Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Crisis (1908-1909)


Map of modern Bosnia


The Bosnian Crisis (1908-1909) involved the annexation by the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the Balkan regions known as Bosnia and Herzegovina, which at the time were officially part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Annexation Crisis began on October 5, 1908, when Bulgaria declared its independence followed by the announcement by Austria-Hungary on October 6, 1908, that it was annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ottoman Empire protested this loss of its land, and Russia, Britain, Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, and France, and Germany all became involved in this crisis.

Serbia saw the annexation as a threat from Austria, and mobilized its army to respond to the perceived threat from Austria. The Turks, who had ruled Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bulgaria for hundreds of years, was understandably unhappy with the annexation and the independence of Bulgaria. Due to a steady decline in the Ottoman Empire's military and diplomatic powers over the past few generations, the Turks could do little more than protest and put in place a fairly useless economic boycott of Austrian trade. On February 20, 1909, Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans came to agreement on the annexation. The Ottomans accepted the Austrian takeover in exchange for a financial settlement. Bulgaria remained independent.

The annexation and Bulgarian declaration were seen by several of the Great Powers as violations of the 1878 Treaty of Berlin. France, Britain, Russia and Italy wanted to hold an international conference to settle the annexation crisis. Germany, allied to Austria, opposed any conference, preferring to let the matter be settled between Austria and Turkey. This event nearly led to an outbreak of a general war in Europe, which, had it broken out, could have pitted Germany and Austria against Serbia and Russia, at the very least.

In April, 1909 the Treaty of Berlin (1878) was amended to accept the new status quo bringing the crisis to an end. The crisis permanently damaged relations between Austria-Hungary on one hand and Russia and Serbia on the other. The annexation and reactions to the annexation were among the contributing causes of World War I.

Links and Resources on the Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Crisis (1908-1909):

Wars of 1909--A Historyguy.com page

The Bosnian Crisis of 1908-1909

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