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  1  THE EASTERN QUESTION  Vijay kumar shankarappa-BYJUS   o   Eastern Question-Meaning o   Causes for the interest of various European powers in the Eastern Question o   Causes and results of the revolts of the Serbs and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire. o   Causes and effects of the Crimean war and the Russo-Turkish war Introduction: -The problems arising out of Turkey becoming the sick man of Europe are known as the Eastern question. -The involvement of major European powers like Russia, Austria, England and France in the problems of the Turkish empire resulted in the Crimean war and the Russo-Turkish war. -The developments connected with the Eastern question, paved-the way for World  War I. MEANING OF EASTERN QUESTION -European historians divide the Eastern regions of the world into three parts-the Far East, the Middle East and the Near East. -When we speak of the Eastern Question, we mean the problems of the Near - East. i.e. the region comprising the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey. -The Balkan Peninsula is the south-eastern part of Europe with River Danube in the north,Aegean Sea in the South, Black Sea in the East, and Adriatic Sea in the West as its boundaries. -The eastern Question is also called the Balkan Problem. -In earlier times, it was the home of the Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Albanian races. -The people of this region were mostly Christians under the ruthless Turkish rule. -The Ottoman Empire began to decline towards the 18th Century. -Now the term, Eastern question, is generally applied to the problems dealing with the decline of the Turkish Empire, and the aspirations of her subject Christian nationalities of the Balkan Penisula for independence. -Lord Morley has described the Eastern Question as “ a shifting intractable and interwoven tangle of conflicting interests, rival peoples and antagonistic faiths . -The Eastern Question revolved round four important problems: (i) the decline of the Turkish Empire in Europe; (ii) the nationalist aspirations of the Balkan people;  2 (iii) rivalries of the European Powers with regard to the sharing of the Turkish spoils; and (iv) the divergent interests of the European powers. -According to Miller, the Eastern Question may be defined as the problem of filling up the vacuum created by the gradual disappearance of the Turkish Empire from Europe . RISE OF OTTOMAN TURKISH EMPIRE AND ITS STEADY DECLINE; PROBLEMS CONNECTED WITH IT -The Turks were a tribal people whose srcinal home was in Central Asia. -They had emigrated thence, during the Middle Ages as permanant settlers to Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt and particularly to Asia Minor. -They had adopted the Muslim religion of the populations among whom they settled. -One of the Turkish tribes which penetrated into Asia Minor had a chieftain, (circa, 1300 A.D.) whose name was Osman or Othman. -He assumed the title of emir (prince) of the Turks. -The Turks who were subject to Othman and his successors were henceforth called the'Ottoman Turks'. -Othman and his immediate successors were great warriors. -They conquered other Turkish tr i bes, and built up a powerful military State. -This growing State of the Ottoman Turks championed the cause of Islam, and renewed the struggle with Christendom for mastery of the Near East. -By the end of the 14th century, the Ottoman Turks had conquered the whole of  Asia Minor and south-eastern parts of Europe-Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece except Constantinople-and a few other parts. -The Ottoman Turks under Sultan Muhammad II,the ablest and the greatest of the Ottoman Sultans, captured Constantinople in 1453 A.D., which gave the final blow to the surviving Byzantine Roman Empire in the East. -Thus, the Eastern frontier town of Europe opened its gates to the Asiatic Turks  who occupied substantial parts of Europe. -Under Sultan Suleiman II (1520-1566), the Magnificent , the empire extended as far as Vienna. -The Turks controlled the entire Balkan Peninsula, Belgrade and Hungary. -When the Turks were at the height of their power during the 16th and 17th centuries, they ruled over the Balkans, Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Egypt and almost the whole of the north coast of Africa.  3 -However, by the end of 17th century, the vast Ottoman Turkish Empire began to disintegrate, when it lost Hungary to Austria in 1699. -During the 18th century, their power began to decline rapidly. -The central government was so weak that it was unable to control the governors of the most distant regions. -In fact, some of the north coastal African provinces remained only nominally subject to the Sultan. -By 1815, Austria century, Turkey was regarded as the sick man of Europe . -In so far as the Balkans were concerned, several Christian races - Serbian, Greek, Bulgarian, Rumanian - were under the absolute and oppressive rule of the Sultan. -The Governors and the military officers were all Muslims. -The Turkish rule in the Balkans was characterized by occasional outbursts of  violence and large-scale massacre of the Christians in the Balkans. -But, owing to the gradual decline of the military power of the Turks, and the spirit of nationalism generated by the French Revolution, the subject people began to assert their independence. INTEREST OF EUROPEAN POWERS -When Turkey was in decline, the Christian nations in the Balkans made attempts to throw off the Turkish rule. -But, Turkey recovered from sickness,and crushed the Christians most brutally. -This roused the indignation of fellow Christians in Europe. -The great powers of Europe intervened less on account of their selfish imperialistic motives, turning the Balkans into an arena of international diplomacy and war. -This further complicated the problem. RUSSIA: -Russia intervenedin the Balkans for two reasons. i) The people of Russia and Balkan States belong to the same religion and race, i.e., Orthodox Catholic religion and Slav race. Russia acted as, a Big Brother to the Balkans, and claimed the right to protect them from the Turkish misrule. ii) Russia wanted an access to other European countries through the Mediterranean Sea, and hence sought a foothold in the Balkans. -During the reign of Peter, the Great (1689-1725), Russia succeeded in getting the control of Baltic Sea. -During the rule of Catherine, the Great (1762-96), Russia defeated Turkey, and through the Treaty of Kutchuk-Kainardji, Russia secured the control of Black Sea.  4 -This encouraged Russia to seek the control of the Straits in order to have a passage to the Mediterranean Sea. -Thus, Russia frequently intervened in this Balkan problem.  AUSTRIA -Austrian interests in the Balkan region were more important than those of Russia and others. -Austria was surrounded by different countries and had only a short coast line. -Lack of an extensive coastline made her a poor naval country. -The only access to sea for the Austrianempire to establish commercial contacts with other countries was through the river Danube. -Russia's hold on the Danube was detrimental to Austrian interests. - Further,the ‘ Pan-Slavism'inspired by Russia in the Balkans might prove harmful to the Austrian dynastic empire. -Hence,Austria's interest was to control Russian influence in the Balkans. ENGLAND:  -Britain was suspicious of Russian ambitions regarding Balkans and Turkey. -She considered Russia a serious menace to the British commercial interests in the East, and felt that hold of the Russian control over Turkey would weaken the British Empire in the colonies of the East. -Since the digging of the Suez Canal(1869), the conflict between England and Russia in this region had become aggravated. -Throughout the 19th century, England supported Turkey against Russia. -England supported the preservation of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, as it could check the Russian advance in the Balkan region. -It was the policy of England to keep Turkey strong in order to maintain the balance of power. FRANCE: -France also intervened in the Eastern Question due to commercial and religious issues. -She wanted to protect her own commercial contacts with the East. -She had been remaining aloof politically, as long as her naval and commercial positions in the Mediterranean were safe. ITALY & GERMANY: -On achieving unification of their respective countries, Italy and Germany also intervened in the Balkan problem in order to share the spoils.


Sep 10, 2019

PARAS - 1678

Sep 10, 2019
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