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Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia ( ; - Rumeli-i Şarkî; Modern Turkish: Doğu Rumeli, , Anatoliki Romylia) was an autonomous province (vilayet) in the Ottoman Empire from 1878 to 1908, however it was under Bulgarian control from 1885, when it de facto annexed by the Principality of Bulgaria. Bulgaria itself at the time was nominally within the Ottoman Empire, but had been self-governing since 1878. Ethnic Bulgarians in turn composed the absolute demographic majority within Eastern Rumelia. Its capital was Plovdivmarker (Filibe). Today, Bulgaria continues to hold the whole of Eastern Rumelia (the largest part of Northern Thracemarker).


Eastern Rumelia was created as an autonomous province within the Ottoman Empire by the Treaty of Berlin in 1878. It encompassed the territory between the Balkan Mountainsmarker, the Rhodope Mountains and Strandzhamarker, a region known to all its inhabitants Bulgarians, Greeks and Ottoman Turks as Northern Thracemarker. The artificial name, Eastern Rumelia, was given to the province on the insistence of the Britishmarker delegates to the Congress of Berlin: the Ottoman notion of Rumelia refers to all European regions of the empire, i.e. those that were in Antiquity under the Roman Empire. Some twenty Pomak (Bulgarian Muslim) villages in the Rhodope Mountains refused to recognize Eastern Rumelian authority and formed the so-called Republic of Tamrash.

According to the Treaty of Berlin, Eastern Rumelia was to remain under the political and military jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire with significant administrative autonomy (Article 13). The head of the province was a Christian Governor-General appointed by the Sublime Porte with the approval of the Great Powers. Eastern Rumelia consisted from the sanjaks of Plovdivmarker (Filibe), Pazardzhikmarker (Tatarpazarcığı), Haskovomarker (Hasköy), Stara Zagoramarker (Eski Zağra), Slivenmarker (İslimye) and Burgasmarker (Burgaz), in turn divided into 25 kazas.

The predominantly Bulgarian character of Eastern Rumelia is well evidenced by the outcome of the first Regional Assembly elections of 17 October 1879. Of the 36 elected deputies, 31 were Bulgarians (86.1%), 3 were Greeks (8.3%) and 2 were Turks (5.6%).

The province is remembered today by philatelists for having issued postage stamps from 1880 on. See the main article, Postage stamps and postal history of Eastern Rumelia.


The first Governor-General was the Bulgarian prince Alexander Bogoridi (1879–1884) who was acceptable to both Bulgarians and Greeks in the province. The second Governor-General was Gavril Krastevich (1884–1885), a famous Bulgarian historian. Before the first Governor-General, Arkady Stolypin was the Russian Civil Administrator from 9 October 1878 to 18 May 1879.

During the period of Bulgarian annexation Georgi Stranski was appointed as a Commissioner for South Bugaria (9 September 1885 - 5 April 1886), and when the province was restored to nominal Ottoman sovereignty, but still under Bulgarian control, the Prince of Bulgaria was recognized by the Sublime Porte as the Governor-General.

Unification with Bulgaria

After a bloodless revolution on 6 September 1885, the province was annexed by the tributary Principality of Bulgaria. After the Bulgarian victory in the subsequent Serbo-Bulgarian War, the status quo was recognized by the Porte with the Tophane Act of 24 March 1886. With the Tophane Act, Sultan Abdülhamid II appointed the Prince of Bulgaria (without mentioning the name of the incumbent prince Alexander of Bulgaria) as Governor-General of Eastern Rumelia. The Pomak Republic was reincorporated in the Ottoman Empire. The province was nominally under Ottoman suzerainty until Bulgaria became de jure independent in 1908. 6 September, Unification Day, is a national holiday in Bulgaria.

The Greek population of the region was largely exchanged in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars and World War I. Several thousand Bulgarians of Greek descent still inhabit the region, as do the Sarakatsani transhumant shepherds.


  1. Делев, "Княжество България и Източна Румелия", История и цивилизация за 11. клас.

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