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By R. J. Crampton

Richard Crampton offers a basic creation to Bulgaria on the cross-roads of Christendom and Islam. This concise background lines the country's progress from pre-history, via its days because the middle of a strong medieval empire and 5 centuries of Ottoman rule, to the political upheavals of the 20th century which ended in 3 wars. It highlights 1995 to 2004, an important interval in which Bulgaria persisted monetary meltdown, set itself heavily at the street to reform, elected its former King as leading minister, and eventually 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)

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In that he was not exceptional in the history of mediaeval Bulgaria, but he was the only monarch in those centuries to be accorded the epithet ‘the Great’. Simeon, who was brought up in Constantinople, originally intended to pursue a religious life and had been tipped as a prime candidate for the leadership of the church in Bulgaria. Despite his association with Constantinople Simeon spent much of the early part of his reign at war with the empire and with his other neighbours. He extended the boundaries of Bulgaria westwards to the Adriatic, south to the Aegean and north-westwards to incorporate most of modern Serbia and Montenegro.

In the early years after the conquest the Ottomans generally abided by the letter of their law forbidding the building or rebuilding of churches. Later this was relaxed but even then the process of building or rebuilding Christian places of worship was a slow one, Ottoman rule 39 and one greatly demanding of money, time and patience. Yet a long pocket and careful organisation on the part of the village council and the priest could secure the necessary permission and thus, as in Poland under the communists, church building and restoration assumed more than a mere spiritual significance: it became a contest with the dominant non-Christian authority and victory could bring a great sense of pride and achievement.

The first Bulgarian state was also in some respects surprisingly backward. Not only did it fail to produce a navy but it failed to see the dangers of geography. Given its position in the Balkans the Bulgarian kingdom was exposed to threats from the south, the north-east and the north-west. There was perhaps folie de grandeur in the assumption that all these enemies could for ever be contained, and it was certainly a mistake, albeit an understandable one, to assume, as many Bulgarian leaders did, that danger could be circumvented by playing one enemy off against another.

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