History

681 The Beginning

The establishment of a Bulgarian state by Khan Asparukh on the Balkan peninsula is one of the most remarkable political events in Europe in the 7th century after the Great Migration.

855 The Alphabet

The first Bulgarian alphabet – the glagolitical one, was created by the brothers Cyril and Methodius. At the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century a second Bulgarian alphabet is developed in Preslav, the Cyrillic alphabet. It consists of 24 letters based on the Greek script and 12 signs taken from the glagolitic script. Today nearly 15 million people around the world speak Bulgarian and the Cyrillic alphabet is the third official alphabet of the European Union. Read more

864 Conversion to Christianity

The adoption of Christianity has a great historic significance for Bulgaria because it leads to the establishment of the Bulgarian church, the advancement of Slavic literature and the evolution from Khanate to Tsardom and a sovereign state in Europe.

893-927 "The golden age"

This is how the rule of Simeon the Great is known. The books written in that period mark the beginning of the Old Bulgarian Literature. Simeon's victories on the battlefield help expand the territory of the Bulgarian state from the Black sea to the Aegean and the Adriatic. In analogy with the emperor of the Franks, Charlemagne, Simeon also remains in history as The Great.

1018-1185 Under Byzantine rule

In 1014 the Byzantine emperor Basil II defeated the army of tsar Samuil and blinded 15 000 captured soldiers. The Bulgarian tsar dies two months later and the internal conflicts for succession further weakened the Bulgarian state. Thus, at the end of 1019, Basil II managed to take control of the whole country and put an end to the first Bulgarian Tsardom.

1185-1396 Second Bulgarian Tsardom

A Bulgarian uprising against the Byzantine rule, led by the Bulgarian boyars Petar and Assen, marks the beginning of the Second Bulgarian Tsardom which during the rule of tsar Ivan Assen II expands and borders three seas. It is the most powerful state in South-Eastern Europe. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is also reestablished.

1396-1878 Under Ottoman rule

Bulgaria is the first Balkan country which falls under the rule of the expanding Ottoman empire. The foreign occupation destroys all administrative, legal, fiscal, military, cultural and other institutions. The Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian elite and the entire state cease to exist.

1762 Bulgarian National Awakening

Due to the foreign occupation, the Bulgarian awakening also known as Renaissance starts only in the 18th century. Its beginning was heralded by the book "History of the Slav-Bulgarians" written by Paisius of Hilendar in 1762.

1876 The April uprising

The April uprising ignites the revolutionary surge in the country. The extremely violent suppression provokes indignation in Europe and the United States. Writers like Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoevsky express their support for Bulgaria. Although unsuccessful to achieve its goals, the uprising is important because of the international reaction that follows.

1878 The Liberation

On 3 March 1878 a preliminary Peace Treaty of San Stefano is signed that puts an end to the war between Russia and Turkey which starts a year earlier. Bulgaria is recognised as an autonomous country. Only three months later, the Berlin Treaty signed by the Great Powers divides the country into Bulgarian principality, the autonomous region of Eastern Rumelia while Eastern Thrace, The Aegean region and Macedonia are returned to Turkey.

1885 The Unification

On 6 September 1885 rebels from Eastern Rumelia start the unification with the principality of Bulgaria with the consent of prince Alexander Battenberg. A new government which officially proclaims the unification is sworn in.

1908 Independence

On 22 September 1908 the Independence of Bulgaria is proclaimed with a manifesto issued by prince Ferdinand who assumes the title of tsar. This ends the dependent status of Bulgaria from the Ottoman empire, imposed by the Berlin treaty.

1914-1918 World War I

Bulgaria takes part in World War I on the side of the Central Powers. The Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine of 1919 imposes heavy sanctions on the country.

1939-1945 World War II

After staying neutral in the initial stages of the war, Bulgaria joins the war in 1941 as a non-participating ally of Nazi Germany. The plans to deport the Bulgarian Jews are not implemented due to the opposition of Bulgarian politicians, priests and citizens.

1946-1989 People's Republic of Bulgaria

After 9 September 1944 the monarchy is replaced by a government of the National front. In 1946 Bulgaria becomes a People's republic. The Bulgarian communist party imposes a totalitarian regime and nationalises industry while the land is united in cooperatives. Bulgaria falls under Soviet influence, among other so-called socialist countries.

1989 The end of Communism

The longstanding head of state Todor Zhivkov is ousted and a multi-party system is introduced. The Constitution of 1991 declares Bulgaria as a parliamentary republic with a one camera national assembly, directly elected president and guaranteed human rights and freedoms.

2004 Bulgaria joins NATO

On 29 March 2004 Bulgaria joins NATO after diplomatic efforts that last 14 years.

2007 Bulgaria in the European Union

Bulgaria chooses its European future and as early as 1990 applies for EU membership. The European Union treaty of accession is signed in 2005 and Bulgaria becomes a full member on 1 January 2007.

2018 Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council

Eleven years after joining the EU, Bulgaria will hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time.


The content of this article is prepared with the assistance of the History faculty at the Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski"

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