in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, Bulgaria was invaded by
slaves who settled in the Danube-Aegean area. The original
population, the Thracians and the Illyrians, were partly
displaced and partly integrated with the conquerors. The
slaves have no central government, but were organized in
smaller agricultural societies.
The Bulgarians who arrived in the area in the late 5th
century were among the non-European tribes who followed in
the wake of the devastating Mongol invasion led by Atila. It
was fearless warriors on horseback who nourished themselves
by war and plunder; they temporarily settled on the steppes
north of the Black Sea and northeast of the Danube.
Some tribes disappeared and others were made slaves by
the Turks. The tribes Kubrat led remained in this area until
the middle of the 7th century. Under pressure from the
kazars, they were forced to cross the Danube and came to
Moesia, which was then a province of the Byzantine Empire.
The emperor, Constantine the 4th, formally recognized the
Bulgarian state in 681.
As a result of the numerous attacks against the
Byzantines, the Bulgarian troops succeeded in gaining ground
to the south and reached Constantinople which was besieged.
After the invasion of the Magyars in the late 9th century,
the Bulgarians left northern Danubia and half of the
southern part of the river valley was depopulated, p. the
repeated assaults and looting of various alien tribes.
While the northeastern kingdom was subject to several
invasions from the Russians, Magyars and others, it was the
central and southeastern regions where the new state was
established. The Bulgarian leaders introduced the Slavic
culture and the Slavic language. Prince Boris was first
baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, but in 870 he
converted to the Greek Orthodox Church.
Rome refused to appoint a local patriarch, while the
Byzans patriarch recognized the independence of the
Bulgarian church, which was an indispensable support for the
maintenance of the kingdom. With Simeón, 893-927, the
borders of the Bulgarian Empire were extended to the
Adriatic. The Serbs were defeated and the kingdom became the
most powerful in Eastern Europe.
With Simeon's death, a phase began where the Bulgarian
power began to weaken, partly because internal strife on the
part of the nobility, partly the growing resistance among
the peasants, as well as foreign attacks. In 1014, Bulgaria
lost all the territory that had belonged to Byzans for 150
years. After an uprising in 1185, Bulgaria's northern region
again gained independence.
Bulgaria regained former strength in the reign of Iván
Asen from 1218-1241. He also ruled Albania, Epiro, Macedonia
and Thrace, but none of his successors was able to establish
a centralized regime that could control feudal tendencies.
The last bastion fell in 1393, and the Bulgarian state
became subject to the Turkish Ottomans.
The Ottoman Empire began to crumble in the 17th and 18th
centuries following the wars against Austria and the failed
siege of Vienna. Bulgaria was a largely unknown area for
Europeans in the early 19th century, despite the Bulgarian
volunteers participating in the uprisings in Serbia and
Greece. The former Bulgarian state was invaded by Russia in
1810 and 1828.
During this period, the identity of the Bulgarian people
was preserved primarily through the language that remained
intact, through the music and folk tales. The Greek Church
took over the religious leadership and suppressed the
independent patriarchy during the years of Turkish
supremacy; the Bulgarian monks were therefore among the
initiators of a national liberation movement.