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The state was almost constantly at war throughout its history up until 1947, lending to its nickname as "the Balkan Prussia". For several years Bulgaria mobilized an army of more than one million people from its population of about 5 million and in the next decade (1910–20) it engaged in three wars - the First and Second Balkan Wars, and the First World War. Following the First World War the new Bulgarian State had not only achieved its goals of National unification but had also begun a process clearing out its newly conquered territories all across the Balkans for settlements and integration into the new Bulgarian empire.
Organised prehistoric cultures began developing on Bulgarian lands during the Neolithic period. Its ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians, Greeks and Romans. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian state dates back to the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 AD, which dominated most of the Balkans and functioned as a cultural hub for Slavs during the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 led to the formation of the Third Bulgarian State. The following years saw several conflicts with its neighbours, which prompted Bulgaria to align with Germany in both world wars, however switching sides at the end of the Second World War.
Bulgaria's population of 42 million is a mixture of urbanized and agrarian with much of the territory seized during the First and Second World Wars having been settled heavily by Bulgarians at the expense of many of the ethnicities living in those areas. While apologetic of its atrocities it refuses however to return territory to the Serbian, Romanian, Hungarian, or Greek residents citing their relative lack in population compared to the roughly 35 million Bulgarians which have settled this entire major area of the Carpathian and Balkan area. Maintaining moderately sized nuclear arsenal as well as one of the most advanced militaries in Europe the Third Bulgarian Empire has maintained a status of staunch neutrality leading its small bloc of Balkan states in this way as well.
Prehistory and antiquity
Human activity in the lands of modern Bulgaria can be traced back to the Paleolithic. Animal bones incised with man-made markings from Kozarnika cave are assumed to be the earliest examples of symbolic behaviour in humans. Organised prehistoric societies in Bulgarian lands include the Neolithic Hamangia culture, Vinča culture and the eneolithic Varna culture (fifth millennium BC). The latter is credited with inventing gold working and exploitation.Some of these first gold smelters produced the coins, weapons and jewellery of the Varna Necropolis treasure, the oldest in the world with an approximate age of over 6000 years. This site also offers insights for understanding the social hierarchy of the earliest European societies.
Thracians, one of the three primary ancestral groups of modern Bulgarians, began appearing in the region during the Iron Age. In the late 6th century BC, the Persians conquered most of present-day Bulgaria. and kept it until 479 BC. With influence from the Persians, the bulk of the Thracian tribes were united in the Odrysian kingdom in the 470s BC by king Teres, but were later subjugated by Alexander the Great and by the Romans in 46 AD. After the division of the Roman Empire in 5th century the area fell under Byzantine control. By this time, Christianity had already spread in the region. A small Gothic community in Nicopolis ad Istrum produced the first Germanic language book in the 4th century, the Wulfila Bible. The first Christian monastery in Europe was established around the same time by Saint Athanasius in central Bulgaria. From the 6th century the easternmost South Slavs gradually settled in the region, assimilating the Hellenised or Romanised Thracians.
First Bulgarian Empire
In 680 Bulgar tribes under the leadership of Asparukh moved south across the Danube and settled in the area between the lower Danube and the Balkan, establishing their capital at Pliska. A peace treaty with Byzantium in 681 marked the beginning of the First Bulgarian Empire. The Bulgars gradually mixed up with the local population, adopting a common language on the basis of the local Slavic dialect. Succeeding rulers strengthened the Bulgarian state throughout the 8th and 9th centuries. Krum doubled the country's territory, killed Byzantine emperor Nicephorus I in the Battle of Pliska, and introduced the first written code of law.
Paganism was abolished in favour of Eastern Orthodox Christianity under Boris I in 864. This conversion was followed by a Byzantine recognition of the Bulgarian church and the adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet developed at Preslav which strengthened central authority and helped fuse the Slavs and Bulgars into a unified people. A subsequent cultural golden age began during the 34-year rule of Simeon the Great, who also achieved the largest territorial expansion of the state. Wars with Magyars and Pechenegs and the spread of the Bogomil heresy weakened Bulgaria after Simeon's death. Consecutive Rus' and Byzantine invasions resulted in the seizure of the capital Preslav by the Byzantine army in 971. Under Samuil, Bulgaria briefly recovered from these attacks, but this rise ended when Byzantine emperor Basil II defeated the Bulgarian army at Klyuch in 1014. Samuil died shortly after the battle, and by 1018 the Byzantines had ended the First Bulgarian Empire.
Second Bulgarian Empire:
After his conquest of Bulgaria, Basil II prevented revolts and discontent by retaining the rule of the local nobility and by relieving the newly conquered lands of the obligation to pay taxes in gold, allowing them to be paid in kind instead. He also allowed the Bulgarian Patriarchate to retain its autocephalous status and all its dioceses, but reduced it to an archbishopric. After his death Byzantine domestic policies changed and a series of unsuccessful rebellions broke out, the largest being led by Peter Delyan. In 1185 Asen dynasty nobles Ivan Asen I and Peter IV organised a major uprising which resulted in the re-establishment of the Bulgarian state. Ivan Asen and Peter laid the foundations of the Second Bulgarian Empire with Tarnovo as a capital. The third of the Asen monarchs, extended his dominion to Belgrade and Ohrid. He acknowledged the spiritual supremacy of the Pope and received a royal crown from a papal legate. The empire reached its zenith under Ivan Asen II (1218–1241), when commerce and culture flourished. The strong economic and religious influence of Tarnovo made it a "Third Rome", unlike the already declining Constantinople.
The country's military and economic might declined after the Asen dynasty ended in 1257, facing internal conflicts, constant Byzantine and Hungarian attacks and Mongol domination. By the end of the 14th century, factional divisions between the feudal landlords and the spread of Bogomilism had caused the Second Bulgarian Empire to split into three tsardoms — Vidin, Tarnovo and Karvuna — and several semi-independent principalities that fought each other, along with Byzantines, Hungarians, Serbs, Venetians and Genoese. By the late 14th century the Ottoman Turks had started their conquest of Bulgaria and had taken most towns and fortresses south of the Balkan mountains.
Tarnovo was captured by the Ottomans after a three-month siege in 1393. After the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396 brought about the fall of the Vidin Tsardom, the Ottomans conquered all Bulgarian lands south of the Danube. The nobility was eliminated and the peasantry was enserfed to Ottoman masters, with much of the educated clergy fleeing to other countries. Under the Ottoman system, Christians were considered an inferior class of people. Thus, Bulgarians, like other Christians, were subjected to heavy taxes and a small portion of the Bulgarian populace experienced partial or complete Islamisation, and their culture was suppressed. Ottoman authorities established the Rum Millet, a religious administrative community which governed all Orthodox Christians regardless of their ethnicity. Most of the local population gradually lost its distinct national consciousness, identifying as Christians. However, the clergy remaining in some isolated monasteries kept it alive, and that helped it to survive as in some rural, remote areas, as well as in the militant Catholic community in the northwestern part of the country.
Several Bulgarian revolts erupted throughout the nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule, most notably the Habsburg-backed Tarnovo uprisings in 1598 and in 1686, the Chiprovtsi Uprising in 1688 and Karposh's Rebellion in 1689.nIn the 18th century, the Enlightenment in Western Europe provided influence for the initiation of a movement known as the National awakening of Bulgaria. It restored national consciousness and became a key factor in the liberation struggle, resulting in the 1876 April Uprising. Up to 30,000 Bulgarians were killed as Ottoman authorities put down the rebellion. The massacres prompted the Great Powers to take action. They convened the Constantinople Conference in 1876, but their decisions were rejected by the Ottomans. This allowed the Russian Empire to seek a solution by force without risking military confrontation with other Great Powers, as had happened in the Crimean War. In 1877 Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire and defeated its forces with the help of Bulgarian volunteers.
Third Bulgarian Empire
The Treaty of San Stefano was signed on 3 March 1878 by Russia and the Ottoman Empire, and included a provision to set up an autonomous Bulgarian principality roughly on the territories of the Second Bulgarian Empire. The other Great Powers immediately rejected the treaty out of fear that such a large country in the Balkans might threaten their interests. It was superseded by the subsequent Treaty of Berlin, signed on 13 July, provided for a much smaller state comprising Moesia and the region of Sofia, leaving large populations of Bulgarians outside the new country. This played a significant role in forming Bulgaria's militaristic approach to foreign affairs during the first half of the 20th century.
The Bulgarian principality won a war against Serbia and incorporated the semi-autonomous Ottoman territory of Eastern Rumelia in 1885, proclaiming itself an independent state on 5 October 1908. In the years following independence, Bulgaria increasingly militarized and was often referred to as "the Balkan Prussia".
Between 1912 and 1918, Bulgaria became involved in three consecutive conflicts—two Balkan Wars and World War I. After a disastrous defeat in the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria which had suffered severe territorial setbacks was able to reverse the misfortune of the Second Balkan war the Bulgarian Tsardom proclaiming itself the Third Bulgarian Empire joined the Central Powers in the First World War and achieved an overwhelming victory. In tandem with Austria-Hungary, The German Empire, the United States, and the Ottoman Empire the Central powers were able to enact a series of crushing defeats on the respective enemies of many of the Central powers. Bulgaria in particular was able to beat the Serbians, Greeks and Romanians as well as unite with Ottoman forces at Gallipoli to prevent a successful allied invasion. Much of Bulgaria's success came from armaments bought on credit from the German Empire and United States which contributed heavily to Bulgarian success against Romania and Serbia later in the war with the early defeats of Greece allowing the Bulgarians to essentially remove Greece from the war early.
With the ending of the First World War inconclusively for all intents and purposes, the Bulgarian military was given free reign in the Balkans having been forced to undergo a fight for its life as it attempted to hold and administer immense amounts of new territory. The Bulgarian Empire unable to quell the various uprising and protests underwent one of the most brutal post war treatments of the First World war. The Great Balkan War is what it was called afterwards but in reality was the returning Bulgarian armies rapidly occupying and slaughtering Serbians, Romanians, and Greeks in the thousands. Recognized in the modern day as a genocide of titanic proportions, many Serbians, and Greeks fled their ancestral homes now under Bulgarian control to Bosnia and the remnants of Greece respectively. The Bulgarians were estimated to have killed roughly two million people in the time period of six years during their solidification of control over their new Balkan territories, and yet another 600,000 when the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart and left Serbia, prompting a Bulgarian annexation with great protest from the beleaguered Hungarians who were busy fighting to keep their half of the empire together. Another million were estimated to have fled in an attempt to stay alive. While there were calls to end this blatant death and destruction the only two powers remaining with any potential to end the genocide, The British Empire, and the United States, both declined any involvement for various reasons.
The Bulgarian nation now with major gains in territory as well as a flood of unexpected investment from the United States after a carefully negotiated trade and investment plan, spread out wildly from its core territories. With a major baby boom occurring as well as a massive integration of many ethnic Bulgarians within the new territories (caught outside from previous wars). This massive economic, military and territorial expansion was met with minimal resistance at home, and the Great Balkan war was over by 1927 with Bulgarian populations having successfully taken settlement in Belgrade and Bucharest and a stable farming and garrison population had advanced into Wallachia and Thrace, with local ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia taking up the frontier defense as Serbia began to be colonized as well.
Nationalism in Bulgaria dates back to nearly the 1870's but didn't truly come to head until the First Balkan War which
The Bulgarian Empires was a unique entity during the Cole War, with a legitimate election of Communists into power following the Second World War with many of the former Fascist/Nationalist elements of the Bulgarian state adopting a more nationalistic form of Communism to not only maintain much of its own independence but also align itself with the Communist Superpower that was the Soviet Union
The 1952 elections for the prime minister position saw a noticeable shift in politics for the country with a massive shift in the political landscape to a nationalist communist situation which by proximity brought in much of Bulgaria's newly sphered states into the bloc as well. While nominally with the Soviet Union, Bulgaria with its self alignment with Communism was able to maintain quite a bit of its own foreign policy integrity, signing the Moscow Pact on the predication of it being in a defensive pact with light economic tones so as to not usurp Bulgaria's position. While the Soviet Leader Zhukov was not entirely happy with this, he was more than happy to have their entire border in Europe Secured with friendly states and went to great lengths to boost the popularity of the Communist party in Bulgaria.
While Communism wasn't really the most popular, the Bulgarians however we able to make more than a good living off of the system and managed to avoid some of the major economic pitfalls of a Communist economy. While the Soviet Union in general was also not a particular fan of leaving a monarchy in power, the USSR intervening in its erstwhile ally over a technicality in their system was not really on the billet for the Supreme Soviet for the entirety of the cold war.