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Congress of Berlin

The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the representatives of six great powers of the time, the Ottoman Empire and four Balkan states. It aimed at determining the territories of the states in the Balkan peninsula following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 and came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin, which replaced the preliminary Treaty of San Stefano, signed three months earlier between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who led the Congress, undertook to stabilise the Balkans, recognise the reduced power of the Ottoman Empire and balance the distinct interests of Britain and Austria-Hungary. At the same time, he tried to diminish Russian gains in the region and to prevent the rise of a Greater Bulgaria; as a result, Ottoman lands in Europe declined Bulgaria was established as an independent principality inside the Ottoman Empire, Eastern Rumelia was restored to the Turks under a special administration and the region of Macedonia was returned outright to the Turks, who promised reform.

Romania achieved full independence. Serbia and Montenegro gained complete independence but with smaller territories, with Austria-Hungary occupying the Sandžak region. Austria-Hungary took over Bosnia and Herzegovina, Britain took over Cyprus; the results were first hailed as a great achievement in stabilisation. However, most of the participants were not satisfied, grievances on the results festered until they exploded in the First and the Second Balkan wars in 1912–1913 and World War I in 1914. Serbia and Greece made gains, but all received far less than they thought that they deserved; the Ottoman Empire called the "sick man of Europe", was humiliated and weakened, which made it more liable to domestic unrest and more vulnerable to attack. Although Russia had been victorious in the war that occasioned the conference, it was humiliated there and resented its treatment. Austria gained a great deal of territory, which angered the South Slavs, led to decades of tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bismarck became the target of hatred by Russian nationalists and Pan-Slavists, he would find that he had tied Germany too to Austria-Hungary in the Balkans. In the long run, tensions between Russia and Austria-Hungary intensified, as did the nationality question in the Balkans; the congress was aimed at revising the Treaty of San Stefano and at keeping Constantinople within Ottoman hands. It disavowed Russia's victory over the decaying Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish War; the congress returned territories to the Ottoman Empire that the previous treaty had given to the Principality of Bulgaria, most notably Macedonia, thus setting up a strong revanchist demand in Bulgaria, leading in 1912 to the First Balkan War. In the decades leading up to the congress and the Balkans had been gripped by Pan-Slavism, a movement to unite all the Balkan Slavs under one rule; that desire, which evolved to the Pan-Germanism and Pan-Italianism, which had resulted in two unifications, took different forms in the various Slavic nations.

In Imperial Russia, Pan-Slavism meant the creation of a unified Slavic state, under Russian direction, was a byword for Russian conquest of the Balkan peninsula. The realisation of the goal would give Russia control of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, thus economic control of the Black Sea and greater geopolitical power. In the Balkans, Pan-Slavism meant unifying the Balkan Slavs under the rule of a particular Balkan state, but the state, meant to serve as the locus for unification was not always clear, as initiative wafted between Serbia and Bulgaria; the creation of a Bulgarian exarch by the Ottomans in 1870 had been intended to separate the Bulgarians religiously from the Greek patriarch and politically from Serbia. From the Balkan point of view, unification of the peninsula needed both a Piedmont as a base and a corresponding France as a sponsor. Though the views of how Balkan politics should proceed differed, both began with the deposition of the sultan as ruler of the Balkans and the ousting of the Ottomans from Europe.

How and whether, to proceed would be the major question to be answered at the Congress of Berlin. The Balkans were a major stage for competition between the European great powers in the second half of the 19th century. Britain and Russia both had interests in the fate of the Balkans. Russia was interested in the region, both ideologically, as a pan-Slavist unifier, to secure greater control of the Mediterranean. Furthermore, the Unifications of Italy and Germany had stymied the ability of a third European power, Austria-Hungary, to further expand its domain to the southwest. Germany, as the most powerful continental nation after the 1871 Franco-Prussian War had little direct interest in the settlement and so was the only power that could mediate the Balkan question. Russia and Austria-Hungary, the two powers that were most invested in the fate of the Balkans, were allied with Germany in the conservative League of Three Emperors, founded to preserve the monarchies of Continental Europe; the Congress of Berlin was thus a dispute among supposed allies of Bismarck and his German Empire, the arbiter of the discussion, would thus have to choose before the end of the congress one of their allies to support.

That decision was to have direct consequences on the future of European geopolitics. Ottoman brutality in the Serbian–Ottom

Hymnal

A hymnal or hymnary is a collection of hymns in the form of a book, called a hymnbook. Hymnals are used in congregational singing; the earliest hand-written hymnals are from the Middle Ages in the context of European Christianity, although individual hymns such as the Te Deum go back much further. The Reformation in the 16th century, together with the growing popularity of moveable type made hymnals a standard feature of Christian worship in all major denominations of Western and Central Europe; the first known printed hymnal was issued in 1501 in Prague by Czech Brethren but it contains only texts of sacred songs. The first hymnal of the Lutheran Reformation was Achtliederbuch, followed by the Erfurt Enchiridion. An important hymnal of the 17th century was Praxis pietatis melica. List of English-language hymnals by denomination "SDA Hymnal online" "Hymnary.org". Archived from the original on 2013-03-02. Retrieved 2020-01-19. — Extensive database of hymns and hymnology resources.

Devizes branch line

The Devizes branch line was a railway line from Holt Junction, Wiltshire to Patney and Chirton and named after Devizes, the largest town on the line. It was built by the Wilts and Weymouth Railway, was purchased by the Great Western Railway. At one point the Devizes line provided a direct link from London to the West Country; the idea of a railway line through Devizes was first conceived in 1830, before the Great Western Railway had begun to construct its main lines. Devizes was considered by the GWR as a major stop on its London to Bristol Line but lost out to Swindon due to lack of potential traffic from Devizes. Although included in several plans for railway lines—including the Thingley Junction to Westbury line, the Staverton and Bathampton line—the financial backing required was not available. Potential construction costs were high because Devizes stands on a hill, so the town was left without a station. In 1846, it was decided that the Devizes line would run from Holt Junction eastward to Devizes, in 1854 the GWR began work on the branch, completed in 1857.

In 1862, the GWR extended its Reading-Hungerford line westward via Pewsey to Devizes, creating a direct link from London Paddington to Bristol, quicker than any other line. This was the busiest period for the Devizes line, but traffic declined from 1900 after the Stert-Westbury link was built to reduce journey time by avoiding the steep inclines into Devizes; the line and all its stations closed in 1966 under British Rail's Beeching cuts. The closure of the line can be accounted for by the awkward geography of the Devizes line, the declining amounts of traffic due to alternative railway lines and the increasing popularity of road transport. Apart from a few remaining bridges and the tunnel under the grounds of Devizes Castle, there is little evidence of the railway on the landscape, all stations and halts were demolished in 1970. Devizes railway station Pans Lane Halt railway station Victoria County History, Wiltshire: Railways Victoria County History: Devizes Photos of surviving structures – Well House Consultants