Serbia Refuses to Yield in
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History. Please note that the opinions expressed in
this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
October 18th 1912,
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this day Serbia refuses to yield in Albania. With the growth of
nationalism in the course of the nineteenth century, ancient empires began
to split along the seams of peoples that had been stitched together by
rule of force for centuries.
The Holy Roman Empire had disintegrated, much of it becoming reborn as the
German Empire. Italy reunited after some 1500 years since the Romans.
Later, in the Balkans, the various peoples of the mountainous peninsula
began to erupt against centuries-long Ottoman domination.
Nations like Romania and Serbia had successfully broken away from the
Ottomans, while the neighboring empire of the Austrian-Hungarians had
pushed administration upon Bosnia-Herzegovina to bring it to a more
European rule. Bulgaria stood ready to unite the Bulgars under their Tsar
Ferdinand, having set up a state of their own in 1878.
"Couple of questions. 1) Franz FERDINAND? Did Franz
Josef die early? 2) If Germany wins, what does the nation-state of Poland
look like? Was it carved out of the lands occupied by Austria-Hungary? 3)
Is America neutral in all of this? Do American ships still supply Germany
with food? And does that food make its way down to Austria? Keep this one
going, it sounds interesting." - reader's commentsThe "Great
Powers" of Europe, the dominant empires in the world, scanned the
political situation and waiting for opportunities to conduct influence
toward their goals. Russia stood ready to expand into a pan-Slavic rule,
uniting the Balkans under their sphere and gaining significant ports.
Austria-Hungary wanted to keep the balance with the Ottomans, using them
as a pendulum to guide Serbian nationalism away from imperial lands.
Germany and France both wanted influence in the eastern Mediterranean, the
former with the Ottomans as a puppet state and the latter with political
control in the Levant.
Modernist thought struck the Ottoman Empire at home with the Young Turk
movement pushing a new constitution in 1908. Struggles between
Bulgarian/Greek freedom fighters and the Ottoman army in Macedonia had
continued since 1904, but now was the time for action. Bulgaria named its
tsar, Austria-Hungary officially annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Italy
began the path for victory in the Italo-Turkish War in 1911, gaining much
of the Ottoman Mediterranean territories.
"1) Franz Josef died in 1916, and there\'s argument
about how much direct control Franz Ferdinand had taken toward the end.
Also, the band, though cool, makes discussion of pre-WWI confusing. 2)
Poland\'s going to be much farther east and south, taking up lands from
Russia and Austria-Hungary. Probably a lot of bloody migration in this TL.
3) America would probably stay neutral and make a tidy profit supplying
the Germans, who would then supply the Austrians." - reader's commentsIn
1912, war would spread like plague through Eastern Europe. With the Turks
falling to Italian forces, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro rose
up as the Balkan League. Austria-Hungary was uncomfortable at seeing their
counterpart begin to fall and hoped to reign in the battles by declaring
an ultimatum against Serbian troops that had pushed south into Albania.
The Serbs reportedly "spat" at the ultimatum and continued their
liberation and division of Balkan territory among the League.
German Kaiser Wilhelm II had vowed support to Archduke Franz Ferdinand,
and, with such imperial clout, the Austrians joined the Balkan War against
the League. In response, the Russians excitedly went to war in support of
the League they had helped establish. France and Britain both took up
neutral positions despite France's longtime alliance with Russia and
Britain's not-so-secret unease at any Russian expansion, which had been
seen in the Crimean War only decades before.
In the German Imperial War Council of December 8, it was realized that the
fitness of the German army was not what the Kaiser had hoped, and victory
would not be quick. The Austrians found themselves simply holding fronts
against Russia and the Balkan League. While the first two years of war
were grim, Germany and Austria arose in 1914 with a huge military push
through Poland. Russians pursued scorched earth, but the speed of the
German army checked their age-old tactic. Hundreds of thousands of
Russians would die as the Germans marched toward Moscow before the Czar
called for armistice.
"Hungary and Romania would probably go to war right
quick over Transylvania (traditionally part of the Crown Lands of St.
Stephen, but with an ethnic Romanian majority that did NOT like
Hungarians)" - reader's commentsIn the south, Austria found itself
stretched and finally broken. The empire collapsed into anarchy that even
anti-Serbian sentiment could not resolve. At the Treaty of London in 1917,
a new eastern Europe was drawn up. Many new nations stood independent:
Albania, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Finland, Estonia,
Latvia, Belorussia, and Lithuania. Much weakened, Russia erupted into
civil war between Communist and Tsarist factions that lasted until foreign
Allied troops settled the matter in the favor of the Tsar in 1919, with
the new independent nation of Ukraine being founded. The Ottoman Empire,
too, would succumb to the rash of revolution through the 1920s that were
said to be akin to those of the 1790s and 1840s. Nationalism broke up the
empire, which caused the Great Powers to grab influence in the Middle East
where they could.
The twentieth century would see effective reform of the imperial system,
guaranteeing more social rights, but the overall rule of monarchs
balancing one another continued. Some said that the settling of the
Eastern Question saved the kings of Europe, but many historians scoff at
the idea of a war so vicious that it would cause the end of constitutional
monarchy as Europe's inherent political system.
says in reality Serbia acceded to the October 18 ultimatum.
Austria-Hungary did not wish to become part of the war due to its own
internal struggles, especially after Germany withdrew their boast of
military readiness until "mid-1914". By that time, all of Europe had built
up such war machines that the spark of the assassination of the Austrian
Archduke ignited the "War to End All Wars". In the meantime, the Balkan
League had settled much of themselves through the First Balkan War against
the Ottoman Empire and then the Second against Bulgaria to settle disputes
over land. To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
Today in Alternate History web site.
Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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