National Awakening and the Birth of Albania, 1876-1918
By the 1870s, the Sublime Porte's reforms aimed at checking the Ottoman Empire's disintegration had clearly failed. The image of the "Turkish yoke" had become fixed in the nationalist mythologies and psyches of the empire's Balkan peoples, and their march toward independence quickened. The Albanians, because of the preponderance of Muslims link with Islam and their internal social divisions, were the last of the Balkan peoples to develop a national consciousness, which was triggered by fears that the Ottoman Empire would lose its Albanian-populated lands to the emerging Balkan states--Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Greece. Albanian leaders formed the Prizren League in 1878, which pressed for territorial autonomy, and after decades of unrest a major uprising exploded in the Albanian-populated Ottoman territories in 1912, on the eve of the First Balkan War. When Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece laid claim to Albanian lands during the war, the Albanians declared independence, and the European Great Powers endorsed an independent Albania in 1913, after the Second Balkan War. The young state, however, collapsed within weeks of the outbreak of World War I.
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