Organisation of Ottoman Bulgaria

The Ottomans reorganised the Bulgarian territories as the Beyerlik of Rumili, ruled by a Beylerbey at Sofia. This territory, which included Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, was divided into several sanjaks, each ruled by a Sanjakbey accountable to the Beylerbey. Significant part of the conquered land was parcelled out to the Sultan's followers, who held it as feudal fiefs (small timars, medium ziyamet and large hases) directly from him. That category of land could not be sold or inherited, but reverted to the Sultan when the fiefholder died. The rest of the lands were organized as private possessions of the Sultan or Ottoman nobility, called "mülk", and also as economic base for religious foundations, called "vakιf". Bulgarians gave multiple regularly paid taxes as a tithe ("yushur"), a capitation tax ("dzhizie"), a land tax ("ispench"), a levy on commerce and so on and also various group of irregularly collected taxes, products and corvees ("avariz").

The Ottomans did not normally require the Christians to become Muslims. Nevertheless, there were many cases of individual or mass forced islamization, especially in the Rhodopes. Non-Muslims did not serve in the Sultan's army. The exception to this was the "tribute of children," also known as the "devsirme," whereby every fifth young boy was taken to be trained as a warrior of the Empire. These boys went through harsh religios and military training that turned them into an elite corps subservient to the Sultan. They made up the corps of Janissaries (yenicheri or "new force"), an elite unit of the Ottoman army. Christians did not civil rights in the empire and received no protection for their life and property. The state policy of the Ottoman Empire at that time was to systematically terrorize the Christian population and to maintain control through fear. After the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans Bulgarian culture went into a long period of decline when much of its heritage was destoyed.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church

The Sultan regarded the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Constanstinople Patriarchate as the leader of the Christian peoples of his empire. The independent Bulgarian Patriarchate was suppressed, and the Patriarch of Constantinople given control of the Bulgarian Church. The autonomous Ochrid Archbishopric was abolished in 1767. This remained a source of discontent throughout the Ottoman period. Since few outside the church were literate, the dominance of the Greek clergy led to the decline of Bulgarian elite culture. There was not a single pure Bulgarian-language modern school in the country until 1835.






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