he Crimean War gave to part of the Balkan population twenty years more of national development under the slackened grasp of the Porte [Turkey’s central government]; and by extinguishing the friendship of Austria and Russia it rendered the liberation of Italy possible. But each direct proviso of the treaty of Paris seemed made only to be mocked by events. Scarcely a year passed without some disturbance among the Christian subjects of the sultan, in which the interference of the powers invariably followed in one form or another. A new series of massacres in the Lebanon in 1860 caused France to land a force in Syria. Walachia and Moldavia formed themselves into a single state under the name of Roumania, to which the house of Hohenzollern soon afterwards gave a sovereign. Bosnia and Montenegro took up arms. Servia got rid of its Turkish garrisons. Crete fought long for its independence, and seemed for a moment likely to be united to Greece under the auspices of the powers; but it was ultimately abandoned to its Turkish masters. The overthrow of France in the war of 1870 and the consequent isolation of England led Russia to declare the provision of the treaty of Paris which excluded its ships of war and its arsenals from the Black Sea to be no longer in force. To save appearances, the British Government demanded that the matter should be referred to a European conference, where Russia’s will was duly ratified.
A few years later the horizon of eastern Europe visibly darkened with the coming storm. Russian influences were no doubt at work; but the development of national feeling which had so powerfully affected every other part of Europe during the 19th century could not remain without effect among the Christian races of the Balkan peninsula. In 1875 Bosnia and Herzegovina revolted. In the meantime the government of Abd-ul- Aziz (1861-1876) had become worse and Avorse. The state was bankrupt. Ignatieff, the Russian ambassador, gained complete ascendency in the palace, and frustrated every attempt on the part of the better Turkish statesmen to check the torrent of misrule. His creature, Mahmed Pasha, maintained his place in spite of universal contempt, until a conspiracy was formed at Constantinople, which cost the sultan his throne (30th May 1876) and a few days later his life. His imbecile successor, Murad V., gave place after a reign of three months to Abd-ul-Hamfd II.
The Bosnian insurrection had already extended to Bulgaria, and the slaughter of the Turkish inhabitants in certain villages had been avenged by massacres of the most fearful character. Servia and Montenegro took up arms. The resources of European diplomacy were exhausted in fruitless attempts to gain from the Porte some real securities for better government, and in April 1877 Russia declared war . The neutrality of Austria had been secured by a secret agreement permitting that country to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina, if Russia should extend its influence beyond the Balkans. The Bulgarian massacres had excited such horror and indignation in England that Lord Beaconsfield was forced to remain neutral. The ministry contented itself with stating that England would not permit Egypt to be the scene of hostilities, nor acquiesce in any prolonged occupation of Constantinople by Russian troops. Turkey was thus left without an ally.
The Russians entered Bulgaria in June; and, while Rustchuk was besieged, their advanced guard under Gourko hurried across the Balkans. Meanwhile Osman Pasha, coming from Widdin, occupied and fortified Plevna on the Russian line of march. Against his redoubts the Russians, ill commanded, threw themselves in vain, and Gourko was compelled to fall back on the Shipka Pass. But in December the capture of Plevna, in which Roumanian troops cooperated, set free the invading army, and the march on Constantinople was resumed. The Balkans were passed in mid-winter; Adrianople was occupied; and the Turkish armies were captured or annihilated. The Russians now pressed forward to the very suburbs of Constantinople, and on 3d March 1878 peace was concluded at San Stefano. In Asia the Russians had captured Kars and were besieging Erzeroum. Treaties The treaty of San Stefano ceded to Russia the portion of of San Bessarabia taken from it in 1856, together with the bte an Dobnulja, and also Kars, Batoum, and the adjoining Berlin, territory in Asia. It recognized the independence of Servia, Montenegro, and Roumania, and largely extended the territory of the first two. Bulgaria was constituted an autonomous state, though tributary to the Porte, and was defined so as to extend to the Ægean Sea and to include the greater part of the country between the Balkans and the coast. Crete, Thessaly, and Epirus were to receive the necessary reforms at the hands of a European commission.
To this treaty Great Britain refused to give its assent, and vigorous preparations were made for war. The fleet was at the Dardanelles, and Indian troops were brought to Malta. Russia could no longer count on the neutrality of Austria. Under these circumstances the court of St Petersburg consented to submit the treaty to a European congress, which, after a secret agreement had been made between Russia and England on the principal points of difference, assembled at Berlin. The treaty of San Stefano received various modifications, the principal being a reduction of the territory included in Bulgaria and the division of that state into two parts. Bulgaria north of the Balkans was constituted an autonomous principality; Bulgaria south of the Balkans was made into a province, with the title of Eastern Roumelia, subject to the authority of the sultan, but with a Christian governor and an autonomous administration. Austria received Bosnia and Herzegovina. The territory ceded to Servia and Montenegro by the treaty of San Stefano, as well as that ceded to Russia in Asia, was somewhat diminished. The Porte was advised to make some cession of territory to Greece, and the line of frontier subsequently recommended gave to Greece Janina as well as Thessaly. The usual promises of organic reform were made by Turkey.
By a separate convention England undertook the defence of Asiatic Turkey and received Cyprus. The organization of Eastern Roumelia was duly taken in hand by a European commission and brought to a favourable conclusion; but it was not until a naval demonstration had been made by England that the final cession of Dulcigno to the Montenegrins was effected, and that Thessaly, without Epirus, was given up to Greece. Alexander of Battenberg became prince of Bulgaria. By a popular movement in 1885 Bulgariagarian and Eastern Roumelia were united into a single state. This revolution occasioned the utmost displeasure at St Petersburg; and under Russian influence Prince Alexander was kidnapped and forced to abdicate. The Porte offered no armed resistance to the union. (C. A. R.) [XXIII, 651-52]
- The Bear’s Shadow: Russia and Victorian Britain’s Foreign Policy
“Egypt.” The Encylopædia Brittanica or Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature. Ninth ed. New York: Charles Scribners and Sons: 1888. XXIII, 458-560. Hathi Trust Digital Library online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 16 August 2020.
Last modified 13 August 2020