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Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian State

Posted: 19:53:44 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
My timeline in AH, I will also post it here for your enjoyment and strict words ;)
A lion rises over the Balkans: The Third Bulgarian State

After doing a ton of research and writing a lot of about this subject I feel like doing a timeline, so here it is:

This is a timeline about the Balkans and the world. The Point of divergence is in September 1872, when Dimitar Obshti, a good friend of Vasil Levski and the second in command of the secret committees of revolutionaries named the “Internal Revolutionary Organization”, organizes a daring robbery of the Ottoman postal convoy. This same robbery is what leads to the capture and imprisonment of both Obsthi and Levski himself, singlehandedly handicapping the growing revolution. I will introduce Bulgarian and Ottoman history and my interpretation on how events will occur if Vasil Levski, the genius of the Bulgarian Revolution, was never captured and hanged. From there on out we will see minor changes in the Balkans that will eventually grow and culminate in some major butterflies. My goal will be to, at the very least, reach the post-WW2 period with Bulgaria gaining quite the prominence in Europe up to that point. I will try to introduce the forum to, what I hope, is some interesting information of the Bulgarian nation and its heroes, hopes and dreams and also tragedies, fears and catastrophes, but in the process create a historically plausible timeline that will change its fortunes for good. I hope you find it fun, enjoyable and at the very least, somewhat realistic.

Here we go. First we need to examine the Bulgarians within the Ottoman Empire and Rumelia and how they came to be dominated by the Turks. That is the first book, then we move on to examining the National Revival of Bulgaria (second book) that eventually lead to birth of the revolutions, which we will examine through the Life of Georgi Rakovski. Please Enjoy.
PS: The books are semi-fictional, the authors are not.


Excerpt from “the History of Rumelia”
by Professor Bozhidar Dimitrov
© Balkan Press Ltd., 1994

The Arguments over whether should we call the Period the “Turkish slavery” as it is widely accepted nowadays, or “Ottoman presence” as some historians argue is ridiculous to its core. The discussion in fact is lead manly between historical publicists and scientific historians, the first base their statements on the raw emotions over the Turk domination and the latter partly because they would prefer to keep their statuses as real historians prefer from abstaining from using harsh words. You see, “Slavery” is by far a bad choice of words, because Bulgarians where never slaves of the Sultan per see. They were never considered objects to be sold, purchased, killed or tortured whenever their owner wishes. But at the same time, when you take the monstrous discrimination over the Christian-Bulgarians, you cannot in a clear heart call it a “presence”. But the worst thing in this argument is that both sides are wrong.

The Empire in which Bulgaria founds itself back in 1396, and proceeded to exist in for 500 years experienced a lot of changes, the same Empire we cry out for oppressing the Bulgarians itself was oppressing the Turkish themselves. This might seem like a pretty controversial statement to modern Bulgarians, but in the Early Empire period, especially the XV–XVII the Turks could not take any administrative or military role in the Ottoman Imperial Apparatus. By law they were given to the Christians children in the empire taken via the devşirme system. Modern Bulgarians know about it via the myth of the hated and feared Janissaries and the stories of babies being taken from their parents and returning decades later as Muslims and killing their own families. But those stories where rare, in fact in the early Empire period, parents willingly gave their children, because this assured them the future that the parents could never give them. In fact, an example of the early Empire’s meritocracy was Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. He was the de facto ruler of the empire for more than 14 years and was actually a Serbian who accepted the Muslim faith from the Janissary Corps, his real name was Bajo Nenadić, he was called Sokolović ((Sokol means Falcon)). Surprising isn’t it? In fact, from the XV–XVII century, all 11 Grand Viziers, the actual rulers of the Empire where Serbians, Croats and even a Bulgarian.

Here is where the problem lies, you see first of all, the Empire was an Empire based on faith, not nationality. The early Ottomans didn’t care if you are Slav, they wanted you to be Muslim and rule the empire as such, that is why the Janissaries, despite the legends of them stealing children that are told throughout modern Bulgarian schools, were in fact recruited from the Christian families at the age of 10-12 and from Muslim families at the age of 15-17 and indoctrinated in the Muslim ways. But being an empire of faith, it had to resort to mostly Turks and some Arab Muslims to teach the young ones and act as foster families, which meant that, put in an environment where the boys are surrounded by Turks, they themselves become Turkеnized, if not for the boys themselves, then their children and so on.

Being the dominant Islamic Ethic group, the Turks and Turkenized Slavs eventually grew to dominate the Empire and the same Janissary system that oppressed them became their main tool to do so. Once the devşirme system was abolished, the Janissaries deteriorated, it turn into a volunteer force by law, but in practice it was a heraldry force, where fathers would arrange for their sons to serve and where Muslims, mostly Turks will dominate. This same system leads to the complete replacement of the higher ranks of the Ottomans with Turks to the point that the word Ottoman became synonymous with Turk. That is where the problems of the Muslim Slavs and Greeks started.

But what we just examined was the plight of the around 10-20 at its high 30% of the population, you see Bulgaria as a whole was Christian and even under forceful conversion and discriminatory laws against Christians, they remained Christians even at the cost of their life. Now, the Sultans did several mistakes with their Christian population. First they grouped them together; putting them all under the Patriarchy of Constantinople and named the lands they occupy “Rumelia” basically meaning Rome. But this wasn’t the Byzantine Empire, Bulgaria had had a thriving history and culture and its own Slavic sacred text that where understood by the population, same goes for Serbs, Bosnians and so on. This was replaced with Greek language preaching and Greek schools and even more cultural subjugation that would actually be the original cause of the Revolution, but later on that.

The second thing the sultan did wrong was to allow his Sipahi to rule over the rural areas, giving them free reigns over the arias and allowing them to collect the taxes themselves and keep them. Theoretically the tax was 10% of income, but the Sipahi would, via their own choosing, gather up to 50% and maybe even more. They were basically feudal rulers and they remained such until the end of the empire. They were also Turkish for the most part, only around 25% of them where Christian and Slavic and only a small percent of those 25% where Bulgarians.

So the actual thing we should talk about is not whether this was a “Slavery” or “Presence” as it was a bit of both depending on where and when do you look at it, the real question is “Was it a disaster for Bulgaria.” And here we can clearly say, “Yes.” Not because we were ruled by another entity, not because in some places we were virtual slaves, but because the demographics disaster and the backwardness of the empire. The first comes from the fact that Bulgarians where not subjects of the Empire, they were an object of Imperial possession. The Bulgarian nation, at the mid XIV century was estimated to be one of the biggest in Europe, followed closely by French and English people and in par with the Germans. But the subsequent conversions of many young Bulgarians to Islam in the early empire period and the loss of national culture in those same people along with the huge patterns of immigration out of Bulgaria of people that will later be Russified, Germanized, Romanianized and Turkenized is the actual tragedy of the Bulgarian Nation and the second part of the tragedy was that it was still apart of “the Sick man of Europe”.

“170 Years Ago”
written by Vanya Raicheva
for “Svoboda” magazine; ©2007

The basis for what will later be known as the Bulgarian revolution could be found in what is now widely referred as the “National Revival Process”. Sometimes it is also known as the Bulgarian Renaissance. It is commonly accepted to have started with the historical book, History of Slav-Bulgarians (История Славянобългарска), written in 1762 by Paisius, a Bulgarian monk of the Hilandar monastery at Mount Athos. This is the first real indicator of the decomposition in the Ottoman Empire as the Ottoman authorities were unable to stop the spread of this book, seen as dangerous by the Ottomans as it begun with the words “Fools! Why art thou afraid to call thyself Bulgarian and read in your own language? Where there not great Bulgarians, did thy not have a great kingdom, powerful and splendid, taking taxes from even the might Romans and wise Greeks?”

At its very core this statement could sum up the revival, “We once were! And we will be again!” that was the call it ushered and the reason why it worried the Ottomans. It was easier for Ottoman authorities to deal with the Greek Patriarchy which was put in charge over the Rumelian religious institutions, but the Greeks where completely out of touch with the Bulgarians and other Slavic people, the Greek Patriarchy while excreting its religious authority was highly bias towards its own people. This, was an age where in order to go to school and learn you had to pass through the church, the same church that used only the Greek language and concentrated on studies connected with Greece and the Byzantine empire.

This is what lead to the first cries for independence, the millet system in the Ottoman Empire granted a number of important civil and judicial functions to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the diocesan metropolitans. As the higher Bulgarian church clerics were replaced by Greek ones at the beginning of the Ottoman domination, the Bulgarian population was subjected to double oppression – political by the Ottomans and cultural by the Greek clergy. Around the 19th century with the emergence of Greek culture, Bulgarian in the church was completely forbidden, the Patriarchy of Constantinople turned into a tool of cultural assimilation by building Greek only schools and forcing Bulgarians to have to content with Greek culture in schools, creating the idea that the Greek culture is superior. That is what Paisius of Hilendar called against, the increasing hegemony of the Greeks over the Balkan cultures.

The Struggle intensified by the 1860s as the population was galvanized around the revolutionary liberal ideals against the chorbaji (Çorbacı) upper classes that were (Christian) members of the rural elite, heads of villages and other rural communities and rich peasants. Employed by the Ottomans in various administrative positions, such as that of tax collectors and judges in the courts of law. The struggle reached its peak when Bulgarian monks and bishoprics expelling Greek clerics and banishing high status bishops from their posts, sometimes by force. Eventually, this convinced the Sultan to issue a firman by which he created the Bulgarian Patriarchate under the name of "Bulgarian Exarchate". All of this happens in February 28, 1870, the borders of the Exarchate which will be established in a few years later, would form the borders aspired to by the Bulgarian nation for the revolution that was already boiling in this region.


Excerpt from: “Writings on Bulgaria’s Uprisings”
by Zahari Stoyanov; 1884–1892.

The revolution itself took root in the immigrant communities as a whole. The original father of the revolution is Georgi Rakovski, he was the one who banded the Bulgarian communities together in Romania and created the “Chetnizi” strategy, even though it will eventually prove wrong, this strategy was what lead to the clandestine operations that will later be seen in Bulgaria. His revolutionary work begun in 1841 when he gathered in Tsarigrad (Istanbul) a group of likeminded people and begun providing the Russians with information from the Ottoman Empire. He was discovered and was about to go to trial when escaping, he had other initiatives before that point, but this is considered to be the beginnings of his actual fight against the Ottomans. In, after moving between different countries and publishing a lot of writings, he moved to Belgrade in Serbia in 1860. Where in 1861 he published the “Plan for the Liberation of Bulgaria” in those manuscripts he creates the idea of a united Bulgarian opposition.

This comes to existence with the First Bulgarian Legion of Serbia which takes part in fights and skirmishes against the Ottomans. This however does not last and is disbanded by the Serbs when the relations with the Ottomans normalize. After several other failures he moves to Bucharest where the Romanians, without his consent create the Secret Central Bulgarian Committee in order to facilitate relations with Bulgarians. He writes the “Law for the People’s Cheti for national liberation” as he sincerely believes the Cheti that are created in Romania would make the population rise up once entering Bulgaria via the Danube. He manages to see two Cheti cross the Danube before dying from tuberculosis in the 9th of October 1867. 1868 sees the end of the Secret Central Bulgarian Committee, but sees the start of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee and two of his students, Vasil Levski and Lyuben Karavelov will be the ones who develop his ideals and take them to new highs.

And that is the first post. Next up we will examine the life of Vasil Levski the Internal Revolutionary Organization and finally see the PoD.

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 19:56:01 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
Right, time to introduce you to the main characters for now. Excuse any mistakes you see I am new and this writing stuff. :D

Excerpts from:
“Establishment of the Bulgarian National State:
1804-1918” by Charls and Barbara Jelavich
©Bulgarian State Press Ltd

Three revolutionaries, Vasil Levski, Hristo Botev and Lyuben Karavelov, are considered the most important and prominent revolutionary leaders of Bulgaria, they are the revolutionary “sons” of Georgi Rakovski. Everyone had his own view on the culture and goals of the revolution, eventually they clashed, as it was inevitable, but way before that clash, their ideals and cooperation where what lead the revolution to a new high. Who is Vasil Levski? Modern Bulgarians ask themselves the same question, even 183 years later nobody can place a finger on what Levski really represented for the nation. For some he is a hero, and in fact he was quite the heroic and brazen man. He was the romantic personification of a revolutionary: handsome, strong and quick-witted. But for some, his exploits, especially in the later days of the revolution and his subsequent carrier in Bulgarian politics, was controversial at best.

He was born Vasil Ivanov Kunchev, in the family of Ivan Kunchev and Gina Kuncheva (née Karaivanova), came from a family of clergy and craftsmen and represented the emerging Bulgarian middle class. Levski began his education at a school in Karlovo, studying homespun tailoring as a local craftsman's apprentice. Afterward, Levski became an Orthodox monk in the Sopot monastery under the religious name Ignatius (Игнатий, Ignatiy) and was promoted to hierodeacon, which later inspired one of Levski's informal nicknames, The Deacon (Дякона, Dyakona). His nationalism couldn’t hold him in the monastery, he needed to fight and he needed to win the struggle for his people, for that he moved to Serbia, to Belgrade and joined the First Bulgarian Legion. That is where he met Rakovski and became inspired of his ideas; he also received the nickname “Levski” (Leonine). He would move to Bucharest with Rakovski and then back to Bulgaria for a short stay, in home he experienced firsthand the woes of the traitors of the revolution that will leave a deep mark on him, manifesting in paranoia later on. His own uncle, his namesake, Basil, reported him as a rebel to the Ottomans who imprisoned him for three months in Plovdiv. Upon release he was briefly a teacher and organized small patriotic groups, but was eventually forced to relocate.

Again his aspirations peaked; when he was handpicked by Rakovski as a standard-bearer of a detachment in one of the two Chetas Rakovski send over the Danube into Bulgaria. As a Chetnik he fought and again made a name for himself, but eventually the detachment was forced to retreat in Serbia.
Serbia, once again friendly to the Bulgarians, allowed them to form a Second Bulgarian Legion, where Levski was again a very important and prominent member. However after receiving surgery for a gastric disease he was unable to participate Legion's training. And once again Serbia failed the revolutionaries, as the Legion was once more disbanded for political reasons; this infuriated the young Levski who saw this as yet another betrayal. From here on out he would reject the emigrant chetnik strategy completely and call on an Internal Organization, the same Internal Organization that will have a huge role in Bulgaria’s development later on.

Levski took his first tour of the Bulgarian lands to engage all layers of Bulgarian society for a successful revolution, a revolution that wasn’t according to the Chetnik norms. On 11 December 1868, he travelled by steamship from Turnu Măgurele to Istanbul, the starting point of a trek that lasted until 24 February 1869, when Levski returned to Romania. During this canvassing and reconnaissance mission, Levski is thought to have visited Plovdiv, Perushtitsa, Karlovo, Sopot, Kazanlak, Sliven, Tarnovo, Lovech, Pleven and Nikopol, establishing links with local patriots. After a two-month stay in Bucharest, Vasil Levski returned to Bulgaria for a second tour, lasting from 1 May to 26 August 1869. On this tour he carried proclamations printed in Romania by the political figure Ivan Kasabov. They legitimised Levski as the representative of a Bulgarian provisional government. Vasil Levski travelled to Nikopol, Pleven, Karlovo, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Perushtitsa, Stara Zagora, Chirpan, Sliven, Lovech, Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Sevlievo and Tryavna. This tour is widely accepted as the time the Internal Revolutionary Organization was created and formed around Levski’s leadership.From late August 1869 to May the following year, Levski was active in the Romanian capital Bucharest. He was in contact with revolutionary writer and journalist Lyuben Karavelov, whose participation in the foundation of the Bulgarian Literary Society Levski approved in writing. Karavelov's publications gathered a number of followers and initiated the foundation of the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee (BRCC).

And here we get to examine the second of the three “sons” of Rakovski’s writing. He was the reformist, the liberal and also a multinationalist above all else. He had studied in a Greek High School and the Moscow University where he made contacts with the Russian Revolutionary Circles. Whenever he went, controversy was soon to follow, he moved to Serbia as a correspondent in Belgrade, but was thrown out for conspiring with the Serbian opposition. He was forced to relocate to Novi Sad in Austro-Hungary where he still maintained contact with Serb opposition groups and was arrested and spent time in the a prison in Budapest. He moved to Bucharest where he settled and begun writing about the Bulgarian national ideals and freedom, he was however the most moderate of the three, he at once considered and played with the idea of an Ausgleich with the Ottomans, later he abandoned that idea and came in support of a Balkan Federation. Due to his liberal ways, he was especially fearful of Russian domination of the Balkans, but unlike Levski he didn’t stray for Serbian or Greek support, he actively encouraged it. At his first newspaper Svoboda (Freedom) in Bucharest (1869–1873), he worked and became friends with poet and revolutionary Hristo Botev who devoted a poem to him.

And that leads us the last one of the trio that played a huge role in the revolution, Hristo Botev. Bulgarians usually view Levski as a controversial figure, but everyone agrees that he is a hero. The controversies behind Botev are far too much to actually unravel them, but the main controversy behind him still continues to plague the minds of everyone, the question was he in it for the freedom of Bulgaria, an anarchist-socialist revolution in the whole of the Balkans or to create his own myth and in the process be remembered for all times. A tense relationship developed between the three that will on one hand create the revolution as it stood and on the other lead to the conflict between them that will unfold during the revolution. But how tense was that relationship? According to sources, it was strained at times and it times it reached a level of animosity that would never be expected.


Excerpt from: “Writings on Bulgaria’s Uprisings”
by Zahari Stoyanov; 1884–1892.

There we were, in Bucharest, in a small but comfortable home in a quiet Bulgarian suburb. The Bulgarian Émigré community was huge here. Suburbs like these gave Ivan Vazov the inspiration to write the famous novella “Nemili-Nedragi” (Unloved-Unwanted), a story about future revolutionaries planning the revival of their country, enclosed in a dim bar surrounded by misery and decay. While there were allot of Bulgarians in the émigré which were quite wealthy, all of them were based along the Danube and worked as traders. Any wealthy Bulgarians here were ether large landowners or bar holders, since there was nothing else in these suburbs worth anything.

But here we were, in a comfortable and well looking home in the middle of this filth, what was even more surprising was that this little home was used by a novelist and writer. A well off writer… well here is a paradox if I ever heard one. But this was no ordinary writer. This man was Karavelov and by god was he famous. Karavelov was a man of a lot of words and even more friends, he was intelligent and loved the sound of his voice, and he was a natural teacher. He loved to school people, if you caught him in his element he could talk for days on end, but you will have to survive his rants about history and culture.

Beside me, was Levski. I was a young lad when Levski pulled me from Rousse, he met me on one of his visits and recognized “My talents”. I still have no idea what he meant. If I hadn’t known him, I would have been afraid to even look at the man, he was tall, lean, and blond haired with an always perfectly trimmed blond moustache and fine cut hair. His clothes were, despite him living in squalor taken care of and polished, albeit with a few noticeable holes. He was a soldier and a fighter before all else, he looked like one as well, born and breed in the middle classes under the harsh truth of the Ottoman rule, he was a man of few words and short temper. Quite the contrast to Karavelov who was chatty and literate, Levski was quiet and despite finishing school was barely literate when it came to books and letters, but his strength lay in crunching numbers, he counted every penny going into the organization and every penny coming out, he literally knew where the money was at any given time.

We entered the well lit room as Karavelov smiled; he gestured to the seats after taking our coats. Levski just nodded and sat down, he wasn’t pretty chatty as usual, but I guess I wouldn’t be as well if I was forced to live in a Mill because I have nowhere to sleep and no one to accept me. Karavelov came back and handed us coffee, he sat down and with his big smile lighting his face as always and begun the conversation. “Vasily, I wanted to talk to you on something very damn important.”Levski looked at the man with his deep, but light blue eyes “How many times have I have to tell you Lyubene, we are not spending more money on your newspapers!” Karavelov laughed and looked back at the eyes of the deacon “No Vasily, it’s not about that. I wouldn’t have put you in danger’s way if it wasn’t for something important.”

The word danger caught my attention, even here Bulgarians where not safe, as there were pro-Ottoman gangs scouring the streets hunting for plotters, most of the times innocents got hurt. Not the mention the headhunters who would gladly collect the 50 000 grosha placed on the head of Levski. “We will gather the Central Committee in a few days, I want you there so we can decide on the policies of it, it’s time we combine our organizations, brother.” Levski looked at Karavelov, a slight smile might have made its appearance on his face, but you can never be sure with the deacon. He looked away for a second, thinking something. This man had singlehandedly, for the span of 2-3 years, created the biggest Internal Organization in Bulgaria. He was both loved and feared; he was seen as a freedom fighter but also a tyrant. But why a tyrant you ask? Remember, dear reader, when I mentioned number crunching as a specialty of his? Levski was great with finances; he was experienced and knew how to get money. He realized that in order for there to be a revolution, he needed the population to pitch in, but donations couldn’t sustain the IRO for the revolutionary war. So he resorted to the next best thing, racketeering the rich chorbaji. He had made friends with most every circle of Bulgarian society and via that he managed to spread his organization all over the country by building local revolutionary centers from the ground up. He literally knew everything, everywhere and since he was extorting the Ottoman-employed rich people to pay for his organization, he needed to both make sure these money were well spent and no corruption persisted and that no one reported him. In order to watch the chorbajis and Ottomans and even his own Apostles (as the IRO members where called), he personally oversaw the creation of an organization within the organization, a secret police of sorts that was fanatically loyal to him and handled treason the only way Levski knew, punishment by death.

Dozens of people had disappeared for stealing money from the organization and hundreds more for trying to defect to the Ottomans. That is a part of the reason he was able to avoid capture for so long, he had a man or a woman under his employment in almost every place in the country. And they not only loved and respected him, but they also feared him. And fear is the best tool, next to love, to inspire loyalty in your followers. Nowadays we condemn the IRO for its post-revolutionary work, but one thing we can admit is that without it, the Revolution itself was doomed.

“You say so.” Levski begun to speak with his calm voice “But I am afraid your organization doesn’t share my ideals. We may have found a compromise on many subjects for the charter, but there is still one more in which you fail to compromise.”

Karavelov and Levski had discussed this before; this was actually their 5th meeting, both where arguing back and forth as they hammered out the proposed charter of the new Central Revolutionary Comity that was going to be formed in Bucharest. They had reached compromise on most subjects, but one still hunted them.

Karavelov sighted “I knew this wasn’t going to be easy…” he looked at me and back at Levski “… the Balkan nations are our friends Vasile, we can use their help, we can unite and fight for brothe-“

Levski stopped him mid-sentence “Under what ruler Lyubene? You know what your favorite Serbs want?! You have been in Serbia, remember how they treated you, when they found out you where Bulgarian?!”

Karavelov looked out of the window, he was exceptionally naïve and believed that all nations and leaders where friendly deep down and all of them would love to be friends with us. “They threw me out…” he mumbled under his breath.

“They fucking threw you out Lyubene! And they have failed my ambitions and dreams far more than that! You never were in the Legion; you never saw their arrogance and their way of doing things. They openly said that we are nothing, but a tool so they can get their hands on South Slav territories and rule them. I will not allow you, to throw our nation under the wheels of foreign influence! The Serbs are not our friends! Nether are the Russians, Romanians, Greeks or by god the Ottomans! ”

Karavelov kept looking out of the window, he was a man of many words, but none came out now. “Vasily, we disagree on a lot of things, like the way you are handling the IRO. But by god we have to agree on this, our relationship with our neighbors is important. And the Serbs have done this under pressure, they are still our friends, we need their help in order for the chetniks to easily cross into the country and start a rebellion. You have to understand, we…”
Levski interrupted him once more “The Cheti strategy is useless and you know it, why do you still hold dear to it goddamn it! The Chetas themselves cannot inspire people to follow them and lead them to a revolution. I was in a bloody Cheta, we fought our way to the Balkans and where then driven back to Serbia, then they gathered us in a Legion long enough to use us against the Turks, and they threw us out.”

Karavelov let out a slight sigh “I… you are right. But we cannot forsake the Serbs like that, they can help us, we can use them! And you cannot exclude the émigré from this, while the chetas shouldn’t be our main tactic, they sure as hell need to be included! Chetas had already begun forming. Even Botev has one! “

Levski smiled at the thought “Hristo is insane and we both know it, he is ready to go right now if you ask him. Sometimes I wonder what he is fighting for… his country, to destroy the Ottomans or for his personal glory, we both lived with him and we both know him, we respect him, but we still don’t know his game. But aside from that… you want us to maintain friendly relations with the Serbs? Ok, but make them put their money where their mouth is, we need weapons and ammunitions, we buy them on the black market here in Romania and transport them to Bulgaria, but those weapons are woefully insufficient. We need a steady stream of weapons and supplies. How about that Lyubo?”
Karavelov smiled once again, now they were on the same page “I will do it myself, the Serbs will much rather prefer to hear form a leader of the revolution, rather than a lowly messenger.”

Levski nodded “Good, now let’s write the proposed charter of the BRCC and get this over with, so I can go back home… to Bulgaria.” This seemed to have startled Karavelov “Wait, Vasko, aren’t you going to join us in a few days?”
“No. I will leave Obshti with you, I am heading back to Bulgaria with Zahari here” he gestured towards me “the kid has potential and I would much rather prefer to get stuff done quietly, then by Obshti’s brazen tactics.”

Karavelov tried to argue for a few minutes, but eventually he buckled under the unyielding Levski and they got to writing the charter, after arguing back and forth for another hour, it was complete. On the following days, the rules written by the two leaders where accepted in a general meeting of the revolutionary circles in Romania almost right away, Obshti was displeased about being left in Bucharest, but he was still the representative of the IRO in the BRCC, so he didn’t feel the need or dare argue with the Deacon.


Levski, Botev and Karavelov are the most important revolutionaries in Bulgaria's history and will have a huge role in this timeline, you met two of them. Zahari Stoyanov OTL was in a pretty important man for revolutionary and post-revolutionary Bulgaira himself, but failed to meet the Deacon. ITL Levski handpicks him to his own aid. I did this partially to have a OTL revolutionary documentary writer on the right side of Levski, so he could record everything that is happening and more importantly to move Obshti out of Levski's inner circle, so he won't do stupid stuff, like trying to rob a postal train and get the Deacon killed. And this is our PoD.

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 19:56:26 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
Some pictures to go along:

Facial reconstruction of Vasil Levski:

The Deacon in the Bulgarian Legion:

Picture of Lyuben Karavelov:

Karavelov in a uniform:

And pictures of Hristo Botev:

Finally, Botev and Levski:

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 19:58:49 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
In this update we will discuss the relationship with Serbia and the spreading of the revolution to Macedonia. You will also get a glimpse of Bulgarian society.

Exerts from “The History of Serbia
” by John K. Cox
© Greenwood LTD, 2002[/FONT]

Chapter V: the Post-Ottoman period and Eastern Question

…and so a great part of the following Balkan revolutions was played by the newly created Serb State, while it had made some efforts before, in the face of the First and Second Bulgarian Legions, it was forced to abandon them under Ottoman pressure. That again changed in May 1872, with the merger of the two main revolutionary organizations of Bulgaria under the name BRCK made contact with the Serbs via Lyuben Karavelov who personally traveled to Serbia. Karavelov was a radiant supporter of the Serb efforts and the leader of the Pro-Serb and Pro-Russian wing of the BRCK, this may in fact be because he had a Serbian wife who, for the most part, is considered to be the reason why elements in the Serbian government didn’t allow his offers to fall on deft ears. After a spending almost a month in Serbia, courting lower elements of the government, his efforts caught the eye of Medo Pucić with the help of Karavelov’s wife who sent a letter to Pucić.

Medo Pucić was the former teacher of the young Prince Milan Obrenović IV and had taken great strides to introduce the future Serbian leader of the importance of the Yugoslav idea. You may even say, he was the father of the future kingdom, being a prominent supporter of Balkan states. As such, the vigorous revolutionary that was strutting around in Belgrade calling for Serbian support for a growing instruction in Bulgaria was bound to catch his attention even without letters. Eventually he agreed to meet Karavelov, who would later remark “I have met many smart men in my days, but Medo Pucić had a truly revolutionary understanding of the world.”, of course that remark itself is still up to debate on whether it is Karavelov’s or was just added later on by Balkan Historians. But one thing is for certain, the two men grew into a friendship and Medo Pucić would play a huge role in the contact between Serbia and Bulgaria. In fact, Pucić was planning on leaving the country for Dubrovnik, but Karavelov’s appearance made him stay in Serbia.

While Pucić himself lacked a lot of leverage in the Serbian government, he had made important contacts as a teacher to the young Prince, including Jovan Ristić, the newly appointed Prime Minister of the Serbian Principality. In the following weeks, he would introduce the fiery Karavelov to Ristić. Karavelov, being a charming revolutionary, swayed Ristić, with help from Pucić to lend Serb support to Bulgaria’s revolutionaries. But what Pucić and Ristić didn’t count on, was the refusal of the Prince. Once Karavelov himself riled up for the support and was ready to return to Bucharest, news came from the Serbian Palace that no support was coming for Bulgaria under any circumstances. It seems the Prince was unhappy with the actions of the Prime Minister behind his back and didn’t want to startle the Ottomans.

This was a major setback, if Serbia couldn’t support the revolution then Karavelov’s plans easily fell through, he would leave for Bucharest with empty hands, but would return the following month to try to get some concessions. Again, he will get rebuked but his persistence would get even more supporters in the royal palace, already having the two most important men around the Prince, he eventually, on his third visit to Belgrade, managed to get a meeting with the Prince himself arranged. There are no eye witnesses of the meeting, but what is known is that the after a 30 minutes Milan I had been swayed and had agreed to supply the revolutionaries with weapons. However, this came under several condition which Levski would famously later call “Selling our soul to the devil”. They included starting the rebellion under Serbia’s direction and whenever Serbia called for it, even if that meant that the BRCK was not ready to lead a revolutionary war yet, also, Bulgaria was in debt to Serbia for the weapons, that meant that the future Bulgarian State was required to pay for at the very least half of the weapons Serbia send them.

This agreement would later lead to friction between the two countries that will culminate in several wars. Historians still debate on why Karavelov agreed to the conditions, but a lot of historians point to the fact that the Prince affirmed his commitment to the Balkan Federation idea and probably courted Karavelov with the prospect dear to his heart.

Excerpts from:
“Establishment of the Bulgarian National State:
1804-1918” by Charls and Barbara Jelavich
©Bulgarian State Press Ltd

And while the preparation for the Revolution was in full swing and armament was being distributed, the leadership was not so united, thanks to Karavelov’s Serbian Debacle. Eyewitnesses claim Levski was furious when he learned about the agreement Karavelov had struck, calling him a traitor and even threatening to withdraw the IRO from the BRCK. Apparently Zahari Stoyanov, his close aid, had stopped the Deacon from making any harsh decisions that could hurt the organization. They had even managed to keep the conflict within the leadership of the organization away from the ordinary members of the BRCK and if it wasn’t for Stoyanov’s books, we would never know about it. But the relationship between Karavelov and Levski would never be the same; Levski himself was about to cut all ties with Karavelov when Botev stepped in.
Botev had been a good friend of both Levski and Karavelov and knew the two men very well, he was able to somehow play on their sense of respect for him and for each other and return them back to the fold.

History now recognizes Botev as the man who singlehandedly kept the organization together, even though his motivations are still debatable. On the meanwhile, while the conflict in the leadership was happening, the preparations for the revolution itself were going smoothly, weapons were smuggled all over the country and people were getting armed. Levski made sure to create a strict hierarchy within the IRO to allow the revolutionaries to act as coherent military force, rather than a bunch of rebels with no organization. A general plan of mobilization and operations was drafted and was dispatched via couriers to all revolutionary districts. Training was grueling and was conducted in secret; many groups would go on “hunting trips” for more than a few weeks and train for combat in the forests. Enthusiasm flourished as the nation was drunk with ideals of freedom and liberation, however it was a dangerous game, as the Apostles were playing cat and mouse with the Ottomans and with death lurking around the corner every slip was potentially deadly.

Excerpt from: “Writings on Bulgaria’s Uprisings”
by Zahari Stoyanov; 1884–1892.

I couldn’t believe it; this was something that could never be seen before. I was in Sopot in contact with the local revolutionaries when I saw something that Ivan Vazov would later describe in his writings. I saw Bulgarians openly celebrating a wedding, when a Turk on a horse entered the town. A few years ago, Bulgarians will be forced by law, to do what the Turk wished and they would do it under fear of prosecution. They would be required to get off a horse if they rode one, to give up any weapons they have and so on. A wedding with singing and dancing deep into the night was unacceptable, so it was obvious that the Turk would command the Bulgarians to scatter.

But then, one of the dancers left the Horo and closed in on the Turk, he yelled at him to get off the horse and gathered a few Bulgarians around him to pull the Ottoman off the horse. Once down, they began yelling at him and the same Bulgarian that had pulled him down climbed on the back of the Turk, forcing him to walk around, degrading him to the level of a horse. This was amazing and it was the mood all over Bulgaria, people were rising up to the oppressors in both small events, such as the one mentioned above, and on big occurrences. It was now obvious that the Ottomans were losing their grip on power and even with excessive brutalities they couldn’t bring the people back under the yolk.

But not all was as good as it looked; we had lost a whole unit of rebels who were caught on a “hunting trip” by an Ottoman band and were slaughtered with no trial or jury. Other rebels were hanged for keeping weapons in their houses, two were executed for trying to kill the sheriff and the growing restlessness was drawing the eyes of the Ottoman authorities who were trying to tighten the security, while such draconian measures were unusual, apparently the Ottoman Governors of the region had sensed the situation and allowed for excusive brutality of anything resembling a rebellion or a preparation for one was unfolding.

While these turbulent preparations were flaring up in the central and northern regions of the country, the deacon travelled to vilayets of Skopje and Salonika, known as Macedonia nowadays. Traditionally Macedonia was pretty active in the national revival and the people there were pretty open to revolutionary ideas. But around the formation of the BRCK and the crisscrossing of the country, Levski didn’t have the time to visit Macedonia. And he didn’t trust just anyone with the task of forming new revolutionary committees.

In the following months he traveled to Odrin, Salonika, Skopje, Ohrid, Bitolja, Strumica, Debr and Nevrokop where he will set up the South-Western wing of the BRCK, with the Ohrid, Skopje and Salonika designated as the capitals of the revolutionary districts in the region. The head of the South-Western wing as a whole became the renowned hajduk Todor Pavlov Parmakov, also known as Todor Banchev, or just “The Hajduk”. Under his leadership, the local hajduci gathered around the Macedonian IRO giving the organization immense influence in day to day lives of the people. At times, the IRO substituted the Police in handling crime, the only way we knew was best.

However, even though we were adamant about Turks, Greeks and even Serbians living in Bulgaria peace and prosperity, the Macedonian IRO members did not share that outlook and so excluded any of the non-Bulgarian groups from the revolutionary activity. Thanks to the secrecy of the organization this didn’t cause fear or agitation between the ethnic groups, but if I only knew the problems it would cause down the road.

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 19:59:56 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
Some Maps to get a sense of the situation:

Various ethnographic maps of the Balkans ... n_1882.jpg ... ee64-1.jpg ... 861%29.jpg

Ethnographic map of Macedonia: ... arians.jpg

Map I made detailing the revolutionary districts of the IRO in the Bulgarian Exarchate ... e18701.png

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 20:01:55 Friday, 12 April, 2013
by BgKnight
Its that time again. Enjoy gentlemen, in this update you will learn the darker side of the revolutionary struggle and see how the actions of a few can influence the world.


Excerpts from:
“Establishment of the Bulgarian National State:
1804-1918” by Charls and Barbara Jelavich
©Bulgarian State Press Ltd

Up to 1873, the mood in the BRCK has been one of hopefulness and expectation, even with Levski’s revolutionary terror which culminated in the spring of 1872, with the murders of prominent chorbadzhi N.Arnaudov, V. Kozlev, Velichko Simeonov, Ivancho Penvhovich and the Deacon of Lovech, named Paisii, who both refused to pay the organization and threatened to speak to the Ottoman authorities.

However there was a problem, contrary to Levski’s belief, the revolutionary police that was extremely loyal to him, caused that problem. The new Grand Vizir, appointed in the summer of 1872 (Midhat Pasha) was quick to attempt a clamp down on the Organization, drawn in by the murder cases surrounding the revolutionary activity. Luckily for Levski, Midhat, who was known as a reformer and was the one who created the Vilyet system of the Empire and the one who dealt with the unrest in the Balkans in 1860s, wouldn’t stay in power for long, so the police actions ordered by the government in Constantinople would be sporadic at best, but local governors were now alerted and begun steady operations to infiltrate the organization.

This showed the revolutionaries that the Empire had taken notice and that it could strike any moment now. Many in the organization became fearful of Ottoman spies, which were a real threat, and a process of rooting out spies was quick to come. Levski himself ordered each revolutionary committee separately; this is largely considered his longest and quite possibly most dangerous tour of the country (1873-74).

By 1873, the organization had grown especially strong, it was big and in places like Macedonia it wielded more influence in local affairs then the local government. But it was still struggling with the same problems it had back in 1870, chiefly lack of funds and friction between the leaders. Only one problem had been eliminated and that was the lack of weapons, which was no longer an issue with gun runners constantly smuggling big amounts of weapons in Bulgaria from Serbia.

However the problem with the leadership was different, while conflicts between Levski and Karavelov were straightened out, the conflict within the IRO was growing. Dimitar Obshti, who was considered Levski’s aid, was left in Bucharest, due to his fiery temper and Levski worrying that he might do something wrong. There is another reason though; Obshti and Levski had a serious conflict with each other, it may have had personal and psychological dimensions, but at its heart was a conflict of ideology. Levski, focusing on the principal, that in order to be able to keep the revolution afloat, he had to maintain his extraordinary powers as the central authority of the organization. While Obshti insisted that the organization should distribute authority between many revolutionary leaders that will take decisions based on a vote and the rule of the majority.

The conflict was close to getting out of hand in 1871 and would have certainly seen a showdown if Obshti wasn’t left in Bucharest by Levski and forced to stay under the circumstances. But leaving Obshti in Bucharest had created a backlash for Levski, as Obshti would argue for his cause to Karavelov, and for time it will be successful, with only Karavelov’s pledge to stay out of the IRO’s business stopping him from opposing Levski.
But that meant that Levski’s hands were tied, he could not throw out Obshti from the organization, as Obshti could easily give information to the Ottoman authorities, but he could not dispatch him ether, seeing as how he was getting close to Karavelov and the Central Committee. Levski however found a way; in the winter of 1873 the organization would send Karavelov on a trip to Austrian-Hungarian Empire and Russia to try to get diplomatic and monetary support for revolutionary Bulgaria and the BRCK for a year, leaving Botev in charge of the BRCK. Botev didn’t find Obshti’s positions to his liking; he never did, seeing them as schismatic and on more than one occasion declaring that Obshti was an Ottoman spy.

That worked perfectly for Levski, who send a letter in 1872, long before Botev became the leader in Bucharest, declaring that Obshti “should be shot for his actions, but is pardoned for now”. However this wasn’t just a personal conflict, on several occasions’ members of committees would oppose Levski, because they saw that the organization was growing too big for one man to manage. The biggest of these conflicts was Atanas Popkhinov, who served as a liaison between BRCK in Bucharest and the IRO based in Lovech. He was offended at Levski’s remark that he should not open the correspondences between the IRO and BRCK, seeing it as a sign of distrust. He sent an angry letter to Levski in 1872 which even included personal threats. On other situations whole committees would oppose Levski, like when he ordered a National Assembly to be held in Bulgaria, causing a majority of the committees to declare against it, siting the “Majority Vote” rule of the organization. This was due to the fact that the organization had grown too big; it could no longer be managed by just Levski, but also because the National Assembly would draw unwanted Ottoman attention. So Levski was eventually forced to concede defeat and give more special powers to his trusted followers and local committees, but he still refused Obshti more powers and return to Bulgaria, making Georgi Benkovski his second in command, essentially stripping Obshti of his rank.

All of this laid the groundwork for, what is known as the “Secret Terror” in 1873-74. Despite backing down and giving more powers to the committees, he was left with grievances from people like Obshti and Popkhinov as well as facing an increasing infiltration from the Ottomans. This lead to Levski having to employ his revolutionary police and that is where Botev came in. Karavelov would have stopped any attempts to purge the organization, but Botev was not the liberal minded Karavelov.

This would lead to the darkest days of the BRCK. Popkhinov and Obshti would disappear along with several other members. From the recently opened records of the Internal Organization, we would learn that it was Botev that ordered their murders, but the historiographical records were silent until recently, upholding that they were ether killed by Ottomans or perished in accidents.

Aside from Popkhinov and Obshti however, there were no political murders during the “Secret Terror” it was more a big spy fishing campaign then a political purge, as most of the murdered were actually employed by the Ottoman police. Levski would personally see to it, that his committees conduct the hunt in the proper way, undertaking the tour of the country while Botev ordered the death of Obshti and his conspirators.

In the end, it is these actions that made both Levski and Botev controversial personalities for the Bulgarian history, and while they were undoubtedly heroes, they were not as perfect as the modern Bulgarian historiography would present them. In my eyes, these dirty details are what made them heroes; the fact that they were ready to do what is within their power, including murder, so that the revolution could continue unopposed was truly heroic.


Excerpt from: “Writings on Bulgaria’s Uprisings”
by Zahari Stoyanov; 1884–1892.

While the events back home were unfolding the way they did, our little group traveled to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The group was made out of me, Karavelov and the newly appointed second in command to Levski, Georgi Benkovski. We were traveling via the Bucharest-Budapest express, a line that would later become part of the Orient Express, the most celebrated train journey in the world.

While waiting on the station in Bucharest, we were in silence, none of us knew what to do and how to make this work and we had only a few weeks to get Austro-Hungarian support, or at the very least recognition for our struggle. But how could we do that? It was a daunting task, three Bulgarians in Budapest trying to convince a whole empire to join our side. We had a plan, but it wasn’t solid as we had hoped.

Karavelov was tapping on the table, his face looked calm, but I was sure he was worried and in the end, we all were. Karavelov looked at the trains in the station and his eyes turned towards Benkovski, who was reading another newspaper. Benkovski had spent the last few weeks, like all of us, buried in newspapers and books, reading about Austro-Hungary and its relations with the great powers. Benkovski left his newspaper on the table and stared back at Karavelov, the two had a tense relationship from the start, Karavelov didn’t trust Benkovski, because of his support for the Deacon and Benkovski didn’t like Karavelov because of the latter’s growing Russophilia and Pan-Balkanism.
And that is why I was with them, I had to act as a mediator to the two and help them hammer out a friendship with the Austro-Hungarians. But how does one contain intellectual revolutionaries of their caliber? Karavelov was hands down one of the most intelligent people in the committee; he was quick-witted and with honeyed words could get anything out of anyone. Benkovski was quiet, but he spoke just as intelligently if not more so, he also spoke seven foreign languages vernacularly. That was: Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Persian. He had lived all over the Ottoman Empire and even in Persia, he had won and spent several fortunes over his life and has now given up on the life of a rich trader to become a revolutionary. And by god was he a good one, his revolutionary committee is credited as one of the most successful and well organized, that is partially the reason why Levski made him his second in command.

The tense silence continued for a couple of seconds, but was eventually broken by Benkovski. “So Lyben, what does a Russophile such as you do in our small diplomatic mission?” Karavelov stared deep into the eyes of Benkovski and answered “We agreed with Levski that I will head the mission, because frankly I have no trust in anyone else to do it.”

Benkovski let out a small laugh “So the deacon finally forgave you for the “beneficial” agreement with the Serbs” He stressed on the word “beneficial” in a sarcastic manner. Looking at Karavelov, you couldn’t know what he was feeling, but I was sure that this remark wouldn’t remain unnoticed, you see dear reader, Karavelov saw a lot of the IRO Bulgarians turn against him after the agreement with the Serbs. Even with that, Karavelov remained adamant that this was the only way to secure weapons and that he did the right thing, history will show otherwise, but back then some people, especially in the émigré believed him. However the mistrust left a wound in Karavelov’s soul and Benkovski was now poking his finger in it, so I needed to change the subject quickly to avoid an argument.

“Sooo, Mr. Karavelov, I heard you managed to get us an audience with none other than the Imperial Foreign Minister, how did you manage that sir?” Both Benkovski and Karavelov looked at me with surprise over the sudden change of subject, but were quick to adopt it. “Well, a few months ago I returned to Serbia to talk on some details over the join operations with the Serbs.” Benkovski grumbled at that statement, but Karavelov continued “And there, during a diner with the Prince I came into contact with Benjamin von Kállay, the Austro-Hungarian consul-general to Serbia. We had a chat and he invited me to his office the next day.”

Benkovski lifted his paper up and continued reading, he had heard this story, in fact I had as well via secondary sources, but I had to act dumb in order the avoid the two revolutionaries from arguing and in the process hurting this diplomatic mission. I knew what had happened, the soft spoken Karavelov captured Kállay’s imagination, just as he had managed to capture Pucic and the Serbs around Prince Milan and not before long, Kállay who had great influence in Imperial foreign affairs, had send a message to the Count Andrássy. We didn’t know back then, what the message had in it, but now we know that Kalley influenced Count Andrássy to meet us and planted the idea of supporting us in the head of the Hungarian hero. But again, we were unaware of that and as far as we knew, we were going to a meeting with the Imperial Authorities that would end in less than 20 minutes and result in us being kicked out of the Empire, after all Andrassy is a busy man, why would he entertain a few Bulgarians for more than a few minutes.
We had no idea how wrong we were, upon arriving in the Imperial city of Budapest, we were met with a horse drawn carriage, it was so exquisitely decorated that I honestly thought that was the prettiest thing I have seen. Of course, again I was wrong and I would see much more splendorous things in this marvelous and huge city. The carriage drove us to a grand hotel overlooking the Danube, we of course could not afford to stay in that Hotel for long, but the people on the carriage assured us that it was all covered by the Hungarian government.

It was a nice display of friendliness on behalf of the Hungarians, perhaps this was not going to end the way we though. While the three of us were still getting settled down, the arguments between Karavelv and Benkovski were growing, I had tried to mediate, but they just refused to listen. They seemed to fail to understand that we need to show a united revolutionary front before the Imperials, if we were to secure their support, and on several occasions the arguments will get so heated that Benkovski would lash out at Karavelov for his Pro-Russian policies and claim that he is here only to sabotage the meeting.

But then came the big day, Count Andrássy invited us to meeting in the foreign ministry, suddenly both Karavelov and Benkovski changed, they started working together and in a matter of an hour hammered out a plan on the discussions and had concluded who would speak and say what. I felt extremely out of place here, I was too young, too inexperienced and not as nearly as smart as the two veteran revolutionaries, so I took over the records and begun to write down everything about this meeting.

We entered the room, in which the meeting was supposed to be held, it was a large chamber of the foreign ministry and Adrassy was already waiting. He was a gracious host, providing us with food and all sorts of drinks and refreshments, but we refused to take any of it. We had already eaten and we came on an important meeting, not to eat and drink. Our host asked us about Hungary, whether we like the city and the people and so on. But soon after he waved the food and refreshments away and begun talking seriously and his words poured from the mouths of the translators stationed around the room.
“Gentlemen, I am happy to see you and would love to hear more about your impressions of Hungary and its people, but let us talk about more serious issues.” He stared straight into Benkovski and moved his eyes to me and stopped them on Karavelov “Mr. Kallay told me about you, Mr. Karavelov. He said that you are one of the leaders of the revolution and that it was you who conducted the deal with the Serbian government. He was adamant that I should meet you and hear you out, so here we are. From what I hear, the Bulgarian revolutionaries request Imperial support to free themselves from the Ottomans?”

Karavelov drew breath and started, he realized his statement could not hold the power of his voice when translated, so he resorted to heavy words that would weight on the Count’s mind. “Yes, we need help. Your people, the Hungarians, know what it is to be oppressed by a foreign ruler, so we hope to find sympathy in your government. The same way you were oppressed by a foreign government, your Christian brothers in Bulgaria are completely under foreign domination. We are given no freedom under the Muslim oppressors, we, for the sole fact that we are Christian Bulgarians, have no rights as human beings. Our culture is being destroyed, our people are being killed and we cannot defend ourselves.” the Imperial Foreign minister was looking calm, listening with patience. Before Karavelov could continue, the Count stepped in “Please Mr. Karavelov, do not attempt to guilt the Empire into action, there are complex international relations we all need to take under consideration, we cannot allow our interests to cause a disturbance in the general order in Europe. You were, so far, supported by Russia, helping you would look like we are attempting to usurp the Russian influence in the area, not the mention that it will put us in an direct opposition to the Ottoman Empire” Benkovski shot Karavelov a glare and took off from where Karavelov left on.
Apparently his heavy words did not work, so Benkovski tried to play on Andrassy’s diplomatic thinking. “We are aware of that, your excellence. But we are also aware of the need of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to upkeep the balance of power with Russia and a Russian dominance of the Balkans will destroy that balance. Your excellence has surly reviewed the actions the Dual Monarchy can take, and has found the realization that they are pretty limited as it stands. However we present an opportunity to your excellence, Bulgaria is fearful of the Pan-Slavic rhetoric coming from Russia, we want to be free and we are afraid that if Russia intervenes, it will enslave us. If you are to match the Russians, word to word, action to action in the freedom of our nation, you can easily restore the balance of power and draw Bulgarians to the Imperial sphere.”

Andrassy seemed somewhat surprised; perhaps he didn’t expect a bold response such as that from the revolutionaries. “You are quite brazen sir.” His words got translated “But I find it to my liking. However, you must accept our perspective of the events, your so called revolution has yet to happen and it would present a grave danger for us to back your organization and support you, not to mention the diplomatic chaos this will present. I will however present your concerns to the Parliament and we will discuss it.”
After the words were translated, we lead several unimportant discussions, and we still reached the same conclusion, the Empire could and would not help us, at least at this time. Just before we were politely asked to leave, Benkovski tried one last time “Sir, if Bulgaria does call a revolution, can we at least secure your promise for Austro-Hungarian diplomatic backing on the world stage?”

The Count took a few minutes to think it over, he looked at the window to the beautiful city outside and then back to the revolutionaries “I cannot make decisions concerning the Empire on my own, but what I can do is clamor for the Empire to accept your proposal and call on the Emperor to help you diplomatically. So, this is a yes, I will be interested in supporting you on the diplomatic stage.”


A few questions plagued me, from the start of this timeline. You see, Levski is idealized in Bulgarian history to exceptional levels, but he was more then happy to resort to heavy handed tactics to solve issues. Dimitar Obshti was always a huge thorn in my side while writing, I needed to get rid of him in order to finally put down the threat of a huge fuck up that will bring down the organization, but in my research I found that it wasn't only Obshti's fuck up that put the organization down, it was also Ottoman infiltration, as Obshti's operation to seize the Sultan's money was perfectly executed. I also found a shitton more conflicts under the surface of the organization. So I needed to find a way to both show Levski's darker side, but also get rid of Obshti and the Ottoman spies. But I had written myself in a corner, Levski and Obshti's conflict was on the sidelines, since I had written that Obshti was left in Bucharest, so Levski himself couldn't dispatch Obshti. And Karavelov would never do it. I also had another problem of Botev not being included enough in the timeline, even though he is a principal idealist of the revolution. I also needed to handle the question with the great powers.

So in one swoop I handled all of that, Karavelov leaves on a tour of the great powers to gather support for the revolution and leaves the command to the explosive, nigh volcanic Botev who would be more then happy to take the schismatic Obshti out of the picture. Levski's darker side was displayed via the destruction of the Ottoman infiltration network, by touring the country and directing most of the regional revolutionary capitals on how to "handle" their infiltration problem. It is obvious some innocents got caught in the process, but hey, the end justifies the means right? This also presented me with a way to include Benkovski, who was fucking awesome, in the timeline in an important role (Levski had an eye for talent, he is sure to notice Benkovski on one of his tours, with his revolutionary district being nigh perfect the Deacon is bound to take him under his wing, this can only bring good, since we now have a brilliant strategist next to the revolutionary genius). Next up we examine the relations with the other great powers and the secret messages exchanged after Karavelov's tour and something big is just around the corner. Thank you for your patience gents.

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 20:15:10 Wednesday, 24 April, 2013
by BgKnight
Now for the update, you will get some information on the live of the emigre. A slight glimpse of the future and a look around the Balkans to see what is the mood around Bulgaria. Once again, I value your support and love your comments. Enjoy.


“The modern Hûshove”
written by Petar Stoilov
for “Svoboda” magazine; ©2013, April 4

Russe, Bulgaria – “Hûshove”, nowadays, is not only a name, it’s a label. But with the rise of Romanian migrations in the Northern Outlands, the meaning of the term “Hûshove” has changed greatly, leading it to signify, ironically, poor Romanians along the Danube and in the north, but what was the term about before it was corrupted?

The word hûsh (singular) or hûshove (plural), once signified the poor Bulgarian émigré, we know about them from the works of the patriarch of the Bulgarian literature, Ivan Vazov, in his “Nemili-Nedragi” (Unloved-Unwanted) he explores the life of a hûsh, the daily struggles of the émigré and the death and starvation they face, the dreams of a free Bulgaria while in exile and the non-stop discrimination.

It is a startling similarity between the situations of the Romanian immigrants and the Bulgarian émigré, that is partially what lead to the immigrants received the name “hûshove” and why the once heroic label now holds a derogative meaning. But hasn’t it always been a derogative one itself?

Truth is, the Bulgarian Hûshove have always been a sorry, poor bunch of people. Despite their romanticisation in literature, most of them were in fact a bunch of drunk, poor, brawling squatters. In fact, Vazov himself describes spending the winter in Braila, cold wind blowing and his character, the young poet Brachkov attempting to sell his revolutionary poetry to the rich members of the Bulgarian Émigré so he could actually survive, only to be abandoned by the rich and in the end, coming close to freezing on a bench when he is found by friendly members of the émigré who are slightly better off, in a climactic scene, the two friends return to find Brachkov who is gone. Eventually he is found, on a rock in the harbor attempting suicide, with his shoes bound in nothing, but leather parchments and his coat falling apart over his body. He is saved by the other Bulgarians however and given a new life under the gaze of the local revolutionary leader.

His character exclaims: “Why have we become such animals? Look at us, we are hungry, dying and freezing, but yet we claim that we will return to mother Bulgaria and that come sprig we will be in the chetas advancing to free our people. There are no chetas, there never was and there never will, we will never be able to amount to anything!”

The situation of the Bulgarians in Romania was exceptionally bad, when in 1874 the secret terror shook the support of the liberal Romanian government towards the Bulgarian Émigré. While the BRCK organization did retain its support in Bucharest, the Romanians were coming under increasing pressure to throw the Bulgarians out, this, combined with the increasing Romanian racism towards the Bulgarians, lead to a progressively worse situation for the hûshove. The top of the period of 1874-1875 is historically considered to be the worst time for the émigré, with many dying of starvation, cold or exhaustion under Romanian employers who overworked the poor and malnourished Bulgarians

The increasingly aggravated situation created a sense of haste within the BRCK which was becoming more and more worried that its protection by authorities in Bucharest was about to end. Botev famously said: “The Ottomans hate us, the Romanians don’t want us, the Serbs cause disruption in our ranks, the Greeks are increasing their assault on our fundamental principles and we starve and die in those countries. Only if Bulgaria is free, only if we light the spark of revolt can we hope to be loved and respected, only then would the Bulgarian live well.”

The Romanian protection over the BRCK did officially end, but for the great relief of many revolutionaries, the protection ended only officially, the Romanian government still retained ties with the BRCK and even provided some help to the organization.

But the situation with the hûshove worsened, increasingly isolated in society, they only got poorer and the deaths increased in high droves. The rich émigré was also beginning to come under fire and racism, for example in one incident, the Romanians would refuse to purchase goods from Bulgarian traders, just because they are Bulgarians.

One of Ivan Vazov’s charecters, called Hajji in an emotional part of “Nemili-Nedragi”, while searching through the corpse of the dead hero, Stradzhata, and being stopped by Brachkov, yells “I am hungry, I have nothing to do, I worked for a month on the docks like an animal, only to be thrown out without getting paid! Why?! Because I am Bulgarian!”


Excerpt from: “Writings on Bulgaria’s Uprisings”
by Zahari Stoyanov; 1884–1892.

Ah Macedonia. I was in love with Macedonia, we all were. Macedonia was the region that was one of the most active in the struggle. But it also presented the worst challenges to us. After the IRO started to emerge into prominence, the Greeks and Turks became more and more hate filled and their operations against us increased.

I was in the region for the second time since Levski founded the local revolutionary organization, but something had changed now. The secret terror made everyone in Bulgaria weary, but in other districts it was mostly shrugged off, Macedonia however was a whole different story as usual.

The exclusion of Greeks from the Organization seemed like a good idea at the time, but after the murders and the terror, the last thing the organization needed was the Hellenes helping the Turks. And that is exactly what happened once the Greeks found out the IRO were running the show; the Hellenic government actually intensified its Anti-Bulgarian propaganda and operations.
I arrived in Skopje at the winter months of 1874 expecting a warm welcome and the city I had left back in 1873. But I couldn’t be further from the truth, when I exited the cart in which I had been strolling along the way, I was met by a young Bulgarian who quickly ushered me to an inn. Usually I would go to meet the local leaders and exchange some laughs, now that wasn’t the case. The young man presented himself as Radko and explained to me, that no one from the leaders wanted to meet me, because that will expose me as a member of the organization and put me in danger.

I had realized beforehand that after the terror, the mood would be heavier, but I never expected such levels of paranoia which I would go on to see in the following days. Radko stayed with me through the night and slept with a revolver under his pillow. On the morning, we sat on the tables downstairs and ordered rakia, the room was bursting with conversations, but the conversations were in Greek. Luckily I understood Greek somewhat and my friend seemed to wield Greek perfectly. The reason we met here and stayed here was to firstly, listen in on the Greek “Apostles” and secondly, convince the Ottoman authorities who have undoubtedly taken notice of my arrival that I am a Greek friend, in this case a Romanian salesmen.

So far so good, even the Greeks didn’t question our ethnicity when my friend started blabbing in Greek. Soon after we were sure that nobody was paying attention to us we started listening to the conversations around us, what I heard appalled me.

A tall dark faced Greek was talking, we only caught the end of his speech “…the filth is clamoring on the ears of the great powers now. That pig, Benkovski has been abroad, our buddies up in Bucharest got the news out. I still don’t know where he went, but it seems they were successful. You know what that means right Kosta?” He looked at a slender well-dressed man, obviously not from around these parts, the man answered

“Yes. We must act quickly, the locals are getting restless and since we closed the Bulgarian school here, the Rayah has been brewing. And Ottoman hospitality extends only so far, the Bey yelled at me the other day; he says the locals have lodged complaints against us. He doesn’t have the balls to admit that it was under his order that the school was closed and throws the blame on us. Soon he might attempt to throw us out, to make the locals calm down; we need to stop this, so we can continue our work.”

The first Greek continued: “Kosta, the only way we can do that is to present the Bey with proof that we have found a revolutionary. Times have changed, the Bey is afraid for his own life, so he wants us to have a logical and believable prosecution when we drag a Bulgarian to the konak. And we just can’t find anything on the local deacon… “

Kosta looked at the man with burning eyes: “I swear to the lord, if you give up now I will send your head back home in a bag! We have a mission. We are here to make sure the Churches and Schools are closed so that we can put Helens in their spot! It’s a holy mission entrusted on us by mother Greece and by god I will see it through! These barbarians will not stop us… find evidence against the deacon of Skopje so we can have that dirty schismatic Bulgarian finally executed!”

A stern-looking man with hard facial features, who has been silently observing from another table turned towards the two arguing men. “You shouldn’t say these things in the open, there might be spies about. Even with that, the Turks won’t throw us out, their police proved ineffective and we already managed to prove that two Bulgarians are revolutionaries and get them hanged. They need us, not only for these acts, but also to pit the blame on us for their retaliatory actions, so that they won’t cause a rebellion. A good example is the closing of that schismatic cesspool the Bulgars call a school. Getting the help of that pig Chorbadzhi Iliev was helpful too, with his money we could get the Greek teachers up here and have them settle and teach the young ones the rightful language, the holy language.”

My friend quickly chimed in, perhaps not to draw suspicion (he had been infiltrating the Greek community for quite some time now and was accepted as a Greek.) “That pig Iliev might betray us, especially if the IRO caught wind of his support for us. You know of their purges…”

“I sure as hell do…” Kosta interrupted him “…I lost a friend in them. Some fuckers from the rayah pulled him to the field outside the city and shot him. We found his body a week later, the Turks are still searching for the murders, but we all know who did it! He was an Ottoman spy, it was obvio…”

Suddenly the door to the inn opened and the Greeks all closed their mouths, a man in a blue uniform and a red fez stepped in, his ornamented sleeves and green badges were a clear indicator of his rank. “Good morning Sheriff-agha, how can our humble gathering help you?” Kosta said with a bow to the man, the Sheriff looked around and his black eyes found their way to me. “You, Kosta, are useless to me, unless you can tell me who he is.” He pointed at me. I felt a chill through my body, but I remained calm and acted cool. “A Romanian trader efendim, he is just passing through. I invited him to meet my friends.” Radko tried to defend me, but the Turk seemed to find his words unbelievable.

“Vlashko eh? Ce faci, domnule?” He asked in broken Romanian, happily for me living in Romania with the émigré means you have to know Romanian if you are to fare better than the hushove. So I managed an answer in fluent Romanian. I said that I was fine and it was a pleasure to meet him. Obviously, he didn’t understand a word of it, as he turned towards Radko with a surprised and questioning expression, Radko quickly explained in Greek what I had said to which the sheriff turned to me again. A few seconds of tense staring and he suddenly changed his expression to an almost friendly one “Don’t forget to visit me at the Konak, I will be happy to hear about how is life in Vlashko and the people there. Carry on gentleman… I have to tour the neighborhood.”


Exerts from “The History of Serbia
” by John K. Cox
© Greenwood LTD, 2002[/FONT]

Chapter VI: Planning the Herzegovina and Bosnia uprisings

… and so the national revolutionary struggles in Bulgaria and their contact with the Serbs inspired Milan I to do something about the Serbian populations within Bosnia and Herzegovina, he wanted these two Ottoman provinces under his control for quite some time, but now he was contesting Herzegovina with Montenegro, even though Montenegro was friendly to Serbia and vice versa, Obrenovic dreaded the idea of Serb populated lands not under Serbian control. Suddenly the government of Serbia took a very active role in supplying the rebellion that was plotted in Bosnia and Herzegovina with whatever materials it needed.

The Previous Herzegovina Uprising (1852–1862) had left a deep mark in the conciseness of the Herzego-Bosnian population and some of its goals were never completed, with the Sultan agreeing to them in the treaty, but completely disregarding them when it came to implementing them. The First Herzegovina Uprising was nothing more than an economic struggle, but leaving the local populations in the same situation it had been before the rebellion. The local leaders, who had remained alive and were central players in the national struggle, saw the need to break off from the dying empire.

Milan I saw that as well, and inspired by Karavelov invited the leaders to Belgrade, where they will form a council for the liberation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Something that was already in the making by 1873, but came into great prominence with Milan insisting on a coordinated rebellion with Serbia at the helm.

This, naturally lead to friction between the Montenegrin Knyaz Nikolai, who insisted that Herzegovina was rightfully Montenegrin and the Serb nationalists with their Knyaz championing the cause of Serbians in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Montenegro (which was considered and was completely Serb in makeup).

The conflicts intensified, when Milan argued that the Nikolai had abandoned the Herzegovians in 1862 after Omar Pasha did what was within his power to oppress these people. The Knayz in return retaliated by calling the Serbs lazy and doing absolutely nothing to elevate the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Eventually, the arguments ended when Milan conceded that Herzegovina should be given to Montenegro, while Bosnia should be kept by Serbia once the two countries “liberate” the region. Then the two countries will start negotiations on uniting their lands into a single Kingdom. Milan moved quickly to secure Nikola I Petrović’s support, who was reluctant because of his extremely close ties with the Russian Empire and the fact that the Russian Tsar was not ready for a war in the Balkans and was actively campaigning against it.

However, with the promise that Montenegro will gain Herzegovina he agreed to provide some aid in the case of war and enter the war itself if needs be. His promise was, as Milan famously and rather vulgarly called it: “Half-assed excuse for support, so that he doesn’t look bad in the Balkans”. Nevertheless the planning carried on and the famous Herzegovina leader, Petar Radović was employed to tour the country and organize the rebels. Weapons were supplied by Serbia and unlike in Bulgaria they came with no debts or agreements attached. In Bosnia proper, Vaso Vidović headed the revolutionary council and organized the rebellion in a quick and rather sloppy manner.

While the whole organization was rife with corruption and conflict, but it was pretty efficient in gathering people around the cause, the local voivode and rich peasants were quick to join in, sick of ever increasing ottoman taxes and the tyranny of Omer-paša. The organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina gained prominence, despite their obvious ineptitude when it came to handling funds and planning. A lack of clear foresight and political infighting, as well as the lack of a clear cut strong organization and the uneven distribution of weapons would create a great problem in the future, but the unity that the populations expressed proved to be enough in the long term.

Re: Lion over the Balkans: The Rise of the Third Bulgarian S

Posted: 20:19:41 Wednesday, 24 April, 2013
by BgKnight
I hope that it will be enjoyable and gets you riled up for the coming revolution.


Exerts from “The History of Serbia
” by John K. Cox
© Greenwood LTD, 2002

Chapter VII: The Great Balkan Uprisings

…under the Serb leadership things in Bosnia and Herzegovina were taking a different light. The rebels lacked the ability to organize properly because of the broken and divided leadership, but Obrenović found a way to turn that around. Some historians argue that by the time Obrenović was able to take hold of the organization the rebellion has already begun, but historical data suggests otherwise. Governmental records of Serbia say that in mid-1875 the government of Obrenović invited the leaders of the brewing rebellion to a discussion in Serbia, the year had seen a few incidents that almost spilled into the rebellion, but due to Obrenović and Petrović pressure the rebellion didn’t start.

In Belgrade, the organizers of the rebellion were placed under the watch of Milan I, allowing the Serbian monarch to effectively steer the Bosnian and Herzegovian rebel leaders the way he envisioned it. Before that point there were several factions within the Herzego-Bosnian leadership that opposed Milan’s intervention, but once in Belgrade they had no choice, but to follow the Serb line. What is true is that this unification of the rebel movement came too late, the organization of the rebellion, while being huge in size, was still disunited and sporadically armed. Unlike its Bulgarian counterpart which, under the revolutionaries named Levski and Karavelov was homogeneous and tight-knit, held under strict control and constant observation.

Another problem was that the divisions in the revolutionary leadership in Belgrade still remained; they were just hidden under the surface. What most historians nowadays can agree on is that those divisions and lack of organized hierarchy and structure are what lead to the premature start of the Great Balkan Uprising and the blunders of the early operations.

But what happened exactly? This is where historical records diverge and the controversy starts, some say it is the after effect of the “March breakup” in Belgrade (when the Pro-Austrian faction of the Herzog-Bosnian rebels slit from the organization and were arrested), others that It is the local leaders being fed up by Belgrade’s policies and arguments starting operations on their own, third claim it is the population in Herzegovina and Bosnia deciding against waiting and a fourth group, albeit fringe, claim that it is Austria that pushed Bosnia and Herzegovina into rebellion by promising support of the Pro-Austrian factions (an event that have largely been proven to be untrue and mostly propagandized by conspiracy theorists).

Facts is, that in the 2nd of June, 1876, Mostar and Nevesinje went up in rebellion, by the 10th of June, Nikishić, Gacko, Bileć, Nevesine, Priedor were up in flames. Soon the regions around Trebinje and Bugojno were in rebellion. What really sealed the deal was the rebellion in Sarajevo that around the 20th of June was quickly crushed by the bashi-bazouk regiments in the region, but proved to Belgrade that the rebellion was in full swing. Serbia, having already invested too much in the rebellion and the Balkans, issued proclamations and threats towards the Ottomans, and secretly ordered the revolutionary council in Belgrade to start the rebellion officially. The order was sent around Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1st of July, but it was nothing more than a formality, as Bosnia and Herzegovina were already rebelling. Obrenović also sent messages to the Bulgarian revolutionaries to start their own rebellions, but didn’t receive an answer outright.

Unbeknown to him, the bad organization of the rebellion in Bosnia and Herzegovina was actually beneficial to the Bulgarians who became aware of it and thanks to their network were capable of alerting the IRO members all over Bulgaria to begin final preparations for the rebellion. So when Obrenović’s message, that looked more like an order then a friendly request, arrived they were more than capable to asses that tactical situation and were able to keep their cool and stall for a month. The stalling proved to be a wining card for the Bulgarians, as the Ottomans became convinced that Rumeliya will not rise with the Herzog-Bosnians and transferred their armed forces in the region to the border with Serbia were clashes had grown into an undeclared war.

In a stroke of bad luck for the Bulgarians though, on the 15th of August Levski, as well as the leaders of the Macedonian IRO were captured by the Ottomans after the Greeks in Skopje alerted the authorities of the Deacon’s presence in the city and his meeting with the local leaders. The subsequent capture and the IRO operation to rescue the deacon, the haijduc and the archbishop is what lit the fuse of the Bulgarian rebellion and what drew Botev and Karavelov to order the start of the general Bulgarian rebellion. So by the 24th of August, 1876, the whole of the Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire were in arms, fighting for their freedom.


Exerts from the collection
of short stories “Makedonja
” by Dimitar Talev
© Balkan press LTD, 1963

Part 2:“The trickle”

The rain was pouring all over the town of Skopje; it was the end of the summer of 1876, the summer rain tapped on the windows and doors, on the roofs and in the courtyards, the streets were quiet. But inside the Hadji Stoykov’s Krûchma (Кръчма, meaning Pub), male voices filled the room, music was coming from the kavals and bagpipes and songs filled every inch of the large stone building. It was a Hadji Stefan’s son’s bachelor party, the young man had gathered all the Bulgarian males in the area and brought them to his Father-in-law’s pub.

This was not a rare sight in pre-revolutionary Bulgaria, it never was. As Vazov once said “An enslaved nation, however helpless it is, never resorts to suicide; it eats, it drinks and it makes children. An enslaved nation has its own fun.” What made this gathering unique were the young men themselves. Flashes of steel came from their big black and red waistbands, as the knives and pistols tucked in reflected the light from the gas lanterns all over the pub. The rayah was strictly forbidden from openly carrying weapons, but these Bulgarians didn’t care, nobody in Macedonia respected the Turk authority anymore. And for the first time in hundreds of years, the beys were fearful for their own lives in Macedonia. The police dared not capture Bulgarians without good reason and dared not harass the rayah, like they would be free to do just 20 years before.

Yells of “Freedom or death” filled the halls of the pub as the horo (chain dance) was twisting and turning around the building as the fiery young men sang with such might in their voices that the stones shook. They were singing „Proud Nikephoros Demanded”, which had become like an anthem of freedom to the rebels in Bulgaria. This sight was almost surreal for pre-revolutionary Bulgaria, but it was frequent in the months leading up to the opening days of the rebellion.

Suddenly the door opened with a bang as another man struggled to get in, the music stopped the Bulgarians pulled out their weapons, dragging the man in and closing the door. He revealed his face quickly, under all the blood and the bruises, the young patriots saw the face of Dimitar Popgeorgiev (He went under the pseudonym of Radko, ever since he started infiltrating the Greeks in the area). He spit blood as the young men lifted him off the ground, his voice was quiet, but the men could hear him clearly as the music has stopped. “They captured the Hajduk and the Archbishop, the Greeks found information on them and on me; I barely got out of it alive. The Ottomans will bring them to trial in Salonika, they are setting off today.” The boys were getting riled up as they pulled out knives and weapons ready for combat “This is not what is at stake boys, those two are expendable, we can appoint new leaders, but we can’t appoint a new Levski.” Suddenly silence engulfed the room, everyone stared directly at Popgeorgiev. “Yes, the Deacon was here, he was meeting with the Archbishop and the Hajduk, he is captured and enchained by the Ottomans. We must free them. I will send out a letter to Bucharest, gather the boys, Macedonia will rise first, free the Deacon and light the spark of rebellion in Bulgaria.”