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Kingdom of Bulgaria, WW1 proposal

Last modified: 2006-06-24 by rob raeside
Keywords: bulgaria | ww1 | three seas |
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[Bulgaria: WW1 proposal] by Dan Dima
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Description of the Flag

Stevan K. Pavlowitch, in "A History of the Balkans 1804-1945"(I have it in its Romanian version: translation of a Addison Wesley Longman edition in 1999), mentions in passing -- as he is making a point about the Bulgarian imperial policy during WWI -- King Ferdinand's decision to replace the Bulgarian flag. The decision was apparently backed by the government, but the monarch couldn't gather the support of the population (in a mood of general hostility toward expansionism, maintains Pavlowitch). The information seems reliable, although I don't know how it could be checked.
This would have been the layout of such a flag (assuming it's given in its usual order):
    - black - standing for the Black Sea coast
    - white - the Aegean
    - blue -the Adriatic coast (Surprisingly, it makes sense! Imperialists in the Bulgarian government wouldn't have settled for Macedonia, and there was a long Balkan tradition of treating the Albanian nation-state as a stringent problem; in 1917, the Bulgarian ambassador in Berlin, D. Rizov, deploring the "independence experiment" in that country, was stressing that "it would be preferable for both the Albanians and peace in the peninsula, that Albania become a constituent of a neighbour Balkan state").
Using the ratio of the Bulgarian flag (altering the image Željko Heimer made of it), I made this attached image - without being sure of the shades of colour. The overall image is accurate "geographically" (NE, S, W) but I have my doubts about its relation to the colours. How come white stands for the Aegean? Didn't Albania get its name from the whiteness of its shores (much like Albion)? Shouldn't blue be associated with the Aegean? Could this flag actually be black-blue-white?
Is it also possible that the king wished to mark the exclusion of Russian-inspired symbols (as well as Slavic-brotherhood ones) given that Bulgaria was one of the Central Powers?
Dan Dima, 07 May 2005

Dan Dima is unsure why the Aegean Sea is related to the white colour. That is because in the Bulgarian language the Aegean sea is called "Bjalo More" (which means White Sea).
Alexander Alipiev, 22 August 2005

This refers of course to the -- very short -- period in history when Bulgaria had access to the Aegean (before WWI) and had hopes of incorporating Albania, thereby reaching the Adriatic.
Jan Mertens, 22 August 2005

Jan Mertens' assumption is partially correct. However, the recent Bulgaria never had three seas as borders; it is a reference to Bulgarian medieval history -- the most fabled Bulgarian kings had borders on three seas (Ivan Asen II & Simeon, for example). Since it is well known that Ferdinand I (Bulgarian king during WWI) was obsessed with restoring Byzantium, this flag is probably a declaration of his desire to take a place among the greatest of Bulgarian rulers.
Dragomir Penev, 30 January 2006

Bulgarian nationalists looked to three seas: The Black Sea, the Aegean, and Sea of Marmara -- NOT the Adriatic. (The Sea of Marmara is the salt water body between the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.) After the first Balkan War war of 1912-1913, Bulgarian forces controlled the north of the Sea of Marmara while the Ottomans retained only Gallipoli and the city of Constantinople on the European side. They lost access to the Sea of Marmara following the Second Balkan War, which began a few months later. The flag is probably a reaction to anti-Russian feeling during WWI -- the traditional Bulgarian flag is based on the Russian design, with the blue turned to green.
Stan Brin, 12 June 2006