Peace Theories and the Balkan War
Norman Angell

Part 5 out of 6

France, within the Russian sphere of influence, and not to wait till
compelled to do so.'

[Footnote 1: See _Revue des Deux Mondes_, June 15, 1866, article by Eugene

The campaigns of 1866 and 1870 having finally established Prussia's
supremacy in the German world, Bismarck modified his attitude towards
Austria. In an interview with the Austrian Foreign Secretary, Count Beust
(Gastein, October 1871), he broached for the first time the question of an
alliance and, touching upon the eventual dissolution of the Ottoman
Empire, 'obligingly remarked that one could not conceive of a great power
not making of its faculty for expansion a vital question'.[2] Quite in
keeping with that change were the counsels henceforth tendered to Prince
Carol. Early that year Bismarck wrote of his sorrow at having been forced
to the conclusion that Rumania had nothing to expect from Russia, while
Prince Anthony, Prince Carol's father and faithful adviser, wrote soon
after the above interview (November 1871), that 'under certain
circumstances it would seem a sound policy for Rumania to rely upon the
support of Austria'. Persevering in this crescendo of suggestion,
Austria's new foreign secretary, Count Andrassy, drifted at length to the
point by plainly declaring not long afterwards that 'Rumania is not so
unimportant that one should deprecate an alliance with her'.

[Footnote 2: Gabriel Hanotaux, _La Guerre des Balkans et l'Europe_ (Beust,
Memoires), Paris, 1914, p. 297.]

Prince Carol had accepted the throne with the firm intention of shaking
off the Turkish suzerainty at the first opportunity, and not unnaturally
he counted upon Germany's support to that end. He and his country were
bitterly disappointed, therefore, when Bismarck appealed directly to the
Porte for the settlement of a difference between the Rumanian Government
and a German company entrusted with the construction of the Rumanian
railways; the more so as the Paris Convention had expressly forbidden any
Turkish interference in Rumania's internal affairs. It thus became
increasingly evident that Rumania could not break away from Russia, the
coming power in the East. The eyes of Russia were steadfastly fixed on
Constantinople: by joining her, Rumania had the best chance of gaining her
independence; by not doing so, she ran the risk of being trodden upon by
Russia on her way to Byzantium. But though resolved to co-operate with
Russia in any eventual action in the Balkans, Prince Carol skilfully
avoided delivering himself blindfold into her hands by deliberately
cutting himself away from the other guaranteeing powers. To the conference
which met in Constantinople at the end of 1876 to settle Balkan affairs he
addressed the demand that 'should war break out between one of the
guaranteeing powers and Turkey, Rumania's line of conduct should be
dictated, and her neutrality and rights guaranteed, by the other powers'.
This _demarche_ failed. The powers had accepted the invitation to the
conference as one accepts an invitation to visit a dying man. Nobody had
any illusions on the possibility of averting war, least of all the two
powers principally interested. In November 1876 Ali Bey and M. de Nelidov
arrived simultaneously and secretly in Bucarest to sound Rumania as to an
arrangement with their respective countries, Turkey and Russia. In
opposition to his father and Count Andrassy, who counselled neutrality and
the withdrawal of the Rumanian army into the mountains, and in sympathy
with Bismarck's advice, Prince Carol concluded a Convention with Russia on
April 16, 1877. Rumania promised to the Russian army 'free passage through
Rumanian territory and the treatment due to a friendly army'; whilst
Russia undertook to respect Rumania's political rights, as well as 'to
maintain and defend her actual integrity'. 'It is pretty certain', wrote
Prince Carol to his father, 'that this will not be to the liking of most
of the great powers; but as they neither can nor will offer us anything,
we cannot do otherwise than pass them by. A successful Russian campaign
will free us from the nominal dependency upon Turkey, and Europe will
never allow Russia to take her place.'

On April 23 the Russian armies passed the Pruth. An offer of active
participation by the Rumanian forces in the forthcoming campaign was
rejected by the Tsar, who haughtily declared that 'Russia had no need for
the cooperation of the Rumanian army', and that 'it was only under the
auspices of the Russian forces that the foundation of Rumania's future
destinies could be laid'. Rumania was to keep quiet and accept in the end
what Russia would deign to give her, or, to be more correct, take from
her. After a few successful encounters, however, the Tsar's soldiers met
with serious defeats before Plevna, and persistent appeals were now urged
for the participation of the Rumanian army in the military operations. The
moment had come for Rumania to bargain for her interests. But Prince Carol
refused to make capital out of the serious position of the Russians; he
led his army across the Danube and, at the express desire of the Tsar,
took over the supreme command of the united forces before Plevna. After a
glorious but terrible struggle Plevna, followed at short intervals by
other strongholds, fell, the peace preliminaries were signed, and Prince
Carol returned to Bucarest at the head of his victorious army.

Notwithstanding the flattering words in which the Tsar spoke of the
Rumanian share in the success of the campaign, Russia did not admit
Rumania to the Peace Conference. By the Treaty of San Stefano (March
3,1878) Rumania's independence was recognized; Russia obtained from Turkey
the Dobrudja and the delta of the Danube, reserving for herself the right
to exchange these territories against the three southern districts of
Bessarabia, restored to Rumania by the Treaty of Paris, 1856. This
stipulation was by no means a surprise to Rumania, Russia's intention to
recover Bessarabia was well known to the Government, who hoped, however,
that the demand would not be pressed after the effective assistance
rendered by the Rumanian army. 'If this be not a ground for the extension
of our territory, it is surely none for its diminution,' remarked
Cogalniceanu at the Berlin Congress. Moreover, besides the promises of the
Tsar, there was the Convention of the previous year, which, in exchange
for nothing more than free passage for the Russian armies, guaranteed
Rumania's integrity. But upon this stipulation Gorchakov put the
jesuitical construction that, the Convention being concluded in view of a
war to be waged against Turkey, it was only against Turkey that Russia
undertook to guarantee Rumania's integrity; as to herself, she was not in
the least bound by that arrangement. And should Rumania dare to protest
against, or oppose the action of the Russian Government, 'the Tsar will
order that Rumania be occupied and the Rumanian army disarmed'. 'The army
which fought at Plevna', replied Prince Carol through his minister, 'may
well be destroyed, but never disarmed.'

There was one last hope left to Rumania: that the Congress which met in
Berlin in June 1878 for the purpose of revising the Treaty of San Stefano,
would prevent such an injustice. But Bismarck was anxious that no
'sentiment de dignite blessee' should rankle in Russia's future policy;
the French representative, Waddington, was 'above all a practical man';
Corti, the Italian delegate, was 'nearly rude' to the Rumanian delegates;
while Lord Beaconsfield, England's envoy, receiving the Rumanian delegates
privately, had nothing to say but that 'in politics the best services are
often rewarded with ingratitude'. Russia strongly opposed even the idea
that the Rumanian delegates should be allowed to put their case before the
Congress, and consent was obtained only with difficulty after Lord
Salisbury had ironically remarked that 'having heard the representatives
of Greece, which was claiming foreign provinces, it would be but fair to
listen also to the representatives of a country which was only seeking to
retain what was its own'. Shortly before, Lord Salisbury, speaking in
London to the Rumanian special envoy, Callimaki Catargiu, had assured him
of England's sympathy and of her effective assistance in case either of
war or of a Congress. 'But to be quite candid he must add that there are
questions of more concern to England, and should she be able to come to an
understanding with Russia with regard to them, she would not wage war for
the sake of Rumania.' Indeed, an understanding came about, and an
indiscretion enabled the _Globe_ to make its tenor public early in June
1878. 'The Government of her Britannic Majesty', it said, 'considers that
it will feel itself bound to express its deep regret should Russia persist
in demanding the retrocession of Bessarabia.... England's interest in this
question is not such, however, as to justify her taking upon herself alone
the responsibility of opposing the intended exchange.' So Bessarabia was
lost, Rumania receiving instead Dobrudja with the delta of the Danube. But
as the newly created state of Bulgaria was at the time little else than a
detached Russian province, Russia, alone amongst the powers, opposed and
succeeded in preventing the demarcation to the new Rumanian province of a
strategically sound frontier. Finally, to the exasperation of the
Rumanians, the Congress made the recognition of Rumania's independence
contingent upon the abolition of Article 7 of the Constitution--which
denied to non-Christians the right of becoming Rumanian citizens--and the
emancipation of the Rumanian Jews.[1]

[Footnote 1: Rumania only partially gave way to this intrusion of the
powers into her internal affairs. The prohibition was abolished; but only
individual naturalization was made possible, and that by special Act of
Parliament. Only a very small proportion of the Jewish population has
since been naturalized. The Jewish question in Rumania is undoubtedly a
very serious one; but the matter is too controversial to be dealt with in
a few lines without risking misrepresentation or doing an injustice to one
or other of the parties. For which reason it has not been included in this

It was only after innumerable difficulties and hardships that, at the
beginning of 1880, Rumania secured recognition of an independence which
she owed to nobody but herself. Whilst Russia was opposing Rumania at
every opportunity in the European conferences and commissions, she was at
pains to show herself more amenable in _tete-a-tete_, and approached
Rumania with favourable proposals. 'Rather Russia as foe than guardian,'
wrote Prince Carol to his father; and these words indicate an important
turning-point in Rumania's foreign policy.

In wresting Bessarabia from Rumania merely as a sop to her own pride, and
to make an end of all that was enacted by the Treaty of Paris, 1856,
Russia made a serious political blunder. By insisting that Austria should
share in the partition of Poland, Frederick the Great had skilfully
prevented her from remaining the one country towards which the Poles would
naturally have turned for deliverance. Such an opportunity was lost by
Russia through her short-sighted policy in Bessarabia--that of remaining
the natural ally of Rumania against Rumania's natural foe,

Rumania had neither historical, geographical, nor any important
ethnographical points of contact with the region south of the Danube; the
aims of a future policy could only have embraced neighbouring tracts of
foreign territory inhabited by Rumanians. Whereas up to the date of the
Berlin Congress such tracts were confined to Austria-Hungary, by that
Congress a similar sphere of attraction for Rumanian aspirations was
created in Russia.[1] The interests of a peaceful development demanded
that Rumania should maintain friendly relations with both the powers
striving for domination in the Near East; it was a vital necessity for
her, however, to be able to rely upon the effective support of at least
one of them in a case of emergency. Russia's conduct had aroused a deep
feeling of bitterness and mistrust in Rumania, and every lessening of her
influence was a step in Austria's favour. Secondary considerations tended
to intensify this: on the one hand lay the fact that through Russia's
interposition Rumania had no defendable frontier against Bulgaria; on the
other hand was the greatly strengthened position created for Austria by
her alliance with Germany, in whose future Prince Carol had the utmost

[Footnote 1: It is probable that this confederation had much to do with
the readiness with which Bismarck supported the demands of his good
friend, Gorchakov.]

Germany's attitude towards Rumania had been curiously hostile during these
events; but when Prince Carol's father spoke of this to the German
Emperor, the latter showed genuine astonishment: Bismarck had obviously
not taken the emperor completely into his confidence. When, a few days
later, Sturdza had an interview with Bismarck at the latter's invitation,
the German Chancellor discovered once more that Rumania had nothing to
expect from Russia. Indeed, Rumania's position between Russia and the new
Slav state south of the Danube might prove dangerous, were she not to seek
protection and assistance from her two 'natural friends', France and
Germany. And, with his usual liberality when baiting his policy with false
hopes, Bismarck went on to say that 'Turkey is falling to pieces; nobody
can resuscitate her; Rumania has an important role to fulfil, but for this
she must be wise, cautious, and strong'. This new attitude was the natural
counterpart of the change which was at that time making itself felt in
Russo-German relations. While a Franco-Russian alliance was propounded by
Gorchakov in an interview with a French journalist, Bismarck and Andrassy
signed in Gastein the treaty which allied Austria to Germany (September
1879). As Rumania's interests were identical with those of Austria--wrote
Count Andrassy privately to Prince Carol a few months later--namely, to
prevent the fusion of the northern and the southern Slavs, she had only to
express her willingness to become at a given moment the third party in the
compact. In 1883 King Carol accepted a secret treaty of defensive alliance
from Austria. In return for promises relating to future political
partitions in the Balkans, the monarch pledged himself to oppose all
developments likely to speed the democratic evolution, of Rumania. Though
the treaty was never submitted to parliament for ratification, and
notwithstanding a tariff war and a serious difference with Austria on the
question of control of the Danube navigation, Rumania was, till the Balkan
wars, a faithful 'sleeping partner' of the Triple Alliance.

All through that externally quiet period a marked discrepancy existed and
developed between that line of policy and the trend of public opinion. The
interest of the Rumanians within the kingdom centred increasingly on their
brethren in Transylvania, the solution of whose hard case inspired most of
the popular national movements. Not on account of the political despotism
of the Magyars, for that of the Russians was in no way behind it. But
whilst the Rumanians of Bessarabia were, with few exceptions, illiterate
peasants, in Transylvania there was a solidly established and spirited
middle class, whose protests kept pace with the oppressive measures. Many
of them--and of necessity the more turbulent--migrated to Rumania, and
there kept alive the 'Transylvanian Question'. That the country's foreign
policy has nevertheless constantly supported the Central Powers is due, to
some extent, to the fact that the generation most deeply impressed by the
events of 1878 came gradually to the leadership of the country; to a
greater extent to the increasing influence of German education,[1] and the
economic and financial supremacy which the benevolent passivity of England
and France enabled Germany to acquire; but above all to the personal
influence of King Carol. Germany, he considered, was at the beginning of
her development and needed, above all, peace; as Rumania was in the same
position the wisest policy was to follow Germany, neglecting impracticable
national ideals. King Carol outlined his views clearly in an interview
which he had in Vienna with the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1883: 'No nation
consents to be bereaved of its political aspirations, and those of the
Rumanians are constantly kept at fever heat by Magyar oppression. But this
was no real obstacle to a friendly understanding between the two
neighbouring states.'

[Footnote 1: Many prominent statesmen like Sturdza, Maiorescu, Carp, &c.
were educated in Germany, whereas the school established by the German
community (_Evangelische Knaben und Realschule_), and which it under the
direct control of the German Ministry of Education, is attended by more
pupils than any other school in Bucarest.]

Such was the position when the Balkan peoples rose in 1912 to sever the
last ties which bound them to the decadent Turkish Empire. King Carol, who
had, sword in hand, won the independence of his country, could have no
objection to such a desire for emancipation. Nor to the Balkan League
itself, unfortunately so ephemeral; for by the first year of his reign he
had already approached the Greek Government with proposals toward such a
league, and toward freeing the Balkans from the undesirable interference
of the powers.[1] It is true that Rumania, like all the other states, had
not foreseen the radical changes which were to take place, and which
considerably affected her position in the Near East. But she was safe as
long as the situation was one of stable equilibrium and the league
remained in existence. 'Rumania will only be menaced by a real danger when
a Great Bulgaria comes into existence,' remarked Prince Carol to Bismarck
in 1880, and Bulgaria had done nothing since to allay Rumanian suspicions.
On the contrary, the proviso of the Berlin Convention that all
fortifications along the Rumania frontier should be razed to the ground
had not been carried out by the Bulgarian Government. Bulgarian official
publications regarded the Dobrudja as a 'Bulgaria Irredenta', and at the
outset of the first Balkan war a certain section of the Bulgarian press
speculated upon the Bulgarian character of the Dobrudja.

[Footnote 1: See Augenzeuge, op. cit., i. 178]

The Balkan League having proclaimed, however, that their action did not
involve any territorial changes, and the maintenance of the _status quo_
having been insisted upon by the European Concert, Rumania declared that
she would remain neutral. All this jugglery of mutual assurances broke
down with the unexpected rout of the Turks; the formula 'the Balkans to
the Balkan peoples' made its appearance, upon which Bulgaria was at once
notified that Rumania would insist upon the question of the Dobrudja
frontier being included in any fundamental alteration of the Berlin
Convention. The Bulgarian Premier, M. Danev, concurred in this point of
view, but his conduct of the subsequent London negotiations was so
'diplomatic' that their only result was to strain the patience of the
Rumanian Government and public opinion to breaking point. Nevertheless,
the Rumanian Government agreed that the point in dispute should be
submitted to a conference of the representatives of the great powers in
St. Petersburg, and later accepted the decision of that conference, though
the country considered it highly unsatisfactory.

The formation of the Balkan League, and especially the collapse of Turkey,
had meant a serious blow to the Central Powers' policy of peaceful
penetration. Moreover, 'for a century men have been labouring to solve the
Eastern. Question. On the day when it shall be considered solved, Europe
will inevitably witness the propounding of the Austrian Question.'[1] To
prevent this and to keep open a route to the East Austro-German diplomacy
set to work, and having engineered the creation of Albania succeeded in
barring Serbia's way to the Adriatic; Serbia was thus forced to seek an
outlet in the south, where her interests were doomed to clash with
Bulgarian aspirations. The atmosphere grew threatening. In anticipation of
a conflict with Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia sought an alliance with
Rumania. The offer was declined; but, in accordance with the policy which
Bucarest had already made quite clear to Sofia, the Rumanian army was
ordered to enter Bulgaria immediately that country attacked her former
allies. The Rumanians advanced unopposed to within a few miles of Sofia,
and in order to save the capital Bulgaria declared her willingness to
comply with their claims. Rumania having refused, however, to conclude a
separate peace, Bulgaria had to give way, and the Balkan premiers met in
conference at Bucarest to discuss terms. The circumstances were not
auspicious. The way in which Bulgaria had conducted previous negotiations,
and especially the attack upon her former allies, had exasperated the
Rumanians and the Balkan peoples, and the pressure of public opinion
hindered from the outset a fair consideration of the Bulgarian point of
view. Moreover, cholera was making great ravages in the ranks of the
various armies, and, what threatened to be even more destructive, several
great powers were looking for a crack in the door to put their tails
through, as the Rumanian saying runs. So anxious were the Balkan statesmen
to avoid any such interference that they agreed between themselves to a
short time limit: on a certain day, and by a certain hour, peace was to be
concluded, or hostilities were to start afresh. The treaty was signed on
August 10, 1913, Rumania obtaining the line Turtukai-Dobrich-Balchik, this
being the line already demanded by her at the time of the London
negotiations. The demand was put forth originally as a security against
the avowed ambitions of Bulgaria; it was a strategical necessity, but at
the same time a political mistake from the point of view of future
relations. The Treaty of Bucarest, imperfect arrangement as it was, had
nevertheless a great historical significance. 'Without complicating the
discussion of our interests, which we are best in a position to
understand, by the consideration of other foreign, interests,' remarked
the President of the Conference, 'we shall have established for the first
time by ourselves peace and harmony amongst our peoples.' Dynastic
interests and impatient ambitions, however, completely subverted this
momentous step towards a satisfactory solution of the Eastern Question.

[Footnote 1: Albert Sorel, op, cit., p. 266.]

The natural counter-effect of the diplomatic activity of the Central
Powers was a change in Rumanian policy. Rumania considered the maintenance
of the Balkan equilibrium a vital question, and as she had entered upon a
closer union with Germany against a Bulgaria subjected to Russian
influence, so she now turned to Russia as a guard against a Bulgaria under
German influence. This breaking away from the 'traditional' policy of
adjutancy-in-waiting to the Central Powers was indicated by the visit of
Prince Ferdinand--now King of Rumania--to St. Petersburg, and the even
more significant visit which Tsar Nicholas afterwards paid to the late
King Carol at Constanza. Time has been too short, however, for those new
relations so to shape themselves as to exercise a notable influence upon
Rumania's present attitude.


_Rumania and the Present War_

_(a) The Rumanians outside the Kingdom_

The axis on which Rumanian foreign policy ought naturally to revolve is
the circumstance that almost half the Rumanian nation lives outside
Rumanian territory. As the available official statistics generally show
political bias it is not possible to give precise figures; but roughly
speaking there are about one million Rumanians in Bessarabia, a quarter of
a million in Bucovina, three and a half millions in Hungary, while
something above half a million form scattered colonies in Bulgaria,
Serbia, and Macedonia. All these live in more or less close proximity to
the Rumanian frontiers.

That these Rumanian elements have maintained their nationality is due to
purely intrinsic causes. We have seen that the independence of Rumania in
her foreign relations had only recently been established, since when the
king, the factor most influential in foreign politics, had discouraged
nationalist tendencies, lest the country's internal development might be
compromised by friction with neighbouring states. The Government exerted
its influence against any active expression of the national feeling, and
the few 'nationalists' and the 'League for the cultural unity of all
Rumanians' had been, as a consequence, driven to seek a justification for
their existence in antisemitic agitation.

The above circumstances had little influence upon the situation in
Bucovina. This province forms an integral part of the Habsburg monarchy,
with which it was incorporated as early as 1775. The political situation
of the Rumanian principalities at the time, and the absence of a national
cultural movement, left the detached population exposed to Germanization,
and later to the Slav influence of the rapidly expanding Ruthene element.
That language and national characteristics have, nevertheless, not been
lost is due to the fact that the Rumanian population of Bucovina is
peasant almost to a man--a class little amenable to changes of

This also applies largely to Bessarabia, which, first lost in 1812, was
incorporated with Rumania in 1856, and finally detached in 1878. The few
Rumanians belonging to the landed class were won over by the new masters.
But while the Rumanian population was denied any cultural and literary
activities of its own, the reactionary attitude of the Russian Government
towards education has enabled the Rumanian peasants to preserve their
customs and their language. At the same time their resultant ignorance has
kept them outside the sphere of intellectual influence of the mother

The Rumanians who live in scattered colonies south of the Danube are the
descendants of those who took refuge in these regions during the ninth and
tenth centuries from the invasions of the Huns. Generally known as
Kutzo-Vlakhs, or, among themselves, as Aromuni, they are--as even Weigand,
who undoubtedly has Bulgarophil leanings, recognizes--the most intelligent
and best educated of the inhabitants of Macedonia. In 1905 the Rumanian
Government secured from the Porte official recognition of their separate
cultural and religious organizations on a national basis. Exposed as they
are to Greek influence, it will be difficult to prevent their final
assimilation with that people. The interest taken in them of late by the
Rumanian Government arose out of the necessity to secure them against
pan-Hellenic propaganda, and to preserve one of the factors entitling
Rumania to participate in the settlement of Balkan affairs.

I have sketched elsewhere the early history of the Rumanians of
Transylvania, the cradle of the Rumanian nation. As already mentioned,
part of the Rumanian nobility of Hungary went over to the Magyars, the
remainder migrating over the mountains. Debarred from the support of the
noble class, the Rumanian peasantry lost its state of autonomy, which
changed into one of serfdom to the soil upon which they toiled. Desperate
risings in 1324, 1437, 1514, 1600, and 1784 tended to case the Hungarian
oppression, which up to the nineteenth century strove primarily after a
political and religious hegemony. But the Magyars having failed in 1848 in
their attempt to free themselves from Austrian domination (defeated with
the assistance of a Russian army at Villagos, 1849), mainly on account of
the fidelity of the other nationalities to the Austrian Crown, they
henceforth directed their efforts towards strengthening their own position
by forcible assimilation of those nationalities. This they were able to
do, however, only after Koeniggraetz, when a weakened Austria had to give
way to Hungarian demands. In 1867 the Dual Monarchy was established, and
Transylvania, which up to then formed a separate duchy enjoying full
political rights, was incorporated with the new Hungarian kingdom. The
Magyars were handicapped in their imperialist ambitions by their numerical
inferiority. As the next best means to their end, therefore, they resorted
to political and national oppression, class despotism, and a complete
disregard of the principles of liberty and humanity.[1] Hungarian was made
compulsory in the administration, even in districts where the bulk of the
population did not understand that language. In villages completely
inhabited by Rumanians so-called 'State' schools were founded, in which
only Hungarian was to be spoken, and all children upwards of three years
of age had to attend them. The electoral regulations were drawn up in such
a manner that the Rumanians of Transylvania, though ten times more
numerous than the Magyars, sent a far smaller number than do the latter to
the National Assembly. To quash all protest a special press law was
introduced for Transylvania. But the Rumanian journalists being usually
acquitted by the juries a new regulation prescribed that press offences
should be tried only at Kluj (Klausenburg)--the sole Transylvanian town
with a predominating Hungarian population--a measure which was in
fundamental contradiction to the principles of justice.[2] In 1892 the
Rumanian grievances were embodied in a memorandum which was to have been
presented to the emperor by a deputation. An audience was, however,
refused, and at the instance of the Hungarian Government the members of
the deputation were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for having
plotted against the unity of the Magyar state.

[Footnote 1: The Rumanians inhabit mainly the province of Transylvania,
Banat, Crishiana, and Maramuresh. They represent 46.2 per cent. of the
total population of these provinces, the Magyars 32.5 per cent., the
Germans 11.5 per cent., and the Serbs 4.5 per cent. These figured are
taken from official Hungarian statistics, and it may therefore be assumed
that the Rumanian percentage represents a minimum.]

[Footnote 2: Over a period of 22 years (1886-1908) 850 journalists were
charged, 367 of whom were Rumanians; the sentences totalling 216 years of
imprisonment, the fines amounting to Fcs. 138,000.]

Notwithstanding these disabilities the Rumanians of Transylvania enjoyed a
long period of comparative social and economic liberty at a time when
Turkish and Phanariote domination was hampering all progress in Rumania.
Office under the Government growing increasingly difficult to obtain, the
Rumanians in Transylvania turned largely to commercial and the open
professions, and, as a result, a powerful middle class now exists. In
their clergy, both of the Orthodox and the Uniate Church--which last,
while conducting its ritual in the vernacular, recognizes papal supremacy--
the Rumanians have always found strong moral support, while the national
struggle tends to unite the various classes. The Rumanians of Hungary form
by far the sanest element in the Rumanian nation. From the Rumanians
within the kingdom they have received little beside sympathy. The
important part played by the country at the Peace of Bucarest, and her
detachment from Austria-Hungary, must necessarily have stimulated the
national consciousness of the Transylvanians; while at the same time all
hope for betterment from within must have ceased at the death of Archduke
Francis Ferdinand, an avowed friend of the long-suffering nationalities.
It is, therefore, no mere matter of conjecture that the passive attitude
of the Rumanian Government at the beginning of the present conflict must
have been a bitter disappointment to them.

_(b) Rumania's Attitude_

The tragic development of the crisis in the summer of 1914 threw Rumania
into a vortex of unexpected hopes and fears. Aspirations till then
considered little else than Utopian became tangible possibilities, while,
as suddenly, dangers deemed far off loomed large and near. Not only was
such a situation quite unforeseen, nor had any plan of action been
preconceived to meet it, but it was in Rumania's case a situation unique
from the number of conflicting considerations and influences at work
within it. Still under the waning influence of the thirty years
quasi-alliance with Austria, Rumania was not yet acclimatized to her new
relations with Russia. Notwithstanding the inborn sympathy with and
admiration for France, the Rumanians could not be blind to Germany's
military power. The enthusiasm that would have sided with France for
France's sake was faced by the influence of German finance. Sympathy with
Serbia existed side by side with suspicion of Bulgaria. Popular sentiment
clashed with the views of the king; and the bright vision of the
'principle of nationality' was darkened by the shadow of Russia as despot
of the Near East.

One fact in the situation stood out from the rest, namely, the unexpected
opportunity of redeeming that half of the Rumanian nation which was still
under foreign rule; the more so as one of the parties in the conflict had
given the 'principle of nationality' a prominent place in its programme.
But the fact that both Austria-Hungary and Russia had a large Rumanian
population among their subjects rendered a purely national policy
impossible, and Rumania could do nothing but weigh which issue offered her
the greater advantage.

Three ways lay open: complete neutrality, active participation on the side
of the Central Powers, or common cause with the Triple Entente. Complete
neutrality was advocated by a few who had the country's material security
most at heart, and also, as a _pis aller_, by those who realized that
their opinion that Rumania should make common cause with the Central
Powers had no prospect of being acted upon.

That King Carol favoured the idea of a joint action with Germany is likely
enough, for such a policy was in keeping with his faith in the power of
the German Empire. Moreover, he undoubtedly viewed with satisfaction the
possibility of regaining Bessarabia, the loss of which must have been
bitterly felt by the victor of Plevna. Such a policy would have met with
the approval of many Rumanian statesmen, notably of M. Sturdza, sometime
leader of the Liberal party and Prime Minister; of M. Carp, sometime
leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister; of M. Maiorescu,
ex-Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, who presided at the Bucarest
Conference of 1913; of M. Marghiloman, till recently leader of the
Conservative party, to name only the more important. M. Sturdza, the old
statesman who had been one of King Carol's chief coadjutors in the making
of modern Rumania, and who had severed for many years his connexion with
active politics, again took up his pen to raise a word of warning. M.
Carp, the political aristocrat who had retired from public life a few
years previously, and had professed a lifelong contempt for the 'Press and
all its works', himself started a daily paper (_Moldova_) which, he
intended should expound his views. Well-known writers like M. Radu Rosetti
wrote[1] espousing the cause favoured by the king, though not for the
king's reasons: Carol had faith in Germany, the Rumanians mistrusted
Russia. They saw no advantage in the dismemberment of Austria, the most
powerful check to Russia's plans in the Near East. They dreaded the idea
of seeing Russia on the Bosphorus, as rendering illusory Rumania's
splendid position at the mouth of the Danube. For not only is a cheap
waterway absolutely necessary for the bulky products forming the chief
exports of Rumania; but these very products, corn, petroleum, and timber,
also form the chief exports of Russia, who, by a stroke of the pen, may
rule Rumania out of competition, should she fail to appreciate the
political leadership of Petrograd. Paris and Rome were, no doubt, beloved
sisters; but Sofia, Moscow, and Budapest were next-door neighbours to be
reckoned with.

[Footnote 1: See R. Rosetti, _Russian Politics at Work in the Rumanian
Countries_, facts compiled from French official documents, Bucarest,

Those who held views opposed to those, confident in the righteousness of
the Allies' cause and in their final victory, advocated immediate
intervention, and to that end made the most of the two sentiments which
animated public opinion: interest in the fate of the Transylvanians, and
sympathy with France. They contended that though a purely national policy
was not possible, the difference between Transylvania and Bessarabia in
area and in number and quality of the population was such that no
hesitation was admissible. The possession of Transylvania was assured if
the Allies were successful; whereas Russia would soon recover if defeated,
and would regain Bessarabia by force of arms, or have it once more
presented to her by a Congress anxious to soothe her 'sentiment de dignite
blessee'. A Rumania enlarged in size and population had a better chance of
successfully withstanding any eventual pressure from the north, and it was
clear that any attempt against her independence would be bound to develop
into a European question. Rumania could not forget what she owed to France;
and if circumstances had made the Transylvanian question one 'a laquelle
on pense toujours et dont on ne parle jamais', the greater was the duty,
now that a favourable opportunity had arisen, to help the brethren across
the mountains. It was also a duty to fight for right and civilization,
proclaimed M. Take Ionescu, the exponent of progressive ideas in Rumanian
politics; and he, together with the prominent Conservative statesman, M.
Filipescu, who loathes the idea of the Rumanians being dominated by the
inferior Magyars, are the leaders of the interventionist movement. It was
due to M. Filipescu's activity, especially, that M. Marghiloman was forced
by his own party to resign his position as leader on account of his
Austrophil sentiments--an event unparalleled in Rumanian politics.

These were the two main currents of opinion which met in conflict at the
Crown Council--a committee _ad hoc_ consisting of the Cabinet and the
leaders of the Opposition--summoned by the king early in August 1914, when
Rumania's neutrality was decided upon. The great influence which the Crown
can always wield under the Rumanian political system was rendered the more
potent in the present case by the fact that the Premier, M. Bratianu, is
above all a practical man, and the Liberal Cabinet over which he presides
one of the most colourless the country ever had: a Cabinet weak to the
point of being incapable of realizing its own weakness and the imperative
necessity at this fateful moment of placing the helm in the hands of a
national ministry. M. Bratianu considered that Rumania was too exposed,
and had suffered too much in the past for the sake of other countries, to
enter now upon such an adventure without ample guarantees. There would
always be time for her to come in. This policy of opportunism he was able
to justify by powerful argument. The supply of war material for the
Rumanian army had been completely in the hands of German and Austrian
arsenals, and especially in those of Krupp. For obvious reasons Rumania
could no longer rely upon that source; indeed, Germany was actually
detaining contracts for war and sanitary material placed with her before
the outbreak of the war. There was the further consideration that, owing
to the nature of Rumania's foreign policy in the past, no due attention
had been given to the defence of the Carpathians, nor to those branches of
the service dealing with mountain warfare. On the other hand, a continuous
line of fortifications running from Galatz to Focshani formed, together
with the lower reaches of the Danube, a strong barrier against attack from
the north. Rumania's geographical position is such that a successful
offensive from Hungary could soon penetrate to the capital, and by cutting
the country in two could completely paralyse its organization. Such
arguments acquired a magnified importance in the light of the failure of
the negotiations with Bulgaria, and found many a willing ear in a country
governed by a heavily involved landed class, and depending almost
exclusively in its banking organization upon German and Austrian capital.

From the point of view of practical politics only the issue of the
conflict will determine the wisdom or otherwise of Rumania's attitude.
But, though it is perhaps out of place to enlarge upon it here, it is
impossible not to speak of the moral aspect of the course adopted. By
giving heed to the unspoken appeal from Transylvania the Rumanian national
spirit would have been quickened, and the people braced to a wholesome
sacrifice. Many were the wistful glances cast towards the Carpathians by
the subject Rumanians, as they were being led away to fight for their
oppressors; but, wilfully unmindful, the leaders of the Rumanian state
buried their noses in their ledgers, oblivious of the fact that in these
times of internationalism a will in common, with aspirations in common, is
the very life-blood of nationality. That sentiment ought not to enter into
politics is an argument untenable in a country which has yet to see its
national aspirations fulfilled, and which makes of these aspirations
definite claims. No Rumanian statesman can contend that possession of
Transylvania is necessary to the existence of the Rumanian state. What
they can maintain is that deliverance from Magyar oppression is vital to
the existence of the Transylvanians. The right to advance such a claim
grows out of their very duty of watching over the safety of the subject
Rumanians. 'When there are squabbles in the household of my
brother-in-law,' said the late Ioan Bratianu when speaking on the
Transylvanian question, 'it is no affair of mine; but when he raises a
knife against his wife, it is not merely my right to intervene, it is my
duty.' It is difficult to account for the obliquity of vision shown by so
many Rumanian politicians. 'The whole policy of such a state [having a
large compatriot population living in close proximity under foreign
domination] must be primarily influenced by anxiety as to the fate of
their brothers, and by the duty of emancipating them,' affirms one of the
most ardent of Rumanian nationalist orators; and he goes on to assure us
that 'if Rumania waits, it is not from hesitation as to her duty, but
simply in order that she may discharge it more completely'.[1] Meantime,
while Rumania waits, regiments composed almost completely of
Transylvanians have been repeatedly and of set purpose placed in the
forefront of the battle, and as often annihilated. Such could never be the
simple-hearted Rumanian peasant's conception of his duty, and here, as in
so many other cases in the present conflict, the nation at large must not
be judged by the policy of the few who hold the reins.

[Footnote 1: _Quarterly Review_, London, April, 1915, pp. 449-50.]

Rumania's claims to Transylvania are not of an historical nature. They are
founded upon the numerical superiority of the subject Rumanians in
Transylvania, that is upon the 'principle of nationality', and are morally
strengthened by the treatment the Transylvanians suffer at the hands of
the Magyars. By its passivity, however, the Rumanian Government has
sacrificed the prime factor of the 'principle of nationality' to the
attainment of an object in itself subordinate to that factor; that is, it
has sacrificed the 'people' in order to make more sure of the 'land'. In
this way the Rumanian Government has entered upon a policy of acquisition;
a policy which Rumania is too weak to pursue save under the patronage of
one or a group of great powers; a policy unfortunate inasmuch as it will
deprive her of freedom of action in her external politics. Her policy
will, in its consequences, certainly react to the detriment of the
position acquired by the country two years ago, when independent action
made her arbiter not only among the smaller Balkan States, but also among
those and her late suzerain, Turkey.

Such, indeed, must inevitably be the fate of Balkan politics in general.
Passing from Turkish domination to nominal Turkish suzerainty, and thence
to independence within the sphere of influence of a power or group of
powers, this gradual emancipation of the states of south-eastern Europe
found its highest expression in the Balkan League. The war against Turkey
was in effect a rebellion against the political tutelage of the powers.
But this emancipation was short-lived. By their greed the Balkan States
again opened up a way to the intrusion of foreign diplomacy, and even, as
we now see, of foreign troops. The first Balkan war marked the zenith of
Balkan political emancipation; the second Balkan war was the first act in
the tragic _debacle_ out of which the present situation developed. The
interval between August 1913 (Peace of Bucarest) and August 1914 was
merely an armistice during which Bulgaria and Turkey recovered their
breath, and German and Austrian diplomacy had time to find a pretext for
war on its own account.

'Exhausted but not vanquished we have had to furl our glorious standards
in order to await better days,' said Ferdinand of Bulgaria to his soldiers
after the conclusion of the Peace of Bucarest; and Budapest, Vienna, and
Berlin have no doubt done their best to keep this spirit of revenge alive
and to prevent a renascence of the Balkan Alliance. They have succeeded.
They have done more: they have succeeded in causing the 'principle of
nationality'--that idea which involves the disruption of Austria--to be
stifled by the very people whom it was meant to save. For whilst the
German peoples are united in this conflict, the majority of the southern
Slavs, in fighting the German battles, are fighting to perpetuate the
political servitude of the subject races of Austria-Hungary.

However suspicious Rumania may be of Russia, however bitter the quarrels
between Bulgars, Greeks, and Serbs, it is not, nor can it ever be natural,
that peoples who have groaned under Turkish despotism for centuries
should, after only one year of complete liberation, join hands with an old
and dreaded enemy not only against their fellow sufferers, but even
against those who came 'to die that they may live'. These are the Dead Sea
fruits of dynastic policy. Called to the thrones of the small states of
the Near East for the purpose of creating order and peace, the German
dynasties have overstepped their function and abused the power entrusted
to them. As long as, in normal times, political activities were confined
to the diplomatic arena there was no peril of rousing the masses out of
their ignorant indolence; but, when times are abnormal, it is a different
and a dangerous thing to march these peoples against their most intimate
feelings. When, as the outcome of the present false situation, sooner or
later the dynastic power breaks, it will then be for the powers who are
now fighting for better principles not to impose their own views upon the
peoples, or to place their own princes upon the vacant thrones. Rather
must they see that the small nations of the Near East are given a chance
to develop in peace and according to their proper ideals; that they be not
again subjected to the disintegrating influence of European diplomacy; and
that, above all, to the nations in common, irrespective of their present
attitude, there should be a just application of the 'principle of


Turkey is no better name for the Osmanli dominion or any part of it than
Normandy would be for Great Britain. It is a mediaeval error of
nomenclature sanctioned by long usage in foreign mouths, but without any
equivalent in the vernacular of the Osmanlis themselves. The real 'Turkey'
is Turkestan, and the real Turks are the Turcomans. The Osmanlis are the
least typical Turks surviving. Only a very small proportion of them have
any strain of Turkish blood, and this is diluted till it is rarely
perceptible in their physiognomy: and if environment rather than blood is
to be held responsible for racial features, it can only be said that the
territory occupied by the Osmanlis is as unlike the homeland of the true
Turks as it can well be, and is quite unsuited to typically Turkish life
and manners.

While of course it would be absurd to propose at this time of day any
change in the terms by which the civilized world unanimously designates
the Osmanlis and their dominion, it is well to insist on their
incorrectness, because, like most erroneous names, they have bred
erroneous beliefs. Thanks in the main to them, the Ottoman power is
supposed to have originated in an overwhelming invasion of Asia Minor by
immense numbers of Central Asiatic migrants, who, intent, like the early
Arab armies, on offering to Asia first and Europe second the choice of
apostasy or death, absorbed or annihilated almost all the previous
populations, and swept forward into the Balkans as single-minded apostles
of Islam. If the composition and the aims of the Osmanlis had been these,
it would pass all understanding how they contrived, within a century of
their appearance on the western scene, to establish in North-west Asia and
South-east Europe the most civilized and best-ordered state of their time.
Who, then, are the Osmanlis in reality? What have they to do with true
Turks? and in virtue of what innate qualities did they found and
consolidate their power?


_Origin of the Osmanlis_

We hear of Turks first from Chinese sources. They were then the
inhabitants, strong and predatory, of the Altai plains and valleys: but
later on, about the sixth century A.D., they are found firmly established
in what is still called Turkestan, and pushing westwards towards the
Caspian Sea. Somewhat more than another century passes, and, reached by a
missionary faith of West Asia, they come out of the Far Eastern darkness
into a dim light of western history. One Boja, lord of Kashgar and Khan of
what the Chinese knew as the people of Thu-Kiu--probably the same name as
'Turk'--embraced Islam and forced it on his Mazdeist subjects; but other
Turkish tribes, notably the powerful Uighurs, remained intolerant of the
new dispensation, and expelled the Thu-Kiu _en masse_ from their holding
in Turkestan into Persia. Here they distributed themselves in detached
hordes over the north and centre. At this day, in some parts of Persia,
e.g. Azerbaijan, Turks make the bulk of the population besides supplying
the reigning dynasty of the whole kingdom. For the Shahs of the Kajar
house are not Iranian, but purely Turkish.

This, it should be observed, was the western limit of Turkish expansion in
the mass. Azerbaijan is the nearest region to us in which Turki blood
predominates, and the westernmost province of the true Turk homeland. All
Turks who have passed thence into Hither Asia have come in comparatively
small detachments, as minorities to alien majorities. They have invaded as
groups of nomads seeking vacant pasturage, or as bands of military
adventurers who, first offering their swords to princes of the elder
peoples, have subsequently, on several occasions and in several
localities, imposed themselves on their former masters. To the first
category belong all those Turcoman, Avshar, Yuruk, and other Turki tribes,
which filtered over the Euphrates into unoccupied or sparsely inhabited
parts of Syria and Asia Minor from the seventh century onwards, and
survive to this day in isolated patches, distinguished from the mass of
the local populations, partly by an ineradicable instinct for nomadic
life, partly by retention of the pre-Islamic beliefs and practices of the
first immigrants. In the second category--military adventurers--fall, for
example, the Turkish praetorians who made and unmade not less than four
caliphs at Bagdad in the ninth century, and that bold _condottiere_, Ahmed
ibn Tulun, who captured a throne at Cairo. Even Christian emperors availed
themselves of these stout fighters. Theophilus of Constantinople
anticipated the Ottoman invasion of Europe by some five hundred years when
he established Vardariote Turks in Macedonia.

The most important members of the second category, however, were the
Seljuks. Like the earlier Thu-Kiu, they were pushed out of Turkestan late
in the tenth century to found a power in Persia. Here, in Khorasan, the
mass of the horde settled and remained: and it was only a comparatively
small section which went on westward as military adventurers to fall upon
Bagdad, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor. This first conquest was little
better than a raid, so brief was the resultant tenure; but a century later
two dispossessed nephews of Melek Shah of Persia set out on a military
adventure which had more lasting consequences. Penetrating with, a small
following into Asia Minor, they seized Konia, and instituted there a
kingdom nominally feudatory to the Grand Seljuk of Persia, but in reality
independent and destined to last about two centuries. Though numerically
weak, their forces, recruited from the professional soldier class which
had bolstered up the Abbasid Empire and formed the Seljukian kingdoms of
Persia and Syria, were superior to any Byzantine troops that could be
arrayed in southern or central Asia Minor. They constituted indeed the
only compact body of fighting men seen in these regions for some
generations. It found reinforcement from the scattered Turki groups
introduced already, as we have seen, into the country; and even from
native Christians, who, descended from the Iconoclasts of two centuries
before, found the rule of Moslem image-haters more congenial, as it was
certainly more effective, than that of Byzantine emperors. The creed of
the Seljuks was Islam of an Iranian type. Of Incarnationist colour, it
repudiated the dour illiberal spirit of the early Arabian apostles which
latter-day Sunnite orthodoxy has revived. Accordingly its professors,
backed by an effective force and offering security and privilege, quickly
won over the aborigines--Lycaonians, Phrygians, Cappadocians, and
Cilicians--and welded them into a nation, leaving only a few detached
communities here and there to cherish allegiance to Byzantine
Christianity. In the event, the population of quite two-thirds of the
Anatolian peninsula had already identified itself with a ruling Turki
caste before, early in the thirteenth century, fresh Turks appeared on the
scene--those Turks who were to found the Ottoman Empire.

They entered Asia Minor much as the earlier Turcomans had entered it--a
small body of nomadic adventurers, thrown off by the larger body of Turks
settled in Persia to seek new pastures west of the Euphrates. There are
divers legends about the first appearance and establishment of these
particular Turks: but all agree that they were of inconsiderable number--
not above four hundred families at most. Drifting in by way of Armenia,
they pressed gradually westward from Erzerum in hope of finding some
unoccupied country which would prove both element and fertile. Byzantine
influence was then at a very low ebb. With Constantinople itself in Latin
hands, the Greek writ ran only along the north Anatolian coast, ruled from
two separate centres, Isnik (Nicaea) and Trebizond: and the Seljuk kingdom
was run in reality much more vigorous. Though apparently without a rival,
it was subsisting by consent, on the prestige of its past, rather than on
actual power. The moment of its dissolution was approaching, and the
Anatolian peninsula, two-thirds Islamized, but ill-organised and very
loosely knit, was becoming once more a fair field for any adventurer able
to command a small compact force.

The newly come Turks were invited finally to settle on the extreme
north-western fringe of the Seljuk territory--in a region so near Nicaea
that their sword would be a better title to it than any which the feudal
authority of Konia could confer. In fact it was a debatable land, an angle
pushed up between the lake plain of Nicaea on the one hand and the plain
of Brusa on the other, and divided from each by not lofty heights,
Yenishehr, its chief town, which became the Osmanli chief Ertogrul's
residence, lies, as the crow flies, a good deal less than fifty miles from
the Sea of Marmora, and not a hundred miles from Constantinople itself.
Here Ertogrul was to be a Warden of the Marches, to hold his territory for
the Seljuk and extend it for himself at the expense of Nicaea if he could.
If he won through, so much the better for Sultan Alaeddin; if he failed,
_vile damnum!_

Hardly were his tribesmen settled, however, among the Bithynians and
Greeks of Yenishehr, before the Seljuk collapse became a fact. The Tartar
storm, ridden by Jenghis Khan, which had overwhelmed Central Asia, spent
its last force on the kingdom of Konia, and, withdrawing, left the Seljuks
bankrupt of force and prestige and Anatolia without an overlord. The
feudatories were free everywhere to make or mar themselves, and they spent
the last half of the thirteenth century in fighting for whatever might be
saved from the Seljuk wreck before it foundered for ever about 1300 A.D.
In the south, the centre, and the east of the peninsula, where Islam had
long rooted itself as the popular social system, various Turki emirates
established themselves on a purely Moslem basis--certain of these, like
the Danishmand emirate of Cappadocia, being restorations of tribal
jurisdictions which had existed before the imposition of Seljuk

In the extreme north-west, however, where the mass of society was still
Christian and held itself Greek, no Turkish, potentate could either revive
a pre-Seljukian status or simply carry on a Seljukian system in miniature.
If he was to preserve independence at all, he must rely on a society which
was not yet Moslem and form a coalition with the 'Greeks', into whom the
recent recovery of Constantinople from the Latins had put fresh heart.
Osman, who had succeeded Ertogrul in 1288, recognized where his only
possible chance of continued dominion and future aggrandizement lay. He
turned to the Greeks, as an element of vitality and numerical strength to
be absorbed into his nascent state, and applied himself unremittingly to
winning over and identifying with himself the Greek feudal seigneurs in
his territory or about its frontiers. Some of these, like Michael, lord of
Harmankaya, readily enough stood in with the vigorous Turk and became
Moslems. Others, as the new state gained momentum, found themselves
obliged to accept it or be crushed. There are to this day Greek
communities in the Brusa district jealously guarding privileges which date
from compacts made with their seigneurs by Osman and his son Orkhan.

It was not till the Seljuk kingdom was finally extinguished, in or about
1300 A.D. that Osman assumed at Yenishehr the style and title of a sultan.
Acknowledged from Afium Kara Hissar, in northern Phrygia, to the Bithynian
coast of the Marmora, beside whose waters his standards had already been
displayed, he lived on to see Brusa fall to his son Orkhan, in 1326, and
become the new capital. Though Nicaea still held out, Osman died virtual
lord of the Asiatic Greeks; and marrying his son to a Christian girl, the
famous Nilufer, after whom the river of Brusa is still named, he laid on
Christian foundations the strength of his dynasty and his state. The first
regiment of professional Ottoman soldiery was recruited by him and
embodied later by Orkhan, his son, from Greek and other Christian-born
youths, who, forced to apostatize, were educated as Imperial slaves in
imitation of the Mamelukes, constituted more than a century earlier in
Egypt, and now masters where they had been bondmen. It is not indeed for
nothing that Osman's latest successor, and all who hold by him,
distinguish themselves from other peoples by his name. They are Osmanlis
(or by a European use of the more correct form Othman, 'Ottomans'),
because they derived their being as a nation and derive their national
strength, not so much from central Asia as from the blend of Turk and
Greek which Osman promoted among his people. This Greek strain has often
been reinforced since his day and mingled with other Caucasian strains.

It was left to Orkhan to round off this Turco-Grecian realm in Byzantine
Asia by the capture first of Ismid (Nicomedia) and then of Isnik (Nicaea);
and with this last acquisition the nucleus of a self-sufficient sovereign
state was complete. After the peaceful absorption of the emirate of
Karasi, which added west central Asia Minor almost as far south as the
Hermus, the Osmanli ruled in 1338 a dominion of greater area than that of
the Greek emperor, whose capital and coasts now looked across to Ottoman
shores all the way from the Bosphorus to the Hellespont.


_Expansion of the Osmanli Kingdom_

If the new state was to expand by conquest, its line of advance was
already foreshadowed. For the present, it could hardly break back into
Asia Minor, occupied as this was by Moslem principalities sanctioned by
the same tradition as itself, namely, the prestige of the Seljuks. To
attack these would be to sin against Islam. But in front lay a rich but
weak Christian state, the centre of the civilization to which the popular
element in the Osmanli society belonged. As inevitably as the state of
Nicaea had desired, won, and transferred itself to, Constantinople, so did
the Osmanli state of Brusa yearn towards the same goal; and it needed no
invitation from a Greek to dispose an Ottoman sultan to push over to the
European shore.

Such an invitation, however, did in fact precede the first Osmanli
crossing in force. In 1345 John Cantacuzene solicited help of Orkhan
against the menace of Dushan, the Serb. Twelve years later came a second
invitation. Orkhan's son, Suleiman, this time ferried a large army over
the Hellespont, and, by taking and holding Gallipoli and Rodosto, secured
a passage from continent to continent, which the Ottomans would never
again let go.

Such invitations, though they neither prompted the extension of the
Osmanli realm into Europe nor sensibly precipitated it, did nevertheless
divert the course of the Ottoman arms and reprieve the Greek empire till
Timur and his Tartars could come on the scene and, all unconsciously,
secure it a further respite. But for these diversions there is little
doubt Constantinople would have passed into Ottoman hands nearly a century
earlier than the historic date of its fall. The Osmanli armies, thus led
aside to make the Serbs and not the Greeks of Europe their first
objective, became involved at once in a tangle of Balkan affairs from
which they only extricated themselves after forty years of incessant
fighting in almost every part of the peninsula except the domain of the
Greek emperor. This warfare, which in no way advanced the proper aims of
the lords of Brusa and Nicaea, not only profited the Greek emperor by
relieving him of concern about his land frontier but also used up strength
which might have made head against the Tartars. Constantinople then, as
now, was detached from the Balkans. The Osmanlis, had they possessed
themselves of it, might well have let the latter be for a long time to
come. Instead, they had to battle, with the help now of one section of the
Balkan peoples, now of another, till forced to make an end of all their
feuds and treacheries by annexations after the victories of Kosovo in 1389
and Nikopolis in 1396.

Nor was this all. They became involved also with certain peoples of the
main continent of Europe, whose interests or sympathies had been affected
by those long and sanguinary Balkan wars. There was already bad blood and
to spare between the Osmanlis on the one hand, and Hungarians, Poles, and
Italian Venetians on the other, long before any second opportunity to
attack Constantinople occurred: and the Osmanlis were in for that age-long
struggle to secure a 'scientific frontier' beyond the Danube, whence the
Adriatic on the one flank and the Euxine on the other could be commanded,
which was to make Ottoman history down to the eighteenth century and spell
ruin in the end.

It is a vulgar error to suppose that the Osmanlis set out for Europe, in
the spirit of Arab apostles, to force their creed and dominion on all the
world. Both in Asia and Europe, from first to last, their expeditions and
conquests have been inspired palpably by motives similar to those active
among the Christian powers, namely, desire for political security and the
command of commercial areas. Such wars as the Ottoman sultans, once they
were established at Constantinople, did wage again and again with knightly
orders or with Italian republics would have been undertaken, and fought
with the same persistence, by any Greek emperor who felt himself strong
enough. Even the Asiatic campaigns, which Selim I and some of his
successors, down to the end of the seventeenth century, would undertake,
were planned and carried out from similar motives. Their object was to
secure the eastern basin of the Mediterranean by the establishment of some
strong frontier against Iran, out of which had come more than once forces
threatening the destruction of Ottoman power. It does not, of course, in
any respect disprove their purpose that, in the event, this object was
never attained, and that an unsatisfactory Turco-Persian border still
illustrates at this day the failures of Selim I and Mohammed IV.

By the opening of the fifteenth century, when, all unlooked for, a most
terrible Tartar storm was about to break upon western Asia, the Osmanli
realm had grown considerably, not only in Europe by conquest, but also in
Asia by the peaceful effect of marriages and heritages. Indeed it now
comprised scarcely less of the Anatolian peninsula than the last Seljuks
had held, that is to say, the whole of the north as far as the Halys river
beyond Angora, the central plateau to beyond Konia, and all the western
coast-lands. The only emirs not tributary were those of Karamania,
Cappadocia, and Pontus, that is of the southern and eastern fringes; and
one detached fragment of Greek power survived in the last-named country,
the kingdom of Trebizond. As for Europe, it had become the main scene of
Osmanli operations, and now contained the administrative capital,
Adrianople, though Brusu kept a sentimental primacy. Sultan Murad, who
some years after his succession in 1359 had definitely transferred the
centre of political gravity to Thrace, was nevertheless carried to the
Bithynian capital for burial, Bulgaria, Serbia, and districts of both
Bosnia and Macedonia were now integral parts of an empire which had come
to number at least as many Christian as Moslem subjects, and to depend as
much on the first as on the last. Not only had the professional Osmanli
soldiery, the Janissaries, continued to be recruited from the children of
native Christian races, but contingents of adult native warriors, who
still professed Christianity, had been invited or had offered themselves
to fight Osmanli battles--even those waged against men of the True Faith
in Asia. A considerable body of Christian Serbs had stood up in Murad's
line at the battle of Konia in 1381, before the treachery of another body
of the same race gave him the victory eight years later at Kosovo. So
little did the Osmanli state model itself on the earlier caliphial empires
and so naturally did it lean towards the Roman or Byzantine imperial type.

And just because it had come to be in Europe and of Europe, it was able to
survive the terrible disaster of Angora in 1402. Though the Osmanli army
was annihilated by Timur, and an Osmanli sultan, for the first and last
time in history, remained in the hands of the foe, the administrative
machinery of the Osmanli state was not paralysed. A new ruler was
proclaimed at Adrianople, and the European part of the realm held firm.
The moment that the Tartars began to give ground, the Osmanlis began to
recover it. In less than twenty years they stood again in Asia as they
were before Timur's attack, and secure for the time on the east, could
return to restore their prestige in the west, where the Tartar victory had
bred unrest and brought both the Hungarians and the Venetians on the
Balkan scene. Their success was once more rapid and astonishing: Salonika
passed once and for all into Ottoman hands: the Frank seigneurs and the
despots of Greece were alike humbled; and although Murad II failed to
crush the Albanian, Skanderbey, he worsted his most dangerous foe, John
Hunyadi, with the help of Wallach treachery at the second battle of
Kosovo. At his death, three years later, he left the Balkans quiet and the
field clear for his successor to proceed with the long deferred but
inevitable enterprise of attacking all that was left of Greek empire, the
district and city of Constantinople.

The doom of New Rome was fulfilled within two years. In the end it passed
easily enough into the hands of those who already had been in possession
of its proper empire for a century or more. Historians have made more of
this fall of Constantinople in 1453 than contemporary opinion seems to
have made of it. No prince in Europe was moved to any action by its peril,
except, very half-heartedly, the Doge. Venice could not feel quite
indifferent to the prospect of the main part of that empire, which, while
in Greek hands, had been her most serious commercial competitor, passing
into the stronger hands of the Osmanlis. Once in Constantinople, the
latter, long a land power only, would be bound to concern themselves with
the sea also. The Venetians made no effort worthy of their apprehensions,
though these were indeed exceedingly well founded; for, as all the world
knows, to the sea the Osmanlis did at once betake themselves. In less than
thirty years they were ranging all the eastern Mediterranean and laying
siege to Rhodes, the stronghold of one of their most dangerous
competitors, the Knights Hospitallers.

In this consequence consists the chief historic importance of the Osmanli
capture of Constantinople. For no other reason can it he called an
epoch-marking event. If it guaranteed the Empire of the East against
passing into any western hands, for example, those of Venice or Genoa, it
did not affect the balance of power between Christendom and Islam; for the
strength of the former had long ceased to reside at all in Constantinople.
The last Greek emperor died a martyr, but not a champion.


_Heritage and Expansion of Byzantine Empire_

On the morrow of his victory, Mohammed the Conqueror took pains to make it
clear that his introduction of a new heaven did not entail a new earth. As
little as might be would be changed. He had displaced a Palaeologus by an
Osmanli only in order that an empire long in fact Osmanli should
henceforth be so also _de jure_. Therefore he confirmed the pre-existing
Oecumenical patriarch in his functions and the Byzantine Greeks in their
privileges, renewed the rights secured to Christian foreigners by the
Greek emperors, and proclaimed that, for his accession to the throne,
there should not be made a Moslem the more or a Christian the less.
Moreover, during the thirty years left to him of life, Mohammed devoted
himself to precisely those tasks which would have fallen to a Greek
emperor desirous of restoring Byzantine power. He thrust back Latins
wherever they were encroaching on the Greek sphere, as were the Venetians
of the Morea, the Hospitallers of Rhodes, and the Genoese of the Crimea:
and he rounded off the proper Byzantine holding by annexing, in Europe,
all the Balkan peninsula except the impracticable Black Mountain, the
Albanian highlands, and the Hungarian fortress of Belgrade; and, in Asia,
what had remained independent in the Anatolian peninsula, the emirates of
Karamania and Cappadocia.

Before Mohammed died in 1481 the Osmanli Turco-Grecian nation may be said
to have come into its own. It was lord _de facto et de jure belli_ of the
eastern or Greek Empire, that is of all territories and seas grouped
geographically round Constantinople as a centre, with only a few
exceptions unredeemed, of which the most notable were the islands of
Cyprus, Rhodes, and Krete, still in Latin hands. Needless to say, the
Osmanlis themselves differed greatly from their imperial predecessors.
Their official speech, their official creed, their family system were all
foreign to Europe, and many of their ideas of government had been learned
in the past from Persia and China, or were derived from the original
tribal organization of the true Turks. But if they were neither more nor
less Asiatics than the contemporary Russians, they were quite as much
Europeans as many of the Greek emperors had been--those of the Isaurian
dynasty, for instance. They had given no evidence as yet of a fanatical
Moslem spirit--this was to be bred in them by subsequent experiences--and
their official creed had governed their policy hardly more than does ours
in India or Egypt. Mohammed the Conqueror had not only shown marked favour
to Christians, whether his _rayas_ or not, but encouraged letters and the
arts in a very un-Arabian spirit. Did he not have himself portrayed by
Gentile Bellini? The higher offices of state, both civil and military,
were confided (and would continue so to be for a century to come) almost
exclusively to men of Christian origin. Commerce was encouraged, and
western traders recognized that their facilities were greater now than
they had been under Greek rule. The Venetians, for example, enjoyed in
perfect liberty a virtual monopoly of the Aegean and Euxine trade. The
social condition of the peasantry seems to have been better than it had
been under Greek seigneurs, whether in Europe or in Asia, and better than
it was at the moment in feudal Christendom. The Osmanli military
organization was reputed the best in the world, and its fame attracted
adventurous spirits from all over Europe to learn war in the first school
of the age. Ottoman armies, it is worth while to remember, were the only
ones then attended by efficient medical and commissariat services, and may
be said to have introduced to Europe these alleviations of the horrors of

Had the immediate successors of Mohammed been content--or, rather, had
they been able--to remain within his boundaries, they would have robbed
Ottoman history of one century of sinister brilliance, but might have
postponed for many centuries the subsequent sordid decay; for the seeds of
this were undoubtedly sown by the three great sultans who followed the
taker of Constantinople. Their ambitions or their necessities led to a
great increase of the professional army which would entail many evils in
time to come. Among these were praetorianism in the capital and the great
provincial towns; subjection of land and peasantry to military seigneurs,
who gradually detached themselves from the central control; wars
undertaken abroad for no better reason than the employment of soldiery
feared at home; consequent expansion of the territorial empire beyond the
administrative capacity of the central government; development of the
'tribute-children' system of recruiting into a scourge of the _rayas_ and
a continual offence to neighbouring states, and the supplementing of that
system by acceptance of any and every alien outlaw who might offer himself
for service: lastly, revival of the dormant crusading spirit of Europe,
which reacted on the Osmanlis, begetting in them an Arabian fanaticism and
disposing them to revert to the obscurantist spirit of the earliest
Moslems. To sum the matter up in other words: the omnipotence and
indiscipline of the Janissaries; the contumacy of 'Dere Beys' ('Lords of
the Valleys,' who maintained a feudal independence) and of provincial
governors; the concentration of the official mind on things military and
religious, to the exclusion of other interests; the degradation and
embitterment of the Christian elements in the empire; the perpetual
financial embarrassment of the government with its inevitable consequence
of oppression and neglect of the governed; and the constant provocation in
Christendom of a hostility which was always latent and recurrently active--
all these evils, which combined to push the empire nearer and nearer to
ruin from the seventeenth century onwards, can be traced to the brilliant
epoch of Osmanli history associated with the names of Bayezid II, Selim I,
and Suleiman the Magnificent.

At the same time Fate, rather than any sultan, must be blamed. It was
impossible to forgo some further extension of the empire, and very
difficult to arrest extension at any satisfactory static point. For one
thing, as has been pointed out already, there were important territories
in the proper Byzantine sphere still unredeemed at the death of Mohammed.
Rhodes, Krete, and Cyprus, whose possession carried with it something like
superior control of the Levantine trade, were in Latin hands. Austrian as
well as Venetian occupation of the best harbours was virtually closing the
Adriatic to the masters of the Balkans. Nor could the inner lands of the
Peninsula be quite securely held while the great fortress of Belgrade,
with the passage of the Danube, remained in Hungarian keeping,
Furthermore, the Black Sea, which all masters of the Bosphorus have
desired to make a Byzantine lake, was in dispute with the Wallachs and the
Poles; and, in the reign of Mohammed's successor, a cloud no bigger than a
man's hand came up above its northern horizon--the harbinger of the

As for the Asiatic part of the Byzantine sphere, there was only one little
corner in the south-east to be rounded off to bring all the Anatolian
peninsula under the Osmanli. But that corner, the Cilician plain, promised
trouble, since it was held by another Islamic power, that of the Egyptian
Mamelukes, which, claiming to be at least equal to the Osmanli, possessed
vitality much below its pretensions. The temptation to poach on it was
strong, and any lord of Constantinople who once gave way to this, would
find himself led on to assume control of all coasts of the easternmost
Levant, and then to push into inland Asia in quest of a scientific
frontier at their back--perilous and costly enterprise which Rome had
essayed again and again and had to renounce in the end. Bayezid II took
the first step by summoning the Mameluke to evacuate certain forts near
Tarsus, and expelling his garrisons _vi et armis_. Cilicia passed to the
Osmanli; but for the moment he pushed no farther. Bayezid, who was under
the obligation always to lead his army in person, could make but one
campaign at a time; and a need in Europe was the more pressing. In
quitting Cilicia, however, he left open a new question in Ottoman
politics--the Asiatic continental question--and indicated to his successor
a line of least resistance on which to advance. Nor would this be his only
dangerous legacy. The prolonged and repeated raids into Adriatic lands, as
far north as Carniola and Carinthia, with which the rest of Bayezid's
reign was occupied, brought Ottoman militarism at last to a point, whose
eventual attainment might have been foreseen any time in the past century--
the point at which, strong in the possession of a new arm, artillery, it
would assume control of the state.

Bayezid's seed was harvested by Selim. First in a long series of
praetorian creatures which would end only with the destroyer of the
praetorians themselves three centuries later, he owed his elevation to a
Janissary revolt, and all the eight bloody years of his reign were to be
punctuated by Janissary tumults. To keep his creators in any sort of order
and contentment he had no choice but to make war from his first year to
his last. When he died, in 1520, the Ottoman Empire had been swelled to
almost as wide limits in Asia and Africa as it has ever attained since his
day. Syria, Armenia, great part of Kurdistan, northern Mesopotamia, part
of Arabia, and last, but not least, Egypt, were forced to acknowledge
Osmanli suzerainty, and for the first time an Osmanli sultan had
proclaimed himself caliph. True that neither by his birth nor by the
manner of his appointment did Selim satisfy the orthodox caliphial
tradition; but, besides his acquisition of certain venerated relics of the
Prophet, such as the _Sanjak i-sherif_ or holy standard, and besides a yet
more important acquisition--the control of the holy cities of the faith--
he could base a claim on the unquestioned fact that the office was vacant,
and the equally certain fact that he was the most powerful Moslem prince
in the world. Purists might deny him if they dared: the vulgar Sunni mind
was impressed and disposed to accept. The main importance, however, of
Selim's assumption of the caliphate was that it consecrated Osmanli
militarism to a religious end--to the original programme of Islam. This
was a new thing, fraught with dire possibilities from that day forward. It
marked the supersession of the Byzantine or European ideal by the Asiatic
in Osmanli policy, and introduced a phase of Ottoman history which has
endured to our own time.

The inevitable process was continued in the next reign. Almost all the
military glories of Suleiman--known to contemporary Europe as 'the
Magnificent' and often held by historians the greatest of Osmanli sultans--
made for weakening, not strengthening, the empire. His earliest operations
indeed, the captures of Rhodes from the Knights and of Belgrade and
[)S]abac from the Hungarians, expressed a legitimate Byzantine policy; and
the siege of Malta, one of his latest ventures, might also be defended as
a measure taken in the true interests of Byzantine commerce. But the most
brilliant and momentous of his achievements bred evils for which military
prestige and the material profits to be gained from the oppression of an
irreconcilable population were inadequate compensation. This was the
conquest of Hungary. It would result in Buda and its kingdom remaining
Ottoman territory for a century and a half, and in the principalities of
Wallachia and Moldavia abiding under the Ottoman shadow even longer, and
passing for all time out of the central European into the Balkan sphere;
but also it would result in the Osmanli power finding itself on a weak
frontier face to face at last with a really strong Christian race, the
Germanic, before which, since it could not advance, it would have
ultimately to withdraw; and in the rousing of Europe to a sense of its
common danger from Moslem activity. Suleiman's failure to take Vienna more
than made good the panic which had followed on his victory at Mohacs. It
was felt that the Moslem, now that he had failed against the bulwark of
central Europe, was to go no farther, and that the hour of revenge was

[Illustration: The Ottoman Empire (Except the Arabian and African

It was nearer than perhaps was expected. Ottoman capacity to administer
the overgrown empire in Europe and Asia was strained already almost to
breaking-point, and it was in recognition of this fact that Suleiman made
the great effort to reorganize his imperial system, which has earned him
his honourable title of _El Kanun_, the Regulator. But if he could reset
and cleanse the wheels of the administrative machine, he could not
increase its capacity. New blood was beginning to fail for the governing
class just as the demands on it became greater. No longer could it be
manned exclusively from the Christian born. Two centuries of recruiting in
the Balkans and West Asia had sapped their resources. Even the Janissaries
were not now all 'tribute-children'. Their own sons, free men Moslem born,
began to be admitted to the ranks. This change was a vital infringement of
the old principle of Osmanli rule, that all the higher administrative and
military functions should be vested in slaves of the imperial household,
directly dependent on the sultan himself; and once breached, this
principle could not but give way more and more. The descendants of
imperial slaves, free-born Moslems, but barred from the glory and profits
of their fathers' function, had gradually become a very numerous class of
country gentlemen distributed over all parts of the empire, and a very
malcontent one. Though it was still subservient, its dissatisfaction at
exclusion from the central administration was soon to show itself partly
in assaults on the time-honoured system, partly in assumption of local
jurisdiction, which would develop into provincial independence.

The overgrowth of his empire further compelled Suleiman to divide the
standing army, in order that more than one imperial force might take the
field at a time. Unable to lead all his armies in person, he elected, in
the latter part of his reign, to lead none, and for the first time left
the Janissaries to march without a sultan to war. Remaining himself at the
centre, he initiated a fashion which would encourage Osmanli sultans to
lapse into half-hidden beings, whom their subjects would gradually invest
with religious character. Under these conditions the ruler, the governing
class (its power grew with this devolution), the dominant population of
the state, and the state itself all grew more fanatically Moslem.

In the early years of the seventeenth century, Ahmed I being on the
throne, the Ottoman Empire embraced the widest territorial area which it
was ever to cover at any one moment. In what may be called the proper
Byzantine field, Cyprus had been recovered and Krete alone stood out.
Outside that field, Hungary on the north and Yemen (since Selim's conquest
in 1516) on the south were the frontier provinces, and the Ottoman flag
had been carried not only to the Persian Gulf but also far upon the
Iranian plateau, in the long wars of Murad III, which culminated in 1588
with the occupation of Tabriz and half Azerbaijan.


_Shrinkage and Retreat_

The fringes of this vast empire, however, none too surely held, were
already involving it in insoluble difficulties and imminent dangers. On
the one hand, in Asia, it had been found impossible to establish military
fiefs in Arabia, Kurdistan, or anywhere east of it, on the system which
had secured the Osmanli tenure elsewhere. On the other hand, in Europe, as
we have seen, the empire had a very unsatisfactory frontier, beyond which
a strong people not only set limits to further progress but was prepared
to dispute the ground already gained. In a treaty signed at Sitvatorok, in
1606, the Osmanli sultan was forced to acknowledge definitely the absolute
and equal sovereignty of his northern neighbour, Austria; and although,
less than a century later, Vienna would be attacked once more, there was
never again to be serious prospect of an extension of the empire in the
direction of central Europe.

Moreover, however appearances might be maintained on the frontiers, the
heart of the empire had begun patently to fail. The history of the next
two centuries, the seventeenth and eighteenth, is one long record of
praetorian tumults at home; and ever more rarely will these be compensated
by military successes abroad. The first of these centuries had not half
elapsed ere the Janissaries had taken the lives of two sultans, and
brought the Grand Vizierate to such a perilous pass that no ordinary
holder of it, unless backed by some very powerful Albanian or other tribal
influence, could hope to save his credit or even his life. During this
period indeed no Osmanli of the older stocks ever exercised real control
of affairs. It was only among the more recently assimilated elements, such
as the Albanian, the Slavonic, or the Greek, that men of the requisite
character and vigour could be found. The rally which marked the latter
half of the seventeenth century was entirely the work of Albanians or of
other generals and admirals, none of whom had had a Moslem grandfather.
Marked by the last Osmanli conquest made at the expense of Europe--that
of Krete; by the definite subjugation of Wallachia; by the second siege of
Vienna; by the recovery of the Morea from Venice; and finally by an
honourable arrangement with Austria about the Danube frontier--it is all
to be credited to the Kuprili 'dynasty' of Albanian viziers, which
conspicuously outshone the contemporary sovereigns of the dynasty of
Osman, the best of them, Mohammed IV, not excepted. It was, however, no
more than a rally; for greater danger already threatened from another
quarter. Agreement had not been reached with Austria at Carlowitz, in
1699, before a new and baleful planet swam into the Osmanli sky.

It was, this time, no central European power, to which, at the worst, all
that lay north of the proper Byzantine sphere might be abandoned; but a
claimant for part of that sphere itself, perhaps even for the very heart
of it. Russia, seeking an economic outlet, had sapped her way south to the
Euxine shore, and was on the point of challenging the Osmanli right to
that sea. The contest would involve a vital issue; and if the Porte did
not yet grasp this fact, others had grasped it. The famous 'Testament of
Peter the Great' may or may not be a genuine document; but, in either
case, it proves that certain views about the necessary policy of Russia in
the Byzantine area, which became commonplaces of western political
thinkers as the eighteenth century advanced, were already familiar to east
European minds in the earlier part of that century.

Battle was not long in being joined. In the event, it would cost Russia
about sixty years of strenuous effort to reduce the Byzantine power of the
Osmanlis to a condition little better than that in which Osman had found
the Byzantine power of the Greeks four centuries before. During the first
two-thirds of this period the contest was waged not unequally. By the
Treaty of Belgrade, in 1739, Sultan Mahmud I appeared for a moment even to
have gained the whole issue, Russia agreeing to her own exclusion from the
Black Sea, and from interference in the Danubian principalities. But the
success could not be sustained. Repeated effort was rapidly exhausting
Osmanli strength, sapped as it was by increasing internal disease: and
when a crisis arrived with the accession of the Empress Catherine, it
proved too weak to meet it. During the ten years following 1764 Osmanli
hold on the Black Sea was lost irretrievably. After the destruction of the
fleet at Chesme the Crimea became untenable and was abandoned to the brief
mercies of Russia: and with a veiled Russian protectorate established in
the Danubian principalities, and an open Russian occupation in Morean
ports, Constantinople had lost once more her own seas. When Selim III was
set on a tottering throne, in 1787, the wheel of Byzantine destiny seemed
to have come again almost full circle: and the world was expecting a
Muscovite succession to that empire which had acknowledged already the
Roman, the Greek, and the Osmanli.

Certainly history looked like repeating itself. As in the fourteenth
century, so in the eighteenth, the imperial provinces, having shaken off
almost all control of the capital, were administering themselves, and
happier for doing so. Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, and Trebizond
acknowledged adventurers as virtually independent lords. Asia Minor, in
general, was being controlled, in like disregard of imperial majesty, by a
group of 'Dere Beys', descended, in different districts, from tribal
chieftains or privileged tax-farmers, or, often, from both. The latter
part of the eighteenth century was the heyday of the Anatolian feudal
families--of such as the Chapanoghlus of Yuzgad, whose sway stretched from
Pontus to Cilicia, right across the base of the peninsula, or the
Karamanoghlus of Magnesia, Bergama, and Aidin, who ruled as much territory
as the former emirs of Karasi and Sarukhan, and were recognized by the
representatives of the great trading companies as wielding the only
effective authority in Smyrna. The wide and rich regions controlled by
such families usually contributed neither an _asper_ to the sultan's
treasury nor a man to the imperial armies.

On no mountain of either Europe or Asia--and mountains formed a large part
of the Ottoman empire in both--did the imperial writ run. Macedonia and
Albania were obedient only to their local beys, and so far had gone the
devolution of Serbia and Bosnia to Janissary aghas, feudal beys, and the
Beylerbey of Rumili, that these provinces hardly concerned themselves more
with the capital. The late sultan, Mustapha III, had lost almost the last
remnant of his subjects' respect, not so much by the ill success of his
mutinous armies as by his depreciation of the imperial coinage. He had
died bankrupt of prestige, leaving no visible assets to his successor.
What might become of the latter no one in the empire appeared to care. As
in 1453, it waited other lords.



It has been waiting, nevertheless, ever since--waiting for much more than
a century; and perhaps the end is not even yet. Why, then, have
expectations not only within but without the empire been so greatly at
fault? How came Montesquieu, Burke, and other confident prophets since
their time to be so signally mistaken? There were several co-operating
causes, but one paramount. Constantinople was no longer, as in 1453, a
matter of concern only to itself, its immediate neighbours, and certain
trading republics of Italy. It had become involved with the commercial
interests of a far wider circle, in particular of the great trading
peoples of western Europe, the British, the French, and the Dutch, and
with the political interests of the Germanic and Russian nations. None of
these could be indifferent to a revolution in its fortunes, and least of
all to its passing, not to a power out of Asia, but to a rival power among
themselves. Europe was already in labour with the doctrine of the Balance
of Power. The bantling would not be born at Vienna till early in the
century to come: but even before the end of the eighteenth century it
could be foreseen that its life would be bound up with the maintenance of
Constantinople in independence of any one of the parent powers--that is,
with the prolongation of the Osmanli phase of its imperial fortunes. This
doctrine, consistently acted upon by Europe, has been the sheet anchor of
the Ottoman empire for a century. Even to this day its Moslem dynasty has
never been without one powerful Christian champion or another.

There were, however, some thirty years still to elapse after Selim's
accession before that doctrine was fully born: and had her hands been
free, Russia might well have been in secure possession of the Byzantine
throne long before 1815. For, internally, the Osmanli state went from bad
to worse. The tumultuous insubordination of the Janissaries became an ever
greater scandal. Never in all the long history of their riots was their
record for the years 1807-9 equalled or even approached. Never before,
also, had the provinces been so utterly out of hand. This was the era of
Jezzar the Butcher at Acre, of the rise of Mehemet Ali in Egypt, of Ali
Pasha in Epirus, and of Pasvanoghlu at Vidin. When Mahmud II was thrust on
to the throne in 1809, he certainly began his reign with no more personal
authority and no more imperial prestige or jurisdiction than the last
Greek emperor had enjoyed on his accession in 1448.

The great European war, however, which had been raging intermittently for
nearly twenty years, had saved Mahmud an empire to which he could succeed
in name and try to give substance. Whatever the Osmanlis suffered during
that war, it undoubtedly kept them in Constantinople. Temporary loss of
Egypt and the small damage done by the British attack on Constantinople in
1807 were a small price to pay for the diversion of Russia's main energies
to other than Byzantine fields, and for the assurance, made doubly sure
when the great enemy did again attack, that she would not be allowed to
settle the account alone. Whatever Napoleon may have planned and signed at
Tilsit, the aegis of France was consistently opposed to the enemies of the
Osmanlis down to the close of the Napoleonic age.

Thus it came about that those thirty perilous years passed without the
expected catastrophe. There was still a successor of Osman reigning in
Constantinople when the great Christian powers, met in conclave at Vienna,
half unconsciously guaranteed the continued existence of the Osmanli
Empire simply by leaving it out of account in striking a Balance of Power
in Europe. Its European territory, with the capital within it, was of
quite enough importance to disturb seriously the nice adjustment agreed at
Vienna; and, therefore, while any one's henceforth to take or leave, it
would become always some one's to guard. A few years had yet to pass
before the phrase, the Maintenance of the Integrity of the Ottoman Empire,
would be a watchword of European diplomacy: but, whether formulated thus
or not, that principle became a sure rock of defence for the Osmanli
Empire on the birthday of the doctrine of the Balance of Power.

Secure from destruction by any foes but those of his own household, as
none knew better than he, the reigning Osmanli was scheming to regain the
independence and dignity of his forefathers. Himself a creature of the
Janissaries, Mahmud had plotted the abolition of his creators from the
first year of his reign, but making a too precipitate effort after the
conclusion of peace with Russia, had ignominiously failed and fallen into
worse bondage than ever. Now, better assured of his imperial position and
supported by leading men of all classes among his subjects, he returned
not only to his original enterprise but to schemes for removing other
checks on the power of the sovereign which had come into being in the last
two centuries--notably the feudal independence of the Dere Beys, and the
irresponsibility of provincial governors.

Probably Mahmud II--if he is to be credited with personal initiation of
the reforms always associated with his name--was not conscious of any
purpose more revolutionary than that of becoming master in his own house,
as his ancestors had been. What he ultimately accomplished, however, was
something of much greater and more lasting moment to the Osmanli state. It
was nothing less than the elimination of the most Byzantine features in
its constitution and government. The substitution of national forces for
mercenary praetorians: the substitution of direct imperial government of
the provinces for devolution to seigneurs, tribal chiefs, and
irresponsible officers: the substitution of direct collection for
tax-farming: and the substitution of administration by bureaucrats for
administration by household officers--these, the chief reforms carried
through under Mahmud, were all anti-Byzantine. They did not cause the
Osmanli state to be born anew, but, at least, they went far to purge it of
original sin.

That Mahmud and his advisers could carry through such reforms at all in so
old a body politic is remarkable: that they carried them through amid the
events of his reign is almost miraculous. One affront after another was
put on the Sultan, one blow after another was struck at his empire.
Inspired by echoes of the French Revolution and by Napoleon's recognition
of the rights of nationalities, first the Serbs and then the Greeks seized
moments of Ottoman disorder to rise in revolt against their local lords.
The first, who had risen under Selim III, achieved, under Mahmud,
autonomy, but not independence, nothing remaining to the sultan as before
except the fortress of Belgrade with five other strongholds. The second,
who began with no higher hopes than the Serbs, were encouraged, by the
better acquaintance and keener sympathy of Europe, to fight their way out
to complete freedom. The Morea and central Greece passed out of the
empire, the first provinces so to pass since the Osmanli loss of Hungary.
Yet it was in the middle of that fatal struggle that Mahmud settled for
ever with the Janissaries, and during all its course he was settling one
after another with the Dere Beys!

When he had thus sacrificed the flower of his professional troops and had
hardly had time to replace the local governments of the provinces by
anything much better than general anarchy, he found himself faced by a
Russian assault. His raw levies fought as no other raw levies than the
Turkish can, and, helped by manifestations of jealousy by the other
powers, staved off the capture of Constantinople, which, at one moment,
seemed about to take place at last. But he had to accept humiliating
terms, amounting virtually, to a cession of the Black Sea. Mahmud
recognized that such a price he must pay for crossing the broad stream
between Byzantinism and Nationalism, and kept on his way.

Finally came a blow at the hands of one of his own household and creed.
Mehemet Ali of Egypt, who had faithfully fought his sovereign's battles in
Arabia and the Morea, held his services ill requited and his claim to be
increased beyond other pashas ignored, and proceeded to take what had not
been granted. He went farther than he had intended--more than half-way
across Asia Minor--after the imperial armies had suffered three signal
defeats, before he extorted what he had desired at first: and in the end,
after very brief enjoyment, he had to resign all again to the mandate, not
of his sovereign, but of certain European powers who commanded his seas.
Mahmud, however, who lived neither to see himself saved by the _giaur_
fleets, nor even to hear of his latest defeat, had gone forward with the
reorganization of the central and provincial administration, undismayed by
Mehemet Ali's contumacy or the insistence of Russia at the gate of the

As news arrived from time to time in the west of Mahmud's disasters, it
was customary to prophesy the imminent dissolution of his empire. We,
however, looking backward now, can see that by its losses the Osmanli
state in reality grew stronger. Each of its humiliations pledged some
power or group of powers more deeply to support it: and before Mahmud
died, he had reason to believe that, so long as the European Concert
should ensue the Balance of Power, his dynasty would not be expelled from
Constantinople. His belief has been justified. At every fresh crisis of
Ottoman fortunes, and especially after every fresh Russian attack, foreign
protection has unfailingly been extended to his successors.

It was not, however, only in virtue of the increasing solicitude of the
powers on its behalf that during the nineteenth century the empire was
growing and would grow stronger, but also in virtue of certain assets
within itself. First among these ranked the resources of its Asiatic
territories, which, as the European lands diminished, became more and more
nearly identified with the empire. When, having got rid of the old army,
Mahmud imposed service on all his Moslem subjects, in theory, but in
effect only on the Osmanlis (not the Arabs, Kurds, or other half
assimilated nomads and hillmen), it meant more than a similar measure
would have meant in a Christian empire. For, the life of Islam being war,
military service binds Moslems together and to their chiefs as it binds
men under no other dispensation; therefore Mahmud, so far as he was able
to enforce his decree, created not merely a national army but a nation.
His success was most immediate and complete in Anatolia, the homeland of
the Osmanlis. There, however, it was attained only by the previous
reduction of those feudal families which, for many generations, had
arrogated to themselves the levying and control of local forces. Hence, as
in Constantinople with the Janissaries, so in the provinces with the Dere
Beys, destruction of a drastic order had to precede construction, and more
of Mahmud's reign had to be devoted to the former than remained for the

He did, however, live to see not only the germ of a nation emerge from
chaos, but also the framework of an organization for governing it well or
ill. The centralized bureaucracy which he succeeded in initiating was, of
course, wretchedly imperfect both in constitution and equipment. But it
promised to promote the end he had in view and no other, inasmuch as,
being the only existent machine of government, it derived any effective
power it had from himself alone. Dependent on Stambul, it served to turn
thither the eyes and prayers of the provincials. The naturally submissive
and peaceful population of Asia Minor quickly accustomed itself to look
beyond the dismantled strongholds of its fallen beys. As for the rest--
contumacious and bellicose beys and sheikhs of Kurdish hills and Syrian
steppes--their hour of surrender was yet to come.

The eventual product of Mahmud's persistency was the 'Turkey' we have seen
in our own time--that Turkey irretrievably Asiatic in spirit under a
semi-European system of administration, which has governed despotically in
the interests of one creed and one class, with slipshod, makeshift
methods, but has always governed, and little by little has extended its
range. Knowing its imperfections and its weakness, we have watched with
amazement its hand feeling forward none the less towards one remote
frontier district after another, painfully but surely getting its grip,
and at last closing on Turcoman chiefs and Kurdish beys, first in the
Anatolian and Cilician hills, then in the mountains of Armenia, finally in
the wildest Alps of the Persian borderland. We have marked its stealthy
movement into the steppes and deserts of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Arabia--
now drawn back, now pushed farther till it has reached and held regions
over which Mahmud could claim nothing but a suzerainty in name. To judge
how far the shrinkage of the Osmanli European empire has been compensated
by expansion of its Asiatic, one has only to compare the political state
of Kurdistan, as it was at the end of the eighteenth century, and as it
has been in our own time.

It is impossible to believe that the Greek Empire, however buttressed and
protected by foreign powers, could ever have reconstituted itself after
falling so low as it fell in the fourteenth century and as the Osmanli
Empire fell in the eighteenth; and it is clear that the latter must still
have possessed latent springs of vitality, deficient in the former. What
can these have been? It is worth while to try to answer this question at
the present juncture, since those springs, if they existed a hundred years
ago, can hardly now be dry.

In the first place it had its predominant creed. This had acted as Islam
acts everywhere, as a very strong social bond, uniting the vast majority
of subjects in all districts except certain parts of the European empire,
in instinctive loyalty to the person of the padishah, whatever might be
felt about his government. Thus had it acted with special efficacy in Asia
Minor, whose inhabitants the Osmanli emperors, unlike the Greek, had
always been at some pains to attach to themselves. The sultan, therefore,
could still count on general support from the population of his empire's
heart, and had at his disposal the resources of a country which no
administration, however improvident or malign, has ever been able to

In the second place the Osmanli 'Turks', however fallen away from the
virtues of their ancestors, had not lost either 'the will to power' or
their capacity for governing under military law. If they had never
succeeded in learning to rule as civilians they had not forgotten how to
rule as soldiers.

In the third place the sultanate of Stambul had retained a vague but
valuable prestige, based partly on past history, partly on its pretension
to religious influence throughout a much larger area than its proper
dominions; and the conservative population of the latter was in great
measure very imperfectly informed of its sovereign's actual position.

In the fourth and last place, among the populations on whose loyalty the
Osmanli sultan could make good his claim, were several strong unexhausted
elements, especially in Anatolia. There are few more vigorous and enduring
peoples than the peasants of the central plateau of Asia Minor, north,
east, and south. With this rock of defence to stand upon, the sultan could
draw also on the strength of other more distant races, less firmly
attached to himself, but not less vigorous, such, for example, as the
Albanians of his European mountains and the Kurds of his Asiatic. However
decadent might be the Turco-Grecian Osmanli (he, unfortunately, had the
lion's share of office), those other elements had suffered no decline in
physical or mental development. Indeed, one cannot be among them now
without feeling that their day is not only not gone, but is still, for the
most part, yet to be.

Such were latent assets of the Osmanli Empire, appreciated imperfectly by
the prophets of its dissolution. Thanks to them, that empire continued not
only to hold together throughout the nineteenth century but, in some
measure, to consolidate itself. Even when the protective fence, set up by
European powers about it, was violated, as by Russia several times--in
1829, in 1854, and in 1877--the nation, which Mahmud had made, always
proved capable of stout enough resistance to delay the enemy till European
diplomacy, however slow of movement, could come to its aid, and ultimately
to dispose the victor to accept terms consistent with its continued
existence. It was an existence, of course, of sufferance, but one which
grew better assured the longer it lasted. By an irony of the Osmanli
position, the worse the empire was administered, the stronger became its
international guarantee. No better example can be cited than the effect of
its financial follies. When national bankruptcy, long contemplated by its
Government, supervened at last, the sultan had nothing more to fear from
Europe. He became, _ipso facto_, the cherished protege of every power
whose nationals had lent his country money.

Considering the magnitude of the change which Mahmud instituted, the stage
at which he left it, and the character of the society in which it had to
be carried out, it was unfortunate that he should have been followed on
the throne by two well-meaning weaklings, of whom the first was a
voluptuary, the second a fantastic spendthrift of doubtful sanity. Mahmud,
as has been said, being occupied for the greater part of his reign in
destroying the old order, had been able to reconstruct little more than a
framework. His operations had been almost entirely forcible--of a kind
understood by and congenial to the Osmanli character--and partly by
circumstances but more by his natural sympathies, he had been identified
from first to last with military enterprises. Though he was known to
contemplate the eventual supremacy of civil law, and the equality of all
sorts and conditions of his subjects before it, he did nothing to open
this vista to public view. Consequently he encountered little or no
factious opposition. Very few held briefs for either the Janissaries or
the Dere Beys; and fewer regretted them when they were gone. Osmanli
society identified itself with the new army and accepted the consequent
reform of the central or provincial administration. Nothing in these
changes seemed to affect Islam or the privileged position of Moslems in
the empire.

It was quite another matter when Abdul Mejid, in the beginning of his
reign, promulgated an imperial decree--the famous Tanzimat or Hatti Sherif
of Gulkhaneh--which, amid many excellent and popular provisions for the
continued reform of the administration, proclaimed the equality of
Christian and Moslem subjects in service, in reward, and before the law.
The new sultan, essentially a civilian and a man of easy-going
temperament, had been induced to believe that the end of an evolution,
which had only just begun, could be anticipated _per saltum_, and that he
and all his subjects would live happily together ever after. His
counsellors had been partly politicians, who for various reasons, good and
bad, wished to gain West European sympathy for their country, involved in
potential bondage to Russia since the Treaty of Unkiar Skelessi (1833),
and recently afflicted by Ibrahim Pasha's victory at Nizib; and they
looked to Great Britain to get them out of the Syrian mess. Partly also
Abdul Mejid had been influenced by enthusiasts, who set more store by
ideas or the phrases in which they were expressed, than by the evidence of
facts. There were then, as since, 'young men in a hurry' among the more
Europeanized Osmanlis. The net result of the sultan's precipitancy was to
set against himself and his policy all who wished that such it
consummation of the reform process might never come and all who knew it
would never come, if snatched at thus--that is, both the 'Old Turks' and
the moderate Liberals; and, further, to change for the worse the spirit in
which the new machine of government was being worked and in which fresh
developments of it would be accepted.

To his credit, however, Abdul Mejid went on with administrative reform.
The organization of the army into corps--the foundation of the existing
system--and the imposition of five years' service on all subjects of the
empire (in theory which an Albanian rising caused to be imperfectly
realized in fact), belong to the early part of his reign; as do also, on
the civil side, the institution of responsible councils of state and
formation of ministries, and much provision for secondary education. To
his latest years is to be credited the codification of the civil law. He
had the advantage of some dozen initial years of comparative security from
external foes, after the Syrian question had been settled in his favour by
Great Britain and her allied powers at the cheap price of a guarantee of
hereditary succession to the house of Mehemet Ali. Thanks to the same
support, war with Persia was avoided and war with Russia postponed.

But the provinces, even if quiet (which some of them, e.g. the Lebanon in
the early 'forties', were not), proved far from content. If the form of
Osmanli government had changed greatly, its spirit had changed little, and
defective communications militated against the responsibility of officials
to the centre. Money was scarce, and the paper currency--an ill-omened
device of Mahmud's--was depreciated, distrusted, and regarded as an
imperial betrayal of confidence. Finally, the hostility of Russia,
notoriously unabated, and the encouragement of aspiring _rayas_ credited
to her and other foreign powers made bad blood between creeds and
encouraged opposition to the execution of the pro-Christian Tanzimat. When
Christian turbulence at last brought on, in 1854, the Russian attack which
developed into the Crimean War, and Christian allies, though they
frustrated that attack, made a peace by which the Osmanlis gained nothing,
the latter were in no mood to welcome the repetition of the Tanzimat,
which Abdul Mejid consented to embody in the Treaty of Paris. The reign
closed amid turbulence and humiliations--massacre and bombardment at
Jidda, massacre and Franco-British coercion in Syria--from all of which
the sultan took refuge with women and wine, to meet in 1861 a drunkard's

His successor, Abdul Aziz, had much the same intentions, the same civilian
sympathies, the same policy of Europeanization, and a different, but more
fatal, weakness of character. He was, perhaps, never wholly sane; but his
aberration, at first attested only by an exalted conviction of his divine
character and inability to do wrong, excited little attention until it
began to issue in fantastic expenditure. By an irony of history, he is the
one Osmanli sultan upon the roll of our Order of the Garter, the right to
place a banner in St, George's Chapel having been offered to this
Allah-possessed caliph on the occasion of his visit to the West in 1867.

Despite the good intentions of Abdul Aziz himself--as sincere as can be
credited to a disordered brain---and despite more than one minister of
outstanding ability, reform and almost everything else in the empire went
to the bad in this unhappy reign. The administration settled down to
lifeless routine and lapsed into corruption: the national army was starved:
the depreciation of the currency grew worse as the revenue declined and
the sultan's household and personal extravagance increased. Encouraged by
the inertia of the imperial Government, the Christians of the European
provinces waxed bold. Though Montenegro was severely handled for
contumacy, the Serbs were able to cover their penultimate stage towards
freedom by forcing in 1867 the withdrawal of the last Ottoman garrisons
from their fortresses. Krete stood at bay for three years and all but won
her liberty. Bosnia rose in arms, but divided against herself. Pregnant
with graver trouble than these, Bulgaria showed signs of waking from long
sleep. In 1870 she obtained recognition as a nationality in the Ottoman
Empire, her Church being detached from the control of the Oecumenical
Patriarch of the Greeks and placed under an Exarch. Presently, her
peasantry growing ever more restive, passed from protest to revolt against
the Circassian refugee-colonists with whom the Porte was flooding the
land. The sultan, in an evil hour, for lack of trained troops, let loose
irregulars on the villages, and the Bulgarian atrocities, which they
committed in 1875, sowed a fatal harvest for his successor to reap. His
own time was almost fulfilled. The following spring a dozen high
officials, with the assent of the Sheikh-ul-Islam and the active dissent
of no one, took Abdul Aziz from his throne to a prison, wherein two days
later he perished, probably by his own hand. A puppet reigned three months
as Murad V, and then, at the bidding of the same king-makers whom his
uncle had obeyed, left the throne free for his brother Abdul Hamid, a man
of affairs and ability, who was to be the most conspicuous, or rather, the
most notorious Osmanli sultan since Suleiman.



The new sultan, who had not expected his throne, found his realm in
perilous case. Nominally sovereign and a member of the Concert of Europe,
he was in reality a semi-neutralized dependant, existing, as an
undischarged bankrupt, on sufferance of the powers. Should the Concert be
dissolved, or even divided, and any one of its members be left free to
foreclose its Ottoman mortgages, the empire would be at an end. Internally
it was in many parts in open revolt, in all the rest stagnant and slowly
rotting. The thrice-foiled claimant to its succession, who six years
before had denounced the Black Sea clause of the Treaty of Paris and so
freed its hands for offence, was manifestly preparing a fresh assault.
Something drastic must be done; but what?

This danger of the empire's international situation, and also the disgrace
of it, had been evident for some time past to those who had any just
appreciation of affairs; and in the educated class, at any rate, something
like a public opinion, very apprehensive and very much ashamed, had
struggled into being. The discovery of a leader in Midhat Pasha, former
governor-general of Bagdad, and a king-maker of recent notoriety, induced
the party of this opinion to take precipitate action. Murad had been
deposed in August. Before the year was out Midhat presented himself before
Abdul Hamid with a formal demand for the promulgation of a Constitution,
proposing not only to put into execution the pious hopes of the two Hatti
Sherifs of Abdul Mejid but also to limit the sovereign and govern the
empire by representative institutions. The new sultan, hardly settled on
his uneasy throne, could not deny those who had deposed his two
predecessors, and, shrewdly aware that ripe facts would not be long in
getting the better of immature ideas, accepted. A parliament was summoned;
an electorate, with only the haziest notions of what it was about, went
through the form of sending representatives to Constantinople; and the
sittings were inaugurated by a speech from the throne, framed on the most
approved Britannic model, the deputies, it is said, jostling and crowding
the while to sit, as many as possible, on the right, which they understood
was always the side of powers that be.

It is true this extemporized chamber never had a chance. The Russians
crossed the Pruth before it had done much more than verify its powers, and
the thoughts and energies of the Osmanlis were soon occupied with the most
severe and disastrous struggle in which the empire had ever engaged. But
it is equally certain that it could not have turned to account any chance
it might have had. Once more the 'young men in a hurry' had snatched at
the end of an evolution hardly begun, without taking into account the
immaturity of Osmanli society in political education and political
capacity. After suspension during the war, the parliament was dissolved
unregretted, and its creator was tried for his life, and banished. In
failing, however, Midhat left bad to become so much worse that the next
reformers would inevitably have a more convinced public opinion behind
them, and he had virtually destroyed the power of Mahmud's bureaucracy. If
the only immediate effect was the substitution of an unlimited autocracy,
the Osmanli peoples would be able thenceforward to ascribe their
misfortunes to a single person, meditate attack, on a single position, and
dream of realizing some day an ideal which had been definitely formulated.

The Russian onslaught, which began in both Europe and Asia in the spring
of 1877, had been brought on, after a fashion become customary, by
movements in the Slavonic provinces of the Ottoman Empire and in Rumania;
and the latter province, now independent in all but name and, in defiance
of Ottoman protests, disposing of a regular army, joined the invader. In
campaigns lasting a little less than a year, the Osmanli Empire was
brought nearer to passing than ever before, and it was in a suburb of
Constantinople itself that the final armistice was arranged. But action by
rival powers, both before the peace and in the revision of it at Berlin,
gave fresh assurance that the end would not be suffered to come yet; and,
moreover, through the long series of disasters, much latent strength of
the empire and its peoples had been revealed.

When that empire had emerged, shorn of several provinces--in Europe, of
Rumania, Serbia, and northern Greece, with Bulgaria also well on the road
they had travelled to emancipation, and in Asia, of a broad slice of
Caucasia--Abdul Hamid cut his losses, and, under the new guarantee of the
Berlin Treaty, took heart to try his hand at reviving Osmanli power. He
and his advisers had their idea, the contrary of the idea of Midhat and
all the sultans since Mahmud. The empire must be made, not more European,
but more Asiatic. In the development of Islamic spirit to pan-Islamic
unity it would find new strength; and towards this end in the early
eighties, while he was yet comparatively young, with intelligence
unclouded and courage sufficient, Abdul Hamid patiently set himself. In
Asia, naturally sympathetic to autocracy, and the home of the faith of his
fathers, he set on foot a pan-Islamic propaganda. He exalted his caliphate;
he wooed the Arabs, and he plotted with extraneous Moslems against
whatever foreign government they might have to endure.

It cannot be denied that this idea was based on the logic of facts, and,
if it could be realized, promised better than Midhat's for escape from
shameful dependence. Indeed, Abdul Hamid, an autocrat bent on remaining
one, could hardly have acted upon any other. By far the greater part of
the territorial empire remaining to him lay in Asia. The little left in
Europe would obviously soon be reduced to less. The Balkan lands were
waking, or already awake, to a sense of separate nationality, and what
chance did the Osmanli element, less progressive than any, stand in them?
The acceptance of the Ottoman power into the Concert of Europe, though
formally notified to Abdul Mejid, had proved an empty thing. In that
galley there was no place for a sultan except as a dependent or a slave.
As an Asiatic power, however, exerting temporal sway over some eighteen
million bodies and religious influence over many times more souls, the
Osmanli caliph might command a place in the sun.

The result belied these hopes. Abdul Hamid's failure was owed in the main
to facts independent of his personality or statecraft. The expansion of
Islam over an immense geographical area and among peoples living in
incompatible stages of sophistication, under most diverse political and
social conditions, has probably made any universal caliphial authority for
ever impossible. The original idea of the caliphate, like that of the
_jehad_ or holy war of the faithful, presupposed that all Moslems were
under governments of their own creed, and, perhaps, under one government.
Moreover, if such a caliph were ever to be again, an Osmanli sultan would
not be a strong candidate. Apart from the disqualification of his blood,
he being not of the Prophet's tribe nor even an Arab, he is lord of a
state irretrievably compromised in purist eyes (as Wahabis and Senussis
have testified once and again) by its Byzantine heritage of necessary
relations with infidels. Abdul Hamid's predecessors for two centuries or
more had been at no pains to infuse reality into their nominal leadership
of the faithful. To call a real caliphate out of so long abeyance could
hardly have been effected even by a bold soldier, who appealed to the
general imagination of Moslems; and certainly was beyond the power of a
timid civilian.

When Abdul Hamid had played this card and failed, he had no other; and his
natural pusillanimity and shiftiness induced him to withdraw ever more
into the depths of his palace, and there use his intelligence in
exploiting this shameful dependence of his country on foreign powers.
Unable or unwilling to encourage national resistance, he consoled himself,
as a weak malcontent will, by setting one power against another,
pin-pricking the stronger and blustering to the weaker. The history of his
reign is a long record of protests and surrenders to the great in big
matters, as to Great Britain in the matter of Egypt in 1881, to Russia in
that of Eastern Rumelia in 1885, to France on the question of the
Constantinople quays and other claims, and to all the powers in 1881 in
the matter of the financial control. Between times he put in such
pin-pricks as he could, removing his neighbours' landmarks in the Aden
_hinterland_ or the Sinaitic peninsula. He succeeded, however, in keeping
his empire out of a foreign war with any power for about thirty years,
with the single exception of a brief conflict with Greece in 1897. While
in the first half of his reign he was at pains to make no European friend,
in the latter he fell more and more under the influence of Germany, which,
almost from the accession of Kaiser Wilhelm II, began to prepare a
southward way for future use, and alone of the powers, never browbeat the

Internally, the empire passed more and more under the government of the
imperial household. Defeated by the sheer geographical difficulty of
controlling directly an area so vast and inadequately equipped with means


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