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Simeon IIThe history of Bulgaria separates into four periods: First Bulgarian Kingdom (681 – 1018 AD); Second Bulgarian Kingdom (1185 – 1396 AD); Third Bulgarian Kingdom (1878 – 1945), and newest Bulgarian history.

The First Bulgarian Kingdom

Khan Asparuh found the first Bulgarian State in 681 by  as a leader of a union between the Slavs and the Proto-Bulgarians in their struggle against Byzantium. The following period between the 8th and the 10th centuries brought the political rise and territorial expansion.

Boris I Mihail (852-889) converted the Bulgarians to Christianity and adopted the Slavonic script created by Constantine Cyril the Philosopher and his brother Methodius.

Simeon the Grate (893-927) conquered new lands and expanded the territory of Bulgaria to the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Adriatic. Bulgaria became one of the most powerful states in Europe.

After exhaustive wars with Byzantium which ended with the defeat of the troops of czar Samuil (997-1014) the Byzantine rule over Bulgaria was established.

The Second Bulgarian Kingdom

In 1187 the Second Bulgarian Kingdom with Veliko Tarnovo as a capital was established. Petur II was pronounced czar of the Bulgarians.

The power of Bulgaria was restored by czar Kaloyan (1197-1207) who inflicted a final defeat on the forces of the Latin emperor Baldwin I.

The ascension of czar Ivan Asen II (1218-1241) on the throne is connected with a new strengthening of the state, with the expansion of its borders, and with economic and cultural development.

Czar Ivan-Alexandur (1331-1371) divided the country between his sons Ivan Sratsimir (1371-1396) and Ivan Shishman (1371-1393). The cultural life was on the upsurge again.

The Otoman Expansion
The attacks of the Ottoman Turks on the Balkan Peninsula in the 14th century led to the waning of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom taken over in 1396.

The 18th century saw the beginning of the Bulgarian National Revival and the formation of the Bulgarian nation. The period of the National Revival began with “The Slav-Bulgarian History” written in 1762 by Paisii of Hilendar. The ideology of national liberation was conceived, the independent Bulgarian church, education and culture were restored.

The Third Bulgarian Kingdom
As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation (1877-1878) the Bulgarian State was restored, but it included only a small part of the Bulgarian lands.The Bulgarian people reacted against the decision of the Berlin Congress with the Kresna-Razlog uprising (1878-1879), accomplishment of the unification of Eastern Rumelia and the Principality of Bulgaria (1885) and organized the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising (1903). Prince Ferdinand Saxe-Coburg-Gotha proclaimed Bulgaria independent and himself the czar.

Bulgaria, together with Serbia and Greece, was victorious in the Balkan War (1912-1913) against Turkey for the liberation of Thrace and Macedonia, but in the Inter-Allies War (1913) it was defeated by its former allies who tore out territories inhabited by Bulgarians. Bulgaria’s participation in the World War I on the side of the Central Powers ended with a national catastrophe, czar Ferdinand abdicated in favor of his son Boris III (1918-1943).

The period between the two world wars started with a heavy crisis and with the rule of the Bulgarian Agrarian Union. The resistance of the left forces led to the September 1923 uprising guided by the Communist Party. During the next decade the influence of the monarchist circles increased which strengthened the personal power of czar Boris III. At that time Bulgaria was oriented to Germany and it was forced to join the Axis in 1941.

Bulgaria declared the so called “Symbolic war” on USA and Great Britain, but did not take part in the battles on the Eastern Front; the Bulgarian society saved the Jews living in the country from deportation. After the death of czar Boris III a council of regents was formed and it ruled instead of the underage Simeon II. A National Committee of the Fatherland Front (organization created by the communists) was set up and a guerilla movement was organized.

Latest Bulgarian history
In 1944 the Fatherland Front took over the power. The presence of the Soviet Army in Bulgaria sped up the changes in the political life and the following events – the declaration of the Republic (1946) and the coming to power of the Bulgarian Communist Party; the political parties were dismantled, nationalization of industry and banks, coöperation of land were implemented.

In 1989 democratic changes began in Bulgaria – the political parties and the parliamentary functions were restored. The National Assembly adopted a new Constitution which regulates the functions of the three main powers – legislative, executive and legal.

Bulgaria is member of both NATO and the European Union.


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