Defense of the Shipka

The defense of the Shipka pass in the Balkan Range, painted by Professor Iliya Petros in the French Parliament, calling upon the governments to take measures to put an end to the sufferings of the heroic Bulgarian people.

Thus the categoric resolve of the Bulgarian people to win their liberty and the powerful world movement in their defence finally forced European diplomacy to place the Welcoming the Russian troops in Bulgaria, an old engraving from the same epoch Bulgarian question on the agenda. On Russia’s initiative, a conference was convened in Constantinople in December 1876 of the ambassadors of the Great Powers to discuss the situation on the Balkans after the suppression of the uprisings in Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia’s defeat in the war with Turkey in the summer of 1876. The situation was favourable for the Bulgarians. On the one hand, the powerful movement in defence of the Bulgarian people had forced Russia to give up its post- Crimean policy of restraint from taking decisive steps on

The monument on Mount Shipka

The monument on Mount Shipka the Balkan problems and, on the other, it had paralyzed the actions of the champions of the status quo, of the Ottoman Empire among the British and French ruling circles. In spite of British and Austro-Hungarian resistance, the conference decided to grant autonomy not only to Bosnia and Herzegovina, but to Bulgaria as well, within her recognized ethnical boundaries: Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. The apprehensions of the British and Austro- Hungarian ruling circles that Russia’s influence might become too pronounced, imposed a compromise at the expense of the “Bulgarian people: it was decided to found two, instead of one state — eastern Bulgaria with Turnovo for capital, and western Bulgaria with Sofia for its centre.

Encouraged by its military successes and counting on the lack of unanimity between the Great Powers, the Ottoman government rejected the decisions of the ambassadorial conference. After having thus exhausted all diplomatic means, Russia declared war on Turkey on April 12 (25), 1877. Soon after that Romania also joined the war on Russia’s side. The military operations took place in the Caucasus and in the Balkans, but the Balkan front was the more important of the two, for the main forces of the belligerent countries were concentrated here where the decisive battles took place.

The Bulgarian people welcomed the news about the declaration of the war with indescribable enthusiasm. In the very first few days more than 7,500 Bulgarian volunteers appeared at the head-quarters of the Russian Army. They were organized in 6 battalions under the command of General Stoletov. Another 6 battalions were formed in the course of the military operations, when scores of Bulgarian detachments started operating within the Turkish rear, and thousands of Bulgarian scouts rendered invaluable services to the Russian military intelligence. The whole Bulgarian nation was in the service of the Russian army. The Russian soldiers were welcome guests in every Bulgarian home and the population started building fortifications and roads, provided the army with horses and other animals, showed the ways, organized field hospitals.

Now it is so quiet and peaceful place. It is at the edge of rose valley and one of the place for holidays to Bulgaria.

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