By R. J. Crampton
Richard Crampton offers a normal advent to Bulgaria on the cross-roads of Christendom and Islam. This concise heritage lines the country's progress from pre-history, via its days because the heart of a strong medieval empire and 5 centuries of Ottoman rule, to the political upheavals of the 20th century which resulted in 3 wars. It highlights 1995 to 2004, an essential interval within which Bulgaria continued monetary meltdown, set itself heavily at the street to reform, elected its former King as major minister, and at last secured club in NATO and admission to the eu Union. First variation Hb (1997) 0-521-56183-3 First version Pb (1997) 0-521-56719-X
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Extra resources for A Concise History of Bulgaria (2006) (Cambridge Concise Histories)
The boys were chosen for their physical and mental ability and were taken from their families and villages to be converted to Islam and then given a rigorous education and military training, after which they entered the ranks of the janissary corps. For almost two centuries after the conquest of Constantinople the janissaries, forbidden to marry, formed the highly trained and totally disciplined e´lite of the Ottoman army. They also played an important part in the imperial administration; at times they remembered and favoured their home villages, and there are even records of villages requesting that the devshirme be levied on them in the hope that in future years such favours would be paid, but for the most part this tax in human kind was a dreaded feature of Ottoman rule until the late seventeenth century; the last full levy in the Bulgarian lands was in 1685.
From Pliska it could control the north–south routes through the eastern passes of the Balkan mountains and along the narrow lowland coastal strip. In the north, however, its extensive territories beyond the Danube inevitably led it into conflict with both the tribal groups milling around in the plains to the north-east, and with the succession of states which were established on the north-western borders. For the leaders of mediaeval Bulgaria, however, the most persistent and pressing problem was defining Bulgaria’s relations with the great power to the south.
The language survived primarily because most Bulgarians lived in their small, isolated and usually ethnically homogenous villages. In such communities there was no need to adopt Greek for everyday economic or commercial transactions, nor to use Turkish when dealing with government officials. The villages therefore preserved the Bulgarian language and with it Bulgarian names, Bulgarian folk tales and legends, Bulgarian forms of family organisation and Bulgarian festivals and holidays. THE BULGARIAN CHURCH UNDER OTTOMAN RULE The festivals and holidays which the small Bulgarian villages preserved were primarily religious and the church’s role in keeping alive a separate sense of ‘Bulgardom’ was critical.