First Balkan War

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The First Balkan War was fought between the Balkan League and the Ottoman Empire which was still entangled in a war against the Italians. During the course of the war, the Balkan League (Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria) first liberated Ottoman-held Macedonia, Epirus and most of Thrace and then fell out over the division of the spoils, Bulgaria suffering defeat at the hands of her former allies (see Second Balkan War) and losing much of what she had gained in the original conflict.

History behind the Conflict

With the advent of independence of the Christian states in the Balkans (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria), inevitably tensions arose. The new states were smaller than the historic pre-Ottoman nations. Many persons were still left outside the borders of their respective nation-state. Furthermore, there were conflicts not only between these Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire but also among themselves. Rival armed gangs appeared in Macedonia fighting not only the Turks but also each other.

Tensions among the Balkan states over their rival aspirations in Macedonia subsided somewhat following intervention by the Great Powers around 1908, aimed at securing both fuller protection for the province's Christian majority and protection of the status quo. The question of Ottoman rule's viability revived, however, after the Young Turk revolution of July 1908 compelled the Sultan to restore the suspended Ottoman constitution.

Serbia looked to Kosovo and the south, Greek officers secured the appointment of a sympathetic government which they hoped would resolve the Cretan issue in Greece's favour and reverse their defeat of 1897 and Bulgaria, which had secured Ottoman recognition of her independence in April 1909 and enjoyed the friendship of Russia, also looked to districts of Ottoman Thrace and north-eastern Macedonia for expansion. In March 1910, an Albanian insurrection broke out in Kosovo. In August 1910 Montenegro followed Bulgaria's precedent by becoming a kingdom.

Outbreak of War

Montenegro started the first Balkan war by declaring war against the Ottomans on October 8, 1912. The Greeks took Thessaloniki and Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace fell to the allies and the Ottomans were pressed to maintain the defense of Constantinople. An armistice was signed between Bulgaria (representing also Serbia and Montenegro) and Turkey on December 3rd. Greece continued the war alone, aiming at the capture of Ioannina, while it participated in the London peace conferences. The Treaty of London ended the First Balkan War on May 30, 1913, but disputes over territory remained unresolved.


Battles of the First Balkan War
Name Land/Sea Guest(1) General Home (2) General Date Side Treaty
Battle of Lemnos Sea Greeks Ottomans Oct 8 1912 1
Battle of Sarantaporo Greeks Crown Prince Constantine Ottomans Hasan Tahsin Pasha Oct 9 1912 1
Battle of Giannitsa Greeks Crown Prince Constantine Ottomans Hasan Tahsin Pasha Oct 19-20 1912 1
Battle of Kumanovo Serbians Ottomans Oct 23 1912 1
Battle of Kirk Kelesse Bulgarians Ottomans Oct 24 1912 1
Battle of Pente Pigadia Greeks Lt Gen K. Sapountzakis Ottomans Esat Pasha Oct 24-30 1912 1
Battle of Prelep Serbians Ottomans Oct 27 1912 1
Battle of Lule-Burgas Bulgarians Ottomans Oct 28-31 1912 0
Battle of Vevi Greeks Ottomans Nov 2 1912 2
Battle of Monastir Serbians Ottomans Nov 16-19 1912 1
Naval Battle of Elli Sea Greeks Rear Adm Pavlos Kountouriotis Ottomans Adm Ramiz Bey Dec 3 1912 1
Siege of Adrianople Bulgarians Ottomans Gen Ghazi Shulkri Pasha Nov 17-Dec 3 1912 0
Naval Battle of Lemnos Sea Greeks Rear Adm Pavlos Kountouriotis Ottomans Jan 5-18 1913 1
Battle of Bizani Greeks Crown Prince Constantine Ottomans Esat Pasha Feb 20-21 1913 1