Ethnic and Religious Processes in the Bulgarian Nationality from the 15th to the 18th Century Cover Image
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Етнически и религиозни процеси сред българската народност през XV — XVII в.
Ethnic and Religious Processes in the Bulgarian Nationality from the 15th to the 18th Century

Author(s): Strashimir Dimitrov
Subject(s): Anthropology
Published by: Институт за етнология и фолклористика с Етнографски музей при БАН

Summary/Abstract: The Ottoman Conquest of Bulgaria led to important ethno-religious changes. The author stresses that the Ottoman invasion found in Bulgaria considerable masses of Turkish-speaking Bulgarians who had not as yet been fully Slavicised. Among them were to be found the new Turkish-speaking elements of Bulgarized Turkish peoples — Cumanians, Pechenegs and Usae, as well as the non-Slavicised Proto-Bulgarians, who continued the State tradition and introduced the Bulgarian consciousness among the former. It was not by chance that in the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom also not one of the Royal Dynasties were Slavs, but Bulgarian-Turkish-speaking in origin — the Assenyovtsi, the Terterovtsi and the Shishmanovtsi, regardless of the fact that the written culture and the language of State and Religion in the Bulgarian State was Slavonic. At the time of the Ottoman Invasion, the major part of the Bulgarian, and also of the Balkan feudal class passed over to Ottoman service. This phenomenon was particularly clearly apparent in the regions which became Ottoman vassal domains, while preserving their old Bulgarian feudal administration — The Turnovo Kingdom, the Prilep Kingdom, the Despoty of Velbuzhd, etc. After the death of their masters these domains passed over to the governorship of an Ottoman Sandjak-Bey or Alai-Bey, but the vassal feudal nobles remained, fighting in the ranks of the Sultan's armies as Spahis. The numerous Christian Spahis in the Ottoman Army in the early 15th century owed their origin to this. About 1430 to 1440 about 14 to 1/3 of the Spahis were still Christians. Gradually they, too, accepted Islam, or their heirs did so, and entirely merged with the Ottoman ruling class, which was ethnically extremely heterogeneous at that time. The transition to Islam in the towns was to a considerable degree at the very beginning of the conquest, after which it subsided up to the mid-15th century. While accepting the findings of M. Sokolsky that in the second half of the 15th century Islam spread comparatively quickly in the towns, the author points out that at the end of the 15th and in the course of the 16th century the villages of certain regions also set out along this path. The change of religion seriously affected the national consciousness of the Islamized, because the ethnic consciousness of men in the Middle Ages was closely linked with his religious consciousness. The author shows that Islamization of the Turkish-speaking Bulgarians found by the Ottoman invasion led to particularly great damage. Many of them kept their Orthodox faith and Bulgarian national consciousness, forming in more recent times the ethnographic group of the Gagaouzi, who live in Eastern Bulgaria, i. e. the regions in which even in the Middle Ages the Turkish-speaking Bulgarians had settled in the mass. The fate of those of them who changed their religion and became Mohammedans was different...

  • Issue Year: 1980
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 16-34
  • Page Count: 19
  • Language: Bulgarian