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Stratum plus. 2013. №6

I. F. Grek (Kishinev, Moldova)

“Black Bulgars”: Ethnical History and Historical Fate

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Pages: 307-332

The article is a study of the fate of the Turko-Bulgars living in Azov region after the dissolution of Great Bulgaria. Before the middle of 10th century they were preserving their ethnic and political identity within the Khazar kaganate and were known as Black Bulgars outside the kaganate. Later they were partially exterminated or assimilated by new waves of Turk nomads, such as Pechenegs, Oghuz Turks, Cuman people.
Another group of Black Bulgars went across the Danube and met the same Steppe people in the second half of 11th century. Adoption of Christianity and ethnic mixture led to the formation of a Turkic-speaking conglomerate which later became a component of the Medieval Bulgarian folk.
The Ottoman Turks have destroyed the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and set a regime incompatible with the previous ethnocultural processes. As a result, a part of the Turkic-speaking population of the Balkans lost its Christianity and ethnic appearance. The rest have preserved their faith and did not mix with the conquerors, despite of the linguistic affinity.
Ethnic and religious pressure did not stop the formation of the Turkic-speaking Orthodox community in Bulgarian lands. In 16th—17th centuries, the members of this community were called “Chitaki-raya” and in 18th century they acquired the name of the Gagauz.
In the Balkans, however, these names were not accepted by the Turkic-speaking Orthodox population. It was only after a larger part of this population emigrated on the left bank of the Danube and concentrated after 1812 in Budjak, that the “Gagauz” ethnonym went spread. Thus, the Black Bulgars also took part in the formation of the Gagauz ethnicity.

Keywords: Turko-Bulgars, Black Bulgars, Pechenegs, Oghuz Turks, Cuman people, Chitaki, Gagauz people, Slavic Bulgars, Ottoman Turks, Orthodoxy, Islam, settlers across the Danube, Bessarabian Bulgars and Gagauz

Information about author:

Ivan Grek
(Kishinev, Moldova). Doctor of history.
E-mail: [email protected]

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