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POPULATION OF SOUTHERN THRACE AT 1830, 1878, 1912 AND 1920 CENSUSES

Authors: Spas Razboynikov and Atanas Razboynikov

 

The book provides information about the inhabitants of the former Bulgarian land Eastern Odrin and Western Thrace, beyond the present southern boundaries of Bulgaria. The population is discussed in accordance with the ethnic and national structure of all the 1486 towns and villages, including the smallest ones. In the list appended to the book, assessment have been made and presented within 3 or 4 columns - viz., the nationalities as found in the Census of the population during the years 1830, 1878, 1912 and 1920 at the time of important changes which could be followed and compared: i./ the war between Russia and Turkey, and the Odrin peace in 1830 as a result of which Greece and Serbia were liberated from the Turkish yoke; ii./ the war in 1877-78 when Bulgaria was also liberated, though not entirely, from the same yoke; iii./ census in 1912 - on the eve of the Balkan War aiming to further liberate it after the victory of Bulgaria over Turkey and the London peace treaty in June 1913 when the real ethnical boundaries of Bulgaria were recognized. But in the same year Serbia, Greece and Rumania violated the realty with Bulgaria, took away considerable parts of its territory with predominating Bulgarian population in the west, south and northeast; iv./ column 4 shows the inhabitants in 1920, after the World War in which Bulgaria took part with the hope of taking back her lost lands, but was among defeated nations and lost again its territories with a population of over 2,5 millions.

The ethnic groups in the list are presented in accordance with number of houses and families. In the list of settlements the houses of the Bulgarian Christians are denoted by "kb" , the Turkish with "kt", the Greek with "kg" and by "others" are meant the houses of Jews, Armenians and other nationalities of smaller numbers in the total number of separate settlements - cf., albanians, tartars, cherkezians. The Bulgarian Moslems are noted as "kb-moslems" or "kb-pomaks". Those pretending to be Greek are separated as such - i.e., who are not entirely Hellenized Bulgarians as "others", who have partly retained their language and life characteristics as "kb-parapanovtsi". The ethnic relations are indicatives and it is evident that Bulgarians predominate to a great extent over the remaining groups in all regions, districts and counties. This work is intended to serve scientists and people in Bulgaria and other countries interested to study and to get acquainted with the ethnographic and demographic processes and changes related with the historic periods and events in this part of the Balkan Peninsula. The list applied provides possibilities also for preparing ethnographic maps concerning the indicated period of years.

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Supplement: This is an extremely interesting book by a little known author in the historical circles of the country. Dr. Spas Razboynikov is presented in our booklist with two monographs, both of which are based largely on personal experience and memoirs - viz., this particular title has been written in co-authorship with his father, who has been direct participant of the migratory and/or war changes in the region from years 1912 and 1920. Furthermore, the book represents a considerable compilation effort and is exemplary for such titles in historical demography. Our aim for this short commentary is to provide an interested scholar with some additional resources on the subject and thus delineate to some extent a larger topic as such, which is provided by the demographic structure in Bulgarian lands through the ages.

From materialist standpoint of view our task seems easy at first glance. The Bulgarian ethnos has been existing as a separate entity for a considerably short period of time within the borders of modern historical memory. This is consistent with the Liberation War /1878/ and the ensuing participation of the sovereign country in all important events in XX century. It has been already made an attempt from the writer of this paragraph to outline some of the features for the population statistics in Bulgaria - cf., "Bozhikov, P. Sampling Method in Population Census and Other Social Survey. Sofia: Izdatelstvo NSI, 1996". This has been, however, only a fragment from the whole story and further retrospective should be sought with reference to events before provisional year 1880. Here is how we see such a supplemental narrative given in the form of a schedule conspectus:

Part One, without much suppositions at hand we should rely on foreign sources for the development and history of the Bulgarian ethnos. This task has been widely and largely debated by Bulgarian scholars in numerous references from both abroad and from local instances. A useful meta-analysis of this literature is given in the book reviewed at hand, but we are altogether far from recommending a single and exhaustive work on the topic. For the time being we leave this agenda with an open ending, while let us remind to the demanding researcher from the academic and university milieu that few such acquisitions exist for any ethnos or nation in the universal compound of demography. While ethnical and racial ascertainment is a difficult process in itself, hitherto we could boast ourselves that we Bulgarians have really something to tell other nations and not only as reminiscences on a historical canvas.

Part Two, a separate chapter of discussion has been the contribution of Bulgarians themselves on the clarification of ethnical boundaries in the Balkan peninsula. In advance of any further explanations and we should say that this has not been a mere educated guess, but rather a solid and well consolidated argument. While we should not debate here and now on revivalist issues for different ethnos and racial communities at this lands for the past two centuries, subsequently we proceed directly for the timeframe which has been a topic for this book. The statutory reference material has given some insights, however we wish to expand and supplement this tributary with more authors Bulgarians who have contributed historical and demographic knowledge in the period before provisional year 1880. Below is a list of some titles in Bulgarian language, however, those and difficult to obtain in a singular database.

~ Stephan Zahariev and his "Statistical and Demographical Description of Tatar-Pazardjik Kaaza" /1865/;

~ Ivan Bogorov has left a valuable memoir with some statistical and ethnographic descriptions - cf., "Travels in a Revivalist Bulgaria" /1865/;

~ Hristo Danov has written a rather detailed essay on demography in Plovdiv, but has published it in the journal "Letostrui" from Serbia - cf., "Population of the Plovdiv Sandjack" /1870/;

~ Milan Savich in his "History of the Bulgarian People" /1878/ has narrated an introductory chapter on geography of the country with statistics, based primarily on the unrevised San-Stefano Treaty;

~ Hristo Pavlov in the third edition of his translation book "Zemleopisanie" /i.e., a textbook on world geography from russian scholar K. Smirnov, which in its two previous editions has been issued by a woman-translator Rada Kirkovich/; further, in this book we have found a first detailed description of the bulgarian ethnos - numerically, by towns and by districts - which, were based on pre-census survey from the revised Berlin Treaty in 1879.

Finally, it will be needed some time to systematize all this compilations and to present a formal publication on the issue. This has already been done by some Bulgarian demographers in the XX century, however a detailed and unbiased demographic history of Bulgaria still awaits to be written. We stop here and have the vision to continue in some of the following issues of this booklist.

 

 

Copyright 2006 by the author.