A History of the First Bulgarian Empire

A History of the First Bulgarian Empire

A History of the First Bulgarian Empire

A History of the First Bulgarian Empire

Excerpt

In the Balkan Peninsula memories linger long. The centuries of Turkish rule have passed like a single night, and the previous ages have kept all the living passions of a yesterday. In a land where races have perpetually overlapped and where frontiers have been seldom natural and never permanently just, a spirit of rivalry and bitterness has inevitably permeated international politics and their records far back into the past. Inevitably, Balkan historians have succumbed to this spirit. All too sensible of the support that a kindly history can bring to their countries, they cannot restrain themselves from ensuring the kindliness, from painting history in a light that is favourable to them. It is natural enough, but a mistaken policy. Not only does it often inherently defeat its ends -- as when the Slav writers in unison pour contempt on the East Roman Empire, because it was chiefly Greek, quite forgetting that to belittle your enemies is the least effective way of magnifying yourself -- but also it has long since ceased to achieve its object abroad. In Western Europe, where national rivalries are less unendingly acute, and so learning has freed itself from patriotism, the words of Balkan historians no longer carry conviction.

It is a pity; for there are many passages in Balkan history interesting and important enough to deserve recording. But few have been recorded satisfactorily. In Eastern Europe there has been too much passion; while Western Europe has adopted the attitude that nothing of consequence happened in Eastern Europe till the growth of the so-called Eastern Question in the course of the eighteenth century. Thus the First Bulgarian Empire has remained a vague and ill-known period, whose very name falls as a . . .

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