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In this section we set out a brief history of warfare in the Balkans until 1453.

The sources for most of this period are limited and consequently are open to several interpretations. In the Balkans, with the fierce nationalistic position taken by a number of national historians, this is a particular problem. None the less there are reliable historians who have done much to bring this subject to the general reader and this is reflected in the BMH bibliography.

The aim of this section is to provide an introductory guide to the history of warfare in the Balkans. It is primarily aimed at wargamers although I hope it may also appeal to general readers interested in this fascinating part of Europe.

 For the military historian and wargamer the Balkans have a particular fascination. There can be few parts of Europe where warfare has been such a recurring historical theme. Of course political, social and economic factors are important to our understanding of the area, but it is warfare which has been the dominant feature.

 It is an area which has been influenced, often unwillingly, by many of the great Western and Eastern empires who will frequently impinge on our story. In ancient times the Greeks and Romans followed by massive barbarian invasions. Medieval Byzantium lead to the dominant influence of the Ottoman Empire. It was the decline of that empire from the eighteenth century that brought the Habsburg and Russian empires into the region. Finally in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the modern Balkan states emerge. At various times other European states play an important role including France, Germany, Italy and Britain.

 My own interest goes back some years and has been fuelled by contacts with others from around the world, greatly assisted by the internet. This interest has resulted in an ever growing collection of books, figures and other resources on the subject. I would wish to pay  particular thanks to the many people I have met during my visits to the Balkans. The friendly and helpful responses to my many enquiries have been an inspiration.

 In an introductory guide the treatment of particular periods must of necessity be somewhat superficial. However, I have provided directions to resources for further study and I welcome comments and enquiries from those with an interest in this subject. I hope this introduction whets your appetite.

Dave Watson

Editor: Balkan Military History


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