Under the Jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople

After the capital Turnovo fell to the Ottoman Turks on 17 July 1393 Patriarch Euthymius was driven out of Tsarevets, where the patriarchal palace was located. Later he was interned in the Bachkovo monastery, where he died in April 1404. One year after the fall of Turnovo, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, taking advantage of the difficult situation, intervened directly in the administration of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. The Patriarch of Constantinople Antony IV (1389-90, 1391-7) and his Synod issued a document, a synodal decision in which they declared their interest in the vacated patriarchal throne. In actual fact, the decision authorized the Metropolitan of Mavrowallachia (Moldavia), Jeremiah, 'to move with the help of God to the holy Church of Turnovo and to be allowed to perform everything befitting a prelate freely and without restraint.' In 1395 Jeremiah was already in Turnovo. Judging by a letter of Patriarch Matthew I (1397-1410) to the Great Voivode of Moldavia Alexander the Good (r. 1400-32) in August 1401 Jeremiah was still in charge of the Turnovo diocese. We do not know who his successor was, but during the second decade of the fifteenth century (around 1416) the Patriarchate of Turnovo was completely subordinated to Constantinople. Thus the diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was brought under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Archbishopric of Ohrid and the Serbian Patriarchate of Ipek. The Patriarchate of Ipek and the Archbishopric of Ohrid also lost their relative independence in 1766 and 1767. In this way all Bulgarian lands were brought under the pastoral care of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Under the Ottomans the Bulgarian people were represented before the Sultan by the Patriarch of Constantinople and were regarded as part of the Rum millet (Greek people, i.e., the Christian population of the Ottoman Empire). During the first centuries of Ottoman rule this did not matter very much to the oppressed Bulgarians. Although most of the senior clerics were Greek, the Orthodox Church was a bulwark of Christianity against Islam and the only traditionally popular organization that could offer a measure of spiritual independence. The churches and monasteries were beacons of learning which, during the centuries of foreign domination, preserved and developed the Bulgarian language, literature and culture.

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