Kresna–Razlog uprising

  (Redirected from Kresna-Razlog Uprising)

The Kresna–Razlog Uprising (Bulgarian: Кресненско-Разложко въстание, Kresnensko-Razlozhko vastanie; Macedonian: Кресненско востание, Kresnensko vоstanie, Kresna Uprising)[1] named by the insurgents the Macedonian Uprising,[2] was a Bulgarian uprising against the Ottoman rule,[3][4][5] predominantly in the areas of today Bulgarian Macedonia in late 1878 and early 1879. It broke out following the protests and spontaneous opposition to the decisions of the Congress of Berlin, which, instead of ceding the Bulgarian-populated parts of Macedonia to the newly reestablished Bulgarian suzerain state per the Treaty of San Stefano, returned them to Ottoman control.[6] It was prepared by the Unity Committee.[7] The rebellion was supported by detachments which had infiltrated the area from the Principality of Bulgaria.[8] As a result of disagreement within its leadership, the uprising lost its initial successful curse and was crushed by the Ottoman army.

Annex to the Treaty of San Stefano, showing the borders of Bulgaria

The uprising is celebrated today in both Bulgaria and North Macedonia as part of their nations’ struggle against the Ottoman rule and thus it is still a divisive issue. In Bulgaria, it is considered as a rebellion prepared by part of the Bulgarians in the Ottoman Empire and the Unity Committee in Bulgaria itself. Its common goal was the unification of Bulgaria and Ottoman Macedonia. However, in North Macedonia it is assumed that the rebellion was carried out by two different peoples with a diverse goals. Thus practically the Macedonians were striving for independence, while the Bulgarians were attempting to use the rebellion to realize their Greater Bulgarian chauvinist ideas. The post-WWII Macedonian rendition of history has reappraised the uprising as an allegedly anti-Bulgarian revolt. Even though the Macedonian identity had its roots only among a small group at that time,[9] and those Macedonians who had clear ethnic consciousness believed they were Bulgarians.[10]

Prelude to the UprisingEdit

The first "Edinstvo" Committee in Tarnovo

The revolutionary circles in Bulgaria concurred at once with the idea of inciting an upspring in Macedonia. On 29 August 1878, a meeting of representatives from the Bulgarian revolutionaries was convened in the town of Veliko Tarnovo in order to implement the plan. This meeting resulted in the creation of a committee called Edinstvo (Unity). The initiative for this belonged to Lyuben Karavelov, Stefan Stambolov and Hristo Ivanov. The task of this new committee was to establish similar committees throughout Bulgaria, to maintain strict contact with them, and work toward the same end: "unity of all the Bulgarians" and the improvement of their present political situation.[11]

Separated Bulgaria after the Treaty of Berlin - a lithograph by Nikolai Pavlovich. Principality of Bulgaria (in the middle), Eastern Rumelia (leftward) and Macedonia (right at the back)

Soon after Edinstvo was formed in Tarnovo, steps were taken to spread it to all towns in Bulgaria, Eastern Rumelia and to Russia and Romania as well. People were also sent to Macedonia to personally acquaint themselves with the situation there. Some were also sent to meet with Nathanael, the Ohrid bishop. He was to be told the aim and the task of Edinstvo. Meanwhile, Nathanael was already in the middle of preparations for armed activities in Macedonia. He made his way to Kyustendil to meet with the well-known haiduk leader, Ilyo Voyvoda and his rebels. At this meeting it was decided that Natanail should take over leadership of the hajduk bands. At the same time, Nathanael was able to establish an Edinstvo headquarters in the Kyustendil, one in Dupnitsa and another in Gorna Dzhumaya.[12][13] The concrete aims of the leaders and organizers of the Kresna–Razlog Uprising were to revoke the decisions of the Berlin Congress, to liberate the regions inhabited by Bulgarian population, and to unite with the free Principality of Bulgaria. By these reasons Metropolitan Nathanael of Ohrid wrote to Petko Voyvoda:

As it is very necessary that you meet Dimitar Pop Georgiev - Berovski, who is in Gorna Dzhumaya and is the leader of the defenders of the people in these border areas, in order to discuss a very important matter to the benefit of all Bulgarians, whom the Berlin Congress has again left under Turkish tyrannical rule.[14]

Letter from Dimitar Pop Georgiev - Berovski to Georgi Pulevski, with a personal stamp that states "Macedonian Uprising, Chief of Staff, D. P. Georgiev" in Bulgarian[15]

In September 1878, the Rila Monastery hosted a critical meeting attended by Metropolitan Nathanael of Ohrid, Dimitar Pop Georgiev - Berovski, Ilyo Voyvoda, Mihail Sarafov, the voivode Stoyan Karastoilov and other high-ranking figures. The conference led to the formation of an organized insurrectional staff headed by Berovski. The Edinstvo ("Unity") Committee from Sofia aided the insurrectionsts with two detachments, one led by the Russian Adam Kalmykov and the other by the Pole Luis Wojtkiewicz. The aim of "Edinstvo Committees" was "...discussing how to help our brothers in Thrace and Macedonia, who will henceforth be separated from Danubian Bulgaria by virtue of the decisions of the Berlin Congress..." Stefan Stambolov and Nikola Obretenov suggested the appointment of "apostles" who would organize the uprising among the masses, but it was decided that only the areas closest to the Principality of Bulgaria would revolt, with a view to detaching them from the Ottoman Empire and joining them to Bulgaria.[16][17]


An act on the organizational arrangement of the Macedonian (Kresna) Uprising from 1878, which regulates the duties of the Headquarters, the chiefs and the rebels

Early at dawn on October 5, 1878, 400 insurgents attacked the Turkish army unit stationed at the Kresna Inns and after a battle lasting 18 hours they succeeded in crushing its resistance. This attack and this first success marked the beginning of the Kresna–Razlog Uprising. In the battles that followed, the insurgents succeeded in liberating 43 towns and villages and in reaching Belitsa and Gradeshnitsa to the south. To the south-west they established their sway over almost the entire Karshijak region, while to the south-east the positions of the insurgents were along the Predela, over the town of Razlog. In addition to the direct military operations of the insurgents, there were separate detachments operating in the south and to the west in Macedonia. There were also disturbances, and delegations were sent to the headquarters of the Uprising with requests for arms and for aid. The headquarters of the Uprising, which was organized in the course of the military operations, was headed by Dimiter Popgeorgiev. Elders’ Councils were also set up, as well as local police organs of the revolutionary government who were assigned certain administrative functions in the liberated territories.

Metropolitan Nathanael of Ohrid - organizer of the Upspring

The Edinstvo Committee in the town of Gorna Dzhoumaya played an important part in organizing, supplying and assisting the Uprising. The committee was headed by Kostantin Bosilkov, who was born in the town of Koprivshtitsa and who had worked for many years as teacher in the Macedonia region. The main goal of the armed struggle though, was expressed most clearly in the letter of the Melnik rebels of December 11, 1878, which they sent to the chief of the Petrich police: "...We took up the arms and will not leave them until we get united with the Bulgarian Principality..."[18] This aim was also expressed in the appeal launched by the insurgents on November 10, 1878, which read: "...And so, brothers, the time has come to demonstrate what we are, that we are a people worthy of liberty, and that the blood of Kroum and Simeon is still flowing in our veins; the time has come to demonstrate to Europe that it is no easy task when a people wants to cast away darkness."[19] During the military operations in the Kresna region, an uprising broke out on November 8, 1878, in the Bansko-Razlog valley. The detachment of volunteers from Moesia, led by Banyo Marinov, a revolutionary and volunteer from the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), played an important part in that uprising. It was promptly joined by scores of local insurgents and, after a fierce skirmish, it succeeded in liberating the town of Bansko. The setbacks in the autumn of 1878 led to a new organization of the leading body of the Uprising and to the adoption of new tactics. Efforts were now directed toward the setting up of a Central Committee which was to take over the leadership of the Uprising, as well as to organize an uprising in the interior of Macedonia in the spring of 1879. The detachment which crossed into Macedonia in May 1879 could not fulfill its task due to the lack of preliminary organization. These events marked the end of the Kresna–Razlog Uprising.

Significance and consequencesEdit

Southeastern Europe after the Congress of Berlin

In this manner the Kresna–Razlog Uprising was left without its expected and most reliable reserve – Russia's military, diplomatic and political support, in addition to its being against the interests of Austria-Hungary and Britain. Russia was exhausted both financially and militarily, adopting a firm course of adhering to the decisions of the Berlin Congress in relation to Macedonia. Her strategic aim lay in the preservation of the Bulgarian character of Eastern Roumelia. It encountered yet another strong adversary - the military and political machine of the Ottoman state.

Memorial plaque of Kresna-Razlog Uprising in village Dolno Draglishte, Bulgaria

The representatives of the Provisional Russian Administration in Principality of Bulgaria, who sympathised with the struggle, were reprimanded by the Russian Emperor in person. These were the decisive reasons for its failure, parallel with reasons of internal and organizational character.[20] Typical for the uprising was the scale participation of volunteers - Bulgarians of all parts of the country. Some figures as an illustration: 100 volunteers from Sofia, 27 from Tirnovo, 65 from Pazardzhik, 19 from Troyan, 31 from Pleven, 74 from Orhanye, 129 from the Plovdiv district, 17 from Provadia, 30 from Eastern Rumelia and others. A large number of insurgents and leaders of different parts of Macedonia also participated in the uprising. After the Upspring some 30,000 refugees fled to Bulgaria.[21] The failure of the uprising lead to the attention of the Bulgarian political and strategic leaders to liberation of the other parts of the Bulgarian territories and to other main strategic objective - unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia, the later being under Sultans power, but still having a large autonomy. Macedonia and Thrace should have to wait.


Ethnic composition of the Balkans in 1870

Like most 19th century events and developments in the region of Macedonia, the issue on national and ethnic affiliations of the insurgents is contested in the Republic of North Macedonia. The uprising is regarded as ethnic Macedonian by the historians from North Macedonia. They support their perception of the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity at that time with a single document: the Proclamation of Kresna Uprising. However this document is considered а deception by the Bulgarian scientists. Bulgarians pointing out the lack of preserved original, the usage of anachronistic language and its content sharp contradictions with the rest of the preserved other documents.[22][23] Bulgarians argued about existing of kept original called "Temporary rules about the organisation of the Macedonian Upspring" prepared from Stefan Stambolov and Nathanael of Ohrid.[24]

Macedonian historians argue also that the use of the word "Bulgarian" in Ottoman Macedonia does not refer to ethnicity, and that it had been synonymous with "Christian" or "peasant". Bulgarian historians argue that the term "Macedonian" has never been used in an "ethnic" but in "regional" sense, similar to the regional term "Thracian"[25] and note that no distinction between a "Macedonian Bulgarians", "Bulgarians" and "Slavs" existed at that time pointing to the correspondence of the insurgents of the uprising with the Bulgarian committees "Edinstvo" - (Unity).[26][16][27][28][29][30][31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Кресненското востание во Македонија 1878 – 1879. Материјали од Научниот собир одржан по повод 100-годишнината од востанието во Берово, 2-4 октомври 1987 година. Македонска академија на науките и уметностите, Скопјe, 1982 година.
  2. ^ Дойно Дойнов, Кресненско-Разложкото въстание, 1878-1879. Принос за неговия обхват и резултати, за вътрешните и външнополитическите условия, при които избухва, протича и стихва. Издателство на Българската Академия на науките. София, 1979, [1] Г. Кацаров и Ив. Кепов. Цит. съч., д. № 87, 88, с. 55. В писмо до Джумайския комитет Д. Попгеоргиев хвърля вината на доброволците. “Комитите ни само на пиенето били юнаци”, а в писмо на Г. М. Николчев от Кресна от 29 октомври още по-определено се казва: “Началникът на щаба на македонското востание г. Д. п. Георгиев задължава мя да Ви явя, че вчерашната победа е наша, сос храбростта на македонските харамии, а доброволците избегаха кой где виде, П. Буховски (поп Константин - б.м.) побегна и дойде да ся бие с нашето полицейско управление, да живеят храбрите харамии с войводите си.”
  3. ^ A concise history of Bulgaria, Cambridge concise histories, R. J. Crampton, Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 85 ISBN 0-521-61637-9.
  4. ^ Who Are the Macedonians? by Hugh Poulton, page 49, Indiana University Press, 2000 ISBN 1-85065-534-0
  5. ^ Stefan Stambolov and the emergence of modern Bulgaria, 1870-1895, Duncan M. Perry, Duke University Press, 1993, ISBN 0-8223-1313-8, pp. 14-15.
  6. ^ Ethnic rivalry and the quest for Macedonia, 1870-1913, Vemund Aarbakke, East European Monographs, 2003, ISBN 0880335270, p. 56.
  7. ^ Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Bechev, Scarecrow Press, 2009, ISBN 0810855658, p. 122.
  8. ^ Raymond Detrez, Historical Dictionary of Bulgaria, Historical Dictionaries of Europe, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014, ISBN 1442241802, p. 279.
  9. ^ Brunon Synak as ed. (1995) The Ethnic Identities of European Minorities: Theory and Case Studies, University of Gdansk, ISBN 8370176291, p. 52.
  10. ^ John Van Antwerp Fine "The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century," University of Michigan Press, 1991, ISBN 0472081497, pp. 36–37.
  11. ^ The Macedonian Question - Origin and Development, 1878-1941 Dimiter Minchev, Ph.D. Sofia, 2002. [2]
  12. ^ An appeal from the Macedonian Bulgarians to the Great Powers begging them not to sever them from Bulgaria, their common motherland. May 20, 1878
  13. ^ A letter from Nathanail, Bishop of Ohrid, to I. S. Aksakov on the need to preserve the Bulgarian people's national integrity. July 24, 1878
  14. ^ A letter of bishop Nathanail to Petko Voyvoda about the organization of the struggle of the Bulgarians who have remained under Turkish domination, September 25, 1878
  15. ^ НВИМ, вх. № 30, 33/59 г., оригинал (National Museum of Military History, Bulgaria, number 30, 33/59 y., original)
  16. ^ a b А letter from Adam Kalmikov and Dimiter P. Georgiev to the Edinstvo committee in Gorna Djoumaya, in which they inform them of the tasks of the newly formed insurgents' police in the liberated villages and of the spreading of the uprising - October 17, 1878
  17. ^ Protocol on the formation and the rights of the Insurgents' Commanding Staff of the Kresna-Razlog Uprising in Vlahi village October 20, 1878
  18. ^ The Macedonian Question - Origin and Development 1878-1941. Colonel Dimiter Minchev, Ph.D. (Sofia, 2002)
  19. ^ The Kresna-Razlog Uprising of 1878. Sofia, 1970, p. 135.
  20. ^ THE KRESNA-RAZLOG UPRISING 1878-1879 (Summary) DOYNO DOYNOV. Bulgarian Academy of Science 1978.
  21. ^ Дойнов, Д. Кресненско-Разложкото въстание..., с. 84.
  22. ^ Христо Христов. Писма и оправки - По следите на една историко-документална фалшификация. (Исторически Преглед, 1983, кн. 4, с. 100—106). Hristo Hristov. 1983. Tracking a historical documental falsification. Historical Review 4:100-106, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
  23. ^ In the early 1980s Bulgarian and Macedonian historiography engaged in a serious clash that undermined the prestige of history as a science. As a casus belli served the "Rules of the Macedonian Insurgent Committee", published by Archpriest Dr. Slavko Dimevski. According to his statements it was about an original document of the Kresna-Razlog (Macedonian) Uprising of 1878-1879 kept in the personal archive of the Bulgarian Patriarch Cyril, to which Sl. Dimevski has had access in the 1960s. In 1980 (nine years after the death of the Bulgarian Patriarch) in Skopje came out a collection of studies of Macedonian historians dedicated to the "document" and its importance for the history of the liberation struggles of Macedonia. Bulgarian historiography reacted vigorously to this documentary mystification. On the basis of research in the archive of Patriarch Cyril and the correspondence between him and Sl. Dimevski this article makes the conclusion that there is no such "document" and it has never existed. It was also found that the Macedonian churchman and historian has abused historical truth and scientific morality also on other similar occasions For more see: Елдаров, С. (2019). Through the Bulgarian-Macedonian Historiographical Disputes in the second half of the 20th century: The “Slavko Dimevski Case”. A Historical Investigation. Drinovsky Sbornik, 10, 451-467.
  24. ^ Дойно Дойнов Кресненско-Разложкото въстание, 1878-1879, София 1979, с. 71, бел. 323, с. 154, с. 163-164, бел. 235
  25. ^ Освобождение Болгарии. . . Т. 3, д. № 170, с. 272.
  26. ^ A letter from the citizens of Gorna Djoumaya to Dossitei, Metropolitan of Samokov, announcing the setting up of Edinstvo charitable committee
  27. ^ A letter of Dimiter P. Georgiev to the Edinstvo committee in the town of Gorna Djoumaya, reporting the insurgents' first clash with the Turkish guard at the Kresna Inns - October 5, 1878
  28. ^ A call by the Bulgarian Provisional Government issued in Mount Pirin to the Bulgarians and Slavs to support the uprising
  29. ^ A petition by Bulgarian refugees from Macedonia following the Kresna-Razlog Uprising, to W. G. Palgrave, UK Consul General in Sofia, with a plea to be liberated from Turkish domination
  30. ^ Letter of the insurgent villages in the Melnik area in reply to the Petrich district governor December 11, 1878
  31. ^ Excerpts from the Circular Letter of the Central Bulgaro-Macedonian Committee in Kyustendil on the decision to organize an uprising in Macedonia May 6, 1879


  • Дойно Дойнов. Кресненско-Разложкото въстание, 1878-1879 Принос за неговия обхват и резултати, за вътрешните и външнополитическите условия, при които избухва, протича и стихва. (Издателство на Българската Академия на науките. София, 1979) (Doyno Doynov. Kresna–Razlog uprising 1878-1879: On its scope and results, internal and external political circumstances in which it starts, continues, and ends. Sofia. 1979. Published by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)[3]
  • BULGARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Institute of History Bulgarian Language Institute - MACEDONIA, DOCUMENTS AND MATERIALS. Sofia 1978 [4]
  • БАЛКАНСКИТЕ ДЪРЖАВИ И МАКЕДОНСКИЯТ ВЪПРОС - Антони Гиза.(превод от полски - Димитър Димитров, Македонски Научен Институт, София, 2001) [5]