Freedom or Death. The Life of Gotsé Delchev

Mercia MacDermott

 

CHAPTER II

Macedonia, wonderful land,

Never shall she be Greek!

Leaf and forest, and mountain,

The very stones of this land,

Bird, and fish in the Vardar river,

Living and dead on their feet

Will rise and will reply

To all Europe, to all the world:

I am Bulgarian, Bulgarian am I,

Bulgarians live in this land!

    Raiko Zhinzifov, [1] 1862

 

In Kukush - Gotsé's birthplace - an ancient legend told of a vanished underground river, which one day would burst forth at a place called the Duflo and flood the whole town. Ironically enough, when total disaster overtook Kukush during the Second Balkan War in 1913, it was fire and not water which was the fatal agent, and the Duflo - a hollow overgrown with wild fig-trees - remained obstainately dry in the summer heat while the town burned. The greater irony, however, was yet to come, when after the War the whole area was awarded to Greece and a new Greek town named Kilkis arose on the ruins of Kukush - Kukush, which for centuries before had been inhabited almost exclusively by Bulgarians, and a handful of Turks; Kukush, which had fought so stubbornly against Phanariot Greek domination of its Church, which had been the first town in the Turkish Empire to obtain a Bulgarian bishop, and which had twice sought a Uniat with Rome, rather than accept a Greek bishop of the Orthodox faith.

 

It was not that the people of Kukush hated the Greeks. They did not hate anybody as such - not even the Turks, who had misruled and oppressed them for five hundred years. Indeed, one of the most attractive qualities of the Bulgarians, both as individuals and as a nation, is that they judge people according to their deeds and not their race or nationality, and do not ascribe to all members of a community the sins of a section thereof.

 

The people of Kukush hated the Greek Bishop Meleti for his avarice and depravity, but they welcomed and even intermarried with Greek workers who came to their town to shred tobacco or extract the oil from sesame and poppy seeds. They hated those Turks whose fanaticism and inhumanity made their lives unbearable, but their relations with their inoffensive Turkish neighbours were excellent. And they kept a portion of hatred and scorn for those of their own people who, out of cupidity, became the creatures of Greek or Turk and wronged their fellow-men.

 

 

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When the Ottoman Turks conquered the Bulgarian lands at the end of the Fourteenth Century, they imposed their own peculiar feudal order on high and low alike: the land became the Sultan's to dispose of as he pleased, and the inhabitants became his raya - 'flocks', to be milked, shorn or even slaughtered, for his convenience. From his vast possessions, which stretched from Lake Van to Lake Balaton, from the Tigris to the Danube, from the Persian Gulf to the Adriatic, from Medina to Algiers, he apportioned certain Christian villages to his state officials and to the spahi horsemen, who formed the cavalry of the Imperial Army, graciously allowing each to collect for his personal benefit some of the many taxes paid by the local population. The recipient of such a feudal estate was not considered to be its owner, and should his services to the State be terminated, the right to collect taxes was taken from him and bestowed upon a new beneficiary. The raya, however, held the title deeds to their plots of land, and were permitted to sell or bequeath them, but whoever bought or inherited land, also bought or inherited the obligation to pay the taxes due to the Sultan, the State and the spahi.

 

And these taxes were indeed multitudinous and exceedingly burdensome. Every peasant - Christian and Muslim alike - paid yushur (usur), which was a tithe on all agricultural produce: grain, grapes, honey, vegetables, etc. Christian peasants paid, in addition, a land tax known as haradzh (harac), and every Christian adult male paid a poll-tax called dzhizié (cizye). From time to time, the Christian population would also be called upon to make special deliveries of food and other agricultural products, to provide transport for the Army, to do unpaid work building roads and bridges, or repairing the damage done by earthquakes. Passing soldiers or Imperial officials, could demand free food and accommodation for themselves and their horses, and, on their departure, having consumed large quantities of the most tasty and costly food of a kind which the peasants themselves could only afford on high days and holidays, they would demand to be paid 'tooth tax' (diș hakki), which was a sum of money paid by the unwilling host allegedly to compensate them for the wear and tear suffered by their teeth while eating the free delicacies! The impertinent absurdity of 'tooth tax' tends to provoke laughter among Western Europeans hearing of it for the first time, but no one could laugh - not even from a safe historical distance - at the terrible devshurmé (devșirmé), one of the most diabolical taxes ever devised: every few years, Christian families would be forced to give the tax collectors children, who would be taken away for ever to be indoctrinated and trained as fanatical Muslim warriors in the Corps of Janissaries, the infantry of the Ottoman Army. For several hundred years the system worked well enough - from

 

 

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the point of view of the Sultan and the feudal lords, at least, and nobody was interested in the opinions of the tax-paying raya. But when the Turkish Empire began to fall into decay, and the Central Government was unable to exercise proper control over its far-flung provinces, the system broke down entirely. No longer was the Sultan able to deprive a defaulter of his 'living,' and, far from Constantinople, powerful feudal lords, like Ali Pasha of Yanina and the Shahbendi and Gavronos families of the Kukush region became a law unto themselves and behaved as if the land was theirs, and not the Sultan's.

 

By the end of the Eighteenth Century, chaos reigned throughout the Ottoman Empire. Soldiers demobilized after the unsuccessful wars with Austria and Russia joined with mutinous Janissaries to form outlaw bands, which roamed the Balkans sacking towns and living by plunder; those appointed by the State to guard the mountain passes against bandits, themselves became robbers, and the wretched Christian peasants fled their villages to avoid paying taxes which were beyond their means, or to escape from marauders and local lords who feuded among themselves or clashed with Government forces. Those who stayed in their villages would pay substantial protection money to some influential local Turk, known as a derudedzhi, who, in return, would pay all the taxes due to the State and undertake to defend the village against robbers.

 

This period of chaos within the Turkish Empire was also a period of economic change. Elsewhere in Europe, production for the market was rapidly ousting the older feudal forms of production and a new class - the bourgeoisie, consisting of merchants, bankers, factory owners and so forth - was wresting both economic and political power from the feudal aristocracy. In this and every other respect, the Turkish Empire lagged far behind Western Europe, but it was by no means totally insulated against the winds of change. Trading agents from the West travelled through Turkey seeking supplies of raw materials for the new manufacturing industries in their own countries, and this increased the desire of the Turkish feudal lords to become the real owners of the land, to organize production on it, and to enrich themselves by producing for the expanding national and international market, instead of merely receiving the income from taxation.

 

Little by little, the feudal lords achieved their aim by appropriating village and communal land, and even State land. Village land they generally acquired through the peasants' inability to pay their taxes and through the high rates of interest charged on their debts, which forced them to hand over their title deeds to their creditor lords. Sometimes peasants were tortured or even killed in order to make them part with their deeds and to encourage others to do so out of fear.

 

 

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The Sultan and his advisors did not approve of the formation of chifliks, as the new farms were called, and throughout the Eighteenth Century, they did everything possible to maintain the old system and to limit the growth of chifliks, though with little real success. During the 'Time of Troubles' at the turn of the century, when the central government was powerless to curb the disorders, and mass migrations made nonsense of the old relationship between the spahi and his peasants, the chiflik established itself as the dominant form of land ownership.

 

Relative order was restored by 1815; in 1826 the Janissaries were destroyed and replaced by a regular army, and between 1832 and 1834 reforms were introduced, abolishing the old spahi system. The existence of the chifliks was, however, not legalized in any published law, although after the reforms they were the only form of large-scale land ownership. De jure the land still belonged to the Sultan, who permitted others to use it under certain conditions, which were still feudal in spirit. [2] Nevertheless, in practice, the chiflikchi, or proprietor of a chiflik, was to all intents and purposes the owner of a private farm, the surplus produce of which he sold on the market for his own profit.

 

Those who worked on the chifliks were peasants who had in one way or another lost their land and who were thus obliged to seek a living as sharecroppers or hired labourers on whatever terms the chiflikchi was prepared to offer. Invariably these terms were so onerous and unfavourable that only desparation could force a man even to consider becoming a chiflik peasant.

 

The Avret Hisar kaza, [*] of which Kukush was the administrative centre, was particularly suitable for the development of chifliks: the soil was fertile, conditions were favourable for intensive cultures, and the great port and trading centre of Salonika was less than a day's journey away, even by ox-cart, the slowest form of travel. Apart from grain, the Avret Hisar kaza produced cotton, silk, wool, tobacco, skins, wax, grapes and other fruit, sesame and poppies for seed and opium. Kukush wool was particularly fine and was much valued by foreign merchants, while its tobacco was in quality second only to that produced in Enidzhé. Thus the transformation of spahi estates into chifliks took place relatively early in the Kukush area, and by the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, the process was almost complete. Kukush itself became the administrative and economic centre of the kaza, a town closely connected with agriculture, where the produce

 

 

*. The administrative centre had originally been at Avret Hisar, which the Bulgarians called Zhensko and which is south-west of Kukush, but by the middle of the XVIII Century, the centre had shifted to Kukush. The old name of the kaza remained in official use until Turkish rule ended in 1912.

 

 

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of the surrounding villages was sold and where many of the citizens were engaged in keeping silk-worms, processing grapes, poppies and tobacco, and weaving a variety of textiles.

 

When the disorders of the 'Time of Troubles' ceased, and the spahis and Janissaries were replaced by a regular army requiring vast supplies of uniforms and other equipment, the Turkish Empire entered a period of economic boom which lasted from the 1830's until the Crimean War, and Kukush, like many other Bulgarian towns, became a thriving handicraft centre supplying the whole area with copper-ware, saddles, pottery, wheels, ironmongery, sheepskin coats, articles made of goats' hair, dyed cloth, bespoke clothes, shoes, slippers and moccasins, and many other things made by master craftsmen, organized in guilds and working in little shops in the charshiya, or business quarter. In Kukush the most important handicraft was the weaving of cotton textiles and the town boasted more than three hundred looms. Merchants gave out cotton on credit, collected the finished cloth and sold it all over the Turkish Empire. The weavers of Kukush also produced dark-brown woollen material which the poorer Jews of Salonika used for their trousers.

 

After the Crimean War, however, handicrafts slumped disastrously. Western intervention may have saved Turkey from defeat at the hands of the Russians, but it also resulted in Turkey's ever-increasing dependence upon her none-too-disinterested saviours. Western capital and cheap factory-made goods flooded into the Turkish Empire, bringing ruin to craftsmen and chiflikchii alike, and Kukush was among the first towns to feel the draught. The proximity of Salonika, which had been a blessing in the days of boom, now served to hasten the slump. Within a decade of the Crimean War, Kukush's textile industry was dead, killed by Western imports through Salonika. People with money transferred it from cotton to sesame, the seeds of which could be crushed to extract oil for cooking and lighting. But sesame, too, was soon affected by slump, as paraffin, sunflowerseed and other types of oil were introduced from Europe. Wonderful grapes could be grown around Kukush itself and on the slopes of the Krusha Mountains, or Karadag, to the north-east. But here, too, disaster struck in the shape of the Turkish Government's customs and excise policy, which freely permitted the import of cheap Western spirits made from rye, potatoes, etc., while clapping a heavy tax on local wine and rakia.

 

As the profitability of agriculture decreased, the chifliks began to decline and decay. The harder the owners squeezed the peasants in order to maintain their old standard of income, the more the peasants resisted and production fell. Some owners sold out to Jewish and Greek usurers, Albanian Muslims, or even - in some areas - to peas-

 

 

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ants and Bulgarian merchants who, in the rough-and-tumble of the market, had managed to accumulate money. Others staggered on, grinding their peasants in order to extort the last ounce of profit from them and selling a field or two from time to time.

 

A cure for the Sick Man's economic ills could have been provided by the introduction of capitalist methods of production, with factories replacing handicrafts and modern farms worked by wage-labourers replacing the semi-feudal chifliks. This, however, was not possible in Turkey for a number of reasons: the Turks themselves did not understand the need for change; the feudal ruling class was incapable of carrying out reforms, and there was no strong bourgeoisie to lead a revolution against feudalism. Indeed, the Turks were the last nation in the Balkans to develop a bourgeoisie, the Greeks and Bulgarians being far ahead of them in this respect. But for the Greek and Bulgarian bourgeoisie, the road was blocked by the foreign domination of their countries, and for them the prerequisite for capitalism was the liberation of their countries from Ottoman rule.

 

Another factor which delayed the development of capitalist production in the Turkish Empire was the absence of stability and the rule of law, so that people who had money preferred to invest it in trade rather than in vulnerable factories and equipment. It was, in any case, hard for anyone to accumulate capital, since taxes, both regular and extraordinary, and the various forms of illegal extortion kept the majority of the population poor. During the second half of the Nineteenth Century, especially, the country became infested with bandits, many of them Albanians, who robbed and murdered without let or hindrance and against whom the authorities were apparently utterly powerless. Occasionally the victims were Turks, but even so, few of the culprits were ever arrested. Often the victims themselves or witnesses of the crime were thrown into gaol as the nearest thing to hand, and even when the authorities stirred themselves to appropriate action, they were desultory in the extreme. Zaptiehs [*] would be sent to the village where bandits had struck, but they would first install themselves in some more comfortable house to take liberal refreshment and acquire 'gifts' at the expense of their host. When they finally set out in pursuit of the bandits, the trail would be cold, so, after riding about in a half-hearted manner, taking further refreshment in other villages, they would return to the town, loaded with loot, and report to the kaimakam [**] that they had been unable to discover the offenders.

 

The absence of factories and modern industry meant that ruined craftsmen and landless peasants could not become proletarians, as in the West, and as time went by, more and more of them were forced

 

 

*. Turkish policemen.

 

**. A Turkish district governor.

 

 

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to seek work as seasonal labourers, market-gardeners, etc., in Salonika, Constantinople, or the Dobrudzha, which was the main grain-growing area of Bulgaria. Some even went to Rumania, Serbia, Russia and other countries outside the Turkish Empire. Many are the folksongs which express the homesickness of those who were forced to leave their families in order to earn a living in distant places, returning at irregular intervals to see their dear ones. By the end of the Nineteenth Century, things had become so bad that many Macedonian Bulgarians emigrated altogether, not only to the Principality of Bulgaria, which by then was free and independent, but also to Canada, the United States, Australia and other distant countries, seeking work, security and all the ordinary prerequisites for a normal life which their own unhappy land could not provide.

 

Some preferred to repay violence with violence, injustice with vengeance, and became haiduti - outlaws in the mountains. A typical example of how people were driven to become haiduti is the case of Hristo Nikolov Makedonsky, who was born in one of the hill villages of the Karadag, to the north-west of Kukush, and who describes his experiences in his memoirs.

 

In 1852, when Hristo was a lad of eighteen, he took a load of soap to market in a village called Shtemnitsa, to the north of the Karadag and below Belasitsa, the mountain range which today forms the frontier between Bulgaria and Greece. 'At the market I did pretty well, that is, I sold the soap and prepared to return home to my village. Several of us started together, including my fellow-villager Hadzhi Gogo, a somewhat elderly man of between fifty and fifty-five. I got chatting to him about something, and my other companions were quite far ahead of us. When we neared the Turkish village of Rayanovo, through which we had to pass, it began to rain heavily, and we spurred on our horses to make them go quicker. Our horses were not hacks, but our own well-fed ones, and they became very wild and bounded like lions. We could in no wise calm them or rein them in so that we could ride more gently. Thus we came to ride furiously through Rayanovo, passing just in front of a place called 'The Pavilion of the Prisoner Ali' [*], where the Turkish agas foregathered.' As the horses sped at full gallop past the Pavilion, some of the agas were inadvertently splashed with mud. 'Furious and unseemly curses uttered against us reached our ears, several pistols were fired after us...' The two Bulgarians managed to escape and reached their village safe but apprehensive. On the way, they had spoken of nothing else, knowing that the agas would consider the accidental splashing as a mortal insult and would certainly take steps to revenge themselves. And, sure enough,

 

 

*. Makedonsky explains that Ali was so called because he had been captured by the Russians.

 

 

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on the following day, one of the Turks came looking for Hristo, but he hid in a sheepfold belonging to a relative by marriage, Georgi Sŭrbakŭt. This sheepfold was often used as a refuge by the whole family in similarly dangerous moments, for such perils were everyday occurrences in Macedonia. A week or two later, however, a gang of Turks managed to catch Hadzhi Gogo, as he was returning from the market in Kukush. They cut off his hands, gouged out his eyes and killed him by chopping him into small pieces. Appalled by the fate of Hadzhi Gogo, Hristo lay low in Georgi Sŭrbakŭt's house, where his host cared for him as if he were his own son. It was not long, however, before misfortune overtook Sŭrbakŭt as well: At that time, there was in our district a kirserdar [*], called Haidar Aga, who went around with a band of some twenty horsemen. He was an Albanian in origin, a real ruffian, who could get away with anything. One of his sons was a subashi (police chief) and the other a polyak (village field watchman) in the village of Dolni Todorak. Haidar's two sons used to go almost every day to Georgi Sŭrbakŭt's sheepfold and house, where they seized and carried off cheese, milk, butter and lambs, without, of course, paying for them.' Eventually, Georgi decided that he had had enough and refused to give them anything more. The two Albanians then came to his house with the intention of killing him out of spite, but Georgi was too quick for them. He shot one of them and fled. When Haidar heard what had happened, he beat Georgi's mother to death, and stole everything in the house, together with Georgi's sheep. Hristo's family, in their turn, concealed Sŭrbakŭt and managed to smuggle him out of the village to Mount Athos, where, it was believed, he became a monk.

 

Fearing the unslaked vengeance of the Rayanovo agas, Hristo also left the village and went to Salonika, where he stayed for four years. He returned to his village in 1856 and began to trade in partnership with his brother. In 1859, he went with a friend to buy cotton in the village of Sarmusakli near Serres, and on the way back they were set upon by three Turkish robbers, who tortured them and stole all that they had, which, in the case of Hristo, represented almost the entire capital possessed by the brothers. About this time, Hristo became close friends with Manol Nakov, a neighbour, who had also been robbed, and the two young men began to discuss how they could break a few Turkish noses and what they could do to make their lives more secure. They also spoke of the haidut chieftains, whose deeds aroused their admiration and whose freedom their envy, and they decided that at a suitable moment they, too, would become haiduti. Often they would part with the words: 'Be ready every hour.'

 

The following year, when Hristo was returning from the village of

 

 

*. A kind of guard or watchman.

 

 

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Poroi with money which he had received from the sale of cotton and soap, he was again set upon by three Turks. 'I ground my teeth, but I could do nothing alone and unarmed. I decided not to resist, in order to escape alive, for I swore in my soul that I would no longer endure this kind of life and this kind of trade. The three Turks, who were much practised in their profession, robbed me according to all the rules of the art: they didn't even leave so much as a bent coin in my pocket; they took my new cloak and then let me go. I was ashamed of myself; I took it very hard and it seemed to me infinitely humiliating to return home and say that I had been robbed again ... I didn't even feel like going home and wanted somehow to set out straight for the forest. I started for home, but broken in spirit, feeling no fear and taking no precautions against meeting the Turks I had splashed. As I walked, I was deciding my fate. Revenge, revenge — that word alone was on my lips. I thought of nothing else. My native village seemed like a hell, and I couldn't bear to look at the submissive Bulgarian raya working day and night for their despoilers without having any security of life and property. Pirin and Rila [*] are my home, I kept repeating to myself, there I shall find at least one moment of freedom and shall consider myself my own master ... I arrived home late, upset and thoughtful. Briefly I told the family about my second fleecing ... hastily got ready, seized my father's Sliven blunderbuss, which he kept as an antique, stuck two pistols into my belt, took a few grosh from my mother, bawled out a despairing 'farewell' to everybody at home, and ran round to Manol Nakov's in Dolni Todorak.

 

' "I can't stand it any longer, Bai Manol - get ready and let's go."

 

'And Manol Nakov was indeed ready every hour ...' [3]

 

If Hristo's reaction to oppression was still that of the minority, his experiences were typical of what the majority had to endure. The behaviour of Haidar Aga and his sons was nothing out of the ordinary. Every village had a polyak, and most of them behaved like Haidar's second son. The polyak, or, as he was sometimes called, the pŭdar, was officially appointed to protect the property of the Christian population in a given village. In fact, he acted as the eyes and ears of the local Turkish authorities and took every opportunity of enriching himself at the expense of the peasants. The polyak was invariably a Muslim, but he was formally chosen by the villagers and had to obtain a document from the headman confirming his appointment. Every year in Macedonia, some five or ten headmen were murdered by rival candidates for the post, which, in practice, carried a licence to rob. [4]

 

The peasants whose property the polyak was supposed to protect,

 

 

*. High mountain massifs in S.W. Bulgaria, Pirin is considered to be in Macedonia, while Rila is on the border, and is partly so.

 

 

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had to begin by building him a house free of charge, and subsequently they had to cultivate his fields, likewise without pay. The polyak would collect a tax for his own maintenance, and supplement his income through fines, bribes and naked appropriation. No one in the village could get married without his permission and without paying him a special fee. Sometimes he would even arrange weddings, and — for a consideration — would give the village belle to the stupidest, most ugly man, while the wretched girl's parents dared not protest for fear of being killed.

 

It was, alas, not only the infidel Muslims who so pitilessly tormented the Christian population of Macedonia. The Phanariot Greek clergy were a second scourge — wolves in shepherd's clothing, who, for all their saintly beards and jewelled crosses, yielded nothing to a polyak in rapacity. Indeed, the higher a Greek rose in the hierachy of his Church, the more predatory he became, which was not really surprising, since the office of Patriarch was sold by the Turkish Government to the highest bidder, and each new Patriarch then proceeded to recover his outlay by selling the bishoprics, and the bishops, in their turn, sold the parishes, and all of them collected taxes from their flocks.

 

Before the Turkish Conquest, the Bulgarians had had their own independent Church and Patriarch, but, because the Conqueror cared little for the fine distinctions between one giaour and another, the Greek Patriarch was able to obtain a firman from the Sultan giving him religious jurisdiction over all Orthodox Christians in the Balkan Peninsula. Thus the Bulgarians laboured under a double alien yoke, with temporal power in the hands of the Turks and spiritual power in those of the Greeks.

 

The energies of the Phanariot Greeks were directed not only towards the collection of the Bishop's tax, but also towards the irradication of Bulgarian national consciousness. This aim was pursued with particular vigour when the Greek Renaissance and struggles for independence gave birth to the megale idea — the dream of restoring to Greece the far-flung frontiers of the Byzantine Empire. Thanks to Cyril and Methodius, Prince Boris and Kliment of Ohrid, the Bulgarians had heard the Liturgy and read the Bible in their own language right from the time of their conversion in the Ninth Century. The Phanariot Greeks, however, insisted that all services must be taken in Greek, regardless of whether the congregation understood or not, and when modern schools appeared in the early Nineteenth Century, the teaching was also in Greek, even when both pupils and teachers were Bulgarian.

 

During the 30's, 40's, 50's, and 60's of the Nineteenth Century, there were fierce struggles throughout the Bulgarian lands aimed at

 

 

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restoring the Bulgarian language to its rightful place in church and school, and the more obdurate the Phanariots remained, the more the Bulgarians increased their demands and stepped up the pressure.

 

In Kukush the struggle was particularly bitter and long-drawn-out. On the one hand, Kukush was a town inhabited almost exclusively by Bulgarians [5]; on the other, it was close to Greece, and the Phanariots were less inclined to compromise than they were in the more northerly Bulgarian lands.

 

The period of economic boom which began in the 1830's brought with it an awakening of national consciousness, which, in Kukush, found its first public expression in the rebuilding of the church on St George's Hill behind the town. From time immemorial, men have inhabited the slopes and flat summit of this hill — one of the southernmost spurs of the Karadag, surrounded by open, rolling country, through which the River Galik flows parallel to the Vardar down into the Thermaic Gulf near Salonika. The flat area on top is fairly extensive and was used by the people of Kukush for open-air gatherings and celebrations. On the highest part — known as the gradishté — there are the remains of ancient fortifications and, at some unknown date after the introduction of Christianity, a monastery was built there and dedicated to St George. The monastery was destroyed at the time of the Turkish Conquest, but the hill kept its old name, and a well at its foot, to the north-west below the gradishté, continued to be known as the Monastery Well.

 

The whole Bulgarian population of Kukush took part in the rebuilding of the church, which was completed in 1835. Bricks, jugs of water and other building material were passed from hand to hand along a living chain of people — men, women and even children — stretching from the town to the top of the hill. And the inscription over the door was in Church Slavonic, and not in Greek.

 

The boom in trade and handicrafts also created a desire for a better education than could be obtained in the primitive 'cell' schools attached to monasteries, or in the haphazard private schools organized in the homes of 'teachers' who could barely read and write themselves. In 1825, the Parish Council, or Commune, had set up a school which was maintained at public expense, but although an allegedly well-qualified Greek teacher had been brought in from outside, the pupils were taught little more than reading, writing and church singing — all in Greek. This fell far short of the needs and ambitions of the thriving craftsmen of Kukush, and in 1840 a leading citizen named Nako Stanishev persuaded his friend Dimitŭr Miladinov, who had studied at a famous Greek school in Yanina, to leave his native Struga on Lake Ohrid and to come to teach in Kukush. As far as the people of Kukush were concerned, however, the primary attraction was not

 

 

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Miladinov's academic qualifications, for there were in Salonika equally well-educated Greeks whom they could have invited, had the question been simply one of obtaining a competent teacher. Miladinov's chief virtue was that, although he taught in Greek, he was a Bulgarian and an ardent patriot.

 

This fact did not escape the notice of Antim, the Phanariot Greek Bishop, whose diocese embraced both Kukush and Doiran (Polyanin). He denounced Miladinov to the Turks as a subversive person, and after only two years in Kukush, the teacher had to leave the town in a hurry to avoid being imprisoned. During those two years, however, he had done good work, organizing both a primary school on the Bell-Lancaster system and a school with several classes or grades, and a former pupil of his from Ohrid was able to continue the work which he had begun.

 

But still the people of Kukush were not satisfied. How could they be, when, in spite of the fact that there were no Greeks in the town, their schools were conducted in Greek, for lack of suitably qualified Bulgarian teachers? Even Dimitŭr Miladinov, as a youqg teacher, could not write Bulgarian, and the literate citizens of Kukush wrote their mother tongue with Greek letters. [6]

 

Eventually, Kukush managed to obtain as their first truly Bulgarian teacher a young monk from the Zograf Monastery on Mount Athos, who taught the church choir to sing the old Bulgarian Liturgy. [7] Exactly when this young monk arrived in Kukush is not known, but since he is described as 'the first Bulgarian teacher' in Kukush, it must have been before 1857, when Dimitŭr Miladinov was invited to return to Kukush, this time on condition that he taught in Bulgarian. Miladinov had been teaching in Prilep, but had fallen foul of the Greek Bishop of Bitolya [*] and had been forced to give up his post. He therefore accepted the invitation to come to Kukush, where he was welcomed 'like one descended from Heaven', and became Principal of the grade school. A little earlier, Raiko Zhinzifov had been appointed head of the primary school, also on condition that he taught in Bulgarian.

 

In a short space of time, the two men transformed the cultural life of Kukush. 'After school hours, people who were already married, of twenty to twenty-five years of age, came to the school every day to learn Church Slavonic and Bulgarian; even elderly people eagerly learned to read from each other during their spare time in their little shops. The priests also followed the example of the young ... Thus D. Miladinov taught the children during the day, and the married people, young craftsmen and priests at noon, while in the evening he

 

 

*. In most English books, published in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, Bitolya is referred to as 'Monastir'.

 

 

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himself studied Bulgarian history... ' [8]

 

Two Russians — Egor Yuzhakov and Alexander Rachinsky — who spent a month in Kukush at the end of 1858 and the beginning of 1859, were much impressed by the town's enthusiasm for education and by the new school which had been built during the summer. 'The Bulgarians give their last grosh for the education of their children,' Yuzhakov wrote in an article entitled A Month in Bulgaria, [9] in which he describes their experiences in Kukush and their admiration and sympathy for the Bulgarian people. 'In spite of their heavy lot, they remain true to themselves, preserving an ardent patriotism in the face of all attempts on the part of their enemies to turn them into Turks or Greeks ... I now regard the Bulgarians as a people with a rich potential for good, not to say greatness.'

 

Almost as soon as the Russians arrived, the people of Kukush begged them to read the service in Slavonic, because they had so few Church books and so few of the priests knew Church Slavonic. 'My God!' commented Yuzhakov, 'this people, from whom we took the Church-Slavonic books, who taught us to read and write in Slavonic — this people now begs us to read the service in Slavonic,' And when Rachinsky began to read, 'quite a few people wept with sorrow that they had no Slavonic service and from joy that now they were hearing it.' During the next ten days Yuzhakov taught the priests and the pupils from the grade school to read Church Slavonic, and thus helped to establish the Slavonic liturgy in the churches of Kukush.

 

Public enthusiasm for the national cause reached such proportions that, in order to cleanse their language of Greek influence, the citizens voluntarily undertook to pay a fine every time they uttered a Greek word. It became like a game, with everybody - including the children — waiting to pounce on anyone who slipped up, and with shrieks of laughter greeting every 'offence'. The money from the fines went to the school funds.

 

At first, the Greek Bishop, Meleti, made no objection to the innovations of the teachers. His residence was not in Kukush, but some ten miles to the north-west in Doiran, a picturesque town, full of steep streets and luxuriant greenery, on the edge of a lake below the towering ridge of Belasitsa. Fish was the basis of the town's economy, and the fresh catch was sent post-haste to Veles, Serres, Drama, Kukush and other towns and villages all over Macedonia. The lake belonged to the Sultan's mother, who augmented her not inconsiderable income by selling the right to collect the fish tax. Thus, in the fish mart, merchants buying fish could not pay the fishermen directly, but had to hand the money to the tax-collector, who took his cut and passed on the balance to the fisherman. This was not the only curious thing about fishing in Doiran: since time immemorial — the practice

 

 

19

 

is described by Herodotus — the fishermen of Doiran have used birds, especially cormorants, to drive the fish into specially constructed enclosures, where, concentrated in a very confined space, they ;an conveniently be scooped out with nets.

 

With many varieties of delicious fish to hand, fast days could not have been a gastronomic burden to Bishop Meleti - if, indeed, he observed fasts at all. Known locally as Deli Meleti - Mad Meleti, the Bishop had a reputation which ill befitted his cloth. On being appointed to the Polyanin-Kukush diocese in 1850, he rapidly amassed a fortune, built himself an Istanbul-style mansion, and then proceeded to fill it with a veritable harem of cooks and maids, who were, in fact, mostly ladies of easy virtue from Salonika. He spent his mornings lazily smoking a pipe and imbibing hot drinks; at midday, he partook of a variety of dishes and wine, and in the evening he invited rich and influential friends to rowdy parties, with music, dancing and drunken revelry.

 

On hearing of the arrival of Miladinov and Zhinzifov in Kukush, the Bishop sent his carriage to convey them to his residence. They found the Bishop moaning and groaning and being fussed over by a nurse, a doctor and two youths. He kept repeating that he was dying and called for 'Maria'. She turned out to be a young girl of extraordinary beauty, who came and rubbed the Bishop's chest with some kind intment, until he finally stopped groaning and recovered sufficiently to explain to the teachers that he had caught cold in church and would have died, had it not been for Maria.

 

Two days later, he invited them to lunch and told them how he had spotted Maria in church and had been much taken with her, because she looked so modest, shy and poor. He had taken her into his household with the intention of bringing her up, making her happy and marrying her to some good man. (He did, in fact, marry her to some Bulgarian whom he soon chased away!) Meleti bewailed his hard lot and told the disapproving teachers that he wished that he could go and do penance on Mount Athos, but he could not leave Maria alone and orphaned: 'Poor beauty!' he exclaimed. 'I have seen many beauties in Saloniki, but never one like her.' Zhinzifov was told later by someone in the know that the girl was not bad, but had been utterly led astray by the Bishop's promises of riches and fine clothes.

 

On this first occasion, thanks to Miladinov's diplomatic handling of the situation, the Bishop gave his blessing to the study of Bulgarian in Kukush: 'Who's stopping them? Let them study in Bulgarian and in French, and in the Devil's tongue, as well, if they so desire — only let them leave me in peace.' [10]

 

His attitude was very different, however, when he actually visited Kukush to conduct the special service held in St George's church on

 

 

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the day of its patron saint. His deacon sang the service in Greek as usual, but the school choir responded in Slavonic, and the reader read the Lesson in Bulgarian. Scarlet with rage, the Bishop sent someone behind the altar screen to tell the priests to conclude the service as soon as possible, and, when it was over, Meleti began to upbraid the teachers, threatening them with arrest. Miladinov told him curtly that he had no right to interfere in school affairs since the school belonged to the Commune and not to the Bishop. Seeing that all those present supported Miladinov, Meleti immediately left Kukush and returned to Doiran. [11]

 

Repeated experiences of this kind convinced the people of Kukush that their Bishop was an incorrigible rogue and libertine, as well as a barrier to their national aspirations, and they began to seek some way of putting pressure on the Patriarch to have him removed. Since the Parish Council was headed by the Bishop, they set up a rival 'High Council', with Nako Stanishev as its chairman and Dimitŭr Miladinov as its secretary. Stanishev was an old hand in the struggle against the Phanariots, and in the 1840's he had led his fellow-citizens in protest against the over-zealous tax-collecting of Meleti's predecessor, Antim.

 

The Council resolved to approach the Western missionary societies in Salonika, hoping to obtain from them not merely religious assistance, but also a measure of protection against the Turks from the Governments which were behind the missions. Towards the end of 1857, Stanishev approached the Protestant mission in Salonika, but nothing came of the negotiations, so he turned to the French Lazarite Catholic mission. The Catholics were perfectly willing to agree to the Bulgarian proposal, namely, that in return for recognizing the supremacy of the Pope, the people of Kukush would be allowed to use Bulgarian in church and school, and would be given a Bulgarian bishop. Moreover, France would undertake to intercede on their behalf with the Sublime Porte and the Patriarch. In spite of this most favourable response, the negotiations between the people of Kukush and the Catholic missionaries continued throughout 1858 and well into 1859. The truth was that Kukush did not really want a Uniat with Rome, except as a last resort. They had no doctrinal or ritual differences with the Greeks and hoped that the mere threat of the Uniat would force the Patriarch to make concessions. To this end they protracted the negotiations with Rome and sent delegation after delegation to Neofit, Metropolitan Bishop of Salonika, and to the Patriarch in Constantinople, demanding that Meleti be replaced by a Bulgarian bishop.

 

Metropolitan Neofit sent someone to investigate the complaints, but after Meleti had slipped the emissary several thousand grosh, he

 

 

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naturally reported in the Bishop's favour. Renewed protests from Kukush resulted in a dispatch of three new investigators, with a promise that, should the complaints prove justified, Meleti would be removed and Kukush would be given a bishop of the people's choice. This time Meleti sent a gang of drunken thugs to chase the emissaries away. The attempt failed, and Meleti's scandalous style of living made such an impression upon the emissaries that they returned a critical report. At last Neofit agreed to remove Meleti but, instead of fulfilling the second part of his promise, he put the bishopric up for auction, with the result that another Greek, named Yakov, was appointed.

 

Painfully aware that 'a fish begins to stink from the head', the people of Kukush decided to have no more truck with Metropolitans and Patriarchs, and, on July 12 1859, they petitioned Pope Pius IX to approve the Uniat, on the basis of the original Lazarite offer.

 

The Uniat was accepted by virtually all the Bulgarians in Kukush: of the 1000-1200 households, only forty continued to recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople. Almost immediately the head of the Order of Lazarites arrived in Kukush, accompanied by one or two priests and a number of French nuns, who began to busy themselves with nursing, education and the creation of a real Uniat Church.

 

The Kukush Uniat evoked an immediate response in Constantinople. The Patriarch actually sent for his old enemy, the Bulgarian Church leader, Ilarion Makariopolsky, [12] and asked him to reason with the people of Kukush and persuade them to return to full Orthodoxy. Ilarion duly went to Kukush, where he had some stormy encounters with the Catholic missionaries and some heart-to-heart talks with the Bulgarian initiators of the Uniat. The upshot of it was that the people of Kukush agreed to renounce the Uniat - which they had never really wanted as such - provided that they received a Bulgarian bishop of their own choice. They would have dearly liked to have Ilarion himself, but felt that he was destined for greater things: 'Go to Constantinople,' Stanishev told him, 'proclaim the independence of the Bulgarian Church, become the Bulgarian Patriarch, so that if you are sent to prison, you will go as the Bulgarian Patriarch, and if you suffer, you will suffer for the whole Bulgarian people, and not just for our Kukush, for a handful of people.' [13]

 

Ilarion returned to Constantinople, and, inspired by the example of Kukush, he indeed proclaimed the independence of the Bulgarian Church in 1860, by omitting the name of the Patriarch from the Easter Service in St Stefan's Church. Ten long years of struggle and negotiation were necessary, however, before the independence of the Bulgarian Church was recognized by the Sublime Porte, and almost a century passed before the breach between the Greek and Bulgarian

 

 

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Churches was healed and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored. [*]

 

Having decided that Ilarion was not for them, the people of Kukush chose as their Bishop Parteni Zografsky, a Bulgarian from the village of Galichnik, who had been educated in Russia. Parteni was duly consecrated, and on November 14 1859 he arrived in Kukush, which thus became the first Bulgarian town to triumph over the Patriarch and to obtain a Bulgarian bishop. Parteni was received with indescribable joy by the citizens of Kukush, who packed the church to suffocation point when he conducted his first service.

 

Parteni fully justified the hopes placed in him. He halved the Bishop's tax and spent most of the money not on himself but on the furtherance of education throughout the diocese. Bulgarian replaced Greek in church and school, and the study of Bulgarian history was added to the school curriculum. Those priests who had learnt Greek 'like parrots' were obliged by their new Bishop to learn Bulgarian. [14]

 

Unfortunately, Parteni had powerful enemies: not unnaturally, the Roman Catholics resented him, while the Phanariot Greeks employed all their Byzantine cunning to encompass his destruction. Bishop Neofit, who had lost a fortune when Yakov failed to buy the diocese, instituted a smear campaign against Parteni and the people of Kukush, and eventually succeeded in having Parteni arraigned before an ecclesiastical court in Salonika in the autumn of 1862. He was deprived of his See and would have been sent into exile, had he not managed to board a Russian ship with the help of some Bulgarians living in Salonika. The ship took him to Constantinople where he sought asylum in the Russian Embassy.

 

Fearful lest Kukush should again seek a Uniat with Rome, the Patriarch appointed a commission of three bishops to investigate Parteni's conduct and, in the spring of 1863, they reported that all the accusations made against Parteni were without foundation. Thus, at the end of 1863 Parteni returned to Kukush fully vindicated. But the campaign against him continued unabated. The vast majority of the people in both Kukush and Doiran supported Parteni, but there was an influential handful of Meleti's former cronies and a few persons, ready to do anything for money, who assisted Neofit and Yakov in their war of attrition against Parteni. By 1867 the latter was exhausted and had little desire to remain in Kukush. He therefore accepted the Patriarch's offer to make him Metropolitan Bishop of Nish and Pirot. His successor in Doiran and Kukush was none other than Mad Meleti, 'elected' by those prominent citizens in the town whom Neofit had managed in one way or another to intimidate or suborn. Fear

 

 

*. Kukush was not the only Bulgarian community to seek deliverance from the Greeks by means of a Uniat. A Uniat Commune recognized by the Turks was formed in Constantinople in Dec. 1860.

 

 

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prevented the people of Kukush from protesting vigorously at the appointment, for the kaimakam of Kukush had recently been shot dead through a window in his konak, [*] and mass interrogations and arrests were in progress. Makedonia, a Bulgarian newspaper published in Constantinople, described the dead governor as a just man, who, during the few months that he had been in Kukush, had attempted to administer justice impartially and had even managed to arrest some of the bandits who troubled the district. According to the report, it was believed that the assassin was a Turk, [15] but the Bulgarian population feared mass reprisals on the part of the authorities, and, for the time being, they held their peace and tried not to draw attention to themselves. Soon, however, the struggle against the unwelcome prelate flared up again with renewed determination.

 

During his absence from the diocese, Meleti appeared to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. As Bishop of Ohrid, he had had his revenge on Dimitŭr Miladinov [16] by denouncing him to the Turks as a rebel, and had had the satisfaction of hearing that both he and his brother, Konstantin, had died in an Istanbul prison. Restored to Kukush and Doiran, Meleti now settled down to the task of collecting his Bishop's tax and of savagely persecuting all those who opposed him. In June 1869 he denounced as agitators the chairman of the Commune and five other leading citizens, who were sent for trial in Salonika, where they explained to the court that they simply did not wish to pay taxes to a bishop whom they did not recognize.

 

The Kukush Commune refused to hand over the keys of the bishop's residence to Meleti when he arrived in Kukush on August 23 1869, and next morning, when he went to take the service in the Sveta Bogoroditsa, [**] the congregation, together with the choir, fled 'as though from some monster' and went to the church of St Atanas, leaving the Bishop alone with the two cantors and a priest whom he had brought with him.

 

On the following day Meleti went to the Turkish authorities to make an official complaint, and the elders of the town were called before the Turkish medzhlis, or council, to explain their conduct. They replied that they had told the Bishop time and time again that they neither wanted him nor recognized him, and they lodged a counter-complaint that, because of him, the community had suffered a double loss: the congregation had been obliged to leave the church before they had said their prayers, and the Church had lost the regular Sunday collection. [17]

 

Alarmed lest the accusations against him be minuted, Meleti tried to pacify the citizens by offering to waive the Bishop's tax as far as

 

 

*. The seat of local Turkish government.

 

**. The Church of the Holy Mother of God, the central church of the town.

 

 

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Kukush itself was concerned and to build and maintain a girls' school at his own expense, provided he was allowed to collect his tax unhindered from the villages. Kukush, however, refused to be bribed, and the kaimakam sent a deputation of twenty citizens to Salonika to explain their point of view to the vali. [*] The latter took note of the Bulgarian position, and ordered the kaimakam not to interfere in diocesan affairs and not to help the Bishop to collect his tax. Not long after, however, the vali reversed his decision - almost certainly as a result of bribery on the part of Meleti - and ordered the Turkish tax collectors to collect the Bishop's tax at the same time as they collected the state taxes, threatening the people with 'gaol, irons and chains', if they refused to pay.

 

For several months, the citizens of Kukush resisted and went to prison. So did the peasants in the surrounding countryside, although their fields and the harvest suffered badly as a result. In the end they were all forced to pay up, but there was no power on earth which could force them to recognize Meleti as their Bishop, and they continued to refuse him admittance to their churches.

 

It is easy to imagine the joy and relief which swept through Kukush when news came that the long struggle of Ilarion and his comrades had been crowned with success, and that on February 28 1870, pressed by Count Ignatiev, the Russian Ambassador, the Sultan had issued a firman for the establishment of an independent Bulgarian Church in the form of an Exarchate. The people's joy was in no way diminished by the fact that, of the Macedonian dioceses, only Veles had been included in the Exarchate. Obviously the Turks wished to prolong the advantages of 'divide and rule' by leaving an area of controversy between the Bulgarians and the Phanariot Greeks, and, in any case, there was a clause in the firman which permitted the remaining Macedonian dioceses to join the Exarchate if a referendum showed a two-thirds majority in favour.

 

In some towns, such as Doiran, there were Bulgarians who still supported the Greek Patriarch. A few did so because they had been bribed or otherwise got-at by the Phanariots, but most of them honestly believed that Patriarchal Church represented the true faith, and they feared the excommunications and anathematizations with which the Phanariots threatened their opponents. In Kukush, however, there were no such Patriarchists, and, confident that their inclusion in the Exarchate was a foregone conclusion, the people decided to celebrate the event 'as though it were Easter'. Friday March 13 1870 was chosen as the great day and invitations were sent to the villages inviting the peasants to join the celebrations. The church was absolutely full for

 

 

*. The governor of a Turkish vilayet, or province.

 

 

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the evening service on the Thursday, and on the Friday itself it could not contain all the people who wished to attend. After a solemn and most splendid service, the congregation marched in procession to the school, led by the priests in their finest vestments, the choir and the pupils, who sang songs of gratitude to the Sultan. At the school there were speeches by Kuzman Shapkarev and the clerk of the Commune, during which every sentence was greeted with shouts of 'Long Live Sultan Abdul Aziz!'

 

One sad event, however, marred the celebration. Shapkarev's wife, Elisaveta, daughter of Dimitŭr Miladinov, died shortly after the conclusion of the ceremonies. Her last words recall the Nunc Dimittis: 'O God, I render up my soul with gratitude, since Thou hast vouchedsafe that I should see the conclusion of the cause which my father and my uncle, prematurely snatched by death, did not live to see.' [18]

 

Shapkarev's speech was not recorded, but no doubt on that day of triumph, he recalled in his own heart, if not before the multitude gathered at the school, the words spoken by his late father-in-law after his arrest in Ohrid, as he rode away to prison and death: 'Why are you so frightened, children? A human life is just a handful of blood; am I to be afraid for such a little thing? I am going to certain death, but the Bulgarian people will not die with me. They will remain alive and one day they will be resurrected. Then they will value my blood. I sowed the seed, and you will be alive to reap the harvest.' [19]

 

The solution to the ecclesiastical problems of Kukush was, however, not as near as the jubilant congregation had supposed. Kukush sent Nano Popgutov as its representative to the Council which met in Constantinople to draw up a Statute for the Bulgarian Exarchate, but, for one reason and another, the istilam (referendum) was postponed until the people of Kukush began to lose patience. They begged so persistently for a Bulgarian bishop that at last, towards the end of 1873, the Exarch sent them Bishop Nil, but the Turks - prompted no doubt by the Greek Patriarchate - ordered him to leave, since the istilam had not yet taken place. Then voices began to be raised in favour of a new Uniat, as the only means of achieving deliverance from the Phanariots, and Bishop Nil was persuaded to sign the necessary documents in Constantinople.

 

This time, however, there was little real support for the Uniat. Those who accepted it did so out of desperation; thus, when the istilam finally took place in 1875, the people of Kukush voted en masse to join the Bulgarian Exarchate, and very few persisted in their adherence to the Uniat. Unfortunately, however, the damage had been done; Kukush already had an officially recognized Uniat bishop, who had jurisdiction over the two main churches of the town - the Sveta Bogoroditsa and St George, and it was no longer possible to

 

 

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appoint an Exarchate bishop. The most that couid be done was to appoint bishop's representatives to manage Exarchate Church affairs in Kukush, and to the end of the century, a struggle was waged to wrest the churches and the schools from the hands of the Uniat minority.

 

This, then, was the environment into which Gotsé Delchev was born in the winter of 1872: Kukush, militantly Bulgarian, yet gradually slipping into ruin through the bankrupt policies of alien rulers.

 

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NOTES

 

1. Zhinzifov was born in Veles (now Titov Veles) in 1839. He was a noted Bulgarian teacher, poet and publicist.

 

2. See: Hristo Hristov, Agrarnite otnoshenia v Makedonia prez XXIV i nachaloto na XX v. 1964, pp. 69-72, for the Law on Land (April 21 1858).

 

3. Hristo Makedonsky. Zapiski. 1896 (Personal edition of the voivoda) pp. 8-15.

 

4. See the newspaper Maritsa, No. 24 October 17 1878.

 

5. According to Kuzman Shapkarev, Kukush consisted of some 1000-1200 houses, all inhabited by Bulgarians with the exception of 50-60, which belonged to Turks. See Chitalishté (published in Constantinople). Year I. Book 13. 1871, p. 408.

 

Hristo Andonov Poljanski cites Shapkarev in the following manner: 'According to Kuzman Shapkarev (1870) the town numbered 1000-1200 Macedonian (our italics - M.M.) houses, while only 50-60 were Turkish.' (See: Hristo Andonov Poljanski, Gotsé Delchev i negovoto vreme. (Gotsé Delchev, Vol I,) Skopje, 1972, p. 56.

 

Editing of this kind is, unfortunately, an all-too-common practice among present-day Yugoslav writers bent on convincing their readers, for political reasons, that the Slav population of Macedonia has always been a 'separate nation', in defiance of all evidence to the contrary.

 

6. A correspondent from Veles, writing about Kukush in Tsarigradski Vestnik No 320. May 25 1857, says: There the inhabitants are pure Bulgarian, but up till now, they have been writing Bulgarian words with Greek letters, moreover the day before yesterday we received a letter from the people there, asking us to send them a Bulgarian teacher, we could not grant their request.'

 

7. See Tsarigradski Vestnik, No 465. Jan. 9, 1860. A correspondent visiting Kukush at Christmas reports that the whole service was in Old Bulgarian.

 

8. Raiko Zhinzifov Publitsistika. I. Sofia 1964 p. 50 (From an article on the Brothers Miladinov first published in the Russian journal Den No. 46. Nov. 17, 1862).

 

9. Sovremennik. Book 10. 1860. The magazine was published by the Russian poet Nekrasov, with the co-operation of Chernishevsky.

 

10. Raiko Zhinzifov. Publitsistika. I. Sofia 1964, p. 52. The article was originally printed in the Russian journal Den No. 46, Nov. 17 1862.

 

11. Raiko Zhinzifov. Ibid., p. 54 The original is in Den No. 48, Dec. 1, 1862.

 

12. Ilarion Makariopolsky had, since the 1840's, represented the Bulgarian colony in Constantinople in its struggles against the Greek Patriarch, and had even been imprisoned by the latter. In 1849 the Bulgarians had managed to obtain a firman from the

 

 

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Porte allowing them to build a Bulgarian church in the Turkish capital, and in 1858, after a protracted and complicated struggle, the Patriarch had consented to the appointment of Ilarion as Bishop of the Church.

 

13. Kuzman Shapkarev. Materiali za Zhivotoopisanieto na bratya Miladinovi. Plovdiv 1884. p. 52.

 

14. Tsarigradski Vestnik. Year 12, No: 45, November 4 1861.

 

15. Makedonia. No (66) 40. Sept. 2 1867.

 

16. In 1859 Dimitŭr Miladinov had left Kukush. According to Kuzman Shapkarev, he lad been opposed in principle to the Uniat, even as a last resort. Shapkarev, who laught in Ohrid (1859-61) and Kukush (1865-1872, 1881-1882) married Miladinov's daughter, Elisaveta. See Chitalishté. Year I. book 13, 1871, p. 408.

 

17. Makedonia. No: 46, October 18 1869.

 

18. Pravo. Year 5. No. 7, April 11 1870.

 

19. Kuzman Shapkarev. Materiali... p. 29.