The Balkans has always been a point of contention between the East and the West, and although the various incarnations of Hungary, Austria, and Austria-Hungary tended to dominate next to the advancing Ottoman Army, Russia was always nipping at the edges and creating leverage with the large number of Orthodox Slavs in Central Europe.  That …

  • February 24, 2021
  • Croatia
  • Comments Off on We Must Stop the Bear!

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The last thousand years of Balkan history is a tale of three powers pulling on the limbs of an infant, as in the Biblical parable of Solomon’s wisdom.  The Balkan baby is yanked first toward Austria, then toward Russia, and all the while the Ottoman Empire is pulling steadily on its legs.  The arguments between …

  • February 19, 2021
  • Greece , Montenegro
  • Comments Off on Three Players in the Balkan Sandbox

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On 1 March 1906 Austria-Hungary decided they had enough of what they considered Serbia’s perfidy and decided to hit the Balkan country back where it would hurt – by denying Serbian products entry into the Austro-Hungarian market.  This decree hit one economic sector in particular, and it is that sector that gave this crisis its …

  • February 16, 2021
  • Comments Off on The War That Wasn’t Quite a War

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Independence is not an easy thing to establish, especially not in the Balkans. Serbia’s moves toward independence from the Ottoman Empire started in 1804, and de facto independence was achieved by 1830.  Full independence did not happen until 1878, however. Bulgaria’s path to independence was even more convoluted, with moments of Schrodinger’s Independence in 1878 …

  • September 14, 2020
  • Comments Off on The Twisted Road to Independence

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The nineteenth century wasn’t a great time for the Ottoman Empire.  It wasn’t the worst time, that would be the beginning of the twentieth century when everything collapsed.  But for an empire that had been the strong conqueror of Europe out of Asia, it was a catastrophe. The coming fall of the Ottomans was so …

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The baby who would become the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III was born on 30 January 1894.  The biggest scandal around his infancy centered around the fact that his father, Ferdinand I, defying the angry wishes of Boris’s mother, converted the infant from the Catholic to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.  The switch horrified the Catholic Habsburg …

  • July 23, 2020
  • Comments Off on The Tsar Who Saved (most) of the Jews

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The mightiest empire of antiquity, and arguably the mightiest empire the world has ever seen, was in decline in the third century AD.  Not just in decline, but rapidly falling apart at the seams.  Barbarians were invading, the peasants were revolting, the currency was debased, the plague surfaced, and Roman rulers were busy amusing themselves …

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“At first we were confused. The East thought that we were West, while the West considered us to be East. Some of us misunderstood our place in the clash of currents, so they cried that we belong to neither side, and others that we belong exclusively to one side or the other. But I tell …

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