January 17, 2017

History of the Eastern Question

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. History of the Eastern Question is Number 15 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. As discussed in this work, “the Eastern question” concerns three major developments: the decadence of the Turkish Empire since the 18th century; the resulting encroachments by Russia and Austria on Turkish lands in Europe and the reactions they called forth by other European powers; and the rise of nationalism in the Turkish-ruled lands “and a desire, as opportunity offered, to throw off the Turkish yoke and to attain independence.” The book is in four parts. The first is a general history that briefly summarizes the foundation of the Balkan nationalities in ancient and Byzantine times and discusses the Turks in Europe, the advance of Russia, the rise of independent states, Bulgaria and Macedonia, and the Turkish revolution of 1908 and the events that followed from it. The second part is a set of general observations about popular opinion and national sentiment in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, and Turkey, followed by a discussion of future possibilities for pacification and reconciliation in the Balkans. The third part of the study is a detailed analysis of the historical and legal aspects of the Straits question, meaning the legal regime governing the rights of Turkey, other Black Sea littoral states, and non-Black Sea states to transit either merchant vessels or warships through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. The last section covers the Danube question, or the legal regimes governing navigation and international commerce on the Danube River as it makes its way from the territory of Austria-Hungary through a number of states to the Black Sea. The appendix contains the texts of passages relevant to the Eastern question in the most important treaties concluded between 1774 and 1913. A foldout table, intended as an explanation to the historical map, summarizes the treaties of 1812‒1918 affecting international boundaries in the Balkans.

The Congress of Vienna, 1814‒1815

In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. The Congress of Vienna, 1814‒1815 is Number 153 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The author of the study, Charles Webster (1886–1961), was a young historian serving in an intelligence section of the General Staff at the War Office, who had been seconded to the Foreign Office to advise on the postwar peace negotiations and to prepare a handbook on the Congress of Vienna. In his prewar academic work at Cambridge, Webster had specialized in 19th century diplomatic history. In the introduction, Webster writes that his object is to describe in some detail the negotiations of 1814 and 1815. “During these years, by a series of treaties concluded at Paris and Vienna, the frontiers of almost every country in Europe were to be redrawn, and the overseas possessions of the Continental Powers were to be reallotted on a new basis. The military despotism of Napoleon had completely transformed Europe, while the French, Dutch and Danish colonies had been conquered by Great Britain. The destruction of the Napoleonic Empire, therefore, necessitated both the construction of a new Europe and a new distribution of colonial power; the parallel between the problems of that age and those of the present day is in some respects an exceedingly close one.” The book is in four parts, dealing with the preparation, organization, work, and completion of the congress. The appendices include the texts of a number of important documents reproduced from the archives bearing on the organization and conduct of the congress. A foldout map shows the states of Europe and compares the borders of 1792 with those of 1815. Later published by Oxford University Press, Webster’s book became a classic. Along with his other works, it effectively rehabilitated the reputation of Lord Castlereagh as one of the major figures of British foreign policy and had great influence on such later scholars and diplomatic practitioners as former Harvard University professor and U.S. secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger.

Biscuit Tin Bible

Ekitabo ekitukuvu ekya Katonda, kyebayita Baibuli ye Ndagano enkade nempya ekyakyusibwa mu Luganda (The Holy Book of God, called the Bible of the Old and New Testaments, translated into Luganda), also known as the “Biscuit Tin Bible,” is the first translation of the Bible into Luganda, the language of the Baganda, the largest ethnic group in present-day Uganda. The translation was made in Buganda through the combined efforts of the missionaries of the Church Missionary Society of England and new Baganda Christian converts. British missionaries began arriving in Uganda in the late 19th century with the aim of converting the population to Christianity. Eager to provide the Baganda with access to the Bible in their own language, they had the translation made from a Swahili version over the six-year period up to 1896. The first books to be translated were the four Gospels, which were completed in 1890 by the Reverend Alexander Mackay, then head of the Protestant mission in Buganda, and his Baganda converts. Mackay’s colleague, the Reverend R.D. Ashe, had the Gospel of John printed in 1891 in England. George William Pilkington, an Irish Protestant missionary who arrived in Buganda in 1891, was assigned the task of completing the translation. Pilkington was an enthusiastic linguist who had learned a considerable amount of Luganda on the long trek to Uganda from the Indian Ocean coast. In Buganda, 17 men and 14 women worked on the translations in 1891. Pilkington and Henry Wright Dutamaguzi (Duta), a Muganda, translated the Acts, the Epistles of Saint Paul, and the book of Revelation. The Acts were published in Britain in 1892. An edition that combined the Gospels and Acts in one volume also was published. By 1893 a complete single-volume edition of the New Testament was available in Luganda. Meanwhile, Pilkington and Duta had begun work on the Old Testament. Exodus and Joshua were the first books to be published, in 1893, followed by Genesis, Psalms, and Daniel in 1894. In 1896 the first five books of the Old Testament were published as a single volume. Pilkington completed the remainder of the Old Testament, except for the minor prophets, which were translated by Reverend William Arthur Crabtree. Once this was done, the whole Bible had been translated into Luganda. Legend has it that the three-inch wide, three-inch thick book was called the Biscuit Tin Bible because it was printed to fit into the Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin of that size (three inches = 7.6 centimeters). In actual fact, the Bible was that size because it had been printed in small sections that could be carried easily in the cloth bags of the Baganda. The rapid translation of parts of the Bible by different people is reflected in the numbering of the pages. The books from Genesis to II Samuel are numbered page 3 to page 720; followed by separate numberings from page 1 to page 709 for I Kings to Song of Songs; and page 1 to page 509 for Isaiah to Malachi. The New Testament is numbered from page 3 to page 623. When it came to the final printing of the whole Bible, the British and Foreign Bible Society decided to leave the physical dimensions as they were. This resulted in the stout, block-like shape of the final version. Special copies were made for the kings of Uganda, Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda, Omukama Kabalega of Bunyoro, and the Omukama of Toro. A copy of this first version of the Bible in Luganda is preserved in the Uganda National Museum in Kampala.

Sketches in Afghaunistan

James Atkinson (1780–1852) was a man of many talents, best known for his early translations into English of Persian poetry and prose. He was born in England and studied medicine in London and Edinburgh. He was appointed an assistant surgeon in the Bengal service in 1805 and spent most of the rest of his life in India. In his spare time he mastered Persian, and by 1814 he had published a translation of part of Firdawsi’s Shahnamah (Book of kings), the first time the Persian epic was made accessible to an English audience. In 1838 Atkinson was appointed chief surgeon of the Army of the Indus, and in that capacity he accompanied the army on its march to Kabul in the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42). He left Afghanistan in 1841 to return to India. In 1842 he published a first-hand account of the war entitled The Expedition into Affghanistan: Notes and Sketches Descriptive of the Country. Atkinson was also a talented artist, several of whose works are now in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Sketches in Afghaunistan is a book of lithographs based on drawings that Atkinson made in Afghanistan. Published in London in the same year as The Expedition into Afghanistan, it includes 25 sketches depicting scenes in Kabul, mountain scenery, and significant events during the war.

The Brilliant Exploit of the Noshido Infantry Company. Destroyed Rail Road, Going around the Back of the Enemy

In this lithograph, Japanese forces fighting in the Russian Civil War attack a train car during a battle in the vicinity of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Imperial Japanese Army fought against the Bolsheviks on two fronts — from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk, and from Vladivostok to Chita through Manchuria along the Chinese Eastern Railway. Along both fronts, the Japanese troops and their allies worked to prevent rail lines from falling to the Bolsheviks. Between August 1918 and October 1922, the Imperial Japanese Army participated in the “Siberian Intervention,” an attempt by the Allied powers of World War I to support White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War (1917–22). Soldiers from nine countries participated in the intervention, which began in August 1918. While the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their forces in 1920, the Japanese army remained in the Russian Far East and Siberia for another two years. More than 70,000 Japanese troops participated in the fighting. To support the action of the Japanese military, in 1919 Tokyo-based publisher Shōbidō Co. Ltd. produced a series of patriotic lithographic prints depicting various scenes from the campaign entitled “The Illustration of the Siberian War.”

The Japanese Cavalry Taken Possession of Khabarovsk Pursuing and Attacking the Enemies

During the Russian Civil War, allied Japanese and White Russian forces captured the city of Khabarovsk on September 5, 1918. Although the actual taking of the city was relatively peaceful, this lithograph shows the Japanese cavalry putting up a fierce fight against a backdrop dominated by the iconic railroad bridge across the Amur River. During a subsequent clash between the Bolsheviks and Japanese troops on April 5, 1920, two of the bridge’s 18 spans were destroyed, cutting the Trans-Siberian Railway in half for five years before the bridge was repaired. Between August 1918 and October 1922, the Imperial Japanese Army participated in the “Siberian Intervention,” an attempt by the Allied powers of World War I to support White Russian forces against the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War (1917–22). Soldiers from nine countries participated in the intervention, which began in August 1918. While the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew their forces in 1920, the Japanese army remained in the Russian Far East and Siberia for another two years. More than 70,000 Japanese troops participated in the fighting. To support the action of the Japanese military, in 1919 Tokyo-based publisher Shōbidō Co. Ltd. produced a series of patriotic lithographic prints depicting various scenes from the campaign entitled “The Illustration of the Siberian War.”