Edited By Adela Elena Popa, Hasan Arslan, Mehmet Ali Icbay and Tomas Butvilas
Historiography on the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878): Between Continuity and Change
Introduction As for the 18th century, in the European literature, the epithets of “despotism and tyranny” were preferred for the Ottoman Empire in particular and for the East in general. With the accumulation of these epithets, a discourse was developed which accentuated the virtues of the Grand Nations of being “socialistic-humanistic,” “part in the right of self-determination of individuals and societies,” “defender of oppressed individuals and societies,” and especially being patrons of the oppressed Ottoman Christian subjects. The “European” virtues, which were mentioned in the letters and official writings delivered to Bâb-ı Âlî and in the newspaper articles, etc., formed the basis for demanding a compromise from the Ottoman State. Alexander II, in his manifest dated 12 (24) April 1877, stated that they decided to enter the war for the benefit of the oppressed Balkan Christian people because their (the Russians’) efforts driven by their sympathy and compassion for those Christians did not settle the matter amicably. With this declaration, which started the “93 War”, it can be said that the Tsar was the first historiographer of the war in the context of Russian historiography. We must remark that, in the text of the manifest, as he was explaining the reason for Russia’s engagement in war, Alexander II adhered to the “protective” discourse of Europe. It would have been uneasy in the year 1877 to digress from this discourse, which had been the norm in diplomacy throughout the 19th century, and it was unnecessary to do so either. The...
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