Paper Example on Balkans: Colonial Rule & Call for Independence

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1534 Words
Date:  2022-12-27


Balkans was protectorates or provinces of the foreign empires during the early days of the 19th century. The Balkans is characterized by demographic and geographic diversity and new states that have political antagonisms. The people of Balkans were ruled by the Russians, Ottoman, and the Habsburgs as colonialists. This scenario elicited the call for independence by the people Balkans towards forming their own countries. The people increasingly felt that the ruthless rule by the colonialists should be ended and gain their freedom.

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The growing concern of the people gave rise to the emergence of nationalism. Nationalism implies patriotism shown by people towards their country. However, the nationalism idea was initiated by the intellectuals in calling for the independence of Balkans. The national consciousness in Balkans was challenging to develop due to the policies that Ottomans had installed. Indeed, restrictive policies banning the teaching of local language and religions were used to block the potential of national conciseness to emerge among the people of Balkans. Thus, the intellectuals within Balkans played a significant role in setting a sense of national consciousness that gave rise to nationalist movements.

The Balkans intellectuals in the 19th century were mainly focused on forming a standardized edition of the vernacular language and recollecting the folklore that tended to differ across the different nations. The development of a standard version of the colloquial language and traditions was beneficial in spreading the nationalism idea to the majority illiterate population. The nationalism movements involved the Bulgarian, Serbs, Romanians, Greek and Albanians changes. The success of the nationalism movements coupled with foreign military interventions helped in the formation of the nation states at the fall of the 19th century. Accordingly, the research study evaluates the development of the nationalism and the impacts of the intellectuals in the 19th century Balkans.

Research Objectives

The research study on Balkans is motivated by several objectives that are essential in guiding the process. One of the research objectives is to understand the role played by the intellectuals in liberating Balkans from the Ottoman rule. This objective is essential since it will help in revealing the significance of academics in a given society in shaping the future of society. Similarly, understanding how nationalism developed in Balkans leading to the formation of the independent states is another essential objective behind the research. This objective aims at evaluating how the idea of nationalism spread across the Balkans current states.

Research Questions

1. How did the intellectuals influence the Balkans people towards developing a sense of nationalism?

2. How did the nationalism idea development affect the ethnic divisions along the Balkans region?

Literature Review

The history of Balkans is one of the amazing ones due to the influence it had in leading to World War 1 (WW1) in Europe. The three major European powers that were caught in the middle of nationalism development in Balkans are the Ottoman Turks, Austria-Hungary, and Russia (Ruda, 2018). The leading players had the intention of extending their influence in the troubled region due to preserve their interests. The Ottoman Turks were the enter Balkans region that had colonized the different states along the Balkans area. Accordingly, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece formed the Balkan league in 1912 to oust the Ottoman Turks out of the region and acquire their land for the people in the respective states.

The attack was launched on 1st October in 1912 that lasted for seven months that ended the influence of Ottoman Turks in the region. Consequently, the members of the Balkan league acquired their territory with the defeat of the Turkish. However, Bulgaria turned against its allies namely Serbia and Greece between June and July of 1913 due to the feeling that it was shortchanged in acquiring a fair share of its territory after the first Balkan war (Yavuz, Blumi, & Erickson, 2015). This scenario allowed the Ottoman Turks to return to the region as it intervened together with Romania and Montenegro against Bulgaria (Ruda, 2018). The second Balkan war resulted in new demarcation of the territories that failed to satisfy any of the parties. Similarly, the Turks and Austro-Hungarian were able to regain support from the Balkans region due to the disappointment that Russia suffered after the disruption of the traditional alliances caused by Pan-Slavism (Vovchenko, 2016).

Nevertheless, Russia retains alliance with Serbia, but the connection failed to satisfy its interest in accessing the Dardanelles that would have given it an entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. The dissatisfaction by Bulgaria after the second Balkan war and the growing influence of Serbia in the region motivates its leadership to ally with Austro-Hungarians. This development exposes the Balkan region to two competing unions in which Serbia is allied to Russia and Bulgaria to Austro-Hungarians. Accordingly, the tension between Serbia and Hungarian over the disputed Bosnia-Herzegovina province escalates with the rise of different alliances in the region (Hajdarpasic, 2015). Austro-Hungarians had annexed the Bosnia-Herzegovina province in 1908 through the Serbs ethnic group was the majority population.

Consequently, an ethnic-nationalism arose in July 1914 in the region resulting in military alliances, which dominate Europe up to modern times. The crisis was accelerated with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the Hungarian leader by a Serbian nationalist namely Gavrilo Princip in Bosnia City (Hajdarpasic, 2015). Consequently, Hungary started to mobilize for troops to attack Serbia after refusing to handover Princip to Hungarian authority. Russia responded by mobilizing its trrops to defend its ally from the attack.

Austria also started to mobilize its troop to join in the fight against Serbia while Germany declared war against Russia and France by mobilizing its. This development led to France and Britain declaring war on Germany as it invaded France through Belgium (Hajdarpasic, 2015). Consequently, WW1 began between Serbian allies and Austria-Hungarian allies. This development depicts how the development of the ethno nationalism led to WW1 and the modern conflicts along the region in recent times.

Nationalism in Greece and Serbia begins with intellectuals, and it remains first for a minority, estranged to the mass of the population, which is illiterate, mostly rural and concerned with slightly different aspects of public life (Lila, 2017). Intellectuals with nationalist ideals can be tracked down in both countries already during the Enlightenment despite the universal values that were common in most of Europe, which arrived rather late to the majority of Greek lands, for example, because of the so-called Tourkokratia. Dositej Obradovic, in Serbia, and Adamantios Korais, in Greece, are probably the best examples (Bulent & Tunc, 2016). They were both favorable to the Enlightenment, but at the same time, they were heavily influenced by the national ideas of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and German idealism.

Obradovic and Korais lived between the 18th and the 19th centuries and can be considered to be the first of a long row of intellectuals, linguists and writers who will be politically active, often from public institutions, and involved in the pre-statehood period of Serbian and Greek history onwards (McConnell, 2018). They supported normalization and standardization of the popular language against the tongue of 'foreign oppressors,' and even if nationalism in these countries was firstly more focused on language and culture, the political factor and desire to create an independent Greek and South Slavic state were quickly strengthened among the local intellectuals (Okey, 2010). Obradovic insisted under the principles of the Enlightenment that Serbian identity must be based on language and common origin, never on religion even if the dilemma of the Serbian population between linguistic nationalism and a religious 'Orthodox Serbness' was present from the very beginning of the national movement (Lila, 2017).

After Obradovic, Serbian culture went into the significant influence of the linguist and folklorist Vuk Karadzic, who created the first modern grammars and dictionaries of Serbian (Hajdarpasic, 2015). Contrarily to Korais, who defended an extremely purist version of Greek with Byzantine features as opposed to how 'the mass' spoke in the 19th century, Karadzic wanted a modernized version of Serbian, a fact that opposed him to the Serbian Orthodox Church, which continued to use Old Church Slavonic (Ruda, 2018). He also defended the unity of the South Slavic language, and through it of the South Slavic people, which he considered being one nation, similarly to the language-based German nationalism of Herder. Karadzic was a personal friend of many German nationalist thinkers of the time, especially with Jacob Grimm.


Bulent, G., & Tunc, A. (2016). Identity, Race and Nationalism in Turkey-Introduction to the Special Issue. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies , 18 (2), 107-110.

Hajdarpasic, E. (2015). Whose Bosnia?: Nationalism and political imagination in the Balkans, 1840-1914. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Lila, F. (2017). Rising Nationalism in the Balkans. European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies , 2 (4), 31-35.

McConnell, T. (2018). Nationalism, Violence and the State in the Balkans: A Comparative Review. Nattionalism and Ethnic Politics , 24 (3), 348-358.

Okey, R. (2010). Taming Balkan Nationalism: The Habsburg 'Civilizing Mission' in Bosnia 1878-1914. Retrieved 2019, from

Ruda, D. (2018, March 29). The development of nationalism by intellectuals in the Balkans in the 19th century: A comparison of Greek and Serbian national movements. Retrieved April 2019, from

Vovchenko, D. (2016). Containing Balkan nationalism: Imperial Russia and Ottoman christians: 1856-1914. Minnesota: University of Minnesota.

Yavuz, H., Blumi, I., & Erickson, E. (2015). War and Nationalism: The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913, and the Sociopolitical Implications. Journal of Islam Studies , 26 (1), 78-80.

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