Stefan Stambolov
Stefan Nikolov Stambolov ( 31 January 1854 – 6 July 1895) was a Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n politician, who served as Prime Minister and regent. He is considered one of the most important and popular "Founders of Modern Bulgaria", and is sometimes referred to as "the Bulgarian Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...


Early years

Stambolov was born in Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province. Often referred to as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, attracting many tourists...

. His father took part in the "Velchova Zavera" plot against Turkish rule in 1835. His education started in his home town, but he later studied in the Seminary of Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

 in 1870-1872. He joined the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee
Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee
The Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee or BRCK was a Bulgarian revolutionary organisation founded in 1869 among the Bulgarian emigrant circles in Romania. The decisive influence for the establishment of the committee was exerted by the Svoboda newspaper which Lyuben Karavelov began to...

 (BRCC). After the death of BRCC founder Vassil Levski, Stambolov was chosen as his successor. He was the leader of the unsuccessful uprising in Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora is the sixth largest city in Bulgaria, and a nationally important economic center. Located in Southern Bulgaria, it is the administrative capital of the homonymous Stara Zagora Province...

 (1875) and the Turnovo revolutionary committee in the great uprising of April 1876.

Political career

Stambolov was involved in the political discussions as early as the time of the first Bulgarian parliament - the "Founding Assembly" of 1879. After 1880 he became the vice-chairman and later the chairman of the Narodno Subranie (the Bulgarian parliament). In 1885, he helped bring about the union of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia
Eastern Rumelia or Eastern Roumelia was an administratively autonomous province in the Ottoman Empire and Principality of Bulgaria from 1878 to 1908. It was under full Bulgarian control from 1885 on, when it willingly united with the tributary Principality of Bulgaria after a bloodless revolution...

. On August 20, 1886, officers aligned with Russia overthrew Prince Alexander
Alexander, Prince of Bulgaria
Alexander Joseph, Prince of Bulgaria GCB , known as Alexander of Battenberg, was the first prince of modern Bulgaria, reigning from 29 April 1879 to 7 September 1886.-Early life:...

 in a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

. Stambolov led a counter-coup on August 28 which removed the Russian-controlled provisional government, and assumed the position of regent.

However, Russian hostility barred the restoration of Alexander, who abdicated on September 8.


At the age of 32, Stambolov found himself in the highly-unusual position of being a minister of government, president, and regent for a missing monarch (a situation matched in its unusualness only, perhaps, by the election of former King Simeon II
Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Simeon Borisov of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Tsar Simeon II or Simeon II of Bulgaria is an important political and royal figure in Bulgaria...

 as prime minister of Bulgaria in 2001). Stambolov's style of governing during his regency was observed as being increasingly authoritarian. But this was, to some extent, a reaction to the grave difficulties of his peculiar position. Indeed, the regency has been described as marking the beginning of the tragic years of Stambolov's life.

According to a close friend, Stambolov was "almost inclined to resign the honors [of serving as regent], together with the dangers of his position, and retire to his beloved Turnovo." But he stayed on, recognizing that there was no other suitable candidate, and that if he did not lead, then Bulgaria's sovereignty would likely be lost.

Through Stambolov's efforts, a successor to Alexander was found in Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Ferdinand I of Bulgaria
Ferdinand , born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1918, first as knyaz and later as tsar...

, who was proclaimed Knyaz ("Ruling Prince") of autonomous Bulgaria on 7 July 1887, and crowned on 14 August 1887.

Prime minister

With Ferdinand's accession to the throne, Stambolov retired as regent, and became Prime Minister. He served for seven years (1887 - 1894).

Stambolov was a nationalist; as a politician, he strengthened the diplomacy of the country, its economy, and the general political power of the state.

He confronted Knyaz Ferdinand, and blocked his schemes to usurp additional authority. This caused him a lot of stress, and he became distant from his friends, and suspicious of his surroundings. The public came to dislike him, as he took increasingly drastic measures against his enemies. He survived an assassination attempt unharmed, but responded by having many people he suspected of taking part imprisoned and treated brutally.
By 1894 the prolonged stress from all sides had taken its toll, and Stambolov resigned, which was happily accepted by Ferdinand.


On July 3, 1895, Stambolov took a carriage to his home, along with his bodyguard and a friend. Midway, the carriage was stopped by an assassin who fired his revolver, thus startling the horses. Stambolov quickly exited, but was met by three more assassins, armed with knives. Stambolov, who carried a revolver, shot one of the attackers. The others wrestled him to the ground. They knew that Stambolov wore an armored vest, so they stabbed at his head, which he tried to protect with his hands. His bodyguard finally chased away the assailants.

Stambolov was hurried to his home with a fractured skull and mutilated hands. He is supposed to have said on his deathbed, "Bulgaria's people will forgive me everything. But they will not forgive that it was I who brought Ferdinand here." It is believed that Stambolov was well-aware that his days after his resignation were numbered, and that Ferdinand was likely the one who would orchestrate an assassination.

He died at about 2 AM on July 6.


Stambolov believed that the liberation of Bulgaria was an attempt by Czarist Russia to turn Bulgaria into its protectorate. His policy was characterized by the goal to preserve Bulgarian independence at all costs. During his leadership Bulgaria was transformed from an Ottoman province into a modern European state.

Stambolov launched a new course in Bulgarian foreign policy, independent of the interests of any great power. His main foreign policy objective was the unification of the Bulgarian nation into a nation-state consisting of all the territories of the Bulgarian Exarchate granted by the Sultan in 1870. Stambolov established close connections with the Sultan in order to enliven Bulgarian national spirit in Macedonia and to oppose Russian-backed Greek and Serbian propaganda. Due to Stambolov’s tactics, the Sultan recognized Bulgarians as the predominant peoples in Macedonia and gave a green light to the creation of strong church and cultural institutions.

Stambolov negotiated loans with western European countries to develop the economic and military strength of Bulgaria. In part, this was motivated by his desire to create a modern army which could secure all of the national territory.

His approach toward western Europe was one of diplomatic maneuvering. He understood the interests of the Austrian Empire in Macedonia and warned his diplomats accordingly. His domestic policy was distinguished by the defeat of terrorist groups sponsored by Russia, the strengthening of the rule of law, and rapid economic and educational growth, leading to progressive social and cultural change, and development of a modern army capable of protecting Bulgaria's independence.

Stambolov was aware that Bulgaria had to be politically, militarily, and economically strong to achieve national unification. He mapped out the political course which turned Bulgaria into a strong regional power, respected by the great powers of the day. However, Bulgaria’s regional leadership was short-lived. After Stambolov's death the independent course of his policy was abandoned.


Stambolov Crag
Stambolov Crag
Stambolov Crag rises to 820m in Friesland Ridge, Tangra Mountains, Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica with steep snow free western slopes...

 on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands
South Shetland Islands
The South Shetland Islands are a group of Antarctic islands, lying about north of the Antarctic Peninsula, with a total area of . By the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Islands' sovereignty is neither recognized nor disputed by the signatories and they are free for use by any signatory for...

, Antarctica is named for him.

Stambolov is portrayed on the obverse
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 of the Bulgarian 20 levs
Bulgarian lev
The lev is the currency of Bulgaria. It is divided in 100 stotinki . In archaic Bulgarian the word "lev" meant "lion".It is speculated that Bulgaria, as a member of the European Union will adopt the Euro in 2015 .- First lev, 1881–1952 :...

banknote, issued in 1999 and 2007.
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