Today is a national holiday celebrating the Unification of Bulgaria. On September 6th, The Principality of Bulgaria (Княжество България) and Eastern Rumelia (Източна Румелия) were unified into а common state.

The Congress of Berlin in 1878 put an end on the Russo-Turkish War and resurrected Bulgaria after almost 500 years of Ottoman yoke. It divided Bulgaria into an independent state, the Principality of Bulgaria, stretching from the Balkan mountain range to the Danube, and an autonomous state within the Ottoman Empire, Eastern Rumelia, an area between Rila, Rhodopi and the Balkan. The third part of Bulgaria, the region Macedonia, remained entirely in the Ottoman Empire. The reason for this separation was that Great Britain and Austria-Hungary feared restoring Bulgaria to its previous huge territories and providing its new ally, Russia, with too much influence.

In bright orange: Principality of Bulgaria; in light orange: Eastern Rumelia

Naturally, the Bulgarians were not happy with the new arrangement. Their strive for unity after the decay of the Ottoman Empire became part of the Eastern Question.

In 1880, the  Bulgarian Secret Central Revolutionary Committee was created, and its main task was to unify the Principality and Eastern Rumelia at first and then to aid the unification with Macedonia. BSCRC’s leader was Zahari Stoyanov. The Bulgarian Kniyaz (prince) Alexander I Battenberg himself was patron of the movement.

September of 1885 was marked with riots in Eastern Rumelia, the most famous of which is the riot in Panagyurishte. On September 6, Rumelia’s militia itself took over the governor’s office in Plovdiv. The governor, being a Bulgarian patriot appointed by the Ottomans, did not resist and surrendered Eastern Rumelia to its Bulgarian brothers. Kniyaz Alexander I signed the unification.

The followed diplomatic pressure from England and Russia, both of which expected the short-lived nature of the separated Bulgarian state, prevented the Ottoman Empire from sending troops to Eastern Rumelia. The Unification was a fact. But this was only the beginning of the Macedonian Question.