The Situation of the Bulgars under Ottoman Rule. An Attempt at Toppling Myths and Stereotypes
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In his presentation of the situation of the Bulgarian population under Ottoman rule the author became involved in a polemic with conventional black and white schemes cultivated in world and Bulgarian historiography. Such schemes portray, on the one hand, the despicable cruelty of the Turkish oppressors and, on the other hand, the pitiful plight of the Bulgars, maltreated and denationalised by a policy which supposedly reduced the size of the population. Unmasking a number of myths well grounded in historical literature and social opinion, he concentrated on listing the concrete benefits which the Bulgarian population enjoyed in the discussed epoch in the form of an improved economic standard, education and culture. The usually reviled depiction of the situation of the Bulgarians within the Ottoman empire is contrasted with endurable and frequently opportune material and spiritual conditions. Moreover, the author has underlined the fact that the Bulgarian population profited from assorted political liberties. All these factors, he claims, guaranteed a stable economic situation and were conducive for stirring Bulgarian national awareness and pro-independence aspirations. In conclusion, the author proposes the thesis (not quite isolated in scientific literature) that Bulgaria under Turkish rule was actually one of the best developing provinces of the Ottoman empire. Furthermore, he maintains that a suitable exploitation of the wide range of political and socioeconomic autonomy enabled the Bulgars to create the foundation of an independent state. This objective could be realised only after toppling Turkish rule during the 1878-1908 period. Contrary to the thesis about the 'dark ages' in Bulgarian history (fourteenth-nineteenth century) the Bulgars were actually capable of preserving an awareness of their national and linguistic distinctness.
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