Guardians of the Gate, Historical Lectures on the Serbs. By R. G. D. Laffan, C.F.
With a foreword by Vice-Admiral E. T. Troubridge, C.B., C.M.G. (1917)
THIS history of Serbia,
to which Vice-Admiral E. T. Troubridge contributes a short foreword, is
compiled from a series of lectures which were happily given to some
British soldiers attached to the Serbian Army. The writer does not hark
further back than Kossovo in 1389, when Serbian independence was
destroyed by the Turk. We are glad to see he does not spare the latter,
beginning his indictment thus, 'There has been and is now a tendency in
England to regard the Turks as a race of honourable gentlemen, clean
fighters, and even, when left to themselves, very tolerable governors.
The nations whom they have ruled have thought very differently.' The
Kara George struggles with the Obrenovitch dynasty takes up the chapter
in 'the past.' The assassination in 1868 of Prince Michael (of the
latter family) is stated to have been an irreparable loss, as, had he
survived, a Yugo-Slav state might have come into being. As it was, his
cousin the worthless Milan later king succeeded, and sold Serbia to
Austria; and by the Treaty of Berlin Serbia, though enlarged in
territory, was cut off from all Yugo-Slav expansion. Like all writers on
Serbia the author tells us that the murder of King Alexander and Queen
Draga did not shock the Serbians much. They, he says, ' felt that what
had been done had been done, and, however it had happened, they were
well rid of the Obrenovitch.' The improvement of Serbia under King Peter
is shown and the success during the Balkan war narrated. Serbia had then
recovered all the historic shrines of Old Serbia and prospects seemed
fair. Then came the Sarajevo murder, the Austrian ultimatum and the
present war and the awful 'execution of Serbia ' by the Central Powers.
The plight of the Serbs was hopeless. They were 'attacked by three
Powers, betrayed by the Greek Government, unsupported by their western
allies' and were helpless. The writer tells us of the downfall and
flight to Corfu and the return of the exiles to Salonica, and writes
very sympathetically of the fine qualities of the Serbian fighting man.
The Austrian reign of terror in the Yugo-Slav provinces and in Serbia is
also exhibited to us. Yet the author hopes for Serbia's future, though
he sees the difficulties before the battletossed people, and one cannot
think that a nation who for five hundred years have never been content
to submit to slavery, and have unceasingly struggled towards the light
will not gain it at last.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.