117 Soft Power

Following Russia's defeat in the Crimean War, it's forced to change its geopolitical strategy in the Balkans. Shut out of the ability to exercise hard power, Russia steps up its soft power, getting involved as Bulgarians continue to seek greater education, an independent church, and the implementation of the 1856 reform edict. Meanwhile, Protestant missionaries arrive in greater numbers, Serbia is thrown into new turmoil, and the Ottoman treasury digs itself into an ever-deeper hole of debt.




Timeline for this Episode

  • 25 May, 1856, Rebellion in North-Western Bulgaria.

  • May 1856, Rakovski went to Belgrade before moving to Novi Sad Austria in July.

  • July-August 1856, there’s an attempted rebellion in Gabrovo.

  • 16th August 1856, the first Bulgarian play is put on in the Shumen cultural center, formed that same year

  • September 1856, Rakovski publishes a political pamphlet in Novi Sad with the help of a Serbian patron

  • Late September to November 1856, Rakovski attempts to travel to Galets, visiting Danubian towns in Wallachia along the way

  • 24th December 1856, the Russian Ministry of Education is ordered to help Bulgarians, Serbians, and other south slavs who come to study in Russia as much as possible.

  • 24th December, the Bulgarians of Constantinople ask towns and municipalities in Bulgaria to write petitions to the Sultan asking for the terms of the Reformation Edict to be enforced.

  • 1856, The advocates for an independent Bulgarian church petition the Sultan.

  • Mid March 1857, Rakovski goes to Belgrade to stop a revolt planned by Ivan Kulin, he’s convinced the timing is bad.

  • 4th April 1857, Rakovski published the first issue of Българска Дневница in Novi Sad

  • April 27th in Constantinople they elect a new leader of the Church in the city, he embarks on building a new church to meet the needs of the Bulgarians in the city.

  • 11 May 1857, Plovdiv celebrates Cyril and Methodius as the originators of Bulgarian literature and education

  • September 1st 1857, first celebration of the raising of the Russian flag in front of a Russian embassy in Plovdiv

  • End of October 1857, Rakovski was arrested by the Austrians in Zemun and turned over to Belgrade on the orders of the Sultan.

  • 4th November 1857, Rakovski extradited to Wallachia and the

  • November 1857, the Porte ordered the Patriarchate to call a meeting to reform church institutions to conform with the 1856 reform edict.

  • Beginning of December 1857, Rakovski is in Iasi and gives Prince Nikola Bogoridi, Knyaz of Moldova a plea to open a Bulgarian printing press in Galets

  • 20th December 1857, Representatives of the larger towns and villages around Tarnovo write a plea to the Patriarchate demanding the removal of the Greek metropolitan Neophyte Byzantius

  • Throughout 1857, Lyuben Karavelov settled in Moscow.

  • 1857, An Ottoman ministry of education is formed

  • 1857, the first Bulgarian female organization was formed in Lom.

  • 1857, The Ottomans introduce a new refugee policy.

  • 1857-1858, the Methodist Board missionary organization began operating in Bulgaria north of the Balkan mountains while the next year the non-denominational American Board began operations south of the mountains.

  • Beginning of Feb 1858, Knyaz Nikola Konak-Bogoridi received an order from the Sultan to arrest Rakovski and send him to Constantinople.

  • March 7th, Rakovski goes to Russia

  • March 20th 1858, Rakovski arrives in Chisinau

  • April 1st, Rakovska arrives in Odessa, settling in the home of Nikolai Mironovitch-Toshkov, an influential Bulgarian

  • April 21st 1858, in the spirit of the Tanzimat reforms the Ottoman government enacted a new law defining the categories of land, types of ownership, and various ways of acquiring, owning, and transferring land rights. This comes into effect on June 6th.

  • 20th May 1858, Alexander II issued a decree by which the Odessa Bulgarian organization was recognized, collecting donations in the Empire for Bulgarian Orthodox churches and schools.

  • June 1st 1858, Rakovski is appointed the overseer of the Kherson seminary in Odessa

  • 22nd June of 1858 an assembly is called in Constantinople of local Bulgarians which decides to begin building a new Bulgarian church there.

  • Summer 1858, Rakovski created his first plan for freeing Bulgaria in Odessa.

  • October 5th, supported by Stephan Bogoridi, Ilarian Makiriopolski becomes a Bishop on the condition that he will not ask for an independent exarchate.

  • October 1858, in Constantinople, the Bulgarian assembly addressing the 1856 reforms begins its work, the biggest issue at hand is of an independent Bulgarian church. The participants ultimately support the existing Patriarchate.

  • December 7th 1858, Levski became a monk in the St. Spas monastery in Sopot

  • December 13th 1858, the Russian ambassador in Constantinople Apolinari Botenev met the Patriarch Kiril.

  • Throughout 1858, the first Bulgarian high school was founded in Bolgrad in Bessarabia.

  • The Bulgarian population in Skopje refuses to pay taxes to the Greek church.

  • 1858 15 Bulgarian books are published

  • 1858, the Russian Pansavs of the Slavonic Benevolent Society was founded in St. Petersburg

  • 1858, the Ottomans can’t even pay the interest on their loans

  • End of 1858, Milos Obrenovic returns to power in Serbia

Major Characters in this Episode

Sultan Abdulmejid I

Tsar Alexander II

Georgi Rakovski

Prince Nikola Bogoridi, Knyaz of Moldova

Lyuben Karavelov

Nikolai Mironovitch-Toshkov

Stephan Bogoridi

Ilarian Makiriopolski

Apolinari Botenev

Ivan Kulin

Dimitar Petrovitch

Milos Obrenovic


The Serbian Parliament at the Saint Andrew's Day Assembly

The Revolutionary Ivan Kulin

Lyuben Karavelov