Causes of World War 1 – Balkan Nationalism: The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913


Let’s now focus on how the Balkan Wars, directly and indirectly, caused the First World War

The Balkan Wars refers to the wars in the Balkans from 1912 to 1913 which led the Ottoman Empire to lose its European territory and population.

The Balkan League which was made up of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro defeated Turkey in 1912.

This was caused by nationalism as well as the attack of Christians in Macedonia by Turkey’s Islamic Young Turks.


After winning the First Balkan war of 1912 war the members of the Balkan League shared the Ottoman Empire’s territory in Europe.

This was a humiliating defeat for Turkey for she lost most of her European territory except areas near Constantinople.


The successful members of the Balkan League managed to share the European territory amongst themselves.


The 1913 Treaty of London led Turkey to give up most of her territory in Europe to the victors.

Amongst the victors of the First Balkan League, Bulgaria was not satisfied with the territory she got compared to the others.

Bulgaria also had disagreements with Serbia on dividing Macedonia which resulted in Bulgaria waging a war against Serbia which was supported by the Romanians and Greeks.


Bulgaria was defeated leading to the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest.

The Balkan Wars caused the First World War directly and indirectly

After the defeat of Turkey in Europe, the Slav nationalists began focusing on the downfall of Austria-Hungary which had many Slavic nationalities. ………

The treaty of London after the First Balkan war resulted in the victors gaining more territory and more people.


The increase of Serbia’s territory and population brought more fear to the Austrian Monarchy since Serbia wanted the freedom of the various ethnic groups in the Austria-Hungary Empire

Serbia’s population increased with over a million people and she was ready to promote Slavic nationalist uprisings in Austria-Hungary.

This also meant that Serbia could raise a bigger army against the Austrian threat

It was a humiliation for Austria-Hungary that her enemy Serbia was growing more and more powerful


After the First Balkan war Austria-Hungary promoted the creation of Albania with an agenda to avoid a powerful Serbia since Serbia wanted Albania for easy access to the sea


Serbia was not happy with the creation of Albania by the Great Powers and Serbian sentiments against Austria-Hungary grew because of this….


In October 1913 the Serbian army marched into Albania since Serbia claimed ownership of Albania.

Austria-Hungary gave Serbia an ultimatum to move out of Albania.


Serbia withdrew her forces from Albania since Austria-Hungary was to declare war against Serbia with the support of Germany


The most important impact of the Balkan Wars in causing the First World War lies in the hatred between Austria-Hungary and Germany.

The Austrian nationalists were ready to fight Serbia and destroy Serbia’s influence in the Balkans.


A war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was therefore unavoidable by 1913

Germany and Austria-Hungary were united and ready to destroy Serbia …….


Likewise, the members of the Triple Entente were bound to support each other since they were against the German and Austrian Alliance.

Russia was against the bullying of Serbia by Austria-Hungary.


France was obligated to support her ally Russia if Germany was to be involved


The humiliation of Turkey led her to turn to Germany for upgrading her military hardware.


Turkey was to fight at the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War 1


The defeat of Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War led Bulgaria to turn to Austria-Hungary as an ally. Bulgaria was to fight at the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary during the First World War.


Bulgaria wanted to gain more territory which explains why she fought with the Germans and Austrians against Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Romania who supported the Triple Entente

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