Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878

Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878'
Start a new discussion about 'Russo-Turkish War, 1877–1878'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 (Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

: Руско-турска освободителна война (1877—1878 г.), Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

: Русско-турецкая война (1877—1878 гг.), Ottoman
Ottoman Turkish language
The Ottoman Turkish language or Ottoman language is the variety of the Turkish language that was used for administrative and literary purposes in the Ottoman Empire. It borrows extensively from Arabic and Persian, and was written in a variant of the Perso-Arabic script...

: , Doksan Üç Harbi ('93 Harb
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

i, "93 War"), Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

: '93 Harbi or 1877–78 Osmanlı-Rus Savaşı) was a conflict between the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and the Eastern Orthodox coalition led by the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and composed of numerous Balkan countries. Fought in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

, its origins lie in emerging nineteenth-century nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in the Balkan region. Additional factors include the Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 aspirations of recovering territorial losses it had suffered during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, reestablishing itself in the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and supporting the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire.

As a result of the war, Russia succeeded in claiming several provinces in the Caucasus, namely Kars
Kars Province
Kars Province is a province of Turkey, located in the northeastern part of the country. It shares part of its border with the Republic of Armenia.The provinces of Ardahan and Iğdır were until the 1990s part of Kars Province.-History:...

 and Batum. The principalities of Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 (which was also forced by Russia to cede the Budjak
Budjak
Budjak or Budzhak is a historical region in the Odessa Oblast of Ukraine. Lying along the Black Sea between the Danube and Dniester rivers this multiethnic region was the southern part of Bessarabia...

 region of the Danube delta
Danube Delta
The Danube Delta is the second largest river delta in Europe, after the Volga Delta, and is the best preserved on the continent. The greater part of the Danube Delta lies in Romania , while its northern part, on the left bank of the Chilia arm, is situated in Ukraine . The approximate surface is...

, in spite of an existing treaty of alliance between the two countries), Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, each of which had had de facto sovereignty for some time, formally proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. After almost five centuries of Ottoman domination (1396–1878), the Bulgarian state was reestablished as the Principality of Bulgaria
Principality of Bulgaria
The Principality of Bulgaria was a self-governing entity created as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. The preliminary treaty of San Stefano between the Russian Empire and the Porte , on March 3, had originally proposed a significantly larger Bulgarian territory: its...

, covering the land between the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 River and the Balkan Mountains
Balkan Mountains
The Balkan mountain range is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on the border between Bulgaria and eastern Serbia eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea...

 (except Northern Dobrudja which was given to Romania) as well as the region of Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

, which became the new state's capital. The Congress of Berlin
Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans...

 also allowed Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 to take over Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

.

Treatment of Christians in the Ottoman Empire


Article 9 of the 1856 Paris Peace Treaty
Treaty of Paris (1856)
The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all...

, concluded at the end of the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, obliged the Ottoman Empire to grant Christians equal rights with Muslims. An edict, Hatt-ı Hümayun
Hatt-i humayun
Hatt-i humayun , also known as hatt-i sharif , is the diplomatics term for a document or handwritten note of an official nature by an Ottoman Sultan. The terms come from hatt , hümayun and şerif...

, was issued that proclaimed the principle of the equality of Muslims and non-Muslims, and produced some specific reforms to this end. For example, the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 tax was abolished and non-Muslims were allowed to join the army.

However, some key aspects of Dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

 status were retained; for example, the testimony of Christians against Muslims was not accepted in courts, which granted Muslims effective immunity for offenses conducted against Christians. Although on a local level, relations between communities were often good, this practice encouraged the worst elements of Muslim society to exploit the situation. The abuses were at their worst in regions with a predominantly Christian population, mainly located in the European part of the empire, where local authorities often openly supported them as a means to keep Christians subjugated.

The financial strain on the treasury caused by the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 forced the Ottoman government to take a series of foreign loans at such steep interest rates that, despite all the fiscal reforms that followed, pushed it into unpayable debts and economic difficulties. This was further aggravated by the need to accommodate more than 600,000 Muslim Circassians, expelled by the Russians from the Caucasus, to the Black Sea ports of north Anatolia and the Balkan ports of Constanţa
Constanta
Constanța is the oldest extant city in Romania, founded around 600 BC. The city is located in the Dobruja region of Romania, on the Black Sea coast. It is the capital of Constanța County and the largest city in the region....

 and Varna
Varna
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

, which cost a great deal in money and in civil disorder to the Ottoman authorities.

Crisis in Lebanon, 1860


In 1858 the Maronite peasants, stirred by the clergy, revolted against their Maronite feudal overlords and established a peasant republic. In southern Lebanon, where Maronite peasants worked for Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 overlords, Druze peasants sided with their overlords against the Maronites, transforming the conflict into a civil war. Although both sides suffered, about 10,000 Maronites were massacre
Massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

d at the hands of the Druzes.

In Syria, events in Lebanon stirred the Muslim population of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 to attack the Christian minority with between 5,000 to over 25,000 of the latter being killed, including the American and Dutch consuls, giving the event an international dimension.

Under the threat of European intervention, Ottoman authorities restored order. Nevertheless, French and British intervention followed. Under further European pressure, the Sultan agreed to appoint a Christian governor in Lebanon, whose candidacy was to be submitted by the Sultan and approved by the European powers.

The revolt in Crete, 1866–1869



The Cretan revolt
Cretan Revolt (1866–1869)
The Cretan Revolt of 1866–1869 or Great Cretan Revolution was a three year uprising against Ottoman rule, the third and largest in a series of Cretan revolts between the end of the Greek War of Independence in 1830 and the establishment of the independent Cretan State in 1898.-Background:The...

 of the period was the result of two things: the failure of the Ottoman Empire to apply reforms for improving the life of the population and the Cretans' desire for Enosis
Enosis
Enosis refers to the movement of the Greek-Cypriot population to incorporate the island of Cyprus into Greece.Similar movements had previously developed in other regions with ethnic Greek majorities such as the Ionian Islands, Crete and the Dodecanese. These regions were eventually incorporated...

 — union with Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. The insurgents gained control over the whole island, except for five cities where the Muslims were fortified. The Greek press claimed that Muslims had massacred Greeks and the word was spread throughout Europe. Thousands of Greek volunteers were mobilized and sent to the island.

By early 1869 the insurrection was suppressed, but the Porte offered some concessions, introducing island self-rule and increased Christian rights on the island. The siege of Moni Arkadiou
Moni Arkadiou
The monastery of Arkadi is an Eastern Orthodox monastery, situated on a fertile plateau 14 mi to the southeast of Rethymnon on the island of Crete ....

 monastery, when about 150 predominantly male, Cretan Greek combatants accompanied by about 600 women and children were besieged by about 23,000 mainly Cretan Muslims aided by Ottoman troops, became widely known in Europe. After a bloody battle with a large number of casualties on both sides, the Cretan Greeks finally surrendered when their ammunition ran out but were killed upon surrender.

An important effect of the Cretan insurrection, and especially the brutality with which it was suppressed by the Ottomans, was the growth of public attention in Europe, and in Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 in particular, to the issue of the oppressed state of the Christians in the Ottoman Empire.
"Small as the amount of attention is which can be given by the people of England to the affairs of Turkey … enough was transpiring from time to time to produce a vague but a settled and general impression that the Sultans were not fulfilling the “solemn promises” they had made to Europe; that the vices of the Turkish government were ineradicable; and that whenever another crisis might arise affecting the “independence” of the Ottoman Empire, it would be wholly impossible to afford to it again the support we had afforded in the Crimean war
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

."


The crisis came to an end, with the Ottomans more victorious than they had been or would be in almost any other diplomatic confrontation during the century.

The New European Concert


The concert of Europe established in 1856 was shaken in 1859 when France and Austria fought over Italy. It came apart completely as a result of Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

's wars to create a united Germany, with Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 defeating Austria in 1866 and France in 1870, thus establishing itself in place of Austria-Hungary as the dominant power in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

. Britain, worn out by its participation in the Crimean War and diverted by the Irish question and the whole complex of problems created by the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

, chose not to intervene again to restore the European balance. Bismarck did not wish the breakup of the Ottoman Empire to create rivalries that might lead to war. So he took up the Tsar's earlier suggestion that arrangements be made in case the Ottoman Empire fell apart, creating the Three Emperors' League with Austria and Russia to keep France isolated on the continent. France responded by supporting self-determination movements, particularly if they concerned the three emperors and the Sultan. Thus revolts in Poland against Russia and national aspirations in the Balkans were encouraged by France. Russia worked to regain its right to maintain a fleet on the Black Sea and vied with the French in gaining influence in the Balkans by using the new Pan-Slavic idea that all Slavs should be united under Russian leadership. This could be done only by destroying the two empires where most of the non-Russian Slavs lived, the Habsburg and the Ottoman. The ambitions and the rivalries of the Russians and French in the Balkans surfaced in Serbia, which was experiencing its own national revival and had ambitions that partly conflicted with those of the great powers.

Changing balance of power in Europe


Russia ended the Crimean War with minimal territorial losses, but was forced to destroy its Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

 and Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

 fortifications. Russian international prestige was damaged, and for many years revenge for the Crimean war became the main goal of Russian foreign policy.

This was not easy however — the Paris Peace Treaty
Treaty of Paris (1856)
The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all...

 included guarantees of Ottoman territorial integrity by Great Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

, France
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

 and Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

; only Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 remained friendly to Russia.

It was on alliance with Prussia and its chancellor Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 that the newly appointed Russian chancellor, Alexander Gorchakov
Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov
Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov , was a Russian statesman from the Gorchakov princely family. He has an enduring reputation as one of the most influential and respected diplomats of the nineteenth century...

, depended. Russia consistently supported Prussia in her wars with Denmark (1864), Austria (1866)
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 and France (1870)
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

. In March 1871, using the crushing French defeat and the support of a grateful Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, Russia achieved international recognition of its earlier denouncement of Article XI of the Paris Peace Treaty
Treaty of Paris (1856)
The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all...

, thus enabling it to revive the Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

.

Other clauses of the Paris Peace Treaty
Treaty of Paris (1856)
The Treaty of Paris of 1856 settled the Crimean War between Russia and an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, Second French Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The treaty, signed on March 30, 1856 at the Congress of Paris, made the Black Sea neutral territory, closing it to all...

, however, remained in force, specifically Article 8 with guarantees of Ottoman territorial integrity by Great Britain, France and Austria. This made Russia use extreme caution in its relations with the Ottoman empire and coordinate all its actions with other European powers. A Russian war with Turkey would require at least the tacit support of all other Great Powers, and Russian diplomacy was waiting for a convenient moment.

Situation in the Balkans


The balance of power in Europe directly reflected the situation on the Balkan peninsula. The state of Ottoman administration continued to deteriorate throughout the course of 19th century, with the central government occasionally losing actual control over whole provinces. Reforms imposed by European powers did little to improve the conditions of the Christian population, while managing to dissatisfy a sizable portion of the Muslim population. Bosnia and Herzegovina suffered at least two waves of rebellion by the local Muslim population, the most recent in 1850.

Austria consolidated after the turmoil of the first half of the century and sought to reinvigorate its longstanding policy of expansion at the expense of the Ottoman empire.

The nominally autonomous, de facto independent principalities of Serbia and Montenegro
Principality of Montenegro
The Principality of Montenegro was a former realm in Southeastern Europe. It existed from 13 March 1852 to 28 August 1910. It was then proclaimed a kingdom by Knjaz Nikola, who then became king....

 sought the opportunity to expand into regions inhabited by their Serbian compatriots. The situation in Serbia was especially complicated. The principality made expansion to neighboring Serbian inhabited areas, south Serbia, Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

, and Bosnia
Bosnia (region)
Bosnia is a eponomous region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It lies mainly in the Dinaric Alps, ranging to the southern borders of the Pannonian plain, with the rivers Sava and Drina marking its northern and eastern borders. The other eponomous region, the southern, other half of the country is...

 its priority. The ruling House of Obrenović
House of Obrenovic
The House of Obrenović was a Serbian dynasty that ruled Serbia from 1815 to 1842, and again from 1858 to 1903. They came to power through the leadership of their progenitor Miloš Obrenović in the Second Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire, which led to the formation of the Principality of...

 enjoyed good connections with Vienna, and was at first reluctant to risk a military adventure against the Ottoman empire. However public opinion was heavily pro war, encouraged by the diplomatic victory of 1862 and the expulsion of Ottoman troops from their last garrisons on the territory of the principality. The presence of Russian agents was also very strong.

Montenegro
Principality of Montenegro
The Principality of Montenegro was a former realm in Southeastern Europe. It existed from 13 March 1852 to 28 August 1910. It was then proclaimed a kingdom by Knjaz Nikola, who then became king....

, ruled by the ambitious Prince Nikola, was in a position to advocate a much more adventurous policy. When an uprising of orthodox Christians erupted in Herzegovina in 1875, Montenegrins promptly intervened to help their fellow tribesmen, declaring war on the Ottoman empire. Soon an uprising in Bulgaria erupted. Compelled by these events and by overwhelming pressure from the public, prince Milan Obrenović declared war on the Ottoman empire in 1876.

Balkan crisis of 1875–1876


From 1873 onward the Ottoman government was faced with a period of drought and famine in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, leading to widespread misery and discontent. Agricultural shortages became such as to preclude the collection of necessary taxes. This reached the point at which the Imperial Treasury was left without adequate funds for the business of government. The result was a major financial collapse which forced the Ottoman government to declare bankruptcy in October, 1875.

An anti-Ottoman uprising occurred in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the summer of 1875. The main reason for this revolt was the heavy tax burden imposed by the cash-starved Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 administration. Both Montenegro and Serbia intervened with armed bands. Despite some relaxation of taxes, the uprising continued well after the end of 1875 and eventually triggered the Bulgarian April uprising of 1876.

The Bulgarians' 1876 April uprising



Since autumn of 1875, the Ottoman authorities were aware that a revolt was being considered. They had, therefore, increased their patrols on the Danube and sent more spies and agent provocateurs into Bulgarian areas, where they did considerable damage to the revolutionaries' infrastructure. They sought swift and complete independence through armed rebellion modeled after the uprising of the Serbs and Greeks, and they looked to Orthodox Russia and Serbia for support. The revolt of Bosnia and Herzegovina spurred the Bucharest-based Bulgarian revolutionaries into action. A Bulgarian uprising was hastily prepared to take advantage of Ottoman preoccupation, but it fizzled before it started. In the spring of 1876 another uprising erupted in the south-central Bulgarian lands. That event was even more haphazardly planned than the previous one. The rebels were ill-armed and disorganized. According to Dennis Hupchick "The ill-armed and disorganized rebels did little more than publicly rally, sing newly written patriotic songs, and butcher their mostly pacific Muslim neighbors." However, according to a report submitted to the British foreign office in 1877, "not one single Turkish woman or child" and only 46 "Turkish men" (who were "always armed") were reported killed by insurgents.

The Ottomans, lacking adequate regular troops because of the problems in the northwest, were compelled to use irregular Bashi-bazouk
Bashi-bazouk
A bashi-bazouk or bashibazouk was an irregular soldier of the Ottoman army...

s
to quell the Bulgarians. (May 11-June 9, 1876) Those irregulars mostly were drawn from Muslim inhabitants of the Bulgarian regions, many of whom were Circassian refugees expelled from the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 or Crimean Tatar
Crimean Tatars
Crimean Tatars or Crimeans are a Turkic ethnic group that originally resided in Crimea. They speak the Crimean Tatar language...

 refugees expelled during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

. Making little distinction between rebels and passive peasants, bashi-bazouks, true to their reputation, brutally suppressed the revolt, massacring up to 15,000 people in the process. Between a thousand and twelve hundred people, mostly women and children, took refuge in a church at Batak and were then burnt alive. Five thousand out of the seven thousand villagers of Batak "were put to death" According to some sources, both Batak and Perushtitsa, where the majority of the population was also massacred, had not participated in the rebellion. Many of the perpetrators of those massacres were latter decorated by the Ottoman high command

News of the massacres of Bulgarians filtered into Britain from missionaries, journalists, and diplomatic agents in the Balkans. The British press trumpeted the charge of "Bulgarian Horrors" reporting that thousands of defenceless Christian villagers had been slaughtered by fanatical Muslims. American missionaries estimated that as many as 15,000 Christians had been killed, and Bulgarian historians give estimates from 30,000 to 100,000.

International reaction to atrocities in Bulgaria


Word of the bashi-bazouks' atrocities filtered to the outside world by way of American-run Robert College located in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. The majority of the students were Bulgarian, and many received news of the events from their families back home. Soon the Western diplomatic community in Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 was abuzz with rumours, which eventually found their way into newspapers in the West. News stories about Ottoman Muslim atrocities against Christians that ignored the sufferings of the Muslims were particularly unwelcome in Britain, where Disraeli's government was committed to supporting the Ottomans in a situation already tense because of the ongoing Balkan crisis. An American journalist from Ohio, Januarius A. MacGahan
Januarius MacGahan
Januarius Aloysius MacGahan was an American journalist and war correspondent working for the New York Herald and the London Daily News...

, who happened to be in London at the time, was hired by the Liberal opposition's newspaper Daily News to report on the massacre stories firsthand.

MacGahan toured the stricken regions of the Bulgarian uprising, accompanied unofficially by Eugene Schuyler, a member of the American legation in Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, and officially by Walter Baring of the British legation, who was sent along by his superiors to whitewash any unpleasantness that might be uncovered. While the reports of both Americans confirmed the savagery of the Ottoman retribution, MacGahan's report, splashed across the Daily Newss front pages, galvanized British public opinion against Disraeli's pro-Ottoman policy. Most public support for the Ottomans melted when in early September the opposition leader, Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 published his
Bulgarian Horror and the Question of the East calling upon Britain to withdraw its support for Turkey. Hands tied by public pressure, Disraeli was forced to stand aside when Russia (where MacGahan's report had been circulated in translation) declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1877 with the publicly avowed goal of winning independence for the Bulgarians.

When the details became known in Europe, many dignitaries, including Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

, Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish writer and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s...

, Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

 and Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

 publicly condemned the Ottoman abuses in Bulgaria. In Britain, William Gladstone denounced the Turkish race as "the one great anti-human specimen of humanity" and proposed that Europe demand "the total withdrawal of the administrative rule of the Turk from Bulgaria, as well as, and even more than, from Herzegovina and from Bosnia."

The strongest reaction came from Russia. Widespread sympathy for the Bulgarian cause led to a nationwide surge in patriotism on a scale comparable with the one during the Patriotic War of 1812
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

. From autumn 1875, the movement to support the Bulgarian uprising involved all classes of Russian society. This was accompanied by sharp public discussions about Russian goals in this conflict: Slavophile
Slavophile
Slavophilia was an intellectual movement originating from 19th century that wanted the Russian Empire to be developed upon values and institutions derived from its early history. Slavophiles were especially opposed to the influences of Western Europe in Russia. There were also similar movements in...

s, led by Dostoevsky
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. He is best known for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov....

, saw in the impending war the chance to unite all Orthodox nations under Russia's helm, thus fulfilling what they believed was the historic mission of Russia, while their opponents, westerners, led by Turgenev
Ivan Turgenev
Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century...

, denied the importance of religion and believed that Russian goals should not be defense of Orthodoxy but liberation of Bulgaria.

A number of works by Russian painters and writers were dedicated to the Bulgarian uprising:
  • A painting by Konstantin Makovsky
    Konstantin Makovsky
    Konstantin Yegorovich Makovsky was an influential Russian painter, affiliated with the "Peredvizhniki ". Many of his historical paintings, such as The Russian Bride's Attire , showed an idealized view of Russian life of prior centuries...

    , 'The Bulgarian martyresses', depicted a scene of mass rape of Bulgarian women by Bashi-bazouks inside the desecrated Orthodox church.
  • Turgenev
    Ivan Turgenev
    Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev was a Russian novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His first major publication, a short story collection entitled A Sportsman's Sketches, is a milestone of Russian Realism, and his novel Fathers and Sons is regarded as one of the major works of 19th-century...

     in his poem 'Croquet at Windsor' accused Queen Victoria of tolerating Ottoman atrocities in Bulgaria;
  • Polonsky
    Yakov Polonsky
    Yakov Petrovich Polonsky was a leading Pushkinist poet who tried to uphold the waning traditions of Russian Romantic poetry during the heyday of realistic prose....

    's verse Bulgarian woman depicted the humiliation of a Bulgarian woman whose whole family was killed and who was taken into a harem, only to be further harassed by other concubines.

Serbo-Turkish War and diplomatic maneuvering



  • On June 30, 1876, Serbia
    Serbia
    Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

    , followed by Montenegro
    Montenegro
    Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

    , declared war on the Ottoman empire.
  • On July 8 Russia's Alexander II
    Alexander II of Russia
    Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

     and Prince Gorchakov met Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

    's Franz Joseph I
    Franz Joseph I of Austria
    Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

     and Count Andrássy in the Reichstadt
    Zákupy
    Zákupy is a town in the Česká Lípa District, Liberec Region of the Czech Republic. The number of inhabitants is 2,642.-History:The earliest preserved document where the city appears is from 1306....

     castle in Bohemia
    Bohemia
    Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

    . No written agreement was made, but during the discussions, Russia agreed to support Austrian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

    , in exchange, agreed to the return of Southern Bessarabia
    Bessarabia
    Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

     lost by Russia during the Crimean War
    Crimean War
    The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

    , and Russian annexation of the port of Batumi
    Batumi
    Batumi is a seaside city on the Black Sea coast and capital of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. Sometimes considered Georgia's second capital, with a population of 121,806 , Batumi serves as an important port and a commercial center. It is situated in a subtropical zone, rich in...

     on the east coast of the Black Sea
    Black Sea
    The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

    . Bulgaria was to become autonomous (independent, according to the Russian records).
  • In July–August, the ill-prepared and poorly equipped Serbian army helped by Russian volunteers failed to achieve offensive objectives but did manage to repulse the Ottoman offensive into Serbia, and on August 26, Serbia pleaded European powers to mediate in ending the war. A joint ultimatum by the European powers forced the Porte to give Serbia a one month truce and start peace negotiations. Turkish peace conditions however were refused by European powers as too harsh.
  • In early October, after the truce expired, the Turkish army resumed its offensive and the Serbian position quickly became desperate. As a result, on October 31, 1876 Russia issued an ultimatum requiring the Ottoman Empire to stop the hostilities and sign a new truce with Serbia within 48 hours. This was supported by the partial mobilization of the Russian army (up to 20 divisions). The Sultan accepted the conditions of the ultimatum.
  • To resolve the crisis, on December 11, 1876, the Constantinople Conference
    Constantinople Conference
    The 1876–1877 Constantinople Conference of the Great Powers was held in Constantinople from 23 December 1876 until 20 January 1877...

     of the Great Powers was opened in Constantinople
    Istanbul
    Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

     (to which the Turks were not invited). A compromise solution was negotiated, granting autonomy to Bulgaria
    Bulgaria
    Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

    , Bosnia and Herzegovina under the joint control of European powers. Turks, however, found a way to discredit the conference by announcing on December 23, the day the conference was closed, that a constitution
    First Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire)
    The First Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire was the period of constitutional monarchy from the promulgation of the Kanûn-ı Esâsî , written by members of the Young Ottomans, on 23 November 1876 until 13 February 1878...

     was adopted that declared equal rights for religious minorities within the empire, based on which the Ottoman Empire announced its decision to disregard the results of the conference.
  • On January 15, 1877, Russia and Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

     signed a written agreement confirming the results of an earlier oral agreement made at Reichstadt
    Reichstadt Agreement
    The Reichstadt agreement was an agreement made between the Austrian Empire and Russia in July 1876, who were at that time in an alliance with each other and Germany in the League of the Three Emperors, or Dreikaiserbund.- Terms of the agreement :...

     in July 1876. This assured Russia of the benevolent neutrality of Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary
    Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

     in the impending war. These terms meant that in case of war Russia would do the fighting and Austria would derive most of the advantage. Russia therefore made a final effort for a peaceful settlement.
  • On March 31, 1877, Russia persuaded the powers to sign the London Convention, which merely asked the Ottoman Empire to introduce those reforms which it had already proposed. The powers were to watch the operation of the reforms, and if conditions remained unsatisfactory they reserved the right "to declare that such a state of things would be incompatible with their interests and those of Europe in general". But the Turks felt themselves in a strong position and rejected the proposal on the grounds that it violated the Treaty of Paris.

Prosecution: the one-eyed and the blind


Russia
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 declared war on the Ottomans
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 on 24 April 1877 and its troops entered Romania through the newly built Eiffel Bridge
Eiffel Bridge, Ungheni
The Eiffel Bridge is a bridge over Prut and a checkpoint between Moldova and Romania. The bridge is located between Ungheni and Ungheni, Iaşi.- History :...

. The Prussian king Frederick II
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 had sarcastically remarked a century earlier that a war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia would be "a war between the one-eyed and the blind". This, however, was all too common a problem for contemporaneous warfare, from the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 to the Boer Wars.

On April 12, 1877, Romania gave permission to the Russian troops to pass through its territory to attack the Turks, resulting in Turkish bombardments of Romanian towns on the Danube. On May 10, 1877, the Principality of Romania, which was under formal Turkish rule, declared its independence.

At the beginning of the war, the outcome was far from obvious. The Russians could send a larger army into the Balkans: about 300,000 troops were within reach. The Ottomans had about 200,000 troops on the Balkan peninsula, of which about 100,000 were assigned to fortified garrisons, leaving about 100,000 for the army of operation. The Ottomans had the advantage of being fortified, complete command of the Black Sea, and patrol boats along the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 river. They also possessed superior arms, including new British and American-made rifles and German-made artillery.

In the event, however, the Ottomans usually resorted to passive defense, leaving the strategic initiative to the Russians who, after making some mistakes, found a winning strategy for the war.

The Ottoman military command in Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 made poor assumptions of Russian intentions. They decided that Russians would be too lazy to march along the Danube and cross it away from the delta, and would prefer the short way along the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 coast. This would be ignoring the fact that the coast had the strongest, best supplied and garrisoned Turkish fortresses. There was only one well manned fortress along the inner part of the river Danube, Vidin
Vidin
Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Serbia and Romania, and is also the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin...

. It was garrisoned only because the troops, led by Osman Pasha, had just taken part in defeating the Serbs in their recent war against the Ottoman Empire.

The Russian campaign was better planned, but it relied heavily on Turkish passivity. A crucial Russian mistake was sending too few troops initially; the Danube was crossed in June by an expeditionary force of about 185,000, which was slightly less than the combined Turkish forces in the Balkans (about 200,000). After setbacks in July (at Pleven
Pleven
Pleven is the seventh most populous city in Bulgaria. Located in the northern part of the country, it is the administrative centre of Pleven Province, as well as of the subordinate Pleven municipality...

 and Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora is the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, and a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province...

), the Russian military command realized it did not have the reserves to keep the offensive going and switched to a defensive posture. The Russians did not even have enough forces to blockade Pleven properly until late August, which effectively delayed the whole campaign for about two months.

Course of the war


At the start of the war, Russia and Romania destroyed all vessels along the Danube and mined
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

 the river, thus ensuring that Russian forces could cross the Danube at any point without resistance from the Ottoman navy
Ottoman Navy
The Ottoman Navy was established in the early 14th century. During its long existence it was involved in many conflicts; refer to list of Ottoman sieges and landings and list of Admirals in the Ottoman Empire for a brief chronology.- Pre-Ottoman:...

. The Ottoman command did not appreciate the significance of the Russians' actions. In June, a small Russian unit crossed the Danube close to the delta, at Galaţi
Galati
Galați is a city and municipality in Romania, the capital of Galați County. Located in the historical region of Moldavia, in the close vicinity of Brăila, Galați is the largest port and sea port on the Danube River and the second largest Romanian port....

, and marched towards Ruschuk, now known as Ruse
Rousse
Ruse is the fifth-largest city in Bulgaria. Ruse is situated in the northeastern part of the country, on the right bank of the Danube, opposite the Romanian city of Giurgiu, from the capital Sofia and from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast...

. This made the Ottomans even more confident that the big Russian force would come right through the middle of the Ottoman stronghold.

Under the direct command of Major-General Mikhail Ivanovich Dragomirov
Mikhail Ivanovich Dragomirov
Mikhail Ivanovich Dragomirov was a Russian general and military writer....

, on the night of 27/28 June 1877 (New Style - N.S.) the Russians constructed a pontoon bridge across the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 at Svishtov
Svishtov
Svishtov is a town in northern Bulgaria, located in Veliko Tarnovo Province on the right bank of the Danube river opposite the Romanian town of Zimnicea. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Svishtov Municipality...

. After a short battle in which the Russians suffered 812 killed and wounded, the Russian secured the opposing bank and drove off the Ottoman infantry brigade defending Svishtov. At this point the Russian force was divided into three parts: the Eastern Detachment under the command of Tsarevich Alexander Alexandrovich, the future Tsar Alexander III of Russia
Alexander III of Russia
Alexander Alexandrovich Romanov , historically remembered as Alexander III or Alexander the Peacemaker reigned as Emperor of Russia from until his death on .-Disposition:...

, assigned to capture the fortress of Ruschuk and cover the army's eastern flank; the Western Detachment, to capture the fortress of Nikopol, Bulgaria
Nikopol, Bulgaria
Nikopol is a town in northern Bulgaria, the administrative center of Nikopol municipality, part of Pleven Province, on the right bank of the Danube river, 4 km downstream from the mouth of the Osam river. It spreads at the foot of steep chalk cliffs along the Danube and up a narrow valley...

 and cover the army's western flank; and the Advance Detachment under Count Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko
Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko
Count Iosif Vladimirovich Romeyko-Gurko , also known as Joseph or Ossip Gourko, was a Russian Field Marshal prominent during the Russo-Turkish War ....

, which was assigned to quickly move via Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

 and penetrate the Balkan Mountains
Balkan Mountains
The Balkan mountain range is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on the border between Bulgaria and eastern Serbia eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea...

, the most significant barrier between the Danube and Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

.

Responding to the successful Russian crossing of the Danube, the Ottoman high command in Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 ordered Osman Nuri Paşa to advance west from Vidin
Vidin
Vidin is a port town on the southern bank of the Danube in northwestern Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Serbia and Romania, and is also the administrative centre of Vidin Province, as well as of the Metropolitan of Vidin...

 occupy the fortress of Nikopol
Nikopol, Bulgaria
Nikopol is a town in northern Bulgaria, the administrative center of Nikopol municipality, part of Pleven Province, on the right bank of the Danube river, 4 km downstream from the mouth of the Osam river. It spreads at the foot of steep chalk cliffs along the Danube and up a narrow valley...

, just west of the Russian crossing. On his way to Nikopol, Osman Pasha learned that the Russians had already captured the fortress and so moved to the crossroads town of Plevna (now known as Pleven
Pleven
Pleven is the seventh most populous city in Bulgaria. Located in the northern part of the country, it is the administrative centre of Pleven Province, as well as of the subordinate Pleven municipality...

), which he occupied with a force of approximately 15,000 on 19 July (N.S.). The Russians, approximately 9,000 under the command of General Schilder-Schuldner, reached Plevna early in the morning. Thus began the Siege of Plevna.
Osman Pasha organized a defense and repelled two Russian attacks with huge casualties on the Russian side. At that point, the sides were almost equal in numbers and the Russian army was very discouraged. Most analysts agree that a counter-attack would have allowed the Ottomans to gain control of, and destroy, the Russians' bridge. However, Osman Pasha had orders to stay fortified in Plevna, and so he did not leave that fortress.



Russia had no more troops to throw against Plevna, so the Russians besieged
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 it, and subsequently asked the Romanians to provide extra troops. Soon afterwards, Romanian forces crossed the Danube and joined the siege. On August 16, at Gorni-Studen, the armies (West Army group) around Plevna were placed under the command of the Romanian Prince Carol, aided by the Russian general Pavel Dmitrievich Zotov and the Romanian general Alexandru Cernat.

The Russians and the Romanians fought bravely to capture the redoubts around Pleven. The Romanians managed to hold the Grivitsa redoubt, that they had captured earlier, until the very end of the siege. The siege of Plevna (July–December 1877) turned to victory only after Russian and Romanian forces cut off all supply routes to the fortified Ottomans. With supplies running low, Osman Pasha made an attempt to break the Russian siege in the direction of Opanets. On December 9, the Ottomans silently emerged, in the dead of the night, threw bridges over the Vit River and crossed it, attacked on a 2 miles (3.2 km) front and broke through the first line of Russian trenches. Here they fought hand to hand and bayonet to bayonet, with little advantage to either side. Outnumbering the Ottomans almost 5 to 1, the Russians drove the Ottomans back across the Vit. Osman Pasha was wounded in the leg by a stray bullet, which killed his horse beneath him. Rumours of his death created panic. Making a brief stand, the Ottomans eventually found themselves driven back into the city, losing 5,000 men to the Russians' 2,000. The next day, Osman surrendered the city, the garrison, and his sword to the Romanian colonel Mihail Cerchez
Mihail Cerchez
Mihail Cristodulo Cerchez was a Romanian general. Rumours that he was of Circassian descent are based strictly on his family name and are counterintuitive to his anti-Turkish stance...

. He was treated honorably, but his troops perished in the snows by the thousand as they straggled off into captivity. The more seriously wounded were left behind in their camp hospitals, only to be murdered by the Bulgarians
Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

.

At this point Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, having finally secured monetary aid from Russia, declared war on the Ottoman Empire again. This time there were far fewer Russian officers in the Serbian army but this was more than offset by the experience gained from the 1876–1877 war. Under nominal command of prince Milan Obrenović (effective command was in hands of general Kosta Protić, the army chief of staff), the Serbian army
Serbian Army
-Objectives:The Serbian Army is responsible for:* deterring armed threats* defending Serbia's territory* participation in peacekeeping operations* providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief-Personnel:...

 went on offensive in what is now eastern south Serbia. A planned offensive into the Ottoman Sanjak of Novi Pazar
Sanjak of Novi Pazar
The Sanjak of Novi Pazar was an Ottoman sanjak that existed until the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 in the territory of present day Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo.-History:It was part of the Bosnia Vilayet and later Kosovo Vilayet and included...

 was called off due to strong diplomatic pressure from Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

, which wanted to prevent Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 and Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

 from coming into contact, and which had designs to spread Austria-Hungary's influence through the area. The Ottomans, outnumbered unlike two years before, mostly confined themselves to passive defence of fortified positions. By the end of hostilities the Serbs had liberated Ak-Palanka (today Bela Palanka
Bela Palanka
Bela Palanka is a town and municipality located in the Pirot District of south-east Serbia. According to 2011 census, the population of the town is 8,112, while population of the municipality is 12,051. In ancient times, the town was known as Remesiana...

), Pirot
Pirot
Pirot is a town and municipality located in south-eastern Serbia. According to 2011 census, the town has a total population of 38,432, while the population of the municipality is 57,911...

, Niš
Niš
Niš is the largest city of southern Serbia and third-largest city in Serbia . According to the data from 2011, the city of Niš has a population of 177,972 inhabitants, while the city municipality has a population of 257,867. The city covers an area of about 597 km2, including the urban area,...

 and Vranje
Vranje
Vranje is a city and municipality located in southern Serbia. In 2011 the city has total population of 82,782, while the urban area has 54,456...

.

Russians under Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko
Joseph Vladimirovich Gourko
Count Iosif Vladimirovich Romeyko-Gurko , also known as Joseph or Ossip Gourko, was a Russian Field Marshal prominent during the Russo-Turkish War ....

 succeeded in capturing the passes at the Stara Planina mountain, which were crucial for maneuvering. Next, both sides fought a series of battles for Shipka Pass
Battle of Shipka Pass
Four battles were fought between the Russian Empire, aided by Bulgarian volunteers known as Opalchentsi, and the Ottoman Empire for control over the vital Shipka Pass during the Russo-Turkish War...

. Gourko made several attacks on the Pass
Shipka Pass
Shipka Pass is a scenic mountain pass through the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. It marks the border between Stara Zagora province and Gabrovo province. The pass connects Gabrovo and Kazanlak. The pass is part of the Bulgarka Nature Park.The pass is 13 km by road north of the small town of...

 and eventually secured it. Ottoman troops spent much effort to recapture this important route, to use it to reinforce Osman Pasha in Pleven, but failed. Eventually Gourko led a final offensive that crushed the Ottomans around Shipka Pass. The Ottoman offensive against Shipka Pass is considered one of the major mistakes of the war, as other passes were virtually unguarded. At this time a huge number of Ottoman troops stayed fortified along the Black Sea coast and engaged in very few operations.

Besides the Romanian Army (which mobilized 130,000 men, losing 10,000 of them to this war), a strong Finnish
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

 contingent and more than 12,000 volunteer Bulgarian troops (Opalchenie) from the local Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n population as well as many
hajduk
Hajduk
Hajduk is a term most commonly referring to outlaws, highwaymen or freedom fighters in the Balkans, Central- and Eastern Europe....

detachments fought in the war on the side of the Russians. To express his gratitude to the Finnish battalion, the Tsar elevated the regiment on their return home to the name Old Guard Battalion, which they still hold.

The Caucasian Front



Stationed in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

 in Georgia
History of Georgia (country)
The nation of Georgia was first unified as a kingdom under the Bagrationi dynasty in the 9th to 10th century, arising from a number of predecessor states of ancient Colchis and Iberia...

 and Armenia
Russian Armenia
Russian Armenia is the period of Armenia's history under Russian rule beginning from 1829, when Eastern Armenia became part of the Russian Empire to the declaration of the Democratic Republic of Armenia in 1918...

 was the Russian Caucasus Corps, composed of approximately 75,000 men under the overall command of Grand Duke
Grand Duke
The title grand duke is used in Western Europe and particularly in Germanic countries for provincial sovereigns. Grand duke is of a protocolary rank below a king but higher than a sovereign duke. Grand duke is also the usual and established translation of grand prince in languages which do not...

 Michael Nikolaevich, Governor General of Caucasus
Viceroyalty of the Caucasus
The Viceroyalty of the Caucasus is a term used to denote the Imperial Russian administrative and political authority in the Caucasus region exercised through the offices of glavnoupravlyayushchiy and namestnik...

. The Russian force stood against an Ottoman army of 80,000 men led by General Ahmed Muhtar Pasha. While the Russian army was better prepared for the fighting in the region, it lagged behind technologically in certain areas such as heavy artillery and was outgunned, for example, by the superior Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

s artillery that Germany had supplied to the Ottomans.

Many of the Russian commanders under Michael Nikolaevich were of Armenian descent, including generals Beybut Shelkovnikov
Beybut Shelkovnikov
Shelkovnikov Beybut Martirosovich , was a Russian general of the imperial army.A descendant of an old Armenian noble house he was born in Nukhi . He participated in the Crimean War. In 1865 in the Northern Caucasus, and in 1876 he was appointed as the commander of the Black Sea region...

, Mikhail Loris-Melikov
Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov
Count Mikhail Tarielovich Loris-Melikov was a Russian-Armenian statesman, General of the Cavalry, and Adjutant General of H. I. M. Retinue....

, Ivan Lazarev and Arshak Ter-Ghukasov. It was the forces under Lieutenant-general Ter-Ghukasov, stationed near Yerevan
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

, who began the first assault into Ottoman territory by capturing the town of Bayazid
Dogubeyazit
Doğubeyazıt is a city and district of Ağrı Province of Turkey, and is Turkey's most eastern district, the border crossing to Iran. Elevation 1625 m. Area 2.383 km². Population 115.354 of which 69.447 live in the town of Doğubeyazıt, the remainder in the surrounding countryside...

 on April 27, 1877. Capitalizing on Ter-Ghukasov's victory in Bayazid, Russian forces advanced further, taking the region of Ardahan
Ardahan
Ardahan is a city in northeastern Turkey, near the Georgian border.-Ancient and medieval:In Ancient times the region was called Gogarene, which is assumed to derive from the name of Gugars, who were a Proto-Kartvelian tribe...

 on May 17; Russian units also besieged the city of Kars
Kars
Kars is a city in northeast Turkey and the capital of Kars Province. The population of the city is 73,826 as of 2010.-Etymology:As Chorzene, the town appears in Roman historiography as part of ancient Armenia...

 in the final week of May, although Ottoman reinforcements lifted the siege and drove them back. War conditions in western Armenia
Western Armenia
Western Armenia is a term, primarily used by Armenians, to refer to Armenian-inhabited areas of the Armenian Highland that were part of the Ottoman Empire and now are part of the Republic of Turkey....

 also reciprocated against the Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 population: in some areas, the Turks encouraged the Kurds to attack the Armenians and in Bayazit and Alashkert.

In February 1878, the Russians took Erzurum
Erzurum
Erzurum is a city in Turkey. It is the largest city, the capital of Erzurum Province. The city is situated 1757 meters above sea level. Erzurum had a population of 361,235 in the 2000 census. .Erzurum, known as "The Rock" in NATO code, served as NATO's southeastern-most air force post during the...

 without resistance. Although the Russians relinquished control over Erzerum to the Ottomans at the end the war, they took Ardahan
Ardahan
Ardahan is a city in northeastern Turkey, near the Georgian border.-Ancient and medieval:In Ancient times the region was called Gogarene, which is assumed to derive from the name of Gugars, who were a Proto-Kartvelian tribe...

, Kars
Kars
Kars is a city in northeast Turkey and the capital of Kars Province. The population of the city is 73,826 as of 2010.-Etymology:As Chorzene, the town appears in Roman historiography as part of ancient Armenia...

, Olti
Oltu
Oltu is a town and district of Erzurum Province in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. The mayor is İbrahim Ziyrek . The population is 19,969 .-History:...

, Sarighamish
Sarıkamış
Sarıkamış is a town and a district of Kars Province in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. The population is 17,860 as of 2010.The town sits in a valley and is surrounded by mountains, many of which are covered with pine forests. It has very long winters, with average of 7–8 ft of...

 and other regions into their possession and reconstituted them as parts of the Kars Oblast
Kars Oblast
Kars Oblast was one of Transcaucasian governorates of Russian Empire between 1878 and 1917. Its capital was in the city of Kars, presently in the Republic of Turkey. The governorate bordered with the Ottoman Empire, Batum Oblast, Tiflis Governorate, Erivan Governorate, and from 1883 to 1903 with...

.

Intervention by the Great Powers


Under pressure from the British, Russia accepted the truce offered by Ottoman Empire on January 31, 1878, but continued to move towards Constantinople
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

.

The British sent a fleet of battleships to intimidate Russia from entering the city, and Russian forces stopped at San Stefano. Eventually Russia entered into a settlement under the Treaty of San Stefano
Treaty of San Stefano
The Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano was a treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78...

 on March 3, by which the Ottoman Empire would recognize the independence of Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Montenegro
Montenegro
Montenegro Montenegrin: Crna Gora Црна Гора , meaning "Black Mountain") is a country located in Southeastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the south-west and is bordered by Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast and Albania to the...

, and the autonomy of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

.

Alarmed by the extension of Russian power into the Balkans, the Great Powers later forced modifications of the treaty in the Congress of Berlin
Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans...

. The main change here was that Bulgaria would be split, according to earlier agreements among the Great Powers that precluded the creation of a large new Slavic state: the northern and eastern parts to become principalities as before (Principality of Bulgaria
Principality of Bulgaria
The Principality of Bulgaria was a self-governing entity created as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. The preliminary treaty of San Stefano between the Russian Empire and the Porte , on March 3, had originally proposed a significantly larger Bulgarian territory: its...

 and Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia was an administratively autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire and Principality of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1908. It was under full Bulgarian control from 1885 on, when it willingly united with the tributary Principality of Bulgaria after a bloodless revolution...

), though with different governors; and the Macedonian region, originally part of Bulgaria under San Stefano, would return to direct Ottoman administration.

Effects on Bulgaria's Muslim and Christian population



The estimates of Muslim civilian casualties during the war range from possibly tens of thousands to 260,000 to 262,000 Muslims, almost entirely Turkish, according to the American historian Justin A. McCarthy, who is widely considered to have pro-Turkish views. The perpetrators of those massacres are also disputed, with McCarthy claiming that they were carried out by Russian soldiers, Cossacks as well as Bulgarian volunteers and villagers, while they were few civilian casualties in battle, while James J. Reid claims that Circassians, were significantly responsible for the refugee flow, that there were civilian casualties from battle and even that the Ottoman army was responsible for casualties among the Muslim population.
According to John Joseph the Russian troops made frequent massacres of Turkish peasants to prevent them distrupting their supply and troop movements. During the disputed Harmanli Massacre
Harmanli Massacre
Harmanli massacre refers to the massacre of Muslims in Harmanli by Russian troops in 1878.During the Russo-Turkish War .The number of victims numbered at least 2,000.- The Massacre :...

, it was claimed a huge group of Muslim refugees were attacked by the Russian army, as a result that thousands of Muslim refugees died and their goods plundered.
The correspondent of the Daily News describes as an eyewitness the burning of 4 or 5 Turkish villages by the Russian troops in response of the Turks firing at the Russians from the villages, instead of behind rocks or trees.
The number of Muslim refugees is estimated by R.J.Crampton as 130,000, while McCarthy estimates that the total was 515,000, almost all Turkish.
Richard C. Frucht estimates that only half (700,000) of the prewar Muslim population remained after the war, 216,000 had died and the rest emigrated.
Douglas Arthur Howard estimates that half the 1,5 million Muslims, most part Turks in prewar Bulgaria had disappeared by 1879. 200,000 had died, the rest became permanently refugees in Ottoman territories.
However, it should be noted that according to one estimate, the total population of Bulgaria in its postwar borders was about 2800 thousands in 1871, while according to official censuses, the total population was 2823 thousands in 1880/1881.

During the conflict a number of Muslim buildings and cultural centres were destroyed. A large library of old Turkish books was destroyed when a mosque in Turnovo was burned in 1877. Most mosques in Sofia perished, seven of them destroyed in one night in December 1878 when a thunderstorm masked the noise of the explosions arranged by Russian military engineers."

Тhe Christian population, especially in the initial stages of the war, that found itself in the path of the Ottoman armies also suffered greatly.

This was particularly true after the July battle around Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora is the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, and a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province...

 when Gurko's forces had to retreat back to the Shipka pass. In the aftermath of the battle Suleiman Pasha burned down the town of Stara Zagora which by that time was one of the largest towns in the Bulgarian lands.
He also established in the whole valley of the Maritsa
Maritsa
The Maritsa or Evros , ) is, with a length of 480 km, the longest river that runs solely in the interior of the Balkans. It has its origin in the Rila Mountains in Western Bulgaria, flowing southeast between the Balkan and Rhodope Mountains, past Plovdiv and Parvomay to Edirne, Turkey...

 river a system of hanging at the street corners of every Bulgarian who had in any way assisted the Russians, but even villages who had not assisted the Russians were destroyed and their inhabitants massacred As a result as many as 100,000 civilian Bulgarians fled north to the Russian occupied territories. Later on in the campaign the Ottoman forces planned to burn
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 the town of Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

 after Gurko had managed to overcome their resistance in the passes of Western part of the Balkan Mountains
Balkan Mountains
The Balkan mountain range is a mountain range in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkan range runs 560 km from the Vrashka Chuka Peak on the border between Bulgaria and eastern Serbia eastward through central Bulgaria to Cape Emine on the Black Sea...

. Bulgarian historians claim that 30000 civilian Bulgarians were killed during the war, of which two thirds in the Stara Zagora area
Only the refusal of the Italian Consul Vito Positano
Vito Positano
Vittorio Positano, popularly known as Vito Positano was an early Italian diplomat known for saving the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia from burning during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878....

, the French Vice Consul Léandre François René le Gay and the Austro–Hungarian Vice Consul to leave Sofia prevented that from happening. After the Ottoman retreat, Positano even organized armed detachments to protect the population from marauders
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

 (regular Ottoman Army deserters, bashi-bazouk
Bashi-bazouk
A bashi-bazouk or bashibazouk was an irregular soldier of the Ottoman army...

s and Circassians).

Effects on Bulgaria's Jewish population


Many Jewish communities in their entirety were forced to flee with the retreating Turks as their protectors. The Bulletins de l'Alliance Israelite Universelle reported that thousands of Bulgarian Jews found refuge at the Ottoman capital of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 (Istanbul).

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement



This war caused a division in the emblems of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

 which continues to this day. Both Russia and the Ottoman Empire had signed the First Geneva Convention
First Geneva Convention
The First Geneva Convention, for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, is one of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It defines "the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts." It was first adopted...

 (1864), which made the Red Cross, a color reversal of the flag
Flag of Switzerland
The flag of Switzerland consists of a red flag with a white cross in the centre. It is one of only two square sovereign-state flags, the other being the flag of the Vatican City...

 of neutral Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, the sole emblem of protection for military medical personnel and facilities. However, during this war the cross instead reminded the Ottomans of the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

; so they elected to replace the cross with the Red Crescent instead. This ultimately became the symbol of the Movement's national societies in most Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 countries, and was ratified as an emblem of protection by later Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 in 1929 and again in 1949 (the current version).

Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, which neighbors both countries, considered them to be rivals, and probably considered the Red Crescent in particular to be an Ottoman symbol; except for the Red Crescent being centered and without a star, it is a color reversal of the Ottoman flag
Ottoman Flag
The term Ottoman flag refers to any of the flags used by the ruling Sultans of the Ottoman Dynasty. Various flags were used within the Ottoman Empire during its existence, and the sultan also used different personal flags on different occasions of state...

 (and the modern Turkish flag
Flag of Turkey
The flag of Turkey is a red flag with a white crescent moon and a star in its centre. The flag is called Ayyıldız or Albayrak . The Turkish flag is referred to as Alsancak in the Turkish National Anthem....

). This appears to have led to their national society in the Movement being initially known as the Red Lion and Sun Society
Red Lion and Sun Society
The Red Lion and Sun Society of Iran was established in 1922 and admitted to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in 1923...

, using a red version of The Lion and Sun
The Lion and Sun
The Lion and Sun is one of the emblems of Iran, and between 1846 and 1979 was an element in Iran's national flag. The motif, which illustrates ancient and modern Iranian traditions, became a popular symbol in Iran in the 12th century The lion and sun symbol is based largely on astronomical and...

, a traditional Iranian symbol. After the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 of 1979, Iran switched to the Red Crescent, but the Geneva Conventions continue to recognize the Red Lion and Sun as an emblem of protection.

The impact of this division later led to the Magen David Adom
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Star of David"...

 controversy, which was resolved partly through the addition of yet another emblem of protection, the Red Crystal, by Protocol III
Protocol III
Protocol III is a 2005 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem. This protective sign may be displayed by medical and religious personnel at times of war, instead of the traditional Red Cross or Red Crescent symbols...

.

See also

  • Battles of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)
  • Ottoman fleet organisation during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877–78
  • Harmanli Massacre
    Harmanli Massacre
    Harmanli massacre refers to the massacre of Muslims in Harmanli by Russian troops in 1878.During the Russo-Turkish War .The number of victims numbered at least 2,000.- The Massacre :...

  • History of the Balkans
    History of the Balkans
    The Balkans is an area of southeastern Europe situated at a major crossroads between mainland Europe and the Near East. The distinct identity and fragmentation of the Balkans owes much to its common and often violent history and to its very mountainous geography.-Neolithic:Archaeologists have...

  • "The Turkish Gambit
    The Turkish Gambit
    The Turkish Gambit is the second novel from the Erast Fandorin series of historical detective novels by Russian author Boris Akunin. It was published in Russia in 1998...

    "

External links


Online Chapter on the War, from the book "The Balkans Since 1453" by Stavrianos Virtual War, Virtual Journalism?: Russian Media Responses to ‘Balkan’ Entanglements in Historical Perspective, 1877-2001 by Steven J. Seegel, Brown University (USA) Military History: Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) Twenty Five Lectures On Modern Balkan History by Steven W. Sowards Russian website on the war The Romanian Army of the Russo-Turkish War 1877–1878 Text of the book Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and the Exploits of Liberators Image gallery for the war

Video links


130 years Liberation of Pleven (Plevna)