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Balkan Wars

0 Comments 🕔05.Jul 2016

Balkan Wars: Habsburg Croatia, Ottoman Bosnia, and Venetian Dalmatia, 1499–1617, by James D. Tracy (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016).

James D. Tracy shows how the Ottoman advance across Europe stalled in the western Balkans, where three great powers confronted one another in three adjoining provinces: Habsburg Croatia, Ottoman Bosnia, and Venetian Dalmatia. Until about 1580, Bosnia was a platform for Ottoman expansion, and Croatia steadily lost territory, while Venice focused on protecting the Dalmatian harbors vital for its trade with the Ottoman east. But as Habsburg-Austrian elites coalesced behind military reforms, they stabilized Croatia’s frontier, while Bosnia shifted its attention to trade, and Habsburg raiders crossing Dalmatia heightened tensions with Venice. The period ended with a long inconclusive war between Habsburgs and Ottomans, and a brief inconclusive war between Austria and Venice. Based on rich primary research and a masterful synthesis of key studies, this book is the first English-language history of the early modern Western Balkans. More broadly, it brings out how the Ottomans and their European rivals conducted their wars in fundamentally different ways. Asultan’s commands were not negotiable, and Ottoman generals were held to a time-tested strategy for conquest. Habsburg sovereigns had to bargain with their elites, and it took elaborate processes of consultation to rally provincial estates behind common goals. In the end, government-by-consensus was able to withstand government-by-command.

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