BILIARSKY I., TSIBRANSKA-KOSTOVA M. Historical Memory and Orthodox Faith: Byzance Après Byzance in Sofia Under Ottoman Rule

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2021.6.25

Ivan Alexandrov Biliarsky

DSc (Doctor Scientiarum Historiae), Professor,

Institute of Historical Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,

Boulevard Shipchenski prohod, 52, Bl. 17, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8084-8858

Mariyana Petrova Tsibranska-Kostova

DSc, Professor,

Institute for Bulgarian Language, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences,

Boulevard Schipchenski prohod, 52, Bl. 17, 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5699-7503


Abstract. In our article we propose a case study on the character of the veneration of neomartyrs of Sofia in the 16th century and a review of the related literature. We try to argue that the aims of their veneration were religious and political, and that these aims were attained through the exaltation of the Christian faith and the creation and maintaining of a historical memory. The direction of the intended results, however, is not anti-Ottoman, but anti-Islamic; the veneration urged to consolidate the Orthodox Christian congregation. It is to the people of the Orthodox confession, not to the national (in this period mostly “ethnical”) community, that the veneration of the neomartyrs was addressed. The strengthening of the congregation could be achieved excellently through the martyr’s bearing witness (having in mind that “martyros” means “witness” in Greek); the martyr adds holiness to the place and sacralizes the space of the city, and finally of the whole political milieu. The witness is not only the creator of sacredness, he is also a keeper of the memory of the past. The martyr is a champion because he / she vanquishes the foes of God through his / her martyrdom. As a champion, he is a reminder of the glorious past; as a victor, he is a Defensor fidei in the present. This is a clear confirmation of God’s power under different historical circumstances. These ideas directed at the restoration, but only spiritual, of the Christian Empire through the Body of the Church. This explains the absence of any overt opposition against Ottoman power. Therefore, we find here, in Sofia, a conception of Byzance après Byzance of the same type as we find in Constantinople after the fall of the Empire, when the Ecumenical Church adopted part of the Empire’s heritage.

Key words: Christian Empire, Orthodox Christian community, veneration of neomartyrs, “martyros”, historical memory.

Citation. Biliarsky I., Tsibranska-Kostova M. Historical Memory and Orthodox Faith: Byzance Après Byzance in Sofia Under Ottoman Rule. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2021, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 339-351. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2021.6.25.

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Historical Memory and Orthodox Faith: Byzance Après Byzance in Sofia Under Ottoman Rule by Biliarsky I., Tsibranska-Kostova M. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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