115 The Crimean War

With the outbreak of the Crimean War, Bulgarians rush to see how they can aid the Russian cause and appeal to the Tsar for assistance against the Ottomans. But as the first major European war in decades gets underway it quickly becomes clear that warfare and the politics behind it has changed.


Major Characters in this Episode

Sultan Abdulmejid I

Tsar Nicholas I

Tsar Alexander II

Emperor Napoleon III

Georgi Rakovski

Hristo and Evlogi Georgiev

Mustafa Bey

King Otto I of Greece

Timeline for this Episode

  • 1853-1856 Crimean War

  • 17 August 1853, Bulgarians in Galits and Braila write Nicholas I asking for autonomy

  • Oct-Dec 1853, Georgi Rakovski builds a web of secret societies aiming at preparing Bulgarians to always be ready to rise up when the Russians advance into Bulgaria in Shumen, Tarnovo, Ruse, Svishtov, Vratsa, Vidin, and more.

  • 18th November 1853, Ivan Siliminski arrived in Bucharest requested by Knyaz Gorchakov to create a squad of 400 volunteers

  • Late 1853 Hristo and Evlogi Georgievi and other affluent Bulgarians in Bucharest for Epitropia, a political organization aimed at helping collect funds for volunteer squads to aid the Russian army. This organization served wealthy Russophile Bulgarians in Wallachia after the war. Within a year it would obtain official recognition by Russia.

  • Sometimes in 1853 Hristo Botev’s father published his translation of Yuri Venelin’s writings on Bulgarian history in Zemun

  • Jan 1854 Rakovski was arrested after being betrayed by the Chorbajiis of Kotel for working with the Russian army. He is imprisoned in Shumen.

  • Jan 23rd 1854 a band of Christian volunteers is sworn in at Adrianople and moves to fight the Russians

  • 2nd Feb 1854, an Odessan Bulgarian political organization was formed to work towards a solution to the Bulgarian question. During the Crimean war it would play an important role in forming Bulgarian volunteer squads. After the war it would conduct charitable works to support the Bulgarian enlightenment and church before participating in the fighting of the 1870s.

  • Feb 1854, Rakovski was sent to Constantinople. The Convoy is intercepted in Adrianople by his old friend Mustafa Bey who freed him. He then moved into Mustafa Bey’s home in Constantinople.

  • March 4th, England and France declare war on Russia.

  • March, the Russian army crosses the Danube and overwhelms fortresses in Dobruja as it moved towards Silistra

  • Spring 1854: Epirus revolt

  • 5th June 1854, 14 notables in Tarnovo sent a plea to the English ambassador in Constantinople asking for the removal of their Metropolitan

  • 12-17 June, Georgi Rakovski ran from Mustafa Bey’s house to form a squad before leaving the city for the Stara Planina. They then reach Kotel.

  • 20th June, the Russians stop their advance around the Danube and pull back for the winter, forcing Rakovski to disband his squad.

  • August 1854, Rakovski wrote a patriotic pamphlet in Kotel. In the Fall he begins writing his poem Горски Пътник

  • August 1854, the Porte gets a 3 million pound loan from Britain and France to help cover the cost of the war, followed by another 5 million pound loan the next year.

  • September 1854, the Crimean campaign begins

  • 25th September, Rakovski leaves for Svishtov and Wallachia

  • 1st Jan 1855, Rakovski finished the first draft of his poem in Svishtov. He then moves to Bucharest for some months.

  • Feb 18th, Tsar Nicholas I dies, Alexander II takes the throne the next day.

  • 1855, Tax farmers are given yet more rights

  • 1855, Vasil Levski attends school in Stara Zagora

  • September 9th, English and French armies in Crimea overtake Sevastopol, forcing the Russians to sue for peace


The Battle of Sinope

Fighting for Sevastopol

A map (in Russian) of the Crimean War

The new Tsar Alexander II