Within the context of military conflicts in the Balkans, the founding of the Bulgarian Exarchate (1870) and its subsequent split with the Ecumenical Patriarchate (1872) marked the start of Bulgarian claims on Macedonia. These claims initially expressed themselves in the form of religious proselytizing designed to wean the rural population away from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
The Greek response was automatic and took the form of a widespread and, to a significant degree, successful education campaign.
With the founding of the autonomous principality of Bulgaria (1878) and the failure of the Greek uprising of that year, Bulgarian aspirations intensified and at the start of the 1890s led to the merging of two Bulgarian revolutionary committees. Despite their different approaches, their common aim was to broaden support for Bulgaria in Macedonia with more forceful means.
In 1895, for the first time, Bulgarian guerrilla groups became actively engaged in speeding up the induction of Macedonian villages into the camp of the Bulgarian Exarchate.