Le Petit Journal Bosnian Crisis Coverage (1908)

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The Balkans were thrown into crisis when Bulgaria declared independence and Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina. Le Petit Journal published this political cartoon on it cover showing Franz Joseph and King Ferdinand I taking land from Adul Hamid II. King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria timed the declaration of independence knowing Turkey would be too weak to react effectively.  The instability and weakness of the Ottoman Empire attracted European imperialists to take Turkish colonies. The erratic nature of the Balkans was the spark that would ignite World War I. Russia seeing that Austria-Hungary was gaining more territory vowed to ensure Serbia’s protection. The German Empire sided with Austria-Hungary as a counter to Russia. There was a ethnic hatred between Germanic and Slavic peoples that only got worse with Balkan instability. The Ottoman Empire was viewed as an enemy of the European continent in general, however the political situation changed. Adul Hamid II was losing power to the Young Turk revolution. The Ottoman Empire developed close relations with Germany as a means to modernize. France and the British Empire became more suspicious of Ottoman intentions. It was clear that France and the British Empire wanted to colonize Ottoman Middle East territory. To counter this Adul Hamid adopted a Pan-Islamist political ideology calling on Muslims in the Russian, French, and British imperial territories to revolt. Considering these strained relations, it was surprising World War I did not happen earlier.

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