Ogur and Oguz
Oguz and Ogur Dialects
Pritsak O. Ogur and Oguz Languages
Western Hun's Khan Dynasties
Western Hun's Khan Lineage
|Russian Version needs a translation||Bulgars|
Steven Runciman (1903 – 2000)
fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge
A history of the First Bulgarian Empire (670-1019)
G. Bell & Sons Ltd., London 1930, Camelot Press Limited London and Southampton
dedicated by gracious permission to Boris III, Tsar of the Bulgarians
|Book 1 (150-777 AD) ¤ Book 2 (777-889)¤ Book 3-1 (889-927)¤ Book 3-2 (927-1019)¤ Appendixes|
|Page numbers are shown at the end of the page in blue. Page breaks in continuous text are indicated by //. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author and not noted specially, are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers.|
Original sources for early Bulgarian history
The original sources for a history of the First Bulgarian Empire do not, on the whole, present any great problems, except for their paucity, which obliges us to remember that we have only a one-sided account of almost every event, and that we must therefore use them cautiously, ready to discount prejudice and ignorance wherever our judgment raises our suspicions. The main sources are provided by the writers, chroniclers, hagiographers, and letter-writers of Constantinople and the Empire, writing for the most part (and after the seventh century entirely) in Greek. Indeed, with the one important exception of the Bulgarian Princes’ List, which I discuss in Appendix II, we are absolutely dependent on them until the ninth century. For the pre-Balkan history of the Bulgars we have occasional references in the rich crop of histories written during or shortly after the reign of Justinian I, such as those of Procopius, Agathias, Menander, Malalas, &c. As regards Bulgarian history these need no comment; the other problems that they raise are admirably summarized in Bury’s Appendix I to the fourth volume of his edition of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.
From the middle of the seventh century onward till the ninth, we are
almost entirely reduced to two Greek histories, those written by the Patriarch Nicephorus
and Saint Theophanes, who both wrote in the early ninth century. For this period
both seem to have used the same source or sources, now lost to us. This is the more
unfortunate, in that both had the same strong anti-iconoclastic views.
Nicephorus ’s history ends in the year 769; it is a poor piece of work, clearly written with the aim of pleasing the populace; and it is valuable only because of the general dearth of contemporary histories. Theophanes is a much abler writer; though the later part of his Chronography, which extends to 813, is so colored by his anti-iconoclastic opinions as to leave out events that reflected credit on his opponents. The extent of his high-minded dishonesty during these last years is equaled by that of a very valuable fragment known as Scriptor Incertus de Leone Armenio,  a work of additional importance to students of Bulgarian history in that it deals largely with Krum’s later campaigns. Theophanes’ dating also is unsatisfactory; he employs a system of mentioning the Annus Mundi, the Indiction year, and the regnal year of the Emperor and the Caliph (earlier, that of the Persian King). As each year began on a different day, the results do not always coincide as well as they should. 
With the ninth century our information becomes fuller, as both Latin and native Bulgarian records begin to be of value. Setting them aside for the moment, we must notice the increased activity of the Greek chroniclers towards the end of the ninth and beginning of the tenth centuries, who treated of the ninth century. The oldest is George the Monk, who based his work on Theophanes, but continued it to 842; but his ecclesiastical interests make him tend to ignore foreign politics. But the main sources for the century are two groups of chronicles, both written in the middle of the tenth century. The one consists of the history of Genesius, which extends to 886 — an important but prejudiced work, bearing the obvious marks of official patronage — and the work known as the Continuation of Theophanes, Books i. to v., also written at the behest of the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetus, who himself contributed a chapter on his grandfather, Basil I; the other consists of the synoptic chroniclers, based on the chronicle of the mysterious Logothete, who wrote a work reaching down to 948.
1. An example of the necessity for corroborative evidence to the
Scriptor Incertus is given in Appendix VII.
This work is unpublished, but its Slavonic translation and the redactions of Leo Grammaticus and Theodosius of Melitene probably represent with fair accuracy its original form, and the Continuation of George the Monk is closely akin. Book vi. of the Continuation of Theophanes is, as far as the year 948, based on the Logothete, with a few current traditions added; from 948 to 961 it apparently depends on contemporary knowledge. 
After 961 the chroniclers again become fewer. For the reigns of Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces, and the early years of Basil II we have the valuable testimony of a contemporary, Leo Diaconus. Otherwise, for Samuel’s reign and Basil II’s Bulgarian war, we are dependent solely on the chronicle written by John Scylitzes in the middle of the eleventh century, dealing with the period 811 to 1079. He derived his material from all the previous chronicles that covered the period, but claimed to have seen through their prejudices — that is to say, he introduced fresh prejudices.
He also made use of one or more sources now lost to us. His work (as far as 1057) was copied out word for word (about the year 1100) by Cedrenus in an otherwise unimportant compilation, and is most easily accessible in that form. But there is also a MS of Scylitzes copied by the Bulgarian bishop, Michael of Devol, who inserted various addenda, such as names and dates, all of great importance to Bulgarian historians, of which we would otherwise be ignorant.  The remaining Greek chroniclers that cover the period of the Bulgarian Empire, epitomes such as Zonaras, Manasses, Glycas, &c, are of no great importance to us here.
1. During the ‘synoptic’ period I refer to Theophanes Continuatus
rather than the others, as its account is the fullest. But there are occasions when its story is
embroidered by legends that must be taken with caution — e.g. over the death of Symeon, where its details run
counter to the Logothete’s account. On such occasions I refer also to the older version.
Besides the chronicles, there are throughout the period various
Greek hagiographical biographies. By far the most important are the works of Theophylact, Greek Archbishop of Ochrida in the late eleventh century.
Theophylact wrote a work on the early Bulgarian martyrs, and edited the life of Saint
Clement, the famous apostle of Cyril and Methodius. For both of these he must have
drawn on local Bulgarian traditions, and possibly written sources; and they,
therefore, must rank as the first native examples of Bulgarian historical literature.
There are other purely Imperial works, which by casual references throw very valuable
sidelights on Bulgarian history — lives of Patriarchs such as the
Vita Nicephori by Ignatius, the
Vita Ignatii by Nicetas, or the very important anonymous
Vita Euthymii, or of local saints such as the Vita S.
Lucae Junioris, the Vita S. Niconis
Metanoeite, the Vita S. Mariae Novae, &c. The incidental nature of their evidence makes it all the
more reliable: though all the local biographers are sparing in their use of dates. Even
more important, though few in number, are the collections of letters written
by various Greek ecclesiastics and statesmen — the letters of the Patriarchs Photius
and Nicholas Mysticus (the latter of immense importance for Symeon’s career) and
Theophylact, of the Emperor Romanus Lecapenus, and, most interesting of all, the correspondence of the Imperial ambassador Leo the Magister, which
includes some of Symeon of Bulgaria’s replies. With regard to these letters, it must
all the while be remembered that their authors were engaged in politics and held strong
views and desired definite results; their evidence is therefore highly partial.
This is particularly true of the great Patriarchs. With these hagiographical writings must be
included the List of Bulgarian Archbishops (quoted in Ducange) and the ordinances of
Basil II about the Bulgarian Church after his conquest of the country.
Finally, there are various Greek treatises, of which the best known and most important are the works of the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetus, especially that strange compendium of history, ethnography, and diplomatic advice known as the De Administrando Imperio. Unfortunately and curiously, Constantine never deals directly with Bulgaria, a subject on which he must have had copious information. 
Almost as important, in that they deal with the obscure period of Samuel’s reign, are the two treatises joined together under the name of the Strategicon of Cecaumenus, one by Cecaumenus and the other by a relative of his, probably surnamed Niculitzes. Of the authors we know little, except that their relatives played considerable parts in Basil II’s Bulgarian wars. The treatises contain a number of general precepts, with frequent citations of historical examples and precedents.
There are also references to the Bulgarians in the curious Lexicon compiled in the tenth century by Suidas. 
The few Oriental sources must be taken in connection with the Greek. The Arab geographers took little interest in Balkan Bulgaria; and the Arab and Armenian chroniclers only repeat, very occasionally, items that trickled through to them from the Empire: though the Armenians took a flickering and unreliable interest in the adventures of Armenian soldiers in Basil II’s Bulgarian wars. Only two of the Oriental chroniclers were really interested in Balkan affairs. Eutychius, the Patriarch of Alexandria, as a Christian, kept watch on events at the Imperial Court.  His chronicle ends at the year 937, and he died in 940. His continuator, Yachya of Antioch, who died in 1040, is more important. When he wrote, Antioch was a Christian city under the Empire; he therefore was in touch with all the contemporary history of the Empire. He makes frequent and important references to Basil II’s Bulgarian wars; but their importance has, I think, been exaggerated. 
1. For Constantine Porphyrogennetus’s works, see Bury’s commentaries,
the treatise De Administrando Imperio, and The Ceremonial Book.
Our anxiety for additional evidence for this dark period should not blind us to the fact that Yachya is undeniably muddle-headed about Bulgarian affairs, e.g. on the relations between the Comitopuli and the sons of Peter, of which he obviously had no clear idea himself; his information probably came from hearsay and underwent alterations before it reached Antioch. Yachya’s great value lies in his accuracy on Basil’s eastern campaigns, his clear dating of which enables us to amend the dating of the Bulgarian campaigns. Latin sources are non-existent till the ninth century: except for those early Imperial historians — e.g. Ennodius or the Goth Jordanes — who occasionally mention the pre-Balkan Bulgars. In the ninth century the westward expansion of Bulgaria resulted in connections with the Western Empire.
The Carolingian chroniclers begin to make simple, but well-dated, references to Bulgarian wars and embassies. After the coming of the Hungarians at the end of the century these references practically cease. However, the conversion of Bulgaria and Boris’s ecclesiastical policy brought the country into close relations with Rome, and for a while Papal correspondence lights up Bulgarian history. Most important among these is the long letter written by Nicholas I to answer Boris’s questions as to the desirability of various Bulgarian habits and customs. At the same time, Bulgarian affairs are recorded in the official lives of the Popes.  After Boris reverted to the Eastern Church these Papal sources soon cease, but occasional mention is still made of the Bulgarians in Italian chroniclers, e.g. Lupus Protospatharius, who wrote at the Imperial city of Bari, and in Venetian and Dalmatian writers, especially when, in Samuel’s reign, Bulgarian influences extended up the Adriatic, and later, retrospectively, by the first Hungarian historians. Besides these chroniclers and ecclesiastical writers, there is one Latin author who, from his personal experience of politics in the East, deserves special mention, Liudprand, Bishop of Cremona, whose relatives and who himself went often on embassies to Constantinople.
1. Information on the Bogomils is given fitfully in various of the
later Latin authors who wrote on the Albigenses; but they lie somewhat outside of our scope.
Liudprand was a gossipy and unreliable historian with a taste for sensational rumors; but he was a contemporary, he liked vivid details, and, until his second embassy, he was interested and unprejudiced. He therefore ranks among the most important authorities.
The Slavonic sources are few, but most of them are of great importance. I deal with the Princes’ List below; apart from it we have no Slavonic evidence on Bulgarian history till the Conversion. The literature of the Conversion of Moravia, the lives of Cyril and of Methodius, touch on Bulgarian affairs, and are the beginnings of a stream of Slavonic hagiographical writings, all of considerable importance. For the First Empire I would cite particularly the Life of Saint Nahum, and, to a less degree, The Miracles of Saint George. The birth of Bulgarian literature naturally introduces a valuable new element, though most of the works were merely translations from the Greek.  But prefaces and epilogues supply, not only an occasional date, but also a picture of the civilization at the time; there are also original works of great significance, such as Khrabr’s and Kozma’s. I have dealt with them more fully above (p. 139). In addition to these sources there is the important Russian (i.e. Rus) chronicle known, certainly wrongly, as The Chronicle of Nestor (Tale of Bygone Years). It is derived partly from a Bulgarian translation of George the Monk and his continuator, partly from various Greek and Slavonic religious writings, partly from oral information and native Russian (i.e. Rus) records. 
Where it touches on Bulgarian history its value is obvious; but it also requires notice with regard to its dating, which I discuss in connection with the Princes’ List.
The native writings of the Bogomils, though for the most part they belong to a later date, are important for the light that they throw on the political situation of the sect.
1. These Slavonic hagiographical works have been carefully edited by
various Slavonic savants, and any problems that they present are there discussed.
Besides the literary sources, there are various archaeological sources. By these I mean the excavations that have been undertaken at various important old Bulgarian sites. Those at Preslav-on-the-Danube have produced little results, but at Pliska the work has thrown great light on the civilization of the ninth-century Khans. The work at Great Preslav has not yet produced results of the value that had been hoped. I also include in these sources the inscriptions written in crude Greek by which the ninth-century Khans recorded on columns or stones various events of importance. The significance of these sources is obvious.  It is always possible that new excavations and the discovery of more inscriptions may necessitate considerable emendations in our present knowledge of early Bulgarian history.
1. The Pliska excavations and most of these inscriptions have been fully recorded in the volume Aboba-Pliska, compiled by MM. Uspenski and Shkorpil.
The Bulgarian Princes’ List is a document of such importance to early
Bulgarian history that it demands separate notice. It exists in two practically
identical manuscripts, one at Leningrad, one at Moscow, written in old Slavonic,
and contains a list of the Bulgarian rulers from Avitokhol to Umor, with dates; but
its great interest lies in that the entry clearly indicating the date of each
accession is in an unknown language, which must be old Bulgar.
Translated into English, the List runs as follows:
‘Avitokhol lived 300 years, his race Dulo, and his years
These 5 princes held their rule, with shorn heads, on the other side of the Danube for 515 years; and after, there came Prince Isperikh to this side of the Danube where they are now.
Isperikh, prince, 60 years and 1 year, his race Dulo, his years her
There is one obvious emendation to be made; to make the five first princes’ reigns add up to 515 we must alter the length of Irnik’s into 150 years.  But nothing else can be done until we discover the significance of the Bulgar words. As they stand, there is no means of finding out their meaning: though the Bulgarian, Tudor Doksov, writing early in the tenth century, apparently used the same system (Doks in Bulgarian Türkic stands for boar, like in the “unknown” dokhs tvirem = Boar 9th month, pointing to Tudor's Türkic origin, hence the native form of dating. In Slavic his name would be Gligan, Dzik < Tr. Doks, Vepar, Kanets, Habaril < Tr. Kaban, Chernas, Svinya, Kaban < Tr. Kaban, Prashich, etc., with the Slavic possessive suffix -ov). But, though a few scholars  attempted to bring Turkish and Mongol philology to bear on the question, they could evolve no definite equation between this dating and any known dating. It was not till some thirty years ago, when Russian (i.e. Rus) excavators discovered the Chatalar inscription, that a point of contact was found; Omortag’s foundation of Preslav was dated in the 15th Indiction (i.e. September 821-September 822), or the Bulgarian date σιγορελεμ, shegor alem (Shegor alem = Bull 1st, shegor is most widespread term for cow among 35+ Türkic languages, one must belong to a blind and deaf contingent of scholars to miss that; In Türkic languages, “alem” is not a number, but an adjective with a meaning of “starting, initial, breakthrough” and the like, corresponding to the calendar March).
1. From the photographs of both the MSS. I read here ‘εί’ which
must be intended for 15; but Bury, Marquart, and Mikkola all take it to be 5.
It would take too long to give a detailed account of the results that savants have evolved from this additional evidence. I shall merely deal generally with the chief investigators and state which I follow. Bury was the first serious investigator. In 1910 he published a clue to the Bulgar words,  which, he declared, fitted all known facts, though he emended the text with regard to the later princes, to reconcile it better with the data of the Greek chroniclers. His theory demanded a cycle of 60 lunar years — a cycle not unfamilar among Oriental tribes — the first series of figures — e.g. dilom — represented the units, the second the decades. He claimed for this system that it was free from the dangerous trap of linguistic similarities.
Unfortunately the dates that he thus evolved upset known history, as Marquart pointed out.  In particular, the Bulgars had to cross the Danube 20 years earlier.
Marquart’s criticisms were damaging, but not constructive. However, in 1914, Professor Mikkola of Helsingfors (Helsinki; during 1809—1917 Finland was a Russian colony) fell back on to the help of philology, and evolved a key,  which provided a twelve-year cycle, in which each year was given the name of some animal — the first Bulgar word being therefore a name, not a number — a suggestion that had already been tentatively put forward by Petrovski. Analogies with Turkish and Cuman words (e.g. dvansh = Turkish davšan, a hare; tokh = Cuman taok, a hen) and the order of the years in their cycles enabled Mikkola to translate these Bulgar names and fix their order in the cycle. The second Bulgar words he took to be the ordinal numbers of the months, and, on analogous linguistic comparisons, he arrived at an order for them.
1. In the Byzantinische Zeitschrift, vol. xix., pp. 127 ff.
Mikkola’s philological arguments are convincing and have now generally been accepted. But his dates do not fit with the dates known from our Greek sources, particularly with regard to the Khans living in the time of Copronymus. To produce better results, Mikkola made one or two later emendations, but ineffectively.  The matter remained unsatisfactory till Professor Zlatarski set to work on it.
Zlatarski, who had first accepted a modified form of Bury’s theory,  now  followed Mikkola’s first key: i.e. somor = rat, the 1st year of the cycle, shegor = ox, the 2nd: beri = wolf, the 3rd; dvansh = hare, the 4th; dilom = snake, the 6th; tokh = hen, the 10th; etkh = dog, the 11th; dokhs = pig, the 12th. The months were alem, 1st; vechem, 2nd; tutom, 4th; altom, 6th; ekhtem, 8th; tvirem , 9th. These words involve one or two alterations in the text, all very plausible, e.g. tekuchitem is shortened to etkh. Tudor Doksov’s bekhti is taken to be the 5th month. But Zlatarski has two important emendations to make to Mikkola’s and previous theories. First, he reverts to a system of lunar years; secondly, he begins a new era in AD 680, when the Bulgars established themselves south of the Danube.
It would take too long to discuss his arguments in detail. I can only say here that they seem to me to be sound in themselves and justified by their results. Till AD 680 he accepts an era of cycles beginning at the year of the Incarnation: e.g. Avitokhol began to reign in the lunar year AD 150, which is the 6th year of a cycle.
1. Idem, Die
Chronologie der Turkischen Donaubulgaren, p. 11.
From John of Nikiou we can place Kubrat’s (Kurbat) death about 642, i.e. 662 lunar. Therefore Bezmer ended in 665 lunar; and, if we subtract 515, for the length of the 5 reigns, we reach the year 150 lunar. The coincidence of the first year of a cycle with the birth of Christ seems to me arbitrary and may be quite fortuitous; though it is curious that AD 679 solar (the year of the Invasion) = AD 700 lunar — a mystic number that would certainly attract the attention of a Greek; and Zlatarski has shown convincingly that the List must have been written first in Greek, probably soon after Umor’s death, and so almost certainly by a Greek (On the contrary, all indications are that the manuscripts are translations from engraving in Türkic Bulgarian, likely in runiform alphabet). Zlatarski also points out that the lengths of the reigns are calculated, not accurately, but from the cyclic years in which the accessions and deaths occurred. A difficulty arises over Isperikh’s accession. If Bezmer reigned 3 years with Isperikh as his successor, Isperikh’s reign would begin, not in the year beri , but in the 5th year. Zlatarski solves it by identifying Bezmer with Baian (Isperikh is beyond question Asperuch), and by making Isperikh break off from Bezmer 2 years before Bezmer’s death. This must be the approximate solution, though personally I prefer to keep Bezmer and Baian separate. Baian is a good Bulgar name, and is not very similar to Bezmer; moreover, the chronology seems to me to demand a generation between Kubrat (Kurbat) and Asperuch (After Kurbat reigned his younger brother Shambat).
With the year 680 a new cycle begins. Here Zlatarski works back from the date of Telets’s succession, which we know from Theophanes to have been in AD 761 — 2. Our interpretation of the List places it in November, AD 761. The first difficulty that arises is that, according to the List, the period between the Invasion and Telets’s succession is 23  + 21 + 28 + 15 + 17 + 7 = in lunar years, which is far too many. We must, therefore, abandon as inaccurate some of the stated lengths of reigns (Or abandon the erroneous proviso of lunar years).
Moreover, as the List’s lengths contradict the List’s dates, as we (erroneously) interpret them, it seems only reasonable to amend the lengths where they disagree with the dates.
Measuring the years by the List’s system, Zlatarski reduces Tervel ’s reign to 17 years, the unknown’s to 6: Sevar’s is raised to 16, Kormisosh’s is unaltered, Vinekh’s reduced to 6. This adds up to 85 lunar years, i.e. about 82 solar years — 679 — 761.
After Telets, Zlatarski inserts the 2 years of Sabin, of the existence of which at that point we are informed by the Greeks; this makes Umor’s year dilom, as it is in the List. Without the insertion of Sabin’s reign it would be dvansh.
1. Theophanes, pp. 667-8.
Zlatarski’s final results are, therefore, as follows:
These results cannot naturally claim absolute certainty; but the arguments with which Zlatarski supports them seem to me to carry conviction.
Zlatarski goes on to show that Tudor Doksov and his contemporaries also calculated their otherwise inexplicable dates by means of the Bulgarian era. Placing the Creation in the year 5505 BC, they began the Bulgarian era at A.M. 6185; but for their dates after that they used lunar years. Thus the Conversion of Bulgaria is dated in both A.M. 6376 and 6377, but Tudor Doksov calls the year on Etkh bekhti. Now, 6376 – 6185 = 191, which would give the 11th year of a 12-year cycle. Moreover, as Zlatarski’s arithmetic shows, the 5th month of the lunar year 191 = the solar year 184.62 to 184.71, which equals September 865.
1. The months are naturally approximate, as lunar months do not
coincide with solar.
Zlatarski also attempts to show that the Russian (i.e. Rus) chronicler known as ‘Nestor’ dates Imperial events by the same system. It is inherently probable, in that ‘Nestor’ derived his information on the Empire from Bulgarian translations. But while Zlatarski makes clear the interesting fact the ‘Nestor’ was using here a system of lunar years, I do not think that it is possible to credit ‘Nestor’ with definitely taking over the system. Textual emendations are necessary to make several of the instances fit. I think that ‘Nestor’ was unaware of the intricacies of Bulgarian chronology, and simply was muddled. As evidence his dates are of little value (Unless misconceived notions are dropped).
There is one more point that merits elucidation. 515, the number of years that the five first Khans, Avitokhol to Bezmer, are said to have reigned, has always been taken simply to represent the traditional time spent by the Bulgars on the Steppes before Asperuch’s first migration. But it is highly unlikely that they remained in one place for roughly that period. The number 515 has another significance. According to the chronological system of Africanus, commonly used at Constantinople, AD 680, the first year of the Bulgarian era = A.M. 6180. But 6180 years represents 515 cycles of 12 years. A Greek, aware of the Bulgars’ system of 12-year cycles, but unaware of their use of a lunar year, might well inform the Bulgars that 515 cycles had passed before they crossed the Danube. The 515 cycles became corrupted into 515 years, which, again, for the sake of greater realism, were assigned to the five Bulgar Khans whose names were known; and the first two Khans received the wellrounded, but lengthy reigns of 300 and 150 years respectively, so that the number might be built up: though, as I show below, in the case of Irnik’s accession there was historical justification.
This emphasizes once more the great difficulty of the List, a difficulty that its every interpreter must bear in mind. It was almost certainly written for the Bulgars by Greek slaves, and combines an Oriental system of dating with ideas based by these ignorant Greeks on superstition /279/ and an occasional coincidence. Thus no one simple theory of interpretation can suffice, and, for that reason alone, Bury’s gallant mental exercise was doomed to failure. 
1. In the Godishnik of the National Museum of Sofia, 1922–5, Feher
has made a profound study of the Greek evidence relevant to the dating of the List. But his results do
not, I think, seriously demand an alteration in the dating suggested above.
It is impossible not to be struck by the resemblance of the name Irnik, the second prince in the List, with Ernach or Ernac, the youngest and favorite son of Attila. It is, however, always a dangerous pastime to identify persons whose names chance to be similar, particularly among semi-barbarian tribes, where very often several distinct names are derived from one common root; though, on the other hand, it is extremely seldom that two distinct persons bear the same name, as happens in more civilized society (Self-admiration is nice, but a bit of reality would not hurt the genuine image of civilization. In modern, patently non-semi-barbaric, and quite formalized literate world, as multi-ethnic as the Bulgarian society was, London for example is called Londyor, Londra, Londyn, Lundun, Londen, etc., Moskva is called Moscow etc., amazingly close to its original Türkic name Moskha = Cow's [creek]).
Professor Zlatarski regards it as being wrong and pointless to seek for this identification.  It certainly must be conceded that we know very little of Ernach’s career after Attila’s death (AD 453). Priscus merely tells us that he, with his brother Dengisich, ruled over a remnant of Attila’s empire in Little Scythia (the modern Bessarabia) (Incidently called Atilkuzu < Atil kije = Father's country people, or Atile/Father's country + people), whence they used to raid the Empire; and in the course of one of these raids Dengisich was slain.  Zlatarski points out that, (i.) according to the List, Irnik began to reign in 437, not 453, (ii.) the Balkan Bulgarians descend from an eastern branch, the Utigurs, who lived to the east of the Don, (iii.) if Ernach is Irnik, both he and Attila must have belonged to the house of Dulo, whereas, actually, we never hear the name mentioned in connection with them (All three Zlatarski's premises are false).
2. Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 1, pp. 40–2.
Zlatarski’s (false) points are all indisputable, but they do not seem to me to provide effective arguments, (i.) and (iii.) indeed verge on the absurd, (i.) Where a prince is assigned a reign of 150 years, it is surely a little too credulous to assume that the date of his accession must be accurate. A mistake years is, under the circumstances, quite venial, (iii.) There is no reason why we should know Attila’s surname. Not only do the surnames of barbarous families frequently change in the course of generations, but it seems to me that the argument would only be conclusive if we were definitely informed that Attila did not belong to the house of Dulo. (ii.) This is a stronger argument; I certainly agree that Kubrat’s (Kurbat) kingdom had the Utigurs as its nucleus. But here I think the Onogunduri come in. They were the remnant of Attila’s empire which Ernach and his family preserved; and, under the stress of Avar rule, they either were forcibly moved eastward or migrated themselves in an attempt to escape beyond the Avar frontier. Probably it was one of their princes that headed the Bulgar revolt against the Avars, and thus acquired the command of the united Bulgar kingdom. The seat of the kingdom would naturally be in Utigur territory, as being the part of the kingdom freest from Avar attack. This theory seems to me not only to meet Zlatarski’s argument, but also to explain the prominence of the name Onogunduri, which cannot be a composite name or a misnomer, but must represent a definite tribe (A little knowledge on traditional and well-described organization of the Türkic states would go a long way to dispel this mumbling: Western (Right) Wing Köturgur > Cuturgur, Kutriguri, etc. and Center Wing Otragur > Uturgur, Utiguri, etc. or Eastern (Left) Wing Utragur > Uturgur, Utiguri, etc. was a traditional tri-partite organization of the Türkic states. Armenians called the Kayi tribe Highlandurs, it is the same source and distortion that supplied the word Onogunduri). 
Under these circumstances, especially considering the remarkable similarity of the names, it is surely unnecessarily hypercritical to refuse to identify Irnik with Ernach, and not to trace the Bulgar royal line from Attila.
The question now arises whether Attila should be identified with Avitokhol. If Ernach is Irnik, this second identification is not very important.
1. See above, p. 15–6.
Personally, I am suspicious; I regard Avitokhol, like Attila, as an elaborated form of Awit, the Turkish for ancestor, which received new meaning when Bible stories reached the Steppes, and the Turks and Khazars and Huns decided to trace their descent from Japheth.  (Incidentally Hungarian writers used to elaborate this descent, placing thirty-four generations between Japheth and Attila. ) (Huns never “decided to trace their descent from Japheth”, that was the Judaic Khazar interpretation 500 years later) The resultant similarity of the name with Attila’s may well have fixed it firmer in the minds of the Bulgars; but actually I believe that Avitokhol was a distant ancestor, the first founder of the race.
We must remember that Attila looms largely in our history because his career was chiefly directed towards conquest in the West. Ernach, whose government was definitely Eastern, may even have indulged in Eastern conquests of which we know nothing, and, anyhow, might well figure more largely than Attila in Eastern tradition.
1. See above, p. 12. Attila is probably a diminutive of Awit; Okhol
certainly = oghul, a son (Moscow and Uvarov manuscripts clearly spell Atilla
Khan with capital X = Kh and hard letter ú at the end : Àòèëëà Õàíú = Atilla Khan, no
speculation or falsification is needed, thank you)
Christianity among the Slavs before the ninth century
Byzantium has often been blamed by ecclesiastical writers for waiting
till the ninth century to introduce the blessings of Christianity to the Balkan Slavs.
The attack is unjustified. During the late sixth and seventh centuries the waves of
Avar, Slavonic, and Bulgar invasion prevented more than fitful missionary enterprise,
while during the eighth and early ninth centuries the great Iconoclastic controversy
at home ruled out the possibility of a vigorous ecclesiastical policy abroad.
Consequently, with one great exception, Christianity was only spread among the Balkan Slavs by the local influence of sees that
survived the storms.
The names of these sees can be found in the semiofficial notitiae, the lists drawn up by Epiphanius (in the seventh century), Basil (in the early ninth century), the notitia published by de Boor (ninth century), and that of Leo the Wise (early tenth century), and in the lists of bishops present at the various Councils. These lists have been ably tabulated by Dvornik.  We must remember, however, that while the notitiae are fairly reliable — after making due allowances for carelessness and copyists’ errors — the failure of a see to be represented at a Council does not necessarily mean that the see no longer existed. An investigation of this evidence shows roughly that round the coasts of the Balkan peninsula the Christian cities lived an uninterrupted life, but, except on the Aegean coast, there was hardly any Christian hinterland. On the Black Sea coast the cities south of Mesembria appear on every list; to the north, Odessus (Varna) apparently lasted till the early ninth century, when no doubt it was finally occupied by the Bulgars; farther inland, the last see of the old Moesian provinces, Marcianopolis, lasted only into the seventh century, and then was presumably destroyed by the Bulgars. Farther south, Adrianople remained a constant centre of Christianity, and Philippopolis also, until its annexation by the Bulgars in the ninth century. Sardica, however, though certainly occupied by the Empire till the ninth century, is not mentioned; probably it was merely a garrison city without much religious life. Between Rhodope and the sea, Christianity lived on; in Macedonia, which was more exposed to invasions, only the bigger towns near to Thessalonica survived. In the Greek hinterland the Slav tribes remained pagan until they were brought under definite political control by the Empire in the ninth century. On the whole, all that we can say is that, where the Slavs were under Imperial rule, the local bishoprics spread Christianity among them; but over the frontiers the bishoprics were extinguished, and there was no missionary enterprise save by a few isolated Christian captives at heathen Courts, such as (Tengrian)Omortag’s slave, Cinamon.
1. Dvornik, Les
Slaves, Byzance et Rome, pp. 60–99.
There is, however, one exception. In the De Administrando Imperio (pp. 148–9, 153) Constantine Porphyrogennetus tells us that the Emperor Heraclius (610–41) sent for clergy from Rome to baptize the Croatians and Serbs: which was successfully achieved. The story has been doubted ; but it is perfectly plausible. Heraclius was for much of his reign on excellent terms with the Papacy, and Illyricum was still then a Roman ecclesiastical province. Moreover, he was a vigorous ruler, who clearly would wish to deal with the Slavonic problem. Constantine connects the Conversion with Heraclius’s political dealings with the Slavs — his recognition of their occupation of the country on condition of their recognition of his suzerainty.
Constantine is almost certainly telling the truth; but he omitted to say that Heraclius’s success was extremely ephemeral. In his previous chapter (written later) he shows (p. 145) the Croatians asking for priests from Rome in the ninth century: while the Serbs were certainly not a fully Christian nation till the days of Cyril and Methodius. It is most reasonable to assume that Heraclius’s great missionary enterprise did, in fact, exist, but achieved nothing lasting; and certainly it cannot have had any effect at all in the Balkan peninsula to the east of Serbia.
Thus Christianity among the Balkan Slavs before the ninth century was almost certainly limited to those Slavs that were definitely under Imperial control, save round the frontiers, where the Greek (and, in the north-west, the Latin Dalmatian) cities spread their influence, and save the individual efforts of a few captive Christian slaves. Since Heraclius’s day the state of the Empire, and indeed of all Christendom, had not been such as to permit of any more comprehensive evangelization of the Balkans.
1. Jirecek, Geschichte der Serben, i., p. 104.
A little light is thrown on to the administration of the early Bulgar Empire by our knowledge of the names of several Bulgar titles; though it is impossible to draw many conclusions from them, as it is difficult to tell which titles represent offices and which mere ornamental dignities.
The ruler in all his inscriptions is the Khan or the Sublime Khan — κάνας or κάννας (kànas or kànnas, which stands for Kağan; if it was Khan, it would be transmitted with the initial χ: χàνης, in Cyrillic Õàí, as in Nominalia), with the epithet ὐβιγή or ὐβηγη (yvigi or ybigi) — a word which is clearly the Cuman öweghü = high, renowned.  The inscriptions often add the title ὁ ἐκ θεοῦ ἄρχων (o ek theou archon = The Heavenly Ruler), probably introduced by the Greek scribes, who considered that a necessary qualification for every prince (Bek and its derivatives are usually translated as Prince, and accordingly its adjectival forms as Princely. The dialectal forms of Bek are Beg, Bey, Bai, Boi, and S.Runciman's cited Cuman Begh > Obeghu, which is not only geographically remote from the Bulgars, but also much later source, with the same semantic Princely = High, Renowned). The title of Khan disappears after the introduction of Christianity and the Slavonic alphabet, to be replaced by Knyaz, and later by Tsar.
The main class of the nobility was the boyars — βοιλάδες or βοηλάδες (boilàdes or boilàdes) — a name that became general among the Eastern Slavs (Boyar = Bai > Boi + ar = Prince + Man). In the tenth century there were three classes of boyars, the six Great Boyars (Ulu or Ulug + Bai + Ar = Great Prince), the Outer Boyars (Dish + Bai + Ar = Outer Prince), and the Inner Boyars (Ich or Ichteki + Bai + Ar = Inner Prince) ; in the mid-ninth century there were twelve Great Boyars.  The Great Boyars probably comprised the Khan’s confidential Cabinet; the Inner Boyars were probably the Court officers, the Outer Boyars provincial officers.  Many of the individuals mentioned on the ninth-century inscriptions were boyars. The Kavkan Isbules and the Bagatur Tsepa were both boyars; but I am inclined to think that the boyars were civil officers.
1. Marquart, Die
Chronologie , p. 40.
The second class of the nobility, probably inferior, was the bagaïns. These, I conjecture, were a military caste; but their name only occurs in inscriptions, collectively (Omortag gave his boyars and bagaïns presents on one occasion), or singly where it is usually coupled with the title bagatur.  In addition to these ranks, almost every Bulgarian subject commemorated on an inscription was a θρεπτὸς ἄνθρωπος of the Khan. The θρεπτοὶ ἄνθρωποι (threptoí ánthropoi = feeding people = appointed landlords subsisted by a village or state collections from an office) were, no doubt, a rough order of knighthood, a nominal body guard of the Khans. 
The title bagatur — βαγατουρ or βογοτορ (bagatour or bogotor) — is several times found on the inscriptions; while the Bulgarian general who was defeated in Croatia in 927 is called by Constantine ἀλογοβοτουρ (alogobotour), obviously for ἀλο-βογοτουρ (alo-bogotour).  This word is the Turkish bagadur, found in Russian as bogatyr = a hero. It probably represents a military rank. The prefix alo may mean ‘chief or ‘head’ (Bang equates it with the Turkish alp, alyp ) or merely be a proper name. The title vagantur, found in the list of Bulgarian legates at Constantinople in 869 — 70 (see below), is clearly the same as bagatur.
Colobrus — καλοβρός or κουλουβρός (kalobrós or kouloubrós) — found only in the inscriptions, was probably a title of rank, derived from the Turkish golaghuz (in Turkish guide = kılavuz; the form golaghuz probably is from some other Türkic language), a guide.  The Boyar Tsepa was a colobrus as well as a bagatur.
Zhupan, once as ζουπάν and once as κοπάνος (zoupan and kopános), occurs in the inscriptions. On both occasions the family of the bearer is mentioned. Among the Southern Slavs generally, zhupan meant the head of a tribe; so Uspenski and Bury plausibly take it to mean the head of one of the Bulgar clans. 
1. e.g. those quoted in Aboba-Pliska, pp. 201–2, 190–2. Enravotas,
Malamir’s brother, who was also called Boïnos, may have been a bagaïn (Theophylact, Historia XV. Martyrum, p. 193).
Sampses — σαμψής — does not appear on the inscription, but Saint Clement’s host in Pliska was Eschatzes, σαμήψ τὸ εξίωμα (samips to exioma), two of the legates of 869 — 70 were sampses, and Symeon, Tsar Symeon’s brother-in-law, the ambassador in 927, was οὐσάμψος or οὐσάμψις (ousampsos or ousampsis), which is obviously a variant.  Presumably the sampses held a post about the Court.
The title tarkan probably represented a high military post. It was of Turkish (i.e. Türkic) origin; a Turkish (i.e. Ashina Türk) ambassador to the Court of the Emperor Justin II (c. AD 570) was called tagma, ‘ἀξίωμα δε αυτῷ ταρχάν’ (axioma de afto tarkhan => Must be a typo, it clerly reads "tarkhan").  Onegavon, who was drowned in the River Theiss, was a tarkan; so was the Zhupan Okhsun.  When Saint Clement arrived at Belgrade he was greeted by Boritacanus ‘τῷ τότε φυλάσσοντι’ (totote fylassonti = now then kept => who then was), the ‘ὑποστράτηγος’ (ypostratigos = strategic assistant ?) of the Khan Boris.  Boritacanus must mean the Tarkan Boris; his position was clearly equivalent to an Imperial strategus, i.e. he was the military governor of a province. I therefore hazard the conjecture that the tarkan may be equated with the Imperial strategus. The Bulgarian provincial governors — there were ten in Boris’s reign — were called by Greek and Latin writers counts.  We cannot tell if this represents a translation of some Bulgar title, or if the Bulgars came to adopt the word κόμης (komis). In 927 the Ambassador Symeon the sampses, the late Tsar’s brother-in-law, was also called the καλουτερκάνος (kalouterkanos): while polite questions were to be put to Bulgarian ambassadors in the tenth century as to the healths of their ruler’s ‘sons’, ‘οκανάρτι κείνος καὶ ὁ βουλίας ταρκάνος’ (okanarti keinos kai o voulias tarkanos). 
1. Vita S.
Clementis, p. 1224: Anastasius Bibliothecarius, ref. given below: Theophanes
Continuatus, p. 413.
I think that we must obviously equate καλοντερκανος with καναρτικεινος; both the kalutarkan and the buliastarkan were officers at the head of the tarkans, and their posts were probably reserved to members of the royal family. Bulias may be connected with the word boyar; but by itself the identification is of little value.
The most important military officer of the realm was the kavkan (Probably a distortion of Kuu Kağan = White Kağan). In Malamir’s reign the Kavkan Isbules, the Khan’s παλαιὸς βοϊλᾶς (palaios = old, like in alderman, doyen) (senior boyar ?) was clearly the next most important person to the Khan in Bulgaria. He built the Khan an aqueduct at his own expense and accompanied the Khan to battle, apparently as his general-in-chief. In 922 we hear of Symeon being accompanied by his kavkan.  A century later there were two kavkans , Dometian and his brother; but they may not have been simultaneous. Dometian was captured by Basil II, and his brother soon after deserted the Bulgarian cause. Dometian was the συμπαρεδρος (symparedros) of the Tsar Gabriel - Radomir. 
The title tabare, or perhaps iltabare (the old Turkish ältäbär) (i.e. Türkic Elteber, a ruler of a province, teber stands for ruler, il/el = land, country),  only occurs among the ambassadors of 869–70 (Provincial ruler served as ambassador, a frequent occurrence). The name Μηνικός (Minikos) occurs more than once. Symeon in 922 is accompanied ἅμα κανκάνῳ καὶ μηνικῷ (ama kankano kai miniko). In 926 the Bulgarian generals Cnenus, Hemnecus, and Etzboclia invaded Serbia. In 927 the Bulgarian embassy, besides George Sursubul and the Kalutarkan Symeon, included a royal relative, Stephen, and Magotinus, Cronus, and Menicus.  Zlatarski makes Hemnecus a person, but Menicus a title.  Personally, I think that the first passage should run ἅμα κανκάνῳ Μηνικῷ (ama kankano Miniko) — Menicus, miscalled Hemnecus by Constantine, being the kavkan of the period. The other names that appear in the course of the history of the First Empire we must assume, from lack of evidence to the contrary, to be proper names, not titles (The Türkic titles are fairly stable, and tend to pop up in completely different circumstances).
1. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 230–1, 233.
In connection with these titles a word must be said about Anastasius Bibliothecarius’s list of the Bulgarian legates at the Council of 869–70 at Constantinople. According to him, they were ‘stasiszerco borlas nesundicus vagantur il vestrannatabare praesti zisunas campsis et Alexius sampsi Hunno’ ; ‘ ... zerco borlas’ and ‘nesundicus’ are clearly Cerbula and Sundica, the Bulgarian statesmen to whom Pope John VIII wrote a letter, and who feature in the Cividale gospel as Zergobula and Sondoke — ‘borlas’ is not a misprint for ‘boëlas’ ; ‘vagantur’ is ‘bagatur,’ Sundicus’s title. ‘Il vestrannatabare’ probably is Vestranna the iltabare. Campsis and sampi are both clearly sampses. The list therefore should run ‘Stasis, Cerbula, Sundica the bagatur, Vestranna the iltabare, Praestizisunas the sampses, and Alexius Hunno the sampses’ Hunno is probably a surname (Adding ethnical definition to a name is common in Türkic, and not infrequent in Greek, like Leo IV the Khazar). Zlatarski identifies Stasis with Peter, and Praestizisunas with the Bulgar name Presiam or Prusian. The latter identification is plausible; but the fact of Peter often appearing as Boris’s chief ambassador with regard to ecclesiastical affairs does not necessarily mean that he must be Stasis.
1. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Praefatio in Synodum VIII., p. 148.
The great line of earthworks  that stretches across the northern frontier of Thrace from Develtus to Macrolivada, and is still in the main discernible, provides a problem for historians as to the date of its construction.
3. Galled by the Greeks ‘ἡ μεγάλη σούδα’
(i megali souda) (Cedrenus, ii., p. 372), and now
known locally as the Erkesiya (jerkesen
= a trench in Turkish) (not Turkish; the form jerkesen probably
is from some other Türkic language; for a scholar a great way to gain insights into
the ethnic composition of the ).
That it was Bulgar work we know from tradition, archaeology, and historical probability, and we know that it must have been constructed some time between the Invasion of 679 and the Conversion of 865.
The line of the Fence runs roughly along what was known in Bulgaro-Imperial treaties as the Meleona frontier. This frontier was first given to Bulgaria by the treaty between Tervel and Theodosius III in 716; and it was probably confirmed in a treaty between Kormisosh and Constantine V.  Zlatarski assumes that the Fence was constructed at the time of Tervel’s treaty,  Shkorpil at the time of Kormisosh’s. 
Both assumptions are plausible, but, as Bury has pointed out,  they leave unexplained a clause of the treaty between Omortag and Leo V in 815. The treaty, which is recorded in the Suleiman-Keni inscription, confirms the Meleona frontier line (with possibly one or two emendations), and then in its second clause talks of some arrangement about various districts on the frontier line that is to be made ‘ἕως ἐκει γέγονεν ἡ ὀροθεςία’ (eos ekei gegonen i orothesia = to where gegonen the demarcation), i.e. until the frontier delimination is completed. By supplying the words ‘Ἁπολείψειν’ (Apoleipsein) and ‘φρούρια’ (frouria) in two doubtful places — a reading which seems to me more convincing than Zlatarski’s  — Bury shows that the Imperial troops were to evacuate the frontier forts while the frontier-line was being made. This can only mean that actual constructive operations were going to be undertaken on the frontier — i.e. a rampart was to be built. This work would certainly need the passive co-operation of the Imperial frontier garrisons, who, if they chose, could interfere and wreck it all. Therefore they were for the time to be withdrawn.
1. Theophanes (p. 775) calls the treaty one between Theodosius and
The brilliant ingenuity of Bury’s argument is, I think, convincing. Nor does Zlatarski’s example of the word ‘ὀροθεσία’ (orothesia = demarcation) being used in a different sense — ‘ἡ τῶν λ’ χρονων ὀροθεσία’ (i ton l’ chronon orothesía = or I'l strike demarcation) in the letter of the Oriental Synods to Theophilus (p. 368) obviously meaning the frontier-line agreed upon for thirty years — necessarily affect the obvious use of ‘ὀροθεσία’ (orothesia = demarcation) here. Indeed, I do not think the phrase in the treaty admits of any translation except Bury’s, and I therefore accept his conclusions.
It is certainly difficult to see when the Bulgarians would have had time to build so vast a work except after the guaranteed security of Omortag’s peace. Moreover, if the Meleona frontier was already guarded by earthworks, it is curious that in Omortag’s peace the line followed by the Fence should be so carefully stipulated as the frontier when the Fence already marked an old-established line. It is also curious (though to argue a silentio is notoriously dangerous) that we never hear of the Fence during Copronymus’s campaigns, if it already existed by then. Actually Greek historians do not mention it till Nicephorus Phocas’s reign; but, from the little evidence that we have, Imperial invaders in the late ninth and early tenth centuries seem to have kept to the coast-route.
Historians have been unwilling to give Leo V credit even for the one
successful campaign that is claimed for him — his campaign near Mesembria in 813.
This campaign is only noticed in Genesius, in Theophanes Continuatus, and in the later chronicles derived from them; the Continuator’s account is much the most detailed. Theophanes, the Scriptor Incertus, Ignatius the biographer of Nicephorus, and Georgius Hamartolus, the four contemporary, or almost contemporary, historians, mention nothing about it. Their silence has convinced Hirsch and other modern writers that the story is a myth, invented by the source that Genesius and the Continuator used, to explain the name of the place Βουνὸϊ Λέοντος (Bounoi Leontos) — the Hill of Leo. 
But, as Bury has pointed out,  Theophanes ended his chronicle with the capture of Adrianople, which was certainly before this campaign; Georgius Hamartolus never took any interest in external affairs: while all of them were so violently anti-iconoclastic, and therefore so disliked Leo, that their silence about an event so creditable to him is easily understood. Ignatius and the Scriptor Incertus are particularly venomous against him. On the other hand, the detailed account in Theophanes Continuatus does not seem like a later invention.
Zlatarski accepts the existence of the campaign, but places it at Burdizus (Baba-Eski) in Thrace, not near Mesembria, and dates it after Krum’s death. His reasons are: (i.) only the Continuator mentions a place in connection with the campaign, and all the accounts imply that it took place on Imperial territory; (ii.) even the Continuator says that it took place on Imperial territory; (iii.) Mesembria and its district were captured by Krum in 812; (iv.) it would hardly be possible for Leo and his army to reach Mesembria so quickly, when shortly before the troops were at Arcadiopolis.
These objections depend on the assumption that Mesembria was in Bulgar hands.
1. Hirsch, Byzantinische Studien, pp. 125-6.
But there is no evidence that Krum left any garrison in Mesembria after its capture; he seems merely to have destroyed it and deserted it — his usual practice with enemy fortresses — e.g. Adrianople. Whenever Mesembria reappears in history it is as an Imperial city.  Moreover, the coast-line of the Gulf of Burgas was not entirely ceded to Bulgaria till Theodora’s regency.  Mesembria was a very important town for the Imperialists: who certainly would make an early attempt to recover it; and Leo’s campaign was obviously undertaken with that object and the additional intention of then attacking Bulgaria in the flank; and the troops would be certainly moved by sea, which could be done with extreme speed if the weather was favorable. Moreover, troops working with Mesembria as their’ base would keep in close touch with Constantinople by sea, and so would suffer no shortage: whereas the countryside, ravaged by Krum in the previous year and probably uncultivated this season, might well produce no supplies to feed the Bulgarian army. I think, therefore, that Zlatarski’s objections can easily be met, and it is unnecessary to improve upon the already quite convincing account of the Continuator. The most probable date is the autumn of 813, before Krum ’s death. It is, however, just possible that the campaign is the successful campaign promised to Leo by Sabbatius next year; but the story seems to show that that campaign was never undertaken. 
1. It certainly was Imperial when next it is mentioned, in Basil I’s
reign (Theophanes Continuatus, p. 308).
A war has been waged by the two great authorities on ninth-century Bulgarian history, Zlatarski and Bury, over the nomenclature and the duration of the reign /293/ of the Khan Malamir (Mal = “mal” - Türkic “cattle”, a protector of shepherds, equivalent of St. Drogo in the Catholic hierarchy; because cattle was a treasure, mal also may semantically mean treasure, and taxes as payment with cattle; Mal was a popular name in pre-Hunnic period; the Türkic compound Malamir testifies that in Türkic names the word “mir” = “ruler” has no relation to the Gothic “mir” meaning “sea”; although Gothic “mir” in compound names is a calque of Türkic “dengis” and “kul” ~ “sea” and “lake”, like in Chingiz-khan and Kul Tegin, the mechanical attribution of the names ending on “mir” to the Gothic background is erroneous, which is demonstrated by such Türkic names as Budimir, Mir-Gazi, Mir-Gali, Mir-Kula, Mir Fatih, etc. Hecateus reported that Myrgetai (Μυργεται) were Scythian people, Myrgetai has a transparent Türkic etymology: Mir = ruler + get = guz = tribe, i.e. Ruling Tribe). According to Bury — who followed Jirecek’s unelaborated theory — he reigned from Omortag’s death in about 831–2 till 852 (Boris’s accession), and he also had a Bulgar name, Presiam, which he discarded in the course of his reign; according to Zlatarski he reigned from 831 to 836, and was succeeded by his nephew Presiam, who reigned till 852. 
That Malamir existed we know, not only from inscriptions, but also from the account given by Theophylact of Ochrida, the only historian to attempt a connected account of the reigns and relationships of the Khans of Krum’s family; he clearly had access to some older source now lost. He says that Omortag had three sons, Enravotas, Zvenitzes, and Malamir (Μαλλομηρός); Malamir succeeded his father, and was succeeded by his nephew, the son of Zvenitzes; a few lines below this second item he speaks of the Bulgarian Khan as ‘ὀριθὴς Βωρίσης’ (orithis Borisis)  — a phrase that has usually been emended as ‘ὁ ῥηθεὶς Βωρίσης’ (o ritheis Borisis = son of King Boris). Malamir is also mentioned as Baldimer or Vladimir in the account given of the exiles of Adrianople by the Logothete: which a few lines below suddenly mentions Michael (Boris) as Khan. But all the Logothete’s information is misty; Baldimer is called the father of Symeon. 
This evidence provides no difficulty in assuming that Malamir was Omortag’s successor and Boris’s predecessor. But an inscription  found at Philippi speaks of ‘—ἀνος ὁ ἐκ Θεοῦ ἄρχων’ (anos o ek Theou archon = anos son of Heavenly Ruler), who is mentioned along with the Kavkan Isbules; and Constantine Porphyrogennetus talks, far more disquietingly, of ‘Πρεσιὰμ ὁ ἀρχὼν Βουλγαρίας’ (Presiam o archon Boulgarias = Presiam the Bulgarian ruler), who fought against the Serbians about 840. Boris-Michael was, he says, Presiam’s son. 
1. Bury, op. cit., pp. 481-4: Zlatarski, Izviestiya, pp. 49 ff. Istoriya, i., I, pp. 447–57 (a reply to
Bury’s objections to his Izviestiya suggestions).
Presiam, or more probably Presian or Prusian (a well-known Bulgar name),  seems, therefore, to have been a definite Khan, the — άνος (anos) of the Philippi inscription.
On this evidence, Bury and Zlatarski each formed his theory — and each supported it by his interpretation of the Shumla inscription, an inscription which mentions Malamir. Zlatarski rejected the ‘ὁ ῥηθείς’ (o ritheis) reading in Theophylact, saying that, as Boris’s name had not yet been mentioned, it cannot be ‘ὁ ῥηθείς’ (o ritheis); Malamir was succeeded by his nephew, certainly, but that was Presiam: while Boris, as Constantine says, was Presiam’s son. He took the sudden appearance of Michael’s name in the story of Cordyles in AD 835–6 to indicate a change of Khan at that point, Michael being a misprint for Presiam. With the additional aid of the Shumla inscription, he thus built up a Khan Presiam who succeeded in 836.
Bury, however, accepted the ‘ὁ ῥηθείς’ (o ritheis) reading — indeed, Zlatarski provides no adequate substitute, and his complaint as to the name not having been mentioned savors of quibbling. He showed that it is odd of Theophylact to ignore utterly a reign of some sixteen years — years probably vital for the growth of Bulgarian Christianity — and to make so much of a reign of five years, or at most ten years (Omortag might have died any time after 827); and he threw reasonable doubt on the value of any argument based on the Logothete’s account. He also disagreed with Zlatarski’s version of the Shumla inscription. His solution is that Malamir was Presiam, but took the official and Slavonic (I.e. Türkic) name of Malamir about the year 847, just after the Philippi inscription, which he agreed with Zlatarski in dating about that period. He explained Constantine’s account of the Khan’s relationships by saying that Boris was adopted by Presiam Malamir.
1. Zlatarski (loc. cit.) easily shows that Presiam is more probably
Zlatarski replied by reiterating his points, and showing up a weakness in Bury’s chronology. Presiam must, in Bury’s view, have changed his name between the Philippi and the Shumla inscriptions, that is to say in 847; and all the inscriptions bearing the name of Malamir must be dated in the short period 847-52.  Here, however, he is unfair; he only gave Malamir a reign of five years himself. He also has difficulty in believing that any Khan took an ‘official’ name in the middle of his reign.
But the main battle is over the Shumla inscription.  This, written (as both agree) about the year 847, tells of a Khan’s invasion of Thrace with the Kavkan Isbules. After talking of ‘Κροῦμος ὁ πάππα, μου’ (Kroumos o pappa, mou = Krum my grandfather), and of how ‘my father Omortag’ made peace with the Greeks and lived well (καλά) (kala = well) with them, it proceeds (line four, in the middle)
καὶ οἱ Γρικοὶ ἐρήμωσα
(kai oi Grikoi erimosa =
And I hear the devastation)
— and then proceeds to tell of obviously military operations, mentioning Isbules again in line nine with a deleted passage earlier in the line. Zlatarski supplies ἔπαρχε (eparche = district) as the last word of line five. At the beginning of line six he says that after ‘αλα’ he can read ε ... ισεις’ (e ... iseis = by ...settings), and so supplies ‘καλὰ ἔζησε εἰς’ (kala ezise eis = well lived). He therefore presumes that Malamir, too, lived in peace, and the warlike operations belong to a different Khan, i.e. Presiam. On the facsimile of the inscription in the Aboba-Pliska Album (pi. xlv.) αλα and εις (the sign for ‘ε’ may also represent ‘καὶ’ ) are clearly visible. But, if the rest of the letters that Zlatarski sees are correct, they must certainly be completed in some other manner. Bury’s objections, I think, hold good: (i.) Malamir’s ‘καλὰ ἔζησε’ would precede ‘οἱ Γρικοὶ ἐρήμωσαν’ which mark the opening of a war. (ii.) καλὰ ἔζησε does not make sense with the words that certainly follow — Zlatarski’s emendation of them is unconvincing. (iii.) The mention of Isbules clearly implies military operations. All this, combined with the reference to Krum as the Khan’s grandfather and Omortag as the Khan’s father, seems to make it certain that the inscription was made by Malamir.
1. Actually there are only three — the Shumla, the aqueduct, and
For this reason and for Bury’s reasons given above, I disbelieve in Zlatarski’s Khan Presiam, who reigned from 836 to 852. There is another slight reason against it. Isbules, when he made Malamir an aqueduct, is called ὅ παλαιὸς αὐτοῦ βοϊλᾶς, (o palaios aftou boilas = the old Boila) so presumably he was of some considerable age, probably the doyen of the boyars. But, according to Zlatarski, the aqueduct was built before 836; but in 847 onward Isbules went out on more than one campaign. I prefer to think of him being allowed to retire when he was ‘παλαιός’ (palaios = old) and not having to endure ten more years’ active service.
But I am equally doubtful of an adoption by Khan Presiam of an official
Slavonic name Malamir. Rulers do not usually change their names in the middle of
their reigns, except when, like Boris, they adopt a new religion. This gesture
towards his Slavonic subjects on the part of the Khan makes an unconvincing story.
The evidence for there having been any Khan called Presiam seems to me to be
thin. The Philippi inscription is of small account; there are other words that end
in ανος (anos) besides Presianos; the proper name does not always immediately precede
the title ‘ὁ ἐκ θεοῦ ἀρχών’
(o ek theou archon = Te Heavenly Ruler). The word might well be κάνας
Constantine’s evidence is more important. But it is at complete variance with Theophylact’s, who
never mentions Presiam. Constantine was here writing Serbian history taken from Serbian
sources; he never correlated these passages with any work on Bulgarian history, a subject
which he ignored. The Serbs, as yet a backward race, might well mistake a splendid Bulgar
general for the prince himself — and to defeat the prince sounded far more impressive.
Moreover, when the next prince invaded, they would naturally assume him to be the son of
the former invader. The presence of Isbules’s name on both the war-inscriptions of the time implies that
Malamir himself was not the general of his armies; probably, in fact, he did not even
accompany them. It is unlikely, I think, that he should spend three years
campaigning in Serbia.
He left no son at a polygamous Court; and so his health may well have been poor. I believe that Presiam was a high military officer of the realm, a scion, probably, of the blood royal; but he was given a princely crown and a princely son only in the ignorant imagination of the Serbs.
The Cyrillic and Glagolitic (Glagolic) alphabets
The earliest Slavonic MSS were not all written in one alphabet; but some employed the Cyrillic alphabet, on which all the alphabets of the orthodox Slavs today are based, and others a more complicated script known as Glagolitic (Glagolic), now only surviving in a few out-of-the-way villages in Croatia. The question has often been raised as to which was the earlier and which was Saint Cyril’s work.
Professor Minns has shown  that Saint Cyril, from a pun that he made on a misprint in the Hebrew version of Isaiah, must have known Hebrew — Snoj’s previous attempt to prove that he knew Coptic must be accounted failure.  If he knew Hebrew it is easy to understand from what source the Cyrillic letters were framed, for which the Greek alphabet was of no use: the sole exceptions are a few vowel sounds which bear the air of an arbitrary invention. It seems, therefore, unreasonable to suppose that Cyril did not invent Cyrillic.
1. Minns, Saint
Cyril Really Knew Hebrew, passim.
But the whole question has been befogged by the assumption, based chiefly on palimpsests, that Glagolitic (Glagolic) must have been made before Cyrillic, and by an earnest and somewhat uncalled-for longing to make it a development out of Greek or Latin or Runic  — anything except a definitely and arbitrarily created alphabet. The priority of Glagolitic (Glagolic) has been also maintained because of a passage in a MS life of Saint Clement,  which said that Clement invented an alphabet different to Saint Cyril’s — Clement therefore invented Cyrillic, it was said. But the authenticity of this passage is highly suspect.
We must consider the historical evidence. When the Moravians asked for a teacher, the Emperor sent off Cyril, after an infinitesimal interval during which the saint apparently translated one of the Gospels and made a lectionary, besides inventing the alphabet. But Cyril’s version of the Bible is written, it is now universally agreed, in the dialect of the Macedonian Slavs, and both alphabets, Cyrillic and Glagolitic (Glagolic), are adapted to suit that dialect. The only possible conclusion that can be drawn is that Cyril, who was an enterprising philologist, had already been experimenting with the Slavonic language in use round his home at Thessalonica, and had evolved the Cyrillic alphabet for it. When he arrived in Moravia, he found that an alphabet so closely akin to Greek met with powerful opposition; so he disguised it, reversing most of the Greek letters, but retaining most of his invented letters, and he tidied it up into a vague uniformity with a free use of loops. 
1. Taylor and Jagic derive it from cursive Greek, Wessely (Glagolitisch
-Lateinische Studien) from cursive Latin. See references in Jagic, Grafika u Slavyan and Entstehungsgeschichte. Cursive Latin is an unconvincing source, and Rahlfs (Zur
Frage nach der Herkunft) has shown cursive Greek to be historically impossible.
From this it seems likely that the Imperial Government was already planning, with Cyril’s help, to evangelize the Balkan Slavs, the Bulgarians probably as well as its own subjects, when unexpected events called the great missionary farther afield, and altered the whole situation. 
In Bulgaria, Glagolitic (Glagolic) MSS are found dating from up to the thirteenth century, chiefly from the Ochrida and Rila districts. Almost certainly Clement brought the alphabet with him from Moravia; and, if there is any truth behind the interpolation in the Athos MS, it refers, not to his invention of Cyrillic, but to his introduction of an alphabet that was different from what the local inhabitants knew as Cyril’s. The Bulgarians educated at the Slavonic schools of Constantinople would, however, obviously employ Cyrillic; which became the official alphabet used at Preslav  — Khrabr’s treatise seems to refer to it, not to its rival — and which, from its greater simplicity and suitability, succeeded in time in superseding Glagolitic (Glagolic) — an alphabet whose only merit was that it suited a particular political crisis.
1. Bruckner (Thesen
zur Cyrillo -Methodianischen Frage, p. 219) pushes this theory to the extent of rejecting Rostislav’s mission. Bury (op. cit., pp. 396–9) takes a more
In the course of Symeon’s second war with the Empire we hear of a marriage scheme of his to unite his family with the Imperial family. The only two references to it are very vague, but they show that it was obviously a matter of great importance. Eutychius of Alexandria, writing, a few years later, a short garbled account of Constantine VII’s minority, traced Symeon’s declaration of war to the refusal by the Emperor, for whom his mother Zoe governed, to permit his sister to marry the Bulgar monarch’s son, as Symeon desired.  In the winter of 920–1, when Romanus was firmly on the throne, Nicholas wrote to Symeon reminding him that he had sought previously for a marriage-alliance with the Emperor, but the Imperial Government of the time had refused it. Now, he said, it was possible; Romanus was willing to marry either an Imperial prince to a Bulgarian princess or vice versa. Nicholas laid great emphasis on the fact that Symeon could now achieve his desire. But Symeon apparently ignored the proposal. His reply was to demand Romanus’s deposition. 
Eutychius was almost certainly misinformed as to the persons whom it was proposed to marry. Constantine’s only sister to survive childhood was his half-sister, the Augusta Anna, born well before AD 892, whom Leo had crowned as a stop-gap Empress after her mother’s death, and whom he had proposed in 898 to marry to Louis of Provence. This marriage did not take place, but we hear no more of Anna; and this silence, considering the importance at the time of every existing member of the Imperial family, justifies us in regarding her to have died soon afterwards. It is scarcely possible that this princess was the object of Symeon’s eager matrimonial suggestions. But apart, possibly, from her, there was only one unmarried member of the Imperial family living in 913–9; that was the Emperor himself.
Symeon’s aim must therefore have been to marry the young Emperor to one of his daughters. This is far more convincing; as father-in-law to the Emperor, he would be in a position from which he might well reach the Imperial throne — just as Romanus, in fact, managed to do.
1. Eutychius of Alexandria, Greek translation, p. 1151.
And this would explain why he disdained Nicholas’s proposals in 920–1. It was too late then; Constantine was already married — to Helena Lecapena, and her father was Emperor. Symeon could only demand angrily that Romanus should abdicate.
The question arises as to when Symeon put forward the proposal. The obvious occasion was his interview with Nicholas in August 914; and probably his proposal was favorably received and the marriage vaguely promised. Nicholas in his desire for peace would welcome rather than reject it. But Zoe, the Emperor’s mother, would clearly hold other views. Her accession to power was therefore an excuse for Symeon to return to arms. This would explain Nicholas’s silence on the subject till it was a thing of the past; considering his own promise, and the refusal of the Government that he was serving to countenance it, it would have embarrassed him to refer to it. That, I think, is the meaning of these dark references to a marriage.
Symeon planned to mount the Imperial throne by first marrying his daughter to its occupant; and Nicholas half promised to enable him to do so. It was only Zoe’s mother-love and the fact that the same idea had occurred to the Grand Admiral that saved the Emperor and the Empire.
We know that by the peace of 927 the Imperial Government agreed to recognize Peter of Bulgaria as an Emperor (Βασίλεύς); Liudprand of Cremona was informed so by the Imperial chancery when he complained of the precedence given to the Bulgarian embassy ; and we are specifically told that Maria Lecapena rejoiced in that she was marrying an Emperor. 
1. Liudprand, Legatio, p. 186.
There would be no difficulty about it, were it not for a passage in the De Ceremoniis. There, among the formulae to be employed at the reception of foreign ambassadors, is one which refers to the Emperor’s ‘spiritual grandson (πνευματικὸς ἔγγονος) (pnevmatikos engonos), the Prince (Ἀρχων) of Bulgaria,’ and there is none referring to the Bulgarian monarch as Basileus. A little lower, among the formulae to be employed by the Emperors in addressing letters to foreign potentates, is one from ‘Constantine and Romanus, Emperors, to the Archon of the Bulgarians’; which is followed by the remark that lately it has been written (τὸ ἀρτίως γραφόμενον) (to artios grafomenon) ‘Constantine and Romanus to their spiritual son the Emperor of Bulgaria (τὸν κύριον ὁ δεἷνα βασιλέα Βουλγαρίας)’ (ton kyrion o deina basilea Boulgarias).  In the former of these address-formulae the Emperor’s names have almost certainly been interpolated — they must refer to Constantine Porphyrogennetus and Romanus II, who actually only employed the second formula. But the phrase ‘spiritual grandson’ in the reception-formula is not so easily explained away. If earthly generations are to be taken into account, the epithet ‘spiritual’ is incongruous; but there must be some meaning behind the word grandson.
Bury  suggested that the monarchs bound by this relationship were Leo VI and Symeon, son of the Emperor’s godson Boris. But Boris’s godfather was Michael III; and why should generations be taken into account on the Bulgarian, but not the Imperial, side? Rambaud  sought the solution in a physical relationship; Peter was the grandson, through his wife, of Romanus Lecapenus.
2. Constantine Porphyrogennetus, De Ceremoniis , pp. 681, 682, 690. There
is also a reception-formula calling the Archon of Bulgaria the Emperor’s spiritual son.
The Imperial title must either only have been granted to him after Romanus’s fall, or Romanus must have taken it away from him. Rambaud is, I think, right in insisting upon the physical relationship; and it is possible that Romanus took the title away from Peter to mark his displeasure on some occasion, or, anyhow, that he prepared a formula for use if he should wish to do so. But, from the fact that there is no reception-formula calling Peter a Basileus, I incline to think that the ‘spiritual grandson’ formula is a blend of two formulae, one dealing with the ‘spiritual son the Archon,’ the other with the ‘spiritual grandson the Basileus.’ The muddle only shows that the courtiers of Byzantium, usually so punctilious, regarded the assumption of an Imperial title by any monarch outside the Empire as being so ridiculous that they could treat it with disdainful negligence; and they never bothered to record it systematically, nor took much notice of it, save when they wished to irritate self-important ambassadors from the upstart West.
The chronology of Nicephorus Phocas’s Bulgarian wars has often been
muddled by historians’ persistent attempts to co-identify the accounts given by Leo
Diaconus and by Scylitzes, who, with ‘Nestor,’ are the only fundamental sources
Actually each chronicler deals mainly with separate events. According to Leo, the Bulgarian embassy demanding tribute came to Constantinople shortly after Nicephorus’s triumphant return from Tarsus (which took place in October 965). /304/ Nicephorus followed up his dismissal of it by making a demonstration over the frontier and capturing one or two forts; he would not, however, embark on a serious campaign in Bulgaria. At the same time he instituted diplomatic intrigues with the Russians (i.e. Ruses), which he continued to keep up.  Then Leo reverts to the main interest of the reign — the eastern campaigns. Later, after the Russians (i.e. Ruses) invaded Bulgaria (in 967, according to ‘Nestor’), he sent an embassy to Bulgaria suggesting the marriage of the Bulgar princesses to the young Emperors, and the Bulgarians begged for Imperial help against the Russians (i.e. Ruses). Nicephorus, however, went off to the East, and on his return he was murdered. 
In Scylitzes, who throughout the reign is clearly using some lost independent source, we first find a paragraph telling that Peter, after his wife’s death, sent to renew the peace and gave his sons to the Emperor as hostages; it then goes on to tell of his death and of the Comitopuli — this part is certainly an interpolation.  Later we hear that, in June 967, Nicephorus complained to the Bulgarian Court that it allowed Hungarian invaders to pass through Bulgaria into the Empire; at the same time he marched to the frontier (to the Great Fence) and looked into the defenses of the Thracian cities. Shortly afterwards the Russians (i.e. Ruses) invaded Bulgaria — Scylitzes here inserts an account of Calocyras’s mission — in August 968 (Indiction XL), and they came again next year. 
From another source, however (Liudprand, Legatio, p. 185), we know that there was a Bulgarian embassy in Constantinople in June 968. This must have been after the Russian (i.e. Rus) invasion; therefore ‘Nestor’s’ date, rather than Scylitzes’s, must be correct. The invasion no doubt lasted into September 967, i.e. the Indiction XL; and Scylitzes muddled the Indictions.
1. Leo Diaconus, pp. 61–3.
The key to the chronology lies in the fact — which neither Leo nor Scylitzes singly makes clear — that Nicephorus twice declared war; in 965 he was furious at the Bulgarians’ demands; in 967 he simply wished for a pretext to justify him in calling in the Russians (i.e. Ruses). Briefly tabulated, the sequence of events is as follows:
965 (after October): Bulgarian embassy to Constantinople demanding tribute (Leo). It was just after the Tsaritsa’s death (Scylitzes).
966 (early spring): Nicephorus invades Southern Bulgaria (Leo), (soon afterwards): Peter asks for peace and sends his sons as hostages (Scylitzes).
966 onwards: Calocyras intrigues with the Russians (i.e. Ruses) (Leo and Scylitzes).
967 (June): Russians (i.e. Ruses) being ready, Nicephorus picks a quarrel with the Bulgarians, and fortifies his frontier lest the Russians (i.e. Ruses) should penetrate too far (Scylitzes).
967 (August): Russians (i.e. Ruses) invade Bulgaria (‘Nestor,’ Scylitzes, and Leo). Peter falls ill (Leo).
968 (late spring): Renewed Russian (i.e. Rus) invasion (Scylitzes — a year after the previous invasion). (June): Bulgarian embassy to Constantinople (Liudprand). It is ineffectual.
969 (January): Death of Peter. (in the course of the year): Calocyras’s treachery becomes evident. So (autumn): Nicephorus sends embassy to Bulgaria suggesting a marriage alliance. It is about the time of the capture of Antioch, i.e. October 969 (Leo). Fresh Russian (i.e. Rus) invasion (‘Nestor’ and Leo).
(December): Death of Nicephorus.
Thenceforward the chronology presents no great difficulty, and we can read without hindrance of the wars that overwhelmed the First Bulgarian Empire.
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|Book 1 (150-777 AD) ¤ Book 2 (777-889)¤ Book 3-1 (889-927)¤ Book 3-2 (927-1019)¤ Appendixes|
Ogur and Oguz
Oguz and Ogur Dialects
Pritsak O. Ogur and Oguz Languages
Western Hun's Khan Dynasties
Western Hun's Khan Lineage