N. Dmitriev-Orenburgsky. "Entry of the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich to Tarnovo on June 30, 1877". 1885 g.
Today we will continue our story about the Balkan subjects of the Ottoman Empire. In this article we will talk about the Bulgarians in Turkey and the Turks in Bulgaria, and in the next one, we will talk about the military operation "Attila" on the island of Cyprus, which alarmed the leadership of socialist Bulgaria, and the "Revival Process" campaign.
Bulgaria: the first Balkan country conquered by the Ottomans
The Turks never trusted the subjects of the European provinces because of their proximity to hostile Christian countries. At first, the tolerant Ottomans, after a series of defeats and setbacks, began to encourage the population of these Sanjaks to convert to Islam. In Bulgaria, which was conquered by the Turks at the end of the XNUMXth century, the first of the Balkan countries, at the turn of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, about a third of the country's population professed Islam. Most of these Muslims were ethnic Turks, but there were also many Pomaks - Turkish Slavs who professed Islam, but spoke Bulgarian (and they used the Latin alphabet, not the Cyrillic alphabet).
The word “pomaks” (the Bulgarians pronounce it as “pomatsi”) translated into Russian means “helpers” (of the Turks): this is how the Orthodox Bulgarians called them. Until the twentieth century they called themselves “Muslims”.
Among the Orthodox Bulgarians, Islamization did not have much success, but the Bogomils adopted Islam en masse. This heretical teaching allowed the "hypocritical" confession of someone else's faith in the event of persecution or oppression. However, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Bogomils almost forgot about their old faith. The same picture was in Bosnia, where local Bogomils also converted to Islam earlier than people who professed Orthodoxy and Catholicism, but this will be discussed in another article.
The majority of ethnic Turks live in northeastern Bulgaria, to a lesser extent in the center of the country, while the Bulgarian Pomaks live mainly in the economically depressed region of the Rhodope Mountains south of Plovdiv.
Rhodope Mountains on the map of Bulgaria:
On this map, the area of the settlement of the Pomaks in Bulgaria is marked in green:
The Islamization of the Bulgarian Roma was also quite successful.
However, there was also a reverse process of adoption of Orthodoxy by ethnic Turks. Christian Turks are called "Gagauz".
Some historians consider them to be the descendants of the Seljuk Turks who settled on the territory of Bulgaria, Romania and Moldavia even before the Ottoman conquest. Others believe that this people traces its origin from the Uzy tribe, who previously roamed the shores of the Aral Sea and came to the Danube in the XNUMXth century.
The Bulgarian nobility, regardless of confessional affiliation, and the inhabitants of the cities (the townspeople were mainly Greeks, Armenians, Jews and Albanians) spoke Turkish. The Bulgarian language, which was considered the language of the mob and common people, could be heard only in the villages.
The best lands in Bulgaria accounted for the share of the sultan - khass. The rest of the land was divided into timars - plots, the owners of which were required to serve in the Ottoman army as spahi cavalrymen.
The sizes of the timars were not the same, since they were calculated not according to the area, but according to the estimated income (which was influenced, for example, by the presence of a mill, a ferry for the crossing, on which it was possible to take money, etc.): money received from the site should have been enough to equip a heavily armed equestrian warrior and his servants. Timars could not be sold or inherited, but part of the land was given to eternal possession of especially distinguished high-ranking officers (such plots were called mulks), mosques, madrasahs or charitable institutions (vakfs).
At the same time, the peasant of any timar or mulka was not a serf and could sell his land - the obligations to pay taxes and fees passed to the new owner. The house, outbuildings, livestock and tools of labor were also the personal property of the peasant, which he could dispose of at his own discretion. The main thing was to pay taxes and taxes on time.
The inhabitants of the cities united in esnafs - corporations of artisans and merchants belonging to the same confession. These communities had common property (workshops, warehouses, shops, etc.), and the Ottoman authorities controlled the volume of production, the quality of goods and set prices.
During the Ottoman period, the Bulgarian Church lost its independence and was subordinated to the Patriarch of Constantinople.
One can get an idea of the position of the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire by getting acquainted with the dishes of the national cuisine of this country and comparing it, for example, with the Czech one. In Bulgarian recipes, there are a lot of vegetables, cheeses and dairy products, flour and cereals are used, wine is almost always served, but there are few meat dishes that were considered festive in this country and were not prepared every day.
In addition to economic inequality (additional taxes imposed on the non-Muslim population were discussed in the article The crisis of the Ottoman Empire and the evolution of the situation of the Gentiles) and the infamous "blood tax" (devshirme), there were other restrictions and manifestations of inequality. Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria had to demonstrate "signs of respect" when communicating with the Turks, and the testimony of three kafirs ("infidels") in court could be refuted by the testimony of one Muslim.
Path to freedom
Bulgaria received autonomy as a result of the Russian-Turkish war - in 1878, during which the "White General" (Ak Pasha - Ak-Pasha) - M. D. Skobelev became famous.
Bas-relief on General Skobelev Boulevard, Sofia, Bulgaria
Turkish soldiers, engraving 1878
Under the terms of the San Stefano Peace Treaty, Bulgaria was to receive the territory from the Danube to the Aegean Sea, and from the Black Sea to Lake Ohrid. However, Russian diplomats at the Berlin Congress completely failed, and Bismarck, who called himself an "honest marker", judged differently. The lands from the Danube to the Balkans were given to the principality of the vassal Turkey. Eastern Rumelia, centered in Philippopolis (now Plovdiv), became an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire. And the lands from the Adriatic Sea to the Aegean were returned to Turkey.
The Germans themselves still believe that Bismarck then did more for the Russians than all their own diplomats put together. This once again testifies to the business qualities of the traditionally idealized "friend of Pushkin" in our country - the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the last chancellor of the empire A.M. Gorchakov (whom V. Pikul in his novel called the "iron chancellor") and his subordinates ...
Alexander Battenberg, the nephew of the wife of the Russian emperor, became the prince of Bulgaria.
Anthony Piotrovsky. Portrait of Alexander I of Battenberg
In July 1885, the main city of Eastern Rumelia, Plovdiv, revolted, Alexander Battenberg was declared "the prince of both Bulgaria". Turkey at this time had no time for the Slavs - they suppressed the Greek uprising on the island of Cyprus, but the Austrians resented, provoking the war between Bulgaria and Serbia (in which Serbia was quickly defeated).
The Russian emperor Alexander III was also very dissatisfied with the "willfulness" of the Bulgarians, on whose order on August 9, 1886, the pro-Russian officers of the Sofia garrison and the Struma infantry regiment forced Battenberg to abdicate the throne.
Photo of a Russian officer who served in the army of the Bulgarian principality
Battenberg was immediately restored to princely dignity by other conspirators led by Stefan Stambolov, but on August 27 he renounced the throne, saying that his departure from Bulgaria would improve the country's relations with Russia. As you understand, this made the most unpleasant impression on the Bulgarians, and it all ended with the election in 1887 of an absolutely pro-German candidate - Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who then ruled for 30 years, founding the fourth royal dynasty of Bulgaria. Stefan Stambolov, already mentioned by us, the former regent of Bulgaria and the prime minister of this country, who greatly contributed to the election of Ferdinand, dying in 1895 from a wound received from the Macedonian terrorists, said:
I have committed many sins before the Bulgarian people. He will forgive me everything except that I brought Ferdinand Coburg here.
Georgi Danchov-Zografina. Portrait of Stefan Stambolov
Ferdinand von Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, photo taken shortly before his election as Prince of Bulgaria. Former chief lieutenant of the Hungarian cavalry, chief of the 26th Jaeger Battalion, 11th Hussars and 60th Heavy Artillery Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army, later received the rank of Marshal of the Turkish Army. He was recognized by Russia in 1896 - after he invited Nicholas II to become the godfather of his son Boris
The same godson of Nicholas II - the Bulgarian Tsar Boris III and Adolf Hitler: they are very similar, aren't they? A few days after this meeting, the Bulgarian will die of myocardial infarction
Alexander III was enraged, but he had to answer for everything, including his own stupidity. Unfortunately, it was not only the emperor who had to answer, but also Russia - so, the clumsy and stupid actions of Alexander III greatly contributed to the fact that Bulgaria then twice fought against our country on the side of Germany.
Bulgaria gained full independence only in 1908, when on September 22, in the Church of the Holy Forty Martyrs in Veliko Tarnovo, Ferdinand, taking advantage of the Bosnian crisis (Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, paying the Turks compensation of 2,5 million pounds sterling), took the title king of the Bulgarians.
Wars of the independent Bulgarian kingdom
Then there was the victory of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece in the I Balkan War.
As a result, the Bulgarians received from Turkey a significant part of Thrace with Edirne (Adrianople) and most of Macedonia with access to the Aegean Sea (but they wanted all of Macedonia and Constantinople).
Bulgarian soldiers, 1913, colorized photograph
And the Young Turks came to power in the Ottoman Empire during this war. However, after a month and a half, the II Balkan War began (Bulgaria against Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, the Ottoman Empire and Romania), during which Bulgaria lost almost all of the newly acquired territories, as well as South Dobruja.
Territorial losses of Bulgaria after World War I
Then the Russian and Bulgarian troops met on the Thessaloniki front. For some reason, the headquarters of the Supreme High Command decided that the Bulgarians would never shoot at the Russians, and therefore one brigade would be enough, to the side of which the Bulgarian soldiers and officers would go over together. It turned out that the Bulgarians were shooting at the Russians no less well than at the Serbs, Italians, French and British. There were military clashes with the Bulgarians on the Romanian front in 1916.
Attempts at revenge in World War II, as you know, Bulgaria did not lead to anything good. It is curious that Bulgaria then declared war only on Great Britain and the United States (December 13, 1941), and diplomatic relations were not even severed with the Soviet Union.
At the first stage of this war, Bulgaria captured part of the territory of Greece, Macedonia and Eastern Serbia, South Dobrudja annexed:
The territory of Bulgaria in 1941-1944
But these successes were replaced by failures. Realizing that the defeat of Germany and its allied countries was inevitable, on August 26, 1944, the Bulgarian government declared neutrality and demanded the withdrawal of German troops, which, however, after the surrender of Romania, were going to leave here anyway, so as not to be cut off from the Reich. However, the advancing Soviet troops had to leave for Yugoslavia, and therefore on September 5, the USSR declares war on Bulgaria. They failed to fight: on September 8, Bulgaria itself declared war on Germany, the Bulgarian troops did not resist the Red Army, on the night of September 8-9, during a bloodless coup, the communists came to power in the country. But the monarchy in Bulgaria was abolished only after a national referendum held in 1946.
Bulgaria after World War II
In 1945, over 2 million Muslims lived in Bulgaria. These were the Rumelian (Danube) Turks, the Pomaks (Islamized Slavs who spoke Bulgarian), the Gypsies who converted to Islam. The Turks, despite their common religion, never considered Pomaks and Muslim gypsies as their own and looked down on them. Nevertheless, the religiosity of the Pomaks was quite high and caused concern of the authorities. The Bulgarian authorities tried to change the names of the Pomaks back in 1962-1964. - this caused widespread resistance, and the campaign was actually curtailed. Even more worrisome for the Bulgarian authorities was the presence of a large Muslim Turkish diaspora, which was already beginning to prevail in some parts of the country. Remaining citizens of Bulgaria, they all the time looked towards Turkey, which they continued to consider the metropolis, and some - and the real homeland. Everything changed in 1974 when the situation in Cyprus escalated.
In the next article we will talk about the tragic confrontation between Greeks and Turks on the island of Cyprus in 1974, Operation Attila, conducted by the army of the Turkish Republic, about the “Cyprus Syndrome” by Todor Zhivkov and the leadership of socialist Bulgaria and the notorious “Renaissance Process” campaign in this country. ...