Bulgaria as described in Encyclopedias published before 1875

Note : Bulgaria, as a state, ceased to exist with the Ottoman conquest in the late 14th century and was not to reemerge as a political entity until the rebellion of 1876-1877 / the treaties of an Stefano and Berlin 1878. The Ottoman administration did use the term "Bulgar-ili" as another term to describe Tuna Vilayet, an administrative entity. The term "Bulgaria" as applied in European books / on European maps published in the years preceding 1876 largely coincides with the Tuna (Danube) Vilayet.
While ethnic Bulgarians formed the dominant population group in this region, it was also home to significant other ethnic groups. On the other hand, significant population groups of ethnic Bulgarians dwelled outside the Tuna Vilayet - the area in the following encyclopedia articles described as "Bulgaria".

Historic Encyclopedias on Bulgaria : Brockhaus 1834-1838, Herder 1854-1858, Pierer 1857-1865, Anskjaer 1858-1863

No Bulgaria-entry in Brockhaus Cionversations-Lexikon 1809-1811 and in Brockhaus Bildes-Conversations Lexikon 1837-1841.

Brockhaus Damen Conversations-Lexikon 1834-1838, Article : Bulgarien (excerpts)
Bulgaria, a country rich in forest, partially mountainous, partially consisting of fertile plains, located east of Serbia and west of the Black Sea, rich in wine, tobacco, flax, hemp, has considerable breeding of horses, pigs and beekeeping, silk production etc. The inhabitants are of Slavic descent, as the Serbs, tall, strong. They have suffered from Turkish oppression and slavery, lost in spirit, and got accustomed to patient obedience. This only is rue for the inhabitants of the Danube valley. The Bulgarians dwelling in the Balkan in their customs have remained true to their warlike spirit and are courageous, dangerous robbers. This has aroused in hem he desire for better conditions, because in general the Bulgarian is industrious, silent, religious and hospitable. A European traveller, in the villages, is given a friendly welcome by young singing girls, because here as elsewhere song is the language of the heart, he is presented with flowers and invited into the house of the father, where he is served by the daughter as the gueast of honour. The condition of the female gender here is almost the same as with the Bosnians and Serbs.
source in German, posted by Zeno

Herders Conversations-Lexikon 1854-1857, Article : Bulgarien
Bulgaria, Turkish province east [!] of the Black Sea, 1700 square miles, bordering on Rumelia, Macedonia, Serbia and the Danube, is crossed by the large and the small Balkan, has largely fertile soil and seems to have endless amounts of iron. The province is placed under the Beglerbeg of Rumelia and consists of 4 sanjaks : Sophia, Widdin, Nikopoli, Silistria. Along the Danube are located fortified places often mentioned in war history, such as Isatschka, Hirsowa, Rutschuk, Turtukan, Silistria, Nikopoli, Widdin, in the Balkans the place Schumla, on the Black Sea of no lesser importance Warna and Burgas. - The Bulgarians immigrated here in the 6th century coming from the Volga, a Finnic tribe, warred long with the Byzantine Empire, finally submitted to the latter and converted to Christianity; in the 9th century they repelled an atack by the Russians. They fought long wars with the Hungarians and Serbs, were defeated by the Turks in 1306 [!] and remained under their rule until now. Only in 1841 did they dare rise against them; the rebellion was quickly crushed. In 1829 they proved suspicious toward the Russians; a large colony of Bulgarians which after the Peace of Adrianople was brought to Bessarabia, but most of them soon returned. The Bulgarians are regarded as being faithful, industrious, moderate, and tending toward industry and trade
source in German, posted by Zeno

Pierer's Universal-Lexikon 1857-1865, Article : Bulgarien
Bulgaria (Bulgar-Ili) European Turkish province, is bordered in the North by the Danube, which separates it from Bessarabia, Wallachia and the Austrian lands, in the west by Serbia, in the south by Rum-Ili and in the East by the Black Sea. It is crossed from East to West by the Balkan Mountains (Hämus) which rise to a height of 3,000 feet, which sends several branches toward the Danube and which declines toward Cape Emineh on the Black Sea. The country is sloped in two directions : steeplu toward the Black Sea, gradually northward toward the Danube; in these two directions most of the generally unimportant rivers flow : toward the Danube the Lom, Zibritza, Ogustul, Skitul, Isker, Wid, Osma, Kara-Lom, Tab, toward the Black Sea the Kamtschik, Paravadi, Mangalia and the lower branch of the Danube (Kedrille or St. George arm). Here also a number of large lakes are located, among which the coastal Lake Rasin, connected with the Black Sea via the Portitza Mounth, is the most important. From the Balkans in southerly direction flows the Maritza. The dominant rocks in the upper region belong to secondary formations and are mainly crestaceous; the mineral deposits hitherto are mostly little exploited; only much iron and lead and a little silver is produced. Bulgaria's interior is sparsely forested, the lower parts of the country covered by dense forest; in the Balkans mountains forests almost reach up to he mountaintops. The well-irrigated soil, blessed by a mild climate, turns the province into one of the richest of the Empire, so that it, despite land usage being poorly managed, it produces in quantity grain, honey, wax, cattle, sheep, horses, wine, silk, flax, tobacco and timber for export. The industry is limited to natural products, woollen textiles, linen textiles. The northeastern part, called Dobrudscha, is the most fertile, but because of its swamps unhealthy. Area 1740 square miles, with a population of almost 2 million, of whom 2/3 are Greek Orthodox Christians. The Bulgarians, a Slavic people who immigrated in the 7th century, are honorable people, industrious and hospitable, but unruly; they have a language of their own, Bulgarian. In addition to Bulgarians, the country is inhabited by Turks, Jews, Greeks, Serbs, Armenians and Tatars, the latter engaged in horse breeding and beekeeping, and Cossacks, who immigrated in the time of Peter the Great. See : A. P. Vretos, La Bulgarie ancienne et moderne etc., Petersb. 1856.
source in German, posted by Zeno

Anskjaer, Geografisk-Statistisk Haandbog 1858-1863, Article : Bulgaria
Bulgaria, a province of European Turkey, bordered to the North by Wallachia and Moldavia, to the East by the Black Sea, to the South by Rumelia and to the West by Serbia. The area is given as 1,600 square miles and the population as 3 million, the majority of whom are Christians of the Greek church. The land, according o the present order, is divided in three Pashaliks : Widdin, Nissa and Silistra. The Balkans mountain chain forms the province's southern border. From an altitude of up to 6,000 feet it gradually descends northward and sends a number of forest- or grass-covered ridges in the direction of the Danube. These ridges are separated by valleys, in which numerous small rivers flow towards the Danube, which forms the northern border. The most important of these, from west to east, are : Timok, which over a stretch of its length forms the border to Serbia, Ogustul, Isker, which passes by the old capital Sofia, Vid, Osmi, which feeds into the anube west of Nicopolis, Jantra, which passes Tirnava, and Lom which feeds into the Danube west of Rustschuk. A number of small rivers flow toward the Black Sea, of which the most important are Kamesik, which flows through one of the Balkan's longest valleys, and which feeds into the Black Sea midways between Cape Emineh and Varna. Of the others we here only mention Paravadi, which flows through Lake Devna and which feeds into the Black Sea near Varna. The coast toward the Black Sea between Cape Emineh and Cape Gülgrad is generally high, but the promontories toward the north are rather flat. In the northeastern corner of the province Lake Ramsin is located, 8 miles long and of varying width. It is connected via the Dunavetz, a river arm, with the Danube's St. George's arm, and through its mouth at Kutsuk and Porteska, with the Black Sea. Bulgarias hills and valleys are in general well cultivated, and the mountain slopes are ornated with rich vineyards. A large quantity of grain, oats, hemp, tobacco and wine are produced, and the forest supply loads of timber which are transported downriver to the cities on the Danube. Cattle is numerous, as are horses, sheep and goats. Manufacturing industry is of no importance and produces nly crude items for local consumption. The Bulgarians have come into the country in the mid 7th century, coming from the Volga valley. After they forced the Slav peoples, which were the country's inhabitants, into submission, they assimilated into their culture, and already in the 9th century spoke their language and lived by their customs. They were ruled by kings which were under the protection of the Greek emperors until 1185. In 1392 the country lost its independence when the Turks took its king prisoner.
source in Danish, posted by Project Runeberg


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 5th 2009

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