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Journal of European Economic History

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Bulgaria -- History -- 19th century, Bulgaria -- History -- 20th century, Bulgaria -- History -- 1878-1944 -- Historiography, Merchants -- Bulgaria -- History


In the last 100 years Bulgarian history has endured many political changes, some of them very abrupt, which inevitably influenced the dominant ideological and methodological paradigms of Bulgarian historical writings. Being for five centuries (XVth - XIXth) under Ottoman rule, after the Berlin Congress (1878), the Bulgarian state was restored. Passing through the agitated period of the Balkan Wars (1912- 1913) and World War I, Bulgarian history of the interwar period continued to witness much political and social tension. World War II brought about another radical change, namely the establishment of a totalitarian political regime. After 45 years, in 1989, the democratic system was restored. As one can guess, all these political upheavals, influenced by some ideas of European philosophy, shaped to a great extent modern Bulgarian historiography.

An attempt will be made in the present paper to assess some trends and concepts in Bulgarian historiography by examining as a case study research on merchants during the Ottoman period. It will be organised on a chronological as well as thematical order. From the chronological point of view the paper will cover a period of about one hundred years and will be divided into three parts: 1878 to 1944; the totalitarian period, and from 1989 up to the present. It will examine the types of studies and main discussion issues. The analysis will continue on a more concrete level with exploring the sources, ethnic background of the merchants, their geographical localisation, and those areas which need further research. The paper will question as to why the topic of merchants is both an actractive yet unpopular subject, what the inherent factors are and the external influences on the development of this issue and how and why some concepts were transmitted, preserved, or reshaped.


Originally appeared in the Journal of European Economic History, volume 31, number 3, and may be found at

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