In Russian
Contents Bulgars
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Ogur and Oguz
Oguz and Ogur Dialects
Mukhamadiev A. Reading of Kurbat rings
Pritsak O. Ogur and Oguz Languages
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
Bariev R. Bulgarian Synopsis
Western Hun's Khan Dynasties
Western Hun's Khan Lineage
Bulgar Ethnonym
Bulgar Archeology
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
Russian Version needs a translation
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



Posting introduction

In the course of reinventing history, both Bulgarian and Russian scientists and scientologists had to invent a language suitable for their perch, which is confusing for anybody else. Here it goes: Bulgars are renamed Proto-Bulgars, which means that the Türkic Bulgars are Türkic, but without stating it, maybe you idiots would not guess. The modern Bulgars are named Bulgarians, or in Russian Bolgars. Thus was created a distinction between the Türkic-speaking Bulgars and Slavic-speaking Bulgars. The next step was to rechristen the Türkic Bulgars in Danube Bulgaria to Turks, and to deport or expel them all to Turkey in a sweeping ethnic cleansing of the 1990s. Ironically, up to the Modern Times Bulgars did not even suspect that they were Türks, this designation is an invention of the modern times projected far backwards and distorted by frenzied chauvinism. Thus, the founders of the Bulgarian state became refugees from their own country, and a new pristine and exclusively Slavic history could be created on the fly. Studious falsifiers engaged in ethnic cleansing of the language, to support a claim that Bulgars, even if the crazy idea that they were Türkic is right, were few and ineffectual. The symbiosis that lasted for 2,000 years appear to be largely destroyed, a glorious political victory was achieved, masses of Bulgars were sent to develop and enrich Turkey and other neighboring countries, and a new ethnically cleansed and impoverished Bulgaria could now provide an eternal paradise for its pristine Slavic Bulgars, with only a million or so of the Türkic Bulgars remaining in the country. S.Runciman does not know the senseless later nomenclature of “Proto-Bulgars”, he calls a spade a spade and dubs Bulgars with real term, Bulgars, like in Great Bulgaria, which seems to have never been rechristened to a Great Proto-Bulgaria. But S.Runciman also does not know that the family of Türkic people consists of 85+ different ethnoses speaking 35+ languages, and uses generic misnomers Turk and Turkish applied indiscriminately, a la indiscriminately calling Americans and Danes “Germans”.

The title of this book is misleading, the “First Bulgarian Empire” was far from being a first, it was a splinter and extension of the Great Bulgaria, which in turn was a remnant of the Hunno-Bulgar empire best known as Attila's state. The Hunno-Bulgar empire absorbed the Sarmat empire with all its tribes of the Bulgar circle; archeology and anthropology tell us that the Late Sarmat confederation (150-400 AD) was populated by a mix of local nomadic Uraloids descending from the populace of the 6th c. BC, and Middle Asian nomadic tribes of the Syrdarya steppes united by a common culture; the Sarmat state was nothing less than an empire, extending from the Oder to the Aral steppes. And the subtitle of the book should have been “The political history of Byzantine-Bulgar relations”. Even composed by good faith authors, the histories written by culturally, historically, and linguistically illiterate scholars on radically differing peoples suffer from inapplicable notions and unwitting shallowness of judgments. S.Runciman does not meddle much into anything besides politics, even religion and alphabet are treated as political substances. The monograph is a superior pedantic study of the battle and reigns, with no curiosity about the Bulgar people, and even the most major events of their history. The social life, traditions, language, burials, cemeteries, appearance, anything that identifies people as a distinct people are squarely left out, with accidental small hints that do not penetrate beyond the surface. Throughout the book, the term Russia is used as modern (Russian language) or obsolete geographical term (Ukrainian steppes dubbed Russian steppes, Rus prince is called Russian prince, etc.), as a political entity it is a misnomer.

A rare quality in the modern scientific studies is that S.Runciman takes sides in respect to religion, using derogatory terminology for the subjects of his study: heathens, pagans, and the like, and even when depicting cold-blooded calculations of the Roman and Greek Church hierarchies, their self-aggrandizing, and their vain ambitions, he unquestionably holds his ideal Christianity above the fray. Such biased attitude puts the subjects of his study in an antagonistic us vs. them position, preventing a serious description of the initial conditions and developments.

Bulgars were, and remain now, Bulgars, a people with ancient and rich history. Bulgarian is a Ural-Altaic language under some Finnic and Indo-European influence, whereas the Slavic languages are Indo-European languages under strong Ural-Altaic influence. The history template of the Bulgar people may be applicable to other ”Slavic” peoples, in particular the Croats and Bosnians, who are directly connected with the history of the Türkic peoples, Croatia with the Kangar tribe Charaboi, and the Bosnyak Bosnians with the Besenyo (Badjanaks, Pechenegs). This is also applicable to the Rus and Russian states, where institutions, dynasties, language, folklore, even the term czar were deeply rooted in the Türkic people. The Balto-Slavic concept on the origin of Slavs needs continued unbiased study.

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 are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers. Comments on the Nominalia serve to highlight many discrepancies in various readings and interpretations, with no pretense to adduce genuine facts.

Preface v
  INDEX 325
Steven Runciman
A history of the First Bulgarian Empire

In the Balkan Peninsula memories linger long. The centuries of Turkish rule have passed like a single night, and the previous ages have kept all the living passions of a yesterday. In a land where races have perpetually overlapped and where frontiers have been seldom natural and never permanently just, a spirit of rivalry and bitterness has inevitably permeated international politics and their records far back into the past. Inevitably, Balkan historians have succumbed to this spirit. All too sensible of the support that a kindly history can bring to their countries, they cannot restrain themselves from ensuring the kindliness, from painting history in a light that is favorable to them. It is natural enough, but a mistaken policy. Not only does it often inherently defeat its ends — as when the Slav writers in unison pour contempt on the East Roman Empire, because it was chiefly Greek, quite forgetting that to belittle your enemies is the least effective way of magnifying yourself — but also it has long since ceased to achieve its object abroad. In Western Europe, where national rivalries are less unendingly acute, and so learning has freed itself from patriotism, the words of Balkan historians no longer carry conviction.

It is a pity; for there are many passages in Balkan history interesting and important enough to deserve recording. But few have been recorded satisfactorily. In Eastern Europe there has been too much passion; while Western Europe has adopted the attitude that nothing of consequence happened in Eastern Europe till the growth of the so-called Eastern Question in the course of the eighteenth century. Thus the First Bulgarian Empire has remained a vague and ill-known period, whose very name falls as a surprise on most Western ears.

But its story deserves attention, both for its significance in the history of Europe, and also for its own qualities and the study of the great men that were its rulers. It is in the hope of winning for it some of this attention that I have written this book. Following the rule that it is not for the historian to meddle in modern politics, I have restricted myself here to the history of the First Bulgarian Empire and no more. But, if its history can arouse any interest in and sympathy with the country that is its modern heir, I shall be well pleased; for that result is, I think, within the legitimate aspirations of the historian.

The First Bulgarian Empire presents one great initial difficulty for historians. We know its history almost exclusively from external sources. Except for a valuable but meager dated list of the early monarchs, a few hagiographical writings, and a few inscriptions, mostly of recent discovery, we only possess the evidence provided for us by chroniclers of the East Roman Empire, with occasional sidelights from Western Europe. I deal more fully with the original sources elsewhere; but, all the while, it is necessary to remember that there are inevitable gaps in our information, particularly with regard to the internal history and the history of the frontiers on the side away from the civilized world. Such lacunae are excellent playgrounds for the Chauvinists, where their imaginations can play the most riotous games; but for the serious historian they are highly discouraging, forcing him to advance with a timorousness or a confession of ignorance that is most distasteful to his pride. It is possible that more evidence may arise — that more inscriptions may be found to throw light in many places; but that only deters the historian the more; he can never hope to say the last word on early Bulgarian history.

Consequently, few historians have attempted to deal with the First Empire as a whole. In Western Europe it has only been treated in one or two chapters in histories that deal with the whole history of the Balkans or Bulgaria; and the most important of these, Jirecek’s Geschichte der Bulgaren, excellent in its day, is now out of date. The others are of little value. In England, however, there is also a chapter, readable but necessarily superficial, in the Cambridge Mediaeval History, vol. iv. It is only in books dealing with various periods of the history of Constantinople that early Bulgaria has received concentrated attention from Western writers, and then only in patches. But some of these works are of great importance, as, for example, Bury’s History of the Eastern Roman Empire, 802–67 (his Later Roman Empire, 395-800, was written too long ago to be of much use today), Rambaud’s Empire Grec au X-me Siècle, and Schlumberger’s great monographs on the Emperors of the later Macedonian period. The careers of Cyril and Methodius have given rise to a large crop of literature, dealing largely with Bulgaria, and remarkable chiefly for its various religious prejudices. The most temperate of these books is Dvornik’s admirable Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome. In addition, writers such as Bury, Jirecek, Marquart, and others have written articles and monographs on various questions affecting Bulgarian history; I cite them in my bibliography, and, where they are relevant, in my footnotes. I myself, in my Emperor Romanus Lecapenus, have given a detailed account of Symeon’s later wars.

But it is only when we come to Slavonic writers that we find a fitting interest taken in early Bulgarian history. For some time now Russian (i.e. Rus) historians — such as Palauzov, Drinov, Golubinski, Uspenski, and Vasilievski — have written on various aspects and periods of early Bulgarian history and have undertaken excavations and unearthed inscriptions of very great value. Of recent years the Bulgarians themselves have turned to its study.

Particularly I must cite Ivanov, to whose book on Bogomil literature I am deeply indebted, and, most important of all the historians of early Bulgaria, Professor Zlatarski. Zlatarski, besides having written many very useful short articles and monographs, is the only historian to have attempted a full-length history of the period; his great history of his own country has been brought so far, in two thick volumes, down to the close of the First Empire. It is a work packed with learning and ingenuity, and is absolutely essential for any student of early Bulgarian history. [1] I have ventured to disagree with Professor Zlatarski on various points of judgment and interpretation; but his writings, together with the personal help that he has given me, put me under an obligation to him that it is difficult adequately to acknowledge.

An explanation is needed for the method of transliterating that I employ. With Greek names I have adopted the traditional Latin transliteration; with Cyrillic the problem is more difficult. I have not attempted to alter forms that are time-honored and well-known — I write Sofia rather than Sofiya; as for the rest, I follow, with one or two modifications, the rules approved by the British Academy, [2] rather than the forms employed by the European Slavists, whose ornamental additions to ordinary letters look unfamiliar to English eyes and some of whose usages, such as ‘c’ for ‘ts,’ definitely invite error among the unwary. Proper names provide a further difficulty.

1. Its only great defect is an absence of any maps.
2. Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. viii. (1917-18), p. 529. I transliterate the Russian (i.e. Rus) ‘e’ after a softened consonant as ‘ie’ rather than ‘'e’, and I render the letter ‘yat’ as ‘ie‘ rather than ‘ê.’ Apostrophes and accents, though necessary for minute phonetic accuracy, serve only to make restless the average eye. I transliterate the nasal ‘a’ which Bulgarian has inherited from old Slavonic as ‘â.’ I also divide the strings of consonants which Bulgarian joins together with only a hard sign with a ‘u, ’ as in the name Bulgaria itself. The hard sign in Bulgarian has more of the quality of a vowel than in Russian (i.e. Rus).

With regard to the persons whose Christian names have English equivalents, I have used these equivalents. It would be pedantic to write of Tsar Petr or the Empress Aecaterine, or even Pope Johannes. But many of the Bulgarian proper names are only known to us through alien, principally Greek, versions. Where guidance has been given as to the names of the early Khans in the Old Bulgar List, I have followed such guidance, save only that I have preserved the Greek form Asperuch rather than Isperikh. [1] When the List ends, difficulties arise. Occasional inscriptions help; but my rule, on the whole, has been to use the original Bulgar or Slavonic name where it is obvious, but in doubtful cases to transliterate the Greek. [2] I adopt the same rule with regard to Slavonic place-names. With Imperial place-names I have, except for obvious exceptions such as Adrianople, transliterated the Greek form then current.

In one case I have been deliberately inconsistent; in the earlier parts of the history I call the city now known as Sofia by its Imperial name, Sardica; but after the ninth century I call it Sofia. Actually in the tenth and eleventh centuries it was known in Greek as Triaditza, or in Slavonic as Sredetsa; but as the name did not survive I considered it merely confusing to employ it.

I have drawn a distinction between the words Bulgar and Bulgarian. The former I use to mean the race of Hunnish invaders that formed the nucleus of Bulgaria, the latter the nation composed by the amalgamation of the Bulgars and the Slavs. The terms the Empire, the Emperor, and Imperial all refer to the East Roman Empire, misleadingly known as Byzantine. [1] To the contemporary world this Empire was simply the Empire, and the Emperor was the Basileus that reigned at Constantinople; and to the East, at any rate, the situation was not altered by the appearance of rival Emperors in Germany.

We do not know the personal name of Kurbat, he entered history under his later title-name Kobrat, Türkic “Gatherer”, which apparently was pronounced with a stop vowel still observed in Bulgarian: K'rbat, B'lgar, rendered in Slavic with a silent hard character ú as Êúðáàò and Áúëãàð. Hence the Greek renditions Crubat and Crobat and Χουβράτης and the like, and the fossilized distortion Kubrat. The transposition of phonemes is not unusual within the same language, and much more so in the renditions of the foreign languages, which in this case includes the transition from the Ogur Bulgaric to the widespread Türkic Oguz of the latter times. In Türkic, kür is “brave, daring”, and it is a common title-name for princes, adopted in Türkic, Indian, Persian etc nomenclature with allophonic Kür/Kur/Chur/Chor etc. forms; kür er stands for “brave man”; in the idiomatic expression, brave also implies “truthful”, not mincing the words. Bat, a form of ata “father”, as title for leaders is first attested among the Caucasian Huns, but may be a western borrowing from local Sarmats, later it was known among the Late Sarmatian and early Slavic tribes, and it retained its meaning to modernity among Türkic and Ukraine people. Kurbat as “”Brave Leader”, with its later allophonic “Gatherer”, appear to be most consistent with all documented forms.

The name Asparukh was assiduously ascribed a “Middle Iranian” etymology, for some reasons not found in the Persian lands, but only in the ancient Bulgaria and Georgia. In Türkic we have Asparukh = “Royal quarter Aspak“, where Aspak is “Severe”; the Türkic name Aspak has ancient roots and numerous historical and modern records.

1. I have acted illogically with the name Kubrat (Kurbat) — in Greek, Crubatus or Crobatus; in Bulgar, Kurt.
The form Kubrat (Kurbat) has no better justification save that it is now generally employed. I use Asperuch’s Greek form because he is best known from the story of the Greek chroniclers.
2. In the discovery of the Slav original forms I have relied very largely on Professor Zlatarski’s judgment. In most cases it is easy; 'Ιβατζης clearly was Ivatsa to his people.

I give a brief discussion of the original sources in Appendix I; and I have appended at the close of the volume a full bibliography. The page-references in the footnotes of the text refer to the editions that I have cited there.

In conclusion I wish to thank very warmly my Bulgarian friends who have been of great assistance to me, not only on my visits to Bulgaria, but also in supplying me with maps. My one regret is that I have been unable to visit in person the splendid examples of old Bulgarian architecture at Prespa and Ochrida, now under Jugoslavian dominion. I wish also to thank Miss R. F. Forbes for her help over the proofs.

1. The term Byzantium is, I think, legitimate for describing the civilization of the Empire, but the Empire itself was consciously the heir of the universal Roman Empire, and in no way local.

Book I
The five sons of king Kubrat
(Actually, Kurbat: in Greek, Crubatus or Crobatus; in Bulgar, Kurt; Bat is an ubiquitous Türkic title of Classical and early Middle Age time, with numerous examples from Danube to Yaik; etymology: Bat (Bata) - governor, chief, prince, khan, head of a group; Batavyl - Princely headquarters. Kur or Chur is also an ubiquitous Türkic title meaning “Prince” with semantics of hero, mighty warrior, victor. Since the form “Kubrat” can't be derived from Crubatus or Crobatus, nor from Kurt, this particular distortion has no justification)

Once upon a time, when Constans was Emperor in Byzantium, there lived a king called Kubrat (Kurbat) on the shores of the Sea of Azov. In due course he died, leaving five sons behind him, whom he bade live in concord together. But the brothers in a short time quarreled, as princes often do, and, dividing the inheritance between them, departed each his own way, bearing his portion of the people with him. The eldest brother alone, Baian, remained where he was born; the second brother, Cotrag, crossed the Don, to the northward, and lived on the farther bank; the fourth brother moved far to the westward, and, crossing the Danube, came to Pannonia, where he fell under the domination of the Avars; the youngest wandered even farther, and ended his days in the Pentapolis of Ravenna. But the third brother, whose name was Asperuch, crossed the Dnieper and the Dniester and settled on the banks of the Lower Danube.

“Quarreled” is not the right word. Soon after Kurbat's death, in the Central Asian Western Türkic Kaganate broke an internecine war, and the Western Wing of the Kaganate split and reorganized with a center in Khazaria. The new Ashina ruler of the state that became known as Khazaria asserted their suzerainty over Kurbat's Great Bulgaria, which in 630 gained independence from the Western Türkic Kaganate. After a brief war for independence, Great Bulgaria was again subjugated. Bat Bayan (Baian) with the majority of Bulgar tribes submitted to the new Kagan, while the other four brothers chose to preserve their independence and migrate away from the new Türkic Kaganate in Khazaria. In the run-up to the military debacle, Asparukh contended with Bat Bayan for the leadership of the Great Bulgaria, and organized a petty pretender war against his brother, which was a major reason for the loss of the Bulgarian independence. Ultimately, the court coup in the Western Türkic Kaganate brought about disintegration of the Bulgarian state and the Asparukh's migration.

Kurbat was a descendant of Attila in 9th generation, Asparukh  and his brothers were descendants of Attila in 10th generation, of the Dulo dynasty. The Dulo dynasty offsprings cherished their dynastic dignity and were not eager to submit to the neophyte Ashina Türks. Between 558 and 630 the Dulo dynasty was in a symbiotic relationship with the Uar (War) Huns dynasty of the Avars, which apparently had a compatible or higher pedigree than the Dulo dynasty.

There he dwelt with his people, until the Emperor Constantine, displeased at the presence of these barbarians on the very borders of the Empire, determined to stamp them out. The Imperial armies marched to the Danube and invaded the wild country; where Asperuch’s hordes in terror hid for four days in their fastnesses. But the Emperor’s feet were tender and sore; he decided to retire and rest them in his city of Mesembria. The barbarian spies were alert; on his departure the barbarians came out from their strongholds and attacked. The Imperial troops found themselves leaderless; their Emperor had fled, they thought, so they too would flee.

Close on their heels came the barbarians, across the Danube, into the province of Moesia. The land pleased Asperuch and his people; they were victorious, and the Emperor could not withstand them. So there they remained, and there their descendants remain, even to this day.

For all its air of a fairy-tale, this story, told by the Greek chroniclers, [1] is in the main a true description of the entry of the Bulgars into Bulgaria. This was not, however, the first time that the Empire had come into contact with Bulgarian tribes.

The kingdom of Kubrat (Kurbat), ‘of old called Great Bulgaria’ (though actually its greatness was very newly established), had a past known in part to the historians of Constantinople. We can go back, and, noticing their former raids into civilization, peer into the mists that hang over the Steppes, to see if we can discover who were these Bulgars whose final incoming, in the seventh century, disturbed so lastingly the untranquil Balkans.

The Huns and their tempestuous onrush over Europe made a story that has often been told. But whence they came and whither they went are lost in mystery (Even in 1930s the knowledge of the Western Huns - Eastern Huns continuity was fairly well known, though some western scholars denied it, and many did not want to acknowledge it; by 1999 deniers lost any ground; archeology helped to recover the Eastern Huns' path missing from the historical records). Some say they were the Hiung-Nu, the race that was the terror of China; but the Goths, who knew them best, thought otherwise. They told of the wicked sorceresses that King Filimer the Goth banished from his Scythian kingdom, who mingled on their wanderings with the evil spirits of the desert; and from that wild union were born the Huns. [2] Their going is as shrouded as their coming. Not long ago a wave of militarism (I.e. WWI) swept over Europe, and an awful ancestry became the boast of every bellicose nation; Attila was proudly called cousin, if not grandfather, by them all. Of all these claims, it seems that the Bulgars’ is the best justified; the blood of the Scourge of God flows now in the valleys of the Balkans, diluted by time and the pastoral Slavs.

1. Theophanes, pp. 546-9: Nicephorus, pp. 33-5.
2. Jordanes, Getica, p. 89.

At the time of the Huns’ passing, the Empire was still the only civilized State in Europe; and so it is to the Imperial writers that we must go for information. They cannot tell us much; the Steppes were turbulent and very mysterious, and they could not get things clear. They made their attempts at ethnological elucidation, but often it was easier to give them up and seek instead a literary flavor, calling every oncoming tribe the Scythians or Cimmerians. Nevertheless, certain facts emerge. On Attila’s death, his empire crumbled. His people, who had probably been only a conglomeration of kindred tribes that he had welded together, divided again into these tribes; and each went its own way. One of these tribes was soon to be known as the Bulgars.

It was in 482, some thirty years after Attila’s death, that the Bulgars first appear by name (Bel Kermek (Hernach) reign 463-489). The Emperor Zeno, fighting against the two Theoderics and their Goths, found it necessary to call in to help him the Bulgars, a tribe living apparently to the north-east of the Danube. [1] The incident taught the Bulgars that the Empire could be put to some use; during the next few years they made several successful raids on the Balkans, in 493, 499, and 502 (These raids during the reign of Jurash Masgut 489-505 were continuation of the long-established previous policy, to confirm the right to tribute and to scare the Empire into paying up). [2] They also entered again into the career of the great Theoderic. In 504 they were allied with the Gepids against him. [3] In 505, when a brigand chief called Mundo (a relative of Attila, but by some said to be Getic and by others Gepid) was attacked at Margum (the junction of the Morava and the Danube) by the ‘Greeks’ (the Imperial troops), Theoderic’s general, Pitzia, went to his aid; the Greeks called in Bulgars to fight for them, and the Bulgars there suffered their first defeat (Victorious or defeated, they were paid; Mundo's time is recorded as coinciding with accession of Tatra, 505-520, who is noted for defeating Byzantine army and retaining left bank of Danube; was Mundo a rebel or Tatra's commander is a mute subject, but it is clear that Byzantine lost territories on left bank of Danube). [1]

1. John of Antioch, Fragmenta, p. 619.
2. Marcellinus Comes, Chronica Minora, pp. 94, 95, 96. Marcellinus calls them Scythians in 493, but Bulgars in 499, and, in 502, Consueta gens llulgarorum. Theophanes (p. 222), writing several centuries later, mentions only the 502 raid, calling it the first entry of the Bulgars into history (Marcellinus Comes, describing the affairs of the Byzantine from the court of Constantinople could not confuse Iranian Persians with Scythians and Bulgars: Bulgars belonged to the Scythian genus).
3. Cassiodorus Senator, p. 160.

In 514 the rebel Vitalian employed Bulgars to help him in his attempt against the Emperor Anastasius (Banja-Tatra Banant reign 505-520). [2] In 535 they invaded Mysia (Apparently on accession of Boyan Chelbir 535-590; or a rise of Chelbir during the regency of Boyarkyz, 522-535;  she was also known as a regent Boarix and a widow of Boloch 520-522); in 538 large numbers of Bulgars, led by two kings, invaded the Balkans and succeeded in defeating and capturing various Imperial generals, including a baptized Hun called Acum. [3] Next year (539) Mundo reappeared into prominence; he was now ruling in Sirmium, and, his old patron Theoderic being dead, he turned for patronage to the Emperor Justinian. He proved a useful vassal, defeating Bulgar raiders so efficiently that no other Hun dared cross the Danube. [4] And so for a while we hear no more of the Bulgars.

Indeed, the Bulgars of whom we have so far heard were a race of no great importance, a wandering, predatory off-shoot of greater nations that lay behind to the east. To these nations the historians of the days of Justinian, when the world was for a while more orderly, direct our notice. According to Procopius, there once lived a nation of Huns or Cimmerians in the districts to the east of the Sea of Azov and north of the Caucasus. The king of these Huns had two sons, Cuturgur and Uturgur. On his death they divided the people, and Cuturgur went off to conquer new territory. He succeeded at the expense of the Tetraxite Goths of the Taman peninsula, the Crimean Goths, and other tribes that lived along the northern shore of the Black Sea; and his people made the country their base, from which they raided farther afield.

 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. The Türkic words Otragur and Utragur are homophonic, and their retransmission in foreign languages is indistinguishable. Naturally, the names of the wings had nothing to do with the names of their leaders, but traditionally the Crown Prince commanded the Left (Eastern) Wing, and a high member of the maternal dynastic line commanded the Right (Western) Wing without a right to succession. The Center Wing was traditionally commanded by the head of the state or his youngest son. A rivalry between wings is not unexpected, and many historical splits occurred along the divisions into wings.

1. Marcellinus Comes, p. 96: Jordanes, Romana, p. 46, Getica, p. 125: Ennodius, pp. 210, 211.
2. Malalas, p. 402, calling Vitalian’s allies πληθος Ουννων και Βουλγαρον: Theophanes, p. 247, using same words: Georgius Hamartolus, ii., p. 619, adds Γοτθων.
3. Malalas, p. 437, calling them Huns: Theophanes, p. 338, calling them Bulgars, adding the words και δρουγου (kai drougou), which have never been satisfactorily explained: Anastasius (ii., p. 141) in his paraphrase of Theophanes takes ‘Droggo’ to be the name of a Bulgar king, a partner of Vulger.
4. Theophanes, pp. 339-40.

Uturgur, however, stayed in his old home. [1] The eponymous princes probably were born in the simplifying mind of Procopius; but certainly in the sixth century there were two close kindred Hunnish tribes, of the Bulgar branch of the Huns, [2] situated on either side of the Sea of Azov, the Cotrigurs to the west and the Utigurs to the east; and the diplomats at Constantinople found themselves forced to pay them attention.

The tribal division and political division into wings are completely separate phenomena, except that the tribes that occupied western regions belonged to the western wing, and the same with the eastern wing, so the wings were more ethnically close than the state as a whole. It is accepted that Bulgars belonged to the tribal union of Onogurs, with the center in Phanagoria (Tr. Bandja); hence the name for the colony, the Greek legend notwithstanding: what are the chances for a random coincidence of the sailor's name with the name of the tribe where his boat happened to find a harbor. Cotrigurs ~ Köturgur = Western Wing is naturally in the west under Western Wing commander, culminating with Attila; besides the Huns only the Scythian tribe Acathyrsi, Alans and Burgunds happened to be known in the Western Wing; Uturgurs ~ Utragurs = Eastern Wing is naturally in the east, too far east for the Greeks and Romans to know details, but the eastern historians mention the Huns' “old” maternal dynastic tribe Kayi, Masguts aka Alans, Saragurs, Ugors (Urogi) and Savirs (Sabirs) in the Caucasus, apparently belonging to the Eastern Wing

There were several Hunnish tribes with which the Empire had dealings then existing on the Steppes; there were the Sabirs, whose ruler, a tempestuous widow called Boa (Boyarkyz = Boyar's daughter), sought the alliance of the Emperor, [3] there were the Ultizurs and the Burugundi (Called Burdjans in the Caucasus), near relatives of the Cotrigurs and Utigurs, whom Agathias mentions merely to tell of their destruction [4]; there were the Saraguri (Yellow Tribe, with Yellow standing for south, i.e. Southern Tribes), the Urogi, and the Onoguri, victims of the growth of Sabir power. [5] But, with the possible exception of the Sabirs, the Cotrigurs (West Wing) and the Utigurs (East Wing) alone seem to have enjoyed a formidable power and an efficient organization.

In 528 there was a king of the Crimean Huns called Grod — Theophanes euphonized his name into Gordas, and John of Antioch even more mellifluously into Gordian — who came to Constantinople to be admitted into the Christian Church (AD 528 was a turbulent year in the life of the Hunnic state, with ruling regent “Gostun” (Custodian) Kushtan 527-528, regent Boyarkyz (fem.), 520-535, surrogate Moger 528, and stand-in ruler Aiyar (Avar) 528-531. ).

1. Procopius, De Bello Gothico , iv., 5, pp. 475 ff. He calls them Cuturguri and Uturguri or Utiguri: Menander and Agathias call them Cotriguri and Utiguri: Theophanes only mentions the Cotragi ().
2. None of the sixth-century writers actually call the Cotrigurs (West Wing) or Utigurs (East Wing) Bulgars, but the identification is made certain by later writers. See below, pp. 11, 15.
3. John Malalas, pp. 430-1. Theophanes, p. 269, who calls her Boarex. Sabir alliance was considered useful against the Persians.
4. Agathias, p. 365 (v.11.2, v. 11.4), talking of Cotrigurs, Utigurs, Ultizurs, and Burugundi, says, ‘ουτοι δε απαντες κοινε μεν Σκυθαι και Ουννοι επονομαζοντο’ (outoi de apantes koine men Skythai kai Ounnoi eponomazonto = Now everybody commonly calls these Scythians Huns).
5. Priscus, Fragmenta, p. 341.

His Crimean Huns were probably Procopius’s Cimmerian Huns — that is to say the Cotrigurs (West Wing tribes), who had settled in the Crimean lands of the Goths, themselves a Christian race (The Goths are marked by the Catholic and Byzantine Church as wrong Christians, “Monophysites” and “Arians”, i.e. the Goths were monotheists, or a race incompatible with Christianity. The Gothic religion was a version of Tengriism, same as Grod's religion). Grod was certainly a personage of some power; his help had already been sought by the Emperor for the Iberians against the Persians. However, the Imperial diplomats overreached themselves; this early evangelization was a failure. When Grod returned home, determined to destroy his people’s idols of silver and electrum, his people objected, and slew him, setting up his brother Mugel in his place. Mugel preferred to remain a heathen (Tengrian). [1]

Meanwhile the Cotrigur (West Wing) power grew. The Tetraxite Goths, crushed by the Cotrigurs (West Wing), lingered on under Utigur (East Wing) patronage. They were orthodox Christians, and in 548 they sent to Constantinople nominally to ask for a new bishop, but actually to give alarming reports of affairs on the Steppes. [2] Their warnings were justified; in 551 twelve thousand Cotrigurs (West Wing), under their leader Chinialus, incited by the Gepids, invaded and ravaged the Balkans. The Emperor Justinian, remembering the information of the Tetraxites, hastily sent an embassy and gifts to Sandilch (Boyan-Chelbir, nickname “Shan Talgau” >“Sandilch/Sandilh” in Greek), Khan of the Utigurs (East Wing), to urge him to attack the Cotrigurs (West Wing) in the rear. Sandilch was delighted to comply with this request, and did his work only too thoroughly. So Justinian, with all the subtlety of Byzantine diplomacy, told the Cotrigurs (West Wing) of the attack on their homes, and gave them money to retire, and even offered to find them homes within his dominions, should they find themselves dispossessed on their return. The Cotrigurs (West Wing) anxiously retreated; and soon afterwards two thousand of them, under a chief called Sinnion, who had once served under Belisarius, came back to the Empire and were settled in Thrace.

1. John Malalas, pp. 431-2: Theophanes, ad aim. 6oao, pp. 269-70: John of Ephesus, Historia Ecclesiae, p. 475: Procopius, De Bello Persico .
2. Procopius, De Bello Gothico , iv., 4, p. 475.

Sandilch (Boyan-Chelbir) was annoyed at this volatile policy of the Emperor, and sent a long remonstrance — verbatim through ambassadors, as the Huns could not write (Since the 1930s the Huns learned to write. It turned out that we can't read, at least we could not till the Hunnic alphabet was understood and inscriptions deciphered. The written diplomatic exchanges are recorded in numerous instances, but they are mentioned without indicating the language and script, so all we have are educated guesses. If they wanted, Huns could use a number of languages to communicate in writing. The Bible was translated into Hunnic in about 544, “the Scripture was publicized” and somehow they had to be able to read it. In respect to the translation language it is clear that it was the Hunnic language, but the used script can only be surmised. Boyan-Chelbir was literate enough to compose the legend “Shan Talgau” that reached our days in the Michael Bashtu 882 epic poem “ Shan kyzy dastany”). But Justinian ignored the complaints, and merely continued to send the Utigurs (East Wing, but in this case to the Bulgar ruler Boyan-Chelbir) a yearly income (Justinian was paying undefined tribute to the Huns in 551 on). [1]

There was a short respite; but the Cotrigurs (West Wing) were incorrigible. In 558, under their king (Not a king, but a wing commander; in 558 the Hun supreme leader was Djambek Tamiya Tarkhan, r. 527-577), Zabergan, they came again, in even greater force. Their armies divided into three; one invaded peninsular Greece, one attacked the Thracian Chersonese, and one, the greatest, led by Zabergan himself, forced its way through the Long Walls to the very suburbs of Constantinople. The Emperor was terrified; and the aged Belisarius was summoned to save the Empire. His strategy was successful, and the Cotrigurs (West Wing) were outwitted and routed: while their first army was held up by the defenses of Thermopylae, and their second was defeated by the Emperor’s nephew, Germanus, at the entrance to the Chersonese. In the meantime the Emperor sent again to the Utigurs (East Wing). Fearing lest they should be shy after their first experience of the Imperial alliance, he told them that the Cotrigurs (West Wing) had carried off the money destined that year for them; he could have recovered it himself, but he preferred to test their friendship by leaving it for them to do so. Sandilch was impressed by the argument and wanted the money; and so the Cotrigurs (West Wing) and the Utigurs (East Wing) started gaily on an internecine struggle that kept them fully occupied until a new factor appeared on the scene and brusquely silenced them both (The scenario clearly points to the reason for the West Wing attacks: Köturgurs wanted their portion of the tribute, and the collection was the responsibility of the payee; the Eastern Roman Empire had to pay a set amount). [2]

In the early years of the sixth century a race, known among the powers of the far East as the Zhen-Zhen or the Zhuan-Zhuan (Joujan or Jujan), dominated over the inhabitants of Turkestan. As time went on, the Turks tired of this oppression; and in the ensuing convulsions the Zhen-Zhen (Jujan) moved off to seek new worlds to conquer in the West. There they received a new name, and as the Avars they played their terrible part in history. [1] The Huns of the Steppes lay right across their path.

The popular and ossified identification of the Avars with Jujans is erroneous. The Jujan leadership continued pitched battles for some time and eventually fled to China. The Jujan subjects, Hunnic and Tele tribes, largely remained in place and submitted to the Ashina Türks. The year was 552, and that was a beginning of the era of the Türkic Kaganate. The incipient Türkic Kaganate, to gain control of the Tarim basin's Silk Road, controlled by the Ephtalites, allied with Persians, and defeated Ephtalite Huns. Ephtalite Huns fled southward and northward, the tribe Uar or War of the  Ephtalite Huns fled to the north across Yaik, and split. Some fraction of them moved into the Middle Itil area, leaving the Imenkov Culture, and then had to move on to Bashkiria, where they settled in an area that eventually became called after their ethnic name Abdaly (Abdaly > Ephtalites), nowadys called Abdaly district. The Uars led a larger fraction west from Itil, they became known as Uars and Hons, or Warchonits, and Awars > Avars after Uars. The bombastic story of Theophylact Simocatta does not hold the water, it is entertaining, but conflicts with all other Grfeek and Roman distortions of the Türkic words. The Uar Huns ~ Avars subjugated Hunno-Bulgarian tribes, and established their control west from the river Don, over the lands of the Hun's state West Wing. The tribes east of the Don submitted to the Türkic Kaganate, then fell under control of the Western Türkic Kaganate, then reasserted their independence from both the Western Türkic Kaganate and the Avar Kaganate as the united Great Bulgaria. The Bulgarian tribes of the former Hunnic West Wing became known under a new designation Kara Bulgars (Western Bulgars), and the Onogur Bulgarian tribes of the former East Wing became known under a new designation Ak Bulgars (Eastern Bulgars). Already during the rule of the Avar and Türkic Kaganates, the terms  Köturgur = Western Wing and Utragurs = Eastern Wing lost their meaning: the Western Wing  became the Eastern Wing of the Avar Kaganate, and the Eastern Wing became the Western Wing of the Türkic Kaganate. With the demise of the Western Türkic Kaganate a branch of the Ashina Türks migrated to the N.Pontic steppes and formed a new Kaganate, which became known as the Khazar Kaganate. The  Khazar Kaganate subjugated the lands of the Great Bulgaria, forcing many tribes to flee, and the remainder led by Bat-Boyan submitted to the Khazar Kaganate. The year was 660s, and that was a beginning of the era of the Khazar Kaganate.

1. Procopius, op. cit. iv., 18-19, pp. 550 ff.: Menander Protector, p. 3: Procopius calls the Utigur (East Wing) king, Sandil, Menander and Agathias (see next note), Sandilch. The Tetraxite Goths sent 2,000 men to help the Utigurs (East Wing).
2. Agathias, p. 367: Theophanes, pp. 360-1.

But nothing could withstand the Avars and Candich, their Khagan (Why is it Khagan and not Kagan? “Khagan” seems to come from some particular distortion, instead of the Türkic sources. Kandikh/Candich was Avar's ambassador to the Byzantine's Justinian in 557, not a supreme ruler). The Utigurs (East Wing, but in this case the Bulgar ruler Boyan-Chelbir, 535-590) were beaten, the Sabirs utterly destroyed (Sabirs not only were  not destroyed, they proceeded to play divisive role in the N.Pontic); the Cotrigurs (West Wing) were subjugated, and the Avars passed on, to cause panic-stricken turmoil among the Slavs that were quietly filling the Balkans, and to crush the Antae, the bravest of them all .

The Ants, Antes, Antae or Anchies (Anči) were Slavic tribes a part of which was moved ca 390 by the Atilla's grandfather Alyp-biy Arbat Khan (ca 378-402 AD) from Balkan peninsula to the Dnieper basin and resettled on the northwestern border of his possessions. The word "Anchis" meant Tr. "frontier guards" ("border security guards"). The Slavic border guards were headed by clans Erdim, Seber, Bakil (Vakil), Agathir, and Baryn. The Anchis/Antes were exempted from all duties, except for military, and during service time they were not allowed to marry. With time Anchis/Antes became Kara-Bulgar main manpower, and Asparukh drove Anchis/Antes in his migration that brought hin to the Danube in 679. By that time the Türkic-Slavic symbiosis with the Anchis/Antes lasted for 300 years or 12 generations, and both sides culturally and genetically assimilated one to another.

And so they entered deep into Europe, and spent their days now raiding Germany, now attacking the walls of Constantinople. In 562, Candich was succeeded by Baian (I.e. Baian accended), who seems to have organized and ordered the vast Avar Empire, stretching from the Don to the middle Danube. Among their sternly repressed subject-races were the Cotrigurs (West Wing). [2] Meanwhile the (Ashina) Turks, seeking to emulate their erstwhile masters, also moved westward to conquer. The weary Utigurs (East Wing) were no match for them; in 568 they fell under (Ashina) Turkish dominion — the first time that the Bulgars experienced a taste of their future destiny. [3] Thus, with the Cotrigurs (West Wing) enslaved by the Avars and the Utigurs (East Wing) enslaved by the Turks, the curtain goes down on the first act of Bulgarian history.

When next the curtain rises, the scene is utterly changed. The stage is held by Kubrat (Kurbat), King of Old Great Bulgaria.

Hitherto we have only known the Bulgars as they emerged into the view of Imperial history. It is an inevitable limitation; for the Empire alone was civilized enough to produce witnesses capable of writing history, or even of writing at all.

1. I assume the identification of the Zhuan-Zhuan (Jujans, in pinyin spelled Ruan-ruan) of the Chinese with the Avars to be generally now accepted. See Marquart, Streifzüge, p. 43.
2. Menander Protector, p. 5.
3. Ibid, pp. 55, 87. Menander’s Uguri and Uiguri must be careless spelling for Utiguri; though, on the other hand, the Hunnish tribes all enjoyed remarkably similar names (Uigurs were a dynastic maternal partner of the Huns, and they undoubtedly were a part of the Western Hun tribes, a category completely different from the political entity of the East Wing Utragurs ~ Uturgurs. The part -gur stands for “tribe”, making the ethnic terms somewhat alike, and it is well known that the phonetical transmission of the words from a language to a foreign language inevitably distorts the word. The widespread Türkic use of nicknames and titles along with the proper names undoubtedly require scholarship understanding of the subject matter).

But there is one other important testimony, which it is now time to consider; the Bulgars that settled in the present-day Bulgaria produced, in the eighth century, a List of their previous rulers (aka Sherjere and ), with dates attached — a work unaffected by any of the historians of the Empire. Unfortunately they gave their dates in their old dead language, so as to provide posterity with an innumerable series of puzzles, philological and mathematical; it is only very recently that new evidence has allowed historians to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions. [1]

The description of  Nominalia is hopelessly obsolete, and grossly misleading, reflecting milestones of the Türkic historiography. For the description of the Nominalia and its contents and lexicon see Bulgarian Khans Sherjere - Nominalia

Fourth on this List we meet the Khan Kurt, who reigned from 584 to 642. Name and date alike identify him as Kubrat (Kurbat) or Crobatus, King of Old Great Bulgaria, King of the Bulgars and their kindred the Cotragi. Of Kubrat’s (Kurbat) ancestry the Imperial historians say nothing; but the List tells us that he was of the family of Dulo. Two of his predecessors had belonged to this family, though the third, whom he immediately succeeded, was of the house of Ermi.

Ermi is a form for the Ezgil/Ezgel (Ch. Asitsze) tribe described in the Chinese annals as strongest tribe of the Eastern Hun confederation, it was a marital female dynastic tribe of the Ashina Türks. Yu. Zuev ( Yu. A. Zuev, Historical And Cultural Relations Between Iran And Dasht-i Kipchak in the 13-18th c.c. The strongest tribe//Materials of International Round Table, Almaty, 2004, ISBN 9965-699-14-3) traced variations in the transcriptions of the name Ezgil in the Chinese, western (Greek), Tibetian, Islamic, and Rus annals, and followed the destiny of the tribe and its leading personalities through the centuries, political associations, and geographic locations.

A cardinal historiographical point was a visit by unnamed ambassadors of Hermichion king Askel to Constantinople in July of 563. Hyons, and in this case Red Hyons (Hermichions), were a leading constituent in the right (western, Türkic On-shadapyt, Chinese Nushibi) wing of the Türkic Kaganate, which in the 552 took over control from the Jujans of the Jujan Empire. Ezgils were a leading tribe of the distinct Hyon branch, which had a rich history traced with its legendary common genesis from a Heavenly Dog. And the Hyons-Dogs were a branch of Huns-Kins.

“Etymology of the term “Hyon” comes from the Indo-European *khuon, anc. Chinese *k'iwen, Kidanian, Mong. kion, etc. “dog”, “doggy”. A grouping of Türkic tribes united by a totemic cult of Heavenly Dog, with Türkic name Taichan “Dog”, in the Persian sources was called Kermir Hyon (Kermichion), Persian for “Red Hyon”, and subsequently for the Kermichiones of the Theophan “Chronography”. A “strongest” of the Hyon tribes was Ezgil/Ezgel tribe, whose leader in the 563 sent ambassadors to the far away Constantinople. The tribe, called in Persian-lingual sources Kermir Hyon “Red Dog”, in the 7th century Hotan-Saka documents was called Khara Huna with the same meaning (“Red Dog”), the term Hyon corresponded to the (Indian) Huna. The Heavenly Dog cult extended from Asia Minor in the west to Manchuria in the east.”

The strongest tribe of the  Eastern Huns Ermi/Ezgil became a maternal dynastic tribe of both the Ashina Türks and the N.Pontic Bulgars, and the blood of the Ermi/Ezgil tribe flowed in the veins of the Ashina Türks Kagans and of the scions of the Western Huns' House of Dulo. The tribe Ermi/Ezgil joined the Itil Bulgaria and in Middle Ages was known as Esegel. The Ermi tribe of the Western Huns did not have to be strong or numerous, the legacy of its dynastic pedigree sufficiently compensated for its numbers.

The first monarch mentioned was Avitokhol, of the house of Dulo, who reigned for the portentous period of three centuries, from AD 146 to 437. His successor, Irnik, did not compete with such tenacity of life; a mere century and a half was all that he could manage (437-582). Next came Gostun, of the Ermi family, with a meagre reign (I.e. regency) of seventeen months (582-4). And so we come to Kurt, who inherited sufficient longevity from his Dulo ancestors to reign close on sixty years (584-642) (r. 620-653 d. 667).

The name Avitokhol seems meaningless: unless we remember that, by the seventh century, Christian, Jewish, and even Moslem missionaries were spreading Old Testament stories all over the Steppes.

1. I accept Zlatarski’s dating. See Appendix II.

The Turks improved on the Scriptures, and told of the later history of Japheth, whose eldest son and heir was called Turk, and surnamed Yafeth-Oghlani (son of Japheth). Yafeth might easily modify itself into Avit, itself a word meaning ‘ancestor.’ Thus, perhaps, Avitokhol, ancestor of the first royal house of Bulgaria, was none other than a grandson of Noah himself. Certainly no member of the Patriarch’s august family would have thought anything of a reign of a mere three hundred years. [1]

The Hebrow Bible has a number of terms from Türkic lexicon: Adam ~ man, Eve is cognate with vagina and copulate, Ashkenazim is As-Kiji = Scythian tribe As > lit. “As People” with Hebrow pl. ending, and linking Yafeth with Türkic Awit ~ Ancestor may be a valuable addition to the list. Via the Hebrow Bible, the ancient Türkic lexicon entered numerous other languages and language groups, with Biblical connotations, but in no language other than Türkic you can tell your husband after meeting a man in the park: “I run into an interesting adam in the park”. However, Avitokhol is a certain misreading, the original Moscow manuscript fairly clear reads Atila Khan, with a separate capitalized word Khan and a hard sign at the end: . As far as paleography is concerned, for a Cyrillic-literate person the reading Avito of the Petersburg and Uvarov manuscripts has no more confidence than the reading Atilla of the earlier Moscow manuscript, the nescient or biased selection of the reading Avito went against established facts, and therefore is inherently an artificial construction. The Nominalia list of eponymic ancestors starts with historical Attila and his son Irnik, and via a regency of Asparukh's maternal grandfather Organa and his father Kurbat reaches Asparukh.

Irnik’s parentage was definitely less holy. On the contrary, his father was the Scourge of God (That “Scourge of God” was pretty helpful to the Roman empire, was numerously called for the help, and as much numerously benevolently provided the help. Belittling your friends is a bad taste in olden days and nowadays) Attila, King of the Huns, left a son whose name was Ernach or Hernak (the Greeks by now dropped their h’s). The Bulgars, we know, were Huns; and Attila died in 453, when, according to the List, Irnik was on the Bulgar throne.

That Irnik and Ernach were the same person there can hardly be a doubt. [2] But Ernach lived in Little Scythia — in Bessarabia — and Old Great Bulgaria lay on the shores of the Sea of Azov, stretching to the River Kuphis (Kuban). Ernach’s descendants must, therefore, have some time moved to the east; possibly one of them early assumed control over the Cotrigurs (West Wing) when that tribe migrated westward (The retreat concept originated in Late Antique times, in reference to the Hunnic cavalry army of the militiamen. We know that the Hunnic pasturing routes were not affected, the Hunnic tribes remained in the Balkans nonchalantly continuing with their pasturing routines, and the soldiers of the army rejoined their families as they always did after every campaign. The Germanic tribes regained their independence and took their fate in their own hands. The Türkic tribes of Vandals/Burgunds and the Alan army retreated to the west, and not to the east, separating from the Hunnic state. The misreading of the army retreat vs tribal retreat was a later interpretation that flew into the face of the facts laid out, for example, in this work); but more probably during the dark days of Avar rule it was a prince of the house of Attila — whose family had some time acquired the surname of Dulo and had no doubt kept the headship of one of the many Hunno-Bulgar tribes of the Steppes — that was able to supply the unifying force which rallied all the Huns and Bulgars and so built the kingdom of Old Great Bulgaria. This unifier was, I believe, King Kubrat (Kurbat). [1]

1. Mikkola, Die Chronologie der Türkischen Donaubulgaren, p. 23. He there quotes a Turkish (I.e Türkic) inscription found by Desmaisons at Abulghasi (Abulgazi) which told of the history of Japheth. Marquart, Die Chronologie der Alttürkischen Inschriften, pp. 75-6, identifies Avitokhol simply with Attila. This is possible, but I think the biblical origin is more convincing; see Appendix III.
2. Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 1, pp. 40-2, denies the identity of Irnik and Ernach. I give my reasons for disagreeing with him in Appendix III.

The List, then, permits the following deductions. First, from Avitokhol’s three centuries, we may assume that the Bulgar nation had consciously existed for some time past, perhaps even from 146 — time enough for it to have acquired a Patriarchal origin: secondly, from Irnik’s century and a half, that the Bulgars of the List belonged to the branch of Attila’s family founded by his son Ernach, and that roughly from 453 till 582 his descendants, known as the house of Dulo (why, we cannot tell) (Actually, we can tell. First, the Türkic tradition does not have family names, the naming follows individual precedent, and then the tribal affiliation: Uzbeks are named after Uzbek-Khan, Sheibanids after Sheiban-Khan, etc., and Sibir-Khan [Ch. Shabolio] was named after his Sibir [Savir, Suvar] tribe. Dulo comes from the name of the Tele confederation, apparently the dynasty was a dynasty of the Tele tribes; the modern tribal names Teleut and Telengit attest to the validity of the tribal name Tele, and the Tele-cognate toponyms attest to their past locations), were nonentities overshadowed by the memory of their ancestor: finally, from 582 to 584, the Dulo were replaced by a new but short-lived dynasty, the Ermi (Ermy is recorded as the strongest tribe of the ancient Huns, see Yu.Zuev Hun strongest tribe Esgil (Esegil) and their head, Gostun (We know the Türkic Gostun in its Germanized form of Custodian, i.e. Regent, Trustee, Legal Guardian; his personal name was some allophone of Organa), till in 584 the Dulo returned in the person of Kubrat (Kurbat) or Kurt, the Liberator, who reigned for fifty-eight years.

Situation with the name Organa may be more complicated: in Türkic, örgi is elevate, and örgün/örgin is throne; the name Organa may be a Greek rendition of the title-name Örgün, for a generic “an occupant of the throne”. Conventionally, the title Gostun in the Nominalia is interpreted as Slavic rendition of Kustodian (Custodian), also known from the Bulgarian/Chuvash form “kushtan” = custodian, morphologically the word Gostun is a noun form of the Türkic verb göster- = to show, with a Türkic noun-forming affix -tun, with semantic host, owner, custodian (Türkic and English guest comes from the same stem with a Türkic passive case affix: shown to). Thus, Gostun = Custodian > regent and Organa =  “holding the throne” > regent may be synonymous title-names, and Arganda may either be a Bulgarian form for Örgün with appropriate affix (like -ty/dy indicating possession), or in fact a personal name of the regent.

 It was in the days of the Emperor Heraclius that Kubrat’s (Kurbat) name was first heard at Constantinople. John, Bishop of Nikiou, writing from the depths of Egypt, told a story of the rumored alliance between Heraclius’s widow, the Empress Martina, and Kubrat (Kurbat), King of the Huns; and he explained it by mentioning that Heraclius had befriended the Hun at Constantinople in his youth. Kubrat (Kurbat) had become a Christian (Erroneous statement), and then had returned to rule triumphantly in his own country; and he always henceforward regarded the family of Heraclius with grateful affection. Hence it was that when Martina and the Patriarch Pyrrhus plotted to depose her stepson, the Emperor Constantine III, people suspected Kubrat (Kurbat) of being an accomplice. [2] The Ethiopian Bishop was romancing when he pictured Kubrat (Kurbat) being brought up at Constantinople. Heraclius, his kind Emperor, began to reign in 610, when Kubrat (Kurbat) had been a king already for twenty-six years.

1. John of Nikiou (see below) says that Kubrat (Kurbat) made himself supreme over other tribes. Old Great Bulgaria was clearly a composite kingdom of all the Hunno-Bulgars of the Steppes.
2. Chronique de Jean de Nikiou, p. 580.

Nevertheless, it seems certain that Kubrat (Kurbat) visited Constantinople a little later. In 619, according to the Patriarch Nicephorus, the ruler of the Huns came there with his suite seeking to be baptized. The baptism took place, and the Hunnish monarch returned, having been made a patrician. A few pages later, after speaking of the Avars, Nicephorus tells of Kubrat (Kurbat), ruler of the Unogunduri, who revolted from the Avar Khagan and sent to Heraclius to make an alliance: which was kept throughout his lifetime. Kubrat (Kurbat) was also made a patrician. [1] Both Nicephorus and John of Nikiou when they mention Kubrat (Kurbat) call him nephew of Organa (Bu-Ürgan ~ Organa was Kurbat's maternal uncle, traditionally occupying positions of Prime Minister and Superior Judge, and in times of need traditionally serving as regent. Apparently, the Hunnic tribe Ermi became a female marital partner of the male dynastic tribe Dulo/Tele. In the pre-Islamic Türkic societies, the state and its people belonged to the maternal dynastic tribe, lead by the ineligible for succession male head of the tribe. In the Khazar state, that position was called Bek. Notably, Bulgars used a Bulgarian word “Gostun” ~ Custodian for the Regent, instead of the Common Türkic term Ilchibek).

Clearly Nicephorus’s two accounts refer to the same visit. The second indeed is dated in the margin 635, but from its context it certainly may be a digression into the past. And John of Nikiou’s story of Kubrat’s (Kurbat) youth at Constantinople is clearly an embroidered improvement on the same visit. Kubrat’s (Kurbat) life-history thus fragmentarily emerges.

Kubrat (Kurbat) reigned fifty-eight years; he must, therefore, have been a child when his reign began, and as a child he would need a regent. The regent was no doubt his uncle Organa, probably a maternal uncle; otherwise, as an adult member of the house of Dulo, he would certainly have preceded his child nephew on the barbarous throne. [2] Gostun was either a usurper or possibly an Avar-appointed governor, and it was Organa who restored the power of the Dulo. In 619, Kubrat (Kurbat), having taken the government into his own hands, visited Constantinople to secure help against the Avars, against whom he had recently revolted (Kurbat revolted in 630, but may have laid foundations for the revolt much earlier. Between 619 and 630, Kurbat continued sending loyally his armies to the Avars to participate in the Avar campaigns against Byzantine). At this time he was probably just a Hunnish chieftain; his great kingdom was not yet founded (Erroneous or misleading statement. The Hunnic realm likewise existed before the Avars in 558, during the Avars in 558-630, and after the Avars after 630; during the Avar period a significant western portion of it was in vassalage to the Avar Kagan as a supreme leader, under the indigenous autonomous local governance. The White Huns Ephtalite Uar tribe was a relative of the European Huns' tribes, the scope of the change was limited to the upper echelon of power, not much unlike a change of the administration from the Demarcates to the Republicans in the US. One substantial difference was that unlike the Southern States, which could not walk out from the parent state, the nomadic tribes could, and in fact did, vote with their feet and disappear from the supreme realm). He secured Imperial help — the Emperor was only too grateful for allies against the Avars — at the price of baptism; and on his return he established, not only his independence, but also a supremacy over the neighboring tribes. When he died, he was ruler of a land lying round the lower Don and south to the Caucasus, the kingdom called Old Great Bulgaria (Actually, from the Pruth, if not Danube, to Itil). And he left the five sons of the fairy-story.

1. Nicephorus, pp. 12 and 24.
2. It seems to me to be quite unnecessary to identify Organa with Gostun. It is unconvincing and nothing is gained by it.

It is a little difficult to identify the tribes that made up this kingdom. In his early life, Kubrat (Kurbat) is called lord of the Huns or (once by Nicephorus) of the Unogunduri (I.e. Hun gurs = Hun tribes, exact synonym, the same lord of the Huns).

Theophanes, telling of his sons, calls him lord of Bulgaria and the kindred race the Cotragi (the Cotrigurs), and talks of the Onogunduri, the Bulgars, and the Cotragi as forming his subjects (Cotrags = the tribe led by Kotrag, an ethnic designation; Cotrigurs = Right Wing, a political designation; Onogundurs = Union of 10 Bulgar tribes, a political designation; Bulgars and Kotrags are ethnic designations). But the situation of this Bulgaria, from the Don to the Caucasus, is the same as that occupied by the Utigur (East Wing) kingdom. We have heard no more of the Utigurs (East Wing) since their conquest by the (Ashina) Turks. The Turkish (Ashina Turks) tide had ebbed by now, but it must have been strong enough at its fullness utterly to swamp the Utigur (East Wing) power; for it is strange that, while the Cotrigur (West Wing) name survived, the Utigur (East Wing) name vanished (Nothing strange if the West Wing turned into the East Wing, and the East Wing turned into the West Wing of two serarate realms). However, considering the geography, it is impossible not to see in the Bulgars of Theophanes the bulk of the old Utigur (East Wing) people, stripped no doubt of its old ruling class (No doubt is presumptuous, they were not stripped), whereas the Cotrigur (West Wing) aristocracy continued an unbroken career.

The Onogunduri or Unogunduri present a new difficulty. Before Kubrat’s (Kurbat) time we never hear of them, but during the next few years the Imperial writers use their name, the Huns’, and the Bulgars’ indiscriminately to describe the same race. It is possible that the word is a composite affair, a blend of the Huns and the Bulgars, invented by the source from whom Theophanes and Nicephorus both drew, in vague confusion with memories of such early Bulgar tribes as the Onoguri and Burugundi (Like many other later accusations of ancient inaccuracies, this one is also false, the Huns composed of Bulgars are called Hun tribes, with interchangeable terms; the terminology suggests that the ancient authors knew the subject matter better than the notional versions of the latter scholars; hence the latter speculations do not hold the water, while the dates and the facts are valuable).

But all the Hunnish tribes had names of a most unenterprising inter-resemblance, and so it is dangerous to see in any of them an artificial composition. More probably the Onogunduri were the tribe over which the descendants of Ernach ruled. Kubrat (Kurbat) in his youth was only lord of the Onogunduri, as Nicephorus says; but he led the revolt against the Avars, and, extending his power eastward over the Cotrigurs (West Wing) and the leaderless Utigurs (East Wing), founded the new kingdom. The Cotrigurs (West Wing) were probably never completely absorbed. They remained in their old home across the Don, and in the next generation separated again. The second of the five sons in the fairy-story was called Cotragus, and he crossed the Don. Clearly, he owed his name to the nation over which he ruled. [1]

In 642, soon after his rumored intrigue with the Empress Martina, Kubrat (Kurbat) died, at a ripe age and, we may hope, in the odor of sanctity — but we hear no more of his Christianity after his visit to Constantinople; indeed, for two more centuries the Bulgars remained unmistakably heathen (Tengrian). According to the List, his successor was Bezmer, who reigned three years, but after a few months, in February 643, we hear of the accession of Isperikh — we have come here to Asperuch — who reigned fifty eight years (ca 660, Kubrat's 3rd son, Atilkese, nicknamed Asparukh (Khan Asparukh) heads Onogurs (Utigurs). But, according to the Greek story, the five sons of Kubrat (Kurbat), after living in peace together for a little, presumably under the headship of the eldest, Baian (Kubrat's 1st son Bayan (Batbayan) is elected Elteber (Baltavar) and remains in Great Bulgaria, confederated with Khazars), separated and each went his own way.

Depending on which side of the family the story comes from, the sequence is slightly different. According to the Lateral succession law, Kurbat's younger brother Shambat, known as Samo in the western sources, was a legal successor to Kurbat, and is quite reasonably listed in the Nominalia as a successor; after his retreat from Bohemia, during Kurbat's reign Shambat ruled Shambat, aka Bashtu, future Kyiv from his court in Askel (Belgorod, White Fort); the name Bezmer corresponds to Shambat. Shambat was about the same age as Kurbat, and could not last for long. After Shambat, next in the line of the Lateral succession was Bat-Bayan, who is known to be raised to the throne. His younger brother Asparukh was a Western Wing commander during the Shambat reign, while Bat-Bayan during the Shambat reign as a Crown Prince called Shad remained the Eastern Wing commander likely  stationed in Bandja ~ Phanagoria.

Both Kurbat and Bezmer are given “his year is Shegor”, the Year of Bill (actually, Shegor is Cow) which either means 0 or 12 years in between, contradicting the reading of 3 years for Bezmer. The value of 0 agrees with the statement that “after a few months” Bezmer vanished. Instead of 3 years, Shambat's reign could be putative 3 months. However, putative 12 years of Shambat's reign could reconcile a substantial gap in timeline and events.

Alternatively, under Bezmer is mentioned Bat-Bayan, in ca 663-665 AD Asparukh joined a revolt of his first uncle Shambat against his elder brother Bat-Boyan, and in ca 672 (Year of a Monkey) they wrestled Bulgarian throne away from Bat-Boyan. Shambat crowned himself a Kan (Kagan), and the Asparukh years are started with the feud between Bat-Bayan and Asparukh. After Bat-Bayan's accession Asparukh was eligible for raising to the East Wing, as a Shad Crown Prince, but he may physically remained in Askel because of all the connections there. However, it was Asparukh who first faced the onslaught of the Khazars in the east, was defeated, retreated back to Askel , and allowed Bat-Bayan to take over the war with the Khazars. Bat-Bayan made a deal with Khazars' Kagan Kaban, which was not accepted by his four brothers, and they fled with their subordinates. Thus, the Nominalia counts the reign of Asparukh from the time he ascended to the East Wing as a Shad Crown Price, or from the vanishing of Shambat. However, Asparukh would not list his sherjere from Bat-Boyan, who was not his ancestor and with  whom he quarreled, disqualifying the Bat-Bayan conjecture. Only Asparukh was able to take along his Bulgarian horde and the Slavic Anchies, the other three brothers had to flee without their tributaries.

The name Bezmer sounds very Slavic: “Without Measure” or “Beyond Limits”, which appears to be a calque of the Shambat's derisive nickname Kyi (from that comes its Slavic name “Kyiv”), in the Bulgarian Türkic “Cut off”, “Beyond Limit”, which he deserved for his insubordination to Kurbat and de-facto independence in the “Samo state”, also known in the Slavic lingo as Dulobies < Duloba = Dulo oba, the House of Dulo, the Dulo State, variously dated as 620-653 and 623-658. After a debacle from the Franks in 653, not reported in the Fredegar annals, Shambat returned under Kurbat banner, and resumed service as a governor of Bashtu (Kyiv). This linguistical pointer Bezmer-Kyi-Shambat also indicates that under Bezmer is mentioned Shambat, who reigned for three years (or for three months) after Kurbat's (r. 620-653 d. 667) abdication (653-656) or death (667-670). The de-facto split of the Bulgaria, still mostly under a nominal Avar suzerainty, into four political entities (Avar-Pannonian Bulgars under Yalchek and later his son Kabar, Duloba-Shambat state in Central Europe, N.Pontic Ak Bulgar under Bat Boyan, N.Caspian Bulgars under Western Türkic Kaganate), made following the internal Bulgarian events next to impossible.

The western view of the Kurbat story tends to dwell on the sidekick of Byzantine-related Christianity, and completely misses the main events, which completely obliterates the substance. The rich history of the Kurbat Bulgaria must be viewed in the context of the global events (only few dates have independent confirmation):

- After Avar debacle at Constantinople in 626, in Avaria broke out an internecine war, Bulgars were blamed for the fiasco, the head of the Pannonian Bulgars Yalchek was killed, and erupted Avar-Bulgar war
- The trouble of 626-630s ended up with N.Pontic Bulgaria splitting off from Avaria and establishing an independent state “Great Bulgaria”
- The trouble of 630s in the Western Türkic Kaganate allowed Bulgaria to get recognition of its independence from the Kaganate
- The Great Bulgaria was de-facto split between Shambat's “Samo” state and Kurbat's Great Bulgaria, enabling both leaders to claim the title of Kagan
- In 642 started First Khazar - Arab war (642-652) led by Abd Al Rahman who expelled Savirs from Derbend, reached Semender, and then attacked Balanjar, presenting an imminent danger to the Kurbat's Great Bulgaria
- In ca 650 the Western Türkic Kaganate fell apart, an Ashina prince took over the Western Wing of the Kaganate, and established an independent splinter state later known as Khazaria, with pretentions against the Kurbat's Great Bulgaria
- In 652-653 started Second Khazar - Arab war (642-652) led by Abd Al Rahman who reached Balanjar, forcing Khazar Kagan Irbis to mobilized for defense a 300,000-strong army, and seek reinforcement of Khazaria by subjugating Great Bulgaria. The Arab expansion presents an imminent danger to the Kurbat's Great Bulgaria
- Return of Shambat in 653 leads to Kurbat's abdication in 653. Apparently, Bat Boyan becomes a regent for Kurbat in the east, while Shambat controls the Dnieper right bank  territories. Asparukh is aligned with Shambat in opposition to Bat Boyan. Bat Boyan is facing Shambat/Asparukh in the west, Khazars in the east, and Arabs in the south. Shambat disappeared from the scene
- 662 Renewed Arab war with Khazars for Derbent.
- 663 Khazar Kagan Kalga died, Kaban is raised to Khazar throne. Khazar-Bulgar war against Bat Boyan, and subjugation of Eastern Bulgaria (Ak Bulgar Yorty), extending Khazarian borders from Dnieper to Itil
- 666 Shambat dies, Asparukh inherits the splinter western Bulgaria (Shambat may have died in 670)
- 667 Kurbat dies, Bat Boyan is formally raised to the Great Bulgaria Kagan (or what is left of it) throne (that may have happened earlier, during the life of Kurbat, in light of the Kurbat's will on unity of Bulgar leaders, and his magnificent kurgan burial complex at Pereshchepina)
- 670 Continued Khazar attacks under Alp-Ilitver (Bulan Shad, Crown Prince/Shad of the Western Türkic Kaganate Tun-Yabgu Kagan, aka Bulu Shad) defeat Bat Boyan Bulgars
- ca 670 Bat Boyan makes a deal with Khazar Kagan Kaban, nephew of Kagan Kalga
- ca 670 Asparukh evacuates his subjects to Bessarabia, leaving the Western Ukraine to Khazars
- 690 Bat Boyan (625-690) died, age 65
- 702 Asparukh (641-702) died, age 61

1. These problems are fully discussed in Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., I, pp. 84-96). Briefly summarized, his conclusions are
(i.) that the house of Dulo has nothing to do with Attila,
(ii.) that the Utigurs (East Wing) are the basis of Old Great Bulgaria, and
(iii.) that Onogunduri is a composite word — Ουννοι και Βουλγαροι — and does not describe a separate tribe.
For (i.) see my Appendix III. For (ii.) I think his geographical arguments unanswerable, and I am in agreement with the result, with the legitimate modifications suggested above, (iii.) I think unconvincing.

It is possible that Baian (or Batbaian, as Theophanes calls him) and Bezmer were the same person. [1] On the other hand, it is rash to identify names merely because it is convenient to do so and they both have the same initial letter; besides, it would really be more convenient to interpose a generation between Kubrat (Kurbat) and his sons.

Asperuch, the List tells us, reigned fifty-eight years. The similarity of his reign to Kubrat’s (Kurbat) is suspicious, though Asperuch’s was a few months longer; but that is not sufficient reason for rejecting it. Certainly both Kubrat (Kurbat) and Asperuch enjoyed long reigns. But it seems unlikely that a son should only die one hundred and nineteen years after his father’s accession (This is an argument against the suggested date of Kurbat accession: Kurbat is number 3 monarch on the list, following the number 1 and number 2 which are reasonably dismissed as unrealistic durations, and Kurbat's reign duration also may be mythological; the error may be anything in multiples of 12: 12, 24, 36, 48, which may make the duration much more reasonable. The precise dates, like Attila's Dilom Tvirem ~ Snake 9th ~ June 9th, may be a traditional day of commemoration, reliably preserved for centuries in the religious services. Kurbat died in 642, the second year of the reign of the Emperor Constans II [Constantine III, 641-668]). Moreover, Asperuch appears to have had younger brothers. Even allowing for the lengthy lives that their excellent sour milk (kumiss) is said to grant the Bulgarians, the matter remains unconvincing. Kubrat’s (Kurbat) sons were more probably — some, if not all of them — his grandsons. [2] Their father was Bezmer; but, sandwiched as his paltry reign was between the great Kubrat’s (Kurbat) and the great Asperuch’s, his fame never reached Constantinople.

Soon after Bezmer’s accession, the kingdom broke up and the tribes were divided up between various princes of the house of Dulo. The reason was the pressure from a new conquering Turkish race, the Khazars, whose later conversion to Judaism was to be a strange phenomenon in the Christian-Moslem world. At present the Khazars were ruthless militant savages; and Old Great Bulgaria lay in their path. The eldest of the Bulgarian brothers, Baian, stayed at his post; his kingdom, depleted by terrified emigration, fell an easy prey to the Khazars, and he became their tributary (We have a positive statement that Bulgars and Khazars were close relatives, thus belonging to the same Sarmatian or Tele stock. The “new conquering Turkish race” is the same old “Turkish race”, but historically a separate branch led by the new superpower of the Ashina Türks. Prior to that, Bulgars were ignorant of the very existence of the Türks, did not learn that they are Türks until the modern Slavic chauvinism told them so, and up until present resent the designation Türks imposed on them. Linguistically, of course, they are Türkic people; ethnically they are Bulgars and not Turks, whether in Bulgaria or in Turkey).

1. Zlatarski identifies them, which simplifies his history; but he does not face the difficulty of Kubrat’s (Kurbat) and Asperuch’s age.
2. I shall continue to call them, for convenience, the sons of Kubrat (Kurbat).

Gradually, it seems, his people were mostly absorbed by the conquerors, without much difficulty, for Huns and Turks came both from the common Turanian stock; and the remainder lasted only to be wiped out by the Maygars (I.e. Magyars; both absorption and wipeout are crude misconceptions). Thus Old Great Bulgaria quietly vanished. [1]

The second brother was known to the Greeks as Cotragus, clearly because he ruled the Cotrigurs (ca 660, Kubrat's 2nd son Kotrag resettled his Kuturgurs (Kotrags) West of Don, and in 730-740 they spread to E. Azov area to join Kuban Bulgars. Kotrag domain consisted of groups Barsula, Eskel and Bulkar (Bulgar). Probably he was a viceroy who declared his independence at the collapse of the central power. According to the fairy-story, he crossed the Don and lived on the far side, the northern bank. This crossing would be merely his inevitable journey when he went to govern the Cotrigurs. Later, however, when the Khazar dominion increased, the Cotrigurs (West Wing) moved farther to the north, recrossing the Don during its upper eastward course, and settling by the middle Volga and the Kama. There their descendants remained for many generations to come, known to the world as the Black or White (‘White ’ is synonymous with ‘Great’), or even the Silver (an improvement on ‘White’), or merely the Kama Bulgarians. In time they acquired a certain civilization, probably through the Khazars; their capital city, Bulgar, by the junction of the Volga and the Kama, became an important emporium, the centre of the trade of the Volga plain. Early in the tenth century they became converts to Islam, and even imported a Moslem missionary whose gifts included castle-building — indeed he fortified, not only their souls, but their capital — the writer Ibn-Foszlan (I.e. Ibn-Fadlan). Their empire endured till the twelfth century, when they fell before the withering might of the Mongols.

This synopsis is somewhat misleading: the tribes of the West Wing were spread from Bohemia and Transylvania to the Don, they were geographically called Kara ~ Black ~ West Bulgars; the Eastern tribes between Don, Itil, and Caucasus range were geographically called Ak ~ White ~ East Bulgars; the designations Kara, Ak, Sary (Yellow, Light, Bright), and Kuk (Blue) correspond to four cardinal directions of West, East, South, and North; the Itil Bulgaria was called Ak Bulgar Yorty = White/East Bulgar Country, or closer Bulgar Motherland, Bulgar Home, from Yourty ~ Yurt ~ Home. The Bulgar Home at Itil/Kama accepted refugees from the whole of Central and Eastern Europe, but most of the Bulgar population always remained in their native places, adopting to the new conditions. The Ak/White is not synonymous with ‘Great’, its connotation is Noble, Prime. The Silver in this case is not synonymous with White, the name comes from the silver production in the Penza region that made Bulgars famous for their silver exports. The civilization of Bulgars 㼁ༀs about the same as of Khazars, they were eponymous brothers, and products of the Sarmatian culture with all its shine and blemishes. The Islamization was imposed on the Bulgars during the 150-year war with the Arab Caliphate that started in 642 and continued at least until 791. By the 800, and 120 years before Ibn Fadlan trip to Bulgaria, a considerable part of Bulgar population was converted to Islam with savage force and cruelty, bringing upon the country not only massive loss of population, but also unheard of before religious wars and splits, some of them reflected in this work. The Ak Bulgar Yorty withstood the Mongols, withstood the Russians, and endured to exist as Tatarstan, Baskorostan, Chuvashia, and dispersed Türkic (codified by Russians as Tatars) population in the largely Russified Itil-Urals area. The Ak Bulgar Yorty is a centerpiece of the Ibn Fadlan's “Risalya”, much more than the ”passim”.

1. Zlatarski, Istoriya, p. 114, says that Batbaian founded the Black Bulgaria (on the River Kuban) of Constantine Porphyrogennetus’s day. But not only Constantine, but also the tenth-century Arab geographers clearly knew only of one Bulgaria on the Steppes, the Kama-Volga Bulgaria, called also, it is true, by such contradictory names as Black and White Bulgaria. See Constantine Porphyrogennetus, De Administrando Imperio, pp. 81, 180: also Maçoudi, Les Prairies d’Or, p. 16; Ibn- Foszlan, De Bulgaris, passim. It seems, however, that till its extinction Old Great Bulgaria was also called White Bulgaria (I.e. Ak Bulgar Yorty).

To the last they remained notorious and efficient raiders. [1]

The third brother was Asperuch, whose fortune, following the pattern of the Greek story-tellers, we shall trace later. The fourth brother crossed the Carpathians and the Danube and came to Pannonia, where the Avar Empire had its main seat. There he became a vassal of the Avars. Probably this migration was due to a desire to combine with the Bulgars that had come with the Avars into the central Danubian plain. That there were Bulgars there is incontestable. Indeed, the Bulgars that accompanied the Avars to the great siege of Constantinople in 626 were almost certainly of this branch; for Kubrat’s (Kurbat) Bulgars were at that time intriguing with the Emperor against the Avars. Moreover, in 630 the German historians tell of a strange, tragic episode. In that year, they say, there was war in Pannonia between the Avars and the Bulgars. The latter were beaten, and nine thousand of them, men, women, and children, migrated to Germany and asked King Dagobert to assign them quarters. He bade them go to Bavaria, but told the Bavarians to kill them all. This was almost completely done; only the leader, Alciocus, and seven hundred of them survived, and fled for refuge to the Wendic Mark. [2] Probably this war was a revolt of the Western Bulgars in connection with Kubrat’s (Kurbat) successful revolts farther to the east. But, despite Alciocus’s emigration, there were probably many Bulgars remaining in Pannonia; and it was in reinforcement of these that the fourth son (Kuber) of Kubrat (Kurbat) came (They obviously came as refugees to their kins, a perennial trait of the Türkic population. That migration of refugees to Pannonia was not a unique single event). The Pannonian Bulgars remained under Avar suzerainty till the opening of the ninth century, when we shall hear of them again. [3]

1. See references given in preceding note.
2. Fredegarius Scholasticus, p. 187: Gesta Dagoberti, p. 411, ad aim. 630, gives the same story, leaving out the name Alciocus and allowing no survivors from the Bavarian massacre. Zlatarski (Istoriya, pp. 119-20) says that the name Alciocus was an invention, made in confusion with Alzeco; see p. 21.
3. See p. 50.

From the years 675 to 677 the great city of Thessalonica was besieged by a horde of Bulgar tribes, allied with insurgent Slavs of the neighborhood. Various Bulgar tribes are mentioned by names that occur there and nowhere else; but their leader was a certain Kuber (ca 678, Kubrat's 4th son Kuber (Ultzindur?) (Balkor?) moved from S of Crimea his Ultzindurs and Ultzingurs of Hunnish stock to Pannonia under Avars (678-679) who had recently revolted against his Avar overlords, and crossed the Danube to settle in the Cormesian plain, near the city. As in the previous great sieges by the Slavs, it needed the personal intervention of their patron saint, Demetrius, to save the Thessalonians. [1] The appearance of Kuber and his Bulgars, who had already crossed the Danube by 675, raises certain problems. To solve them, Kuber has been identified as the fourth son of King Kubrat (Kurbat). He went first to Pannonia and there fell under Avar domination; but, disliking it, he revolted and moved south across the Danube and up the Morava, and so to the confines of Thessalonica. [2] It is possible, but it seems improbable, that Kubrat’s (Kurbat) fourth son (Kuber) should have been so energetic. On the other hand, the obvious similarity between the names Kubrat (Kurbat) and Kuber must not tempt us into a fast identification. But the similarity may not be entirely pointless. Kubrat (Kurbat) was still the only great Bulgarian of whom men had hitherto heard. The Thessalonians may well, therefore, have given his name in a debased form to their local Bulgarian; or the martyrologist may simply have made a general muddle of names. But it seems best to attempt no embroidery on the known facts, and to leave Kuber unconnected by relationship or name to King Kubrat (Kurbat). Kuber was merely a stray Bulgarian chieftain, who may have been in the vanguard of Asperuch’s invaders, but more probably, considering the geography of the Balkans, came from Pannonia.

1. Sancti Demetrii Martyris Acta, pp. 1364 ff. The date of the siege is approximate; we know it began between the years 670 and 675.
2. Zlatarski, Istoriya, pp. 121-2, 148-51.

He may have been a well-travelled son of Kubrat (Kurbat), or he may have revolted against the Avars with Alciocus, or independently at a later date. Anyhow, after the long, divinely frustrated siege, we hear no more of Kuber. His tribes mingled and were absorbed with their allies, the Slavs, and thus laid the first foundation of the Bulgar claims to Macedonia.

The youngest son went to Ravenna (ca 678, Kubrat's 5th son Emnetzur (Altsek) moved his Alciagirs, Alcildzurs and Alpidzurs from Crimea to Italy under Byzantines, to duchy of Benevetto/Abruzi region, Pentapolis at Ravenna). Here the Greek chroniclers made a small, pardonable mistake. Ravenna, they knew, was a great Italian city, and round it in these troublous times of depopulation many barbarians had settled, Bulgars amongst them [1]; so they used Ravenna for Italy. In truth, the youngest son went farther. In the days of the Lombard King Grimoald (662-671), the Bulgar ‘duke’ Alzeco peaceably invaded Italy and offered himself and his army to be the King’s vassals. Grimoald sent them to Benevento, to his son Romoald, who assigned them three villages near his capital — Sepinum, Bovianum, and Isernia. They settled there, and ‘to this day’ — a century later — still partially spoke their old language. [2] There is no reason to doubt that herein we see the fate of the fifth division of Kubrat’s (Kurbat) Bulgars — a weak, straggling division by the end of its long journey. The name Alzeco is suspiciously like Alciocus; but that proves nothing. The two chieftains were clearly not the same.

Thus the Bulgar family split up, and spread over Europe, from the Volga to the shadow of Vesuvius. It remains now only to consider the strongest branch of all, the only branch to survive the tempests of the centuries. Asperuch, less restless than his younger brothers, but more enterprising than his elders, moved along the Black Sea coast, across the great rivers of the Steppes, to the land of lagoons and marshes where the Danube joins the sea.

1. Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, lib. ii., p. 87.
2. Ibid., op. cit., p. 154.

Barbarians in the Balkans

For centuries past, the Balkan peninsula had been the playground of barbarians, a land that the fierce tribes pillaged and destroyed and left deserted. But till the sixth century none of them made of it a lasting home. The Goths and Gepids, the Sarmatians and the Huns, had all passed through, trailing blood and fire, and moved on to seek richer countries. It was left for a gentler race, the Slavs, to inherit the Balkans (The idea of passing nomads must be derived from the Slavic mythology that reflects the propaganda war started in the 12th c., when  nearly all Slavic annals were rewritten).

Gentle is here a comparative term; but the Slav penetration was covert, an almost unnoticed work achieved under the shadow of more terrible and spectacular movements. In the fourth century the Slavs were still, it seems, hidden in their home, the forests of Western Russia; by the beginning of the sixth century, the world, having hitherto ignored them, was astonished to find that all over Central Europe, from the Elbe and the Alps to the Russian (i.e. Rus) rivers, from the Baltic to the Save and the Danube, Slavs were thick upon the ground. The statesmen of the Empire, anxiously watching the Danube frontier, grew alarmed. The Slavs might be less savage than the Huns, but they were very numerous, and one of their tribes, the Antae (“Anchis” in Tr. is "frontier guards", headed by clans Erdim, Seber, Bakil (Vakil), Agathir, and Baryn), now by the mouth of the Danube, was renowned for its warlike qualities.

The European ethnic history and linguistic history of the linguistic tree model are contradictory and mutually exclusive: linguistically, the Slavs are a branch of a common Balto-Slavic group of the Indo-European linguistic family (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balto-Slavic) that extend to the 6th millennia BC, while the ethnic history attest to the explosive and massive appearance of the Slavs in the middle of the 1st millennia AD. In the lingo-political (or politicized linguistic) reconstructions, the Slavic explosion is explained by the Avar dominance, which is little able to address the linguistic phenomena, and totally ignores the preceding Hunno-Bulgar centuries, when the Western Hun confederation included a spectrum of differently-speaking Alans, Agathyrs, Scythians, Sarmatians, N.Pontic Türks, European Huns, Ases, a part of the Germanic tribes, the Ugrian Magyars, and all populations interspersed in between. At that time, if not earlier during the Sarmat time, a part of the Baltic tribes in the Hunnic realm was destined to become Slavic tribes, from the Türkic “süläü” - “speak”. When applied to the name of the Slavic peoples, the term shows that in the beginning it was exonym for those Balts (and probably not only Balts) who were Balto-Türkic bilingual, and subsequently it became their own non-differentiated ethnonym, which coexisted with the prior ethnonyms, and which subsequently divided again into separate historical and new ethnonyms (süläü > “slovo“ = “word, speak“ > Slav, Slovak, Slovene, etc.). The Avars (and likewise the Khazars) inherited the Balto-Türkic milieu, and probably reinforced it to some degree, but the demographic factors point to the pre-existing overwhelming prevalence of the Türkic Sarmatian-Bulgar population within both the Hunnic and Avar confederations, which would be a decisive factor in the amalgamation of the peoples and languages. In the pre-Hunnic period in the Central Europe, the Sarmatian Burgunds were a branch of the nomadic Vandal horse pastoralists sharing the space with the Baltic tribes, and in a good position to effect linguistic changes that do not fit into the primitive linguistic tree model. The number of Turkisms in the earliest known Slavic languages, and in the most archaic lexical layers of the modern Slavic languages testify of the substantial bilinguality and thus some bi-ethnicity of the early Slavs. This picture will find momentous support (or refutation) when the genetic content of the pre-Hunnic kurgan burials becomes well-studied (See Yablonsky L.T. et al. Paleoanthropology of Southern Urals population in Late Sarmat time and Sarmat Synopsis).

In the reign of the Emperor Justinian the storm broke — softly at first, in isolated raids. In 534 the Slavs made their first excursion across the river (A quarter century before the arrival of the Uar Ephtalite ~ Avars; that is undoubtedly the Bulgarian - or Hunno-Bulgarian time, the regency of Boyarkyz ~ Boarix 520-535, likely led by Boyan Chelbir. That was the time when the Greeks played a pay game, withholding tribute from one leader and paying the full amount to another leader, thus provoking retribution raids by the offended party that allowed their subjects to ravage the delinquent).

In 545 and 549 they penetrated to Thrace, in 547 to Dyrrhachium; in 550 they threatened Adrianople and the great city for which they had struggled so long, and still in vain, Thessalonica. [1] In 558 they followed in the train of the Gotrigurs (Cotrigurs?), to the walls of Constantinople (558 is still before the arrival of the Uar Ephtalite ~ Avars, who in 558 just crossed Itil, while the Bulgarian army was away 2,500 km to the west). [2] As the century passed on, the Avars loomed larger in the background; and the Slavs decided to seek safer homes across the Danube (The arrival of the Ephtalite Avars, and the fall of the Hunno-Bulgar power to the Avars must have been not a smaller shock to the Slavs than to the Hunno-Bulgars; not for nothing neither the early Hunno-Bulgars nor the later Bulgars were demonized in the memory of the Slavic annals, although they coexisted with the Slavs for millennia, but the Avars left there their demonic trace, although with the western Slavs they coexisted for only two centuries, and with the eastern Slavs for mere 70-80 years, and in either case they largely interfaced with the Slavs via the old Hunno-Bulgars. Quite possibly, the Avar takeover did not go smoothly neither for the Bulgars, nor for the Slavs, and plenty of relocations, evasions, and straight out escapes took place). In 581, for the first time, they entered the Balkans and remained (This is a first record on Slavs during Avar time). [3] In the following years their settlements feverishly increased; between 584 and 589 there were no less than ten invasions of the Greek peninsula. [4] The Avars followed the Slav refugees, and the two would even combine against the Empire (It is conventional to believe that the not numerous Avars drove the Slavs as their militari manpower; but it is quite possible that the picture is more complex: Bulgars and their subject Slavs flee the Avars who started asserting their power, and Avars follow in pursuit). In 597 Thessalonica suffered at their hands the first of its great sieges, when Saint Demetrius had to come to the rescue of his city.[5] In 601 the Emperor Maurice, victorious against the Avars, made a treaty in which the Imperial frontier was still placed at the Danube. [6] But it was an idle boast.

During the next years the troubles of Phocas’s usurpation and the Persian war denuded the Balkans of Imperial troops; and the Slavs could do as they pleased.

They overran Dalmatia, destroying Salona, the old metropolis, and spread eastward over the peninsula: till, by the fourth decade of the century, only the great maritime cities and the Albanian mountains were untainted; even the Peloponnese had its Slavic settlements. [7]

1. Procopius, Bello Gothico, pp. 329, 331, 441, 444, 592.
2. Agathias, p. 367: Theophanes, p. 360.
3. John of Ephesus (trans. Schönfelder), p. 8: Michel le Syrien, p. 347.
4. Michel le Syrien, p. 361: Evagrius, p. 228.
5. Sancti Demetrii Martyris Acta, pp. 1284 ff.
6. Theophylact Simocatta, pp. 250-60: Theophanes, p. 432 (he calls the Avars Bulgars, mixing them with their vassals) (Probably Theophanes is correct, and the S.Runciman's notions are wrong. In their shaky position, the Bulgar refugees with their Slavic subjects had more reasons to compromise and seek defense from their Byzantine ally against Avars than the Avars who yet have to define their international status).
7. Sancti Demetrii Martyris Acta, p. 1361: Niederle, Slovanské Starožitnosti , ii., p. 224. Thessalonica had twice again been nearly besieged (S. D. M. Acta, pp. 1336, 1341 ff.).

At the same time the Avars were growing in strength, even in the Balkans, to reach their high tide at the great siege of Constantinople in 626: in which the Slavs joined, as their vassals. [1] After the failure of the siege the Avar power ebbed. In the distant north of their empire, King Samo (Kurbat's younger brother Shambat) freed the Czechs and the Moravians; farther to the south, the Balkan Slavs were strengthened by new invaders of their kindred, the Croats (According to the interpretation of codices of the church of Thessaloniki, Croats invaded Dalmatia and Istria in 603 AD, Bishop Maximus of Salona described Croats as “insightful” Slavs. This contradicts the assertion that Croats were Kangar ruling tribe Charaboi of the Bajanak Bosnyaks, who reached Balkans only after 750) and the Serbs. As the Avar dominion receded, the Imperial dominion grew; and the Emperor Heraclius, victorious at last from the Persian and Avar wars, induced the Balkan Slavs to recognize his suzerainty. He even attempted to strengthen his hold by Christian missions; but, except along the Dalmatian coast, where local missionaries from the holy Latin cities aided the work, the evangelization had little result. [2]

From the Avar decline till Asperuch’s advance from the Danube delta, the peninsula enjoyed a few decades’ comparative quiet. The Empire had recovered a certain control. The coast cities had never passed into Slav hands — though Thessalonica’s escape had more than once been thought literally miraculous — and now with the peace were able to spread their commercial, and therefore political, influence over their neighbors. In the centre of the peninsula, Upper Macedonia, and the Morava plain, and in the Greek watershed, the Slavs were to all intents independent; but farther east, along the ranges of Haemus (Balkan) and Rhodope, the Empire kept a few inland garrison cities, to guard the roads to Constantinople — cities such as Adrianople, Philippopolis, and, far into the heart of the barbarians, Sardica (Sofia).[3] The Slavs by themselves did not constitute a great menace. They were brigands and pirates, but never systematic conquerors (The Avar decline was an internal matter, with Great Bulgaria independence in 630 Avars lost huge territories, and their energy was spent on fighting off the independence movement, but the Avar control of the internal Slavs could not have ebbed, both in Avaria and Bulgaria the Slavs remained valuable vassals and a source of the state's strength. In the post-626 events, and well into the 10th c. the Slavs remain in the orbit of the successive Türkic states, rarely acknowledged in the Slavic historiography of the 19th-20th cc.: Avaria, Bulgaria, Khazaria, N.Pontic Bosnia, Oguzia, Kipchakia. Even the rise of the native Slavic and Viking rulers and creation of independent Slavic states did not bring relief to the Slavs, only their allegiance changed from the Türkic to the Slavic or Viking overlords. The S.Runciman's hapax reference to pastoral Slavs is not supported historically or ethnologically, the Slav economy was purely sedentary agricultural, with creeping slash and burn drift).

1. Theophanes, p. 485.
2. See Appendix IV.
3. The extent of the destruction of the old city life can to some degree be gauged by the various lists of bishops and signatures to the Councils. These have been admirably analyzed in Dvornik, Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome, p. 74 ff. I am inclined to think that the organized establishment of garrisons in the inland cities probably only dates from Constantine V’s campaigns; but presumably some defense was always maintained in towns like Adrianople or Sardica.

Of old, the Antae (Slavic border guard settlers) alone had achieved any sort of political organization; and though soon the Croats, and a little later the Serbs, were to feel their way out of chaos, as yet the Balkan Slavs were disunited and disorganized (References to White Croatia in Pannonia and east of Vistula are sufficiently numerous, they reflect the northwestern-most advance of the  Kangar ruling tribe Charaboi). They all spoke much the same language, and probably indulged in the same heathen (Must be the traditional Baltic/Balto-Slavic religion, probably somewhat syncretized with Tengriism in the Slavic branch) religions. But there their unity ended. In other respects they were divided up into small tribes, each with its petty chieftain, [1] and inclined to be jealous of its neighbors: some of the tribes were purely predatory, but more, it seems, were peacefully inclined and pastoral.

They were too prolific not to be restless; but once they had overrun the whole country there was no reason why they should not have settled down and, from their disorganized weakness, fallen gradually under the recovering power of the Emperors from Constantinople. In the past the Slavs had only been an aggressive menace when they had attacked in the train of the Cotrigurs (West Wing) or the Avars. If now no fresh invaders were allowed to enter in, the Slavs as a political force might fail, and the Balkans be saved to Byzantium (Seeing the Slavs only from the Byzantium political perspective is surely grossly delinquent).

But Asperuch the Bulgar came to the Danube, and crossed.

This first resting-place of Asperuch, after he left his home, has always been a puzzle.

He crossed the Dnieper and the Dniester, and came at last to a place called Onglos or Oglos; but neither of our informants, Nicephorus and Theophanes, seems sure on which side of the Danube to situate it. Subsequent generations have remained in equal doubt, arguing each side in turn. The answer probably is both sides, but more particularly the middle of the river.

1. Called in the Sancti Demetrii Martyris Acta, ρηγες (riges = Kings). The accounts of the sieges of Thessalonica provide a good picture of the Slavs at that time. See references above.

Oglos was one of the islands of the Danube delta, probably Peuce (Oglos is a transparent rendition of the Slavic Ugol for “corner”, a name for Bessarabia, aka Budjak, aka Atilkuzu; speculation about Peuce, in light of well-known Ugol/Oglos is totally baseless; however, the Ugol/Oglos extended from Dniester to the Danube delta, and thus by default included all delta islands). [1] The muddle is certainly helped by the fact that neither Theophanes nor Nicephorus, each deriving his matter from the same lost source, understood the situation, which was probably incompletely described in the source; and so each improved on it in his own way. Anyhow, it is useless to attempt great accuracy.

An island in the Danube delta may have served as a field court for Asparukh and his core administration, but the movement should be seen as relocation of the nomadic mini-state with all its chattel property of horse herds and dependent peasants accomplished by the traditional practice of nomadic migrations; in the advance, each tribe headed by its leader, of which we know Duo, Uokil and Ugain tribes of the upper echelon, was assigned the separate rout, order of procession, and resting points to repair carts and resupply provisions. The provision and defense of the 200,000+/-100,000 crowd of foot migrants, 300,000-strong herds of horses and 10,000-20,000 carts (conservatively allowing for only 10,000 Bulgar families; most popular guestimates are 30-50,000 people; the strength must be enough to decimate the Byzantine army led by the Emperor) is an onerous task even in present days. The movement was likely accomplished in 3 columns on parallel routs separated by 5-10 km distance, and probably on its way both the settled populace and the nomadic kurens (clans) were swept into the migrating procession. Crossing of the major rivers most likely was timed to the winter, as the only means to remain defensible during crossings.

Asperuch’s Bulgars were a numerous race. Oglos, or Peuce, was their temporary centre, but there was probably a vanguard in the Dobrudja and a rearguard in Bessarabia. All that we know is that it was a country difficult of access and full of natural fortresses, marshy and rocky — though the rocks may only be one of Nicephorus’s improvements. Such a description might well be applied to the Danube delta and the country surrounding it. [2]

Wherever it was, it was inconveniently close to the lands of the Empire, those difficult Balkan provinces where the Slavs were being gradually tamed. We cannot accurately tell the date of Asperuch’s move to Oglos. It must have been a gradual affair, taking place between the years 650 and 670 (Atille Asparuh Küngrat could have been born in 630 or 632 AD, (630-3)/12 => 3 the Year of Bars/Bereni or (632-3)/12 => 5, the Year of Dragon/Vereni; the next cycle 642/644 is too late; on death of Kurbat in ca 665 he was 35 or 33 years old; on death of Shambat in ca 668 he was 38 or 36; within a year or two he evacuated his wing to the west/Oglos/Ugol, to the Dniester/Pruth interfluvial, at the age of 49 or 47 in 679 he defeated the Byzantine army and occupied Moesia, he ruled it for ca 12 or 14 years, and died in 695 the Year of Ram/Tekou at the age of 61; counting backwards 695 - 61 gives 634, or within 1 year slack on either end). [3] During these years the Empire was occupied in a sanguinary war with the Arabs in Asia, and in Europe in the religious and diplomatic intricacies of the Monothelite controversy; and in 668 the murder of the West-loving Emperor Constans by a chamberlain with a soap-bowl was followed by a short rebellion. But by the year 679 the throne was secure and the Arab war was ending. The Emperor Constantine IV, Pogonatus, the Bearded, was alive to the danger of allowing new invaders into the Balkans, to disquieten or, worse, to organize the Slavs. Asperuch’s Bulgar hordes must be driven back or crushed.

1. Identified by Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., pp. 123 ff., 387 ff.), who discusses the question convincingly. Additional difficulties have been created by a persistent attempt of historians from Theophanes onward to derive Ογλος from the Slavonic âgul, ‘a corner’ (cf. the Greek ογλος , ‘an angle or corner’). Really it can be equally well derived from agul, ‘an enclosure.’
2. See Zlatarski, loc. cit.: Theophanes, pp. 546-9: Nicephorus, pp. 33-5. Bury (Eastern Roman Empire, p. 338) thinks that the earthworks of Preslav-on-the-Danube (Bersula) date from this occupation. He is probably right.
3. The outside dates are 643 and 679.

And so the Imperial armies marched to the Danube; and there followed that campaign that was ruined by the Emperor’s sore feet — a euphemism, probably, for gout. The result was very different from the Emperor’s hopes. The Bulgars, victoriously driving back the Imperial invaders, themselves invaded the Empire.

Their hordes overran the country as far south as Varna, pillaging and making innumerable captives. And where they came they settled. They conquered the Slavs that inhabited the countryside, and threatened the Imperial cities. The Balkan world had been taken by surprise; it could effect no resistance. Thus, rapidly and unexpectedly, early in the year 680, Asperuch founded modern Bulgaria, Bulgaria south of the Danube.

The Emperor bowed to fate. Shocked at the numbers of captives from his people, he hastened to make peace. All the land beyond the northern slopes of Haemus (Balkan mountains 43.25°N 25°E) as far as the Danube and the Avar frontier (an unknown distance) was ceded to the Bulgar monarch; and he was further promised a yearly tribute if he abstained from raiding the Empire — a humiliating concession, but one according to the canons of Byzantine economy, which found tributes less expensive, on the whole, than wars. [1] (Asperukh essentially was a West Wing splinter, the amount of tribute can be guessed as the West Wing portion, in the Greek parlance the Cuturguri portion. With 80,000 solidi used to be paid annually to Avars, the Bulgars, who replaced Avars on the northern border of Byzantine, should have intercepted the payment to Avars, at 20 solidi/lb amounting to 4,000 lb of gold annually. How realistic is this number is anybody's guess)

The exact extent of Asperuch’s new kingdom is impossible to discover. South of the Danube its eastern boundary was the Black Sea, its southern the Haemus (Balkan) range, and its western probably the River Isker; but there was also considerable territory on the northern bank, including Bessarabia as far as the River Dniester, and probably the bulk of the Wallachian plain (The abundance of identified Bulgar kurgan burials and the modern instrumented dating unavailable in the 1930's makes “discovery” of the extent of the Asperuch’s new kingdom a matter of systematic professional review of the archeological and anthropological studies).

1. Theophanes and Nicephorus, loc. cit.

Along this vague northern line it abutted on to the Avar empire. [1] But it was to the south of the Danube that Asperuch now transferred the seat of his government. Asperuch was not only a conqueror, but also a statesman. From the first he saw that the success of his kingdom depended on the Slav population. The Slavs of the north-east Balkans, haunted by the memory of the Avars and a fear of the Imperial restoration, had submitted to Asperuch with a good grace, almost welcoming him as a leader against the dangers. Asperuch made use of their compliance to organize them, placing them in tribes along his various frontiers and controlling them from the centre, where he built his palace of Pliska and held his Court.

Strategic placement of Slavic tribes along his various frontiers, their forced relocation during migrations, and controlling them from the centre was not an Asparukh's novel idea, it was a standard arrangements with deep roots, unaddressed in the contents above, and documented from the earliest records on Türkic-Slavic symbiosis.

Pliska was no more than a fortified camp, a collection of tents or rude habitations surrounded with great earthworks. It was situated on the low, rolling hills that lie inland from Varna and join the Dobrudja plain with the heights of Haemus (Balkan). This district was the nucleus of the new kingdom. It was probably cleared of the Slavs; their business was to provide padding along the frontier. The relations between the Bulgars and their subject Slavs are difficult to decipher clearly. It is highly unlikely that they blended all at once, as some Slavophil Bulgar historians have maintained (And not only Slavophil and not only Bulgar historians, but first and foremost honest unpoliticized unprejudiced linguists studying the most ancient layer of Türkisms in the Slavic languages; the blending started long before Asparukh).

It is also unlikely that the Bulgar invaders were the mere handful that they are usually depicted to be. The tribe that settled at Oglos and so easily defeated a large, well-trained Imperial army must have been, to judge from the Imperial historians’ accounts, a tribe of considerable dimensions.

1. See Zlatarski, Istoriya i., I, pp. 151 ff. I do not think that Asperuch extended his power as far west as the Isker till after the 689 war.

It is impossible to lay down a dogma on the subject; but it seems that round the edge of the Bulgar kingdom there were these Slav tribes, which kept their old chieftains — we soon find a Slav aristocratic element at the Bulgar Court — but were controlled by Bulgar commissioners: while in the centre was the Bulgar king, the Sublime Khan, and his Bulgar officials and Bulgar armies. During the next century the Imperial historians, when talking of the Bulgar wars, usually call the enemy the ‘Bulgars and Slavs, ’ implying an alliance, but not a fusion; and at the end of the century we find Slavs fleeing to the Empire for refuge against the Bulgars [1] — a movement that suggests that the Bulgars were not yet a predominantly Slav nation.

Of the organization of the Bulgars themselves we are better informed. Like all the Finno-Turkish tribes they had a clan system; and the Sublime Khan was actually only the most exalted of the Khans, the chiefs of the clans (All splinter states of the Western Hunnic state carried over the supreme title Kagan, pointing to the title being originally carried over from the Aral Hunnic center: Great Bulgaria, Samo state, Avaria, Khazaria, and Rus. The Asparukh state was a recreation of the Samo state, and Asparukh deservingly was raised to the status  of the Kagan, full title Kagan Ordu Bey, recorded as Kağana Sübigi in the form Kaana Sübigi > Kana Sübigi). At present the house of Dulo, with its high Hunnish past, was firmly established in the supremacy; but later, when the dynasty faded out, the dangers of the clan system made themselves apparent. The two chief Ministers were called the kanarti (possibly the same as the kavkan) and the tarkan; the latter, it seems, was in charge of the provincial administration. The nobles were divided into two classes: the superior consisted of the boliars or boyars — in the tenth century there were six boyars, but before Boris’s day they were probably more numerous; the lower of the bagaïns. There were also other titles, such as the bagatur or the koulourat; but their functions are unknown.

Finnic and Türkic social organizations are totally incompatible, description touches on the Türkic organization.

Kana syubigi likely Kağana Sübigi with silent ğ, i.e. Kagan Sü (Ordu) Bey = Kagan Head of Army, rendered by S.Runciman with a layman's term “Sublime Khan”
kanarti ? probably distorted something, like Kağan Ordu, Kağan Otra ~ Kağan of Center
 in charge of the provincial administration, provincial governor; the Prime Minister must have also been a first kavkan; “kav” may stand for “kuu” = white, a dialectal synonym of “ak”, with semantic “noble, prime”, then it is Kuu Kağan = Ak Kağan (attested); in Europan languages “kuu” is rendered Kau/Cau like in Caucas = White Rockies, in languages  “kuu” is rendered Kav like in Kavkaz = Caucas; thus kavkan falls in the same category as Slavic rendition of the Türkic Kuu Kas = Caucas, see Herodotus 1.104 on for Scythian rendition
tarkan exempt from taxes, local ruler not associated with tribal administration
Calutarkan ? likely a mixture of personal name or assignment location with the title tarkan
boliars or boyars heads of tribes and highest aristocracy with parliament and administrative functions. They also performed religious rituals, or the institute originated as a counsel of soothsayers
bagaïns lower officer in command of 10 soldiers
bagatur warrior, knight
koulourat ? probably distorted something
samps  presumably cortier
zhupan middle grade administrator, apparently initially equivalent to koshevoi = head of the pasturing route belonging to a clan, from zhupan = a cut of kaftan; used in a sense of elder, alderman head of village or city administration; folklore preserved a ritual of ordaining a local ruler by dressing him up in a special kaftan

During the ninth century the title of Khan was changed to that of Knyaz (I.e. in Slavonic records that used Slavonic language; in other languages were used other appropriate terms), the Slavonic ‘prince’; but the other old Bulgar titles lasted till the fall of the Bulgar Empire, and one even longer — the title boyar appears throughout the Slavonic world. [2]

Asperuch lived on for more than twenty years after the invasion, organizing his realm. He was not left entirely in peace. In 685 there succeeded to the Imperial throne a fierce, restless youth, Justinian II.

1. During Constantine V’s Bulgar wars (see below).
2. I discuss the Bulgar titles in Appendix V.

Annoyed at paying a tribute to the barbarians, he soon broke the peace of 680, and in 689 invaded Bulgar territory — a land now called by the Imperial chronicler ‘ Sclavinia and Bulgaria,’ the Bulgar kingdom and its Slav fringe. The Bulgars fled before Justinian, and he turned and came down the centre of the peninsula to Thessalonica, bringing great numbers of Slavs in his train, some of them captives, others gladly escaping from Bulgar domination. All these he sent across to Asia to settle in the Opsician theme. A few years later thirty thousand of them went out under his banners to fight the Saracens. Satisfied with his good work, Justinian marched back through enemy country; but on the way the Bulgars ambushed him. His army was routed, and he himself barely escaped alive back to Constantinople. And so the Bulgars were left in peace. [1]

In 701, Asperuch died, fifty-eight years since his separation from his brothers (The year 701 is (701-3)/12 => 2 the Year of Bull/Shegor, not 7 = Horse/Teku 694/706 or 8 = Ram/Teku 695/707, the year of Asparukh death and Tervel accession according to Nominalia. Had S.Runciman known the dating system of Nominalia, he would have adopted more consistent dates). His successor was Tervel (r. 698-718, 21 years), of the house of Dulo, his son, or perhaps his grandson. Tervel continued in Asperuch’s path, quietly consolidating his kingdom: till once again, in 705, the sinister figure of the Emperor Justinian II, an outlaw now, with his nose and his tongue slit, entered into Bulgar history. The ex-Emperor, since his deposition in 695, had been living in exile at Cherson, and latterly at the Court of the Khan (Kagan) of the Khazars, whose daughter he had married (703, Khazar royal princess ….. marries exiled Byzantine emperor Justinian II to become Empress Theodora). But the (Khazar) Khan turned against him and he had to flee for his life. Angrier and more determined than ever, he came to Tervel and asked for help. Tervel was delighted; the troubled waters were admirable for an ambitious angler. He placed his army of Bulgars and Slav vassals at Justinian’s disposal, and the two monarchs marched on Constantinople. The walls of the city baffled them, and the citizens within mocked at the ex-Emperor.

1. Theophanes, p. 557: Nicephorus, p. 36.

But, after three days, Justinian crept in along an aqueduct. His sudden appearance suggested treachery, or magic, or the undermining of the walls. The city was seized with panic. The Emperor Tiberius fled; and Justinian was quickly established in the palace and on the throne. He remembered his Bulgar benefactor; Tervel was invited into the city, and, seated at the Emperor’s side, was given the title of Caesar.

The title is significant; but it is probable that the Emperor and the Khan interpreted it differently. Caesar was the second rank in the Imperial hierarchy; but it was in the Imperial hierarchy, under the Emperor. Tervel, in accepting the title, might seem to be acknowledging himself as being under the suzerainty of the Emperor, almost the Imperial viceroy in Bulgaria. But certainly Tervel intended no such thing. He was not versed in Byzantine history and etiquette. He merely saw that the Emperor was willing — was almost obliged — to give him a high-sounding title and a seat at his side; and he accepted it as a tribute to his power, that would raise his prestige in his own country and over the whole world. His view of the transaction was strengthened by the fact that Justinian gave him an immense amount of presents and ceded to his realm the small but valuable district known in Slavonic as Zagoria, ‘Beyond the Mountains,’ the district that slopes from the eastern end of the Haemus (Balkan) range down to the Gulf of Burgas. The towns on the Gulf, however — Mesembria, Anchialus, and Develtus — remained in Imperial hands. Tervel had also been  promised the hand of the Emperor’s daughter; but she was still a little child, and the marriage never took place. Bulgaria had to wait two more centuries for its first foreign queen. [1]

1. Theophanes, p. 572-3: Nicephorus, p. 41-2: Georgius Hamartolus, ii., p. 622. See also Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., pp. 163 ff.

Meanwhile the Byzantine enjoyed the interesting spectacle of the Bulgar Khan distributing largesse to his soldiers, and measuring the gifts of the Emperor with his barbaric whip. [1]

The peace was of short duration. Justinian, who never forgot his injuries, soon forgot his benefits. In 708, no doubt because Tervel demanded more presents or tribute (Actually, he demanded Justinian to be honest and keep up with his tribute obligations that he was obligated to deliver to his people), Justinian prepared to invade Bulgaria. His army encamped by Anchialus, where his fleet rode in the harbor. The troops felt secure, and their discipline was slack: so that a surprise attack from the Bulgars utterly routed them. Justinian himself took refuge in the citadel; after three days’ siege he escaped to his ships and returned in disgrace to Constantinople. But Tervel seems to have won no material benefit by his victory. Moreover, he showed a strangely forgiving nature; he sent three thousand of his Bulgars to accompany Justinian in his flight to Bithynia in 711. They stayed with him till his cause was desperate, and left him then to his death. [2] (Tervel honestly kept his side of treaty as a lord-protector for the dishonest Greek monarch, showing a difference between civilized Bulgarian and a barbarian Greek)

Imperial troubles during the next few years gave Tervel fresh opportunities for interference. In 712, as though to avenge his friend Justinian, he invaded Thrace, ravaging as far as the Golden Gate of Constantinople itself, and retiring laden with booty and unhurt. [3] In 716, when an Arab invasion was imminent, the ephemeral Emperor Theodosius III sought to consolidate his position by making a treaty with Tervel, the first Bulgarian treaty the terms of which we know. These terms first fixed the frontier: which was to pass by Meleona — an unknown place that must be some peak on the great Monastery range, such as the heights of Bakadzhik. Probably the frontier now followed the line later fortified by the Bulgars and known as the Great Fence of Thrace — a line running roughly for some miles from the northern shore of the Gulf of Burgas in a west-south-west direction, through Bakadzhik to the Maritsa.

1. Suidas, Lexicon , p. 761.
2. Theophanes, pp. 575-6: Nicephorus, pp. 43-4, 47.
3. Theophanes, pp. 586-7: Nicephorus, pp. 48-9.

Farther west the country was too unsettled for a definite frontier to be drawn. The second article of the treaty provided for a yearly payment by the Imperial Court to the Khan of robes and skins to the value of 30 lb. of gold (about £1,350). The third provided for an exchange of prisoners and the return of refugees, even refugees who were hostile to the present Governments — the Imperial civil wars must have obliged many intriguers from the Empire to take refuge in Bulgaria. The fourth article stipulated the free intercourse of merchants and merchandise between the two countries, provided that the merchants had passports and seals; those without passports were to have their goods confiscated.[1]

Annual tribute was in gold, the robes did not count and were supposed to be good will gifts; the last thing that animal pastoralists needed were skins  and other products of animal farming. On the opposite,  animal pastoralists needed free markets to sell their surplus horses and animal row materials. The value of GDP can be derived from the size of the cavalry army: 1 warrior per family and 30 horses (with sheep converted to equivalent horses at 10 sheep per 1 horse) that produce 20% or 6 horses for sale annually per family. At 20 solidi a head and 20 solidi/lb, it is 6 lb of gold per family if they sell all their merchandise at Byzantine market prices. We can guesstimate that the local market would provide only 10% of that, or  0.25 kg of gold, or 5 kg of silver annually (Angeliki E. Laiou, Editor-in-Chief, The Economic History of Byzantine: From the Seventh through the Fifteenth Century 2002, Dumbarton Oaks, http://www.iisg.nl/hpw/byzantium.pdf). A 10,000-strong army represents 40,000 to 50,000 tribe with an annual trade income of 2,500 kg of gold, or 50,000 kg of silver, not exactly living in poverty.

Annual tribute
716 - 30 lb. of gold

Theodosius barely outlasted the treaty; but his successor, Leo the Isaurian, apparently confirmed it, through his ambassador, Sisinnius Rendacius. In 717, when the Arabs made their second great siege of Constantinople, Tervel helped the Imperial defenders by making a raid, considerably to his profit, on the Arab encampment. [2] But next year, after the Arabs had fled in rout, Tervel grew less well-disposed towards the Emperor Leo, and even involved himself in an intrigue in favor of the ex-Emperor, that emanated from Thessalonica and was supported by Sisinnius. However, the affair amounted to nothing, and shortly afterwards Tervel died, in May 718 (r. 698-718 or 719, or 699-719, 21 years). [3]

For Asparukh and Tervel, with  Aiyar (r. 718-724, 6 years) providing the anchoring date for the Tervel's death, the Nominalia reads:
“Prince Esperih, 60 and 1 years. His clan is Dulo, and his year is V?(B?)eren(i?) Alem (Dragon or Bars? 1st, i.e. 3rd or 5th year 1st month Jan)”
Tervel, 21 years. His clan is Dulo, and his year is Tekou Chitem (Horse or Ram? 7th, i.e. 7th or 8th year 7th month July)”.

Potential dates are listed in the tabulation that covers a span from 718 for 8 previous cycles, or 96 years 622-718:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
        Hare     Snake   Horse 622 Sheep 623
Mouse 628 Bull 629 Bars 630 Hare 631 Dragon 632 Snake 633 Horse 634 Sheep 635
Mouse 640 Bull 641- Asparukh rise Bars 642 Hare 643 Dragon 644 Snake 645 Horse 646 Sheep 647
Mouse 652 Bull 653 - Kurbat retires Bars 654 Hare 655 Dragon 656 Snake 657 Horse 658 Sheep 659
Mouse 664 Bull 665 Bars 666 Hare 667 - Kurbat death Dragon 668 Snake 669 Horse 670 Sheep 671
Mouse 676 Bull 677 Bars 678 Hare 679 Dragon 680 Snake 681 Horse 682 Sheep 683
Mouse 688 Bull 689 Bars 690 Hare 691 Dragon 692 Snake 693 Horse 694 Sheep 695
Mouse 700 Bull 701 Bars 702 - Asparukh death Hare 703 Dragon 704 Snake 705 Horse 706 Sheep 707
Mouse 712 Bull 713 Bars 714 Hare 715 Dragon 716 Snake 717 Horse 718 - Tervel death Sheep 719
Mouse 724 - Aiyar death Bull 725 Bars 726 Hare 727 Dragon 728 Snake 729 Horse 730 Sheep 731
Mouse 736 Bull 737 Bars 738 Hare 739 - Sevar death Dragon 740 Snake 741 Horse 742 Sheep 743
Mouse 748 Bull 749 - Kormisosh death Bars 750 Hare 751 Dragon 752 Snake 753 Horse 754 Sheep 755
Mouse 760 Bull 761 - Vineh death Bars 762 Hare 763 Dragon 764 Snake 765 - Umor death Horse 766 Sheep 767


The Year of Horse/Teku is 718,  (718-3)/12 => 7 = Horse/Teku years 694/706/718 or Year of Ram/Teku is 719,  (719-3)/12 => 8 = Ram/Teku years 695/707/719, and the 7th month is July. Nominalia is consistent with Theophanes and Nicephorus if “his year” means  “the year of his death” or “the end year of his reign” (religiously, the year of return to Tengri)

Dog 698 Boar 699 Esperih, 60 and 1 years. His clan is Dulo, and his year is Dragon (5) 692/704 or Bars (3) 690/702?) => 632 Dragon-692 Dragon/644 Dragon-704 Dragon or 630 Bars-690 Bars/642 Bars-702 Bars

1. Theophanes, p. 775. He only refers to it retrospectively, when dealing with Krum’s wars, a century later. He says it was made between Theodosius and the Patriarch Germanus, and Cormesius (Kormisosh) of Bulgaria. Clearly Tervel is meant. With regard to the Great Fence, which some historians think dates from this time, see Appendix VI.
2. Theophanes, p. 611: Cedrenus, p. 790: Zonaras, p. 726.
3. Theophanes, p. 615: Nicephorus, p. 55. The date of Tervel’s death is given in the List ().

Tervel’s reign had been restless, and his policy variable and perverse. He was justified by his achievements. His readiness to interfere helpfully in the internal troubles of the Empire, in spite of the Emperors’ breaches of the peace, made him too valuable a figure in Imperial politics. In those difficult years no Emperor could afford to embark on the natural course of stamping out the aggressive barbarians (The words “natural course of stamping out the aggressive barbarians” show  S.Runciman's attitude, and are demeaning for the author). Justinian II, who alone made one short and disastrous attempt to do so, did not dare to repeat the experiment, lest it might be successful and he lose his best support.

Meanwhile the indispensable Tervel improved his own position. His frontier was pushed farther south over the Haemus (Balkan) to embrace Zagoria and to stretch even to the mountains of Rhodope. How far west it ran we do not know; Sardica and Philippopolis were both Imperial fortresses, but Bulgar influence was spreading; it was alarming that Thessalonican intriguers should be in close touch with the Khan.

But more alarming was the firmness with which the Bulgars were now established in their home. The newly come nomads of thirty years before now ruled a kingdom from beyond the Danube into Thrace, and ruled it in sufficient tranquillity to enjoy the blessings of commerce. They were still distinct from the Slavs; and, except round their centre — which, it seems, was more purely Bulgar — they were only the landowning, organizing aristocracy, similar no doubt to the Normans that three centuries later were to order the backward Anglo-Saxons. But a certain blending between the races was inevitable; though there yet remained many Slavs to resent the Bulgar intrusion (There were Slavs and Slavs, the Slavs that came with Asparukh and the Slavs that came earlier with Avars, the first allied and under protection of the Bulgars, the second freed from the Byzantine administration and Byzantine taxing system. Resentment must refer to the Slavs that loved being Byzantines The Asparukh the Slavs were Anchies and Polyanes).

Of the details of this consolidation we are necessarily ignorant, but that it certainly existed was proved by the story of the next half-century. For thirty-seven years after Tervel’s last intrigue the Imperial chroniclers have nothing to tell of the Bulgars.

Even the Bulgar List cannot give us the name of his successor (Aiyar), who reigned for six years, till 724. There then followed the Khan Sevar (r. 724-739, 15 years), till 739 (I.e. for 15 years; the year 739 is the year of Hare); but of him we know nothing, save that, like his predecessors, he was of the family of Dulo. In him this great house, the House of Attila, died out. [1]

The unnamed successor who reigned for six years was Tervel's younger brother Aiyar, raised in line of Lateral succession, his line in Nominalia that reads ” ...and his year is... Tv?irem” should read “[Aiyar, 6 years. His clan is Dulo,] and his year is Somor Tv?irem”: 718+ 6 = 724 ~>  (724-3)/12 => 1 = Mouse/Somor, 9th month Sept.

The next Khan Sevar according to the Lateral succession rules was Aiyar's nephew and son of Tervel. Sevar must have been born from a Suvar mother, which indicates that a branch of Suvars joined with Asparukh, or that Tervel concluded a dynastic marriage with a princess from the house of Savirs. We know that a branch of the Savirian Baryn tribe migrated with Asparukh. The reconstructed Sevar line in Nominalia reads ”..., 28 years. His clan is Dulo, and his year is Hare 8th” appears to be read erroneously, the true number is 15 which ends in 739 and is a Year of Hare, and not 28 which ends in 752:  724+ 28 = 752 ~>  (752-3)/12 => 5 = Dragon/Samar or Ver, i.e. out of line. The Sevar line in the Nominalia should read “[Sevar], 15 years. His clan is Dulo, and his year is Davshan Shekhtem”:  724+ 15 = 739 ~>  (739-3)/12 => 4 = Hare/Davshan, 8th month Aug

The Danube Bulgarian branch of the House of Dulo somehow has expired in spite the usual host of children from polygamous marriages, but the line of Asparukh brother Bat-Boian was alive and kicking, and is traceable in the preserved Bulgarian annals and in the Dulo trident dynastic tamga, which for a time became a country emblem for the Rus, and survived in the country emblems of Ukraine. See Western Hun's Khan Lineage.
Svyatoslav son's Vladimir zolotnik 980-1016 AD
With trident tamga
Yaroslav srebrenik 1016-1024 AD
With trident tamga
Modern Ukraine
Coat of Arms

Barys (Svyatoslav )
clan tamga
Onogur traibal areas
surrounding Onoguria (Gr. Phanagoria)
Hun state Crimean Onogur clans
Fig. 5-50 Fig. 5-49          

 The end of the old reverend dynasty meant an era of civil wars. The Bulgar lords and boyars were too jealous of each other to submit long to the rule of any one of their number. Moreover, they were splitting into two factions. The one, misunderstanding Tervel’s policy, were all for concord with the Empire and eyed longingly the comforts of Byzantine civilization. The other hated the seductive luxuries and Imperial conceptions of Byzantium, and were determined on war. The successor of the last Dulo was a boyar named Kormisosh (739-756?), of the family of Vokil or Ukil.

In the Chinese dynastic annals, the tribe Uokil predates the Hun's dynastic tribe Luyanti by many centuries, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uokil. The Uokil dynastic line is unrelated to the Dulo line, it is a separate line that must have headed the Uokil tribe in the Danube Bulgarian confederation.

Kormisosh belonged, it seems, to the Byzantine faction; for sixteen years, by maintaining peace, he maintained himself on the throne, till, in 755, circumstances forced him into war.  Under the great Isaurians, Leo III and Constantine V, the Empire had been undergoing religious schism but political re-organization, and the latter Emperor was now in a position from which he could strike at his neighbors. The common people of Byzantium might mourn for their lost images and surname their persecutor Copronymus, the Dung-named, but the army was devoted to him; and he had made the army supreme in the State. In the year 755, Constantine had transported large numbers of Armenians from Theodosiopolis and Syrians from Melitene to the Thracian frontier, where he constructed fortresses for them, to be their homes and their defense.

1. The dates and dynasties are to be found in the List (see Appendix II).

The Bulgars demanded tribute and an indemnity on account of these new fortresses; their construction was probably a breach of the Theodosian peace. [1] But Constantine dismissed the Bulgar ambassadors with contumely, and so Kormisosh had to yield to the pressure of his war party, and invaded the Empire.

The Bulgars raided triumphantly as far as the Long Walls; but suddenly Constantine fell on them and routed them utterly. Even during their headlong flight the Emperor inflicted heavy losses on them. [2] The story of the ensuing campaign is a little hard to decipher; our two informants, Theophanes and Nicephorus, disagree, the former’s account merely mentioning a terrible victory of the Bulgars at Veregava in 759, the latter’s, the more detailed but less dated, telling of a considerable campaign that followed on the 755 raid but was over by 762, culminating in an Imperial victory at Marcellae. Neither chronicler appears to have heard of the other’s battle.

Nicephorus is the more convincing; it is necessary to follow his accounts interspersing dates and a disaster at Veregava as best we may. It seems, then, that Constantine determined to follow up his victory. Soon afterwards he took an army by sea to the mouth of the Danube, and, landing there, marched down victoriously through Bulgaria, pillaging and making captives as he came, and finally routed the Bulgar army near a fort called Marcellae, close to the Imperial frontier. [3] This must have occurred during the years 756 or 757. In 758, as we know from Theophanes,

1. Both Nicephorus, p. 66, and Theophanes, p. 662, say that the Bulgars claimed tribute at the sight of the new fortresses, Theophanes adding, ‘according to the πακτα’. I do not think it is necessary to give as complicated an explanation as Lombard (Constantin V, Empereur des Romains, p. 43) gives. It simply was a breach of the treaty, entitling the other party to compensation. I believe that neither side was to fortify the frontier; and that is why the Fence was not built by the Bulgars as yet.
Theophanes, p. 662, says that the Bulgar raid was successful, using almost the identical words which he used to tell of the successful Bulgar raid of 712. Here he must be wrong; Nicephorus is too positive.
3. Identified by Bury (Eastern Roman Empire, p. 339) as Karnobad. Zlatarski places it at Bakadzhik (pp. 204-5).

Constantine was busy subduing the Slavs of the Thracian and Macedonian frontiers — they had no doubt taken advantage of the war between their two overlords to aim at independence (It is unlikely that at that time and in the following 2 centuries the Slavs had a concept of independence, this is a backward projection of 19th century nationalism that did not exist in the 7th c. The ideology of hierarchy was the only social model known, and the structure of the hierarchy was superethnic both in the minds of the ruling strata and of the ruled). Constantine firmly reduced them to obedience. In 759 it is quite possible that Theophanes’s battle of Veregava took place. Probably Constantine himself was not present, and that is why Nicephorus ignores it.

Nicephorus implies that Constantine had conquered a large number of the tribes in Bulgaria; but by the end of the campaign it is clear that he did not still hold them. It is, therefore, likely that he left behind an army of occupation, which, however, was heavily defeated by the Bulgars as it passed through the defiles of Veregava, on the Diampolis-Pliska road, and forced to evacuate the country. Among the dead were the strategus of the Thracesian regiment, and many other distinguished soldiers.

But, in spite of this reverse, whose importance Theophanes probably exaggerated, the campaign had been highly favorable to the Emperor, and the Bulgars were anxious to sue for peace, possibly forfeiting their tribute, and certainly providing hostages. [1]

During these troubles, Kormisosh (739-756?) had died, in September 756, soon after the first defeat. It was his successor, Vinekh (r. 749 -761, 12 years ) (of the same family, probably his son) who had to bear the brunt of the war. Its disasters were his undoing. His subjects supported him through it all, but the humiliating peace exasperated them. At the close of 761 they rose up against him, and massacred him and all the representatives of the house of Ukil; and in their place the throne was given to a sinister boyar of the house of Ugain, called Telets, the leader of the war party. [2] (Of the Ugain clan and its affiliation we know nothing. The demise of the supreme leader in the Türkic states was based on a concept of anointment, in the Tengriism the elected leader was anointed by Tengri, the wellbeing of his people was a manifestation of the anointment, and the loss of supernatural blessing was manifested in calamities befalling on the state. The leader that lost the goodwill of Tengri was ritualistically bloodlessly killed, and another candidate raised to the throne to give Tengri another chance to manifest His benevolence)

Nominalia reads: “Kormisos, 17? years. His clan is Vokil, and his year is Bull 9th”: 739  was the Year of Hare, and 756 was the Year of Monkey; the nearest Years of Bull are 749 and 761, which give 10 and 22 years of reign respectively; the number 17 is an apparent misreading, since the Davshan = Hare and Shegor = Bull appear to be beyond any doubts; the choice between 749 and 761 must be corroborated by external sources;  The Kormisosh line in the Nominalia should read “Kormisosh, [10 or 22] years. His clan is Vokil, and his year is Shegor T(v?)irim (Bull 9th month Sept”)

Nominalia reads: “Vineh, 7 years. His clan is Ukil, and he has (his year) Bull 1st (2nd year 1st month Jan)”: since both Kormisosh and Vineh have “their year” Bull/Shegor, the 7-year reign is apparent  misreading, his reign was undoubted 12 years stared in 749 or 761 Year of Bull and terminated in 761 or 773 Year of Bull; the literary testimony states 761as the termination date, thus Vineh (r. 749 -761, 12 years), and the Nominalia should read “Vineh, [12] years. His clan is Vokil, and his year is Shegor T(v?)irim (Bull 1st month Jan”)

From the positive example of Vineh it can be concluded that ”his year” in the Nominalia states the year of the monarch's departure to the other world (return to Tengri). It also allows to emend the previous erroneous readings:
Vineh (r. 749 -761, 12 years): 7 => 12
Kormisosh  (r. 739-749): 17 => 10
Sevar (r. 724-739, 15 years)
Aiyar (r. 718-724, 6 years)
Tervel (r. 698-718, 21 years)

1. Theophanes, pp. 662-5: Nicephorus, pp. 66-7: see Lombard, op. cit., pp. 43 ff.
2. Dates given in the List: Theophanes, p. 667: Nicephorus, p. 69, also his Antirrhetici, p. 508.

Telets (whose age, we are told, was thirty) (I.e. Telets was born in 731) at once embarked on a vigorous policy, and forcibly levied troops from among his subjects. This was not altogether agreeable to the Slavs, and in consequence a horde (I.e. Multitude, crowd, swarm, etc. Horde of Slavs is a misnomer, Slavs were not nomads, and were not organized in hordes) of some 208,000 of them left Bulgaria to seek an asylum in the Empire. The Emperors had always been glad to mix up populations so as to break down nationalism; and Constantine received them gladly, allotting them a home in Bithynia, by the River Artanas (This is an outstanding event, recorded history does not know Slavic revolts against Bulgars, especially remarkable because the Slavic aristocracy amalgamated with the Bulgar nobility. This type of revolts is typical for the Türkic social behavior, valuing their freedom of association and voting with their feet. The main reason for the revolt could be accession of non-eligible claimant, who did not gain acceptance of the tradition-driven subjects. In that case, the schism rose within the ruling hierarchy, and the leading clans of Dulo, Uokil, Suvar, and Baryn fled to the empire, bringing along their dependent Slavs. This case would parallel that of the 53 BC Huhanye, who fled to China for support and protection. Such political splits were the main cause of demise of the Türkic states: Eastern Huns, Western Huns, Great Bulgaria, Türkic Kaganates, Kipchak Khanate, etc. To make it more palatable for Constantine, the rebels could have cited that they were forced to fight against Byzantine).

The Khan began the war with an invasion of Thrace, during which he even captured some of the frontier fortresses. Then, knowing that he would have to face reprisals, he took the precaution, rare among the barbarians (I.e. rare for the nomadic states, since sedentary states traditionally built fortifications), of fortifying his frontier, and waited behind in a strong position with a great army, to which he had added no less than 20,000 auxiliaries, chiefly Slav (This number allows to suggest 20,000 families, and since the sedentary Slav families were much larger than the nomadic families, it allows to guestimate 200,000 Slavic population after 208,000 Slavs escaped). But Constantine was equally impressed by the seriousness of the war, and the Empire could command better organized resources.

First he dispatched an expedition by sea to the mouth of the Danube (as he had done on his first campaign) — mainly a cavalry force, each boat carrying twelve horses (This is also an indicator of the internal Bulgarian conflict, Byzantine was extremely weak on cavalry, and to amass a cavalry army Byzantine had to use nomadic mercenaries. However, for a cause of reconquista the rebels did not need remuneration, just the boats, and Byzantine could fight with others' hands).

Then, as his horsemen rode down through the Dobrudja, he marched up through Thrace, and in June 763 [1] the armies met and encamped by Anchialus, the great Imperial city at the head of the Gulf of Burgas. Telets attacked them there, on June 30, and a terrible battle raged from daybreak to nightfall. The carnage was immense, but in the end the Bulgars were routed (I,e. Telets' Bulgars were routed, Byzantine and rebellious Bulgars were victorious, but it were the the sons of the Bulgarian nation who paid the price).

1. I agree with Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., 1, p. 213) in dating the battle of Anchialus 763 rather than 762, which Theophanes gives and which Lombard (op. cit., pp. 47-8) accepts. Theophanes dates Telets’s revolution and the battle before the great winter of 762-3; Nicephorus dates them both after; the natural deduction seems to me to be that the revolution, Telets’s first expedition (which Theophanes does not mention), and the Slav emigration occurred in 762, but Constantine had to wait till after the winter (which was severe enough to freeze the shores of the Black Sea) to start his punitive campaign. Telets, as we know from the List, did not fall till the close of 764.

The Imperial army was too heavily reduced to follow up the victory; so Constantine returned to his capital, to hold triumphal games in the Circus and to slaughter ceremoniously his thousands of captives (Another massacre of the Bulgar males). [1]

The disaster had crippled the Bulgars, but it did not break their spirit. Telets’s government lingered on for a year discredited. It failed to repair the position, so eventually Telets was murdered with the nobles of his party by his angry subjects (Following the Türkic Tengrian tradition).

The throne was now given back as nearly as possible to the annihilated dynasty of Ukil; Sabin (765-766), a son-in-law of Kormisosh, became Khan. Sabin at once tried to negotiate with Constantine; but a peace was not at all to the temper of the Bulgars.  Accused of handing over the country to the Empire, he found it a necessary precaution to flee to the Imperial city of Mesembria, where he threw himself on the protection of the Emperor. In his place the Bulgars appointed a Khan called Pagan (767–768).[2]

Sabin is a dialectal Bulgarian pronunciation of Sabir/Savir, a powerful tribe of the Bulgarian circle; naming sons after the tribe of the mother was a perennial Türkic custom, so apparently the Prince of the Uokil tribe was married to a Princess from the Savir tribe; “Saban” in Bulgarian also was a term for lightly armed inexperienced soldiers, and also for militiamen and mercenaries, which is an unlikely semantic for a prince. Jagfar Tarihi identifies Sabin as Sain, where Sain is a Türkic Tengrian title-name Kind, Happy. 

The name Pagan in the 7th c. did not have its modern Christian derogatory meaning, in Roman it had semantic corresponding to the modern “rustic”, “inept”. Later, it came into usage as “retard”, “old fashioned”, and as such entered the Christian lingo as corresponding to the “old religion”. It would be futile to seek a derogatory religious or Roman rustic etymology for a Türkic Khan's name, and even more so to seek a Slavic etymology, because it came to Slavic corresponding to “unclean”. No European semantics fits a name of Türkic high nobility, and the Türkic semantic is recorded in the compilation Jagfar Tarihi, which identifies Pagan as Türkic Boyan, a son of the Khan Bunek (Nominalia's Vinekh), and credits him with expulsion of Sain (i.e., Sabin), where Sain is a Türkic Tengrian title-name Kind, Happy. 

Constantine received Sabin gladly, and even sent for his wives and relations from Bulgaria, thus collecting the whole Bulgar Royal family at Constantinople.

Meanwhile Pagan realized that further war was impossible, and sent an embassy to the Imperial court. It was not received. Instead, Constantine prepared a new expedition. Pagan was desperate; with his boyars he came in person to Constantine to beg for clemency. Constantine received them with the ex-Khan Sabin seated by his side, and harangued them sternly as rebels against their legitimate sovereign; but making it quite clear that he considered their sovereign as his vassal. Peace was made, but, it seems, at the price of Pagan’s deposition. We do not know if Sabin returned to Bulgaria, or if he appointed a viceroy.

1. Theophanes, pp. 667-9: Nicephorus, pp. 69 -70.
2. For the chronology of this period and for the sequence of the Bulgar Khans see Appendix II. I believe that both Theophanes and Nicephorus (who disagree between themselves) are wrong, and that Theophanes’s Paganus and Nicephorus’s Campaganus (Khan Pagan) are one person, and Nicephorus’s Baianus quite separate (Paganus = Baian/Boyan per Bulgarian annals, corroborating Nicephorus).

According to the List, he died in 766, and was succeeded by his relation, Umar. Meanwhile the Emperor was able to reduce the Slav brigands that had taken advantage of the wars to frequent the Thracian frontier. [1]

Again the peace was of short duration. Umar’s reign only lasted a few months; before the end of 766 (Nominalia credits Umar with the Year of Snke 765) he was deposed by a certain Tokt, who, we are told, was the brother of Baian (~ Khan Pagan) and a Bulgarian (I.e. Slavic, i.e. the Türkic Khan Pagan had a Slavic brother, likely a half-brother from a Slavic mother bearing a Türkic name. Traditionally, only the sons born to the mothers from the dynastic marital partner tribe were eligible for succession, mothers from other Türkic tribes were n-th degree wives, and non-Türkic and even alien royal dynastic wives were relegated to a status commensurate with concubines without any derogatory attitude). The latter epithet seems superfluous; probably it means that Tokt belonged to the nationalist war party, as opposed to the pro-Greek house of Ukil. Constantine answered the revolution with a fresh expedition, which found the frontier fortresses deserted, and over-ran the whole country. The Bulgars that could escape fled to the forests of the Danube. Tokt and his brother Baian were captured and put to death (767); the ex-Khan Pagan (Baian/Boyan) was killed by his slaves as he attempted to escape to Varna (768).  For the next few years there was anarchy in Bulgaria; but the Bulgars nevertheless still resisted the Emperor. His next campaign was apparently fruitless; he advanced, ravaging, only as far as the River Tundzha, very close to the frontier, and then was obliged to retire, probably owing to trouble at home. But he persevered, determined to administer the coup de grâce. Accordingly (probably in 767) he set out again with vast preparations, and penetrated as far as the Pass of Veregava. But the expedition was not as final as he had hoped; 2,600 transports that set out along the Black Sea to bring additional troops to Mesembria were driven by the north wind on to the coast of the Gulf of Burgas, and totally destroyed. Still, the Bulgars were glad to sue for peace, and hostilities ceased for some five years. [2]

1. Theophanes, pp. 660, 673-4: Nicephorus, p. 70.
2. Nicephorus, pp. 70-3: Theophanes (p. 674), following his habit of recording for preference Constantine’s unsuccessful actions, only tells of the Tundzha campaign. But there is no need, therefore, to assume with Lombard (op. cit., p. 51) that he is lying; the second campaign mentioned by Nicephorus (p. 71) was apparently abortive, and clearly Theophanes alludes to it, not the previous campaign.

During these years — we do not know exactly when, for the List stops with Umar — a new, abler Khan mounted the Bulgar throne, a certain Telerig (768–777), of unknown birth (Djagfar Tarihi identifies Telerig as Dilyarek, a son of the Khan Telets ~Teles). By May 773 Telerig was well enough established to alarm the Emperor. Constantine adopted his usual tactics. A fleet of 2,000 ships was sent to the Danube, where the Emperor disembarked, while the generals of the themes invaded Bulgaria by land.

When the Emperor in his southward march reached Varna, the Bulgars in terror asked for peace. Constantine agreed, and returned to Constantinople, where the boyar Tsigat came to discuss terms. But in October, while the negotiations were still going on, Constantine was informed by his spies that Telerig was preparing an expedition of 12,000 soldiers under a boyar against the Berzetian Slavs, who lived in Thessaly, intending to deport them into Bulgaria — probably the Bulgars were anxious to increase their population, depleted by the war, and the Berzetians, kindred to their own Slav subjects, seemed the most amenable tribe. But Constantine was too quick for them. Deceiving the Bulgar ambassador by pretending that he was arming against the Arabs, he invaded Bulgaria with forced marches and, with an army 80,000 strong, fell on the Bulgars at Lithosoria, [1] and put them to flight without the loss of a single man. His return to Constantinople was celebrated in a triumph, and the campaign was surnamed the Noble War. [2]

1. Probably the Blue Rock in the Balkan Mountains by the River Sliven (Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 1, p. 232).
2. Theophanes, pp. 691-2. His chronology is obscure. The May campaign is given as being in Ind. XII, and the Noble War which follows it in the text in October, Ind. XI. It does not seem necessary to transpose the campaigns as Lombard does (op. cit., pp. 53 ff.); we know that peace negotiations were proceeding at the time of the Noble War. It is simplest to assume that the Ind. XI is a mistake for Ind. XII. The whole chronology is complicated by the fact that Ind. XII was spread over two years, Sept. 772 to Sept. 774, so as to bring the Indictions into line with the A.M., a divergence having crept in in 726, probably because the Emperor Leo III wished to extort two years’ taxes during one year — see Bury, Appendix 10 to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall , vol. v. pp. 524-5, and Hubert, La Chronologie de Théophane, B.Z., vol. vi., pp. 504 ft. — or because for this period Theophanes was simply muddled between his two distinct schemes of chronology. (Brooks, The Chronology of Theophanes, vol. viii., pp. 82 ff.) We no longer now have Nicephorus to provide confirmatory evidence.

The Noble War no doubt accelerated the peace. We do not know its terms save that Khan and Emperor undertook never to invade the other’s country. It was soon broken. Early in the next year (774) Constantine planned another combined land and sea campaign, this time accompanying the land forces. The expedition was apparently resultless; again the weather intervened and wrecked some of his ships: though Theophanes’s story of an almost universal disaster is too like the previous story of the Anchialus wrecks to be convincing. Theophanes was always impatiently eager to exaggerate the disasters of the heretic Emperor. [1]

Later in the year Telerig outwitted the Emperor. Theophanes says that the Khan sent to Constantine to tell him that he was likely to have to flee to Constantinople and to ask him who were his trustworthy friends in Bulgaria. Constantine was simple enough to send Telerig in reply a list of all his spies and agents in the country; and so Telerig was easily able to arrest and execute them all, and utterly upset the Imperial intelligence department. It is a little unlikely that an Emperor as invariably astute as Constantine Copronymus should play so naïve a role; but certainly somehow Telerig managed to acquire the list of Imperial agents, and acted on it, to his great advantage. [2]

1. Theophanes, pp. 692-3.
2. Ibid., p. 693.

The Emperor was furious, and once more roused himself to action. But, as he started out with his ninth expedition, a terrible fever took hold of him, and he died in agony at the fort of Strongylus, on September 14, 775. [1]

Bulgaria had been saved again. Constantine’s campaigns had been a glorious chapter in the history of Byzantine arms, and they had reduced Bulgaria very low.

Her army had again and again been routed, her population depleted; her Khans sat precariously on their throne. It surely seemed as though another Constantine, or even another campaign, would be the end of her. And yet the coup de grâce had so often been administered, and still the Bulgars lived on. Asperuch and Tervel had rooted them too firmly for them now to be dislodged. And the disasters had probably the result of binding them closer to the Slavs. We have seen how they forcibly sought to encourage Slav immigration; and there was gradually rising a Slav aristocracy, that first became evident early in the next century, and that must occasionally have intermarried with the Bulgars (We can be sure that intermarriages started centuries before Asparukh moved to Moesia at many levels, not only at the Supreme Khan level). Misfortunes have a unifying effect.

But, though the Bulgars could not be dislodged, they had certainly been subdued; it might be possible to absorb them in the Empire, as so many other tribes had been absorbed. Even after Constantine’s death their troubles did not cease. In 777 Telerig himself was forced to fly from his country. He came to the court of the Emperor Leo IV, and there accepted baptism and was accorded the honor of a Greek bride, a cousin of the Empress. Had the Empire been inclined to intervene, then again Bulgaria might have been utterly reduced; but the Empire was weary and still torn between iconoclast and iconodule. Bulgaria was so obscure a state now — even Telerig’s successor is unknown (Kardam, 777 – 796 to803?) — it would be safe to let her linger weakly till another opportunity arose. The barbarians might remain in the Balkans; they were negligible.

1. Theophanes, loc. cit.

Book 1 (150-777 AD) ¤ Book 2 (777-889)¤ Book 3-1 (889-927)¤ Book 3-2 (927-1019)¤ Appendixes
In Russian
Contents Bulgars
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Ogur and Oguz
Oguz and Ogur Dialects
Mukhamadiev A. Reading of Kurbat rings
Pritsak O. Ogur and Oguz Languages
Dybo A. Pra-Altaian World
Bariev R. Bulgarian Synopsis
Western Hun's Khan Dynasties
Western Hun's Khan Lineage
Bulgar Ethnonym
Bulgar Archeology
Alan Dateline
Avar Dateline
Besenyo Dateline
Bulgar Dateline
Huns Dateline
Karluk Dateline
Khazar Dateline
Kimak Dateline
Kipchak Dateline
Kyrgyz Dateline
Sabir Dateline
Seyanto Dateline
“” ~ –&;ndash;