Russian Turkish War

During the Russo-Turkish war of 1828-1829, Georgi Mamarchev, a Bulgarian officer serving in the Russian army, made an attempt to organize a general uprising in Bulgaria, but his attempt failed. The preparations for a mass uprising continued, however, and in 1835 an armed uprising, known under the name of Velcho’s Conspiracy, broke out in Turnovo under the leadership of Velcho the Glazier and Captain Grandfather Nikola. During the same year a spontaneous peasant revolt broke out in North- Western Bulgaria, caused by the refusal of the local authorities to apply the agrarian reform and by their ar-bitrary actions. This revolt was followed by three uprisings in succession in the same region — in 1836, 1841 and 1850.

The one in 1850 was particularly massive. It was preceded by a secret general meeting of delegates from four districts, which specified the aims of the struggle, the date of the uprising and the way in which they were to proceed. The rebel detachments, led by Tsolo Todorov, Ivan Koulin, Petko Marinov, Purvan Vurbanov, Captain Krustyu and others, numbered a total of some 20,000 men. They blocked the numerous Turkish garrisons in Vidin, Lom and Belogradchik and established control over the villages in the region. The insurgents were routed by the regular troops which were not late in arriving, but the government of the Sultan was forced to take measures for curbing the arbitrariness of the local authorities and beys.

Organized National Revolutionary Movement

The second half of the 19th century was marked by radical changes in the international situation and in the internal set-up in the Ottoman Empire, which resulted in passing to a higher stage in the struggle of the Bulgarian people for national liberation. A new war broke out between Russia and Turkey in 1853, and since the previous Russo-Turkish war had brought about the liberation of Greece and Serbia, the Bulgarians cherished hopes that the hour of their freedom too had struck. The ideologist of the Bulgarian national revolution Georgi Stoikov Rakovski set up a‘Secret Society’ in Constantinople whose aim was to prepare the Bulgarian people for an uprising when the Russian troops entered the Bulgarian lands. Pavel Gramadov was sent to Macedonia to organize the uprising, Dimiter Petrovich – to North- Western Bulgaria, and Nikola Filipovski – tc the Turnovo district.

This time, however, the development of the war proved unfavourable for Russia, for she was forced to fight not only Turkey, but a coalition including France, Britain and the Sardinian Kingdom. This venture, known as the Crimean War, ended in 1856 with Russia’s defeat. In its wake Turkey practically became a semi-colony of the big Western capitalist states, which were interested in perpetuating the situation thus created, and made the preservation of the integrity of the Ottoman Empire, called by everyone ‘the sick man’, the principal aim of their Balkan and Near East policy. A number of reforms were undertaken in order to mitigate the acute national contradictions rending the Empire. The most significant among them was the Hatihumayun, which proclaimed equal rights for all subjects of the Sultan, regardless of their nationality.