troops to attack Serbian and Greek forces in Macedonia. Greek army after winning the battles of Kilkis-Lahanas (June 19-21), Tzoumagia (July 15-18), liberated Kavala, Alexandroupolis, Xanthi and Komotini. So Greece and Serbia divided up most of Macedonia between themselves, leaving Bulgaria with only a small part of the region. Second Balkan War ended with the Treaty of Bucharest on August 1913.

As a result of the Balkan Wars, Greece gained southern Macedonia as well as the island of Crete. Serbia gained the Kosovo region and extended into northern and central Macedonia. Albania was made an independent state under a German prince. The political consequences of the wars were considerable. Bulgaria, frustrated in Macedonia, looked to Austria for support, while Serbia, which had been forced by Austria to give up its Albanian conquests, regarded Vienna with greater hostility than ever. The heightened tensions in the Balkans reached their climax in World War I, which was sparked by the assassination of the Austrian heir-apparent by a Serb in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on June 28, 1914.


1st Balkan war, liberation of Macedonia
Liberation of Salonica
Liberation of Macedonia
Venizelos, Kountouriotes, Dagles
Venizelos, king Konstantinos
Venizelos, the best politician of modern greek state
Eleftherios Venizelos
Map October 1912
Bizani 1912, liberation of northern Epirus
Bizani 1912
Liberation of northern Epirus, 1912
King Constantine, 1913
King Constantine, chief of the army, 1913
Free Ioannina, 1913
Battle of Kilkis against Bulgars
Map - 1913

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