The First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-1913)

Balkan Wars, 1912–13, two short wars, fought for the possession of the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. The outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War for the possession of Tripoli (1911) encouraged the Balkan states to increase their territory at Turkish expense. Serbia and Bulgaria accordingly concluded (1912), with the aid of Russian secret diplomacy, a treaty of alliance. In a secret annex, the treaty provided for joint military action and the division of prospective conquests. The outbreak of the war (Oct., 1912), in which Greece and Montenegro joined the original allies, was followed by the speedy expulsion of the Turks from all of European Turkey, except the Constantinople area. After the conclusion of hostilities Serbia showed intentions of annexing a large part of Albania, in order to gain an outlet on the Adriatic, but this step toward a "Greater Serbia" was opposed by Austria-Hungary and Italy and by the Albanians, who had proclaimed their independence. Conferences of the ambassadors of the Great Powers at London created (1913) an independent Albania of fair size, thus cutting Serbia off from the sea. Dissatisfied with these terms, Serbia demanded of Bulgaria a greater share of Macedonia. Bulgaria thereupon attacked (June, 1913) Serbia, only to be attacked by Romania, Greece, and Turkey. As a result of this Second Balkan War, Bulgaria lost territory to all her enemies by the Treaty of Bucharest (Aug., 1913). The Balkan Wars prepared the way for World War I by satisfying some of the aspirations of Serbia and thereby giving a great impetus to the Serbian desire to annex parts of Austria-Hungary; by alarming Austria and stiffening Austrian resolution to crush Serbia; and by giving causes of dissatisfaction to Bulgaria and Turkey.

See G. Young, Nationalism and War in the Near East (1915, repr. 1970); E. C. Helmreich, The Diplomacy of the Balkan Wars, 1912–1913 (1938, repr. 1969).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913: Prelude to the First World War
Richard C. Hall.
Routledge, 2000
Defeat in Detail: The Ottoman Army in the Balkans, 1912-1913
Briton C. Busch; Edward J. Erickson.
Praeger, 2003
Aggression versus Apathy: The Limits of Nationalism during the Balkan Wars, 1912-1913
Farrar, L. L., Jr.
East European Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3, Fall 2003
The Balkan Wars: Conquest, Revolution, and Retribution from the Ottoman Era to the Twentieth Century and Beyond
André Gerolymatos.
Basic Books, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Intractable Boundaries: Balkan Battlefields"
The Islamic World in Decline: From the Treaty of Karlowitz to the Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire
Martin Sicker.
Praeger, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 18 "The Close of the Ottoman Era"
Researching World War I: A Handbook
Robin Higham; Dennis E. Showalter.
Greenwood Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Balkans: Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece"
From Vienna to Versailles
L. C. B. Seaman.
Harper & Row, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIV "Cry Havoc...1907-1914"
FREE! The Balkans: A History of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Turkey
Nevill Forbes; Arnold J. Toynbee; D. Mitrany; D. G. Hogarth.
Clarendon Press, 1915
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 20 "Serbia and Montenegro, and The Two Balkan Wars, 1908-13"
FREE! The History of the Balkan Peninsula: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day
Ferdinand Schevill.
Harcourt Brace, 1922
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXX "New Ottoman Wars: (i) The War with Italy (1911); (2) The First Balkan War (1912); (3) The Second Balkan War (1913)"
The Rise of Nationalism in the Balkans, 1800-1930
Wesley M. Gewehr.
H. Holt and Company, 1931
Librarian’s tip: "The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913" begins on p. 89
Spotlight on the Balkans
P. B. Stoyan.
The Foreign Policy Association, 1940
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "The Balkans Before the First World War"
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