Bulgarian history

Brief history of Bulgaria summarized

We give a brief and short review of the history of Bulgaria, a country with a communist history.

Ancient bulgarian

From about 400 BC a race called the Thracians lived in parts of what is now Bulgaria. The Thracians were a tribal society and were magnificent horsemen. They were also known for making beautiful gold and silver jewelry.

Around the year 100 AD the Romans conquered Bulgaria. The Romans founded the city of Trimontium (modern Plovdiv). They also built the city of Serdica on the site of Sofia.

In 395 the Roman Empire split in two. Bulgaria became part of the Eastern Roman Empire (later called the Byzantine Empire). However, Byzantium weakened and about 500 Slavs settled in Bulgaria.

Then in 680 the Bulgarians invaded under the leadership of their ruler Khan Asparukh. They were descendants of the Huns from Central Asia. They crossed the Danube and founded the state of Bulgaria. Then they married the Slavs.

In 716 the Byzantine Empire recognized the state of Bulgaria.

However, at the end of the 8th century, Emperor Constantine V tried to destroy Bulgaria, but without success. Then the pendulum swung the other way. From the year 809 Khan Krum attacked the Byzantine Empire. Led by Khan Krum, the Bulgarians were victorious. In 811 the Byzantine emperor Nicephorus was killed in battle. Krum had his skull covered in silver and used it for drinking. In the year 813 Krum even besieged Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium, but did not capture it. Finally in 816 Khan Omurtag made peace.

Then, in the year 846, Boris I of Bulgaria accepted Christianity and his subjects followed him. Bulgaria accepted the Eastern Orthodox Church instead of the Western Catholic Church.

Bulgaria reached a peak under Simeon the Great 893-927. He called himself “Emperor of all Bulgarians and Greeks “. The Pope recognized him, but the Byzantine Emperor did not!

However, at the end of the 10th century, Bulgaria declined. In the year 971 the Byzantines took the capital Preslav along with a large part of eastern Bulgaria. Finally in 1014, after the Battle of Belasita, the Byzantines captured 15,000 Bulgarians. Out of every 100 men, 99 were blind and one was left with one eye to lead the others home. In 1018 Bulgaria became part of the Byzantine Empire.

Middle Ages

The Byzantines ruled Bulgaria until 1185. Then heavy taxes caused a rebellion. A new Bulgarian kingdom was founded with its capital at Turnovo. In 1202 the Byzantines accepted the situation and made peace.

Then in 1204 the Crusaders captured Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. The Crusaders claimed that the Bulgarians were their vassals, but the Bulgarians defeated them in battle.

The Second Bulgarian Kingdom reached its height under Ivan Asen II 1218-1241. Bulgaria became prosperous and powerful.

However, the Bulgarians had powerful enemies. In 1330 the Bulgarians were defeated by the Serbs at the Battle of Velbuzhd. Bulgaria temporarily came under Serbian rule.

The Bogomils in Bulgaria

From the 9th to the 15th century, a religious sect called the Bogomils flourished in Bulgaria. The Bogomil were probably named after an 8th century priest named Bogomil.

The Bogomils were dualists. It was a very old belief in the Middle East that there were two gods, one good and one bad. The evil god created the material world while the good god created the spiritual world. This belief entered Bulgaria and took on some Christian elements. Bogomils believed that Satan created the material universe while God created the soul.

Bogomils did not believe in the incarnation (the doctrine that God became a man – Jesus). They did not believe in infant baptism or the Eucharist (sharing of bread at Mass). They also rejected the entire organization of the Orthodox Church.

The leaders of the Bogomil led austere lives. They refrained from marrying, eating meat and drinking wine. However, his followers did not have to live such a strict life.

The Bogomil sect spread to the Byzantine Empire and to other parts of southeastern Europe. However, it became extinct after the Turks conquered the area.

Bulgaria under Turkish rule

In the 14th century, the Ottoman Turks were a rising power in the region. In 1393 they captured Turnovo. All Bulgarian resistance to the Turks ended in 1396. Bulgaria was under Turkish rule for almost 500 years.

However, the Bulgarians had to pay taxes to the Turks. They also had to hand over their children. At intervals the Turks drank the cream of the Bulgarian children from 7 to 14 years old. They were separated from their families and raised as Muslims. They were also trained to be soldiers called Janissaries.

In 1688, the Chirpiest Bulgarians revolted. However, the rebellion was crushed. However, from the end of the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire went into an inexorable decline.

Then, in the 19th century, nationalism became a powerful force in Europe, including Bulgaria, and the ideas of the French Revolution spread. There was a growing interest in Bulgarian culture and history, and growing resentment of Turkish rule.

Finally, in April 1876, some Bulgarians revolted. However, the Turks easily crushed the rebellion.

Independent Bulgaria

Then in April 1877 Russia declared war on Turkey. In January 1878 the Russians captured Sofia. Then, on March 3, the Treaty of Stefano ended the war. The treaty created an independent Bulgaria. However, the British and Austro-Hungarians feared that this new Bulgaria could be a powerful ally for Russia and insisted that the treaty be revised.

By the Treaty of Berlin, July 1878 Bulgaria was divided in two. The northern half was not allowed to be fully independent. Instead, Bulgaria would be a vassal state of Turkey called a principality. It was to be ruled by a prince with a parliament called the sabranie.

The southern half of Bulgaria was made only semi-autonomous within the Ottoman Empire. It was given the name of Eastern Rumelia.

The Bulgarians would not accept this solution. In 1885 the people of Eastern Rumelia staged a coup and joined the northern half of Bulgaria. However, other countries intervened again. In November 1885 the Serbs declared war. However, they were crushed at the Battle of Slivnitsa.

The great powers then drafted a new agreement. The two halves of Bulgaria were not allowed to fully unite. Instead, they remained two separate entities, but the Prince of (Northern) Bulgaria was appointed “Governor General” of Eastern Rumelia.

This arrangement was only a stopgap measure. In 1908 the Bulgarians revoked it. On October 5, Prince Ferdinand announced the full independence of Bulgaria. He became King Ferdinand of Bulgaria.

Early 20th century

Meanwhile, in the early 20th century, Turkish rule in Europe was crumbling. The Turks faced rebellions. The Balkan states feared that the great powers would intervene. They wanted to liberate the territories that are still in the hands of the Turks and impose their own solutions. So they formed a triple alliance between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.

In October 1912 the three countries invaded Turkish territory in Europe. However, the great powers intervened. They insisted that an independent Albania be created. The three allies could do what they wanted with the rest of the Turkish territory.

However, the allies soon fell out, and on June 29, 1913, Bulgaria attacked Serbia and Greece. However, Romania intervened and Bulgaria was forced to make peace. Bulgaria was forced to hand over part of the territory to her.

Then, in 1914, came the First World War. In October 1915, Germany persuaded Bulgaria to join her promising territory as a reward. However, an Allied blockade causes severe shortages in Bulgaria and eventually near starvation.

In September 1918 French and British troops entered Bulgaria and on September 29, 1918 Bulgaria signed an armistice. On October 3, 1918, Ferdinand abdicated. His son Boris III replaced him.

In 1919 Bulgaria was forced to sign the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine. It lost significant parts of its territory. Furthermore, Bulgaria was not allowed to have more than 20,000 men in her army and was forced to pay reparations (a form of compensation for the war). However, the repairs were canceled in 1932.

In the 1919 elections, the parties that had supported Bulgaria’s entry into the war lost votes, while those that had opposed it (the Communists and the Agrarian Party) gained them.

In December 1919 the Communists and Social Democrats joined forces and called a general strike in Bulgaria. However, Prime Minister Stamboliyski stopped the strike leaders and the strike was called off on January 5, 1920.

Despite its troubles in 1920, Bulgaria was allowed to join the League of Nations, the first of the nations on the losing side to do so.

However, democracy in Bulgaria gave way to an authoritarian regime. In 1922 some disgruntled army officers formed an organization called the Military League. In 1923 a group of conspirators, including members of the Military League, seized power in a coup. Prime Minister Stamboliyski was assassinated.

Aleksandar Tsankov formed a new government. Then, in 1925, the communists blew up a bomb in a Sofia cathedral. Thousands of communists were later arrested and many were executed.

However, in 1926 Tsankov was replaced by Andrei Liapchev. He removed some of the restrictions imposed by Tsankov. The formation of unions was allowed and in 1927 the reform of the Communist Party was allowed. In 1931 elections were held in Bulgaria.

However, in the early 1930s, Bulgaria suffered severely from depression. Farmers’ incomes were cut in half and unemployment in the cities skyrocketed. Then, in May 1934, a group of officers staged a coup.

However, the new government was divided on what to do with the king. His leader Colonel Damian Velchev was a Republican but in January 1935 his opponents managed to force him out of office. In 1936 Boris dissolved the Military League and promised to return to constitutional government. Elections were held in 1938.

When World War II began in 1939, King Boris was initially determined to keep Bulgaria neutral. However, from March 1941 he agreed to allow German troops to pass through Bulgaria on their way to Greece. As a reward, Bulgaria received territory in Thrace and Macedonia.

However, although some anti-Semitic laws were passed in Bulgaria, Bulgarian Jews were not deported to concentration camps. King Boris died in August 1943.

In the summer of 1944 Germany was obviously losing the war and the Russians were closing in on Bulgaria. Russia declared war on Bulgaria on September 5, 1944. Bulgaria declared Germany on September 7, 1944 (effective September 8). However, on September 8, 1944, Russian troops entered Bulgaria.

Communist Bulgaria

In 1942 the Front of the Fatherland or FF was formed. It was made up of communists, social democrats and agrarians. On September 9, 1944, the FF staged a coup and formed the new government. In the new cabinet, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Justice were Communists. (They were also helped by the fact that Russian troops were stationed in Bulgaria.)

The seizure of power by the communists in Bulgaria was gradual. From the beginning they controlled the radio and many newspapers. However, the communists eliminated their opponents one by one. New people’s courts were created under the Ministry of Justice to try “war criminals” and “collaborators”.

All supporters of the old regime were rounded up and executed or imprisoned in labor camps. Not only politicians, but also priests, teachers and policemen. In addition, “unreliable” officers were removed from the army. The elimination of all rightists made the communists even more powerful.

The communists turned against their fellow leftists in Bulgaria. They managed to cause divisions in the Social Democratic Party and in the Agrarian Party between the pro- and anti-communist factions. In both cases, the communist-controlled Ministry of Justice decided that the property of the parties belonged to pro-communist factions.

Meanwhile, in 1946, the Bulgarian army was purged again. About 2,000 officers were removed. In September 1946, a referendum on the monarch caused Bulgaria to become a republic. In the November 1946 elections, the communists insisted that all the FF candidates form a single list.

Previously the votes had been able to vote for individual parties (communist, agrarian or social democratic). Now they could only vote for or against the FF. The FF won the majority of seats in the National Assembly.

However, most of the seats in the FF were held by communists and not by social democrats or agrarians (far more than support for the communists among voters would justify). In this way, the communists gained control of the Assembly.

Finally, in June 1947, Nikola Petkov (1889-1947), leader of the anti-communist part of the Agrarian Party and leader of the opposition to the communists, was arrested. He was executed in August 1947 after a rigged trial.

Then, in 1947, the communists introduced the Dimitrov Constitution. It is named after Georgi Dimitrov, who was the leader of the communists after 1945 and brought a full communist regime to Bulgaria.

The communists nationalized industry and collectivized agriculture in Bulgaria. They also persecuted the Orthodox Church.

Finally, after imposing communism, the Communist Party turned against its own members. After the anti-communist uprising in Hungary in 1956 there was a purge in Bulgaria in which many communists were expelled from the party. Some were sent to labor camps.

So for many years, Bulgaria had to bear the burden of a totalitarian regime, slavishly obedient to the Soviet Union.

From 1954 it was governed by Todor Zhivkov. He reigned until 1989.

During the communist era attempts were made to increase industry in Bulgaria, but it remained a mainly agricultural country.

In 1985, Zhikov tried to “Bulgarize” the Bulgarian Turks. Bulgarian Turks were ordered to choose from a list of Bulgarian names. If they refused, one was chosen for them. Troops were sent to enforce the law, but the Bulgarian Turks continued to resist.

Finally, in the summer of 1989, Zhikov announced that the Turks could leave Bulgaria and go to Turkey if they wanted to. Many of them did.

Modern Bulgarian

Finally, in the late 1980s, the communist tyranny in Bulgaria began to crumble. On November 10, 1989 Zhikov was deposed. In April, the communists renamed themselves the Bulgarian Socialist Party. The totalitarian regime was dismantled.

On March 6, 1990, strikes were legalized. However, multiparty elections were not held until June 1990. The Bulgarian Socialist Party remained in power. However, state socialism was scrapped in Bulgaria.

Starting in 1991, price controls were eliminated and the industry was privatized. The collective farms were dissolved. A new constitution was introduced in July 1991, and following new elections in October 1991, the Socialist Party lost power.

Today Bulgaria is a relatively poor country and suffered greatly in the recession of 2009. However, Bulgaria recovered and today the economy is growing steadily, while tourism is a rapidly growing industry in Bulgaria.

Tourists are attracted by the beautiful architecture and beaches of Bulgaria. Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004 and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. Currently, the population of Bulgaria is 7.1 million.

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