Angel ZLATKOV

Angel ZLATKOV

BETWEEN THE PATRIARCHATE OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE BULGARIAN EXARCHATE. THE DIFFICULT CHOICE OF THE MACEDONIAN BULGARIANS AT THE END OF THE 19th CENTURY

Études balkaniques (Sofia) 2023, N 3

Angel ZLATKOV

Institute of Balkan Studies & Centre of Thracology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

 Bulgaria

Abstract: By the end of the 19th century approximately a quarter of the Orthodox Bulgarians in the historical and geographical area of Macedonia remained loyal to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which served the Greek national idea. Both, in the past and today, this fact has raised the issue of the national affiliation of the Bulgarian-speaking population in the European dominions of the Ottoman Empire. Why did these people remain loyal to the Patriarchate, despite the long-lasting efforts of the Bulgarian Exarchate to attract them to itself? The author highlights the unequal status of the two ecclesiastical institutions in the Ottoman administrative system as a leading factor that hindered the normal functioning of the Bulgarian Church and severely limited its ability to guarantee the political, religious, cultural and educational rights of the Bulgarian Exarchists. On the border between the two centuries, being at the heart of the struggle for the distribution of the Ottoman inheritance in the Balkans, the Bulgarians in Macedonia were faced with difficult choices, which determined not only their personal well-being, but sometimes even their lives.

Keywords: Macedonian Question, Bulgarian Exarchate, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Eastern Question, nationalism

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