Ivan Batakliev

This is an original text written in 1968 by Prof. Ivan Batakliev, unpublished until now, presented here without any editorial intervention. In his paper, the author talks about the difficult historical fate of the Bulgarian people during its thirteen centuries of existence, as well as the reasons for that, some of which are the crossroad geographical positioning of Bulgaria and its relief, providing foreign troops from various historical eras, an easy access to the Asian continent. Apart from those factors, the author emphasizes other factors such as political, economic, demographic and even epidemic reasons. According to Prof. Batakliev, one of the main reasons – not only for the preservation of the Bulgarian people, but also for the formation of the Bulgarian nation, formed during the Bulgarian Renaissance – are the migratory movements and resettlement of Bulgarians as a result of which a number of settlements – even rather significant ones – disappeared, while others emerged. The author analyzes many historical events since the establishment of the Bulgarian state, which led to the resettlement of thousands of Bulgarians in different parts of Europe, thus transferring their traditional lifestyle, customs and religious views, which have left their mark to this day in places where those people settled down. Prof. Batakliev examines migration not only outside the borders of Bulgaria, but also the relocation of people from abroad into Bulgaria. He deliberates the settling down of foreign tribes and peoples on the territory of Bulgaria in various historical periods – before the fall of Bulgaria under Turkish yoke, during the Ottoman rule, and after the Liberation in 1878. Showing personal feelings, the author talks about the plight of Bulgarians during on the five-century yoke, the persecution, destruction, exile and slavery, which caused numerous deportations of tens of thousands of people from their native lands and their emigration to Romania, northern Greece, Serbia, Asia Minor, Bessarabia, Tavria and Kherson provinces of Russia, as well as to various places in Bulgaria itself. The fifteenth century stands out with the most severe consequences, during which, according to Prof. Hr. Gandev, as a result of the Turkish invasion, 680 000 out of a total of 1 127 294 Bulgarians perished. Many settlements were depopulated and devastated, while new small refuge settlements and neighborhoods emerged. A dark period in Bulgarian history is the conversion to Islam in the period between the sixteenth and the nineteenth century in the Rhodopes and Northern Bulgaria. During the Ottoman rule, along with the de Bulgarianization, Turkish population settled on the territory of the country – mainly in Eastern Stara Planina Mountain and the Ludogorie region. During the Bulgarian Renaissance, part of this population returned to Turkey, while Bulgarians returning from abroad, as well as those who came down from the higher mountain areas, settled in its place and began to develop various economic activities. The Kardzhalii brigandic raids caused great displacements, as well as the wars between Russia and Turkey – 1762-1796, 1828-1829, 1854-1856, and 1877- 1878. After the Liberation of Bulgaria, however, the life of the Bulgarian people did not become much easier. As a result of the wars that broke out in the early twentieth century – the First Balkan War in 1912-1913, the Second Balkan War in 1913, the First World War – 1915- 1918, there was a large exodus of Bulgarians from Western and Eastern Thrace, southern and northern Macedonia. Prof. Batakliev prepared a report, according to which 55 940 households or 253 067 refugees settled in Bulgaria in the period between 1912 and 1930. The Bulgarian population was only assimilated in Serbia. It is interesting to note that those refugees were sent money by the Red Cross from many countries around the world, and a £ 2 250 000 loan was granted through the League of Nations, while a commissioner had been appointed to provide refugees with arable land and housing. The Karaboaz lowland along the Danube River, as well as some marshlands around the Bay of Burgas, etc., were drained. A number of refugee settlements were built, and 9 838 houses were supplied with water. According to the Craiova Agreement of 1940, Southern Dobrudzha was returned to Bulgaria, and as a result, 7 000 Bulgarians moved in from Northern Dobrudzha.

refugees, Ottoman invasion, settlement, resettlement, migration movements

Problems of Geography, 2021, Vol.3-4, DOI:

Author information:
Author: Ivan Batakliev
Born: 24/01/1891 · Pazardzhik, Bulgaria
Died: 15/12/1973 · Sofia, Bulgaria

We express our heartfelt gratitude to the son of Prof. Ivan Batakliev – Mr. Todor Batakliev, for providing this valuable material that enriches our ideas about the fate of our people in our turbulent historical past.

How to cite:
Batakliev, I. (2022). Разселване на българския народ в робство. Problems of Geography, 2021, Vol.3.-4, p. 3-16.