- Kingdom of Bulgaria
Infobox Former Country
native_name = Царство България
conventional_long_name = Kingdom of Bulgaria
common_name = Bulgaria
continent = Europe
region = Balkans
country = Bulgaria
era = Interwar period
event_start = OfficialThe Principality of Bulgaria was a "
de facto" independent state with its own Constitution, flag, anthem, foreign policy.] proclamation of independence
year_start = 1908
date_start = October 5
event_end = Monarchy abolished
year_end = 1946
date_end = September 15
event1 = Balkan Wars
date_event1 = 1912-1913
event2 = Treaty of Bucharest
date_event2 = August 10, 1913
event3 = Treaty of Neuilly
date_event3 = November 27, 1919
p1 = Principality of Bulgaria
p2 = Ottoman Empire
flag_p1 = Flag of Bulgaria (1878-1944).svg
flag_p2 = Ottoman Flag.svg
s1 = People's Republic of Bulgaria
flag_s1 = Flag of Bulgaria (1948-1967).svg
image_map_caption = The Kingdom of Bulgaria during
World War II.
national_anthem = Shumi Maritsa
common_languages = Bulgarian
government_type = Constitutional monarchy
capital = Sofia
title_leader = Tsar
leader1 = Ferdinand I
year_leader1 = 1908-1918
leader2 = Boris III
year_leader2 = 1918-1943
leader3 = Simeon II
year_leader3 = 1943-1946
title_deputy = Chairman of the Council of Ministers
deputy1 = Aleksandar Malinov
year_deputy1 = 1908-1911 (first)
deputy2 = Kimon Georgiev
year_deputy2 = 1944-1946 (last)
currency = Bulgarian lev
The Kingdom of Bulgaria ( _bg. Царство България) was established on
October 5, 1908( September 22O.S.) when the Principality of BulgariaofficiallyThe Principality of Bulgaria was a " de facto" independent state with its own Constitution, flag, anthem, foreign policy.] proclaimed itself independent from the Ottoman Empireand was elevated to the style of kingdom. This move also formalised the annexation of the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which had been under Bulgarian control since 1885. In 1946 the monarchy was abolished, its final Tsar was sent into exile and the kingdom was replaced by a People's Republic. Although rarely, it is sometimes referred to as the Third Bulgarian Empire [ [http://www.4m-bulgaria.org/index.php?page=Sofia 6FP NoE 4M in Bulgaria - Sofia Info ] ] , as in the Middle Ages the term Tsardom meant an Empire. However, the Third Bulgarian state was internationally recognized as a Kingdom.
The Balkan Wars
Despite the establishment of a Bulgarian state in 1878, and the subsequent Bulgarian control over Eastern Rumelia in 1885 there was still a substantial Bulgarian population in the Balkans living under Ottoman rule, particularly in Macedonia. To complicate matters, Serbia and Greece too made claims over parts of Macedonia, while Serbia, as a Slavic nation, also considered
Macedonian Slavsas belonging to Serbian nation. Thus began a five-sided struggle for control of these areas which lasted until World War I. In 1903 there was a Bulgarian insurrection in Ottoman Macedonia and war seemed likely. In 1908 Ferdinand used the struggles between the Great Powers to declare Bulgaria a fully independent kingdom, with himself as Tsar, which he did on 5 October(though celebrated on 22 September, as Bulgaria remained officially on the Julian Calendaruntil 1916) in the St Forty Martyrs Churchin Veliko Tarnovo.
In 1911 the Nationalist Prime Minister,
Ivan Geshov, set about forming an alliance with Greece and Serbia, and the three allies agreed to put aside their rivalries to plan a joint attack on the Ottomans. In February 1912 a secret treaty was signed between Bulgaria and Serbia, and in May 1912 a similar treaty was signed with Greece. Montenegro was also brought into the pact. The treaties provided for the partition of Macedonia and Thracebetween the allies, although the lines of partition were left dangerously vague. After the Ottomans refused to implement reforms in the disputed areas, the First Balkan Warbroke out in October 1912. (See Balkan Warsfor details.)The allies had an astonishing success. The Bulgarian army inflicted several defeats on the Ottoman forces and advanced threateningly against Constantinople, while the Serbs and the Greeks took control of Macedonia. The Ottomans sued for peace in December. Negotiations broke down, and fighting resumed in February 1913. The Ottomans lost Adrianople to a combined Bulgarian-Serbian task force. A second armistice followed in March, with the Ottomans losing all their European possessions west of the Midia-Enos line, not far from Istanbul. Bulgaria gained possession of most of Thrace, including Adrianople and the Aegean port of Dedeagach (today Alexandroupoli). Bulgaria also gained a slice of Macedonia, north and east of Thessaloniki(which went to Greece), but only some small areas along her western borders. Bulgaria sustained the heaviest casualties of any of the allies, and on this basis felt entitled to the largest share of the spoils. The Serbs in particular did not see things this way, and refused to vacate any of the territory they had seized in northern Macedonia (that is, the territory roughly corresponding to the modern Republic of Macedonia), stating that the Bulgarian army had failed to accomplish its pre-war goals at Adrianople (i. e., failing to capture it without Serbian help) and that the pre-war agreements on the division of Macedonia had to be revised. Some circles in Bulgaria inclined toward going to war with Serbia and Greece on this issue. In June 1913 Serbia and Greece formed a new alliance, against Bulgaria. The Serbian Prime Minister, Nikola Pasic, told Greece it could have Thrace if Greece helped Serbia keep Bulgaria out of Serbian part of Macedonia, and the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelosagreed. Seeing this as a violation of the pre-war agreements, and discretely encouraged by Germany and Austria-Hungary, Tsar Ferdinand declared war on Serbia and Greece and the Bulgarian army attacked on June 29. The Serbian and the Greek forces were initially on the retreat on the western border, but they soon took the upper hand and forced Bulgaria into retreat. The fighting was very harsh, with many casualties, especially during the key Battle of Bregalnitsa. Soon Romania entered the war and attacked Bulgaria from the north. The Ottoman Empire also attacked from the south-east. The war was now definitely lost for Bulgaria, which had to abandon most of her claims of Macedonia to Serbia and Greece, while the revived Ottomans retook Adrianople. Romania took possession of southern Dobruja.
World War I
In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, Bulgarian opinion turned against Russia and the western powers, whom the Bulgarians felt had done nothing to help them. The government of
Vasil Radoslavovaligned Bulgaria with Germany and Austria-Hungary, even though this meant also becoming an ally of the Ottomans, Bulgaria's traditional enemy. But Bulgaria now had no claims against the Ottomans, whereas Serbia, Greece and Romania (allies of the UK and France) were all in possession of lands perceived in Bulgaria as Bulgarian. Bulgaria, recuperating from the Balkan Wars, sat out the first year of World War I, but when Germany promised to restore the boundaries of the Treaty of San Stefano, Bulgaria, which had the largest army in the Balkans, declared war on Serbia in October 1915. The UK, Franceand Italy then declared war on Bulgaria.
Although Bulgaria, in alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans, won military victories against Serbia and Romania, occupying much of Macedonia (taking
Skopjein October), advancing into Greek Macedonia, and taking Dobruja from the Romanians in September 1916, the war soon became unpopular with the majority of Bulgarian people, who suffered great economic hardship and also disliked fighting their fellow Orthodox Christians in alliance with the Muslim Ottomans. The Agrarian Party leader, Aleksandur Stamboliyski, was imprisoned for his opposition to the war. The Russian Revolution of February 1917 had a great effect in Bulgaria, spreading antiwar and anti-monarchist sentiment among the troops and in the cities. In June Radoslavov's government resigned. Mutinies broke out in the army, Stamboliyski was released and a republic was proclaimed.
The interwar years
In September 1918, the Serbs, British, French, and Greeks broke through on the Macedonian front and Tsar Ferdinand was forced to sue for peace. Stamboliyski favoured democratic reforms, not a revolution. In order to head off the revolutionaries, he persuaded Ferdinand to abdicate in favour of his son Boris III. The revolutionaries were suppressed and the army disbanded. Under the
Treaty of Neuilly(November 1919), Bulgaria lost its Aegean coastline to Greece and nearly all of its Macedonian territory to the new state of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and had to give Dobruja back to the Kingdom of Romania(see also Dobruja, Western Outlands, Western Thrace). Elections in March 1920 gave the Agrarians a large majority, and Stamboliyski formed Bulgaria's first genuinely democratic government.
Stamboliyski faced huge social problems in what was still a poor country inhabited mostly by peasant smallholders. Bulgaria was saddled with huge war reparations to Yugoslavia and Romania, and had to deal with the problem of refugees as pro-Bulgarian Macedonians had to leave the Yugoslav Macedonia. Nevertheless Stamboliyski was able to carry through many social reforms, although opposition from the Tsar, the landlords and the officers of the much-reduced but still influential army was powerful. Another bitter enemy was the
Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization(VMRO), which favoured a war to regain Macedonia for Bulgaria. Faced with this array of enemies, Stamboliyski allied himself with the Bulgarian Communist Partyand opened relations with the Soviet Union.
In March 1923, Stamboliyski signed an agreement with Yugoslavia recognising the new border and agreeing to suppress VMRO. This triggered a nationalist reaction, and on 9 June there was a coup after which Stamboliykski was assassinated (beheaded). A right wing government under
Aleksandar Tsankovtook power, backed by the Tsar, the army and the VMRO, who waged a White terroragainst the Agrarians and the Communists. The Communist leader Georgi Dimitrovfled to the Soviet Union. There was savage repression in 1925 following the second of two failed attempts on the Tsar's life in the bomb attack on Sofia Cathedral (the first attempt took place in the mountain pass of Arabakonak). But in 1926 the Tsar persuaded Tsankov to resign and a more moderate government under Andrey Lyapchevtook office. An amnesty was proclaimed, although the Communists remained banned. The Agrarians reorganised and won elections in 1931 under the leadership of Nikola Mushanov.
Just when political stability had been restored, the full effects of the
Great Depressionhit Bulgaria, and social tensions rose again. In May 1934 there was another coup, the Agrarians were again suppressed, and an authoritarian regime headed by Kimon Georgievestablished with the backing of Tsar Boris. In April 1935 Boris took power himself, ruling through puppet Prime Ministers Georgi Kyoseivanov(1935-40) and Bogdan Filov(1940-43). The Tsar's regime banned all opposition parties and took Bulgaria into alliance with Nazi Germanyand Fascist Italy. Although the signing of the Balkan Pactof 1938 restored good relations with Yugoslavia and Greece, the territorial issue continued to simmer.
World War II
Faced by an invasion, Bulgaria drifted into
World War IIunder Filov's government. On 7 September 1940, Bulgaria was bribed by the return of southern Dobrujafrom the Kingdom of Romania. This was done on the orders of German dictator Adolf Hitlerand implemented by the Treaty of Craiova.
1 March 1941, Bulgaria formally signed the Tripartite Pact, becoming an ally of Nazi German, the Empire of Japan, and the Kingdom of Italy. German troops entered the country in preparation for the German invasions of the Kingdom of Greeceand the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. When Yugoslavia and Greece were defeated, Bulgaria was allowed to occupy all of Greek Thrace and most of Macedonia. Bulgaria declared war on Britain and the United States, but resisted German pressure to declare war on the Soviet Union, fearful of pro-Russian sentiment in the country.
In August 1943 Tsar Boris died suddenly after returning from Germany (possibly assassinated, although this has never been proved) and was succeeded by his six-year old son Simeon II. Power was held by a council of regents headed by the young Tsar's uncle, Prince Kirill. The new Prime Minister,
Dobri Bozhilov, was in most respects a German puppet.
Resistance to the Germans and the Bulgarian regime was widespread by 1943, co-ordinated mainly by the Communists. Together with the Agrarians, now led by
Nikola Petkov, the Social Democrats and even with many army officers they founded the Fatherland Front. Partisans operated in the mountainous west and south. By 1944 it was obvious that Germany was losing the war and the regime began to look for a way out. Bozhilov resigned in May, and his successor Ivan Ivanov Bagrianovtried to arrange negotiations with the western Allies.
Meanwhile, the capital Sofia was bombed by Allied aircraft in late 1943 and early 1944, with raids on other major cities following later. But it was the Soviet army which was rapidly advancing towards Bulgaria. In August Bulgaria unilaterally announced its withdrawal from the war and asked the German troops to leave: Bulgarian troops were hastily withdrawn from Greece and Yugoslavia. In September the Soviets crossed the northern border. The government, desperate to avoid a Soviet occupation, declared war on Germany, but the Soviets could not be put off, and on
September 8they declared war on Bulgaria - which thus found itself for a few days at war with both Germany and the Soviet Union. On September 16, the Soviet army entered Sofia.
The Fatherland Front took office in Sofia following a coup d'état, setting up a broad coalition under the former ruler Kimon Georgiev and including the Social Democrats and the Agrarians. Under the terms of the peace settlement, Bulgaria was allowed to keep
Southern Dobruja, but formally renounced all claims to Greek and Yugoslav territory. To prevent further disputes 150,000 Bulgarians were expelled from Greek Thrace. The Communists deliberately took a minor role in the new government at first, but the Soviet representatives were the real power in the country. A Communist-controlled People's Militia was set up, which harassed and intimidated non-Communist parties.
In February 1945 the new realities of power in Bulgaria were shown when Prince Kirill and hundreds of other officials of the old regime were arrested on charges of war crimes. By June Kirill and the other regents, 22 former ministers and many others had been executed. In September 1946 the monarchy was abolished by plebiscite, and young Tsar Simeon was sent into exile. The Communists now openly took power, with
Vasil Kolarovbecoming President and Dimitrov becoming Prime Minister. Free elections promised for 1946 were blatantly rigged and were boycotted by the opposition. The Agrarians refused to co-operate with the new regime, and in June 1947 their leader Nikola Petkov was arrested. Despite strong international protests he was executed in September. This marked the final establishment of a Communist regime in Bulgaria.
Ferdinand of Bulgaria
Boris III of Bulgaria
History of Bulgaria
History of Bulgaria (1878–1946)
* [http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Bulgaria.html Rulers of Bulgaria] at World Statesmen
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