History Files
 

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

2023
Totals slider
2023

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe

 

Principality of Bulgaria
AD 1878 - 1908

The first Bulgars in the Danubian delta arrived in the seventh century with the formation of the Danubian Bulgarian kingdom. This blossomed to become the (First) Bulgarian empire, but Kievan Rus interference resulted in the Cometopuli governing a reduced Bulgar territory. Whilst surviving against the odds, the Bulgarian state was rarely over-strong but it fought hard to ensure its survival. Control later devolved to the Asens, local feudal lords, and then the Terters.

Initially, Terter-controlled Bulgaria amounted to little more than the original territory of the Danubian Bulgar state, although it later expanded outwards. It also largely established Bulgarian borders which survive to this day, albeit with many post-Ottoman amendments.

Bulgaria's population had always been mixed, but the next millennium would fully knit together strands from Bulgar Turkic, Slav, Cuman, Serb, and Vlach origins. The Bulgar Turkic language had long since been replaced by Slavic, and the Bulgar state had vacillated for a time between the Latin alphabet and the new Cyrillic one, before it plumped for the latter.

In 1396 the Battle of Nicopolis resulted in defeat for the allied European forces against the Ottoman advance. Bulgaria was now a subject Ottoman territory, and would remain so for over four hundred years. It was the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 which set the scene for eventual Ottoman loss of power in much of the Balkans.

With the Russians now proving to be the dominant force in the Black Sea, their victories in Bulgarian territory and the prospect of renewed Bulgarian independence created links and goodwill which, to an extent, have defined Bulgar-Russian relations to this day.

In 1878 the 'Principality of Bulgaria' was created as an autonomous Ottoman province, including within its borders Moesia and the Sofia region. What it did not include was southern Bulgaria, formed by the eastern section of the Ottoman eyalet (province) of Rumelia, otherwise known as East Rumelia, or the Macedonian region. The latter would eventually emerge as North Macedonia. A German prince was elected as the first Bulgarian, post-Ottoman head of state.

The Balkans Mountains in Albania, by wiredforadventure.com

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Bulgarians: from pagan times to the Ottoman conquest, David Marshall Lang (Westview Press, 1976), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, John V A Fine (University of Michigan Press, 1994), and from External Links: Bulgaria (Worldstatesmen), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation.)

1878 - 1886

Prince Alexander

Hessen-Battenberg. Abdication enforced.

1885

Prince Alexander has enthused Bulgarians and alienated Russians by his restoration of the liberal Bulgarian constitution in 1884. Now he is able to unite the principality with the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia which, today, forms much of southern Bulgaria.

Bulgarian-organised revolts in various towns there throughout the year have meant that Bulgarian annexation of eastern Rumelia is little more than a formality.

Prince Alexander of Bulgaria
Prince Alexander of Hessen-Battenberg was largely able and successful in steering Bulgaria's course between fervent nationalist ministerial demands and the pressure from Russia to become little more than an extension of its empire

1886

A Russian-backed attempted coup does not dislodge Alexander, but it does render his position untenable. He is forced to resign and return to Hessen-Battenberg. His elected replacement is Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

1887 - 1908

Prince Ferdinand

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Recreated the Bulgarian Tsarate.

1908

Having been thought unsuitable for the role by many of the great European houses, Prince Ferdinand has surprised them all with his dedication as prince of Bulgaria. On 5 October 1908 he proclaims Bulgaria's effective independence from the Ottoman empire, confirming what had been accepted as fact anyway since 1878.

Then he proclaims the recreation of the Bulgarian kingdom, taking the title of tsar which had lapsed at the end of the 'Second Empire' in 1376. However, this '(Third) Bulgarian Empire' is not viewed by anyone as an empire. This time 'tsar' firmly means 'king' and not 'emperor'.

Saxony's Coburg Castle
Saxony's Coburg Castle is first mentioned in 1056, being gained by the Wettins in 1353 and then enlarged to become one of the largest castles in German lands

Kingdom of Bulgaria (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) / Third Bulgarian Empire
AD 1908 - 1943

An early Bulgar state, the '(First) Bulgarian Kingdom', was formed in the seventh century. This graduated into the '(First) Bulgarian Empire', but circumstances resulted in the reduced Cometopuli state. Control later devolved to the Asens, local feudal lords, and then the Terters.

It was the Terters who largely established Bulgarian borders which survive to this day, albeit with many post-Ottoman amendments. Bulgaria's population was also undergoing a long process of unifying population strands from Bulgar Turkic, Slav, Cuman, Serb, and Vlach origins. The state's language was Slavic, and the alphabet was Cyrillic, replacing Latin.

In 1396 the Battle of Nicopolis resulted in defeat for the allied European forces against the Ottoman advance. Bulgaria was now a subject Ottoman territory, and would remain so for over four hundred years. It was the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 which set the scene for eventual Ottoman loss of power in much of the Balkans.

With the Russians now proving to be the dominant force in the Black Sea, their victories in Bulgarian territory and the prospect of renewed Bulgarian independence created links and goodwill which, to an extent, have since defined Bulgar-Russian relations to this day.

In 1878 the 'Principality of Bulgaria' was created as an autonomous Ottoman province, including within its borders Moesia and the Sofia region. It did not include southern Bulgaria - the East Rumelia eyalet (province), or the Macedonian region, until Bulgaria's ruling German prince could enforcedly unify these lands in 1885.

That prince's successor, Ferdinand, declared a reborn Bulgarian 'Third Empire' on 5 October 1908. He took the title of tsar which had lapsed at the end of the second empire in 1376. However, this third empire was not viewed by anyone as an empire. This time 'tsar' firmly meant 'king' and not 'emperor'.

The Balkans Mountains in Albania, by wiredforadventure.com

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Bulgarians: from pagan times to the Ottoman conquest, David Marshall Lang (Westview Press, 1976), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, John V A Fine (University of Michigan Press, 1994), and from External Links: Bulgaria (Worldstatesmen), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation.)

1908 - 1918

Tsar Ferdinand

Forced to abdicate at end of the First World War.

1913

The First Balkan War brings Greek victory in the capture and permanent possession of Salonika (modern Thessaloniki - the second largest city in Greece), just beating a Bulgarian force which had also aimed at capturing it.

Salonika front during the First World War
The First World War came to Greece in the form of an allied base at Salonika so that the Austrian army in Serbia could be opposed in one of the toughest and most horrific of fronts during a campaign which has largely been forgotten

Bulgaria finds it has to pursue the Second Balkan War in order to address some of the many remaining territorial disputes in the region. Bulgaria's Southern Dobruja region is annexed to Rumania under the terms of the Treaty of Bucharest, giving it a wedge of territory to the south of the lower Danube. Bulgaria is compensated by being given much of Thrace along with access to the Aegean Sea.

1915 - 1918

Despite being courted by the allies, especially Britain and France, Bulgaria has noted the failures of the Gallipoli campaign against Turkey and the Italian campaign against Austria-Hungary. So Ferdinand signs four treaties with Germany and Austria on 6 September, agreeing to attack Serbia in return for territory. The act will cost him his throne in 1918, although his son does succeed him.

1918 - 1943

Boris III

Son. Numbering continued from 'First Empire'. Died aged 49.

1940 - 1941

Bulgaria attempts to remain neutral in the early days of the war, even benefiting from Nazi German attention when the Treaty of Craiova sees Rumania agree to hand back Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria on 7 September 1940. It does become an Axis member in 1941, but resists attempts to deport the bulk of its Jewish Diaspora population or to get it to take part in the invasion of Russia.

Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler at the height of his rule over Nazi Germany envisioned a 'Greater Germany' covering a vast swathe of Central Europe with 'living room' for Germans and a subservient Slavic population in the east to handle manual work

1943 - 1946

Simeon II

Son, aged 6. Hereditary king (1946). Prime minister (2001).

1943 - 1944

Cyril / Kiril

Regent and uncle. Prince of Peslav. Died 1945 (aged 49).

1944

The country is taken over by Soviet communist forces. In September 1946 a rigged referendum decides by a ninety-three percent majority that Bulgaria should be a republic, and Tsar Simeon II and the queen mother are required to leave the country.

Simeon makes several attempts to gather support for a reformation of the monarchy in Bulgaria but ultimately they come to nothing. Allowed to return in 1996 he enters politics for a time and becomes the prime minister in 2001 of the republic of Bulgaria.

 
Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.