Lothar Höbelt

University of Vienna

Balkan or Border Warfare? Glimpses from the Early Modern Period

“‘Balkan’ had become shorthand for a geographic area but also for a state of mind.”

Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers (London 2001), 121

Abstract: At the beginning of the early modern period, the concept of Europe did not yet exist. Religion, not politics or geography, was the defining criterion. It was Christendom that people referred to – not Europe – when they wanted to introduce the concept of burden-sharing. In military terms, differences between Oriental and Occidental empires were less obvious; if anything, the Ottomans seemed to have a head-start in terms of centralization and professionalism. It was not the impact of Ottoman rule as such that created the conditions for “Balkan warfare”. It was the unsettled character of the borders between “East” and “West” that gave rise to a form of low-intensity conflict that might be said to provide a foretaste of what came to be known as Balkan warfare.

Keywords: Balkan warfare, Early Modern period, Ottomans, Habsburgs, Venice