History of Bulgaria


Bulgarian history plays an important part in life of a modern Bulgaria. It is not merely bunch of facts or dates kids need to learn in school. It plays a key role in politics, culture and everyday lives of people. Knowing some of the basic facts about Bulgarian history might save you great deal of trouble and awkward situations with the locals.


Timeline of Bulgaria

4000BC Thracian tribes inhabit Eastern Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea.

6th century BC Greeks settle Eastern Bulgaria and start to trade with Thracian tribes Nesebar or Mesembria as well as other Greek colonies are found along a coast

359- 336 BC Philip II rules kingdom of Macedonia. He tries to subdue Thracians, but ultimately fails to achieve that.

5th century AD Barbarian tribes flood parts of the former Roman Empire.

681 AD Bulgarian state is officially found by khan (king title) Asparuch.

811 July 26th, Byzantine Emperor (801- 811) fights Bulgarian army at the Battle of Plisja. Khan Krum defeats the Byzantine army.

864 Khan Boris of the Bulgarians becomes a Christian and Bulgarian kingdom accepts Christianity as a state religion from Byzantine capital of Constantinople.

867 Basil I takes Byzantine throne and starts so called Macedonian dynasty.

927 Ivan Rilsky or Saint John of Rila choses a life of solitude in a cave in the Rila Mountans and starts Rila Monastery.

1014 Basil the Slayer of Bulgarians defeats Bulgarian army and blinds 15,000 captured prisoners. According to a legend every hundredth soldier keep one eye so he could lead the rest of his group back home.

1386 Ottoman Empire sweeps through the Balkan peninsula. It crushes all resistance and dominates over states. Turkish Muslim majority suppresses and discriminates against large Christian population for the next 400+ years that became known as a "Turkish yoke.

1876 Bulgarians and Serbians try to fight for their independence. It is quickly wiped out prompting Russians to intervene on behalf of Eastern Orthodox Christians.

1877- 78 Russians Imperial army invades Bulgaria and defeats Turkish army

March 3th 1878. Treaty of San Stefano completes war between Russian Empire and Turkish Ottoman army. Bulgaria and Romania gains independence.

1885 Serbian army invades Bulgaria. It is quickly repulsed by the Bulgarian army under leadership of Stefan or Stephen Stambolov

1886 Treaty of Bucharest concludes Serbian- Bulgarian war. Eastern Rumelia region merges with the rest of Bulgaria. The Cathedral of the Assumption is build in Varna, Bulgaria

1895 July 15th, Stefan Stambolov, Bulgarian ex- prime minister is murdered by Macedonian rebels

1903 Sept 8th, 30,000- 50,000 Bulgarian men, women and children were massacred in Monastir by Turkish troops

Sept 17th, Turkish soldiers massacre residents of Kastoria and kill 10,000 Bulgarian civilians

1912 Oct 17th, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece declare war on Turkey

Dec 4th, An armistice is signed officially ending the First Balkan War

1913 Feb 7th, Turks fight Bulgarian army in Gallipoli and lose over 5,000 men

March 26th, First Balkan War is finally over after Bulgarians capture Adrianople

1913 Second Balkan War between Bulgaria and Greece along with Serbia

1914- 18 Bulgaria joins Central Powers (Germany and Austro- Hungary)

1941- 1945 World War II for Bulgaria begins when German troops take Sofia, technically an ally of Nazi Germany

1943 Bulgarian King Boris Cobourgh- Gotha III dies. Prince Simeon takes the throne.

Allied bombers bomb Sofia, capital of Bulgaria

1944 Soviet Army liberates Bulgaria

1946 Monarchy is abolished


History of Bulgaria

Mild climate and plenty of game drew first inhabitants to the region 500 thousand years ago. Remains of human burials and their art is well preserved in places like Bacho Kiro and Maguara Cave. First Thracians appear in the 5th century BC. Thracians created a state that rivalled and fought with that of Macedonians in South- West including armies of Alexander the Great.  Thracian Kingdom survived further attacks by the Celtic tribes, the Scythians, Persians and many others. The relationship with the Greek colonists who settled the Eastern part of the country along the shore of the Black Sea was a chequered one. Sometimes the nations collaborated and worked together, at other times they undertook bitter wars. The Roman Empire fought against the Thracians for decades until finally conquering these people in the first century AD. Among most famous prisoners of war was a Thracian chief Spartacus, who led the rebellion against the Roman lords. His body was never found after the final defeat so many legends persists about his life.

The Great Migration of the people in the fourth and fifth centuries did not leave Balkan peninsula  untouched. Armies of the Goths stormed many cities laying waste to the land. Remains of the old Serdika in the middle of the Bulgaria's capital Sofia is all that remains from the ancient capital of the province. In the 7th century the Slavs from Hungary arrived to the Balkans where they united with the Proto- Bulgarians that arrived from the South steppes of Russia. The beginning of the Bulgarian state is considered the year 680 AD then First Bulgarian Kingdom became established under khan Asparuch. The empire reached its height in the 9th- 10th centuries taking over most of the Balkan Peninsula. In the 9th century Bulgarians accept Christianity under rule of king Boris I. A series of magnificent churches and monasteries were erected all over the country. However a series of devastating defeats from the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire), Bulgaria lost its independence and became the province of the Byzantines. Successful revolt against the oppressors, raised by brothers Peter and Asen in 1158, gained independence thus leading to the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.

In the 14th century armies of the Ottoman Turks invade the region. Gradually the Muslim armies overtake the Bulgarian kingdom along with much of the Balkan peninsula. Several rebellions were undertaken by the Bulgarians and their neighbours against the Turkish lords. They all failed resulting in massive genocides of the Christian population from the hands of the Muslim soldiers. This forced the Russian Empire to start a war with Turkey in 1877- 78 that resulted in complete victory of the Russian forces. Bulgaria gained its independence on March 3rd, 1878. In both World Wars Bulgaria joined the Germans as an ally. After defeat of the Wermacht, Bulgaria became part of the Warsaw Block. In the early 90's after dissolution of USSR and the Block Bulgaria started its democratic process with multiple parties in the government.