Слике страница
PDF
ePub

grandson of Louis Philippe of France and related to four or five royal families, but at the time of his election he was a half-pay lieutenant in the Austrian army.

A master of intrigue, of boundless ambition, and of more than ordinary ability in statecraft, he set himself to the task of restoring the ancient greatness of Bulgaria and at the same time of exalting himself among the great rulers of Europe. Stephen Stambuloff, the greatest statesman of modern Bulgaria and the real creator of that country's independence, was known not unfittingly as the Bismarck of the Balkans and for a time as Prime Minister of Bulgaria he overshadowed the young prince. In Germany, the young Emperor William II got rid of Bismarck by forcing his resignation from the chancellorship. In Bulgaria, Stambuloff was disposed of through brutal assassination, and thereafter Prince Ferdinand was the unchallenged head of the state.

For a

TURKISH REVOLUTION At last the evils of Turkish misgovernment, not merely in Macedonia and Albania but in Thrace and Constantinople itself, accumulated until they could no longer be endured, and a formidable organization known as the Young Turks arose whose aim was revolution. time the Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, strove to suppress it and its members worked chiefly in exile in other lands; but at last finding it too strong, he affected to yield to its demands. In 1908 the world was astonished and gratified by the announcement that a constitution had been proclaimed in Turkey and that under it a popular liberal government was being organized. It seemed for a time as though the tyrant who for a generation had been one of the worst criminals that ever defiled even the Turkish

throne had transformed himself into a benevolent servant of the people. Religious freedom and equality were proclaimed, the people were no longer subjects but citizens, freedom of speech and of the press were guaranteed, universal suffrage and a representative legislature were established, and Turkey took its place for the first time among the free and enlightened nations of the earth. It was fondly thought that we should see the inspiring spectacle of a supposedly dying nation rising into newness of life. But the promise was not to be so easily fulfilled. The Sultan soon showed his lack of sympathy with the new era which he himself had inaugurated, and he was forcibly deposed and imprisoned and his kinsman, Mohammed V, who had spent many years in imprisonment, was placed upon the throne. After this, factional strife distracted the empire, old animosities between Moslem and Christian arose, old abuses were continued, and the experiment of popular government seemed to be in danger of failing.

THE RAPE OF THE PROVINCES Meantime the great powers, or some of them, instead of encouraging the regeneration of Turkey, looked on with little sympathy and in some cases with actual hostility. One of them, Austria-Hungary, assumed an attitude of aggressive antagonism. It was evidently feared at Vienna and Budapest that Turkey might fully rehabilitate herself and become a great and enlightened power, and so might be entitled to reclaim the valuable provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina which Austria-Hungary had been holding and governing in trust for her, and might so reform the government of Macedonia as to give no pretext for alien seizure of those provinces. Accordingly, with a

sordid determination to make sure of those provinces which she had in charge, and with a malevolent determination to discourage and discredit the new order of things in Turkey as much as possible and to cause the experiment of liberal government to fail, Austria-Hungary arbitrarily seized Bosnia and Herzegovina and annexed them to her own conglomerate domain. It was a flagrant violation of the Berlin Treaty of 1878 and a cynical application of the piratical old rule of the age of force, “that they shall take who have the power, and they shall keep who can.' Turkey protested vigorously against the outrage, and so did Serbia, to which the reversion of the provinces logically belonged, but all in vain. The other powers passively assented to or condoned the wholesale theft, and Turkey and Serbia were powerless before the huge army with which Austria-Hungary backed up her morally indefensible act. There was then every prospect that Austria-Hungary would presently continue her career of aggression and spoliation, by pushing down the Vardar Valley through Macedonia and seizing the city and port of Salonica, which she had long coveted, and which indeed all Europe had regarded as destined to fall into her hands.

THE BALKAN LEAGUE

But the rape of the two provinces had another result, quite unexpected and undesired by the perpetrator of that crime. It caused Serbia and her neighbors to open their eyes to the manner in which they were being used as pawns and playthings, and to realize the actual designs of the great powers toward them. They took to themselves the warning of Byron to the Greeks, “Trust not for freedom to the Franks,” and became persuaded that "who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.”

[graphic][ocr errors]

THE CONGRESS OF BERLIN, JUNE 13, 1878, AT THE CLOSE OF THE RussO-TURKISH WAR At this Congress was sown the seed of future troubles in the Balkan Peninsula, which culminated in the Great War.

[graphic]

MAKER OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE

Otto von Bismarck.

Copyright by Underwood and Underwood, N. Y.

THE HEAD OF THE GERMAN NAVY High Admiral Alfred P. T. von Tirpitz, chief of the Kaiser's naval force, who originated the ruthless submarine campaign.

[graphic]
« ПретходнаНастави »