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Paisiy Hilendarski

Born probably in 1722. Followed his older brother Lavrentiy as amonk. Since 1745 in the monasteries of Athon. In 1762 completed his only work: 'The History..," which, in contrast to the medieval histories, promoted historicism and conciseness of the Bulgarian nation.
Paisiy followed directly or indirectly the work of his contemporaries: the Croat monk Andriya Kachich Mioshich, the Serbian Yovan Raich, the Chech Frantishek Palazky. Used as sources the historiographies of the Roman Cardinal Cesar Baronius and Mavro Orbini from Ragusa (Dubrovnik).

Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaiya


1

Mind you, readers and listeners, you Bulgarian people, who love and hold dear your kin and your Bulgarian fatherland and want to un-derstand and know what already is known about your Bulgarian stock and about your fathers, forefathers and tsars, patriarchs and saints, how they lived and what they did. It is necessary and useful for you to know what already is known about the deeds of your fathers, just as all other tribes and peoples know their kin and their tongue, they have their history and every literate man knows, relates and is proud of his kin and his tongue.

So I too wrote down for you in order what is already known about your kin and your tongue. Read it and get to know it, so that you will not be ridiculed and reproached by other tribes and other peoples. I have come to love the Bulgarian people and fatherland very much and it has cost me much labour to collect from different books and histories until I accumulated and brought together the history of the Bulgarian kin in this little book for your benefit and praise. I wrote it for you, who love your people and the Bulgarian fatherland and who wish to know about your kin and your tongue. Copy this little book of history and pay to those who know how to write to copy it for you and take good care that it does not disappear!

 

2

But there are those who do not like to know about their Bulgarian kin and turn to foreign culture and to foreign tongue and do not care for their Bulgarian tongue but learn how to read and speak Greek and feel ashamed to call themselves Bulgarians. O, you misshapen creature, bereft of reason! Why are you ashamed to call yourself Bulgarian and do not read and speak your own language? As though the Bulgarians have not had a kingdom and a state? For so many years they reigned and reaped glory and were famous all over the world and many a time they exacted tributes from powerful Romans and from wise Greeks. And emperors and kings gave them their royal daughters for wives in order to live in peace and love with the Bulgarian tsars. The Bulgarians were the most famous of all Slav peoples, they were the first to call themselves tsars, they were the first to have a patriarch, they were the first to become converted into the Christian faith and it was they who conquered the largest territory. Just as powerful and respected by all the Slav peoples were also those first Slav saints who came to shine in radiance descending from the Bulgarian people and speaking the Bulgarian language, as I have written all about it in this history. For this too the Bulgarians have tes-timony from many histories because everything about the Bulgarians is true, as I have said.

 

 

3

O, you unreasonable man, why are you ashamed of your race and why are you dragging after a foreign language? But, you would say, the Greeks are wiser and more cultivated, whereas the Bulgarians are simple-minded and stupid and have no refined words. That is why, you would say, it would be better if we side with them. But look here, you, who are bereft of reason, there are many peoples that are wiser and greater than the Greeks. Does any Greek forsake his tongue and his people like you, witless one, forsake them, gaining nothing from the Greek wisdom and refinement? Do not let yourself, Bulgarian, be deceived, know your people and language and acquire knowledge in your own tongue! I would rather have the Bulgarian simple-mind-edness and gentleness. The simple-minded Bulgarians welcome ev-eryone to their home and treat him, they give alms to those who come to beg of them. Whereas the wise and cultured (Greeks) never do such things, but take from the simple-minded and rob them so that they commit more sins than benefit of their wisdom and culture. Or may be you feel ashamed of your people and of your language before the learned and the merchants and the famed ones on this earth, because the Bulgarians are simple of mind and there are not many merchants and literate among them or such that are skilled and famous on this earth today because the majority of them are ordinary ploughmen, diggers, shepherds and simple artisans? I shall be brief in answering this. From Adam to David and to Joachim the Righteous One, to Joseph the Betrothed (to the Holy Virgin), whatever righteous and holy prophets and patriarchs there were, named great both on this earth and before God, no one had ever been a merchant or a very sly - and proud man like these slyboots whom you treat with respect and marvel at and are after their language and customs. All those pious forefathers were farmers and shepherds, rich in livestock and the fruits of the earth, of simple mind and gentle. And Christ Himself descended to earth and went to live in the home of the simple-minded and poor Joseph. You see how God loves the simple-minded and gentle shepherds and ploughmen more and how it was them that he first got to love and praise on this earth, yet you feel ashamed because the Bulgarians are simple-minded and unskilled, because they are shepherds and ploughmen, and you forsake your people and your language, praise the foreign language and are after foreign customs.

 

4

I saw many Bulgarians behaving like this, keen on the foreign lan-guage and custom, abusing their own. That is why I have written here about those who abuse their fathers and do not love their own people and language; but for those of you who want to know and to hear about your people and language I have written for you to know and remember that our Bulgarian kings, patriarchs and prelates had their annals and codices. For many years they reigned and ruled on earth and had royal chronicles and codices of the prelates, they had knowl-edge of everything and of the life-stories of many Bulgarian saints and of religious service. But at that time there were no Slav printing-shops and the people, owing to carelessness, did not copy books. Such books were to be found at very few places. And when the Turks sud-denly invaded the Bulgarian lands they showed no tolerance and put to fire churches, monasteries, palaces of tsars and prelates. At that time the people scared of the Turkish horrors, ran for their lives and it was in those hard times that the royal histories and the codicies of the Bulgarian patriarchs and prelates and the life-stories of many saints were destroyed. And today we do not possess the annals, relat-ing extensively about our people and about the Bulgarian tsars.

I read many and many books and spent much time searching diligently but could find nothing. In many manuscripts and printed histories there is hardly anything to be found, only very brief notes. A certain Mavrubir, a Latin, translated a short history about the Bulgar-ian tsars from the &reek but extremely brief-I could just find their names and who succeeded whom on the throne. That Mavrubir wrote as follows: "This is what the Greeks say, prompted by their envy and hatred for the Bulgarians. They did not describe the valiant conduct and the glorious deeds of the Bulgarian people and tsars but wrote in brief and just the opposite as it would best suit them so that they would not feel ashamed of the fact that the Bulgarians had defeated them many times and exacted taxes from them." From that Mavrubir and from many other histories it took me a long time to collect what was essential which I elaborated a little and compiled this brief his-tory. In spite of the fact that there are many books in which only short notes are to be found about the Bulgarians yet since everyone cannot have these books to read and keep them in his memory I reasoned it would be better to compile everything in one book.

5

POSTSCRIPT

I, Paissii, a priest-monk and deputy-abbot of the monastery of Khilen-dar, collected and wrote these simple Slavic words, translated from the simple Russian words, for the sake of the Bulgarians. Love and pity for my Bulgarian people were gnawing at me, because there is not a single book of history, narrating the glorious exploits of our people, saints and tsars from the olden times. Thus and many a time the Serbians and the Greeks rebuked me that we do not have our own history. I saw in my books and histories much written evidence about the Bulgarians. That is why I worked hard for two years in collecting information little by little from many history books, and I went even to the land of the Germans with this purpose in mind. There I found Mavrubir's history-book about the Serbians and the Bulgarians, in brief about the tsars, about the saints he has not written anything. He has been a Latin (Catholic), and did not respect the Bulgarian and Greek saints.... But about the Serbian saints he writes badly and hides many things, and about the Bulgarian saints he did not mention anything at all. Thus I ignored my headache from which I suffered a long time, as well as my stomach pains that tormented me all the time-all this I ignored because of the great fervent wish I had. And all the buried and forgotten things in the distant past I was with great efforts able to collect together-writing down words and sentences. I have never studied either grammar, or secular science. As a simple Bulgarian, simply I wrote it too. I did not try to arrange the words and put the letters properly in their place according to the grammar, I only tried to collect together all the information in this little history -book.

And I wrote it in the monastery of Khilendar (in Mount Athos), whose Abbot Lavrentii is my flesh and blood brother from the same mother, and older than me: he was then sixty years old, and I-forty. Then in the Khilendar there were great disturbances and discords among the brethren. Hence I could not stand this in Khilendar, and I left the monastery and went to the monastery of Izograph. Then I found more information and writings about the Bulgarians. I added them too to this little history and there I finished it for good of our Bulgarian people....

 


Last modified: November 23, 1997

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