Principality of Bulgaria

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Principality of Bulgaria
Княжество България
Knjaschestvo Balgarija
Flag of Bulgaria Coat of arms of Bulgaria
flag coat of arms
Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg navigation Flag of Bulgaria.svg
Constitution Constitution of Tarnowo
1881–1883 ​​Constitutional suspension
Official language Bulgarian
Capital Sofia
Form of rule principality
Government system Constitutional monarchy
Head of state Knjaz
Head of government Prime Minister
- 1880
- 1908

63,752 km²
95,223 km²
- 1880
- 1908

currency Lev (1 lev = 100 stotinki)
founding March 3, 1878 Peace of San Stefano
(de facto independence)
July 13, 1878 Berlin Congress
(international recognition)
resolution October 5, 1908
conversion to Tsarist Bulgaria
National anthem Schumi Maritza
The insurgent areas during the April Uprising and the borders of Bulgaria after the Conference of Constantinople

The Principality of Bulgaria ( Bulgarian Княжество България Knjaschestvo Balgaria ) was a state that existed from 1878 to 1908. It was founded after the Berlin Congress of 1878 when it was separated from the Ottoman Empire . However, the principality was nominally subject to the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire and remained tributary to it as a vassal state . The capital of the principality was Sofia .


Until its union with Eastern Rumelia in 1886, the Principality of Bulgaria roughly comprised the areas of the former Ottoman Danube Province : today's northern Bulgaria (north of the Balkan Mountains and south of the Danube with the southern Dobruja ) and the Sofia plain .


At the end of the 14th century, the Second Bulgarian Empire had to submit to the Ottoman Empire .

After centuries of occupation, which due to its length and brutality, especially in the last century of Ottoman suzerainty, are described as a 500-year yoke , the era of the Bulgarian National Revival and the solution of the “Bulgarian Question” began. Similar to Western Europe, it drew on ancient and earlier Bulgarian and Byzantine traditions. From a cultural point of view, it led to the establishment of the Bulgarian language in church and school, which replaced the Greek language that had dominated until then . Church independence was achieved by the decree of Sultan Abdülaziz of February 28, 1870. As a result, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church regained limited independence after centuries of Ottoman rule. Under the name of the Bulgarian Exarchate , the church institution was now subordinate to the Sultan. Around 1800 the intellectual-national resistance arose with the demand for independence, the later form of which was marked by the ideas of the ideologues Georgi Rakowski and Wassil Lewski .

As a result of the bloody suppression of the uprisings of 1875 ( Stara Sagora uprising in Stara Sagora ) and 1876 ( April uprising ) and the efforts of the great powers, but above all Russia , to resolve the Bulgarian question, the then British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli called the international conference from Constantinople . This took place from December 23, 1876 to January 20, 1877 and although with one or two - partially independent - autonomous areas within the Ottoman Empire, it described the borders of a Bulgarian state for the first time in modern times , but remained without significant results. The Russian Empire then declared war on the Ottoman Empire ( Russo-Ottoman War from 1877 to 1878 ).


Administrative structure of the principality 1882–1885
Changes on the Balkan Peninsula after the Berlin Congress in 1878

The Russo-Ottoman War from 1877 to 1878 ended with the victory of the Russian Empire , which was recognized by the Ottomans in the Peace of San Stefano on March 3, 1878. In this peace treaty, the founding of a larger Bulgaria was agreed which, according to the conference that failed in Constantinople the previous year , should encompass all areas of the Balkan Peninsula populated by Bulgarians . The Russian Empire aspired to a large Slavic principality in the Balkans, but this was rejected by the other major European powers. According to the peace treaty of San Stefano, the new state of Bulgaria should initially be under Russian administration for two years.

Three months later, at the Berlin Congress, the peace treaty of San Stefano was partially revised in favor of the Ottoman Empire. The area of ​​the Bulgarian state no longer comprised 172,000 km² as originally planned, but only 63,750 km² for the Principality of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian state was ultimately limited to the territory between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains (roughly equivalent to today's northern Bulgaria), as well as the Sofia plateau and the southern Dobruja . The old Bulgarian capital Veliko Tarnowo is also located in northern Bulgaria . While the newly established province of Eastern Rumelia (roughly equivalent to today's southern Bulgaria) had an autonomous status, other areas claimed by the Bulgarians such as Macedonia and Eastern Thrace remained within the Ottoman Empire and without such an autonomous status . The areas around the southern Morava (beyond the southwest border of today's Bulgaria) and Pirot (beyond the northwest border of today's Bulgaria) were left to the Principality of Serbia , the north Dobruja (beyond the northeast border of today's Bulgaria) to the Kingdom of Romania .

The Berlin peace treaty was a great disappointment for the Bulgarians. As expected, they were dissatisfied with the narrow limits they had drawn. As a reaction to the decisions of the Berlin Congress, the Kresna Raslog uprising (1878) broke out in northeast Macedonia in autumn 1878 , but was suppressed by regular Ottoman troops.

In 1885, against the will of Russia and the major European powers, Eastern Rumelia was united with the Principality of Bulgaria . This union came about through a coup in Plovdiv in September 1885. The great powers did not intervene because they could not come to an agreement because of power struggles. The Bulgarian occupation of Eastern Rumelia did not last long and on April 17, 1886, the province was nominally again subject to Ottoman sovereignty. However, Eastern Rumelia remained under Bulgarian control. The Hohe Pforte made jul with the Tophane contract of March 24th . / April 5, 1886 greg. great concessions in recognizing the Prince of Bulgaria as Governor General of the Ottoman Province of Eastern Rumelia.

Shortly after the union with Eastern Rumelia, Serbia declared war on Bulgaria with the hope of easy territorial gains, since the attention and forces in Bulgaria were directed entirely to Eastern Rumelia. The Serbian-Bulgarian War lasted from November 14th to 28th, 1885. The Bulgarians defeated the Serbs in the Battle of Slivnitsa from November 17th to 19th, 1885. The territorial gains achieved were, however, through a diplomatic intervention by Austria-Hungary in Peace of Bucharest of March 2, 1886 reversed and the status quo ante restored.

In 1902 the Gorna Dschumaja uprising broke out in Macedonia , which was supported logistically and with arms deliveries from Bulgaria.

In 1903 the Ilinden-Preobraschenie uprising broke out in Macedonia and Thrace . The result was more than 5,000 deaths, 200 villages were razed to the ground, 12,000 houses were burned, 70,000 people were made homeless, tens of thousands fled to neighboring countries, including 30,000 to Bulgaria.

On October 5, 1908, the independence of the Principality of Bulgaria was finally recognized by the Ottoman Empire and the principality was converted into a tsarist government .

The constitution of the Principality of Bulgaria was the Constitution of Tarnowo (April 16, 1879), it was also transferred to the Kingdom.


Prince Alexander I (1879–1886)
Prince Ferdinand I (1887–1908)

At the Berlin Congress it was agreed that the Principality of Bulgaria would be governed by a prince who should be elected by an assembly consisting of prominent Bulgarian representatives and must be confirmed by the great powers. The prince shouldn't be Russian. However, they agreed on Alexander I von Battenberg as a compromise, although he was a nephew of the Russian Tsar Alexander II .

The Great People's Assembly ( Bulgarian Велико народно събрание ) elected Alexander I of Battenberg as prince in 1879. He had taken part in the Russo-Ottoman War as a volunteer on the Russian side. Alexander I was Prince of Bulgaria from 1879 to 1886.

The union with Eastern Rumelia made Prince Alexander I very popular among the Bulgarians. The Russian Empire, however, became increasingly dissatisfied with its liberal tendencies. Prince Alexander I still had conservative views when he took office and was in opposition to Stefan Stambolow , who was in power as Prime Minister with his liberal-democratic party from 1886. From 1885, however, the prince developed increasing sympathy for his new home, his attitude changed and he became increasingly liberal. The prince also supported the union with Eastern Rumelia. In 1886 the Russians got a group of Bulgarian soldiers to carry out a coup against Prince Alexander and overthrow him. The prince was forced to abdicate and went into exile in Russia.

However, these military did not stay in power for long, but were in turn overthrown by a counter-coup led by Stefan Stambolow.

Stambolov's counter-coup meant that the coup military had to flee abroad. Stefan Stambolow was head of state of the Principality of Bulgaria from August 28, 1886 to September 3, 1886. During Alexander I's first exile, Stambolov reinstated him as prince. The immediately following objection by the Russian tsar meant that Alexander I was again forced to abdicate.

A council of regents was set up, which was headed by Stefan Stambolow and led the affairs of government until a new prince was elected. During this time - from August 28, 1886 to September 3, 1886 - Stefan Stambolow was again head of state of the Principality of Bulgaria as long as the prince's throne was vacant.

The new prince was also a German from July 7, 1887 (Gregorian calendar): Ferdinand I of Saxe-Coburg . Ferdinand I was the candidate of the Habsburg Monarchy , which is why the Russians rejected him. However, he did not gain recognition by the Ottomans and the major European powers until 1896. At first Ferdinand I worked with Stambolov, but their relationship deteriorated noticeably in 1894. Stambolov resigned and was killed in an assassination attempt in July 1895. Ferdinand then decided to resume relations with the Russians, which is why he returned to conservative politics.

Ferdinand I married his first wife Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma in 1893 , with whom he had four children. His wife was Italian. Her family was strictly Roman Catholic and even before the wedding, the Protestant Ferdinand stipulated that his children, especially the heir to the throne, accept the Roman Catholic faith. That is why the Tarnowo constitution had to be changed.

Under pressure from the Russian tsar, their firstborn son Boris III. (1894–1943) switched from Catholicism to Orthodox on February 2, 1896 . This was a condition of the Russians before they agreed to an improvement in relations between the Principality of Bulgaria and the Russian Empire.

Third Bulgarian Empire

The Third Bulgarian Empire ( Bulgarian Трета българска държава ; transcription: Treta balgarska darzhawa ) began with the Principality of Bulgaria, more precisely with the state of Bulgaria agreed in the Peace of San Stefano , as the successor to the First and Second Bulgarian Empire . However, this is not to be understood in the sense of a large empire, like the previous Bulgarian empires, but rather as a third stage in the existence of the Bulgarian statehood. The literal translation from Bulgarian "Third Bulgarian State" says it more aptly, or "Third Bulgarian Kingdom" as it is called in Russian.

The Principality of Bulgaria was the name of the first Bulgarian state in modern times. Today's Bulgaria sees itself as part of this Third Bulgarian Empire or State.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. a b Mehmet Hacisalihoglu: The Young Turks and the Macedonian Question (1890–1918) , R. Oldenbourg Verlag, Munich, 2003, ISBN 3-486-56745-4 , p. 48

Web links