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Foreign Consuls    EN

The consulates EN
The consuls EN
Selected consuls

Suknyaich, the Austrian consular agent in Burgas in the 1860s, was an Orthodox Christian, married to an Italian Catholic. Their son was baptized in the Catholic faith and was educated by the Capuchin priest named Giuseppe. Suknyaich was included in the Bulgarian- Greek church dispute at the time, expressing overt sympathies to support the Bulgarian cause. Authorized by the Russian Consulate in Varna, he favored the interests of Russian citizens in Burgas. Suknyaich launched the idea, supported by the Austrian Government, of laying a railway line from Burgas or Anhialo (presently named Pomorie) to Belgrade through Stara Zagora, Plovdiv, Sofia, Nis and Kragujevac, which should connect the Western Black Sea coast to Central Europe[1].

Joseph Bonnal was born in 1821 in Izmir, but later he moved to Burgas. He was known as the largest donor of the Catholic Church in Burgas at the time. Bonnal was both a trader and a clerk in the headlights company of Frenchman Michel Pasha - owner of the palace in Istanbul. Later he became Italian consul in Burgas[2]. For a short time on January and February 1886 he was “temporary chargé d’affaire” of the French vice-consulate in Burgas[3].

Léandre François René Le Gay (1833–1887)[4] was appointed as the first French vice consul in Varna with salary of 8 000 francs[5]. Before that he spent a very successful terms as consul in Sofia. The importance of Burgas as a maritime and commercial city assumed increased responsibilities and commitments to newly appointed vice consul. He received the status of a civil servant and a notary public, and specific powers in relation to maritime activities provided for in the Decree of October 22, 1854[6]. The daily round of Le Gay in the Black Sea city is not devoid of some, albeit small, fun and entertainment. With his family he visited the monastery on the island "St. Anastasia”. He owned mare and leisure he had practice riding (resulting that in July 1880 he received a slight injury)[7]. The French consuls in the 19th century (including Le Gay) with their presence, culture and manners were one of the main “transmissions” of European modernity in the Balkans, particularly among Bulgarians. After experiencing the horrors of the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878), the discomfort of the muddy streets of Sofia and the cold buildings, the arbitrariness of the Turkish soldiers[8], already after the war Léandre Le Gay decided to acquire more facilities in Burgas. In January 1879 he placed an order with the Parisian company “Lassalle et C-ie" a furnishing for the French consular residence in Burgas amounting to large-scale for this purpose amount of 5 724.90 francs. Among the furniture and vessels, as detailed on the invoice we can read ones that will surely impress and our contemporary: “table for the middle of the living room, style “Louis XVI”, from the black polished wood with intermediate step” for 220 francs, “12 folding chairs with seats of cane, decorated with black and gold lacquer” for 216 francs, armchairs, game table with green cover, oil lamp in the shape of a ball “Japanese imitation”; 9 Chinese bronze lamps, bedside tables, bathroom mirrors, large and small mirrors fireplace with gold frames, stoup for champagne, etc, etc.[9] We can imagine all this luxury in the post-liberation Burgas that numbered only about three thousand people. It was a typical oriental, seaport, and fishing town. Moreover, we can imagine the interior in the home of Le Gay through the eyes of citizens and to all those local Greeks, Bulgarians, and Turks, who in one way or another had to visit the French vice-consulate in Burgas[10]. Both in Sofia and Burgas Le Gay received high praise for his work from the local population. On December 5, 1882 his successor in Burgas François-Xavier Ducloux sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris “... a document issued by the municipality of this city [Burgas] and the awarding of my predecessor the title ”Honorary Citizen of Burgas”..."[11]. The City Council of Burgas decided: “... To give [Le Gay] the freedom of the city of Burgas that during his stay here [in Burgas] from February 1879 to May 1882 he didn’t cease to deserve total respect for local authorities..."[12]. It can be assumed that Le Gay was the first honorary citizen of Burgas.

The French vice-consul in Burgas Mathieu Jacques Comte d’Aldovrandi also left a deep imprint in the local memory. We know that it was his merit to supply urban municipality with modern pump steam boiler and the necessary accessories. Comte d’Aldovrandi procured the pump from the company “Les Batignolles” which built the port of Burgas. In gratitude and at the suggestion of Mayor Grigor Dyakov the street in the center of town until then named “77" was renamed "Comte Androvandi" – apparently adapted in Burgas version of the name under which it was remembered this French diplomat. A sign of gratitude to Mathieu Jacques Comte d’Aldovrandi was proclaiming him an "Honorary citizen of Burgas" made also a proposal from the same mayor[13].


[1] Карайотов, И., Ст. Райчевски, М. Иванов. История на Бургас. От древността до средата на XX в. Бургас, 2011, с. 114.

[2] Керемидчиев, Я. Градината на Йосиф Бонал в Бургас. – Известия на музеите от Югоизточна България, 18, (1995), 185–188.

[3] Русев, И. Когато Европа „дойде” в Бургас. Първите стъпки на европейското търговско присъствие и на модерността в черноморския град през XIX в. – Историкии. Т. IV. Научни изследвания в чест на проф. дин Иван Карайотов по случай неговата 70-годишнина. Университетско издателство „Епископ Константин Преславски” – Шумен, 2011, с. 343–353.

[4] See: Русев, И. Френският дипломат Леандър Льо Ге. – В: Просвета и промяна. Сборник в чест на чл.кор. ст.н.с. І ст. д.ист.н.Румяна Радкова и по случай 150-годишнината на Болградската гимназия. Институт за исторически изследвания при БАН. София, 2010, 481-494.

[5] AMAE, Série « Personnel », 1-re série N : 2498.

[6] AMAE, Série « Personnel », 1-re série N : 2498. Mars 11, 1879.

[7] AMAE, Série « Personnel », 1-re série N : 2498. July 29, 1880.

[8] Льо Ге, Л. Дипломатически доклади от София 1875–1877 г. Състав. Н. Нейкова, А. Млъчкова-Спасова, Е. Миладинова-Василева. Под ред. на проф. К. Шарова. София, 1997, 65, 195.

[9] AMAE, Série « Personnel », 1-re série N : 2498. Three letters from 1880–1881.

[10] Русев, И. Когато Европа „дойде” в Бургас. Първите стъпки на европейското търговско присъствие и на модерността в черноморския град през XIX в. – Историкии. Т. IV. Научни изследвания в чест на проф. дин Иван Карайотов по случай неговата 70-годишнина. Университетско издателство „Епископ Константин Преславски” – Шумен, 2011, с. 343–353.

[11] AMAE, Série « Personnel », 1-re série N : 2498. December 5, 1882.

[12] Димитрова, П. Създаване, организация и дейност на Бургаската община. – В: Бургас (1878-1912), Юбилеен сборник, Бургас, 1998, 51-52.

[13] Казакова, В. Носталгично за Бургас. Бургас, 2007, 100-101.