Bulgaria; key historical events
Page last modified 2/7/2020
2007, Bulgaria joined the EU.
2004, Bulgaria joined NATO.
1993, Major privatisation programme began.
19/1/1992, Zhelyu Zhelev was elected President of Bulgaria.
14/10/1991 Communist rule ended in Bulgaria.
15/12/1989, In Bulgaria, 50,000 demonstrators outside Parliament demanded the end of Communist rule.
26/11/1989. The Bulgarian government voted to disband the secret police.
3/11/1989. Political unrest in Bulgaria.
10/11/1989, The rule of Bulgarian President, Todor Zhikov ended after 35 years in power, as Soviet support for him fell away. The Berlin Wall had collapsed the day before. Zhikov was later sentenced to 7 years house arrest for embezzlement of State funds, but was acquitted by the Bulgarian Supreme Court of inciting racial hatred (see 10/5/1989). He died in 1998.
10/5/1989, 300,000 Bulgarians of Turkish ethnicity left Bulgaria for Turkey. Bulgaria had begun a process of ‘Bulgarisation’ against its ethnic minorities such as the Roma and Pomak communities in 1984, encouraging (or forcing) them to adopt Bulgarian surnames. From 1985 onwards, the Bulgarian military stepped up ‘assimilation’ efforts, including assault, rape, imprisonment and even execution of those who resisted. Then on 10/5/1998 Bulgaria relaxed exit restrictions and on 29/5/1989 the Bulgarian President, Todor Zhikov, asked Turkey to accept all Bulgarian Muslims who wished to emigrate.
1/2/1950, In Bulgaria, Viko Chervenkov became Prime Minister on the death of Vasil Kolarov
21/11/1946, Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov returned from Moscow to become President of Bulgaria.
16/9/1946, King Simeon and the Queen Mother left Bulgaria.
15/9/1946, The Bulgarian People’s Republic was proclaimed.
10/9/1946, A referendum in Bulgaria gave a 92% vote in favour of a Republic.
8/9/1946. Communists took control in Bulgaria.
For more events of World War Two in Europe see France-Germany
28/8/1943, Boris III, Tsar of Bulgaria, died. Succeeded by his 6-year-old son, Simeon II.
2/9/1940, To bring
15/9/1939, Bulgaria declared its neutrality and attempted to remain out of the Second World War.
1930, The Balkan Entente was set up. It included Greece, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia; it was essentially a defensive alliance against the expansionist aims of Bulgaria, which was seeking to regain territories lost to Greece and Yugoslavia under the Treaty of Neuilly (1919). In the 1930, as authoritarian regimes gained power in all members of the Balkan Entente, the entire region moved politically closer to Germany and Italy.
13/1/1928. Allied military control in
4/1/1926, In Bulgaria a moderate Government took power, and offered an amnesty to all political prisoners except Communists.
14/6/1923, ex-Prime Minister Stamboliski of Bulgaria was shot whilst trying to ‘escape’. On 9/6/1923 he had been ejected in a coup, after his policies had antagonised the military.
27/11/1919. Bulgaria signed the Treaty of Neuilly, recognising the independence of
3/10/1918, Tsar Ferdinand of
17/10/1915. Russia and
16/10/1915. The Allies blockaded Bulgarian ports.
15/10/1915. Britain declared war on Bulgaria.
14/10/1915. Bulgaria and Serbia each declared war on the other.
22//9/1915. Bulgaria mobilised its army and declared war on Serbia.
For main European events of World War One see France-Germany
16/9/1915, Bulgaria formed an alliance with Germany.
6/9/1915. Bulgaria signed a military accord with
10/8/1913. The Third Treaty of Bucharest ended the Second Balkan War. Rumania gained the fertile area of Southern Dobruja, which had been Bulgarian since 1878, whilst Serbia and Greece divided Macedonia between them; again territory that Bulgaria wanted. Greece received Salonika, a major port. Bulgaria merely received the mountainous areas of Pirin and Dospat, and two small Mediterranean ports called Dedeagach and Lagos; Bulgaria was left resentful. Turkey’s possession in Europe were limited to the area around Constantinople and Adrianople. Albania was created. See 6/9/1915. In the First World War, the losers by this Treaty (Turkey and Bulgaria) fought on the German side; the gainers (Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro) fought on the Allied side.
29/6/1913. Bulgaria launched a surprise attack on Serbia and Greece, thereby starting the Second Balkan War. Bulgaria was then invaded by Romania and Turkey. See 10/8/1913.
30/5/1913. Turkey signed a peace treaty with the Balkan League (the Treaty of London), ending their war. Under this Treaty Salonika was formally assigned to Greece. The Great Powers formally recognised Albanian sovereignty.
18/10/1912. The Ottoman Turks agreed to cede Tripoli and Cyrenaica (now Libya) to Italy, at the Peace of Lausanne. Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia declared war on Turkey. The Greek Army had been well-equipped under Venizelos, and the Turks were pushed back, to the point where Istanbul itself was threatened; the city was only saved by bad weather making the roads impassable and a cholera outbreak, halting military operations.
13/3/1912, Under Russian influence (wanting to undermine Austro-Hungary), Serbia and Bulgaria buried their territorial rivalries for the time being (but see 29/6/1913), and, along with Greece and Montenegro, formed the Balkan League. Originally directed against the large multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire (which contained many ethnic Serbs within its borders), the League redirected its efforts against Ottoman Turkey, ultimately aiming to oust the Turks entirely from all its European territories. Serbia and Bulgaria signed a mutual defence pact. Balkan nationalism was on the rise. The pact also divided northern Macedonia between them. It was assumed that southern Macedonia would be divided between Bulgaria and Greece. On 30/5/1913 the Treaty of London divided up the Balkans amongst the members of the Balkan League, leaving Ottoman Turkey with only a sliver of European territory immediately west of Istanbul.
21/2/1909, Ferdinand I of Bulgaria visited Russia to obtain the financial aid he needed to pay Ottoman Turkey an indemnity for Bulgarian independence.
5/10/1908. Prince Ferdinand declared Bulgaria independent of Ottoman Turkey. Russia wanted Turkey weak so as not to block its plans for expansion.
11/3/1907, The Bulgarian Prime Minister was assassinated by a disaffected youth, who had been dismissed from a post in one of the country’s agricultural posts.
23/10/1893, Alexander of Battenberg, First Prince of Bulgaria, died (born 5/4/1857).
18/9/1885, Eastern Rumelia, formerly a province of Turkey, proclaimed its unity with Bulgaria to its north.
3/1/1879, Sofia was designated the capital of Bulgaria.
4/1/1878, Sofia was captured by Russian troops from the Ottoman Empire.
26/2/1861, Ferdinand I, King of Bulgaria, was born.
5/4/1857, Alexander of Battenberg, First Prince of Bulgaria, was born (died 23/10/1893).
25/9/1396, Battle of Nicopolis. Alarmed by Ottoman expansion into Europe, an army composed of contingents from France, Germany and Hungary marched on the Ottoman-held fortress of Nicopolis, Bulgaria. They were led by King Sigismund of Hungary. However the Christian army was ill equipped for the venture, divided by national factionalism, and only reached the fortress in late summer, then had to enforce a long siege. Hearing that an Ottoman relief army under Bayezid was only hours away, the French knights insisted on a frontal charge, despite not knowing the size of the force they were up against. Bayezid arrived and counterattacked, and outflanked the Christian force. Sigismund himself escaped but most of his army was taken prisoner and slaughtered.
1257, End of the Asen Dynasty of kings of Bulgaria (began 1187).
1014, Tsar Samuel of Ochrida was defeated at Belasitza by Greek forces, ending the Western Bulgarian Empire.
6/7/1014, The Byzantine Emperor Basil II defeated the Bulgarian army, after a 28-year war, under Tsar Samuel, then ordered the defeated 15,000 men to be blinded. Basil arranged for one eye of every hundredth man to be spared so the army could find its way back to the Tsar.
971, The First Bulgarian Empire was overthrown by Emperor John Ziminisces.
927, Death of Simeon (ruled 893-927). He fixed the Bulgarian capital at Preslav; the Bulgarian Empire now extended from the Adriatic to the Black Sea.
2/5/907, King Boris I of Bulgaria died.
861, The Bulgarians conquered southern Albania. However Durazzo, on the Adriatic, remained under Byzantine rule.
815, Death of Tsar Krum (ruled 802-815). Under his rule, Bulgaria invaded Adrinaople and central Macedonia.
26/7/811, Battle of Pliska. In May 811 Nicephorus and his son Stauracius led a Byzantine Army into Bulgaria, to curb the rising power of the Bulgarians, which Constantinople saw as a threat. Tsar Krum was unable to meet such an army head on and attempted negotiations, but Byzantium spurned this offer, intent on crushing the Bulgarians. Pliska fell easily to Nicephorus. The Byzantines then terrorised the region, massacring people, and destroying crops and animals. Having taught the Bulgarians a lesson, Nicephorus then turned back home. His route took him through the narrow Verbiza pass, which Nicephorus neglected to scout out first. The Bulgarians had laid a trap here; they sealed both ends of the gorge, then fell upon the Byzantines.and on 26 July massacred them at this point. Only a few returned to Constantiniple, and Nicephoirus was killed. Stauracius had to be carried home, paralysed by a neck wound, and .he died of this after six months agony.
9/4/809, The Bulgars captured Sofia.
681, The Byzantine Empire ceded land to the Bulgars, who established the First Bulgarian Empire.
3,500 BCE, Earliest copper mines sunk, in Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.