Through Savage Europe:Being the Narrative of a Journey Throughout the Balkan States and European Russia by Harry de Windt (1907, reprinted 1913)
Introduced by Marijana Dworski of Marijana Dworski Books near Hay-on-Wye
“Why ‘savage’ Europe?” asked a friend who recently witnessed my departure from Charing Cross for the Near East. “Because,” I replied, “the term accurately describes the wild and lawless countries between the Adriatic and Black Seas.”
So begins Harry De Windt’s narrative of his journey through the Balkans in 1907. Having stepped off the steamer in Cattaro, (Kotor) Montenegro, “the tiny principality which has proved such a thorn in the side of the Turk” , De Windt goes on to report back to the Westminster Gazette from Bosnia, Herzegovina, Servia (Serbia), Bulgaria and Rumania (Romania) before embarking for Southern Russia and the Caucasus.
Only some 5 years before the Balkan Wars and seven before that infamous shooting of Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo “most Englishmen (were) less familiar with the geography of the Balkan States than with that of Darkest Africa”.
This lack of consideration for those ‘savage’ lands was soon to change with the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 and the loss of almost all of ‘Turkey-in-Europe’. The consequent increasing confidence of Serbia and increasing paranoia of Austria-Hungary set the stage for the 1914 crisis.
Meanwhile, life in the Balkans itself, even amongst some of the more privileged players, was too complicated to understand. Poor Prince Mirko of Montenegro, pictured here in 1903, failed to get his seat on the Serbian throne despite his Obrenović marriage. The notorious defenestration of Alexander and Draga conferred the crown on Peter Karadjordjević (Karadjordjevic) that very year. Mirko divorced his Natalija in 1917 and ended up in Vienna.
Marijana Dworski is a language book specialist. She has been a bookseller since 1991, originally in Hay-on-Wye, now from nearby Presteigne. Her stock includes rare, out-of-print and antiquarian books. She has competitively priced modern dictionaries and grammars in more than 350 languages. Her stock includes a wide selection of books on the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia.