The Balkan Wars: 1912-1913 eBook

Jacob Gould Schurman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 74 pages of information about The Balkan Wars.
monasteries, and embellished his capital, Trnovo, with beautiful and magnificent buildings.  After Asen came a period of decline culminating in a humiliating defeat by the Servians in 1330.  The quarrels of the Christian races of the Balkans facilitated the advance of the Moslem invader, who overwhelmed the Serbs and their allies on the memorable field of Kossovo in 1389, and four years later captured and burned the Bulgarian capital, Trnovo, Czar Shishman himself perishing obscurely in the common destruction.  For five centuries Bulgaria remained under Moslem despotism, we ourselves being the witnesses of her emancipation in the last thirty-five years.

The fate of the Serbs differed only in degree from that of the Bulgarians.  Converted to Christianity in the middle of the ninth century, the major portion of the race remained till the twelfth century under either Bulgarian or Byzantine sovereignty.  But Stephen Nemanyo bought under his rule Herzegovina, Montenegro and part of modern Servia and old Servia, and on his abdication in 1195 in favor of his son launched a royal dynasty which reigned over the Serb people for two centuries.  Of that line the most distinguished member was Stephen Dushan, who reigned from 1331 to 1355.  He wrested the whole of the Balkan Peninsula from the Byzantine Emperor, and took Belgrade, Bosnia, and Herzegovina from the King of Hungary.  He encouraged literature, gave to his country a highly advanced code of laws, and protected the church whose head—­the Archbishop of Ipek—­he raised to the dignity of patriarch.  On Easter Day 1346 he had himself crowned at Uskub as “Emperor of the Greeks and Serbs.”  A few years later he embarked on an enterprise by which, had he been successful, he might have changed the course of European history.  It was nothing less than the capture of Constantinople and the union of Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks into an empire which might defend Christendom against the rising power of Islam.  Dushan was within forty miles of his goal with an army of 80,000 men when he died suddenly in camp on the 20th of December, 1355.  Thirty-four years later Dushan’s countrymen were annihilated by the Turks at Kossovo!  All the Slavonic peoples of the Balkan Peninsula save the brave mountaineers of Montenegro came under Moslem subjection.  And under Moslem subjection they remained till the nineteenth century.

TURKISH OPPRESSION OF SLAVS

It is impossible to give any adequate description of the horrors of Turkish rule in these Christian countries of the Balkans.  Their people, disqualified from holding even the smallest office, were absolutely helpless under the oppression of their foreign masters, who ground them down under an intolerable load of taxation and plunder.  The culminating cruelty was the tribute of Christian children from ten to twelve years of age who were sent to Constantinople to recruit the corps of janissaries.  It is not surprising

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The Balkan Wars: 1912-1913 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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