The early Thracian populations were part of the empire of Alexander the Great. At the beginning of the Christian era, the territory of Bulgaria was integrated into the Roman Empire. In the 4th century Goths and Huns occupied the region for some time; and two centuries later, Slavic tribes settled there definitively. The proto-Bulgarians, nomads of Turkish origin, coming from the North Caucasus, settled in Moesia, in the northeast of present-day Bulgaria, at the end of the seventh century and, joining the Slavs and the primitive inhabitants of the region, formed a confederation that arrived to be recognized by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV.
The Bulgarian state
According to DISEASESLEARNING, the Bulgarian empire was constituted in the year 681 at the expense of the Byzantine empire. In the 9th century, under Boris I, the country converted to Christianity and adopted the Cyrillic alphabet. However, there was a decline and the Byzantine empire recovered Bulgaria at the beginning of the 11th century. In 1185 the Bulgarians revolted and shook off Byzantine rule at the Battle of Turnovo. The second Bulgarian empire initially stretched between the Balkans and the Danube, but in the 13th century it extended its limits to the Aegean and Adriatic seas. A new period of decay facilitated the conquest of the country by the Turks, consummated in 1396.
The Ottoman empire dominated Bulgaria for almost five centuries. The country, submitted to a feudal system whose nobility was Turkish, did not undergo the transformations that took place in central and western Europe. The majority of the population remained faithful to Christianity, but a strong Muslim migratory current of Asian origin came to be established in the plains, cities and strategic enclaves. Numerous Bulgarians left the country, taking refuge first in Romania and Hungary and then in Russia. Frequent rebellions against the Turks were crushed.
Rebirth of Bulgarian nationality. Throughout the 18th century, a process of revitalization of Bulgarian culture took place, led by the local Orthodox Church, which encouraged resistance against Turkish rule and the religious and cultural influence of the Greek Orthodox Church. In the nineteenth century, secret patriotic societies were formed and various rebellious movements in favor of independence emerged.
The 1876 uprising was severely repressed, prompting the intervention of the Russian empire, which defeated the Turks in the war of 1877-1878. Pan-Slavism had reached its peak and Russia was considered by many Bulgarians to be a “big sister”. With the peace treaty of San Stefano, of March of 1878, the Great Bulgaria was constituted, autonomous principality that included Macedonia. That principality was dismembered in July of that same year, with the Berlin Congress, which echoed the mistrust of the European powers. Then, between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains, the principality of Bulgaria was formed, which was practically independent but maintained a formal link with the Ottoman empire.
The southern part of the country served as the basis for the formation of the autonomous Turkish province of Rumelia, and Macedonia came under the direct control of Turkey. In 1885, Bulgaria and Rumelia were reunited and in 1908 the country declared itself independent from the Turkish state, and its ruling prince received the title of tsar.
The wars of the 20th century. In 1912, Bulgaria formed with Balkan League with Serbia, Greece and Montenegro, which defeated Turkey in the first Balkan war (1912-1913). There were disagreements in the sharing of territories taken from the Turks, and a new war broke out, this time between Bulgaria and its former allies, in addition to Romania and Turkey. In the Peace of Bucharest, August 1913, Bulgaria had to cede part of its territories to Romania, Serbia and Greece.
In 1915, Bulgaria entered the first world war in favor of the central powers, which caused, at the end of the conflict, the uprising of part of the army and the abdication of the tsar, Fernando de Saxe-Coburgo, in favor of his son Boris. III. Under the peace treaty signed on November 27, 1919, Bulgaria had to surrender several border territories, in addition to losing its access to the Mediterranean. He also had to disarm his armies and incurred massive war debts.
In the post-war period, a period of political instability began under the government of the majority party, the Bulgarian Popular Agrarian Union, of a reformist nature. On June 9, 1923, the Conservatives carried out a coup d’état, in which the leader of the Popular Union, Alexander Stamboliyski, was assassinated. In June 1931, the polls brought a reformist coalition to power, removed by a new right-wing coup on May 19, 1934. Tsar Boris III consolidated his power when Bulgaria approached national socialist Germany. Thanks to the intervention of Vienna (September 7, 1940), Romania yielded to Bulgaria the southern Dobruja, the so-called Silistra quadrangle.
Following its Germanophilic policy, the Bulgarian government, in March 1941, joined the Axis and on December 14 of the same year declared war on the United Kingdom and the United States, but not on the Soviet Union. Although officially an ally, Bulgaria was occupied by the German Army, which motivated the guerrilla organization, as from the Soviet Union’s entry into the war.
Tsar Boris died in obscure circumstances on August 28, 1943, assuming the government a council of regency, because Crown Prince Simeon was only six years old. In the summer of 1944, Bulgarian rulers tried to negotiate peace separately with the allies. On September 5 of that year, the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria. Then there was a popular uprising that coincided with the entry of Russian troops in the country. On September 10, the revolutionary government of the Patriotic Front, made up of communists, peasants, social democrats and other groups, declared war on Germany. Thus, Bulgaria kept its borders intact, at the end of the conflict.
Bulgaria after World War II. After the plebiscite of September 8, 1946, a new constitution was promulgated that declared Bulgaria a popular republic. Communist Georgi Dimitrov took over as head of government, who died three years later. Until 1956, official policy was strictly Stalinist. From then on, the country followed the Soviet Union through a long process of liberalization. The first steps were taken towards the establishment of a democratic system in Bulgaria in 1989, when President Todor Jivkov was expelled from the Communist Party, which in the following year was renamed Bulgaria’s Socialist Party. In 1991, the opening of the economy began and a new constitution that included democratic measures entered into force. In the parliamentary elections in October of the same year, the Union of Democratic Forces conquered power.