Introduction of Thrace
Region of SE Europe, in the SE tip of the Balkan Peninsula, consisting of NE Greece, S Bulgaria, and European Turkey. Its chief towns are Istanbul, Edirne, and Gallipoli. It has been a constantly shifting region throughout history. The Thracians originally held land as far W as the Adriatic Sea, but the Illyrians forced them to move eastward c. 1300 b.c. They lost further western territories in the fifth century b.c. to Macedon. During the Classical period Thrace failed to absorb Greek culture and its inhabitants were considered by the Greeks to be barbarians, especially by the Greeks of Byzantium, later Constantinople.
Thrace was exploited by the Greeks for its gold and silver, and it became a vassal of Persia from c. 510 to 479 b.c. The region was united under Sitalces, fought with Athens in the Peloponnesian War, but in the fourth century b.c. passed under Lysimachus and Macedon. A province under Rome, Thrace was a constant battleground following the barbarian invasions of the third century a.d., notably at Adrianople, now Edirne, in a.d. 378. It passed to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and was the scene of fighting between Bulgaria and Turkey in the Balkan Wars. After World War I Thrace was divided between Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria along frontiers that remain in force today.