The Greco-Turkish War of 1897

Palaiologinos is a history blogger who was gracious enough to take over the CryForByzantium Twitter account that I created and curated for a number of years. But aside from doing Byzantine history on Twitter, he’s got an interesting blog of his own. This article is on a little-known conflict between Greece and Turkey at the very end of the 19th century, which set up both a boom of Greek immigration to the United States and some of the conditions that would eventually be the groundwork for World War I. I knew nothing about this war before, but the article is pretty illuminating. Well worth a read.

The Greco-Turkish War of 1897 is shown as a footnote of history and often overlooked.  There were no significant territory changes and the duration was such a brief period so it is easy to minimize the impact.  However, the implications for the future of the Greek state were dramatic both internally and internationally.

The Political Climate

The Megali Idea of the 19th and early 20th Century was a political concept which supported a restored Byzantine Empire including most of modern Greece, Macedonia, Constantinople and the western portions of Anatolia centered around Smyrna.

Meanwhile, other Balkan states all had their own irredentist goals.  Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia all competed for their own visions of a completed state.  Everyone claimed Macedonia.  All the Balkan states were increasing in size while the Ottoman state was in decline.  Supported by Russia, Bulgaria was likely the best positioned power to expand and Greece didn’t want to lose out.

Much like the American press prior to Spanish American war, Yellow Journalism and press sensationalism was at a fever pitch.  Nationalistic Tendencies were further escalated after the Athens 1896 Olympics, and the Greek public was quite supportive of going to war in support of expansion.

Balance of Power

The disastrous performance of the Turkish army in the 1878 Russo-Turkish war was still fresh in everyone’s mind.  Sultan Abdülhamid II feared the empire was not ready to face a serious military threat, and aggressively pursued a policy of appeasement to keep the peace.  After shedding significant territories because of the 1878 war, the Ottomans gave up more lands in the years that followed (Tunisia, Egypt, Eastern Rumelia, and Thessaly)…

Source: The Greco-Turkish War of 1897

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