Bulgaria (Oxford History of Modern Europe)

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In the first Bulgarian empire was officially founded and recognized by the Byzantine Empire.

The Bulgarian army defeated the Arabs and successfully defended the city. The conquering Bulgars were soon permeated by Vlach and, even more thoroughly, by Slavic elements. At the same time, their conquests were carrying them deeper into the ambit of Byzantine Christianity. Territorial expansion into Serbia and Macedonia under Krum khan — and under Pressian — was followed by the conversion of the Bulgars to Christianity under Boris I.

It proved to be a powerful agent in creating a common culture among the Bulgars and Slavs. In this period Bulgaria became a cultural centre of eastern Europe, especially famous for its literary schools of Preslav now Veliki Preslav and Ohrid. In Bulgaria was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire. An anti-Byzantine revolt of the Balkan peoples in produced the second Bulgarian empire , and by the Bulgarian tsars of the house of Asen — were supreme in most of the lands from the Danube River to the Aegean Sea and from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.

But Mongol attacks from the north, Serbian encroachment on the west, and internal rivalry among the successors of the Asens eroded this second empire, and in it fell to the Ottoman Turks , who were overrunning the Balkans from the south. In an autonomous Bulgarian principality under Ottoman suzerainty was established. Bulgaria was declared independent, as a tsardom or kingdom, in Article Media. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback.

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The plural pedigree gave to some Bulgarian politicians and opinion makers an opportunity to represent a richer transmission of certain spiritual values within the lines of descent. However, it is known that myths of origin furnish the criteria for judging what is inauthentic or impure.

There was even something more at stake here. These versions contained a latent future clash of interpretations of authenticity, possible reformulations of what was intrinsic to the Bulgarians and what was foreign and extraneous. The problem of the pedigree of the Old Bulgars was not emphasized either.

Bulgaria and the European Union - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

However, at the end of the 19th century one can come across some slight nuances that were not dependent upon the political context. They left their Aryan fatherland after the Germans. This demonstrates again how ancestry was socially constructed and culturally elaborated, how writers chose to venerate some remote ancestors and to discard others.


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The irony here was that the great majority of Bulgarian peasants had neither heard the names of their medieval rulers, nor did they know that such had once existed. Nevertheless, very often the belief was employed metaphorically. Moreover, skin color, hair form, eye form, and other facial features were not discussed in public discourse. Physical differences that were typical for the racial thought had not turned into important social or national markers.

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Balabanov admitted that the question of races as a whole, which had been left or forgotten or underevaluated before, for some time had acquired great scientific importance, it was often raised and it was treated in various ways. From this point of view, he emphasized the differences in the political institutions among the Slavs themselves. Historiography was irrevocably bound up with the ideas of nation and the nation state. That is why he said that:.


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The organicism somehow presupposed genetically transmitted differences and inheritance. In this regard, there were strong racial elements hidden in Romanticism. It possessed a potency to attract and incorporate both racial thinking and nationalism into a new matrix. Darwinism was applied to support theories of mental and physical degeneration through heredity and acquired traits. Several thinkers like Le Bon, Galton, Weismann, Lapouge and Gumplowicz contributed for the elaboration of those ideas. The works of Otto Ammon and Woltmann had special importance.

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As a result of the European trend within the Bulgarian intellectual field, one can regard the great number of publications that covered the fashionable and more prestigious topic of heredity as being used to explain a great variety of social phenomena. Although some of them were definitely opposed, 79 it seems that others were ready to rely on these measurings.

Despite his caution to physical anthropology, Shishmanov referred to craniological data and measuring among which included the work of Broca, Virchow and John Beddoe. It was a demonstration of the serious professionalization that Bulgarian academia had passed from the late s onwards. Not discussed in the history textbooks, the problem of the pedigree of the Old Bulgars had already been represented in academic writings and debated in the best traditions of European thought.

It testified that the study on ethnogenesis became less Romantic and more professionalized, converted in a wissenschaftlich exercise. The vision about the historical ethnic mixture among contemporary Bulgarians was conspicuous. Stefan S. Bobchev, for example, was a university professor and a specialist on the history of Bulgarian law. To a certain extent, there was always a risk involved that sciences in Bulgaria were deeply embedded in the paradigm of Romanticism.

It is apparent that, like other scholars at the time, Shishmanov was not immune to the usage of contemporary terminology in describing past reality either. A more attentive observer is able to see that science has its own internal dynamic. Its professionalization could lead to questioning and later disappearance of a primordial race of mythical ancestors.

However, politics of culture and coming wars would put limits to this process.

Dimitar Bechev

There is no space here to go into details, but the period after brought enthusiasm for racial interpretations combined with a hereditarian fervor. Undoubtedly, in many cases the new ways of making judgments were based on merely pre-modern ethnocentric and not racially conceived stereotypes and exclusions.

It is evident that in most of cases, theoretically and stylistically, Bulgarian thinkers and scholars depended on the influence of foreign authors. However, in the beginning of the 20th century, these ideas legitimized biological determinism that appeared as fundamentally racial when it was applied to the idea of the nation.

These ideas also brought about the rationalization of social and national hierarchies. In this respect, in the beginning of the 20th century, one can register the prominence of natural and biological laws that had been more visible in other places in Europe since the s.

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And why not think about the beginning of appropriation, to a certain extent, of the European fascination of the East, Orient, and Asia? Here one encounters less racial thinking in comparision with Central Europe and especially the Austrian part of the Habsburg monarchy from where some prominent racial thinkers originated. The Bulgarian case can be rather compared with the Hungarian one. There, according to Turda, the dissemination of racial thinking and Social Darwinism was not the work of intellectuals, but the product of a multitude of sources embedded within the Hungarian tradition of theorizing about the nation.

At the same time, nationalist preoccupation with inner racial qualities in Bulgaria seems to have been weaker than in Hungary. In the Bulgarian case it was more appropriation of racial and Social Darwinist vocabulary than genuine racial thinking. Despite their inclinations to ethnic national perspective, the majority of the Bulgarian authors in humanities rejected racialism in the pseudo-scientific narratives.

Historiography in Bulgaria was even linked less to biological and racialist ideas and more to the idea of a cultural nation. That is why other ethnic elements were not at the core of Bulgarian historical narrative. Moreover, the Bulgarian educated public was aware that there hardly existed a racially pure nation. As far as scientists were concerned as individuals, they were the ones who elected—in this debate about the ancestors—which theory to support. Presumably, their participation was not determined solely by pure scientific motives.

Noveisha istoriya ot frenskata revolyutziya do dheshno vreme [Contemporary History from the French Revolution until the Present]. Sofia: Pridvorna pechatnitza, Augstein, Hannah Franziska, ed. The Origins of an Idea, — Bristol: Thoemmes Press, Banton, Michael. Racial Theories. Barkan, Elazar. The Retreat of Scientific Racism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Izvestiya na istoricheskoto druzhestvo , No.