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There had been a literary revival preceding the dawn of independence in Greece. In Bulgaria, which was the last of the Balkan states to become independent, the national regeneration was also fostered by a literary and educational movement, of which the founding of the first Bulgarian school--that of Gabrovo--in 1835 was undoubtedly the most important event. In the next five years more than fifty Bulgarian schools were established and five Bulgarian printing-presses set up. The Bulgarians were beginning to re-discover their own nationality. Bulgarian schools and books produced a reaction against Greek culture and the Greek clergy who maintained it. Not much longer would Greek remain the language of the upper classes in Bulgarian cities; not much longer would ignorant peasants, who spoke only Bulgarian, call themselves Greek. The days of the spiritual domination of the Greek patriarchate were numbered. The ecclesiastical ascendency of the Greeks had crushed Bulgarian nationality more completely than even the civil power of the Turks. The abolition of the spiritual rule of foreigners and the restoration of the independent Bulgarian church became the leading object of the literary reformers, educators, and patriots. It was a long and arduous campaign--a campaign of education and awakening at home and of appeal and discussion in Constantinople. Finally the Sultan intervened and in 1870 issued a firman establishing the Bulgarian exarchate, conferring on it immediate jurisdiction over fifteen dioceses, and providing for the addition of other dioceses on a vote of two-thirds of their Christian population. The new Bulgarian exarch was immediately excommunicated by the Greek patriarch. But the first and most important official step had been taken in the development of Bulgarian nationality.
The revolt against the Turks followed in 1876. It was suppressed by acts of cruelty and horror unparalleled even in the Balkans. Many thousands of men, women, and children were massacred and scores of villages destroyed. I remember vividly--for I was then in England--how Gladstone's denunciation of those atrocities aroused a wave of moral indignation and wrath which swept furiously from one end of Great Britain to the other, and even aroused the governments and peoples of the Continent of Europe. The Porte refusing to adopt satisfactory measures of reform, Russia declared war and her victorious army advanced to the very gates of Constantinople. The Treaty of San Stefano, which Russia then enforced upon Turkey, created a "Big Bulgaria" that extended from the Black Sea to the Albanian Mountains and from the Danube to the Aegean, leaving to Turkey, however, Adrianople, Saloniki, and the Chalcidician Peninsula. But this treaty was torn to pieces by the Powers, who feared that "Big Bulgaria" would become a mere Russian dependency, and they substituted for it the Treaty of Berlin. Under this memorable instrument, which dashed to the ground the racial and national aspirations of the Bulgarians which the Treaty of San Stefano had so completely satisfied, their country was restricted to a "tributary principality" lying between the Danube and the Balkans, Eastern Roumelia to the south being excluded from it and made an autonomous province of Turkey. This breach in the political life of the race was healed in 1885 by the union of Eastern Roumelia with Bulgaria; and the Ottoman sovereignty, which had become little more than a form, was completely ended in 1908 when the ruler of the enlarged principality of Bulgaria publicly proclaimed it an independent kingdom. In spite of a protest from the Porte the independence of Bulgaria was at once recognized by the Powers.
If Bulgaria owed the freedom with which the Treaty of Berlin dowered her to the swords, and also to the pens, of foreigners, her complete independence was her own achievement. But it was not brought about till a generation after the Treaty of Berlin had recognized the independence of Servia, Montenegro, and Roumania and delegated to Austria-Hungary the administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yet the progress made by Bulgaria first under Prince Alexander and especially since 1887 under Prince Ferdinand (who subsequently assumed the title of King and later of Czar) is one of the most astonishing phenomena in the history of Modern Europe.
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