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Thread: Balkan Blues; the story of Serbia's struggle for supremacy

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    Last edited by gremlok; 06-10-2011 at 22:41.
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    Episode One – The Brutal Awakening (1836-1840)

    The Principality of Serbia had recently declared independence from its old overlord, the Ottoman Empire, and was enjoying the protection of Russia. A protection that seemed worth more on paper than in reality; surrounded by the Ottomans and Austria, Serbia was isolated, land-locked and on it’s own.



    The state of the nation was deplorable; only one of ten could read, the population was primarily made up of farmers, the economy based on grain and coal exports and no industry to speak of. Although resources were scarce, one thing the nation’s ruler, Prince Aleksandar Karadordevic, didn’t lack were ambitions and dreams. The desire to unite the Balkans and give rise to a great power to be reckoned with.



    Many ethnic Serbs were still living under the yoke of the Ottomans and even the Habsburgs. The prince felt many of the surrounding areas truly belonged to Serbia, notably Slavonia to the north and South Serbia and North Macedonia to the south. But many more Serbs living in Bosnia, Montenegro and even Croatia would hopefully also one day be part of a greater and stronger Serbia. But any aspirations would require a powerful army and the standing army of 2 brigades would hardly inspire fear in the hearts of the enemies.

    Undiscouraged the prince set many things in motion, starting with an alliance with Russia and putting the Nationalist party in charge of the government. A cement factory was commissioned and the principalities budget was balanced to produce a meager surplus. The prince also rounded up all of the best minds of Serbia and ordered them to research better methods for trading. Everyone had to contribute to the best of their abilities, so when beer halls started to sprout up across the country the prince had to set the foot down hard – Serbia was a nation of hardworking citizens, not drunks!



    For almost two years life went on undisturbed, until Spain nudged the Ottoman Empire away from the position as Great Power, which in November 1837 triggered the first of many Russo-Turkish wars.



    A call from Russia to join the war against the Ottomans resulted in jubilations in the streets of Belgrade, and the price gave in to popular pressure. All of Serbia was convinced the time to reclaim lost lands had come! With the might Russian army, twice the size of the Turks, this would surely be over by Christmas. Serbia was at war, surrounded by enemies, but confident and allied with two of the world’s most powerful countries, Russia and United Kingdom.



    Then reality set in and two months into the war Ottoman troops had swarmed into Russia and Serbia. The Serb strategy had been simple; wait for the English and Russians. So general Horatovic deployed his brigades in the defense of Belgrade until the expected reinforcements would arrive............which they never did.



    Instead the Turks marched on the capital and on Feb 5, 1838 the Serb army suffered a terrible defeat and was routed.



    As Belgrade came under siege the price called for a general mobilization, swelling the ranks with another 2 brigades. As there were still no friendly troops in sight the price had to act before all would be lost and Serbia would once again be part of the Ottoman Empire. As the Serb army regrouped in the Bosnian forests the order was given – march on Montenegro! The small enclave of Montenegro, made up 100% of Serbian people, was formally declared war upon in February, while Serb diplomats in secrecy met with their Ottoman counterparts and brokered a white peace. The Serbian army crushed the lone Montenegrin brigade in Cetinje and in May Montenegro was annexed by Serbia, adding an impressive additional 10% to the population!



    As peace settled again the Serbs were coming to terms with realpolitik of the 19th century and it became clear to all that the road ahead would be long and arduous. Not surprisingly the Liberals won a landslide victory at the 1839 elections of the Upper House and several political reforms were introduced through 1839. This lead the way to a new Constitution and finally the government form changed to what the people referred to as ‘Prussian Constitutionalism’.



    In June 1839 the 1st Russo-Turkish War came to an end resulting in status quo. Clearly the Russians had underestimated the Turks, something that caused concerns in Belgrade; if the Russians couldn’t defeat the Ottoman Empire, then how would Serbia ever realize its expansionist ambitions?



    To make matters worse, a border incident in January 1840 created heightened tensions and perhaps propelled Serbia once again onto the destructive path of war…….?
    Last edited by gremlok; 25-08-2011 at 09:24.
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  3. #3
    Keen to see how this turns out after I did a thing with Serbia, I think it was easier on the version I did wars between Prussia and Austria were more common.

    Did the Russians not turn up at all? I remember them basically swarming across the border when they were helping me out.
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    I remember Quacky's Serbian AAR. It's nice to see a new one, and with such a novel starting strategy (annexing Montenegro). I hope things go well, after this first defeat - it must have really hurt your soldier pops...
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    Good luck!

  7. #7
    Yep, good luck and very well written!! I will be following this.....

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    Very nice! My only question is why didn't you go for 1.4 official? Just curious. I will follow regardless!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quacky View Post
    Keen to see how this turns out after I did a thing with Serbia, I think it was easier on the version I did wars between Prussia and Austria were more common.

    Did the Russians not turn up at all? I remember them basically swarming across the border when they were helping me out.
    Quacky - Nope, the Russians were quite absent from the war they started. In Jan 1839 the Turks had managed to occupy a number of provinces around the Black Sea - the Russians failed miserably.



    Quote Originally Posted by Selzro View Post
    I remember Quacky's Serbian AAR. It's nice to see a new one, and with such a novel starting strategy (annexing Montenegro). I hope things go well, after this first defeat - it must have really hurt your soldier pops...
    Selzro - in hindsight (I am currently in the 1870's) annexing Montenegro was probably a mistake as it limits my options due to infamy. However out of frustration and a belief that I wouldn't be getting much for the next decade it seems like the right thing to do then

    King50000, Omen, rundtstedt2001 - thanks, I hope you'll enjoy


    Quote Originally Posted by Avindian View Post
    Very nice! My only question is why didn't you go for 1.4 official? Just curious. I will follow regardless!
    Avindian - that's a good question, somehow my game claims the 1.3 patch is still the most recent one. It's 1.4 still beta?
    Last edited by gremlok; 25-08-2011 at 09:31.
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  10. #10
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  11. #11
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    Episode Two - Rise to Prominence (1840-1845)

    War was not to come, at least not immediately. Instead focus was on developing the nascent industry, now counting a cement factory (albeit hardly operational) and another 2 factories under construction; one producing glass and another planned to export the finest wines ever tasted in the Balkans.

    However, the many reforms of 1839 had apparently infuriated certain elements of society and the Reactionaries seized all of the Upper House in 1840. The quickly led to a change of the ruling party, as the Absolutist took over and stayed in power for the next 4 years. Over the coming years the Upper House was constantly reshuffled without any ideology securing a majority.



    Diplomatically things took a surprising turn when France included the Ottoman Empire in the sphere of interest, followed by an alliance. As the Turks were still considered the prime enemy this was indeed bad news. In the meantime Prince Aleksandar had personally been leading a charm campaign aimed at the Habsburgs. Despite being rebuffed at several occasions, the Austrians finally succumbed to flattery and signed an alliance. Serbia could now count on two major powers in future conflicts – at least theoretically (a lesson learned during the infamous 1838 war)

    Despite significant incentives it was difficult to attract new soldiers to the armed forces, still suffering from low manpower since the massacre in Belgrade. To make things worse the province of Uzice was hit by Cholera, killing many potential recruits.



    On the bright side Serb scholars had made great strides towards improving the quality of education - consequently literacy was slightly improving although not as quickly as desired. Nevertheless the academia was asked to continue to privilege cultural subjects rather than those of a more industrial or commercial kind.



    Yet nothing lasts forever and in June 1844 Russia initiated the 2nd Russo-Turkish War, this time over the disputed Kars region. France sided with the Turks, but surprisingly Russia did not call upon Serbia, resulting in a collective sigh of relief throughout Serbia. It quickly became clear that the Russians did not repeat the same misstep as in 1838, as the armies from Wallachia and Moldova were routed and Russian troops moved in and seized Ottoman territory. In late September the war was going so well for Russia that Prince Aleksandar decided it would be now or never to strike back at the Ottomans – the Serb Conquest of Ottoman Montenegro began. This time, however, not the Russians but the Austrians came to Serbia’s aid and effectively taking leadership of the war. And France remained silent to Turkish calls for help.



    As most Ottoman troops were deployed far from the front quick gains were made. Austrian troops fanned out screening Serb troops, who did most of the besieging. Only at few occasions did Serb troops get involved in fighting, but always bolstered by superior Austrian brigades.



    By September the Turks were under severe pressure on all fronts, and several of their provinces had surrendered. Things were starting to look up for Serbia, which unsurprisingly triggered the discovery of Positivism followed by Neokantian Idealism. And despite the mounting casualties public mood turned towards Jingoism. Prince Karadordevic became bold and now also demanded South Serbia from Istanbul.



    During spring of 1846 Russian advances had caused so much concern in Paris, which prompted the French to accepted to hand over the Kars region to Russia. It’s probably worth to mention that the meagre French assistance had been limited to a few French frigates blockading Crimea.



    By late April a vast area of the Ottoman holding in Europe had fallen, and Serb troops were busy besieging Bosnia, while Austrian forces protected the flanks and even began to besiege Istanbul. Ottoman war fatigue was starting to show, no more reserves were available and the battles became more one-sided then ever before.



    Eventually the Turks were forced into submission, signing the Treaty of Vienna, accepting to hand over both Ottoman Montenegro and South Serbia, which became an integrated part of the Principality of Serbia. Not only did it more than double the total population, more importantly it gave Serbia access to the Mediterranean Sea and hence the rest of the World!

    Last edited by gremlok; 25-08-2011 at 09:25.
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    Good work! Now that you have a port, the world's your oyster! Too bad Spain already got Crete, though. And I suppose your infamy should be near the limit, since there's aren't any Serbian cores in Montenegro. But in any case, that was well played, pitting your future enemy (Austria) against your current enemy (Ottomans).
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    Episode Three – Colonial Ambitions and Intervention (1846-1858)

    During the post-war years the principality made efforts to balance the national budget and pay off on the loans that helped finance the last conflict. Tariffs were gradually eased off and the economy was eventually able to generate a small surplus. Exports were chiefly grain and glass, although the latter were primarily produced by local artisans rather than from the new glass factory in Uzice. Local authorities struggled to fill factories and productivity remained at an all-time low.



    Alarmingly the Ottoman Empire secured a military alliance with Prussia, although not a major threat is would serve as a reminder of the tireless work Turkish diplomats were doing across Europe. Other news from afar told of the British conquering large swaths of India and even taking a piece of China. However the news that got the most attention in Serbia that year was when Uzice was again struck by Cholera in November.




    By 1848 the Conservatives had established them as the de facto leader of the Upper House, much to the regret of the Price. No more reforms seemed to be possible in the near future. So instead his time was spent on building better relations with the United Kingdom, which led to an agreement allowing Serbia to use UK bases throughout their territory.



    This agreement would be instrumental for realizing the plans the prince had laid, however the lengthy negotiations in London and his absence from his office in Belgrade had a price. The Habsburger cancelled the previously so valuable alliance, and instead signed anther one with their enemies of yesteryear, the Ottomans! Oh shock, oh horror!



    In a rush to reaffirm Serbia’s loyalty to the Emperor of Russia (and thus their protection in the absence of the Austrians) a diplomatic mission was dispatched to Moscow in great haste. As it returned it told of the great endeavours the Russians had undertaken, climaxing with placing populous China in their sphere of interest!



    Eager to step out of the Russian shadow, Prince Aleksandar initiated his own quest for a global presence and in September 1849 he declared war on the Kingdom of Madagascar, the large island off Africa’s east coast. Having been able to refit ships and troops in British controlled southern Africa, the Serb army was in high spirits as it launched the assault on the island.



    Despite hostile terrain, which provided perfect conditions for the defenders, general Ojdanic quickly secured the coastal areas before marching inlands. At the battle of Fianarantsoa, Ojdanic, a know bigot, was rumored to proclaim ‘no quarters were to be given the heathens’ prior to the engagement, resulting in total slaughter. The Madagascan king shortly accepted to part with the southern part of the island.



    As the newly acquired territory was slowly being integrated locals were drafted for new brigades. New trade routes opened up as the special Madagascan wood began to be exported to the world market, generating a modest profit to the otherwise empty coffers. But that wasn’t the only thing that made it from Africa to Europe, and in late 1850 a terrible disease struck Serbia, causing widespread death and misery.



    To make matters worse was the widespread unemployment, as factories were constantly going broke – only the cement business seemed to be profitable. However there was no backing for reforms in the Upper House, nor the money to reduce taxes. So in an effort to quell rising social unrest, especially in the colonial possession, the Prince of Serbia commissioned private entrepreneurs to build the newly developed experimental railroad throughout the realm. That should keep people busy for a while!



    Nevertheless a general sense of malaise persisted in Ampanihy for years without Belgrade took any serious notice of this. As such, militancy in the colony rose steadily. At the same time more and more locals were drafter across the tropical island, and soon the bulk of the Serbian army was made up by colonial troops.



    In 1855 Serbia came close to conflict with the Netherlands, as one of their regiments was spotted on the southern coast of Madagascar. However after much negotiation with the Dutch ambassador an apology was finally accepted and the matter settled in peace. Evil tongues claim the Dutch had nothing of interest and so no reason to go to war. However war came sooner than later, as Prince Aleksandar continued his colonial ambitions and invaded Johore in Southeast Asia. Much like the conquest of Madagascar, Johore offered little resistance in the wake of the newly created Serb Expeditionary Force. After two years of fighting the small nation was annexed just as the Nationalist party took power in homeland Serbia.



    In June 1858 the Russian Empire managed to remove the Ottoman Empire from the sphere of influence of France, not raising many eyebrows in Belgrade. But shortly hereafter, one the very same day that proud Serb scientists could present the high & low pressure steam engine, the Russians invaded the Anatolian plains again, starting the 3rd Russo-Turkish War. Neither Prussia nor Austria responded favorably and broke off their alliances with Istanbul.



    The Serb chief of staff had for several years been complaining over the quality of the equipment of the armed forces, which had not secured any significant upgrades to weaponry nor military doctrines. Many of the European armies were now equipped with more modern rifles and artillery, whereas the Serbs didn’t even field cavalry. However the Prince of Serbia was feeling (overly)confident following the easy victories in Africa and Asia, and the army was made of up of a total of 9 infantry brigades. So in September 1858…….



    Caught off-guard, the few Turkish brigades were quickly disposed of and the state of North Macedonia, the Serb objective of the war, came under siege and fell hereafter. In February 1859 the front was stable and under control, while Russian troops were making their way down the western coast of the Black Sea while controlling most of the Giresun region. The Serb High Command was confident, although no major engagements had been fought. It was even discussed to broaden the scope of the war to include Bosnia also.



    But then something unexpected happened……

    Last edited by gremlok; 25-08-2011 at 09:26.
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    Looks like Big Brother has decided to come to his little brothers aid.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selzro View Post
    Good work! Now that you have a port, the world's your oyster! Too bad Spain already got Crete, though. And I suppose your infamy should be near the limit, since there's aren't any Serbian cores in Montenegro. But in any case, that was well played, pitting your future enemy (Austria) against your current enemy (Ottomans).
    Yes, access to the sea was the top on priority. As for the Austrians, you never know where you have them

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Santiago View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by King50000 View Post
    Looks like Big Brother has decided to come to his little brothers aid.
    Tell me about it. As you'll learn in the update they will be more active than in the previous war, with me being at the wrong end of the big stick.
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  17. #17
    What happened to the somewhat inconvenient Austro-Ottoman alliance? Looks like Ottomans are collapsing pretty fast anyway, you can just hope the French don't get land access to Serbia and put everyone in Ulcinj. With a bit of luck they get bored with the colonies and peace out.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quacky View Post
    What happened to the somewhat inconvenient Austro-Ottoman alliance? Looks like Ottomans are collapsing pretty fast anyway, you can just hope the French don't get land access to Serbia and put everyone in Ulcinj. With a bit of luck they get bored with the colonies and peace out.
    Both Prussia and Austria backed down.

    Not so sure France gets bored fast
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  19. #19
    France has an amazing tendency to get in the way of any sort of expansion in the Balkans. usually if I'm playing any country that's even remotely close to France I end up pulling all the stops to acquire Tunisia before France can - hence avoiding France getting a border with the turks.

    Still doesn't stop it sphering them sometimes but it delays them usually, and makes it easier to fight them.

    Great job so far though, can't wait to read more.
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  20. #20
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    Episode Four - The Calm Before the Storm (1859-1867)

    The French intervention was a serious blow to Serb plans, yet it remained to be seen how active the French would be. During their last intervention against Russia, no troops were committed just a few naval units on blockade duty. However a lone clipper, the ‘Zorana’, en route to Serbia from Africa was intercepted by an enemy squadron and sunk off the coast of Mauretania, along with the 3000 troops onboard.



    At least the war against the Ottoman Empire was going well. General Grujic won a decisive victory at the Battle of Bitola, although it was becoming clear that the quality of the Serbian army was inferior to that of the enemy.



    Another clipper bound for Africa was narrowly able to escape the same fate as the ‘Zorana’ and made it back to Ulcinj. However, the crew could tell of what seemed to be a large invasion fleet gathered outside Marseilles. Based on this information, the Prince of Serbia and the High Command convened at a secret location to discuss options. The map was terrifying to behold, enemies all around.



    Little is known of that meeting as no records of the discussions have ever been found. Rumour has it that the prince clashed with the chief of staff; the former wanted an end to the war, fearing for French troops inside Serbia, whereas the latter was confident an invasion could be repelled and the Turks were at the brink of surrender.

    What is certain though, is that shortly hereafter the French agreed to end the war ending in status quo. Serbian morale was at an all time low during spring of 1859.



    Later that same year, the Turks surrendered to the Russian, who acquired the Giresun region. Naturally Serbs felt let down and betrayed but the Russians but also by their own prince.

    A few months later Prince Aleksandar abdicated due to ‘health reasons’ handing over the reigns of the principality to prince Milos of the Obrenovic family.



    Once again diplomats were busy working behind the scenes, and in 1860 Serbia signed an alliance with mighty Krakow. This was quickly bested by the 2nd alliance between Austria and the Ottoman Empire. Several Viennese coffee parlors in Belgrade were looted and burned, while the Belgrade police happened to be at their annual summer pick-nick and unable to prevent this.



    Other events in 1860 was the outbreak of the American Civil War, the 2nd Sino-English War (from where the UK would emerge victorious and take a chunk out of western China) and Karl Marx publishing his Manifesto in Sweden, introducing the world to socialism.



    Great efforts to integrate Madagascar were made, and slowly more and more local bureaucrats were recruited and trained. Prince Milos was confident it would be only a matter of time before the Ampanihy region would become a fully-fledged state of Serbia.



    While much of the world was embroiled in war, the alpine state of Switzerland introduced some guidelines to making war more humane, also referred to as the ‘Geneva Convention’. Being a civilized country, Serbia naturally signed.



    Across Serbia factories were still struggling to attract workers and out put remained modest. Cement and wines remained the most profitable, but most income still came from artisans and raw materials. Unfortunately capitalists still didn’t have the technology for producing much sought after product, such as lumber, steel, furniture etc. However in 1861 wise heads discovered Empiricism, which would boost efforts in further research.



    By 1863 the Swedish ideas for a more just and equal society had become so popular in Serbia that a coalition of socialists and communists swept to power. The Upper House however, was still dominated by Conservatives and Liberals, so despite the desire for reforming the society things remained relatively unchanged,



    Shock waves went through the Serb Foreign Ministry as it became know that both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom had signed military alliances with the Ottoman Empire, who had displaced Sweden as a Great Power. This would make future action against Istanbul even more complicated. At the same time the American Civil War came to an end, at least for now.



    In a move to further consolidate Serb presence in SE Asia, the Sultanate of Brunei had long been looking as an interesting candidate for expansion. The swift Conquest of Brunei followed during spring and summer of 1863, culminating with the Battle of Brunei. Shortly hereafter the Sultan of Brunei would concede defeat and accepted to become a protectorate of Serbia.



    By the mid-1860’s things were calm across Europe, where the North German Federation had formed and swallowed parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. The Ottoman Empire had reclaimed the Ankara region from Egypt and would shortly hereafter also launch a war to reclaim Aleppo and the surrounding areas.



    Over the next few years Serb scholars would make a number of significant discoveries. However the focus would now be shifted to more mundane sciences, such as upgrading the flintlock rifle with the more modern Muzzle-loaded rifle. At the same time the literacy was still improving and money was flowing into the state coffers.



    But a closer look at dynamics of the Serb economy would reveal a worrying dependency of the overseas belongings. The top three grossing provinces were colonial, and only 3 of the top 10 were non-colonial. Factory output was still dwarfed by export of raw goods.



    During the extraordinary warm summer of 1866 tensions once again rose as a Serb merchant was apprehended by Turkish police, but on the wrong side of the border. This triggered a diplomatic incident, which would not go down unchallenged.



    Although eager to capitalize on this incident, the Prince of Serbia was reluctant to go to war against the Ottoman Empire and all of their allies; the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and especially of all Austria. Efforts were made to improve relations with the UK bringing the two nations closer together and hopefully make the British think twice before coming to the Ottoman’s help.

    And in April 1867 something happened that would change the situation……



    With Austria supposedly neutralized, excellent relations with Queen Victoria, and a Netherlands that had been seriously weakened, the time had come to strike again. The Serb Conquest of Bosnia had begun.

    Last edited by gremlok; 25-08-2011 at 09:27.
    My AAR's:
    -------------
    I would rather fight an alliance than be part of one - Napoleon
    I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

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