Battle Banner of the Struga Rebel Party (Ilinden Uprising)
Macedonia fell into the sphere of Ottoman influence in the second half of the 26th century. On September 1371, XNUMX, near the Maritsa River near the village of Chernomen, the Ottoman army of Lala Shahin Pasha attacked the troops of Vukashin Mrnyavchevich Prilepsky and his brother Yoan Ugles Seressky. The Christians were taken by surprise, and, in general, it was not so much a battle as a massacre of disparate units (Serbian, Bulgarian, Bosnian, Hungarian, Wallachian) who did not have time to form for battle. The defeat led to the fact that part of the territories of Macedonia and Thrace was under the rule of the Turkish sultans. The remaining lands of Macedonia, in which Vukashin's son Marko ruled, became a vassal of the Ottoman state. It happened under Sultan Murad I.
Marko on the fresco of the Markov Monastery near Prilep, circa 1380
This son of Vukashin under the name "Marko Korolevich" became the character of many heroic songs, where he unexpectedly appears as a public defender against Ottoman oppression. One of the legends, recorded by Vuk Karadzic, tells that Marko retired to a cave after seeing a gun for the first time. He allegedly said then:
Now heroism is useless, because the very last villain can kill a valiant young man.
In fact, Marko Vukashinic was a loyal servant of the Turkish sultans and died in May 1395 during the Battle of Rovinj, where he fought against the Wallachian army of Mircea the Old on the side of Bayezid I of Lightning. In the same battle, the Serbian feudal lord Konstantin Dejanovich Dragash, the despot of Velbuzhd, who owned the north-eastern part of the Macedonian lands (Velbuzhd despotism), died.
Konstantin Deyanovich on the page of the Gospel of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander
This battle ended in a "draw", both armies retreated from the battlefield without revealing a winner, but the Prilepsk principality and Velbuzhd despotism, which had lost their rulers, then became part of the Ottoman state as part of Rumelia.
But let's go back 20 years and see that in 1373 the Tsar of Bulgaria Ivan Shishman also recognized the power of Murad I, who gave him his sister Tamara Keru as his wife. Then the Byzantine emperor John V and his brother Manuel, who ruled in Thessaloniki, became vassals of this sultan.
But Moreya still held out, where the despot Theodore I ruled in Mystra. The Serbian prince Lazar in 1386 managed to repulse the Turkish offensive on the Toplice River (even earlier he had expelled Marko Vukashinich from Serbia). The army of the Bosnian kral Tvrtko defeated one of the Ottoman armies near Bilech in 1388. But defeat in the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 canceled out all these successes. Instead of liberating the areas captured by the Ottomans, Serbia itself became a vassal of the Turkish sultans.
Muslims in Macedonia
The inhabitants of Macedonia, who professed Christianity, paid additional taxes - haraj and jizye, their children were taken away according to the devshirme system - in this their fate was no different from the fate of other Rumelian subjects. But part of the population of Macedonia was Islamized during the period of Ottoman rule. Here, the Slavs who converted to Islam were called torbesh - it was a derogatory nickname: this is how local Christians called those who changed their faith for “torba of flour”. But the torbesh themselves claim that their ancestors received this nickname because among them there were many small merchants who went to the villages with the torbes. It seems that Islamization is no longer enough for modern torbeshes living in this country: many of them are striving to become Turkic, declaring themselves not Slavs, but Turks. They do not know the Turkish language (as many of the current “Ukrainian patriots” do not know “Mova”), but they force their children to learn it.
There are other Muslims in Macedonia. Since the XNUMXth century, Muslim Albanians began to settle in Macedonia, in the XNUMXth century some Circassians settled in this area, leaving the territory of the Russian Empire, and then Muslims from the newly independent Serbia and Bulgaria. In turn, some Macedonian Christians fled to the territory of Austria from the end of the XNUMXth century, and then began to move to the Russian Empire.
Anti-Ottoman demonstrations in Macedonia
It cannot be said that the Macedonians were absolutely obedient Ottoman subjects. Periodically, uprisings broke out in these lands, one of the first occurred during the reign of Suleiman I the Magnificent. Some of the uprisings were associated with the Austro-Turkish wars - in 1593-1606 and 1683-1699. And in 1807-1809. In Macedonia, unrest began, caused by the news of the successes of the Serbs, who were then headed by Kara-Georgiy (this is described in the article "The water in the Drina flows cold, and the blood of the Serbs is hot"). Anti-Ottoman demonstrations were also noted in Macedonia during the uprising in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1876.
Territory of discord
According to the San Stefano Peace Treaty, almost all of Macedonia (except for Thessaloniki) was to become part of Bulgaria, but its conditions were revised at the Berlin Congress, which took place from June 1 (13) to July 1 (13), 1878.
Historical the territory of Macedonia then (after the administrative reform of 1860) was part of the three vilayets of the Ottoman Empire. The northern part became part of the Kosovo vilayet, the south-western part ended up in the Monastir vilayet, the southeastern part - in the Thessaloniki vilayet (occupying not the entire territory of each of these vilayets).
Vilayets in the region of Macedonia 1907
In terms of religious influence, the Churches of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania fought for the minds of the Macedonians in the late XNUMXth century.
The fact that the southern part of Macedonia is located on the Aegean coast greatly increased the stakes in the struggle for this region. In the late XIX - early XX centuries. Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria claimed the territory of Macedonia. Each of these sides had certain reasons to consider these lands their own.
The Greeks said that since the time of the great Alexander, Macedonia has been part of Hellas.
They did not forget that Macedonia was part of the Byzantine Empire and was ruled from the city of Thessaloniki.
The Serbs remembered Stefan Dusan, who included northern Macedonia in their state, about the Battle of Maritsa in 1371, Marko Korolevic, and called Macedonia "Old Serbia".
The Bulgarians argued that there were no differences at all between them and the Macedonians, and only an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances separated a part of the united people from their historical homeland.
What was the situation in Macedonia at that time?
The Russian diplomat Trubetskoy then compared the Macedonians to "a dough from which one can mold both Serbs and Bulgarians."
The French Balkan scholar Louis-Jaret wrote about Macedonia:
Here is a Christian village: they speak Albanian dialect, its priest is Orthodox and obeys the exarch, if you ask the inhabitants of this village about who they are, they answer that they are Bulgarians. Here is another village: the peasants are Muslims, their language is Slavic-Bulgarian, their physical type is Albanian, and they call themselves Albanians. Nearby, other farmers also call themselves Albanians, but they, in turn, are Orthodox, depend on the exarchate and speak Bulgarian. "
Often, in the same family, the closest relatives identified themselves as belonging to different nations. For example, a family is described where the father considered himself Bulgarian, the eldest son considered himself a Serb, and the youngest was called Greek.
The competing states were not limited to the ideological struggle for the sympathies of the population of Macedonia. Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek detachments (couples) operated on its territory, the official goal of which was to fight the Ottomans, and the unofficial one was to destroy competitors. They also carried out a "cleaning" of the territory from unwanted elements, for example, teachers of the "wrong" language, priests who refused to obey the Bulgarian Exarchate or the Constantinople (Greek) Patriarch. Sometimes residents of entire villages became victims of such detachments. For example, the Serbs destroyed the Bulgarian village of Zagorichany. They did not disdain provocations either. It is known that in 1906 the Bulgarian Chetniks eliminated the director of one of the Serbian schools, a certain Dimitrievich, by throwing a bundle of dynamite and a plan to blow up a local mosque into the hallway of his house and reporting the "terrorist" to the local gendarmes.
According to Turkish data, in 1907 in Macedonia there were 110 Bulgarian couples, 80 Greek and 30 Serbian. Serbian Prime Minister Milutin Garashanin formulated the tasks in 1885:
In today's situation, our enemy in those lands is not Turkey, but Bulgaria.("Instructions on Maintaining Serbian Influence in Old Serbia")
Macedonian revolutionary organizations
In Thessaloniki (as the city of Thessaloniki was then called), a group was created in 1893, later called the Inner Macedonian-Odrin revolutionary organization, the purpose of which was stated:
The unification into a single whole of all dissatisfied elements without distinction of nationality for the conquest through revolution of the full political autonomy of Macedonia and the Adrianople (Odrinsky) vilayet.
Its leaders considered Macedonia to be an indivisible territory, and all its inhabitants, regardless of nationality, were Macedonians. It is curious that almost all of them were Bulgarians.
VMORO also organized its own detachments, which from 1898 to 1903. 130 times they fought with the Turks. In 1903, this organization was already so strong that on August 2, on the day of St. Elijah (Ilenden), it raised an uprising, in which up to 35 thousand people participated. The rebels captured the city of Krushevo and created a republic that lasted 10 days.
Nikola Karev, school teacher, head of the "Krushevskaya Republic"
Later this organization split into two parts. The "right" advocated the annexation of Macedonia to Bulgaria, the "left" - for the creation of the Balkan Federation.
During the I Balkan and I world wars, the units of the VMORO fought on the side of Bulgaria, in 1913 they took part in two anti-Serb uprisings.
In 1919, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization was created on the basis of WMORO.
Emblem of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
According to the results of the First Balkan War (in which, by the way, airplanes and armored cars were used for the first time in the world), most of Macedonia with a section of the Aegean Sea coast became part of Bulgaria. But after the II Balkan War, Bulgaria only had the north-eastern part of Macedonia (Pirin Territory). The southern part (Aegean Macedonia) was then received by Greece, and the western and central parts (Vardar Macedonia) - by Serbia.
At first, Bulgaria occupied the entire Vardar and part of Aegean Macedonia during World War I, but failed to save these lands: Macedonia was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which later became Yugoslavia.
At this time, the VMRO continued its struggle with the central authorities of Yugoslavia, often acting in alliance with the Croatian Ustasha. It was the Macedonian militant Vlado Chernozemsky who became the performer in the terrorist attack of 1934, when King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Bartou were killed in Marseille (as we remember from the article The fall of the Karageorgievichs. The last kings of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Bartou was shot not by a terrorist, but by French police).
After the collapse of Yugoslavia, VMRO was revived as a party in both Macedonia and Bulgaria. One of the activists of this party was the future president of Macedonia, Boris Traikovsky.
Macedonia during World War II
With the beginning of the war, Bulgarian troops entered Macedonia from the east, and Italian and Albanian troops from the west. After the fall of Yugoslavia, part of Macedonia with the cities of Tetovo, Gostivar, Kichevo, Struga and Prespav became part of Albania. The rest of the country was occupied by the 5th Bulgarian Army (4 divisions) under the command of Lieutenant General V. Boydev. Then 56 thousand Serbs were forcibly deported from Macedonia. In addition, 19 Macedonians were sent to work in Germany and Italy, and 25 to Bulgaria. About 7 thousand Jews were taken to Poland, where they ended up in the Treblinka concentration camp.
On October 11, 1941, a Macedonian partisan detachment attacked a police station in Prilep, this day is considered the date of the beginning of the anti-fascist resistance to the occupation of Macedonia. By the summer of 1942, the rebels had achieved significant success, completely liberating some areas of the country.
On July 25, 1943, Mussolini was arrested in the royal palace of Rome; on October 8, Italy's surrender was announced. After that, the partisan war in Macedonia intensified sharply. The main headquarters of the People's Liberation Partisan Detachments of Macedonia was now renamed the Main Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Macedonia, contacts were established with the states of the Anti-Hitler Coalition and with the Supreme Headquarters of the NOAJ. After the expulsion of the occupation troops from the territory of Macedonia (November 19, 1944), the Macedonian troops (up to 66 thousand people) continued the war on the territory of other Yugoslav lands.
Macedonia in socialist Yugoslavia
On August 2, 1944, at the first meeting of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People's Liberation of Macedonia, this country was proclaimed an "equal union unit within the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia", and in 1945 it became one of the 6 republics of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (which in 1963 received another name - Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). The Macedonian language became the state language - along with Serbo-Croatian and Albanian.
It should be said that the literary Macedonian language took shape precisely in socialist Yugoslavia: the alphabet and the first spelling code appeared in 1945, and the first Macedonian grammar was approved in 1946. Prior to that, in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, the Macedonian language was called a dialect of South Serbian. And in the 1946th century, the Macedonian language was considered a dialect of Bulgarian. Then, in XNUMX, the Macedonians were recognized as a separate Slavic ethnos. It has been repeatedly suggested that this was done in order not to call the inhabitants of the historical region of Vardar Macedonia Bulgarians or, God forbid, Greeks (and so that they themselves would not be tempted to call themselves that).
Macedonia has traditionally been one of the poorest and most backward territories of Yugoslavia; in the pre-war period, only two factories had more than 250 workers, and two-thirds of residents over 10 years old were illiterate. Therefore, in the new socialist republic of Macedonia, it had the status of an "undeveloped" region and received significant subsidies from the federal budget. In the course of the implementation of the industrialization program of this republic in Macedonia after the war, dozens of large factories and factories were built and even new industries were created: metallurgy, mechanical engineering, chemical production. Macedonia developed especially rapidly in the period from 1950 to 1970: the volume of industrial production in comparison with 1939 by 1971 increased 35 times.
All this did not prevent local nationalists, who felt at the end of the 80s that the central government was weakening, from taking a course towards creating an independent state. As early as 1989, the Union of Communists of Macedonia changed its name, becoming the Party for Democratic Transformation (since April 21, 1991 - the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia). On September 8, 1991, the parliament adopted a declaration on the republic's sovereignty, and Bulgaria was the first to recognize the independence of Macedonia.
Unlike other republics, the secession of Macedonia from Yugoslavia was bloodless. However, the Macedonians could not avoid the war: they had to fight the local Albanians of the National Liberation Army (PLA) and the Kosovo Liberation Army.
The next article will focus on Macedonia and Kosovo after the collapse of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia.