Bulgarian Horrors

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phrase coined by british politician gladstone to describe the atrocities perpetrated by the turks in putting down the revolt of the bulgarians in 1876.

In 1875, a revolt began in Bosnia and Herzegovina that spread to neighboring Bulgaria the next year. Public opinion in Serbia and Montenegro soon caused them to declare war against the Ottoman Empire in an effort to intervene on behalf of their fellow Slavs. Meanwhile, eyewitness reports revealing that more than 10,000 Christians had been slaughtered in Bulgaria by Turkish irregulars reached England, which had fought the Crimean War to preserve the Ottoman Empire and was intensely interested in the conflict. A wave of moral indignation swept over the country, fired by the revelations of the liberal press, the high point of which was an indictment by William Ewart Gladstone of Turkish rule in his pamphlet, "Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East." In it he argued passionately in favor of autonomy for the empire's Christian subjects, with little effect.

Although Gladstone was successful in rallying public opinion in Western Europe on behalf of the Bulgarians, the situation there was not resolved until after Russia attacked Turkey in 1877. In the following year, the treaties of San Stefano and Berlin established Bulgaria as an autonomous principality under Turkish sovereignty.


Harris, David. Britain and the Bulgarian Horrors of 1876. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939.

John Micgiel