1760-1848 1879-1896

Bulgaria 1848-1879

Bulgaria within the Ottoman Empire . The Bulgarian ethnicity, predominantly Orthodox christians and a small minority of Muslims (the so-called Pomaks), lived spread over a wide area between the Danube River, the Black and Aegaean Seas and what is now Albania. Yet among the Bulgarians lived large communities of other ethnicities, mainly Muslim Turks, but also Greek Orthodox Greeks, Armenians. Then there were the Macedonians, by tradition and language closely tied to the Bulgarians; many of them felt Bulgarian, others Macedonian.
There was no Bulgarian state; the areas inhabited by Bulgarians were administrative units within the Ottoman Empire, a state in which Islam was state religion and other religious groups merely tolerated. For long, the Bulgarian Orthodox Christians were subjected to the (Greek) Patriarch of Constantinople; only in 1872 was a Bulgarian Exarchate founded. This was of considerable importance, as the Orthodox community was to administrate her own affairs, the (Greek) patriarch thus being responsible for the administration of the Greek and Bulgarian community within the Ottoman Empire. Yet the Bulgarian church had declared her independence from the patriarch as early as 1860.
Administratively, what is modern Bulgaria fell in the Vilayets of Silistra, and Rumelia. In 1864 the Vilayet of Tuna (= of the Danube, with seat in Ruscuk (Ruse)) was created by merging territory of the Vilayet of Silistra and of the Vilayet of Rumelia. The first Wali as Mithad Pasha, a reformer, who introduced the printing press, had many roads and bridges built. Under him the number of schools, both school for Turks and schools for Bulgarians, was greatly expanded.

Struggle for Independence . In 1868, Vassil Levski called upon among his countrymen to take up armed struggle for independence. He was arrested in 1872, sentenced and executed in 1873. In 1871 the Central Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee with seat in Bucharest was founded.
A rebellion in 1876, lead by Georgi Benkowski, was brutally supprressed by Ottoman forces, c. 30,000 persons fell victim to the atrocities committed by Ottoman forces.
A diplomatic conference aiming at reducing the tension did not bring any results; in 1877 the Russian Empire, regarding himself the protector of the Orthodox christians living within the Ottoman Empire, declared war on the latter. Russian forces, which were joined by a Bulgarian corps of 7,000 volunteers, defeated the Ottoman forces, among others in a battle at Shipka Pass. In 1878 the Ottoman Empire, in the Treaty of San Stefano had to concede the creation of a large Bulgarian state which would include Macedonia and Rumelia. The war had cost c. 200,000 lives on the Russian side. Bulgarians refer to Russian Czar Alexander II. as Czar Osvoboditel, Czar Liberator.
Other European powers, most of all Britain and Austria-Hungary, regarded this Bulgarian state a Russian satellite and were unwilling to accept the situation; a repetition of the Crimean War threatened. Then Bismarck called the representatives of the European states to meet at the Berlin Congress (1878). Here the Treaty of San Stefano was annulled. Macedonia and Thrace remained Ottoman provinces; a smaller (northern) Bulgaria was granted political autonomy within the Ottoman Empire, while the southern region of Rumelia would keep closer links to the Empire.
From July 10th 1877 to July 8th 1879, Bulgaria was placed under a provisional Russian administration.

Intellectual Life . In Rumania exile Bulgarians such as Hristo Botev and Stephan Stambulov founded a movement promoting Bulgarian independence through literature and the arts. Poet H. Botev died in 1876, age 28, fighting for the liberation of his country.
In 1869 the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was founded by Bulgarian exiles in Braila, Romania.

Library of Congress, Country Studies : Bulgaria
Die Neuzeit Bulgariens, from Bulgarien Web, in German
Bulgarian History Timeline, from timelines.ws
History of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, from Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Article Bulgarian Uprising (1850), from Encyclopedia of 1848 Revolutions
DOCUMENTS The Poems of Hristo Botev, online in English translation, from Slovoto, virtual library of Bulgarian Literature
Historical maps of the Balkans, from Perry Castaneda Library, UTexas
Bulgaria after the Conference of Constantinople, 1876-1877, from Perry Castaneda Library, Map from "Report of the International Commission To Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars" 1914. 124 K
Map featuring Bulgaria after the Berlin Congress, 1878, from Perry Castaneda Library, sloppy (Robert Labberton, An Historical Atlas, 1884)
Map featuring the Balkans peninsula, 1606-1878, from Balcanica
Lists of the Valis of the Bulgarian Vilayets; Lists of the Chairmen of the Central Bulgarian Revolutionary Committee (1871-1876), posted by World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Flag used by Bulgaria's Independence Fighters (1871-1878), from FOTW
Letter of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer to Mr. William E. Gladstone, February 13, 1878, posted by Habsburg Web
Campaign Notes in Turkey, 1877-'78, by Lieutenant F. V. Greene, in : The North American Review, 1879, pp.462-481, from Cornell Digital Library
The War in the East (with Maps), by Geo. B. McClellan, in The North American Review, Part 1, Vol.125 , July 1877, pp.35-60, Part 2, Vol.125, Sept. 1877, pp.246-271, Part 3, Vol.125, Nov. 1877, pp.439-462, posted by Cornell Digital Library
The Irrepressible Conflict in the East, by Thomas M. Anderson, in : The Galaxy, Vol.24, 1877, pp.689-694, from Cornell Digital Library
List of Walis of Vidin 1597-1865, of Tuna 1865-1876, from World Statesmen, scroll down
Dora Panayotova, The Vilayet Law and the Danube Province
REFERENCE R.J. Crampton, A Concise History of Bulgaria, Cambridge Concise Histories 1997; KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.7 C889a
Article : Bulgaria, pp.623-636, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, Macropaedia vol.14, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.14
Raymond Detrez, Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria, Lanham Md. : Scarecrow 2006, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 949.9003 D 483h
Justin McCarthy, Death and Exile. The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922, Princeton, NJ : Darwin Press 1995 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on June 23rd 2007

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