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Anna Kazachka

Bennett, Martin

Humanities-6, History-3

3 March, 2017

Bulgaria: The Instabilities Caused by the Ottoman Empire

Is the inability for Bulgaria to develop into a modern, stable nation state a result of the Ottoman

Empire control?

Throughout history several states have joined and separated; some succeed and others did

not for various reasons. The overall aspect that aided or prohibited in the success of a newly

independent nation is the state of nation they were a part of before and the general treatment of

the people. Bulgaria chose to separate because of issues with religion and the immense Turkish

presence. Bulgarians were a part of a Christian minority in a Muslim empire; conversion to Islam

was not forced, but there were fewer opportunities for those who were non-Muslims within the

Ottoman Empire. As the Ottoman government dissolved, the Turkish gained control over all

minorities and displayed intense and unnecessary acts of force. The armed Turkish control of the

Bulgarian area frightened the Bulgarians and forced them to flee to areas outside of the country.

Not only did the anarchy result in Turkic dominance but it also revived Bulgarian culture and

nationalism by instating less political control on them. The poor treatment and new patriotism of

the Bulgarian people resulted in the April Uprising and, afterwards, the Russo-Turkish War,

which led to the Bulgarian independence in 1878. Soon after their sovereignty Bulgaria faced

many struggles and losses. They experienced multiple wars, such as the Balkan Wars and World

War I. In both of these long and destructive fights they had several casualties and multiple blows
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to their governmental structure. The instability that circulates Bulgarian history is a direct result

of the control of the Ottoman Empire for the Ottoman influence and treatment; this affected

Bulgaria poorly in their attempt to form their own nation.

Towards the end of the era in which the Bulgarian people were a part of the Ottoman

Empire, the empire was at a decline; there were few resources for the citizens because of the

conflict that surrounded the country. The minimum supplies, that they did have, were sent to

areas that were more favored, for various reasons like religion. There were no assets dedicated to

the Bulgarian population. This obvious inability to exhibit a stable political government, on the

Ottomans part, affected the future independent state of Bulgaria. Mark Pinson reflects upon the

Ottoman weakening around Bulgaria when he notes in his journal, Ottoman Bulgaria in the First


Tanzimat Period: The Revolts in Nish (1841) and Vidin (1850), that, certain developments in

the Balkan region must be kept in mind in understanding the situation in Bulgaria at the

beginning of the Tanzimat period. The Kirjali period, ca. 1795-1810, one of widespread banditry

and small- scale local warfare, saw a considerable weakening of Ottoman authority in

Bulgaria(104). The Tanzimat movement was a series of governmental reforms, from 1839 to

1876, that focused on the centralization and rationalization of Ottoman rule and to capture more

taxes for military defense of the empire for they were prone to invasions at the time. The main

priority for this movement was to restore the Ottoman state and align it with the Western

societies. Sadly, while all effort was put into reform, many citizens were deserted, in reference to

governmental control and resources. The poor display of control led the Bulgarians to grow

closer to one another and to a greater sense of nationalism; it also influenced the Bulgarians

knowledge on how to run a country. Since the Bulgarians only personal reference was the failure
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of the Ottomans, they knew how not to run a country but they had no real knowledge on how to

run a country. Furthermore, in Ottoman Bulgaria in the First Tanzimat Period: The Revolts in

Nish (1841) and Vidin (1850), Mark Pinson notes the different preference levels of the different

cultural people when he denotes that, the use of special commissioners, of itself beneficial, was

nevertheless an indication of a major failing of the Ottoman administration in the area:

indifference or unresponsiveness to needs of the local populace (and the consequent inability of

the central government to rely on these officials to act in accord with these needs)(110). The

movement wasnt all successful; several groups of people were not a main priority for aid. The

Ottomans favored Muslim populations that were most similar to their preexisting culture. The

Bulgarian population was not only a Christian group, but they were also, only, a conquered area

that showed no immense prospects or values for the Ottoman Empires striff. The little supplies

the Bulgarians had forced them into a poor society that relied heavily on sale of agricultural

products; agriculture was the main business because they were not modernized enough for any

other. This intense state of peasantry, placed onto them at fault of the Ottomans, left the group in

shambles, for when they did separate they were behind in the advancements of society; they were

so belated that it caused even greater problems for them once they were independent.

The weakening control and the minimal interest in the support of Bulgaria severely

stumped their development, but also the harsh punishments the Bulgarians endured, during their

days in the empire and after, hindered them. They were under a constant attack by the Ottomans

which restricted them and formed a resentment towards central authority and general Ottoman

rule. In Mark Pinsons Ottoman Bulgaria in the First Tanzimat Period: The Revolts in Nish

(1841) and Vidin (1850), he states that, Sabri Mustafa, in the course of levying taxes, helped
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himself to food and drink, but was refused a woman, in response to which he appears to have

sent a band of Turks to retaliate against the village. Another account refers to a raid by Turks

against Bulgarians in a church where the Turks raped a number of women and girls; that the deed

remained unpunished moved the villagers to action.(106). While Bulgarians were a territory of

the Turks, they were unfairly abused. The Turkic people took advantage of them to prove their

total control over the people and the government, even though the Ottoman state was in complete

disorder. These prejudices restricted economic growth but it angered the nationality and drew

them closer together resulting in their desire to separate. The harsh acts against the population

helped shape their future by moving them forward in their decision to leave but restraining

development; they gathered enough courage to fight against and earn their freedom but they were

left in an unstable state. The Turkic negative influence left them as an impoverished,

underdeveloped farming country, with little modernization or resources. Most of the land was

owned by small farmers, with peasants comprising 80% of the population. Unfairly, the injustice

didnt end after their liberation. Additionally, uhnaz Yilmaz declared in his article, Fighting the

Spectres of the Past: Dilemmas of Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans and the Middle East, that

Macedonia turned into another battleground for territorial influence manifesting itself as

sectarian conflict between Patriarchist Greeks and Exarchist Bulgarians. According to most

accounts, the root of this conflict is to be found in the Congress of Berlin of 1878, which restored

Ottoman rule in Macedonia - a region that had been included in the 'Greater Bulgaria' of the San

Stefano Treaty earlier that year.(683). Even after their liberation, the Ottoman Empire still made

several attempts to control them and prevent success of any kind. The Macedonia region was

first a territory of Bulgaria but, once again, the Ottomans were not pleased. They staged various
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conflicts in the area to form an influence in the area to aid them in their heist of the area. The

Ottomans already had enough land, that they couldnt even control, but in spite of the new

Bulgarian independence they had to, once again, display their power. These selfish acts further

restrained Bulgarian innovation and economic and social growth and led to several other

misfortunes.

The instability that circulates Bulgarian history is a direct result of the control of the

Ottoman Empire for the Ottoman influence and treatment; this affected Bulgaria poorly in their

attempt to form their own nation. Some may say it was only a series of misfortunate events, but

everything happens as a result of something else. Each action plays a part in the outcome of the

future; everything has an effect. The Ottoman Empire robbed Bulgaria from their stability by

their weak infrastructure and their harsh abusements. The weakening control, minimal interest in

the support of Bulgaria, and the severe punishments they faced limited the prosperity of the

Bulgarian state, for it set them behind in development and gave them a poor preconception.

Throughout history several states have joined and separated; some succeed and others did not for

various reasons.
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Pinson, Mark. Ottoman Bulgaria in the First Tanzimat Period: The Revolts in Nish (1841) and

Vidin (1850). Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 11, no. 2, 1975, pp. 103146.,

www.jstor.org/stable/4282564.

Yilmaz, uhnaz, and pek K. Yosmaoglu. Fighting the Spectres of the Past: Dilemmas of

Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans and the Middle East. Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 44, no. 5,

2008, pp. 677693., www.jstor.org/stable/40262610.