And, finally, to the literary man, the Balkan Peninsula, with its extraordinary medley of races and languages, affords a field of observation which is all but virgin soil. Here the Bulgarian and the Greek, the Albanian and the Serb, the Osmanli, the Spanish Jew and the Roumanian, live side by side.
The Macedonian question is perhaps the most dangerous problem which the statesmen of Europe will have to face
in the near future. One of the ablest and most experienced of British diplomatists in the Balkan Peninsula said to me a year and a half ago, ” Old Servia, Macedonia, and Albania will before long become a regular cockpit between Bulgarians, Servians, Montenegrins, and Greeks.” That he was right, no one at all acquainted with the facts will for a moment doubt.
But in Macedonia all these races are hopelesssly intermixed.
a little later the famous Bulgarian Tsar, Samuel, whose reign extended from 976 to 1014, made Macedonia the centre of his empire, and fixed his residence first on a rocky island in the upper lake of Prespa, and then at Ochrida. To this day the name of Grad, or ” the fort,” which the island still bears, testifies to his occupation of the spot. It was to Prespa, too, that Samuel, returning from the sack of Larissa, transferred the remains of the holy Achilles, and the remains of a monastery dedicated to this saint are still to be found on an island of the lower lake. Now, for the first time, we read of a Bulgarian Patriarch of Ochrida, a see which played a considerable part at one time or another in Macedonian history.
Even when the Byzantine Emperor Basil, ” the Bulgar- slayer,” conquered and overthrew the first Bulgarian Empire in 1018, he allowed this Bulgarian church at Ochrida to exist, though he substituted an archbishop for a Patriarch. And we learn from the golden bulls, in which this Emperor confirmed the privileges of the Bulgarian church, that under Samuel, that is to say, in the first two decades of the eleventh century, the Bulgarian realm had included practically all Macedonia. Pristina, Uskub, Veles, Prilep, Kastoria, and even Joannina, the capital of Albania, had all owned the sway of the mighty Bulgarian Tsar.
With the formation of the second Bulgarian Empire in 1186, the rule of the Tsars once more made itself felt in Macedonia. As early as 1197 a Bulgarian noble declared himself independent in the passes of the Vardar, and governed Upper Macedonia in his own name. We find the Tsar Kalojan lord of Uskub in 1210.
Slaveikoff, by his journal, published at Constantinople in the sixties, had endeavoured to prepare the way for the national movement in Macedonia ; but so little was the Bulgarian alphabet then known, even among the Bulgarian Macedonians, that the editor was forced to print his patriotic articles in Greek characters.
Bcrats were granted in 1890 for two Bulgarian Bishops at Ochrida and Uskub respectively
And he sums up their prospects by saying that ” in the end they will win nearly all the Bulgarian-speaking people of Macedonia;
Accordingly, the Servian Government, which in former days favoured the Bulgarian movement in Macedonia, and actually allowed the first books of that propaganda to be printed at Belgrade, has now become its rival.
American missionaries, working among the Bulgarians of Macedonia, have noticed with surprise that all of a sudden their familiar disciples have changed their nationality, and blossomed out into full-blown Serbs.
In the district of Uskub, where there are some Servian-speaking refugees and people speaking a Bulgarian dialect containing many Servian words, this propaganda may make some conquests.
But elsewhere in Macedonia, where the language of the people is Bulgarian and not Servian, the difference of tongue, though not insurmountable, is sufficient to make the task difficult. In the vilayet of Monastir, more especially, the Serbs have little chance against their Bulgarian rivals.
Of course, now that Greece has been weakened, the Sultan, true to his traditional policy of playing one Christian race off against the other, has begun to favour the Greeks in Macedonia at the expense of the Bulgarians, just as in 1890 and 1894 he favoured the Bulgarians at the expense of the Greeks.
But the Armenians inspire in the Turks a hatred such as no other Christian race causes them, and the worst of it is that the Armenians have hot, like the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Wallachs living in the Turkish dominions.
Travels and politics in the Near East (1898) by William Miller 1864-1945
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