National Revival Anger and Satisfaction about a Political Principle, Or: How did the Bulgarians Experience the Establishment of Their Early State Borders?

Raymond Detrez (Ghent).

The Bulgarian National Revival (vazrazdane) represents one of the many national movements in Europe in the 19th century. According to the well-known definition by Ernest Gellner, nationalists adhere to "the political principle,

which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent. Nationalism as a sentiment," Gellner continues, "is the feeling of anger aroused by the violation of this principle, or the dealing of satisfaction aroused by its fulfilment."1

The Bulgarian National Revival concluded with three events, which respectively provoked satisfaction, anger and again satisfaction: the March 1878 Treaty of San Stefano, which albeit on paper created a Bulgarian state, fully meeting the requirement of congruence between nation and state; the July 1878 Treaty of Berlin, which "dismembered" the Bulgarian state created in San Stefano; and the September 1885 Union with Eastern Rumelia, which joined at least one of the lost territories to the Bulgarian Principality.

In our presentation we investigate how the contemporaries of these historical events actually underwent them, which feelings of anger and satisfaction they experienced, and to what extent these nationalist feelings were contaminated with pragmatic feelings of a less romantic nature.


1Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993 [1983], 1.

Tags: Workshop 2009