Online Encyclopedia

SOIL

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 345 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SOIL,' the term generally applied to that part of the earth's ' This word comes through O. Fr. soil from a Late Latin usage of solea for soil or ground, which in classic Lat. meant the sole of the foot, also a sandal. This was duetoa confusion with solum, ground; whence Fr. sol. Both solea and solum are, of course, from the same root. To be distinguished from this word is " soil, to make dirty, to stain, defile. The origin is the O. Fr. soil or souil, the miry wallowing ground of a wild boar, whence the hunting phrase " to take soil," of a beast of the chase taking to water or marshy ground. The derivation is therefore from Lat. soillus, pertaining tq mausoleum contains the remains of Prince Alexander; there are monuments to the tsar Alexander II., to Russia, to the medical officers who fell in the war of 1877 and to the patriot Levsky. A public park has been laid out in the eastern suburbs. The city is well drained and possesses a good water supply; it is lighted by electricity and has an electric car system. It contains breweries, tanneries, sugar, tobacco, cloth, and silk factories, and exports skins, cloth, cocoons, cereals, attar of roses, dried fruit, &c. Sofia forms the centre of a railway system radiating to Constantinople (300 m.), Belgrade (206 m.) and central Europe, Varna, Rustchuk and the Danube, and Kiustendil near the Macedonian frontier. The climate is heaithy; owing to the elevated situation it is somewhat cold, and is liable to sudden diurnal and seasonal changes; the temperature in January sometimes falls to 40 F. below zero and in August rises to 100°. The population, of which more than two-thirds are Bulgarians, and about one-sixth Spanish Jews, was 20,501 in 1881, 30,428 in 1888, 46,593 in 1893 and 82,187 in 1907. History.—The colony of Serdica, founded here by the emperor Trajan, became a Roman provincial town of considerable importance in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., and was a favourite residence of Constantine the Great. Serdica was burnt by the Huns in A.D. 449; few traces remain of the Roman city, but more than one hundred types of its coins attest its importance. The town was taken by the Bulgarians under Krum in A.D. 809; the name Serdica was converted into Sredetz by the Slays, who associated it with sreda (middle), and the Slavonic form subsequently became the Byzantine Triaditza. The name Sofia, which came into use towards the end of the ,4th century is derived from the early medieval church of St Sophia, the massive ruins of which stand on an eminence to the east of the town. The church, which was converted into a mosque by the Turks, was partly destroyed by earthquakes in ,818 and 1858. The town successfully resisted the attacks of the emperor Basil II. in 987; between 1018 and 1186, under Byzantine rule, it served as a frontier fortress. During this period a number of prisoners of the Petcheneg tribe were settled in the neighbourhood, in all probability the ancestors of the Shop tribe which now inhabits the surrounding districts. In 1382 Sofia was captured by the Turks; in 1443 it was for a brief time occupied by the Hungarians under John Hunyady. Under Turkish rule the city was for nearly four centuries the residence of the beylerbey or governor-general of the whole Balkan Peninsula except Bosnia and the Morea. During this period the population increased and became mainly Turkish; in 1553 the towr, possessed eleven large and one hundred small mosques. In the latter half of the 15th century Sofia, owing to its situation at the junction of several trade routes, became an important centre of Ragusan commerce. During the Turco-Russian campaign of 1829 it was the headquarters of Mustafa Pasha of Skodra, and was occupied by the Russians for a few days. On the 4th of January 1878 a Russian army again entered Sofia after the passage of the'Balkans by Gourko; the bulk of the Turkish population had previously taken flight. Though less central than Philippopolis and less renowned in Bulgarian history than. Trnovo, Sofia as selected as the capital of the newly-created Bulgarian state in view of its strategical position, which commands the routes to Constantinople, Belgrade, Macedonia and the Danube. (J. D. B.)
End of Article: SOIL
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