Alexander Exarch

Years ago, I had a friend, a Serb, who wasn't particularly interested in history or politics. So once I was very surprised when he told me the following. The Bulgarians were bad because after the Liberation our rulers were German, and the Serbs were fine because they did not allow foreign dynasties to rule over them. Of course, I explained to him that these conclusions were too subjective and controversial.


Neither we were so bad at the time, nor were they so well, economically after the Liberation, even Bulgaria is slightly superior to Serbia. However, the observation is interesting: in Serbia the dynasties of the local chieftains Obrenovichi and Karadjordjevic are ruled, and at the same time Prince Alexander Batenberg and the Corburgs (Ferdinand, Boris and briefly Simeon II) rule us. As is known, after the Liberation of 1878 in the Principality of Bulgaria, the choice of a prince to ascend the Bulgarian throne was confirmed twice. And the Bulgarians stop both times on German princes - the first is Alexander Joseph von Battenberg and the second - Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria Saxe-Coburg.


Few of us, however, know that at the time when discussing who to sit on our throne, there is also the candidacy of a particularly deserving Bulgarian. It is about our great revivalist Alexander Exarch. He is the most serious native candidate for the throne. If Alexander Exarch had become a Bulgarian prince, Bulgaria would have followed the model of Serbia and Montenegro, where the princes are local champions. Instead, we take the example of Greece and Romania, where rulers of German descent are placed on the throne.


But anyway, although he does not become a prince, the Bulgarian Alexander Exarch deserves great respect for his entire activity in favor of the patriotic cause during the Renaissance. Because Alexander Exarch has been a politician and diplomat for more than 40. During all this time he has been fighting tirelessly for the enlightenment and well-being of the Bulgarian people. And when he twice appears as a candidate for the Bulgarian throne - none of his compatriots questioned that he was among the most deserving to rule Bulgaria.


Alexander Stoilov Beyoglu Exarch was born in 1810 in Stara Zagora. Descended from a wealthy family, he is the third son of a total of nine children. Very young, Alexander was sent to study with his uncle pop Atanas in Stanimaka (Asenovgrad). After two years he returns, and then his father Stoil escorts him to Edirne to study Greek grammar with the famous Daskal Gregory. In Edirne, Alexander Exarch witnessed the great abuse of the Turks against the local population. His beloved Uncle Anastas (his father's brother) was brought to chains in the town square, then brutally tortured and imprisoned. There is no fault, but it is slandered by a Turkish grocer. His relatives barely manage to redeem his life, and after months spent in prisons among other cages like him, he is finally saved. Little Alexander is going through this story very hard.


It is with great joy that Alexander welcomes the Russian troops of General Dibich-Zabalkansky, who conquer Edirne in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828 - 1829. Alexander Exarch leaves Edirne together with the retreating Russian soldiers. And his father sends him saying, "My son, Alexander! We want you to study, to become useful to yourself and your loved ones, to your country. As for the Russians, not only do you respect and love them, but worship them. They will break the head of our tyrant, they will set us free. May you become worthy to contribute to this cause. "


Alexander Exarch is following his father's covenant. For a short while he became a church chanter in Kazanlak. Then he goes on to continue his education abroad. First in Bucharest, and after 1836 in Paris. From 1839, he received a scholarship from the Ottoman government as a medical student in the French capital.


How did Alexander Exarch enter politics and what was his motivation for doing so?


He became a translator for Prof. Jerome-Adolf Blanky, who had been sent by the French government to report on the atrocities in Turkey at the suppression of the riots in Niško and Pirotsko. This cost the youngster a scholarship from the Ottoman government because of poor diplomatic relations between France and the empire at the time.


Why did Alexander Exarch take such action? During Blanki's mission in Western Bulgaria, in Paris, Greek diplomatic agent Ioannis Coletis tries to convince French society that the rebel Bulgarians are actually Greeks. And the revolts in Cretan, Nishko and Pirotsko of the 1841 were increasingly Greek revolts against Ottoman rule.


Alexander Exarch sacrifices his support from the Ottoman government so that the world can understand that the Ottoman authorities are behaving barbarically to their Bulgarians. It is the Bulgarians who are rebelling in the Bulgarian lands, not the Greeks, Serbs or any other. As Blanky writes of his translator, "He was certainly planning to carry out a patriotic and religious cause." After Blanky's mission ended, Alexander Exarch continued to try to attract France for the purposes of the Bulgarian Revival. His idea is for the French government to take over the expenses for Bulgarian students at its schools: “One such benefit will make the French name more famous than all your victories; it will remain forever dear to the heart of every Bulgarian. "


Alexander Exarch is in correspondence with the Count de Pontois, who promises that the French queen will also petition Prime Minister Gizo for the success of the case. After these initiatives became known, numerous letters were sent to A. Exarch from cities all over Bulgaria. Residents of Rousse, Turnovo, Sofia, Nis and others. insist that they send their children to study in France, "the most civilized country in Europe."


Alexander Exarch has been the main exponent of the "Bulgarian question" of the 40 years of the XIX century. Namely - what to do with the Bulgarians within the Ottoman Empire? It is obvious that one cannot go on old fashioned. He is among those revivalists who rely on enlightenment, not armed struggle. As a French graduate, he initially relied on the help of progressive France. Very soon the disappointment comes. France seeks to warm relations with the Ottoman Empire. This means that she sees the "Bulgarian issue" as an internal problem for Ottoman society. France decides that whatever is done must be coordinated in advance with the Ottoman government.


The only thing that remains of A. Exarch is to seek rapprochement with Russia, because no one else at that time was committed to the Bulgarian cause - to detach Bulgarians from Ottoman reality and to integrate them into European civilization. In vain in January 1843, Alexander Exarch wrote the famous memoir "Inscription for the sake of the Bulgarians", requesting the advocacy of the great powers for reform in the lands inhabited by Bulgarians. In 1845 he traveled to London to seek English support, and then to Vienna.


Only the Russian government is committed to providing large financial assistance for the education of the Bulgarians. Emperor Nicholas I orders the Russian ambassador to Constantinople, Titov, to seek financial support from Alexander Exarch. This happens in March 1847.


This is what the Bulgarian national revival uses for money. Creates and supports schools in Batak, Plovdiv, Pazardzhik, Stara Zagora, Panagyurishte, etc. - a total of 22 in number. Opens a printing house and commands translation into foreign languages ​​into Bulgarian. A. Exarch himself works on French-Bulgarian and Greek dictionaries for the needs of his native schools. During Belogradchik uprisingWhen 30 thousands of Bulgarians sought refuge in the Serbian principality expelled by the Bashibozuks, Alexander Exarch began writing a report ("The Bulgarians") about what happened to the Russian emperor.

Constantinople Gazette

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Of great importance for the Bulgarian Revival is the work of Alexander Exarch as editor-in-chief of the Constantinople newspaper. For the first time, the term "newspaper" is used in this print edition. For a while, the Constantinople newspaper is the only periodical in Bulgaria. It is the first time that the poems of Petko R. Slaveikov and Good Chintulov. Due to Alexander Exarch's long work in the field of Bulgarian education and his close contacts with Russia, he decided to put his candidacy for Bulgarian prince twice, twice. In March, 1878, through a memoir to Emperor Alexander II and two proclamations to his countrymen (To My Dear Countrymen and To the Bulgarians).


Among the candidates for the Bulgarian throne then there are two more Bulgarians - Emanuel Bogoridi, son of Stefan Bogoridi and Julian Pejacic. But undoubtedly Alexander Exarch is the most famous and deserved name among the native candidates. Following Alexander Battenberg's abdication, A. Exarch's new attempt to sit on the vacant throne follows. He again sought the help of the Russian Tsar - in a memoir to Alexander III of 2 August 1886. And this time his application failed. It is noteworthy that the native public does not look with a good eye on the Bulgarian ruler being local. For good or ill, outspoken preferences are a prince to be a foreigner.


Remarkable and prophetic are the words of Alexander Exarch in a memoir, in which he says with his own modesty his own merits for Bulgaria: “I will die pleased with the sweet illusion that I might as well have put a small stone in the first tenements of this great and new construction. which I will call the resurrection of the Bulgarian people. "


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