Bulgaria Table of Contents
Figure 4. Hajdutin Activity in the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1800
Source: Based on information from Ilcho Dimitrov (ed.), Kratka istoriia na Bulgariia, Sofia, 1981, 153; and Hermann Kinder and Werner Hilgemann, The Anchor Atlas of World History, 1, Garden City, New York, 1974, 208.
Notable Bulgarian uprisings against the Ottomans occurred in the 1590s, the 1680s and the 1730s; all sought to take advantage of external crises of the empire, and all were harshly suppressed. Beginning in the 1600s, local bandits, called hajduti (sing., hajdutin), led small uprisings (see fig. 4). Some writers now describe these uprisings as precursors of a Bulgarian nationalist movement. Most scholars agree, however, that hajdutin activities responded only to local misrule and their raids victimized both Christians and Muslims. Whatever their motivation, hajdutin exploits became a central theme of national folk culture.
By 1600 the Ottoman Empire had reached the peak of its power and territorial control. In the seventeenth century, the empire began to collapse; the wealth of conquest had spread corruption through the political system, vitiating the ability of the central government to impose order throughout the farflung empire. For the majority of people in agricultural Bulgaria, centralized Ottoman control had been far from intolerable while the empire was orderly and strong. But the growing despotism of local authorities as the central government declined created a new class of victims. Increasingly, Bulgarians welcomed the progressive Western political ideas that reached them through the Danube trade and travel routes. Already in the 1600s, Catholic missionaries in western Bulgaria had stimulated creation of literature about Bulgaria's national past. Although the Turks suppressed this Western influence after the Chiprovets uprising of 1688, the next century brought an outpouring of historical writings reminding Bulgarian readers of a glorious national heritage.
Data as of June 1992