127 The Exarch

While more focus is generally put on published writings, we discuss the role of theater in Bulgarian culture during the mid 19th century. We also cover the emerging women's movement. Meanwhile, Bulgaria finally gets an Exarch who ends up locked in a political battle with the Patriarchate to determine the fate and future of the independent Bulgarian church.



Major Characters in this Episode

Exarch Antim I

Dimitar Shishmanov

Dobri Voinikov

Vasil Drumev

Petko Slaveikov

Hristo Botev

Lyuben Karavelov

Nedim Pasha

Midhat Pasha

Ilarion Lovchanski

Ilarion Makiriopolski

Panaret Plovdivskii

Hristo Georgiev

Prince Milan of Serbia


Timeline for this Episode

  • 1 February 1870, Dimitar Shishmanov put on the popular play “The many sufferings of Genovieve” in Svishtov.

  • 15 February 1870, the literary newspaper “Traveller” began publication in Bolgrad

  • 11 April 1871, a play by Dobri Voinikov was performed.

  • 1871, In Constantinople Petko Slaveikov published a children’s magazine and an educational magazine for mothers and housewives

  • 1871, Dobri Voinikov completed and published two palys: “The Misunderstood Civilization” and “How Krum the Fierce came to be Tsar.”

  • 1871, Bulgarian credit companies were founded in Gabrovo and Constantinople

  • 1871, 70 books were published and 21 periodicals

  • 1871, Franco-Prussian War

  • 1871, Ali Pasha dies and is replaced as Grand Vizier by Nedim Pasha, which begins unraveling the advances of the Tanzimat

  • 5 January 1872, 50 people representing Bulgarians in Constantinople (headed by Petko Slaveikov, Stoyan Chomakov, and others) demanded Ilarion Lovchanski, Ilarion Makiriopolski, and Panaret Plovdivskii give a celebratory liturgy in a Bulgarian church despite the Patriarchate’s ban of such events.

  • 6 January 1872, in Constantinople, another celebratory liturgy was held in St. Stephen’s in which they renounced the 1864 agreement with the Patriarchate and attempted to get the Porte to make a decision concerning the candidates for Exarch which they’ve put forward.

  • 6 January 1872, Sultan’s Firman establishing a Bulgarian church was accepted

  • 7 January 1872, a revolutionary committee was formed in the Troyan monastery with Levski’s help

  • 12 January 1872, the Patriarchate organized an assembly to discuss measures to take against the Bulgarian leaders who held the liturgies in the previous week.

  • 15 Jan 1872, the Patriarchate essentially excommunicates Ilarion Lovchanski, Ilarion Makiriopolski, and Panaret Plovdivskii

  • 21st January, the Porte sends an order to exile Ilarion Lovchanski, Ilarion Makiriopolski, and Panaret Plovdivskii to Izmit

  • 22nd Jan 1872, the Patriarchate sends letters to all Bulglarian metropolitans containing an ultimatum to repent for breaking their oaths to the church

  • 27 January 1872, with an order from the Grand Vizier, the three exiled Bulgarian church leaders were freed and met by the Istanbul Bulgarians upon their return.

  • January 1872, Dimitar Obshti obtained a permit to operate a postal business in the region of Teteven

  • 11 February 1872, The Porte allowed an Exarch to be chosen

  • 12 February 1872, The Bulgarian church assembly in Constantinople chose Ilarion Lovchanski as Exarch.

  • 16th February 1872, Lovchanski refused the position of Exarch, explaining that he was too old. A new election was held the same day and the Metropolitan of Vidin Antim was chosen.

  • 4th March 1872, In Bucharest, local Bulgarians attempted to get a monument to Rakovski erected.

  • 5th March 1872, Angel Kunchev died as he was attempting to move from Ruse to Geurgu. He was threatened with arrest and kills himself at the port in Ruse

  • 6th March 1872, Hristo Georgiev (Evlogi’s brother) died.

  • 17 March 1872, Antim I was met on his arrival in Constantinople

  • 4/16 April 1872, a delegation of 3 Bulgarian representatives visited the Patriarch to ask him in the name of Antim I to allow the Bulgarian Exarch to visit him and “kiss his hand” as a gesture of truce between Greeks and Bulgarians. The Patriarch promises to hand the plea over to the Great Synod for consideration.

  • 15/17 April 1872, Representatives of the Patriarch visited Antim I. During the meeting the Patriarch expressed his desire to get a clear answer to the ultimatums made on January 22nd to the Bulgarian Metropolitans.

  • 6 April 1872, Levski and Marin Poplukanov left from Lovech to Bucharest to participate in a BRCC assembly (Perry 9). The goal was to unify the efforts of the two BRCC factions.

  • 14 April 1872, Levski and Marin Poplukanov reached Bucharest. Levski stays with Lyuben Karavelov.

  • 15-27 April 1872, Antim I sent a written plea to the Patriarch asking for permission to give an Easter service mentioning his name.

  • 20 April 1872, Antim I wrote a letter to the Patriarch asking for him to remove the punishments given to Plovdivski, Makiriopolski, and Lovchanski

  • 29 April-4th May 1872, the BRCC assembly was held in Bucharest. 25 participants were there although not all committees managed to get a representative there so some represented multiple committees (one guy had 11, Levski had 3). Karavelov was elected chairman.

  • 30 April 1872, A committee consisting of Levski, Karavelov, Kiriac Tsankov, and Todor Peev prepared the program and rulebook of the BRCC. It was accepted on the 4th of May.

  • 11 May 1872, a celebratory sermon led by Antim I proclaims the independence of the Bulgarian church at St. Stephen’s in Constantinople.

  • 13 May 1872, the Patriarch called an assembly and excommunicated Antim I. He gave other punishments to Plovdivski, Makiriopolski, and Lovchanski.

  • 25 May 1872, the Exarch assembly reaffirmed Makiriopolski as Metropolitan of Tarnovo. He arrived to take on his post on the 13th of September.

  • 6/28 June 1872, BRCC authorized Levski to represent the committee

  • 17 June 1872, Sultan Abdulaziz appointed Midhat Pasha to be Grand Vizier

  • 17 July 1872, Levski returns to Bulgaria and begins to enforce the new BRCC rules

  • 14 August 1872, Levski and Vutyo Vetyov attempt to frighten a notable from Lovech and his servant is accidentally killed

  • August 22nd 1872, Prince Milan is declared of age and takes over the Serbian government, the year before he faced two potential attempts on his own life

  • 29 August 1872, An assembly was convened in Constantinople by the Patriarch to resolve the question of the legitimacy of the Exarchate

  • 10 September 1872, Levski created the first revolutionary district in Bulgaria with its center in the village of Golyam Izvor in Teteven

  • 16 September 1872, the Patriarchate assembly decides that the Exarch has been excommunicated and that there has been a schism

  • 22 September 1872, under the command of Dimitar Obshti an Ottoman post office was robbed in a mountain pass in the Stara Planina. The purpose of the robbery was to find a way to get the money needed by BRCC to secure weapons. Levski wished for them to delay the action but they didn’t listen.

  • 24 October 1872, Ottoman police arrested Dimitar Obshti in connection with the robbery. Within a month all the participants were arrested. During one interrogation, they obtained their first concrete information about Levski (where he’s from, what he looks like)

  • 30 October 1872, two BRCC members were arrested in Lovech

  • 2nd November 1872, Karavelov in Bucharest writes to Zhivkov in Geurgievo that in light of the new circumstances (arrests after the postal robbery) he wants Zhivkov to not lose any more time and gather as many people as possible to cross into Bulgaria and begin the uprising

  • 20 November 1872, a new women’s society was formed in Thessaloniki

  • 22nd November 1872, a letter from the Stara Zagora committee arrived at BRCC in Bucharest denouncing the idea for an immediate uprising

  • 12 December 1872, Levski wrote his last letter to the Lovech Committee

  • 26th December 1872, Levksi arrived in a Han in Kukrina the evening intending to leave for Tarnovo and then Bucharest the next day.

  • 27th December 1872, Ottoman authorities surround the Han and arrest Levski.

  • 28 December 1872, Levski was taken to Tarnovo where he was interrogated. Members of the local BRCC gathered to discuss freeing him, but they failed to act.

  • 29th December 1872, Levski was sent to Sofia under armed guard.

  • 1872, the Saraf bank opened in Istanbul with Bulgarian capital

  • 1872, a Bulgarian entrepreneur from Tulca founded his own trading company

  • 1872, a tobacco workshop is built by the Sliven trader Vasil Popovic

  • 1872, Vasil Drumev completes and publishes his dramatic play “Ivanko the murderer of Asen I”

  • 1872, Lyuben Karavelov writes “Bulgarians of Old” and several issues of his humorous newspaper “Porcupine”

  • 1872, Under the leadership of Lyuben Karavelov an association for the spreading of useful knowledge is founded in Bucharest

  • 1872, 15 periodicals and 123 books were published


Playwright Dobri Voynikov
Playwright Dobri Voynikov

Playwright and later church official Vasil Drumev
Playwright and later church official Vasil Drumev

Antim I, the first Exarch of the independent Bulgarian Exarchate
Antim I, the first Exarch of the independent Bulgarian Exarchate

Prince Milan of Serbia
Prince Milan of Serbia




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