The history of the Balkan Wars is long and complex. They were a series of wars fought in the Balkans region of Europe, beginning in the late 19th century and ending in the early 20th century. The wars were fought between the Balkan League (consisting of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria) and the Ottoman Empire.
The first Balkan war was fought between the countries of the Balkan Peninsula from October 1912 to May 1913. The war began when Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria all declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had been ruling over the Balkans for centuries, and the people of the Balkan countries had been trying to break free from Ottoman rule for just as long. In the early 1900s, the Balkan countries started to form alliances with each other in order to better their chances of success against the Ottomans. The first Balkan war was fought primarily in the Balkan region, with some fighting also taking place in Europe. The war ended with the Treaty of London, which was signed by the Ottomans and the Balkan countries. The treaty recognized the independence of the Balkan countries and created new borders for the region.
The Second Balkan War was a conflict that took place in the Balkans during the summer of 1913. It pitted the Balkan League—consisting of the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Greece, the Kingdom of Montenegro, and the Principality of Serbia—against the Ottoman Empire and its ally, the Kingdom of Bulgaria. The First Balkan War had seen the defeat of the Ottomans by the Balkan League and the capture of nearly all of the Ottoman Empire’s European territories. In the Treaty of London, the Great Powers had recognized the independence of Albania and Montenegro, and the autonomy of Macedonia and Thrace within the Ottoman Empire. Serbia and Greece were also given territories that they had claimed in the war. Bulgaria, the most successful of the Balkan League’s members, was dissatisfied with its share of the spoils, and felt that it had been cheated out of Macedonia, which it felt was rightfully Bulgarian. In June 1913, Bulgarian troops marched into Macedonia, sparking the Second Balkan War. The Bulgarian army quickly overwhelmed the unprepared Ottomans and captured much of Macedonia. Greece and Serbia, in response, declared war on Bulgaria. The Bulgarian army was soon forced to retreat, and by the end of the war, the Balkan League had been defeated and its members had lost nearly all of their gains from the First Balkan War.
The Third Balkan War began on 28 June 1913, when the Kingdom of Bulgaria, the Kingdom of Greece, and the Kingdom of Serbia formed an alliance against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had been steadily losing territory in the Balkans since the beginning of the nineteenth century, and by 1913 they still controlled only a small portion of the peninsula. The three Balkan allies were determined to drive the Ottomans out of Europe entirely. On 29 June, the three countries declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were unprepared for the attack and their forces were quickly overwhelmed. The capital, Constantinople, was besieged by the Bulgarian army. On 30 July, the Ottoman Empire sued for peace. The Treaty of London was signed on 30 August, and it officially ended the Third Balkan War. The Ottomans agreed to give up all of their remaining territory in Europe, except for Constantinople and a small area around it. This area became known as the Ottoman Empire’s “European provinces”. The Third Balkan War was a significant victory for the Balkan allies. For the first time in centuries, the Ottoman Empire had been pushed out of Europe. The alliance between Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia would not last long, however. The First World War began just five years after the Third Balkan War ended, and the three countries found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.
The fourth Balkan war began on October 8, 1912, and ended on November 27, 1912. It was fought by the Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria) against the Ottoman Empire. The war began when the Ottoman Empire refused to implement the terms of the Treaty of London, which had ended the third Balkan war. The Balkan League attacked the Ottoman Empire, quickly defeating them. The Ottoman Empire then sued for peace, and the Treaty of London was implemented. The fourth Balkan war resulted in the Balkan League gaining control of most of the Ottoman Empire’s European territory.
In total, the Balkan Wars resulted in the expulsion of the Ottoman Empire from the Balkans, the creation of several new countries (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania), and the alteration of the borders of several other countries.
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