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Britain, the Albanian question and the demise of the Ottoman Empire 1876-1914

Britain, the Albanian question and the demise of the Ottoman Empire 1876-1914
Daut Dauti


School of History, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UNITED KINGDOM.


This thesis is based on a wide range of primary and secondary sources and explores British policy towards the development of the Albanian national movement and the parallel demise of the Ottoman Empire. It pursues three major objectives.

Firstly, it argues that during the period under discussion (1876-1914) Britain had only a limited involvement in the Albanian Question because of a lack of any major interest in Albania. This changed only during the various political crises and wars in the Balkans. In the context of such events, the British aimed to maintain the status quo in the region and secure their interests in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, mainly by preserving Ottoman rule. There was a significant difference between Liberal, Gladstonian views towards the Balkans and Albania, and Conservative views, which were mainly created by Disraeli. British Liberalism had a long-standing influence on the way the Ottomans and the Albanians were viewed and showed partiality towards Christians in the region. The Albanians did not fit neatly into this Liberal framework, namely due to their multi-religiosity and a certain liberal partiality towards Christians.

Secondly, this thesis argues that although Albanian nationalism was born in the early nineteenth century, it only grew significantly after 1878 as a result of the changes that were introduced by the San Stefano Treaty and the Congress of Berlin. Given the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, Albanian nationalist leaders believed that the Porte could not offer Albania sufficient protection against the territorial desires of neighbouring Balkan states like Greece, Montenegro and Serbia. Albanians therefore hoped to win British support and protection against the aggressive designs of their neighbours.

The third major objective is to analyse the role of the Albanian insurrections in 1908, 1909, 1911 and 1912, and other important events in the lead-up to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This thesis argues that Albania achieved independence due to a number of interlinking factors: as a result of Albanian nationalism, as a consequence of the Balkan Wars, as a result of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and lastly also as a consequence of British involvement, as shown during the conference of London in 1912 where an Albanian national state was finally created.