Pan-Slavism 1848-1918

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Kim, Yuna
Term Paper, AP European History Class, December 2007

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
I.1 The Emergence of Pan-Slavism
I.2 The History of Pan-Slavism
II. Austro-Slavism and the First Pan-Slavic Congress of 1848
II.1 Austro-Slavism
II.2 The Establishment of the Congress
II.3 The Congress
II.4 Collapse of the Holy Alliance
III. Southern Slavs and Pan-Slavism after 1848
III.1 Southern Slavs
III.2 Russo-Austrian Rivalry and the development of Pan-Slavism
III.3 The First Balkan War 1912
IV. World War I, the Creation of the Kingdom of SHS (Yugoslavia) and the Independence of Czechoslovakia
IV.1 Pan-Slavism versus Pan-Germanism; the start of WWI
IV.2 The Role of Pan-Slavism in WWI
IV.2.1 The Serbian Army and the Yugoslav Legions
IV.2.2 The Treaty of London, 1915
IV.2.3 The Formation of Yugoslav Committee, 1915
IV.2.4 The Austrian Parliament, 1917.
IV.3 Consequences of WWI regarding Pan-Slavism
IV.3.1 Formation of the Kingdom of SHS (Yugoslavia)
IV.3.2 Independence of Czechoslovakia
V. Conclusion
VI. Notes
VII. Bbliography

I. Introduction

I.1 The Emergence of Pan-Slavism
            The concept of Pan-Slavism was first formulated in about the 16th century. However it was the effects of the French Revolution that broadened the concept of Pan-Slavism. The French Revolution has immensely influenced the course of history. The revolutionary ideas of the French Revolution, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," spread out across the whole of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. Pan-Slavism, also like Pan-Germanism, grew from the sense of unity and nationalism which was prevailing within various ethnic groups under the domination of France during the Napoleonic Wars. This wave of national identity was mostly strengthened by writers, poets, scientists and scholars. The case was identical with the Slavic groups. Like other Romantic nationalist movements, Slavic intellectuals and scholars in history, philology, and folklore actively encouraged shared identity of Slavs and the remembrance of their common ancestry. They strongly believed that with the unification of Slavic groups, they can attain worldly power and glory. As it is, Pan-Slavism itself sprang from the desire of the Slavic groups to unite, combine their forces, and prevail in the world as a group.

I.2 The History of Pan-Slavism
            In the late 18th century, the Slavic peoples looked upon Russia as the only independent Slavic state. As a result of Russian victories over Napoleon and the Turks, Slavic peoples viewed the Russian czarist absolutism as the ideal example of Slavic state. They saw only the favorable aspects of Russian absolutism that were beneficial and useful to their Slavic movements, not regarding the draw backs of harsh despotism of czarist absolutism. The anti-Ottoman policies and the relief of Turkish oppression on the Balkan countries of Russia also blindfolded the views of the Slavic groups. They did not realize the expansionist policies towards the Balkan countries of Russia. This hospitality towards the czarist absolutism and Russian aid to the Balkan Slavs strengthened the pro-czarist perception among the Czechs and Slovaks, too. However, the overwhelming majority of Slavic leaders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire remained loyal to the Habsburg monarchy. They, at that time, didn't want to escape from the Habsburg monarchy, but instead wanted to gain political autonomy within the realm of the Habsburg monarchy. Those who inclined towards czarist Russia were called Pan-Slavists, and those who favored the Austrian monarchy were named Austro-Slavs.
            However, there were many cases when the provisional government restored their stance after the revolutions. Opposed to the Austro-Slavs, some of the earliest manifestations of Pan-Slavic thought within the Habsburg Monarchy have been attributed to Adam Franz Kollar and Pavel Jozef Safarik. The movement, started by these two figures, began at the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. When the war ended, the European leaders sought to restore the pre-war status quo by a Conference, which is the Congress of Vienna. Austrian chair of the congress and at the same time the representative of Austria, Metternich, felt the threat of this status quo against Austria. While their subjects were composed of numerous ethnic groups most of the subjects were Slavs. He feared the situation where the Slav nationalists will demand independence from the Empire.
            Due to this fear, differences of opinions between the Habsburgs and Romanov over the East-European situation in the 19th century didn't affect the relations between the two monarchies. The gap of opinion did not lead to any conflict between the two groups. What is more, in 1815, these two great powers, as well as Prussia, signed a Treaty of Holy Alliance, confirmed by the Convention of Berlin 1833, to protect respectively the emperor and the czar against outside or inside attacks. The fear for internal revolutions demanding ethnic independence was the most urgent matter. For Emperor Franz I the alliance was a great opportunity to get close to the very influential Russian czar, along with the beneficial side effects of preparing for a possible antimonarchist revolt within Habsburg domain. Preoccupied by this notion, he paid little attention to Russia's expansionist policies and its focus to Balkan territories. At the time of the Berlin Convention 1833, the Emperor considered the Hungarians and its subject Slavs chief opponents of the Habsburg Empire. The fear of the anti-monarchist Hungarian nobility and Pan-Slavism were the chief factors causing the thought. Meanwhile, countering the alliance of Habsburgs, Russia and Prussia, Pan-Slavism, ironically, reinforced itself during the years.

II. Austro-Slavism and the First Pan-Slavic Congress of 1848

II.1 Austro-Slavism
            Austro-Slavism, as mentioned briefly above, is a political concept and program aimed to solve problems of Slavic peoples in Austria. The concept of Austro-Slavism was first proposed by Karel Havlicek Borovsky in 1846, opposed to the concept of pro-Russian Pan-Slavism. It was further developed into a complete political program by Czech politician Frantisek Palacky, who also held the First Pan-Slavic Congress of 1848. Austro-Slavism was mainly based on Slavic nations in the Austrian Empire.
            The First Pan-Slavic Congress discussed mainly the relationships between Slavic groups and Austria. In consequence, the Conference dealt mainly with Austro-Slavic issues, not the Pan-Slavic issues of the Southern Slavs. This conference further on held immense significance in that it triggered the formation of Austria-Hungary and in that it served as a starting point of the decline of Austro-Slavism

II.2 Establishment of the Congress
            Pan-Slavism developed over time leading up to the First Pan-Slavic Congress in 1848. Largely influenced by a revolution in Paris, February 1848, a revolution flared up in Hungary with the demands for democratization and maximum independence from Austria. This revolution is called the Hungarian War of Independence or The Hungarian Revolution of 1848. However, since, Hungarian nationality was increased to the pinnacle due to Magyarization at this time, the Hungarian government kept to put out unsatisfactory solutions for its constituting Slavic groups, especially Croats. Revolutionary atmosphere amounted.
            In Prague, Czechs refused to hold elections in the Bohemian lands for the Frankfurt Assembly which served to try to unite the German Confederation into a single nation-state in a liberal, constitutional, and democratic way. The Czechs also refused to send delegates to the Frankfurt Assembly. The first Pan-Slavic Congress was held at Prague in 1848 and presided over by an Austro-Slav Frantisek Palacky. The Congress was naturally confined to the Slavs under Austrian rule and was anti-Russian.

II.3 The Congress
            The Congress itself started with confusion. The goal of the Conference was unclear from the first place. Making the situation worse, the conference was composed of diverse groups. The conference met in three sections: Poles and Ukrainians; South Slavs; and Czecho-Slovaks. Of the total 340 delegates at the Congress, the Czecho-Slovak section showed the greatest participation with 237 Czecho-Slovaks. 42 South Slavs and 61 Poles-Ukrainians participated.
            The role of the Austria in the Slavic lives, whether the Slavs should preserve in the rule of Austria or preserve only themselves, was the major issue of the Congress. After fierce debates, an important statement came out of the conference towards the European nations. The statement strongly required no more oppression of Slavic people in Europe. However, they didn't seek to have adverse relationships with the rest of the Europe. Rather they wanted to have benign relationships and brotherhood with the rest of European countries, indicating some sort of unity among all of the Slav people of all Europe.
            The Congress was ended on June 12, when fighting broke out in the streets. Within the fighting, Alfred, Prince of Windischgrätz's wife was shot. In response to the loss, he showed firmness in quelling an armed outbreak of the Czech separatists, declaring martial law throughout Bohemia. This revolutionary end disgusted some delegates and Slav people in a sense; however, this conference held significance in that it was the first formalized discussion of the concept of Pan-Slavism, which later on also serves as the primary step for the larger Pan-Slavism throughout Europe.
            The Austro-Slav Palacky once proposed a federation of 8 national regions, with significant self-governance. However, after the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution, the plan became irrelevant. Austrian Empire transformed to Austria-Hungary in 1867 by the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, which was unpopular between the Slavic minorities. This Compromise further had the effect of weakening the position of Austro-Slavism.

II.4 The Collapse of the Holy Alliance
            The alliance solely confirmed with self-interest for all three countries was not promising from the first place. The alliance, which played a decisive role in the decline of Slavism in the Austria-Hungarian region, collapsed when Austria failed to pay back the Russian help in the Crimean War (1853-56). The Czar was helping Austria largely due to the fear of Hungarian revolutionaries and the Emperor was clinging to Russia with the same reason. With the defeat of Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the alliance lost its significance and soon broke up.

III. The Southern Slavs and Pan-Slavism after 1848

III.1 The Southern Slavs
            The Southern Slavs were some of the first to revolt against the Ottoman Empire when the Empire was agitating. In 1815, the Serbs gained realistic autonomy from the Ottomans. Almost immediately after when the autonomy was gained, the Serbs began to promote Pan-Slavism among the Southern Slavs not yet under Serbian rule. The Southern Slavic movement, on the other hand of Austro-Slavism, advocated the independence of the Slavs in Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. At that time, Russia was regarded as a reinforcing power for the Pan-Slavists since the new State of Serbia was too small to stand alone with the large empires of Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman. In this circumstance, the idea of Russia involving the Southern Slavic unity was favored.

III.2 The Russo-Austrian Rivalry and the development of Pan-Slavism
            With the San Stephano Peace Treaty of 1878, Berlin Congress confirmed the independence for Serbia, along with Rumania's and Bulgaria's. The Austrian side gained alliance from Britain and France which gave Austria Bosnia and Hercegovina. Russia's grievances accumulated. However, Russia didní»t accept the idea proposed by Bismarck who suggested dividing the Balkan peninsula into spheres of interests. Rivalry in the Balkan Peninsula between the two nations grew. For a while in the rivalry, Austria kept superiority. Now seeing the expansionist intensions of Russia, Serbia became dissatisfied with Russian foreign policy and made a secret turn to the Austro-Hungarian government. The alliance between Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia disturbed the Pan-Slavist politicians in its region. Consequently the antagonism worsened between Russia and the monarchy as well as between the Balkan constituents and the monarchy.
            Worsening the situation, in November, 1885, owing to a border incident, Serbia declared war on Bulgaria. The war ended with the victory of Bulgaria. Bulgarian politicians demanded the resignation of Prince Alexander Battenberg (who was pro-Russian), who had dissatisfied their expectations. They granted the throne to Ferdinand Koburg-Kohary (who was regarded pro-Austrian). This change of kings deepened the Russo-Austrian conflict. Czar Alexander III denied the recognition of Ferdinand until his death. By this diplomatic defeat Russia lost most of its influence in the Balkan region. However, with the turn of the century, Russia began to regain its position in the rivalry. The Balkan Alliance, forged in 1912 by Russian diplomacy, focused to free the still Turkish-occupied Balkan territories. Its member states were consisted of Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro.

III.3 The First Balkan War (1912)
            The First Balkan War was fought between the members of the Balkan League-Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro - and the Ottoman Empire. The War was a desire to liberate the Slavs from repressive policies of the Ottoman Empire. The War ended with a victory of the allies and was concluded by the Treaty of London. Turkey lost nearly all of its European territories in this Treaty. It was about this time that Albania was formed, and since the formation of Albania, Russia regained its dominance in the Balkan region. The First Balkan War demonstrated a full warfare, participated by the Great Powers also, cause by a racial conflict, more in specific, Pan-Slavism. The First Balkan Was had a consequent war, the Second Balkan War, and excited situations in the Balkan region due to the two wars made a preliminary announcement for World War I.

IV. World War I, the Creation of the Kingdom of SHS (Yugoslavia) and the Independence of Czecho-Slovakia

IV.1 Pan-Slavism versus Pan-Germanism; the Start of World War I
            The Balkan region starts to be described as an explosive warehouse after the Balkan Wars; the spark was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Ferdinand's death was attributed to a member of Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist society. Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia as a response to their dead heir. Pan-Slavism against the Austria-Hungary Empire triggered the first full-scale War in the whole world.

IV.2 The Role of Pan-Slavism in World War I
            Pan-Slavic contributions to the War itself can be divided in four categories.

IV.2.1 The Serbian Army and the Yugoslav Legions
            The Serbian Army. The Serbian army drove the Austrians back across the frontier in 1914. It also played an important role in holding the Salonica front. During the War, captured Slavic soldiers were asked to fight against Austrian Empire, and some actually did. These soldiers were called Yugoslav Legions. The Yugoslav Legions were organized from 1915 in Russia by volunteers among P.O.W.s, many of them Czechs and Slovaks. Their purpose of fighting and participating in the war was to help the Entente and win their support to the creation of an independent country of Czechoslovakia.

IV.2.2 The Treaty of London, 1915
            The Treaty of London was a secret pact between Italy and the Triple Entente. It was signed by the Kingdom of Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Russia. According to the pact, Italy was to leave the Triple Alliance and join the Triple Entente. The Triple Entente, in return for Italy's entry on their side, gave Italy wide territories in Gorizia, Carniola, Istria and Dalmatia. These regions were heavily populated with Slovenes and Croats. The Yugoslav Legion, in 1918-1919, again fought against Italy to secure their people against Italian aggression.

IV.2.3 The Formation of Yugoslav Committee, 1915
            The Yugoslav committee was consisted of over twenty representative exiles from various regions within the monarchy. The committee made London as its headquarter and worked for the independence of Slavic people in the Habsburgs realm.

IV.2.4 The Austrian Parliament, 1917
            The Austrian Parliament in 1917 discussed the situation of the Croats and Slovenes in Austria. The Slav representative argued for the union of the Yugoslav lands of the monarchy in a single free state. They demanded full independence from Austria and the inclusion of Serbia and Montenegro.

IV.3 Consequences of WWI regarding Pan-Slavism .

IV.3.1 The Formation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
            After the War ended by the Treaty of Versailles, the National Council of Bosnia-Herzegovina announced that it will have their unification. After the declaration, the central committee of the National Council met to decide its future actions. Srem declared its unification with Serbia, on the day after Novi Sad, Banat, Kacka and Karanja did. The following day Montenegro went through unification. Finally the committee agreed at a set of guidelines, demanding the creation of a Council of State that would include representatives form the National Council, the Yugoslav Committee and the legislatures of Serbia and Montenegro. The Council was to act as a provisional government temporarily with the election of a Constituent Assembly, which would decide on the form of the unified state by a majority of two-thirds. Allied commanders were insisting on the urgency of immediate unification as the only way to be granted international status of former Austria-Hungary. In an address in the name of the National Council of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, involved groups declared an unconditional desire for unification (1918). Also most of the populations involved to support the creation of some sort of Yugoslavia, including the yet semi-Austrian Croatia.
            In January 1919, representatives of a country Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes appeared at the Peace Conference in Paris (1919.) At the peace conference, it asserted itself as a member of the democratic world.

IV.3.2 The Independence of Czechoslovakia
            Meanwhile, the Czech and Slovaks sought for another independent country. The creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 was the result of the Czechs against their Austrian rulers and of the Slovaks against Magyarisation and their Hungarian rulers. Despite cultural differences from the long separation and wars, the Slovaks and Czechs shared similar willingness for independence from the Habsburg state. The two similar, but different ethnic groups voluntarily united with each other to form an independent state from Austria-Hungary.
            From this sentiment, during the War in 1916, Czechoslovak National Council was created. The Council worked during the war to gain Allied recognition as an independent state. Finally, the Allies recognized Czechoslovakia as an independent state in 1918, with the Allies' failure of secret talks with the Austrian Emperor Charles I.

V. Conclusion
            The original ideas of Pan-Slavism concluded itself with the end of World War I and formation of independent Slavic states. There is even a saying "Versailles and Trianon have put an end to all Slavism." After the First World War, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia went through further ethnic conflicts, with its temporal unification, the Second World War and Cold War era. Especially, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia are still experiencing grief from the former process of separation, democracy, and re-integration into a stable state.
            Looking back into how they fought as a heart-fully united force back in their history, their yet unhealed scars from their own civil wars seems to be against their past. The unsolved problem of Kosovo Conflicts and other ethnic issues appears to be holding the once pan-Slavs to further peace and development. Reminiscing the past unification and common the goal of Slavic power and glory, the Slavs is now to regain the common goal and pursue absence of war between each others, a Slavic peace.


Note : websites quoted below were visited in December 2007.
1.      Darby, H.C., R.W. Seton-Watson, Phyllis Auty, R.G.D. Laffan, and Stephen Clissold. A Short History of Yugoslavia. London: Cambridge UP, 1968.
2.      Djokic, Dejan, ed. Yugoslavism. London: The University of Wisconsin P, 2003.
3.      Goldstein, Ivo. Croatia: A History. London: McGill-Queen's UP, 1999.
4.      King, Jeremy. Budweisers into Czechs and Germans. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2002.
5.      Article : Austroslavism, from Wikipedia . 9 Aug 2007, .
6.      Article : Czechoslovak Legions. Wikipedia. 22 Nov 2007,
7.      The First Balkan War 1912-1913, from : Wars of the World. 16 Dec. 2000, .
8.      Article : Magyarization., from Wikipedia, 28 Nov 2007. .
9.      Kostya, Sandor. Pan-Slavism. Astor: Danubian Press, 1981. pp. 5-86. 5 Dec. 2007 .
10.      Article : Pan-Slavism, from, .
11.      Article : South Slavs., from Wikipedia, .
12.      Article : Treaty of London (1913). from Wikipedia, .
13.      Article : Yugoslavia, from Wikipedia, .

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