Crimean War

The failure of the attempted uprising during the Crimean War had convinced Rakovski that the Bulgarian people had to rely, above all, on themselves. He did not change the strategic plan of the preceding uprisings – namely, the connection between the uprisings and the entry of hostile armed forces into the Empire – but introduced a new content into it: the backbone of the uprising were no longer expected to be the hostile foreign forces, but Bulgarian military detachments, organized and trained abroad. With this aim in view, Rakovski organized in 1861 the so-called First Bulgarian Legion, with the active support of the Serbian government, The legion numbered 600 men, fought gallantly, and was able to show its excellent military training and high militant spirit during the armed clashes between the Serbian patriots and the Turkish garrison of the Belgrade fortress in June 1862.The Serbo-Turkish conflict, however, was soon settled peacefully and the legion was disbanded, A detachment headed by the famous voevode Panayot Hitov, which was sent to Bulgaria to do propaganda, work in favour of the uprising, was forced to come back to Serbia, whereas a rebel detachment from Turnovo which had taken to the mountains was routed by the Turks.

Rakovski was not discouraged and undertook in 1863 a diplomatic tour with the aim of organizing an alliance of the Balkan peoples against Turkey. Conditions proved to be unfavourable at that time, but three years later, in con-nection with the outbreak of a major uprising on the Island of Crete, such an alliance was established under Russia’s guidance. In Rakovski’s absence, a group of Bulgarian emigrants from the liberal bourgeois circles set up a Secret Bulgarian Central Committee with Ivan Kassabov at the head. The Committee signed a ‘Sacred Coalition’ against Turkey with representatives of the Romanian government. This Coalition, however, proved fruitless because of the prompt settlement of the Romano-Turkish conflict. Then the Secret Committee wrote a memorandum to the Sultan demanding the establishment of a Turko-Bulgarian dualistic monarchy, but the memorandum, of course, was never answered.

Secret Central Committee

Parallel with the Secret Central Committee, a ‘Benevolent Society’(Committee of Elders) was also active Vassil Levski – a great Bulgarian revolutionary and democrat, fighter for national liberation during the third quarter of the 19th century in Bucharest, consisting of pro-Russian representatives of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie and headed by the rich businessman Hristo Georgiev. Stirred into action by the Russian government, the ‘Committee of Elders’ started negotiations with the Serbian government for a joint struggle against Turkey and for the establishment, in case of a successful outcome, of a federal Serbo-Bulgarian state – a Yugoslav Kingdom.


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