Vasil I. Levski, 1837 – 1873

February 18, 1873 – Bulgarian revolutionary leader Vasil I. Levski is executed by hanging in Sofia by the Ottoman authorities.

Levski is a national hero of Bulgaria. Dubbed the Apostle of Freedom, Levski ideologized and strategized a revolutionary movement to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. Founding the Internal Revolutionary Organization, Levski sought to foment a nationwide uprising through a network of secret regional committees.

Born in the Sub-Balkan town of Karlovo to middle class parents, Levski became an Orthodox monk before emigrating to join the two Bulgarian Legions in Serbia and other Bulgarian revolutionary groups. Abroad, he acquired the nickname Levski, “Lionlike”. After working as a teacher in Bulgarian lands, he propagated his views and developed the concept of his Bulgaria-based revolutionary organization, an innovative idea that superseded the foreign-based detachment strategy of the past. In Romania, Levski helped institute the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee, composed of Bulgarian expatriates. During his tours of Bulgaria, Levski established a wide network of insurrectionary committees. Ottoman authorities, however, captured him at an inn near Lovech and executed him by hanging in Sofia.

Levski looked beyond the act of liberation: he envisioned a “pure and sacred” Bulgarian republic of ethnic and religious equality. His concepts have been described as a struggle for human rights, inspired by the progressive liberalism of the French Revolution and 19th century Western European society. Levski is commemorated with monuments in Bulgaria and Serbia, and numerous national institutions bear his name. In 2007, he topped a nationwide television poll as the all-time greatest Bulgarian.

Bulgaria has issued many postage stamps honoring Levski throughout the years.  The one I share with you here today is Scott #2877, issued on February 10, 1983, which commemorates the 110th Anniversary of Levski’s death.

Vasil I. Levski - Bulgaria - 110th death anniversary

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