Bulgaria Table of Contents
By 1850 the emerging Bulgarian nationalist movement had split into two distinct branches. The moderates, concentrated in Constantinople, favored gradual improvement of conditions in Bulgaria through negotiations with the Turkish government. This was the approach that created a separate Bulgarian exarchate in 1870. This group believed that the protection of the Ottoman Empire was necessary because a free Bulgaria would be subject to Balkan politics and great-power manipulation. The radical faction, however, saw no hope of gradual reform. Following their understanding of European liberal tradition and Russian revolutionary thought, the leaders of this faction aimed first for liberation from all outside controls. Liberation, they believed, would automatically lead to complete modernization of Bulgarian society.
The crushing of the large-scale Vidin peasant revolt in 1851 brought intervention by Britain and France, who bolstered and protected the Ottoman Empire throughout the nineteenth century as a counterweight to Russian expansion. To prevent destabilizing unrest, Britain and France forced the Turks to introduce land reform in western Bulgaria in the early 1850s and a series of major social reforms in 1856 and 1876. Nominally, those measures included equal treatment for non-Muslims in the empire and parliamentary representation for Bulgarians and Serbs. These changes, however, were the cosmetic product of Turkey's need for Western support in major wars with Russia. They did nothing to blunt the nationalist drive of the Bulgarian radicals.
Data as of June 1992