In Russian
Contents Bulgars
Contents Huns
Contents Tele
Ogur and Oguz
Oguz and Ogur Dialects
Pritsak O. Ogur and Oguz Languages
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

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Book II
An Emperor’s skull

The Empress-Regent Irene, of blessed memory, spent the spring of 784 in touring her northern frontier. It was a felicitous time. Last year her general, Stauracius, had conquered the Slavs of the Greek peninsula, forcing them into obedience to the Empire. Over the frontier everything was quiet; Thrace, devastated by the wars of the last century, was being refilled with a busy population transported from the East, Armenians — heretics indeed, but politically harmless so far away from their kindred. And so the Empress, with music playing, made her Imperial progress along to the town of Berrhoea, rebuilding it and rechristening it Irenupolis, and back to Anchialus. [1]

Her mind was set at rest by what she saw. There could be no danger from Bulgaria. Indeed, two years later, in September 786, when her son, the Emperor Constantine VI, was reaching maturity and appearing dangerously popular with the army, she found it both wise and safe to deplete Thrace of its militia on the plea of an Eastern campaign, so as to have the soldiers, under her friend Stauracius, close by her side in Constantinople. [2]

But early in 789 there came an unpleasant shock. Philetus, strategus of Thrace, was reconnoitering up the River Struma and had, it seems, entered territory which the Bulgars regarded as theirs. He shared the confidence of the government and was marching carelessly. A sudden attack from the Bulgars surprised him at a disadvantage. Many of his soldiers and he himself were killed. [3]

1. Theophanes, pp. 699, 707. This was the Thracian Berrhoea or Beroe (the modern Stara Zagora), not the Macedonian Berrhoea.
2. Ibid., pp. 715-6.
3. Ibid., p. 718.

The Bulgars, then, were not utterly effete (ineffective); they might usefully be attacked once more. In April 791 the young Emperor, supreme now and anxious for military glory with which to outshine his mother’s popularity, decided to invade Bulgaria. A certain Kardam (777–803) was on the Bulgar throne. His antecedents and the date of his accession are unknown, but in him the Bulgars found at last a ruler of some competence. However, this campaign was on all sides a fiasco. Constantine advanced as far as a fort called Probatum on the River St. George. [1] There he fell in with the Bulgars; and in the evening a light skirmish began. But during the night the Imperial armies were seized with panic and fled: while the Bulgars, equally frightened, returned hurriedly to their own districts. [2] Constantine burned to do better, and set out again against Kardam in July next year (792).

An astronomer called Pancrat promised him a glorious victory. But Pancrat was wrong. Constantine marched as far as Marcellae on the frontier and repaired its fortifications; but, as he lay close by, on July 20 Kardam advanced on him with all the armies of his kingdom. The Emperor’s youthful ardor and confidence led him to fight without due preparation; and he was heavily defeated. He hastened back to Constantinople in ignominy, leaving his money, his horses, and his equipment in the hands of the enemy, accompanied by shamefaced generals and the false prophet Pancrat. [3]

After this disaster Constantine let the Bulgars alone. Meanwhile Kardam’s ambitions rose, and in 796 he sent insolently to the Emperor to demand tribute, threatening otherwise to ravage Thrace right up to the Golden Gate (S.Runciman shyly drops that in 796 Kardam, in alliance with Franks, destroyed Avaria, in fact becoming a suzerain of joint Avaria - Danube Bulgaria, and gaining support of much of the might that was under the rule of the Avar Kagans. This omitted event was a watershed juncture in the European history, in the histories of Danube Bulgaria, Avaria, Franks, Slavs, Byzantine, and Eastern Europe, leading to a century when Danube Bulgaria was one of four great powers in Europe. Conflict with inept and dim Byzantine Emperor was a big deal for Byzantine, but a secondary nuisance for Kardam). Constantine replied scornfully that he would not trouble an old man to come so far; he would go to meet him at Marcellae, and God would decide what would happen.

Supposedly, the Byzantine victories gave Byzantines a chance to abrogate treaties imposed on them, but in the Türkic mentality a treaty is a treaty, and obligations do not expire until a new treaty supersedes the old, incidental disruptions notwithstanding. The same scenario was numerously repeated at the Eastern Huns, who kept pretending on tribute established by the 200 BC heqin treaty with the Han China, once established, the heqin regime lasted for a millennia from 200 BC to 821 AD, through different epochs and numerous states. For an inventory of the heqin regimes see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heqin
Avaria before it absorption by Khan Kardam

1. The modern Provadia, to the north-east of Adrianople.
2. Theophanes, p. 723.
3. Ibid., pp. 724-5.

But God was extremely indecisive. Constantine advanced in full force as far as Versinicia, near Adrianople; Kardam, alarmed at the size of his army, hid in the forest of Abroleba. [1] For seventeen days Constantine invited the Bulgars to give battle, in vain; and eventually each monarch returned ineffectually home. [2] (How can Kardam hide in the forest in Bulgaria and lead a victorious campaign in Avaraia at the same time? Can a historian be so blindfolded? Apparently, Kardam was busy in Avaria, and Constantine VI faced a home guard)

The nomadic tactic of mobile warfare does not include direst stand-on confrontation, and the reports of the stationary battlefields by sedentary strategists must always be taken with a grain of salt. When nomadic forces have a luxury of choice, the surprise ambushes, lightening strikes, and long range encircling strikes from the rear are standard maneuvers. Usually grossly outnumbered, consisting of militia raised on limited time and attracted by prospects of personal gain for each participant, the preservation of manpower by the supreme commanders was not only a matter of strategic wisdom, but first of all of the commander's own life. Kardam or his commanders had to avoid defeat by all means; the derogatory “hiding” was instead a hopeful waiting for a fortunate chance, which may or may not come by. In the end, the tiny tribe brought over by Asparukh drained resources of the overwhelmingly larger state, and withstood to a stalemate for 800 years, outlasting the pretentious mighty empire.

Again a period of peace ensued. Whether a definite treaty was ever concluded is unknown. Modern historians, who unanimously agree in decrying the Empress Irene, are apt to picture her paying tribute to all her neighbors. [3] With regard to the Bulgars, there is no evidence for such an assertion. The Empress certainly desired peace; in 797 she had finally rid herself of her son by blinding him, and such strange maternal conduct lost her her popularity. The army had always been hostile to her, and ecclesiastical support, though it might canonize her, did not help her in foreign campaigns. But Kardam was equally anxious for peace. His timorousness during the wars showed how unsure he felt of his position. Bulgaria was still turbulent and weak (How you can be at the same time turbulent and weak and also venture to destroy the Avar Kaganate?); he was probably fully occupied in controlling his boyars and reorganizing his kingdom. And so both countries were grateful for a respite, though neither could manage to extract a tribute.

But Bulgaria had recovered marvelously since the days of Constantine Copronymus. Freed from concentrated attack by the discord in the family of its adversaries the Emperors, it had somehow worked out its own salvation. Kardam might be insecure, but apparently he never fell. Had Constantine VI possessed the ability of his grandfather and namesake, again the Bulgars might have lapsed into feeble anarchy. But Kardam’s victories must have served to strengthen him in his own country, and by strengthening him to strengthen his whole country. Had the statesmen of Constantinople turned their eyes to the north, instead of wondering feverishly who would displace the heirless Empress, they might well have been alarmed — terribly alarmed, for far worse was to follow.

1. Places identified by Zlatarski (Istoriya, pp. 244-5).
2. Theophanes, pp. 728-9.
3. e.g. even Bury (Eastern Roman Empire, p. 339).

Some time after the year 797 the Khan Kardam (777–803) died, in the same obscurity in which he had ascended the throne. The Empress Irene fell in 802; her white horses no longer drove through the streets of Constantinople. In her place was her genial, dissimulating logothete, now the Emperor Nicephorus I, eager to display the vigor of a man’s rule. He little guessed whither it would lead him. Far away to the north, in the plains and foothills of Pannonia, the Hungary and Transylvania of today, the Avar Empire still lingered, and under Avar domination there still lived large numbers of Bulgars, the descendants of those ancient Bulgars whom the Avars carried into captivity over two centuries before, and of the fourth son (Kuber) of King Kubrat (Kurbat) and his following (Pannonian Huns and Bulgars were in Bulgaria long before the arrival and rise of the Avars, but only glimpses of them have survived). But in the closing years of the eighth century a new power had spread to the Central European plains; the kingdom of the Franks, masters of France and Germany, was seeking to safeguard its eastern frontier by pushing its influence farther and farther down the Danube. In 791 and again in 795-6 the Frankish King Charles — soon, in 800, to be crowned Emperor at Rome in defiance of Byzantium — had invaded the territory of the Avars, supported by their restive Slav vassals (That was a joint campaign of Faranks and Kardam). The Avar resistance was feeble; by the end of the century the Frankish dominion reached the banks of the River Theiss.

The Pannonian Bulgars took advantage of the situation. On the eastern bank of the Theiss they completed the destruction of the Avars. The details are unknown; but by about the year 803 the Avar Empire had utterly /51/ disappeared (Thus, S.Runciman knows that the Avar Empire had utterly disappeared during the lifetime of Kardam). Instead, the Franks and the Bulgars met one another at the Theiss (Tisza or Tisa). The Frankish Emperor had even contemplated moving farther eastward and destroying the Pannonian Bulgars; but he desisted, assuming that without Avar help they would not be able to hurt his realm. He could probably count on the Moravian or the Croatian Slavs acting as buffers for him.

The western movement of Kangars and Bosnyaks/Bechens/Bajanaks started in ca 750, and probably did not yet reach Pannonia by 800, so the reference to the Charaboi tribe of Kangars points to their Avar affiliation from the very beginning of the Avar migration. After the demise of Shambat in 653, Franks and Avars ruled Slavs within their realms, and while Moravian Slavs is a geographical category, the Croatian Slavs is a political category whose time has not come yet.

Kangar - becenyo/Bosnyak state at its maximum extent

The Bulgar chieftain that conquered the Avars was called Krum (803–814). [1] His origin is unknown. From his apparent security on the throne throughout his life, it is tempting to see in him the scion of an old-established royal race — for only monarchs of undoubtedly higher birth could long maintain themselves over the jealous Bulgar boyars — the royal race of the Bulgars of Pannonia. He may even have been a descendant of the fourth son (Kuber) of King Kubrat (Kurbat), a child of the House of Attila (I.e. House of Dulo). But more important than his birth were his ambitions and his ability. Krum was not going to remain a Pannonian princeling. By the year 808 he was firmly placed upon the throne of Pliska, Sublime Khan of Balkan Bulgaria.

How it happened we cannot tell. Probably the Balkan Bulgars had always kept in touch with their cousins (We have enough indicators of later time to assert that the links between Balkan, Pannonian, and Ukraine Bulgars lasted through the Bosnyaks/Bechens/Bajanaks time in the Ukraine). Since Asperuch’s day the Khan of Pliska had controlled the plains of Wallachia and Moldavia; and the Pannonian Bulgars in Transylvania were not far off; only the Carpathian mountains divided them. On Kardam’s death, the Balkan Bulgars were left without a Khan. It was probably easy for Krum, the splendid victor of the Avar wars, either by some show of arms or only by persuasion, to transfer himself on to the greater throne, and thus unite the two Bulgar kingdoms into one great empire, from the Theiss and the Save to the shores of the Black Sea. [1]

1. His name appears in various forms, in Greek Κρουμμοσ, Κρουμνος, Κρουμοσ, Κυιμος (once in Leo Grammaticus, probably by error), Κρουβοσ, and Κρεμμ ; in Latin Crumnus, Crimas, Brimas (both probably miscopied), Crumas, and Crusmas; in early Slavonic translations Kroum, Krag, Krem, Kreml, Krumel, and Agrum. On his inscriptions (Aboba-Pliska, p. 233 — the Shumla inscription) he Graecised his name as Κρουμοσ. Krum must therefore approximately represent the original. See Zlatarski, Istoriya, p. 247.

The effect of the union is difficult to gauge. Pannonian Bulgaria was a Bulgar state (That presumption is most likely inaccurate), not a Bulgar-Slav state; in the double kingdom the Bulgar element, the aristocratic militarist element, must have been proportionately enhanced. But Krum was too astute a monarch to allow the aristocracy to wax too powerful; he probably countered by subordinating Pannonia to the Balkans and in the Balkans encouraging the Slav elements. On the whole, the only important result of the union was to increase the military strength and temper of the kingdom. The Balkan Bulgars had made a poor show in the wars of the eighth century — the Slavs, who formed the bulk of their armies, were by nature unenthusiastic and disorganized fighters — but in the ninth century Bulgaria was one of the great militarist powers of Europe.

S.Runciman implies a revolutionary transformation from a military democracy with elected Supreme Khan (possibly titled Kağan/Kagan, following the Kurbat steps) to an autocratic monarchy, without any justification. Continued references to boyars contraindicate to that, and the absence of internal conflict that would ensue such a drastic revolution corroborate the continued election tradition.

Kardam and Irene had both desired peace. Nicephorus wanted war; and Krum, with his new strength and his Balkan ambitions, was ready to give him war. It broke out in 807. Hitherto Nicephorus had been occupied with wars on his eastern frontier, but that year he had time to set out against Bulgaria.

1. This account of Krum’s early career is conjectural. Dvornik (Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome, pp. 34-5) states it categorically, with embroideries and dates, but for once he gives no references. However, his account is in the main certainly the only coherent interpretation of the evidence: which is as follows:
(i.) The Avars were utterly conquered by Krum (Suidas, Lexicon , art. ‘ Bulgari, ’ p. 761).
(ii.) Charles the Great attacked the Avars in 791 and 795-6 (according to Ekkehard, he first attacked them in 788, and conquered them in eight years). After they were utterly conquered, he withheld his hand from the Bulgars as being unlikely to be harmful, now that the Avars (Huns) were extinct (Ekkehard, p. 162). It is only reasonable, therefore, to assume that Krum’s conquest of the Avars was before their utter extinction. But in 796 Kardam was still Khan of Balkan Bulgaria; we do not hear of Krum there till 808 (see below). Krum must, therefore, have been ruler of Pannonian Bulgaria before he ascended the throne of Pliska. But the date of his accession must remain unknown.

The campaign was still-born; when he reached Adrianople he discovered a conspiracy against him amongst his troops. He put it down with severity, but thought it wise not to proceed farther; and so he returned to Constantinople. [1] Next year the Bulgars took the offensive: Nicephorus, suspecting their designs on Macedonia, had mustered an army in the theme of Strymon. Late in the winter, so late that no attack seemed likely, the Bulgars surprised this force, slew the strategus of the theme and annihilated many of the regiments, and captured 1,100 lb of gold destined to pay the soldiers. [2]

In the spring of 809 Krum followed up his victory by a far more harmful move. There was a strong line of Imperial fortresses barring the Bulgar advance on the south and the south-west — Develtus, Adrianople, Philippopolis, and Sardica. They had probably been reconditioned by Constantine Copronymus, who saw their strategic importance. To the Bulgars they had always been an irritant, particularly Sardica, lying as it did across their road to Serbia and to Upper Macedonia. In March Krum suddenly appeared before Sardica. The fortifications were too strong for him, but somehow his guile won him an entrance. The garrison, 6,000 strong, was massacred, with numberless civilians, and the fortress dismantled. It does not seem that Krum intended to annex the district, but merely to make Sardica untenable as an Imperial fortress.

1. Theophanes, p. 749.
2. Ibid., p. 752. See Bury (Eastern Roman Empire, p. 340) for exact dating. The amount 1,100 lb. is the equivalent to nearly £50,000 (Those good old days when 1£ was 1 lb of silver).

On the Thursday before Easter (April 3) Nicephorus heard the news, and left his capital in full strength. By forced marches he pushed into the enemy country, and on Easter Day reached the undefended city of Pliska. Pliska paid the penalty for Sardica; Krum ’s palace was plundered, and the Emperor wrote a triumphant letter to Constantinople announcing his arrival in the Bulgar capital. It had been a triumphant feat of the Imperial armies; the pious chronicler Theophanes, who strongly disapproved of Nicephorus, decided indeed that he was lying when he claimed to have achieved it. From Pliska, Nicephorus marched on to Sardica, to rebuild the fortress; whether deliberately or by chance, he did not meet Krum’s returning army on the way. At Sardica the Emperor had certain difficulties; the soldiers disliked having to work as masons, and were suspicious of his subterfuges to induce them to do so. However, in the end their mutiny was quashed; Sardica was cheaply and quickly rebuilt, and the Emperor returned complacently to Constantinople. [1] But there had been one more distressing incident. A few officers from the Sardica garrison had escaped Krum’s massacre and had come to Nicephorus. He, however, would not promise not to punish them — he probably suspected, with reason, that there had been treason somewhere; so the officers fled to the Bulgar court (thus more definitely hinting at their guilt), where Krum received them gladly. Amongst these refugees was the celebrated engineer Eumathius — a welcome acquisition for the Bulgars, for he taught them all the artifices of up-to-date warfare. Later, Theophanes tells us a fuller and quite different tale of Eumathius, who was an Arab (In those days there was no perception on the difference between the Arabs and Saracins, Eumathius could as well be a Saracin, i.e. Kipchak, Saracins were known from the pre-Arabic times, in literature from the Ptolemy's Geography of the 2nd c. AD, Saracins were distinguished from the Arabs by their military ability, living on the fringes of settled society, living off raids on towns and villages); Nicephorus had employed him at Adrianople, but had remunerated him with parsimony — Nicephorus was always anxious to do things inexpensively — and had, further, struck him when he complained; the touchy Arab promptly deserted. Both stories may be true; Eumathius, who was always employed in repairing fortresses, was working at Sardica at the time of Krum’s invasion, and was tempted by his grievance into treachery. Certainly somehow, by his tactlessness, Nicephorus had handed over a valuable asset to the Khan. [1]

1. Theophanes, pp. 752-4: Bury (op. cit., p. 341) assumes that Theophanes was acting from malevolence in casting doubt on Nicephorus’s arrival at Pliska; most other historians — e.g. Zlatarski (op. cit., pp. 252-3) or Dvornik (op. cit., p. 36) — believe Theophanes implicitly — Dvornik even adds a successful Bulgar attack. Bury must surely be right. Theophanes took every opportunity for decrying Nicephorus, and, though a saint, he was not above telling lies to discredit Emperors of whom he morally disapproved. Nicephorus, on the other hand, was not a half-wit; he would not have claimed to have penetrated to Pliska when the whole army could have shown him up as an impostor.

The Bulgar ambitions for Macedonia still disquieted the Emperor; and through the next winter he carried out extensive transportations. The Macedonian Slavs were unreliable; he attempted to keep them in control by settling among them colonies of faithful peasants from Asia Minor, the backbone of his Empire. The Anatolian peasants did not appreciate this policy; some even committed suicide rather than leave their homes and the tombs of their fathers. But Nicephorus was inexorable; the situation, he thought, was urgent, and he prided himself on the way in which he dealt with it. The transportations were not, however, on a vast enough scale to be really effective. [2]

But the Emperor had already decided to crush Krum absolutely, for ever. His preparations were long and careful; troops were collected from throughout the Empire. There was no danger from the Saracens at the moment; so the armies of the themes of Asia Minor came with their strategi to swell the host. In May 811 the great expedition left Constantinople, led by the Emperor himself and his son, Stauracius.

At Marcellae, on the frontier, Nicephorus paused for reinforcements to join him. Krum was seriously frightened, and sent an embassy to Marcellae begging humbly for peace. The Emperor dismissed the Bulgar ambassadors; he was distrustful of Bulgar promises and confident of victory. But while he was still at Marcellae one of his household suddenly disappeared, with 100 lb. of gold and part of the Imperial wardrobe; they soon heard that he had gone over to Krum.

1. Theophanes, pp. 753 (he is here called Euthymius), 776.
2. Ibid., p. 755.

The omen was disquieting — were the rats leaving the sinking ship? In July the Imperial armies entered Bulgaria and pushed straight on to Pliska. Krum fled before them, and on July 20 [1] they reached the Bulgar capital. Nicephorus was in a fierce mood, and devastated the whole city, massacring and burning, and even passed Bulgar babies through threshing-machines (And the Greeks held Bulgars as barbarians, and themselves as loving Christians). The Palace of the Khans perished in the flames — it was probably a wooden affair — and on their treasury Nicephorus set the Imperial seal, intending avariciously to reserve the treasure for himself.

Again Krum sent to plead for peace, saying: ‘Lo, thou hast conquered. Take what thou wilt and depart in peace.’ But the triumphant Emperor was proud and obdurate again. Krum was in despair; but Nicephorus’s carelessness gave him another chance. The Bulgar forces fled to the mountains; and Nicephorus followed. On Thursday, July 24 the Imperial army was caught in a narrow mountain defile, and the Bulgars swiftly built wooden palisades at either end. Too late Nicephorus saw the trap into which he had fallen, and knew that destruction was certain. ‘Even were we birds, ’ he said, ‘we could not hope to escape.’ On the Thursday and Friday the Bulgars worked hard at their fortifications. On Saturday they paused; perhaps they had decided to wait and starve the great army out. But their impatience overcame them; late that night, the 26th, they fell upon the enemy.

It was an unresisting butchery. The Imperial army, taken unawares, allowed itself to be massacred wholesale. The Emperor and almost all his generals and high dignitaries perished — some killed in their tents, others burnt to death by the firing of the palisades.

1. Theophanes said that Nicephorus only entered Bulgaria on July 20. But, as the great battle took place on the 26th/27th, he must surely have arrived at Pliska not later than the 20th, having journeyed some seventy miles of difficult country since crossing the frontier.

The Emperor’s son, Stauracius, was wounded, fatally wounded, though he lingered in agony for several months. With his brother-in-law, Michael Rhangabe, one of the few unhurt survivors, and the tiny remnant of the army, he fled headlong to the safety of Adrianople. Nicephorus’s head was exposed on a stake for several days, for the delectation of the Bulgars; then Krum hollowed it out and lined it with silver. It made him a fine goblet when he drank with his boyars, crying the Slav toast of’ Zdravitza.’ [1]

S.Runciman implies an unwarranted linguistic transition from Bulgarian to Slavic in the upper echelons of power, without qualifying that it could be a translation, or that the toast points to Slavic borrowings in Türkic, or the rise of bilinguality, i.e. the ethologically important markers.

The Scythian - Eastern Hunnic - Bulgar etc. tradition of making sacral drinking cups of the skulls of prominent opponents ethologically corroborates their common origin, strongly contrasting with the Indo-European, Indian, Sinic, and Austro-Asian cultures. For a spotty inventory of the skull drinking cups see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skull_cup. Whether a variety of the Türkic peoples, reputedly Celtic Boii, or reputedly Germanic Lombards, the skull drinking cup tradition is invariably connected with nomadic horse ranchers, rather than with sedentary agriculturusts.

Notably, the Nicephorus story is remarkably similar to the story of Maodun entrapping the Chinese Han Emperor. Instead of going for his skull, with a wasteful loss of Hunnic life, Maodun wisely went for symbiosis, blood relationship, and regular tribute, which Chinese named with a formulaic heqin (peace and kinship). In a way, in the northern China the symbiosis continues to this day, in a different form that stems from the Maodun enterprise. But Maodun was not a first explorer, in fact the heqins and skull drinking cups ascend to as early as the Zhou conquest and the Ba system.

Relics of the battle lasted for many centuries. In 1683 a Serbian patriarch saw at Eskibaba, in Thrace, the tomb of a certain Nicholas who had gone with the army and dreamed a warning dream. The Turks had placed a turban on the head of the corpse. [2]

The news of the disaster came as an appalling shock to the whole Imperial world. Never since the days of Valens, on the field of Adrianople, had an Emperor fallen in battle. It was a stupendous blow to the Imperial prestige — to the legend of the Emperor’s sacrosanctity, so carefully fostered to impress the barbarians. Moreover, the Visigoths (The analysis of the Valens' death brings the Huns into the picture, due to concerted assault and a long-distance encircling maneuver feasible only with the Hunnic tactics, warfare training, and technology) that slew Valens had been mere nomads, destined soon to pass away to other lands; the Bulgars were barbarians settled at the gate, and determined — more so now than ever — to remain there. The Empire would never live down and forget its shame; and the Bulgars would ever be heartened by the memory of their triumph.

1. Theophanes, pp. 761-5. He dates the battle July 25; but that was the Friday. The Saturday/Sunday night was the 26th/27th. It is impossible to discover exactly where the battle took place. Shkorpil (Aboba-Pliska, p. 564) suggests the Pass of Verbitza, and the defile locally known as the Greek Hollow, where tradition asserts that many Greeks once met their death; and Bury (op. cit., p. 344) follows him. This, I think, is the most convincing location. Jirecek assumed that it was in the Pass of Veregava, on Nicephorus’s return home (Geschichte der Bulgaren, pp. 45-6, and Die Heerstrasse, p. 150). But it seems that he took a different route, pursuing Krum rather than retreating. Zlatarski (op. cit., pp. 408 — 12) does not commit himself definitely, but believes that it took place much nearer to Pliska. But, as he accepts Theophanes’s statement (see above) that Nicephorus only entered Bulgaria on July 20, he is very hard up for time, and cannot afford to let Nicephorus march the thirty miles from Pliska to the Pass of Verbitza.
2. The Patriarch Arsen Cernovic, quoted by Bury (op. cit., p. 345).

Krum had good reason to be exultant. The whole effect of Constantine Copronymus’s long campaigns had been wiped out all at one battle. He could face the Empire now in the position of conqueror of the Emperor, on equal terms, at a height never reached by Asperuch or Tervel. Henceforward he would not have to fight for the existence of his country, but he could fight for conquest and for annexation. Moreover, in his own country his position was assured; no one now would dare dispute the authority of the victorious Khan. He could not have done a more useful deed to strengthen the Bulgar crown. [1]

Sated by their victory, the Bulgars did not at once follow it up with an invasion. Constantinople was given a respite, while the dying Emperor Stauracius made way for his brother-in-law, Michael Rhangabe. [2] But late next spring (812) Krum attacked the Imperial fortress of Develtus, a busy city at the head of the Gulf of Burgas, commanding the coast road to the south. It could not hold out long against the Bulgars. Krum dismantled the fortress, as he had done at Sardica, and transported the inhabitants, with their bishop and all, away into the heart of his kingdom. In June the new Emperor Michael set out to meet the Bulgars; but the news that he was too late to save the city, together with a slight mutiny in his army, made him turn back while he was still in Thrace. [3] His inaction and the Bulgar victories terrified the inhabitants of the frontier cities.

1. The Kadi-Keui inscription given in Aboba-Pliska, pp. 228-30, belongs somewhere to Nicephorus’s war with Krum. It mentions Nicephorus, Marcellae, Adrianople, and a certain Bulgar called Ekusous ( 'Εκουσοος) or Ecosus ('Ηκοσος). The text is too badly mutilated for the sense to emerge. Probably it refers to Nicephorus’s first campaign, the abortive campaign that never went further than Adrianople. See Bury, op. cit., p. 343.
2. Michael the Syrian (pp. 25-6) pretends that Stauracius was wounded during a Bulgar invasion after Nicephorus’s death. He was clearly misinformed.
3. Theophanes, p. 772.

They saw the enemy overrunning all the surrounding country, and they determined to save themselves as best they could. The smaller frontier forts, Probatum and Thracian Nicaea, were abandoned by their population; even the population of Anchialus and Thracian Berrhoea, whose defenses the Empress Irene had recently repaired, fled to districts out of reach of the heathen (Tengrian) hordes. The infection spread to the great metropolis-fortress of Western Thrace, Philippopolis, which was left halfdeserted, and thence to the Macedonian cities, Philippi and Strymon. In these last cities it was chiefly the Asiatics transported there by Nicephorus that fled, overjoyed at the opportunity of returning to their homes. [1]

But Krum did not take full advantage of all this. With a caution and forbearance rare in a barbarian conqueror (What a petty demeaning attitude), he sent instead to ask for peace; he wished, it seems, to consolidate carefully his every step. In September 812 his ambassador, Dargomer — the first unmistakably Slav name (Unmistakably only for patriotic enthusiasts, for example “darg ömer” in Türkic is “unhappy”, in Türkic -mer/-mir/-pir is “ruler”, and with allophones the number of options would likely increase; the quantity of Türkic compound names with -mir is quite compatible with the number of Slavic names with that word, and the direction of borrowing during Early Middle Ages was more likely from Türkic to Slavic than in the opposite direction) to appear in Bulgar official circles — came to the Emperor demanding a renewal of the treaty of 716, the treaty made between Tervel and Theodosius III. Bulgaria was to recover the Meleona frontier and the 30 lb. worth of skins and robes; prisoners and deserters were to be returned, and organized trade-intercourse to be reopened. [2] Krum, however, knew that he had the upper hand; he threatened that if the peace was not granted to him he would attack Mesembria. After some consultation the Emperor rejected the peace; he could not bear to give up the Bulgar deserters. It had always been a cardinal point in Byzantine diplomacy to collect and support foreign pretenders and refugee statesmen; and Michael probably hoped to have that clause withdrawn. But Krum was for everything or nothing. Faithful to his threat, he appeared in full force before Mesembria in the middle of October.

1. Theophanes, pp. 772-3.
2. See above, p. 33. As I said there, the name Cormesios is clearly a mistake of Theophanes. Krum would obviously want, and feel able, to return to the state of affairs before the disaster of the war with Copronymus. There had probably been some truce with Kormisosh that had distracted Theophanes.

Mesembria was one of the wealthiest and most important cities in all South-Eastern Europe. It was not only a salubrious spa, but also a great commercial centre, both as port of embarkation for the produce of Eastern Bulgaria and also as the port of call for all vessels bound from Constantinople to the Danube and the northern shores of the Black Sea. In addition, nature and art alike had made it a magnificent fortress. It occupied a small peninsula, at the northern entrance of the Gulf of Burgas, joined to the mainland only by an isthmus about a quarter of a mile in length, so low and narrow that in storms none of it was out of reach of the foam. [1] This natural stronghold had been further strengthened by huge fortifications.

A vigorous defense could have saved the city. Krum had no ships; he could only attack along the isthmus. The Imperial navy could have poured in reinforcements and food in spite of all the Bulgars. But the Isaurian Emperors had economized on naval armaments; there was now hardly any Imperial navy. The garrison, caught unprepared, had to shift for itself; the Emperor did not even attempt to revictual the city. Krum, on the other hand, was helped by the engineering skill of the deserter Eumathius.

1. Nowadays the whole isthmus is covered by the waves during bad storms, but then there was probably an efficient causeway.

Krum’s prompt fulfillment of his threat had alarmed the government at Constantinople. On November 1, Michael summoned a council. He himself was in favor now of peace, but was not strong enough to impose his will on his counselors: these were sharply divided into two parties, led, as was characteristic of the times, by clerics — Theodore, Abbot of Studium, favoring war, and the Patriarch Nicephorus, the historian, eager for peace. The war party won, on the same clause about deserters, supporting their policy by talking of the fundamental principles of Christian hospitality, and mocking at the peace party’s readiness to pay tribute. Four days later, their victory was clinched; news came through of the fall of Mesembria.

The parallelism of the Bulgarian and Greek power structure is striking. The Supreme leader is elected, the council has an upper word, the boyars and counselors claim to be agents and servers of a supernatural being, and they fearlessly throw others into the flame of war, themselves being generally protected from the dangers and displays of bravery. The later Middle Age attempts to present the Classical power structure as autocratic absolute monarchy and normal course of events conflict with the pictures drawn by the sources.

Krum found his capture highly profitable. Not only was Mesembria well stocked with luxuries and large quantities of gold and silver, but also the Bulgars discovered some of the most precious and secret of all Byzantine inventions, the liquid ‘Greek Fire,’ and thirty-six syphons from which to fire it. Krum removed his spoils, then, following his usual course, he dismantled the fortifications and retired to his home.[1]

The Emperor was now obliged to plan an expedition to avenge the disgraceful calamity. Next February two Christians, who had escaped from Bulgaria, told him that Krum was making ready to invade Thrace. Michael busily collected troops from all over his Empire; in May he set out, with a huge army, chiefly Asiatic. The Empress Procopia saw the army off, with encouraging messages, from the aqueduct near Heraclea. But the Empress’s send-off was of little avail. For a month Michael dallied in Thrace, never attempting to recover and repair Mesembria, while the Asiatic troops grew increasingly restive. Early in June, Krum crossed the frontier, and the two armies came face to face at Versinicia. At this spot Kardam had hidden in the woods from Constantine VI; but Krum was bolder (or stupider), and prepared for a pitched battle. For fifteen hot summer days each army waited for the other to move; at last the general in charge of the Thracian and Macedonian troops on the left wing of the Imperial army, John Aplaces, begged to be allowed to attack. The Imperial army outnumbered the Bulgars by ten to one; and Imperial troops notoriously could deal with barbarians when it came to an open fight. Michael gave him permission, and on June 22 John Aplaces began the battle.

1. Theophanes, pp. 775-8: Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 12 -13.

The Bulgars fell back in confusion before his attack (Falling back at attack faking a confusion is a textbook tactics of the mobile nomadic armies known from Early Antiquity, spread the pursuers thin and long, and then turn around and do them in): when suddenly he found that he was fighting alone — the rest of the army had fled in inexplicable panic, led by Anatolic troops on the right wing. Krum, we are told, was too astounded and suspicious to pursue at once; but he soon found that the flight was genuine. After annihilating the brave, deserted troops of Aplaces, he followed the fugitives as they ran headlong all the way back to their capital. It was an amazing battle: the only explanation was treachery in the Imperial forces — in the Anatolic regiments. The general of the Anatolic regiments was Leo the Armenian, and it was Leo that gained most by the battle: Michael gave up the crown, and it passed to Leo. Under the circumstances Leo was inevitably suspected, though nothing definite could be proved — he was playing his cards too cunningly. But Krum also was privy to the plot. He had taken the risk of a pitched battle against vastly superior forces in open ground — a risk taken by no Bulgarian before or after for centuries; it is incredible that on this unique occasion he should have been so rash and foolish — should have put himself into a position where only a miracle could save him, had he not been certain that the miracle would occur. And it was by arrangement rather than from surprise that he did not at once pursue the fugitives. [1]

1. Theophanes, pp. 780-3: Scriptor Incertus, pp. 337 ff. Bury (op. cit., pp. 351-2) fully discusses Leo’s treachery. His conclusion, that Leo was guilty but too clever to be definitely compromised, is, I think, absolutely convincing. But it seems to me that, to make the story credible, Krum must be implicated in the plot.

The victory might be an arranged affair; but Krum had no qualms about following it up. Thrace was denuded of troops, and his progress was easy. Leaving his brother to besiege Adrianople on the way, he pushed on with his army, aiming at nothing else than the Imperial capital itself. On July 17 his army arrived at the city walls.

The huge fortifications daunted him; instead of ordering an assault, he resorted to spectacular displays of his might. Curious and horrified citizens on the walls could watch men and animals being sacrificed on heathen (Tengrian) altars, they could see the Sublime Khan washing his feet in the waves of the sea and ceremoniously sprinkling his soldiers, or moving in state through rows of adoring concubines, to the raucous acclamation of his hordes. Having indulged in sufficient barbaric pageantry (I.e. the same pageantry practiced by Romans and Greeks was barbaric), he sent to the Emperor demanding to be allowed to affix his lance to the Golden Gate, in token of his triumph. The Emperor, the ambitious traitor Leo the Armenian, refused the insulting request; so Krum set to work more practically.

Fortifying his camp with a rampart, he plundered the countryside for several days. Then he sent again to the Emperor, offering peace, probably on the basis of the famous peace of Tervel, but insisting specially on a large tribute of gold and of robes and a selection of young maidens for his personal use. Leo now saw an opportunity for a solution of his troubles.

The episode that followed is deeply distressing to our modern sense of honor, and patriotic Balkan writers have long seen in it an example of the perfidy and degradation of Byzantium. But we live now in a godless age. In the ninth century every true and devoted Christian regarded the heathen (Tengrian) either as animals or as devils, according to their capacity for inflicting evil on the faithful. According to these standards Krum, ‘the new Sennacherib,’ [1] was a very arch-devil; any means of ridding the Christian world of such a monstrous persecutor would be highly justified. We should remember, too, that Krum himself did not disdain to use guile on more than one occasion; only we have been spared the exact details.

1. Theophanes, p. 785.

Leo answered Krum’s overtures by suggesting a meeting between the two monarchs on the shore of the Golden Horn, just outside the walls; Krum would come by land and Leo by boat, each with a few unarmed followers. Krum accepted, and next morning rode down to the spot, accompanied by his treasurer, by his brother-in-law, a Greek deserter called Constantine Patzicus, and by his nephew, Constantine’s son. Leo and his friends arrived in the Imperial barge, and the conversation began, presumably with Constantine as interpreter. Suddenly an Imperial official, Hexabulius, covered his face with his hands. Krum was offended and alarmed, and leapt on to his horse. At that moment three armed men burst out from a neighboring house and attacked the little group of Bulgars. Krum’s followers were on foot; pressing round to defend their master and escape themselves, they were easily disposed of. The treasurer was slain and the two Patzici captured. But Krum, the main object of the stratagem, escaped. Darts were fired at him as he galloped away, but only wounded him lightly. He reached his camp in safety, vowing destruction. The pious citizens of Constantinople were bitterly disappointed. The failure was due to their sins, they said (This scenario can't be found in the folk tales: The pious Christians were bitterly disappointed by the failure of their treachery, and insufficient scope of treacherous murder).

The next few days were spent in Krum’s fiery vengeance. All the suburbs of the city, not only those close outside the walls, but also the rich towns and villages on the far side of the Golden Horn and up the European shore of the Bosphorus, studded with churches and monasteries and sumptuous villas, all were committed to the flames.

The Palace of Saint Mamas, one of the finest of the suburban homes of the Emperor, was utterly destroyed; its ornamented capitals and sculptured animals were packed up in wagons to decorate the Khan’s palace at Pliska. Every living creature that they found the Bulgars slew. The devastation spread wider as the Khan began his journey homeward. On the road to Selymbria every town and hamlet was destroyed; Selymbria itself was razed. The dreadful destroyer moved on. Heraclea was saved by its strong walls, but everything outside them perished. The Bulgars had leveled the fort of Daonin; they went on to level the forts of Rhaedestus and Aprus. There they rested ten days, then went south to the hills of Ganus. The miserable inhabitants of the countryside had fled there for refuge; they had to be hunted out, the men to be butchered, the women and children and beasts to be sent to captivity in Bulgaria. Then, after a short destructive excursion to the Hellespont, Krum turned north to Adrianople. The great fortress was still holding out against the Khan’s brother. But Krum brought with him machines to apply against the walls. The garrison was starving; it knew that no relief would come now. From necessity it surrendered. The city was destroyed and deserted. All the inhabitants, to the number, it was said, of 10,000, were transported away to the northern shore of the Danube. There they lived in captivity; and Manuel, their Archbishop, and the most steadfast of his flock met with martyrs’ crowns. The Imperial government regretted now its obduracy and tricks (The self-righteous Christian Empire has no moral qualms, it celebrates the successful treachery and regrets unsuccessful one. Turn the tables, and everything the winner does is glorified, and the looser gets what it deserved). It begged the Khan for peace; but Krum was implacable. He had too much to forgive. [1]

1. Theophanes, pp. 785-6. He closes his history with the capture of Adrianople: Scriptor Incertus, pp. 342-4, giving the most detailed account: Theophanes Continuatus, p. 24: Genesius, p. 13: Ignatius, Vita Nicephori, pp. 206-7. The captivity and martyrdom of the Adrianopolitans, is told in the Vita Basilii (Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 216 -17), Menologium Basilii Imperatoris , pp. 276-7, and Georgius Monachus Continuatus, p. 765.

In these dark days men prayed and hoped in Constantinople that Constantine Copronymus would arise from the grave, to smite the Bulgars as he had been wont to smite them. The resurrection was denied them; but the Emperor Leo vowed to be a worthy substitute. He set out from Constantinople with his army soon after Krum retired, but did not attempt to follow him, taking instead the road along the Black Sea coast; his object was to rebuild Mesembria. Close to Mesembria he met the Bulgar forces — probably just a detachment of Krum ’s army; Krum was not, apparently, there in person. The district had been frequently devastated of recent years, and the Bulgar army was hard up for supplies. Leo, on the other hand, being in touch with the sea and his ships, was amply provided for. Finding out the Bulgar difficulties, he resolved on a stratagem. He retired secretly with some picked troops on to a hill. The rest of the army suddenly saw that he had disappeared and began to be panic-stricken. The news spread to the Bulgars, who thereupon determined to attack. But Leo warned his army in time; so that they stood their ground when the Bulgars came. Leo was then able to swoop down from his hill and take the Bulgars in the rear. It was a triumph for the Imperial army; not a Bulgar escaped. Leo was able to advance into Bulgaria, and devastate the countryside, sparing adults, but, with sinister foresight, slaying the children, dashing them against the rocks (I.e., the tables turned for a moment, the Christian love has triumphed). The Bulgars were deeply ashamed by their defeat. The hill where Leo lay in ambush was long called Leo’s hill, and Bulgars passing by would point at it and sadly shake their heads. [1]

1. For discussion of this campaign, whose existence Zlatarski and others deny, see Appendix VII.

But Leo’s success was of little value. During the following winter, which was unusually mild and dry, a Bulgar army of 30,000 men crossed the low rivers and sacked Arcadiopolis (Lule Burgas). On their return they found that a week’s rain had flooded the River Ergenz, and they had to wait till the river subsided and then build a bridge. But during this delay Leo did nothing, so his critics said, to attack them. They returned safely to Bulgaria with their 50,000 captives and their wagon-loads of gold and apparel and Armenian carpets. [1]

Shortly afterwards worse news came to Constantinople. Krum was planning a far greater vengeance on the city that had treated him so treacherously. He was determined to destroy it, beginning his attack on the quarter of Blachernae, whence had been fired the darts that wounded him. The tales of his preparations caused men to gasp with horrified astonishment — tales of the hordes collected by the Khan, Slavs from ‘all the Slavonias,’ and Avars from the Pannonian plain; of the vast engines that the Khan was constructing, catapults of all sizes, and stones and fire to hurl in them, besides the tortoises and rams and ladders that featured in every big siege; of the thousand oxen feeding in the Khan’s great stables, and the five thousand iron-bound wagons waiting there. Leo hastened to put his capital in a fit state of defense, and set about building a new wall outside the Blachernae quarter, where the Bulgar assault was expected and the fortifications were weak. [2] He even sought diplomatic aid. It was perhaps the news that Krum was collecting troops even in Pannonia that reminded the Imperial statesmen that Bulgaria could be attacked in the rear from Germany.

1. Scriptor Incertus, pp. 346-7.
2. Scriptor Incertus, p. 347.

 In the year 814 ambassadors from Constantinople set out for the court of the Western Emperor Louis, to ask for help against the barbarous Bulgars. They arrived before him in August; but it seems that they met with no response. Louis had his own barbarians to fight. [1]

But by then the danger was past. The hand of God had intervened. On Holy Thursday, the 13th of April, 814, Krum (803–814) broke a blood-vessel in his head, and died.[2]

Krum had remade Bulgaria. Kardam had shown that the Bulgars had only been crippled, not conquered, by the wars of Copronymus; but Krum had altered the whole status of his country. His first achievement, of uniting the Pannonian with the Balkan Bulgars, had given both of them new life. And then he had embarked on a career of spectacular, terrible triumph. He had slain two Emperors in battle and caused the fall of a third. Of the great Imperial fortresses on the frontier he had captured and destroyed four and caused the inhabitants of the two others to flee in terror. [3] He had even seriously threatened the Imperial capital; and repeatedly he had beaten the best Imperial armies. Bulgaria, the dying state of half a century before, was now the greatest military power in Eastern Europe.

Krum Bulgaria (805–898)
(Most of N.Pontic and Balkans is Bosnyak ” Pachanakia” ; Atelcusu = Atelkiji)

Western Balkan principalities ca 814 showing former Avaria after it absorption by Khan Krum

But Krum had not only asserted so alarmingly the independence of Bulgaria by force of arms; he was also, it seems, a great internal organizer. The details of his work are lost, but an echo has come down to us in a story given by the tenth-century encyclopedist Suidas. Krum, he says, after conquering the Avars, asked his Avar captives the reason of their Empire’s fall. They answered that they had lost their best men through various causes, jealousy and accusations between one another, collusion between thieves and judges, drunkenness, bribery, and dishonesty in their commercial dealings, and a passion for law-suits.

1. Annales Laurissenses Minorts, p. 122: the arrival of the Greek embassy immediately follows an event dated August.
2. Scriptor Incertus, p. 348. Bury (op. cit.) dates it the 14th; but that was a Friday.
3. Sardica, Develtus, Mesembria, and Adrianople were destroyed, Anchialus and Philippopolis deserted.

Krum was profoundly impressed, and promptly issued laws to prevent such things in Bulgaria: first, when a man accused another of some crime, the accuser had to be well questioned before the trial took place, and, if he were shown to have invented the accusation, he was to be executed; secondly, hospitality to thieves was punishable by confiscation of all the host’s goods, while thieves were to have their bones broken; thirdly, all vines were to be rooted up; and finally men were to give sufficiently to the needy poor, under the penalty of the confiscation of their goods. [1] It is highly doubtful that Krum’s legislative activity was as simple as Suidas says; but obviously he introduced innovations along these lines. All these laws were simplifications of the paternalist legislation which the Emperor used to give to his people, and very different in their conception from the laws that would occur in an aristocratic state such as Bulgaria had been. Krum, modeling himself, like all progressive Bulgars, on the Empire, was aiming at an almost theocratic supremacy, such as the Emperor enjoyed among his subjects. Krum apparently furthered this policy by encouraging his Slav subjects as opposed to the Bulgars, the aristocracy. It has always been the habit of autocrats to divert their aristocracies from political into military positions; the Byzantine Emperors, when later an aristocracy arose in the Empire, followed that policy; in Western Europe in more modern times it was the policy of statesmen such as Richelieu. So the Bulgars had to confine themselves to the army or to military governorships in the outposts of Empire [2]; they were better fighters than the Slavs, and they were useful there. But for his political work and in the high positions at Court he employed Slavs.

Unless the state traditional order was somehow abandoned, without being recorded and in a revolutionary short period, the Türkic aristocracy, politics, and military are synonymous, and Krum could not invent them anew. That order existed long before Krum, under Krum, and long after Krum, it is a trait of the Türkic nomadic society. The encyclopedist must be giving credit for something that was new to him, the Byzantine had nothing to teach Bulgars on how to engage aristocracy in the war affairs, as S.Runciman consistently shows for all periods.

1. Suidas, Lexicon, p. 762.
2. The soldiers whose deaths are commemorated in the tablets found by the Dnieper and the Theiss (see below, pp. 81, 83) have Bulgar names, Onegavon and Okorses.

 His only ambassador whose name we know was a Slav, Dargamer; and the boyars with whom the Khan feasted drank to a Slav toast, ‘Zdravitza.’ [1] Indeed, it was in this internal organization that Krum was of most service to his country. Contemporary and modern historians have been so dazzled by his startling military triumphs, that they have failed to realize his true significance. Krum’s wars were fought for a defensive aim. He was not an ambitious conqueror; in spite of his victories, he never asked for more than the Meleona frontier, the frontier that Tervel had enjoyed. There were tales of his ambitions in Macedonia, but they never amounted to anything. When he captured the great Imperial fortresses he never attempted to hold them; he merely destroyed them and retired. He knew that the Empire would always resent an independent kingdom in the Balkans; he therefore hoped to safeguard his independence by carrying the attack into Imperial territory.

But, till his last year, when he was burning for vengeance, he would have welcomed a peace that recognized his freedom and gave him a small tribute (to help both his finances and his prestige) and left him time to organize his country. But in the treaty he must insist on being returned his deserter-subjects; he must have all the unruly elements under his power, so that he could crush them. Barbarian though he was, with his ostentation and craft and cruelty, his concubines, his human sacrifices, and his cup that was an Emperor’s head, the Sublime Khan Krum was a very great statesman; and his greatness lies, not in being the conqueror of Emperors, but in being the founder of the splendid Bulgarian autocracy. As it was, his wars distracted him; he did not quite have time enough. The khanate trembled a little and was troubled when the great Khan died (803–814).

1. See above, p. 57.

Excursion into the West

The sudden disappearance of their terrible ruler took the Bulgars by surprise. Krum left a son, called Omortag (816-831); but Omortag was young and inexperienced. [1] It seems that the Bulgar aristocracy took advantage of Krum’s death to revolt against his dynasty. We hear of three boyars that wore the crown about now: Dukum, who almost at once died, Ditzeng and Tsok, the latter two both cruel men who persecuted the Christian prisoners from Adrianople. But no more than that is known of them. Probably they were only the leaders of rebel factions and parties that for a short while controlled the government at Pliska. [2]

In any case, their rule was brief. Well before the end of 815, Omortag was firmly seated on his father’s throne. His first action was to make peace with the Empire. He had not had experience as a warrior himself; it would be wiser to rest upon his father’s laurels and to use their reputation in securing beneficial terms.

1. The forms Ωμορταγ, Ωμουρταγ, Ωμυρταγ, and Ομουρταγ occur in his inscriptions. The Greeks call him Ματραγων, Μορααγων, and Ομβριταγοσ (twice in error Κρυταγον and Κουτραγον); the Latins, Omortag and Omartag. See Zlatarski, op. cit., pp. 292 — . That Omortag was Krum’ son (not brother, as Dvornik (op. cit., p. 39) says) is definitely stated by Theophylact, Historia XV Martyrum, p. 192, and implied by Malamir’s Shumla inscription (see below, p. 295). Theophylact (loc. cit.) makes Omortag directly succeed Krum; and Theophanes Continuatus (p. 217) implies so.
2. Tsok is only mentioned in the Menologium of Basil II as having succeeded Krum and persecuting Christians (Menologium, pp. 276-7); Dukum, who died, and Ditzeng, who persecuted Archbishop Manuel, are only mentioned in a fourteenth-century Slavonic prologue to the Menologium, p.392 (see Bibliography). Tsok, however, is probably the Tsuk that appears in a very mutilated inscription found near Aboba dated 823/4 (Aboba-Pliska, pp. 226-7) — the sense is undecipherable; it may record Omortag’s triumph over the usurper. I am inclined to believe with Loparev (Dvie Zamietki, p. 318) that all three were merely military leaders, and not to identify Ditzeng with Tsok (as Bury does, op. cit., p. 359) or Dukum with Tsok (as Zlatarski, op. cit., pp. 424-5).

He appears to have instituted preliminary negotiations that amounted to nothing [1]; the Emperor Leo was contemplating a campaign against the weakened Bulgars — a monk Sabbatius, prompted no doubt by the devil, had promised him a victory against them were he to reintroduce iconoclasm. [2] But this brilliant campaign never took place. Instead, some time in the winter of 815-16 the Khan and the Emperor concluded a Thirty Years’ Peace.

The Imperial historians barely noticed the treaty; but the Khan was pleased with his diplomacy, and caused the terms to be inscribed on a column in his palace at Pliska. The column is overturned and chipped now, but it still tells how the Sublime Khan Omortag, wishing for peace with the Greeks, sent an embassy to the Emperor (τιν Βασιλεα), and how the peace was to last thirty years. The frontier was to run from Develtus, between the two rivers, and between Balzene and Agathonice to Constantia and to Macrolivada and to the mountains — the name of the range is mostly erased. Secondly, the Emperor was to keep the Slav tribes that had belonged to him before the war; the others, even though they might have deserted, were to belong to the Khan and be sent back to their various districts. Roman (Imperial) officers were to be bought back at a special tariff according to their rank, common people were to be exchanged man for man, and there was a special arrangement for Imperial soldiers captured in deserted citadels. [3]

1. If Bury is right (op. cit., p. 360) in placing the much-mutilated Eski Juma inscription (Aboba-Pliska, p. 228) here, it vaguely suggests negotiations.
2. Genesius, p. 13: Theophanes Continuatus, p. 26, and in more detail in the Epistolae Synodicae Orientalium ad Theophilum, p. 368. This may refer to Leo’s 813 campaign, which was successful, but I think it belongs a little later.
3. The Suleiman-Keui inscription, which has been the subject of an article by Zlatarski (see Bibliography), gives the reasons for my view of the treaty and the Great Fence in Appendix VI. The Greek historians, Genesius, p. 41, and Theophanes Continuatus, p. 31, mention that a thirty-year peace was concluded — Genesius mentioning Omortag (Motragon) by name.

These latter terms were what might have been expected — the Bulgars winning on that deserter clause that had ruined Krum. But the frontier needs elucidation. The two rivers were probably the Tundzha and the Choban-Azmak; Baltzene is unknown; but Agathonice has been identified as the village of Saranti, while Constantia is the village of Kostuzha, both near Kavalki and the Sakar mountains. Macrolivada was the present village of Uzundzhova, near the junction of the western River Azmak with the Maritsa. [1] The semi-nameless mountain range was almost certainly the Haemus (Balkan); that is to say, at Macrolivada the frontier turned sharply to the north, to the Haemus (Balkan) and to the Danube, leaving Philippopolis and Sardica outside the frontier. This was, as Omortag said, the old frontier, [2] the frontier which Tervel had won exactly a century ago; indeed, the whole treaty was in the main a recapitulation of the famous treaty of 716. But there was a difference.

Omortag had advanced as far as he wished on the side of Thrace. His main interests were elsewhere; he only wanted to safeguard this frontier. Accordingly the Bulgars dug a great ditch and on its northern side built a great rampart all the way from the neighborhood of Develtus to Macrolivada. All along this earthen wall, called by the Greeks the Great Fence, and now known as the Erkesiya, Bulgar soldiers kept a constant watch.

But so vast a work could not be carried on with hostile forces just across the frontier metropoles, were re-occupied and rebuilt by the Emperor.

It is almost certain that some clause in the treaty provided for the erection of such a ‘fence’ without interruption from the Imperial forces. It is noticeable that, of the great Imperial fortresses that guarded the frontier before the war, only Mesembria and Adrianople, both of them commercial as well as military

1. Identified by Zlatarski, Izviestiya, pp. 67 -8: Shkorpil’s identification of Constantia (Aboba-Pliska, loc. cit.) with Kostenets, near Trajan’s Gate, is unlikely and unsupported by any evidence.
2. ’περι τες παλαιης ενοριας ινα εστιν... κτλ’ (peri tes palaiis enorias ina estin ... ktl = by the old parish Ina Estin... etc.)

The other fortresses — Anchialus, Develtus, Philippopolis and Sardica — though they were not handed over to the Bulgars, [1] were left deserted, and were easily annexed by the Khan a few decades later. Already the Great Fence intercepted the main road from Adrianople to Philippopolis; and the isolation and desertion of the two western fortresses enabled Omortag to dispense with a ‘fence’ along this western boundary of his Balkan kingdom. Probably even now Bulgar statesmen were contemplating expansion on that side; a ‘fence’ built today, tomorrow would be useless. [2]

To mark the solemnity of the peace-treaty, both the Khan and the Emperor agreed to pledge their word according to the rites of the other’s faith. To the scandal of the pious Christians of Constantinople, the Emperor, the Viceroy of God, poured water on to the earth, and swore on a sword and on the entrails of horses and sacrificed dogs to the false idols of the Bulgars. It was almost worse when the heathen (Tengrian) ambassadors fouled by their touch the Holy Gospels and called on the name of God (Is not it an ugly attitude when the Universal God is shoved to the background, and the peculiar religious rituals are viewed as prime substance of God. Both sides swore by the Universal God, and trusted the sanctity of each other's oath, displaying respect to the Universal God expressed with differing religious rituals, the traits unknown to honorificabilitudinitatibus S.Runciman).

Men were not surprised when plagues and earthquakes followed on the heels of these monstrous impieties. [3]

Omortag, however, was genuinely for peace in the Balkans. Bulgaria’s existence had been guaranteed by the weapons of Krum; it was time now to enjoy the gifts of civilization that the nearness of Byzantium would give. Throughout his reign the Thirty Years’ Peace was faithfully kept by the Khan. Only once did the Bulgar armies march southward from the Great Fence; and that was to help an Emperor.

1. See Appendix VI.
2. For about half a mile, near Bakadzhik, there is a second ‘fence’ a little to the south, curving in front of the other, known as the Gypsy Erkesiya — the legend being that the ‘Tsar’s’ troops were called away and they ordered the gypsies to carry it on; but the gypsies carelessly diverted the direction, which the soldiers corrected when they returned (Aboba-Pliska, pp. 542-3).
3. Ignatius, Vita Nicephori, p. 206: Genesius, p. 28: Theophanes Continuatus, p. 31. See Zlatarski, Istoriya, pp. 434 — 4.

In the year 823 the Emperor Michael II was beleaguered in Constantinople by the army and the fleet of the arch-rebel Thomas, so desperately that he even was arming the Saracen captives in the city. In his straits he would welcome anyone to help him.

It was here that the Khan intervened. Some said that Michael sent to Pliska asking for aid, which was granted him. Others told a longer story; it was Omortag that began the negotiations, asking to be allowed to intervene. Michael refused; he could not, he said, employ heathens (Tengrians) to shed Christian blood. But his refusal was put down by gossip to economy; the Bulgars wished to be paid — and, in any case, it would be a violation of the Thirty Years’ Peace. But Omortag thought the opportunity for interference and for plunder too good to be missed; he crossed the frontier all the same — and Michael assuredly was privy to it, forgiving the breach of the treaty in return for the help, and granting him freely what booty he could obtain. The Bulgar army crossed the Fence and marched past Adrianople and Arcadiopolis towards the capital. The rebel Thomas learnt of their coming; reluctantly he drew his troops away from the siege and went out to meet the new foe. The Bulgars waited for him at Ceductus, the aqueduct where the Empress Procopia had waved farewell to her hapless husband before the field of Versinicia. At the battle of Ceductus the rebels were badly beaten; the bulk of Thomas’s army was destroyed. The Bulgars made their way back to the north laden with spoils. And Michael was saved. [1]

1. Georgius Hamartolus, p. 796: he says that Michael asked for Bulgar help. Genesius, pp. 41-2, and Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 64-6, give the longer story, the Continuator adding the touch about Michael’s economical motive in refusing aid.

Omortag utilized this rare Balkan peace to create other buildings beside the Great Fence. It was probably in the last years of his father’s and the first years of his reign that the palace of Pliska, whose ruins we can trace today, was built. The great quadrilateral camp some two miles by four, surrounded with its rough rampart and pierced with eleven gates, probably dates from the early years of the Bulgar occupation. But the town had twice been destroyed by the Emperor during the wars of Krum; the present inner citadel probably post-dated these wars.

It consisted of a trapezium-shaped fortification, with circular bastions at the four angles, double rectangular bastions guarding the four gates, and eight other bastions. Inside was the dwelling-place of the Khans, a great hall, almost square but trisected with columns, and with an apse for the throne, raised above the ground on a high substructure. It was no doubt in this hall that Krum placed the columns and sculptures that he carried off from the Palace of Saint Mamas. Close to the palace stood the heathen (Tengrian) temple of the Khans, later to atone for its past by becoming a Christian church (Tengriism does not use churches, its temples are natural landmarks of prominent mountains and trees; the building reverse projected as temple of the Khans may a church of some courtier Christians, or something completely secular). [1]

But one palace only was insufficient for the glory of the Sublime Khan. At Transmarisca, on the Danube, where the modern Turtukan still guards one of the easiest passages across the river, Omortag made a house of high renown, [2] a strong palatial fortress to watch the northern approach to his capital. He was still living at his old palace at Pliska at the time [3].

1. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 62 ff, 132 ff. This palace was almost certainly built — probably by Greek artisans — in the early ninth century.
2. ‘'Επ(οιη)σεν υπερφ(η)μον (οι)κο[ν] (ει)ς τον Δαωουβιν’ (Epoiisen yperfimon oikon eis ton Daoouvin = He created [yperfimon ~ περίφημη - Famous = Preslav] house for [Daoouvin])
3. ‘(ει)ς τον παλ(αι)ον (οι)κον αυτου μεν(ων)’ (eis ton palaion oikon aftou menon = in his old [menon] house)

And, with morbid symmetry, halfway between his two earthly halls he built a third house where he should lie for eternity — a splendid sepulcher, whose erection he commemorated on an inscribed column, that later builders determined to utilize; and now the heathen (Tengrian) monarch’s sentiments are to be read in one of the churches of Tirnovo. [1]

For eternity etc. is out of real for a Tengrian: Omurtag soul (kut) reverts back to the Almighty Tengri to be reincarnated in a new human creature, and the mortal body without a soul is to rot as all dead bodies of humans and animals rot. A sepulture may be prepared during the lifetime, like is well known what was done by the Qin Emperor Shi Huang and possibly numerous others in preparation for the travel to the other world, but the kurgan and the funeral rites could be conducted only after his death. Here the S.Runciman interpretation is a questionable projection of Christian notion onto unfamiliar concept. The Tengrian concept is reflected closer in the Islamic Sirat al-Mustaqim/Sirat al-Jahim concept, the “bridge of righteous/hell”, where the soul has to physically traverse a road to the other world.

In the autumn of the year 821 the Khan built another fortress-palace, farther to the south of Pliska, guarding the approaches from the Great Fence. Again he recorded his creation on a column that was found at the village of Chatalar. [2] ‘The Sublime Khan Omortag’, it says, ‘is divine ruler [3] in the land where he was born. Dwelling in the camp (ΑΥΛΙΝ > αυλ(η)ν = aul, a summer villge) of Pliska [4], he made a palace [5] on the Tutsa and increased his power [6] against the Greeks and the Slavs. And he skillfully made a bridge over the Tutsa.[7] . . . And he set up in his fortress four columns, and between the columns two bronze lions. May God grant the divine ruler that he press down with his foot the Emperor so long as the Tutsa flows and the enemies of the Bulgars are controlled[8]; and may he subdue his foes and live in joy and happiness for a hundred years. The date of the foundation is in Bulgarian shegor alem, and in Greek the fifteenth indiction’ (CΙΓΟΡ ΕΛΕΜ = Shegor alem = Year of Bull/Cow 1st month, i.e. 2nd year 1st month Jan).

The name by which Omortag knew this palace (Bersula), which he founded in September 821, has not come down to us; probably it was some Bulgar equivalent of the phrase ‘of high renown’ (Actually, it ascends to the country known as Bersilia between rivers Itil and Sulak, known as the home of Bulgars' kins Khazars, phonetically reformed to Slavic Preslav with no detectable semantic connection).

1. For the Tirnovo inscription see Aboba-Pliska, p. 553: Uspenski, O Drevnistyakh Goroda Tyrnova, pp. 5 ff.: Jirecek, op. cit., 148 ff.: Bury, op. cit., pp. 366-7: Zlatarski, Istoriya, pp. 325-30, 444 — 7. Uspenski, Jirecek (rather incorrectly), and Zlatarski all give the full text. Uspenski places the tomb at the mound of Mumdzhilar, but Zlatarski, more convincingly, at the village of Ikinli-fount, on the present Roumanian frontier.
2. For the Chatalar inscription see Aboba-Pliska, pp. 546 ff.: Bury, op. cit., pp. 368-9: Zlatarski, op. cit., pp. 319-25, and esp. pp. 441-4.
3. ‘εκ θεου αρχ(ω)ν’.
4. ‘τ(η)ς πλ(υ)σκας τον κα(μ)πον’.
5. ‘αυλ(η)ν’.
6. Zlatarski’s reading, ‘Μειζο εποιησε’ makes much more convincing sense than Uspenski’s ‘επιγε’, or Bury ’εδειξε’, Zlatarski professes to be able to read the ‘Μ’
7. After Tutsa there follows ‘Μερ...’ Uspenski reads ‘μρτ[ηνεγκε’; Bury accepts it very doubtfully. Zlatarski reads ‘μρτ[οπισθεν την αθλιν’. This seems to me to be too long, though better sense.
8. According to Zlatarski, who reads:
    ‘κ(αι) [ε] (ως) [αντιστα
    τους πολ[λ]ους Βουλγαρ(ου)ς επε[κη’
I am doubtful about it, but Uspenski reads even more dubiously:
    ‘κ(αι) [δ]ωσ[η (ως) αιχμαλω
      τους κτλ’

But soon it came to be called by its Slav name, and to feature in Balkan history as Preslav (Bersula), Great Preslav, the glorious. [1] The words of the inscription show clearly that Preslav (Bersula) was intended to awe the Slavs of the southern frontier and the Greeks, the Emperor and his subjects, that lived beyond. Furthermore, they show that the Emperor, despite the Thirty Years’ Peace, was still the Khan’s traditional foe, the foe whom most he feared and most he longed to subdue.

S.Runciman complained in his 1930 work about the patriotic nationalism that was making nonsense out of many scientific disciplines, and he lived long enough to witness a state-instituted mockery of science. The brief Chatalar Inscription in Greek contains 6 Türkic words that substitute for the subjects non-existing in the Middle Age Greek language, a curse for august and amateur falsificators: Kane, Su, Bigi, aul, Shegor, and Alem, respectively Kağan < Kagan, army < sü, Bigi < Beg ~ Bek (J.Marquart/S.Runciman offer alternate etymology: ὐβιγή or ὐβηγη (ubigi or ubigi) =  Cuman öweghü = high, renowned), summer camp, Ox/Bull/Cow, and First (month). The traits of the Bulgar vernacular allows to detect glimpses of the Ogur branch of the Türkic linguistic family, corroborating the Hunnic phrase recorded in the Chinese annals. Some of these traits allowed S.Baichorov to read numerous Bulgar runiform inscriptions, and publish a summary of Bulgar language and morphology.

At the moment, however, the Khan was at peace with the Empire — was even borrowing from it the trappings of his culture. The inscriptions in which he glorified his works were written in Greek, not the elegant Greek such as was used by the citizens of Constantinople, but a rough, ungrammatical language — written no doubt by captives who had, forcibly or from their own choice, remained on in the Khan’s dominions. Greek was still the only language in Eastern Europe that possessed an alphabet; for writing, Greeks or natives of the Greek-speaking Empire had to be employed. These scribes of the Khan, in the middle of the Bulgar formulae, add to the title the Sublime Khan, ‘καννας υβιγε’, the Imperial formula ο εκ θεου αρχων, the divine ruler — though the Khan was far from approving of the Christian God. [2]

Bulgars left numerous inscriptions in their specifically Bulgarian runiform script, and even the description of the Chatalar Inscription mentions “mysterious signs” that hint on the Türkic version of the bilingual text [Danko Dimitrov, “Pŭrvouchiteli͡a͡t: Zhitiepis i obrazi na Konstantin-Kiril filosof”, Sofiia, Nar. prosv., 1969]. The use of Türkic lexicon points to the indigenous Türkic authorship; polylinguality in tight quarters of the Balkans with its interspersed populations is expected not only in the literate population, and polyliteracy should be normal at the court. The Attila's court was known for its polylinguality and polyliteracy. The abundance of runiform grafitti in Türkic points to widespread runiform literacy. In the 19th c. Bulgarian successor Tatarstan, the Russian observers were noting a tradition of universal literacy among the “Tatars”, while the general Russian populace was universally illiterate. Widely cited, the Chatalar Inscription appear to be never honored with a dedicated monograph study by professional paleographers.

The architects of the new palaces were also probably Greeks. Of the Danubian palace no traces have been unearthed, and the original buildings of Preslav (Bersula) are lost beneath the later ruins; but Pliska shows very markedly the influence of Byzantine architecture, suggesting both the Triconchus and the Magnaura in the great Imperial Palace. [1]

1. Preslav is a fair translation of the Greek ‘υπερφημος’ (uperfimos) or ‘παμφημος’ (pamfimos) that occur on the Bulgar inscriptions.
2. They, of course, only gave him the title of ‘αρχων’, Βασιλευς’ was reserved for the Emperor, and ‘ρεξ’ for Western rulers. The formula does not mean that the Khan paid any respect to the Christian God; it is purely a formula (It is a formula, but not Christian, under ΕΚ ΘΕΟΥ = EK THEOU = “of God” is meant Tengri = Heaven, and the accepted translation is “by Heaven”, refer to all Türkic royal runiform inscriptions).

But though he encouraged Greek artisans, Omortag firmly discouraged their religion. Christianity was creeping in to Bulgaria in a manner most alarming to him; he could not but regard it as a subtle means of propaganda on the part of the Emperor, the viceroy of the Christian God. It was only later that the Khans realized from their dealings with the West that one coul be Christian without necessarily obeying the Basileus. There was another self-appointed viceroy, who dwelt in Italy; and in the north there were Christians who sometimes doubted the viceroyalty of either. Accordingly, Omortag persecuted Christians, as he would have persecuted Imperial spies (Religious tolerance was endemic to the Türkic societies until their adoption of Christianity and Islam with their militant religious intolerance, Tengriism is a non-doctrinal syncretic religion. S.Runciman confuses Christians with spies. Killing of apostate rulers that is documented in Scythian, Sarmatian, and Türkic states has to do with their position as chosen by the Heaven Tengri for the wellbeing of the people; the choice by an alien something does not make sense). The Imperial captives must have propagated Christianity fairly widely, and among the Slavs (though not among the warlike Bulgars) there must have been many converts. Already under Krum and during the brief reigns of the rebel boyars the Christians had suffered much. Krum had deported the Christians of Adrianople, with many hardships, to beyond the Danube; though, on the whole, he was fairly tolerant. Ditzeng mutilated the arms of the Archbishop Manuel (But not for his faith). Tsok was far more uncompromising; he was said to have ordered the Christian captives, lay as well as clerical, to renounce their faith, and when they refused to have slain them all. Omortag, though less violent, was equally minded. Under his rule the maimed Archbishop Manuel finally met his death [2]; and he was also probably the Khan who, according to Theodore of Studium, ordered all Christians to eat meat in Lent.

1. The rather different, almost Iranian, spirit of the stele of the horseman found at Madara is probably due to an Armenian artist (Similar iconographic images with Türkic runiform inscriptions predate Madara Rider by many centuries and from geographically distant locations).

Madara Rider Cup with Türkic runiform inscription “King Zakassak” from Perm area Cup with Türkic runiform inscription “Shad of Huns Khan Asuk” from Horesm

2. Ditzeng’s persecution is mentioned in the Slavonic Prologue (loc. cit.), Tsok’s in the Menologium (loc. cit.). The author of the Menologium says that Manuel had his arms cut off and was killed by Krum; whereupon the Bulgars, in disgust, strangled their inhuman ruler. This may refer to Ditzeng’s mutilation of his arms, and to the sudden fall of Ditzeng or another of the boyar Khans, the pious author having muddled and united the stories to give them a moral tone. That Manuel was actually killed by Omortag is stated in Theophanes Continuatus, p. 217.

Fourteen refused; so Omortag killed one as an example and sold his wife and children into captivity. But the rest remained obdurate, so all were slain. [1] Even a captive called Cinamon, whom Krum had given to Omortag, and to whom Omortag was deeply attached, was thrown into prison for his persistency in remaining Christian, and remained there till Omortag’s death. [2]

Both these architectural and these anti-Christian activities were part of the same policy, the aggrandisement of the power and prestige of the Khan. In this Omortag carried on his father’s work, and, like Krum, probably furthered it by encouraging the Slavs against the Bulgar aristocracy. There is no more evidence for the internal state of Bulgaria under Omortag; but it seems that in the Balkans the two races were by now mixing. In the lower classes the Slavs were easily able to absorb the few Bulgars (Provided that Bulgars would abandon their cattle ranching and descend to despised agriculture, status equivalent to today's homeless, but with a flavor of servility, which could only happen in case of extreme impoverishment; S.Runciman ignores or misunderstands the economic and status consequences; the distinction is primarily economical and military; a horseman is a knight warrior, but a peasant is a cannon fodder); it was only in the upper classes that there was still a distinction. The Bulgar nobility, the almost feudal military caste, was untainted, while the Slav nobility, brought forward by Krum, was a court nobility with no hereditary basis, made or marred by the whim of the Khan. Of the state of affairs beyond the Danube we know even less. Here there was not the same solid Slav background. On the plains of Wallachia and Bessarabia, and in the mountains of Transylvania, there was a conglomeration of mongrel tribes — Slavs, Avars, and Vlachs — clinging in places to the Latin speech and culture left behind by Trajan’s Dacian colonists, but wild and disorganized (This is a baseless speculation. the Scythians, Sarmtas, Akathiirs, Huns, Avars, Bulgars, and other Türkic people with horse culture have reorganized, entering various politically dominant Türkic ethnoses, like the today Kazakhs, Turkmens, Uzbeks, etc., becoming Bulgars, Avars, Khazars, Bosnyaks, Savirs, etc., but still carrying their original tribal names and their own Türkic languages).

1. Theodore Studites, Parva Catechesis, pp. 220 ff.
2. Theophylact, op. cit., pp. 193 ff.

Over these peoples the Khan ruled, it seems, by a system of military outposts that controlled the districts around; and where possible, as in Bessarabia, a Great Fence guarded the frontier. [1] It was to these northern frontiers that Omortag directed the attention of his diplomacy and his arms. A memorial tablet set up by the Khan tells of his servant the zhupan Okorses, of the family of Tzanagares (Apparently derived from tribal name, ca. Can + gur), who met his death in the waters of the Dnieper when proceeding to the Bulgar camp. [2] Things had changed on the Steppes since two centuries ago the sons of Kubrat (Kurbat) had spread Bulgarians from the Danube to the Volga and the Kama. The Khazar power was declining, and fierce new tribes were pouring in from the east. About the year 820 the Magyars advanced beyond the River Don, striking for ever a wedge between the two great Bulgar stems. It was against this danger that the army which Okorses never reached went out beyond the Dnieper. It achieved its objects. For a few more years the Magyars stayed outside of the frontier.

Rough outline of the global events in the Ukraine (only few dates are firmly established):

-659-750 Kangar Union state - 709-713 Arab expansion from the west into Central (Middle) Asia led by Kuteyba (Qutayba), taking Bukhara and Samarkand, Khiva, Horesm, and sacking Kashgar
- 751 Chinese expansion into Tarim, Taklamakan, and areas immediately to the north ended with defeat from Arabs and Karluks. Karluks (dubbed “Turkmen”, repossess western Tarim, and Uigurs repossess eastern Tarim
- 745 Uigurs take over Eastern Türkic Kaganate. Numerous tribes migrate westward, joining in existing political structures or establishing their own independent states
- 745-840 Uigur Kaganate, Jalair dynasty, later surviving as Borjigin dynasty of Mongols
- 743-1050 Kimak Kaganate, lead by a Shad (Crown Prince) of short-lived Seyanto Kaganate. Kimak Kaganate is a successor of Western Türkic Kaganate in the north
- 750 Karluks (a branch of Uigurs) split from Uigur Kaganate and migrate southwest, eventually Karluks are headed by offsprings of Ashina dynasty titled in Chinese rendition “Sağ Yabgu” (Right Wing Prince) and “Sol Yabgu” (Left Wing Prince).
- 750-1055 Oguz Yabgu state
- 770s Oguzes come to Transoxania
- 750 Oguzes and Kipchaks of Kimakia displace Kangars into N.Pontic
- 750 Kangars invade Khazaria, demolish N.Pontic Bulgars and their allies Majars (Magyars). Magyars migrate from Levedia to Atelkuzu, join Bulgar Kabars
- 750-990 Kangars establish N.Pontic state, become known as Bajanaks/Becenyo/Bosnyak/Patsinaks/Pechenegs
- 750-990 Bulgar population extends from Danube to Kama, known as Pannonian Bulgars, Danube Bulgars, Bosnyak Bulgars, Khazar Bulgars, Caucasus Bulgars, and Itil Bulgars
- 860 Split of Rus province from Khazaria, formation of Rus Kaganate
- 860 (soon after) Split of Karajar province from Khazaria, formation of Karajar (Sl. Chernihiv) Suvar (Sl. Severyan) independent principality. Chernihiv-Rus contest.
- 990 Kipchaks displace Kangar/Bosnyak union from N.Pontic to Balkans. Migration of Kangar dynastic tribe Charaboi (Harvat) from N.Pannonia to Dalmatia. Formation of Bosnyak state in Bosnia, Herzogovina, Croatia

Kangar - Becenyo/Bosnyak state at its maximum extent

But the main scene of Omortag’s foreign policy lay further to the west, where the Bulgar frontier ran from the fortress of Belgrade up the River Theiss. Over this frontier lay the struggling kingdom of Croatia, and its oppressor the great power of the West, the Frankish Empire. The rule of the Sublime Khan lay heavily on the tribes that lived in this corner of his dominions, and they determined to search for relief.

In the year 818 the Emperor Louis the Pious was holding his Court at Heristal; and amongst the embassies that waited on his pleasure was one from the Slavs of the Timok (just south of Belgrade) and the Abodriti, a Slav race to the north of the Danube, just opposite.

1. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 524-5. Rivers seem to have been able to take the place of fences. Actually in Omortag’s day the Theiss and the Dnieper appear to have been the frontiers (That means that Atelkuzu from Pruth to Dnieper belonged to the Danube Bulgaria, and Magyars were nominally Omortag’s subjects). In the Responsa Nicolai , Chapter xxv., we learn how much the Bulgars valued their entrenchments.
2. Aboba-Pliska, p. 190: Zlatarski, Edin ot Provadiiskitie Omortagovi Nadpici, pp. 94 -107.

These tribes had revolted from the Khan and wanted help. Louis was not sure what policy he should adopt in the East; so the Timocians, in despair, threw in their lot with Liudevit (Liudevit sounds like a Slavic name, with liude = people, but what the -vit stands for? At that time the Prince of Pannonian Croatia was a Croat from the Kangar tribe Charaboi; Liudevit could be a tribal leader of the Charaboi Slavs), the Prince of Pannonian Croatia, who also was represented at Heristal and who seemed likely for a moment to found a realm free from Frank and Bulgar alike. [1] But Liudevit’s triumphs were ephemeral; by 823 he had died in exile, and his country was in the hands of the Franks (Initiating migration of Charaboi and their Slavs to Dalmatia). Omortag was alarmed by the growth of Frankish power. He had, it seems, reconquered the Timocians; but the Abodriti and the Predenecenti (the Branichevtzi, just across the Danube to the Abodriti) (Under the Slavic Branichevtzi = “defenders” could be hiding Antes/Anchies, with the same meaning in Türkic) were airing their independence and intriguing with the Franks. [2] He decided that he must free his hands to deal with them by coming to an arrangement with the Western Emperor. In 824, for the first time in history, a Bulgarian embassy made its way to Germany, bringing a letter from the Khan to propose a delineation of the frontier. [3]

Louis, with his customary caution, sent the embassy back accompanied by his own legates, including the Bavarian Machelm, to find out more about this country of Bulgaria. Meanwhile, he received another embassy from the rebel Slav tribes. Late in the year the Bulgarian ambassadors returned — with Machelm, no doubt, who by now had informed himself as to the state of Bulgaria. But Louis was leaning towards the rebels now; he kept the Bulgars waiting nearly six months before he received them at Aachen, in May. The audience was unsatisfactory; the embassy was dismissed with a very ambiguous letter to the Khan. Omortag patiently tried once more.

1. Einhard, Annales, pp. 205-6. Liudevit was, it seems, secretly supported by the Eastern Emperors (Dvornik, op. cit., p. 49).
2. Ibid., p. 209, in 823.
3. Ibid., p. 212.

In 826 a third embassy reached the Emperor, and requested him either to agree to regulate the frontier at once, or, anyhow, to come to an undertaking that each Power would keep within its own borders — the Khan was determined that his rebel Slavs should not go flirting with the Franks. But yet again Louis was non-committal. He professed to have heard a rumor that the Khan had died, and sent to the Eastern frontier to find out more about it. But no news was forthcoming; so Louis dismissed the Bulgar ambassador without any answer. [1]

Omortag’s patience was exhausted. In 827 he invaded Frankish Croatia. His boats sailed from the Danube up the Drave, spreading destruction. The Slavs and other tribes on its banks were cowed into submission, and agreed to accept Bulgar governors. [2] His attack took the Franks by surprise. In 828 Baldric of Friuli, the governor of the frontier, was deposed for his incompetence in permitting the Bulgar invasion, [3] and that same year the young King Louis, the German, led an expedition against the Bulgars. [4] But he achieved nothing; in 829, as in the previous two years, the Bulgars devastated Pannonia once more. [5] The Khan had asserted his power in a very definite manner; the German court was better informed now. The war dragged till after Omortag’s death; peace was concluded in 832, to the satisfaction of the Bulgars. [6] Their frontier was guaranteed, and their position and prestige among the Slavs was assured.

We are only told definitely of the Bulgar campaigns on the Drave; but Bulgar armies had also been operating on land. Another memorial was erected by Omortag for his tarkan, Onegavon, of the family of Kubiares (Kubars?), who was on his way to the Bulgar camp when he was drowned in the waters of the Theiss. [7]

1. Einhard, Annales, p. 213: Astronomus, Vita Hludovici, pp. 628-9: Fuldenses Annales, p. 359.
2. Einhard, p. 216.
3. Ibid., Ioc. cit.
4. Fuldenses Annales, p. 359.
5. Ibid., p. 360.
6. Annalista Saxo , p. 574.
7. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 190-1.

Omortag did not long survive his tarkan. When he built his tomb he caused to be written the words: ‘Man dies, even though he lives nobly, and another is born; and let the latest born, seeing this, remember him who made it. The name of the Prince is Omortag, the Sublime Khan. God grant that he live a hundred years’. [1] But God did not grant the Khan so lengthy a life. He died in 831, [2] after a reign of fifteen years (816-831) — a short reign for a Bulgar ruler; but in its course he had shown the world, the West and the East alike, that Bulgaria was now to be numbered among the great Powers of Europe.

Three sons survived Omortag, called Enravotas, Svinitse, and Malamir (Mal is “cattle” in Türkic, mir is a “ruler”, Türkic mir may be a proto-word for Slavic mir with the semantic of “all ruled”, “all people”, ultimately “world”; the second Slavic meaning for mir may be from the Baltic parent family with semantics “tranquility”, “peace”). It was the youngest, Malamir (831-852), that succeeded to the throne; his mother must have been the Khan’s favorite wife. [3] A veil of mystery hangs over Malamir’s reign; all its happenings and their dates can only be completed by conjecture. It is even possible that the reign was two reigns, and that Malamir, after five years, gave place to a Khan Presiam. [4] But that is unlikely. It seems, on the other hand, that Malamir reigned for twenty-one years, years of the highest importance in the history of Bulgaria (The other Krum's grandchildren may have been aged by 831, or Svinitse already passed away, since Krum was enthroned in 803 at quite a ripe age. But more valid case is that the older brothers were of secondary wives with a status of concubines, and ineligible for succession. This is indicated by the Slavonic name Svinitse = Sl. “pig, swine”, unbecoming to a Türkic Prince, and likely from a Slavic wife).

Malamir’s reign opened in peace. The Thirty Years’ Truce with the Empire had still some fifteen more years to run; while in Pannonia the Franks had been awed by Omortag’s invasions. Of Bulgarian history during these peaceful years we know nothing.

1. The Tirnovo inscription, closing words. See p. 77.
2. I accept Zlatarski’s date for his death — Istoriya, p. 317, Izviestiya, p. 34. See Aboba-Pliska, p. 236.
3. Theophylact, op. cit., p. 192.
4. I discuss the Malamir-Presiam problem in Appendix VIII.

Even inscriptions are very rare. All we learn from them is of the death from illness of a boyar called Tsepa, and that the Kavkan Isbules, who appears elsewhere as the Khan’s chief general, built for Malamir an aqueduct at his own expense, whereat the Khan gave a series of feasts to his aristocracy. Probably Malamir was engaged in adding to his father’s new fortress of Preslav (Bersula), and the aqueduct was needed to supply the growing city. [1]

This opening peace lasted satisfactorily for five years; but in 835-6 a diplomatic crisis faced Bulgaria and the Empire. The Thirty Years’ Peace required, it appears, confirmation at every decade. In 825-6 this had been effected without difficulty; Omortag had been giving his attention then to the middle Danube, while the Emperor Michael II was fully engaged with religious problems at home. But by the end of the second decade certain problems forced themselves on the Khan’s and the Emperor’s notice. When Krum captured Adrianople in 813 he had transported ten thousand of its inhabitants to a spot beyond the Danube, which soon acquired the name of Macedonia — for Adrianople was the capital of the Macedonian theme. [2]

There they still lived, now numbering twelve thousand, enjoying, it seems, a certain degree of self-government and electing their chief magistrate. But they were restive in their exile; its discomforts and periodical persecutions made them long for their old homes. The Khan, however, wished to keep them. No doubt the skilled artisans that must have been amongst them were of great value to him in manufacturing luxuries for his court. It was only with the greatest difficulty that Cordyles, the governor of these Macedonians, made his way to Constantinople, to persuade the Emperor Theophilus to send ships to the Danube to rescue them. They had already once tried to escape across Bulgaria; but without Imperial help they were doomed to failure.

1. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 191, 230-1. Uspenski, Zlatarski, and Bury all agree in translating the obscure word ‘αναβρυτον’ as aqueduct.
2. See above, p. 65.

Theophilus, however, waited for the temporary break in the Truce before taking action, but in 836 he sent some ships to the Danube. The ‘Macedonians’ moved down the river to meet the ships and began to cross one of the northern tributaries of the river — probably the Pruth.[1] The local Bulgar governor determined to check them and crossed over to attack them, but was beaten with great loss; and the Macedonians triumphantly effected their crossing. The Bulgars then called in to their aid the Magyars, whose power now extended to the Bulgar frontier. [2] The Magyars came gladly; numbers of them presented themselves before the Macedonians’ camp demanding the surrender of all their belongings. The demand was refused, and in the battle that followed the Macedonians again, by the help of St. Adrian, were victorious. And so they passed on safely to the ships and Constantinople, after more than twenty years in exile. [3] (This episode corroborates that the Magyars of Atelkuzu were subjects of Danube Bulgaria)

The Bulgars had played an unimpressive part in this episode. They were too busy elsewhere. Malamir, like Theophilus, intended to get some work done before he renewed the treaty; and his work was of a more drastic nature.

1. Bury, by assuming that this river must be the Danube (op. cit., p. 371), created unnecessary complications that ruin the geography of the story. The fact that no name is given to the river does not necessarily mean that the river must be the same as the last river mentioned.
2. See above, p. 81.
3. Leo Grammaticus, p. 232: Logothete (Slavonic version), pp. 101-2: Theophanes Continuatus, p. 216. Bury, loc. cit.: Zlatarski, Istoriya i., I, pp. 339-40. There is some difficulty about the date. The Slavonic version calls the Khan Vladimir, which must be a mistake for Malamir (the Slavonic version is tautologous, combining the Türkic root with the synonymous Slavic root vlad “to possess”; essentially, Malamir and Vladimir are synonymous and interchangeable ), muddling him with Boris’s son Vladimir. Bury and Zlatarski both date the episode 836, Bury to fit his chronology of Basil I’s life, and Zlatarski to fit it in before Malamir is succeeded by Presiam. Both reasons seem to me to be invalid; Mr. Brooke (B.Z. xx·) has shown Basil to have been born far later, and I do not think that Presiam’s reign happened. But, as Bury says (op. cit., p. ix), the tradition given in Basil’s life that this exile lasted some twenty-three years is probably reliable, though Basil, like other heroes, has acquired adventures that do not belong to him. Probably it was his father or an elder brother that lived through the captivity.

The treaty of 815-16 had left the great Imperial fortresses of Philippopolis and Sardica isolated and deserted. Malamir now proceeded to annex the latter and the surrounding territory, and to advance even farther, along the road to Thessalonica. The Slavs of Macedonia and the Greek peninsula were too unruly during these years for the Emperor to control, and he had likewise to submit without effective protest to this Bulgar intervention. This advance to Thessalonica was probably not directed against the rich city, but a move to cover work further to the west. The Bulgars were beginning now to settle and set up their rule in the hills of Upper Macedonia, the land that was to be their second cradle — the land for which they sigh so sadly today. [1]

This is an utterly scholar study that investigates to its ultimate the events connected with miniscule historical significance, e.g. the border adjustments vis-a-vis Byzantine, but glosses over events connected with quadrupling of the state territory, mass acquisition of multi-ethic population, and coming in contact with a superpower state after sweeping annexation of the Avar Kaganate. What indigestion problems the Danube Bulgaria had after becoming a European superpower, and how it coped with its problems, what was done right and what was done wrong, is attended by dwelling on a few broken hands and a strip of deserted territory. To use microscope to view global events is no different from using toothpicks as construction tools.

Despite these questionable transactions, the truce was renewed and lasted another decade, till its due termination. During these years Malamir kept his attention on his western frontier. On the north-west, in Pannonia, he seems to have lived in peace with the Croats and with his most formidable neighbors, the Franks. But in 845, when the Thirty Years’ Truce was drawing to a close, he thought it worth while to send ambassadors to Louis the German’s court at Paderborn, to make a permanent peace and alliance that would leave his hands free to deal, when the time came, with the Greeks. [2] Further south he was less peaceful. With the annexation of Sardica, his power had spread into the valley of the Morava.

1. The Thessalonica expedition is mentioned in the story of Cordyles and his ‘Macedonians’ (see reference above). The annexation of Sardica is probable, because, while by the peace of 816, Sardica, with Philippopolis, appears to have been left dismantled but not annexed, by the time of the Serbian war, Sardica must have been in Bulgar hands. This is the only date when these annexations can have occurred. It is also probable that some such annexation was the main cause of the Bulgaro-Serbian war. (See below.)
2. Annales Fuldenses, p. 364.

On the hills beyond the Morava a chieftain called Vlastimer (Name synonymous with Vladimir and Malamir) was uniting the tribes around and building the Serbian nation. In his task he was certainly helped by the Bulgarian menace. The Serbs were alarmed by this great empire spreading to their borders and moving to cut off their expansion to the south; they gladly put themselves under Vlastimer’s care. Moreover, Vlastimer was encouraged and urged on by his nominal suzerain the Emperor, who was far enough away not to be a menace himself, but who was delighted at the growth of a new thorn in the side of Bulgaria. The loss of the last Imperial outposts beyond Rhodope was amply compensated, if thereby Bulgaria was made a close neighbor of a jealous rival.

Whether Vlastimer or Malamir actually provoked the inevitable war is uncertain: but in 839 the Bulgars invaded Serbia, under Presiam, probably a scion of the royal house. But the Serbs knew how to fight among their hills. After three years Presiam had achieved nothing, but had lost large numbers of his men. In 842 the Bulgars returned to their country defeated. [1]

But Malamir did not let this set-back interfere with his Macedonian policy. Soon after the year 846, when the Thirty Years’ Truce was ended, he sent his general, the Kavkan Isbules, to invade the regions of the Struma and the Nestos, again probably to cover the Bulgar penetration farther to the west. The Imperial troops in those themes were probably engaged in fighting rebel Slavs in the Peloponnese, and could not oppose him. But to create diversion the Empress-Regent Theodora strengthened her garrisons in Thrace and began systematically to devastate Thracian Bulgaria.

This drew Isbules back, but not before the Bulgars had annexed Philippopolis and advanced to Philippi. A truce seems to have followed this campaign. Of its terms we know nothing; probably the Bulgars were authorized to proceed with their penetration of the Macedonian hinterland — a work which the Empire was powerless to prevent. [1]

1. De Administrando Imperio, p. 154. See Appendix VIII. I follow Zlatarski’s dates (op. cit., p. 346), but certainty is impossible.

Malamir lived some five years longer; but his latter days were clouded. Probably his health was poor — he never led his armies in person — and he was troubled with domestic problems; Christianity was spreading even into his own family. The trouble was due to a Greek called Cinamon. As a young man Cinamon had been captured at Adrianople by Krum and had been assigned as a slave to Omortag. He was a very able slave, but obstinately remained a Christian; which so annoyed Omortag that eventually he put him in prison. After Omortag’s death Enravotas, desirous of possessing the perverse paragon, asked his brother Malamir to release him and give him to him. Unfortunately Cinamon acquired a great influence over his new master, and gradually Enravotas became a convert to the Christian faith.

This was very awkward; Enravotas, besides being a prince, held some high position in the army — the Greek martyrologist calls him also Boïnos, a Greek transliteration of the Slavonic for a warrior (Slavic “voin”, see the box below). But Christianity was inevitably associated with Greek propaganda; the Empire was the only Christian State with whom Bulgaria had had intimate dealings, and the Emperors were fond of using missionaries for political purposes. Enravotas’s conversion smelled strongly of treachery.

Citation from O.Suleymenov Az i A (Az and I), Alma-Ata, 1975 (Russ). Part 1 Song of Igor’s Campaign, Chapter Kypchak:

The sources of old Slavic military lexicon belong to the epoch of Slavic-Türkic unity. This still unusual term is provable: the sources witness it. And first of all is the vocabulary. A whole row of designations (in the Slavic languages) for the most general concepts of the military craft comes from the ancient Türkic languages. Such as “voin” (soldier), “boyarin” (boyar, highest noble), “polk” (regiment), “trud” (labor, in the sense “war“) “, “ohota” (hunting), “oblava” (round-up), “chugun” (pig-iron), “jelezo” (iron), “bulat” (sword), “alebarda” ( halberd), “topor” (axe), “molot” (hammer), “sulitsa” (lance), “rat” (army), “khorugv” (banner), “sablya” (sabre), “kmet” (?), “kolchan” (quiver), “tma” (10-thousand army division), “Ura!” (Hurrah/Hurray!, Türk “strike!“) , “ayda!” (go!). These invisible Türkisms, frayed during the centuries, do not stand out in the vocabulary. The linguists only notice the latest, obviously “non-native” inclusions: saadak (leather bag for bow, quiver), orda (horde), bunchuk (Türkic ensign), karaul (sentry), esaul (lieutenant of ataman - commander), ertaul (?), ataman (commander) , kosh (basket), kuren (pavilion), bogatyr (mighty hero), birüch (bachelor), jalav (flag), snuznik (rider), kolymaga (cart), alpaut (?), surnach (flutist, piper), etc.

1. “halberd” could be a Germanic borrowing: 1495, from M.Fr. hallebarde, from M.H.G. halmbarte “broad-axe with handle,” from halm “handle” + barte “hatchet,” from P.Gmc. bardoz beard.” Alternate etymology traces first element to helm “helmet,” making the weapon an axe for smashing helmets. Or it could be borrowed into both Germanic and Slavic...

2. A number of the above examples belong to common Slavic lexicon, before the fission of Balto-Slavic into Western, Eastern and Southern dialects, implying their Hunnic, and possible even earlier borrowing from the Ptolemaic tribes such as Agathyrs, Alans, Savars, Gelons etc.

3. A review of the treatment of these “Proto-Slavic” Türkic words in the authoritative Fasmer's Dictionary is indicative, showing how a tendentious analysis can impoverish this subject to a pathetic sanitized version. The European-derived etymologies, like for “bachelor“, are less chauvinistic, but frequently even more parochial.

4. Not all of these examples are included in the E.N.Shipova 2000 Turkisms in Russian, which mostly addresses the latest, obviously “non-native” inclusions

1. Georgius Continuatus, p. 821: Logothete (Slavonic version), p. 103: I follow Bury (op. cit., pp. 372-3) and Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 350) in assuming that the Philippi (Villoison’s) and the Shumla inscriptions both belong to this campaign (Aboba-Pliska, p. 233). The latter inscription indicates clearly that it was now that the Bulgars annexed Philippopolis; it also mentions Probatum and Burdizus in terms that would imply that they were the forts mentioned vaguely by the Logothete.

Besides, Christianity was probably spreading among the humbler classes, and to have a prince on their side would encourage far too much subjects whose loyalty was inevitably doubtful, but who were negligible so long as they remained humble and fairly scattered. Malamir begged his brother to come back and worship the sun and moon, as all good Bulgars did (What a derisive ignorant nonsense. With that level of perception, what can be expected from the analysis of such phenomen as Hudayars/Bogomils?). But the glory of being the first Bulgarian martyr was too much for Enravotas; he remained obdurate. The Khan was obliged to put him to death. [1]

Three years later, in 852, Malamir himself died (831-852). He was succeeded by his nephew, the son of Svinitse, Boris (852-907, the undistorted form is Barys, meaning “lion”, lit. “leopard”). [2] The new Khan Boris was young, and full of the impetuous audacity of youth. He longed to restore the military prestige of Bulgaria and her Khans, that had lain dormant during his uncle’s reign. His first move was to collect his forces on the southern frontier, with the intent of breaking Malamir’s treaty. But the Empress-Regent Theodora was, we are told, a match for him. She sent to him saying that, if he invaded the Empire, she would lead its forces against him in person: so that if he won he would have no glory in defeating a woman, and if he lost he would be ridiculous. The young Khan was gallantly abashed; but the Empress supplemented her feminine diplomacy by offering to revise the frontier — moving it southward to run south for some twenty-five miles from the neighborhood of Develtus to the Iron Gate in the Stranya Planina, and then due west to join the Great Fence at the Sakar Planina. It was not a great sacrifice on the Empress’s part; the ceded territory included Anchialus and Develtus, but, like the other fortresses that Krum destroyed, they had lain dismantled and half-deserted ever since that day, and the whole district had been waste land since the war. But its cession achieved Theodora’s object; she could not then have afforded a war. Her persecution of the Paulicians on her eastern frontier was causing her more trouble than so pious a policy deserved. [1]

Paulicians is one of the Catholic terms for a monotheistic Monophysite branch of Tengriism syncretized with Christianity, an innocent personal belief of every individual concerned about the eternal future of his or her personal soul. Considering that the pagan Constantine formed and introduced Christianity as a state religion as a tool to unify and strengthen the state, it is hard to believe that the succeeding Emperors would sacrifice in the real world the very same state to advance a theoretical religious dogma in the etiological world, as the later Christian history would want to make us believe. No sane ruler of an empire, with a practice of myriad of daily compromises needed to run the empire, would blindly jump into a bog of perilous to the state uniquely personal convictions and sectarian conflicts to strengthen the state. And that is especially true on the historical background of the shrewd and rationalistic policies run by the rulers of both splinters of the divided Catholic Church

1. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, pp. 192 ff. He dates Enravotas’s death three years before Malamir’s. I think it was the aspect of treachery rather than the religious aspect that caused Malamir to kill his brother. It appears as an isolated case of martyrdom (At every level, from the Supreme Kagan to the village Zhupan, the leader of the community officiated at the religious ceremonies intended to bring the supernatural blessing to the people of his community; undoubtedly the Prince Enravotas had that obligation toward the people he served and led; and equally undoubtedly as a non-Tengrian the Prince Enravotas could not perform his main obligation of bringing almighty blessing upon his people. Enravotas was not executed for his beliefs but for his inability to perform the assigned function. In that respect, Supreme Kagan was no different than the lowest Zhupan, a failure to perform caused irrevocable termination).
2. I follow Zlatarski’s date (Izviestiya, pp. 45 -7) for Boris’s succession. It is made probable by the embassy to Germany known to have taken place that year, and fits with the date given by Theophylact (p. 201). His name appears in the Greek writers variously as Βωγωρις, Βογαρις, Βωρισης, and Βορισης (miswritten also once as Γοβαρις and once as Βορωσης), in early Slavonic translations as Borish and Boris. On his inscriptions he is Βορης.

Boris then turned his attention to the north-west. In 852 he had sent an embassy to Mainz to Louis the German, to announce his accession and renew his uncle’s treaty. But next year, encouraged no doubt by his own bloodless triumphs in the south and instigated by Louis’s rival, Charles the Bald of the Western Franks, he invaded Frankish territory. But, despite the support of local Slavs, he was defeated and obliged to retire; and peace was soon re-made. It is probable that his aim had been the annexation of Pannonian Croatia, which at the time was a vassal-state of the Franks; indeed, the victory that the Frankish chroniclers claimed may really have been the victory of the Croats. We know that he invaded Croatia without success, and at last had to retire and make a peace, at which he received many handsome presents. But the Croats never became his vassals nor paid him any tribute. [2]

1. Genesius (pp. 85-6) tells the story of Theodora’s message, but does not name the Bulgar Khan. Theophanes Continuatus (pp. 162-5) reproduces it, calling the Khan Boris (Βωγωρις) and connecting it with Boris’s conversion, owing to which Theodora ceded the territory. But Theodora had fallen in 856 — seven years before Boris was converted. The Imperial records would more probably be accurate about which Emperor or Empress ceded territory than about Bulgarian semi-internal affairs. Besides, Theodora’s message, though it makes a pretty anecdote and probably is not entirely apocryphal, would hardly by itself deter an ambitious Bulgar. The talk about the treaty implies that the incident took place soon after Boris’s accession, when Malamir’s treaty probably needed renewing. I therefore follow Zlatarski (Izviestiya, pp. 54 ff.: Istoriya, i. 2, pp. 2 ff.) in isolating these incidents from the conversion, and dating them early in the reign — probably 852. I accept Zlatarski’s geography of the ceded territory (Izviestiya, loc. cit.); the old identification of the Σιδηρα (Sidira = Train) Pass with Veregava is clearly impossible.
2. Annales Bertiniani, p. 448: De Administrando Imperio, pp. 150-1. I believe that these refer to the same war, which was an attempt by Boris to wrest Pannonian Croatia from the Franks: hence the Franks recorded it as a war against them. The Croatia must be Pannonian Croatia, not Dalmatian Croatia — Ratimir’s kingdom, not Tirpimir’s, as Zlatarski (Istoriya, i, 2, pp. 8-9) and Dvornik (p. 54) say; to reach Dalmatian Croatia, Boris would have had to operate either through Serbia or through Pannonian Croatia. Nor is it necessary to identify the Slavs mentioned as Boris’s auxiliaries as Moravians, as Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 7) and Bury (op. cit., p. 383) do. The Moravians were well enough known to the Frankish annalists by now to be called by name, not generically as Slavs. The Φραγγων νεφος, which Theophylact (loc. cit.) says covered Bulgaria at the time of Boris’s accession, probably means the Frankish victories in this war.

For the Bulgarian history, the period of 750-990, i.e. the period of existence of the N.Pontic Bosnyak state, is critically important, and the particularities of the conflicts and cooperation, including the role of the both sides' Slavic tribes in the events are of importance far exceeding that of the relations with Byzantine and Franks.


There were other enemies on that western frontier. Boris was eager to avenge Presiam’s defeats at the hands of the Serbs; and he realized that a strong Serbia would necessarily make difficult his expansion both in Croatia and in Upper Macedonia. The latter question probably caused him to declare war. It seems that throughout his first decade Boris was busily continuing the work of Malamir’s reign and pushing his frontier right to the mountains of Albania, and even the northernmost peaks of Pindus. In 860 he sent an embassy to Constantinople. We know neither the cause nor the achievements of this embassy save that its audiences kept the Arab ambassador waiting. [1] Probably Boris was asking for recognition of his Macedonian annexations and for the neutrality of the Imperial government before his attack on the Serbs. But he was no more successful than Presiam. Since Vlastimer’s death his sons Muntimer, Stroemer, and Goinic had shared the Serbian throne. They united to meet the invader, and caught him in the treacherous valleys, defeating him utterly and capturing his son Vladimir and twelve Great Boyars. To ransom them Boris was forced to make peace. He agreed to evacuate the country, and on his humiliating retreat Muntimer’s two sons acted as his escort as far as Rase on the frontier (Racka, near Novi-Bazar), where they exchanged presents, the Serbian princes giving the Khan two slaves, two falcons, two hounds, and ninety skins. This friendship with Muntimer’s family later bore fruit, when the Serbian princes quarreled amongst themselves. Muntimer, who emerged victorious, sent his brothers and their families to prison in Bulgaria, and thus gave the Bulgars many excuses for intervening among the Serbs. So, finally, Boris recovered from the consequences of his defeat. [1]

1. Tabari, in Vasiliev, Vizantiya i Araby, i., Prilozheniya, p. 57.

This Serbian war was the last episode in the history of the heathen (Tengrian) Empire. Already the drama was opening that would change the fate of Bulgaria and of half Europe.

The idea of a heathen, Christian, or whatever religious empire is absolutely monstrous and in conflict with any and all religions. No religion advocates a state salvation, paradise for a state population, or reincarnation of a state, they all stipulate individual relationship with the Almighty and individual reward. And although no religion suggests any heavenly advantages for an individual residing within a country with a state religion, and some even offer a bonus heavenly treatment for those residing in a country inclement to that religion, the policies of state religions swept the post-Antique world, in process torturing and killing uncounted souls with cruelty that theretofore did not even exist. The sick minds that invented concept of the state religion can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but the heaven must be overflowing with their victims, or in case of reincarnation for each killed infidel we now have a host of reincarnated infidels in every neighborhood, they definitely did not reincarnate into farm cows and dying out animals in the wild.

The savagery of the Roman and Greek empires did not diminish with adoption of state Christianity, quite the opposite. As S.Runciman amply demonstrates below, it also did not help the Danube Bulgaria.

Of the internal aspect of the land in the last days of its old life we have little more information than in its earlier history. The Slav element in the country by now was displaying its predominance. The Slavonic language was in general use. Greek might still be needed for public inscriptions, there being no Slavonic alphabet; but the old Bulgar tongue had utterly or almost utterly disappeared (That implies disappearance of the nomadic horse economy, an utter nonsense. As long as the history records Bulgarian cavalry army, the nomadic horse economy was in full power). [2] The Khans since Krum had encouraged the Slavs, inviting Slavs to their Court; Omortag’s sons had even borne Slavonic names, and Boris’s likewise (S.Runciman's stipulation on the names is misleading: of Omortag’s Enravotas, Svinitse, and Malamir, and of Boris’s Vladimir-Rosate and Simeon/Shamgun, only the 2 components svin and vlad are Slavonic, the other 6 are not. However, like in the similar example of the Rus, the rulers had two versions of the names, one the native name, the other a Slavicized version for outer consumption: Helga/Olga, Ingvar/Igor, Shamgun/Simeon, with the Slavicized version being either phonetically adjusted, or a translation like Malamir > Vlastimir, Vladimir. The later church tradition was systematically erasing traces of the “pagan” past). [3] In the vast Bulgar lands beyond the Danube the proportion of races was probably fairly even, though both Slavs and Bulgars were leavened by the remnants of innumerable tribes that had lingered in the Eastern Carpathians. But south of the Danube, in what was now the centre of the empire, the Slavs far outnumbered the Bulgars, particularly in the new Macedonian provinces on which the Khans were spending so much attention.

1. De Administrando Imperio, pp. 154 — 5. The date of the war is doubtful, some writers — e.g. Rambaud (p. 462) — placing it as late as 887. But Constantine implies that it took place fairly soon after Vlastimer’s death (about 845-50), and it cannot have happened during the years immediately following the Conversion (863), as we are fairly well informed about those years. On the other hand, Boris was old enough to have a son fighting (Vlastimer is Constantine’s misprint for Vladimir); considering that he only died in 907, this cannot have been much before 863. I think it best to connect the war with the mysterious embassy of 860. Bulgaria has always had to try to prevent an alliance between Constantinople and the Serbs.
2. Titles and proper names only survived. There was never an attempt to create an alphabet for the Bulgar language (They did nicely with their old runiform alphabet, largely wiped out from the pages of history by the enthusiastic Christian and maybe Islamic enlighteners).
3. e.g. Malamir and Vladimir.

It was only the military aristocracy that remained purely Bulgar. For several more generations their names remained without a trace of Slav in them, and their old Bulgar titles lasted till the fall of the Empire (1019), whereas the title of Khan was, as soon as men learnt to write Slavonic, superseded by the Slavonic Knyaz. The power of this nobility had been curtailed by Krum, but under the weaker control of Malamir it had revived (Krum could curtail the power of individuals, but could not impact the tradition. In the Rus, it took the Ivan the Terrible's holocaust to demolish tradition). The Kavkan Isbules, who could give the Khan an aqueduct, showed by his very munificence what a formidable subject he was. It seems that the Khan was engaged in a perpetual struggle with the Bulgar nobles, he wishing to rule like the Emperor, autocratically, through a non-hereditary bureaucracy, and they, probably with constitutional justification, aiming at reducing him to be the president of a council of boyars. The Khans’ favorization of the Slavs, the middle and lower classes, was obviously directed against this aristocracy — they even created a rival Slav nobility (There was no need to “create” the Slav nobility, the Slavs had their own social hierarchy from the times immemorial, and the Türkic amalgamation with the Slavs went on largely via the Slavic pre-existing social structure. The only change the Khans could affect was to elevate the Slavic nobility from the local to the state level).

Probably Krum and Omortag sought to deal with the constitutional difficulty by appointing Slavs on the council of boyars , who necessarily became their creatures, and somehow breaking down the hereditary principle: while Malamir, who was weaker, let in the Bulgars again, and thus had to suffer the patronage of magnates such as Isbules; and the young Boris inherited the difficulty. It was probably from among these boyars that provincial governors were chosen, who ruled the ten provinces by military force from fortified camps (That was, and continued to be, the reality of life, the Supreme Khans' power structure was the cavalry armies supplied by his boyars, the Slavic peasant militia was orders of magnitude weaker, it could only be used as a guerrilla force, like the Serbian guerrillas in the mountain terrain where the force of the Bulgarian cavalry was severely impaired). [1]

The vast bulk of the population was engaged in agriculture, living in free peasant communities and following the simple pastoral methods that have lasted almost unchanged in the Balkans to this day (A more accurate picture would depict a much more complex economy, with main branches of settled Balkan and Slavic farming with subsistent local sheep herding, and of Bulgar nomadic horse husbandry with accidental agriculture but with orchards and Cucurbitaceae plantations. It should be noted that Asparukh Bulgars did not descend onto a desert, the land was populated by the local sedentary agriculturists and the Scythian-circle horse nomads, with later Huns and Bulgars, for millenniums). But by now a small commercial middle-class was rising.

1. The number of the provinces into which Bulgaria was divided (ten) is known from the story of the revolt of the nobility at the time of the Conversion (see below, p. 105).

The annexation of cities such as Develtus and Anchialus included in the Bulgar dominions a certain number of Greeks and Armenians who had lingered in the dismantled towns, and who no doubt eagerly took advantage of the new trade conditions: while round the inland fortresses, such as Sardica, there remained a population claiming Roman descent. Moreover, Bulgaria herself enjoyed commercial activities; Bulgarian salt from the Transylvanian provinces was exported to saltless countries like Moravia; while the Byzantine exports to Central Europe passed most of them through Bulgar territory, either by the great Constantinople-Adrianople-Philippopolis-Sardica-Belgrade road or by the road from Thessalonica that joined it at Naissus (Nish). Most of this carrying trade was done, probably, by Greeks and Armenians; but the native inhabitants must sometimes have shared in it. It is unlikely that the Bulgarians were yet working the mines that so enriched later Balkan monarchs; and such crafts as building were in the hands of Greeks, captives, or newly made subjects.

Indeed, the culture was all in foreign hands. Lack of an alphabet forbade any native literature; the few official inscriptions had to be written in Greek. The arts, too, were practiced only by Greeks; it was Greek artists that the Khan employed to paint him frescoes in the palaces that Greek architects had built for him. Thus the arts did not flourish there, save perhaps primitively among the peasants. Even architecture was seldom needed. The peasants lived in their huts and hovels, the small middle-class lived in the old Greek cities; only the nobility and the Khans required proper edifices. The Bulgarians were adept at constructing earthworks and rough fortifications; but probably the nobles were following the Khans’ examples, and wanted halls and chambers built /96/ inside their rectangular castle walls, all bravely modeled on the fine palaces of Constantinople (It would not hurt to recall the contrary example of the edifices of Attila's palace, built by native masters in native style and traditions, and witnessed for us by an observing non-biased informant). [1]

Of the personal habits of the dwellers in these halls we know little. They were polygamous, they wore turbans (Turbans are nonsense, they wore Scythian conical hats of different materials, felt and karakul, that still remain in fashion in the Russian military, are depicted on numerous paintings, and are called by its Türkic name bashlyk, among other Türkic names) and trousers, and, contrary to expectation (Whose self-demeaning expectations S.Runciman refers to?), they liked to wash themselves quite often. [2] Domestic slavery was common there, as everywhere else in the Near East. Their religion was apparently a crude worship of the sun and moon and stars and other natural phenomena, whom they adored with human sacrifice and the sacrifice of horses and dogs (This is a typical defamation of Tengriism concocted by literate heads of illiterate Christians who are not in love of their neighbor). A horse’s tail was their standard, and they swore by their swords (They had different oaths for different occasions, one of which was defamed above by the same old S.Runciman). [3] But none of their old temples and altars has survived (They had none, contrary to what was asserted herein above), save a rectangular building at Pliska, which later ages converted into a church. [4] It was a religion without much ethical background (Total nonsense; the Türks were known for their openness, tolerance, truthfulness, and loyalty, unlike many other heroes of this monograph; Ibn Fadlan noted ethics in his Risalya: while you give a lip service to modesty and chastity, we practice it); the Bulgars remained cruel in their practices, torture and the death penalty playing a part in all their legal processes, with mutilation as a new-fangled humanity (The most detailed accounts on the Hunnic penal system come from the Chinese annals, they say that unlike Chinese, the Huns do not have dungeons and forced labor, all punishments are swift and just, at any given time the number of incarcerations does not exceed single digits. Not for nothing all refugees from the Chinese, Roman, and Greek empires praised the fairness and freedom of the Hunnic society, and empires had to built Chinese walls to keep their suppressed populace from fleeing to join the Huns). [5] This state of affairs was hardly worthy of a magnificent empire. Boris began to wonder whether some change might not be made. But before he could act himself, his hand was forced.

Far away to the north-west, in the valleys between Bohemia and the Western Carpathians, there lived some Slav tribes known collectively as the Moravians. In about the second decade of the century the Moravians were united under the rule of a prince called Moïmir (aka Mojmir), who in the years 833 to 836 conquered the Prince Pribina of Nitra and extended his power to the east along the northern bank of the Danube as far as its sharp bend southward by Esztergom. This expansion alarmed the Franks. The Margrave of the Eastern Mark and the Bishop of Passau regarded Moravia as a legitimate field for their enterprises, political and religious, and they disliked this show of native vigor.

1. Pliska is the only palace to have been systematically excavated, save for the early Preslav (Bersula) in the Dobrudja, which is too early to have much remains of interest. Great Preslav (Bersula) is only now being excavated as far as the earliest layer, but almost certainly was built on the same lines (Unfortunately, the excavators had little knowledge of what they are excavating, and like in the Khumar fortress, the stone inscriptions and graffiti went unnoted and discarded. Only the progress in the knowledge of the Türkic runiform writing and more careful archeological methods allowed scientists to detect and reexamine their Khumar finds)
2. Nicolaus I Papa, Responsa, cap. vi., p. 572.
3. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, p. 189: Nicolaus I Papa, op. cit., cap. xxxiii, p. 580: see above, p. 74, and reff.
4. Aboba-Pliska, pp. 104 ff.
5. Nicolaus I Papa, op. cit., cap. lxxxvi., p. 595.

They waited till Moïmir’s death (845); then Louis the German intervened and forced on the Moravians Moïmir’s nephew, Rostislav, little thinking that Rostislav would show both ability and ingratitude. Louis was soon undeceived. Rostislav first established himself firmly in Moravia, and then began to extend his influence over the neighboring tribes. The Czechs became his firm allies and probably his vassals; he annexed the country of the Avars, who lingered on the middle Danube, and thus became a neighbor to the Bulgars on the Theiss; and he began to threaten the Slav principalities that clustered under Frankish suzerainty round the River Drave and Lake Balaton. Louis the German had been powerless to check him. His great expedition of 855 had come back having achieved nothing; even his campaigns against the Czechs were ineffectual. Rostislav even intervened to encourage Carloman in the revolt against Louis, though he wisely refrained from helping the rebel son too far. By the year 862, Rostislav was ruler of an empire stretching from the Theiss and Lake Balaton to the neighborhood of Vienna and to the upper waters of the Oder and the Vistula and the middle Carpathians, with Bohemia loyally guarding his flank. The German chroniclers showed their awe by calling him a king, a title they reserved only for great independent sovereigns. [1]

There were now four great Powers in Europe, the two Christian Empires on the east and on the west [1] and the two barbarian States in between.

1. See Dvornik, pp. 150 ff., who gives references. The history of Moravia before 862 is chiefly to be found in the Annales Fuldenses, pp. 364 ff., passim.

The situation was too simple, too delicately balanced to last. It was Rostislav that made the first move. He had long coquetted with Christianity; but he was faced with much the same problem as the Bulgarians. To the Moravians, Christianity was connected with Frankish influence; the missionaries that overran the country were the minions of the Bishop of Passau and of Louis the German. And yet Christianity was desirable; it would raise his prestige and improve his culture, and it might be made to mould his empire into a firmer unity. But it must be a national Church, not a German or a Latin affair. Rostislav’s restless mind sought out a new solution.

Early in the year 862 an embassy travelled from Moravia to Constantinople, asking of the Emperor that he should send a master to teach the True Faith in the language of the Slavs. [2]

1. The Carolingians were by now subdivided; but, on the whole, Louis the German and the sons of Lothair in Lorraine and Italy acted together.
2. Vita Constantini, pp. 199 ff.

The auction of souls

A war was raging in Christendom, a spiritual struggle that was molding the destinies of Europe. The caprice of Providence had brought contemporaneously into the world two of the greatest statesmen of ecclesiastical history, two whose ambitions and conceptions would inevitably lead to conflict. In April 858, through the influence of the unsuspecting Western Emperor Louis II, a certain Nicholas ascended the Papal throne at Rome. Eight months later, on Christmas Day, the Caesar Bardas, regent of the East, having somewhat roughly dispossessed the former Patriarch of Constantinople, Ignatius, appointed in his stead his friend, the First Secretary Photius. Pope Nicholas I was possessed of boundless vigor and resolution, bold and far-sighted, praised by his followers as a man of deeds not words; and all his talents were directed at one splendid aim, the world-supremacy of the Roman see. Christendom was still one, save in the distant south and east, where Copts, Armenians, or Nestorians indulged in their various heresies (The view from the East was that western Churches were fighting for vain political dominance, manipulating events, maligning faithful to advance their sinister ambitions, and replacing religious brotherhood with antagonistic ecclesiastical partisanship; the second oldest Alexandrian Church was charged with bogus claims to get it out of the way); and its spiritual pinnacles were occupied by five Patriarchal thrones — those of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Of these patriarchates the Roman bishopric, the see of St. Peter, had always enjoyed the first place. Its jurisdiction extended over all Christian Europe north and west of the Adriatic (save for Sicily and Calabria), an area vastly increased in recent centuries by the spread of civilization along the Baltic and North Seas. Compared to his Roman rival, the Patriarch of Constantinople was a parvenu, the last to be created; but he had always enjoyed great power through his association with the Eastern /100/ Empire, over all of whose provinces he was spiritual governor.

The other patriarchates were of little importance now; their sees were in territories controlled by the infidel. Though the patriarchates had their order of precedence, except at Rome, none was considered supreme over any of the others; the only supreme office or body in the Church was a general Oecumenical Council to which all sent their representatives; and such representatives were even invited to the less important synods and councils in any one patriarchate — but save at Constantinople they were seldom held; the other patriarchs, freer from secular control, regarded them as a challenge to their authority (Or viewed them as purely political machinations). [1]

Nicholas wished to alter this. He was the first bishop of the world; he intended to be supreme bishop. He experienced difficulty even among his own subjects. The German Church had always been closely influenced by the secular powers, and pandered to the whims of the German monarchs. But Nicholas was a match for it. A climax came in 863 over the matrimonial high-handedness of Lothair of Lorraine: when the Pope triumphantly asserted his jurisdiction and defied the whole great Carolingian clan. At the same time he was turning his attention to the East, to the rival Empire, where the irregularity in Photius’s election to the patriarchate gave a splendid loophole for intervention.

But Nicholas little knew the man with whom he had to deal. Photius was prodigiously learned — too learned, some said, whispering of sorcery; he was as determined and courageous as the Roman, and far more subtle, far more imaginative, with far more knowledge of his audiences.

1. I cannot here go into the highly controversial details of Romano-Byzantine ecclesiastical relations, which Roman historians have almost always befogged by confusing ‘primacy’ with ‘supremacy,’ and by regarding the various settlements that favored Rome as final and the others as ephemeral. Actually all attempts to settle the question once and for all had been equally ephemeral, and were to be so till the ultimate schism in the eleventh century. Here I have merely stated the general view held in the East (I.e. in Constantinople) in the ninth century.

The battle began in 860. Nicholas had at first attempted to bargain, to recognize Photius in return for the ecclesiastical provinces of Calabria and Illyricum, which had belonged to Rome till the reign of the Emperor Leo III; but Photius outwitted the Papal legates and wrote to Nicholas letters of perfect courtesy, but letters as from an equal to an equal.

Things steadily worsened. Nicholas grew more and more outraged and furious, and the Patriarch, sure of secular support at home, more and more serenely independent. At last, in April 863, the Pope solemnly excommunicated Photius, and Photius made the superb retort of excommunicating the Pope.

It was in the midst of this storm that Rostislav’s ambassadors arrived at Constantinople. Rostislav well knew what was happening, and he had learnt his lesson. He, like the Basileus, must have a Church under his secular power. Neither Germany nor Rome would give it to him; but Constantinople, in theory the champion of spiritual independence, in practice too distant to control such a Church, would help him now. Moreover, the goodwill of the Empire would be useful in case he had trouble with his new powerful neighbor, the Bulgarian Khan.

The Emperor Michael received the embassy gladly. His uncle, the Caesar Bardas, who governed in his name, and the Patriarch thought of their mutual friend Constantine the Philosopher, a Greek from Thessalonica, better known by the name that he assumed on his deathbed, Cyril, a missionary of previous experience and a linguist and philologist of renown. Accordingly Cyril and his elder brother Methodius set off for Moravia, armed with an alphabet by means of which they would translate the holy writings into the Slavonic tongue. [1]

1. I deal with the question of the Cyrillic and Glagolitic (Glagolic) alphabets in Appendix IXX.

The news of the embassy and the mission stirred the European Courts. Boris of Bulgaria at once suspected a political significance. He took the obvious measures for safeguarding himself, and entered into negotiations with Louis the German. Later in the year (862), when Louis’s son Carloman, governor of the East Mark, revolted with Moravian help against his father, the Bulgarians appeared as the close allies of the German king. [1] We do not know the clauses of this treaty, but there was apparently one amongst them that roused the government at Constantinople to action. Boris, like Rostislav, was toying with the idea of Christianity; he now was undertaking to receive it from the German Court. [2]

Various stories were related of the cause of the Khan’s conversion. Some told of a Greek slave, a monk called Theodore Cupharas, who had long labored to convert his royal master. After some time, Cupharas was ransomed by the Empress Theodora in exchange for the Khan’s own sister, an honored captive in Constantinople. But the princess had embraced Christianity, and she too used her influence to persuade the Khan. Nevertheless, Boris was obdurate, till at last a dreadful famine visited the country, and the old heathen (Tengrian) deities could give no help.

In despair the Khan turned to the God of his sister and of his slave, and there he met with help. In gratitude he became a Christian. [3] A second story was simpler. A Greek painter called Methodius had been commissioned to paint hunting-scenes round the walls of the royal palace; when Boris, moved by a sudden whim, told him instead to paint something terrible, no matter what. Methodius, who was a monk, piously considered that nothing would be more terrible than the Last Judgment; and so he depicted with ghastly realism the punishment meted out to the wicked, and the righteous being rewarded. The Khan was deeply awed, and in terror joined the ranks of the righteous. [1] Others told merely of the True Faith being forced upon Bulgaria by Imperial arms and diplomacy. [2]

1. Annales Fuldenses, p. 367 (?).
2. Annales Bertiniani (Hincmar), p. 465; Nicolaus I Papa, Epistolae, p. 293.
3. Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 162-3.

The story of Methodius is probably apocryphal, despite the handsome tribute that it pays to the potency of art. It has too suspicious an air of monkish naïveté. But the story of Cupharas may well be mainly true. The influence that these educated slaves had on their masters has been shown in the case of the Prince Enravotas, while it is very likely that some Bulgar princess should have been a hostage and been converted at Constantinople, and have used her powers of persuasion on her return.

But the Emperor’s armies were the final decisive factor.

The idea of Carolingian influence spreading to the Balkans by means of religion was seriously alarming to Constantinople. Carolingian influence meant in the end the spiritual control of Rome. At the moment, it is true, the German bishops were rebellious against the stern rule of the Papacy, but it was a pitiably poor rebellion that hardly could be hoped to succeed. At any time the Emperor would have regretted Roman intervention so close to his capital; now, with Nicholas and Photius at the height of their contest, the thing was unthinkable. But there was one way out, one way of turning it all to the profit of the Empire. The Emperor Michael brought his army to the frontier and dispatched his fleet along the Black Sea coast.

1. Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 162-3.
2. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, p. 824: Logothete (Slavonic version), p. 104.

It was a good moment to strike. The Bulgar armies were away far in the north, campaigning against Carloman and the Moravians. Moreover, by what, surely, seemed the direct interference of Heaven, Bulgaria was being visited by a peculiarly severe famine. Boris was powerless, and wisely made no resistance. At the first news of the invasion, he sent to ask the Emperor’s conditions of peace. [1]

Michael and his advisers were eager to be propitiatory. As a sop to the Khan it seems that they recognized his jurisdiction over Upper Macedonia as far as a frontier line drawn roughly from the Rivers Black Drina, Devol, Ozum, and Voiusa, and round Mount Grammus up the Lake Ostrovo, thus including all the land round Lake Ochrida and Lake Prespa. [2] But in return Boris must give up his offensive alliance with the Germans and indulge in nothing closer than an ordinary treaty of peace. And, most important of all, Boris and his people must accept Christianity, and accept it from Constantinople. To all of this Boris agreed, even surprising the Greeks by his readiness to change his faith. His ambassadors at Constantinople were baptized there, as a guarantee of their master’s intentions. Finally, early in September 865, [3] with the Emperor standing sponsor, the Khan himself was baptized, and rechristened by his godfather’s name of Michael. [4]

1. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, loc. cit.: Logothete (Slavonic version), loc. cit. In Theophanes Continuatus (pp. 165 ff.) this is muddled up with Theodora’s Bulgar treaty (see above, p. 90).
2. Ochrida and Prespa were definitely Bulgar later in Boris’s reign. It was probably a formal cession of such territory now that muddled the Continuator of Theophanes and made him connect the whole Conversion with Theodora’s cession of Develtus. I accept Zlatarski’s rough frontier-line ( Izviestiya, pp. 70 ff.).
3. The date of Boris’s baptism has been fixed by Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., 2, pp. 29 ff.) as between September 1 and 19, 865. Photius (Epistolae, p. 742) and the Vita S. Clementis, p. 1201, give rough dates, but Zlatarski’s ingenious arithmetic is based on Tudor Doksov’s Poslieslovie (p. 98) and on an Albanian inscription.
4. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, loc. cit.: Logothete (Slavonic version) loc. cit. Henceforward the chroniclers usually call him Michael. I shall however, for the sake of simplicity, continue to call him Boris.

In this great revolution, Boris had been guided, not only by a spiritual impulse and by the diplomatic needs of the moment, but also by a wise foresight of the political effect within his dominions. Hitherto the State religion had been the old Bulgar (Tengriism) idolatry, a crude worship of the heavenly bodies and the forces of nature; and the Slavs had had to join as best they could in the devotions of the masters. Christianity would be a common religion for them all, a religion that welcomed Bulgar and Slav alike.

Moreover, the old heathenism (Tengriism) was probably bound up with the old Bulgar institutions, with the clan-system that the Khans had so long tried to break down; possibly many of the clans claimed a divine origin, and so would never recognize in the Khan more than a mere primacy. But Christianity gave the Emperor in Constantinople a sacrosanctity removing him far above all his subjects. Boris, too, sought such a halo; he too would be a viceroy of God, in altitudes that his noblest subjects could never reach (Actually, being elected a Kağan ΚΑΝ already meant that Boris was blessed by Almighty Tengri, acceptance of alien divinity could not give him any more shine in the eyes of his people that he already had, but becoming an apostate could be very harmful to his health).

Boris began the process of evangelization on a very large scale; all his subjects had to undergo the rite of baptism. But the country could not be converted quite so simply.

The Bulgar nobility, too, appreciated the position. Some of the boyars may have been attached to their old religion; all were certainly attached to their rights. In their anger they incited the people of all the ten provinces of the kingdom against the Khan, and Boris was soon surrounded in his palace at Pliska by a huge and seething mob. That the Khan, helped as he was only by a few faithful followers, should have escaped at all seemed miraculous; people talked of divine intervention, and by the time that this story reached Western Europe this intervention had grown to fine proportions. Boris, so they said in France, had only forty-eight Christian friends with him. [1]

1. Annales Bertiniani (Hincmar of Reims), pp. 473 — 4, supply the details. Theophanes Continuatus (p. 164) says briefly that Boris had few followers, and that he emerged from the palace bearing a cross and was victorious. Nicolaus I Papa (Responsa, cap. xvii., p. 577) refers to the victory over the great rebellion being due to divine aid.

With the bravery of despair he led them out to face the multitudes, calling on Christ’s name and bearing a cross on his breast; but, as the gates opened, seven priests, each with lighted taper in his hand, appeared marching before him.

Then, as they gazed, the angry crowds saw strange sights. Behind, the palace seemed to be on fire and like to fall down on their heads; in front, the horses of the royal party were walking on their hind-legs and with their forelegs kicking at the rebels. Terror rushed over them; unable to fight or to flee, they fell to the ground and lay prostrate.

Fake miracles, illogical speculations, and the suspiciously peculiar famine that affected Bulgaria but somehow spared the neighboring Byzantine and Germany aside, Boris had a loyal army at his disposal, and for the cavalry the southern border was not at too far a distance from the northern battlefields, he could easily retract his army from Carloman and Moravians with no danger of pursuit, and be on time to defend his country. Mobilization of the Byzantine imperial army and fleet was a long affair, and the implication that Boris ventured on a northern campaign without first securing the south also smells bogus, his commanders were experienced warriors and would have prevented such a reckless blunder.

The whole conversion story does not withstand a smell test, and piling up fancy miracles and excuses makes it still less believable.

The facts that transpire form the story are that Boris staged a coup, with assistance and probably at instigation of the Byzantine court. His position may have been in a severe jeopardy, or he may have already been dethroned and replaced with another candidate, and he had to outwit his opponents to survive.

Boris sent away to the north commanders with the bulk of the army, leaving behind only the troops of the Center Wing, his own Urta Kanat. Possibly, he then sent away a bulk of the Center Wing to the southern border, to repulse the fake Byzantine invasion. And with the regiment of his personal bodyguards, probably reinforced by Slavic militias, he traitorously seized the 42 tribal heads and boyar councilmen, decapitating influential dynastic clans Uokil, Esgil, Seber, Ugain, and probably contending princes of the Dulo clan. By the time the Eastern and Western Wings returned from the northern campaign, Boris was already in command of the Center Wing, and could withstand an encounter with them. The whole enterprise smells Byzantine orchestration, it was in Byzantine's interests to decapitate Bulgaria, install a puppet Prince, and create a puppet state. Exept for the Slavic nobility, no stratum of the Bulgarian state could gain from the coup, for Bulgarians it was a lose-lose proposition.

Still, the coup was not yet a revolution, the tribes and army largely remained intact, and Boris had to disband them to stage a revolution. He had to strip them of their power, which was their herds of horses, their nomadic way of life, and their horse husbandry economy. Only then Boris would be able to control the impoverished nomads and dictate their conversion. The Slavic peasantry had to lose their symbiotic protection, and hall under unrestrained whims of their Slavic masters.

A parallel scenario, also under a shadow of the Byzantine, during the reign of the Byzantine's Constantine IV, took place in the Kingdom of the Caucasian Huns. The event, described by Movses Kagankatuatsi in his “History of Agvania”, took place in 682, the coup was staged by the Great Prince of the Huns Alp Ilitver (Bulan Shad Alp Elteber). The boyars and state ministers (called “priests” by M.Kagankatuatsi) were burnt at a stake and thrown in chains into dungeon in a very Christian fashion, the state government was decapitated, and the country ruined. M.Kagankatuatsi depicts the mechanism of the coup and its methods (L.Gmyrya Hun Country At The Caspian Gate).

Be that as it may, the rebellion was crushed, and Boris was able to take a revenge shocking in so new a devotee of Christian meekness, but salutary for his country.

Fifty-two nobles, the ringleaders of the revolt, were put to death, and with them their children. The leaders of the clans, the rivals of the monarch, were thus wiped out for ever. The rebels belonging to middle and lower classes he spared and pardoned; their opposition had been genuinely religious, not political; they would have no social prejudices against their ultimate conversion.

But, even though the boyars were crushed, the Conversion did not at once have the effect that Boris hoped from it. The Emperor had firmly ordained in the treaty that the new Church must be spiritually dependent upon the see of Constantinople. Accordingly, Bulgaria was flooded with Greek priests, come to organize its structure and teach it true doctrines: while the Patriarch himself wrote a letter to the Bulgar monarch, to ‘my beloved son, Michael the archon of Bulgaria . . . the fair ornament of my labors.’ It was an extremely long letter. First it contained a full account of the articles of faith as laid down in all seven of the Oecumenical Councils.

Then, after touching on the general principles of morality, showing how they arise out of the two New Testament commandments, the Patriarch went on to delineate the duties of the good prince, in almost a hundred polished aphorisms and shrewd comments derived from all the wisdom of the Hebrews and the Greek philosophers. [1] Historians ever since have gaped at this torrent of patronizing culture and metaphysical sensibility that was poured over a simple barbarian, who sought only to have far simpler problems solved for him — whether trousers were indecent and turbans counted as hats. But Photius knew his business.

The high authorities of the Church should not trouble about details; it was their work to impress, not to conciliate. The mysteries of the True Faith were in the keeping of the Patriarch. It showed the Khan better the relative status of his country and the Emperor’s, that he should understand not one word of those subjects that were apparently the common talk of Constantinople. Photius took a long view; he kept his dignity intact even at the expense of the needs of the moment.

Boris, the beloved son Michael, was impressed, but dissatisfied. It was more difficult than he had thought to be a Christian (Probably, he did not feel enthused by a fall from a possessing suzerain to a lowly vassal, manipulated by pretentious politicians in crowns and clergy robes). The inrushing Greek clergy sought to teach in Greek, a method that was being successful among the Slavs of the Empire, but one that the Bulgarian government somewhat resented. Moreover, many of these Greeks were of inferior quality; some were of those who had not the ability to secure good posts in the Church within the Empire, and so had to seek their fortunes abroad.

And missionaries of other tenets joined in the invasion. With the Greeks came Armenians; some perhaps were mere monophysite heretics, but there were others of a far more sinister and pregnant brand, Paulicians, to sow the seed of the fatally attractive creed of Dualism. [2]

Tengriism had a long history of syncretic coupling with Manichaeism, the Monophysite etiology, Paulicianism, and Manichean dualism were already imbedded in the Tengrian faith, there was little that the Greek-speaking inept missionaries could add to it.

1. Photius, Epistolae, viii., pp. 628 ff.
2. Nicolaus I Papa (Responsa, cap. cvi., p. 599) mentions the Armenians, probably Paulician heretics. It was a growing Imperial custom to settle such heretics in colonies in provinces such as Thrace, whence they could easily spread to Bulgaria.

Meanwhile, in the north, the Carolingians, safeguarded by a new alliance with Constantinople, sent in their German missionaries to acquire what influence they could; and all the time Pope Nicholas was waiting to intervene.

So many creeds and nations were anxious to help; but none would give the Khan the simple guidance necessary to enable him to provide his country with a Church not too disturbing for its traditions and well under his secular control.

After a year of Christianity, Boris was a wiser man. He was in a stronger position now, with peace on his northern frontier, and no turbulent boyars and no famine at home. And he was angry with the Greeks. The authorities at Constantinople were treating him as a poor barbarian, and were attempting to keep the Church tightly under their control, not letting it pass into his — denying him even a bishop. So Boris looked elsewhere. The struggle between the Pope and Photius was reaching its climax; Photius, to his scandalized glee, had found the Pope subscribing to the monstrous and indefensible heresy of the Dual Procession of the Holy Ghost and was preparing denunciations to rouse the indignation of all true Christians. [1] Boris had no strict views about the mystical symmetry of the triangle. On the other hand, he realized that he could be a useful factor in the struggle. In August 866, Bulgar ambassadors, the Khan’s cousin Peter, John, and Martin, arrived in Rome with rich and holy gifts and asked the Pope in Boris’s name for a bishop and for priests. They also submitted to him a list of 106 questions on which their master desired his opinions. [2]

1. Photius did not actually denounce the Roman heresy in public till 867, but already the Churches were mutually excommunicated and the Patriarch had discovered the heresy.
2. Johannes VIII Papa, Epistolae, p. 159: Anastasius Bibliothecarius, pp. 1373-4. The presents included the arms wearing which Boris had defeated the heathen (Tengrian) rebels. Louis the German promptly demanded them from the Pope (Annales Bertiniani , p. 474).

Boris also, lest Rome should fail him, sent a similar request for a bishop and priests to Ratisbon to Louis the German. Louis complied, but when his clergy arrived they found their places already filled, and went back promptly to Germany. [1]

Nicholas was overjoyed at this unexpected support. At once he dispatched a consignment of his clergy to Bulgaria, supplying them fully with books and vessels and robes and all the trappings of his faith, and placed at their head two of his ablest legates — Paul, the Bishop of Populonia, and Formosus, Bishop of Porto. At the same time he sent detailed answers to all the questions, however trivial, that the Khan had submitted to him.

Nicholas’s answers made a document vastly different from the polished, subtle, theological sermon sent by Photius. It was simply written, helpful and very conciliatory. Boris had asked almost entirely about matters of religious practice, when to fast and what to wear in church, and whether the stricter forms of abstinence demanded by the Greek priests were really obligatory. There were also one or two special cases, particularly to do with a Greek who pretended to be a priest and baptized huge numbers of innocent Bulgars; need they all be rebaptized ? But Boris even asked advice about matters more properly concerning civil law, such as the penalties for murder, and matters entirely social: should he continue to eat his meals in solitude, and what did the Pope really think about his costume? Nicholas was deeply concerned not to lay too heavy a yoke on a people as yet rude and untrained.

1. Annales Fuldenses, p. 379.

As regards abstinence, though strict, he condemned many of the complications introduced by the Greeks; it was not necessary to fast every Wednesday as well as Friday, nor to abstain from bathing on both days, nor to refuse to eat food killed by eunuchs: though one should not eat food hunted by a Christian but killed by a heathen (Tengrian), or vice versa. [1] Trousers were permissible; but the Greeks were right in insisting that turbans, like other forms of headgear, should be removed in churches, and women should, of course, enter churches veiled. [2] He denounced the Greek habit of sortes biblicae as well as a long list of pagan superstitions. [3] As for the Khan refusing to eat in company, this was bad manners, but not actually impious. [4] With regard to murder, the civil law should see to that, but the right of sanctuary in churches should be upheld. [5] Polygamy, which is the same as adultery, was a far worse crime; the surplus wives must firmly be discarded, and the priest must impose a suitable penance. [6] Nicholas also wished the Khan to mitigate the severity of his punishments. [7] He showed up the uselessness as well as the barbarity of extracting evidence by torture; he censured Boris’s treatment of the rebels. He even considered that the Khan had been too severe in cutting the nose off the Greek who had pretended to be a priest. [8] Even resolute heathens (Tengrians) were to be wooed by persuasion, though socially shunned by the faithful. One class of criminals alone must be punished without mercy — the apostate, who had sworn fidelity to the Christian creed and had fallen back into heathendom (Tengriism). That was the one unforgivable sin. [9]

1. Nicolaus I Papa, Responsa, cap. iv., v., lvii., xci., pp. 570-2, 588, 596.
2. Ibid., cap. lviii., lxvi., pp. 588, 590-1. 3. Ibid., cap. lxvii., p. 593.
4. Ibid., cap. xlii., p. 583. 5. Ibid., cap. lxxxiii., p. 595.
6. Ibid., cap. li., p. 586. 7. Ibid., cap. lxxxiii. — lxxxvi., p.595.
8. Ibid., cap. xiv.-xvii., p. 575-7.
Ibid., cap. xli., pp. 582 -3.

Boris had also asked whether his country might some time have a Patriarch. Nicholas had to answer carefully. The Western Church over which he ruled was suspicious of Patriarchs. Boris’s request was due to his simple, hopeful longing to be the equal of the Eastern Emperor. The Pope was non-committal. Boris should have bishops, and later, when the Bulgarian Church was larger, an archbishop; and then they would consider about a Patriarch. Constantinople had grudged him even his bishops; so he had to be content for the while with the promise of an archbishop from Rome. [1]

Certainly the Roman clergy started their work with the most ingratiating zeal. Boris gave them the monopoly within his dominions, dismissing all other priests and missionaries. Latin replaced Greek as the sacred tongue. The Romans built churches and organized congregations, bringing the light of Christian doctrine into the darkest homes and teaching at the same time the beauties of obedience to the civil powers. Boris was overjoyed. Taking hold of his hair, in the old Bulgar manner, he swore that he would always remain faithful to the see of Saint Peter. [2] The Papal Court, too, was delighted, and spread the Khan’s praises throughout the Western world. Save in Constantinople, everyone was happy.

S.Runciman relates on how the Church hierarchies tried to force-land their institutional Churches and the politics around it, eliminating the freedom of choice ingrained in the symbiotic Bulgarian society, while in fact peoples are receiving the People Churches, conveyed through the prism of their traditional beliefs, and shaped by the popular notions. The conflict between the institutional Churches and the people Churches, in addition to splitting communities into opposing groupings, was raising public discontent that was booting out institutional Churches, and formed the soil from which were rising unforeseen movements and further divisions. Rather than to bring the intended unity and a convenient monolithic mass to rule, the forced conversion was destroying symbiotic social harmony achieved during the previous centuries.

With all this ecclesiastical-political fluff and dissertation on ambitions and shrewdness on all sides, we are being left in a complete darkness on the main aspects of the events, how the Greek and Latin clergy communicated with the poly-lingual poly-denominational population, how the various groups of population digested the preached dogmas, what was the effect on their daily life, what was the effect on the economy, what was the effect on the social structure, how and which traditions were affected, what was the impact on the nomadic backbone of the state, etc.

This triumph was due chiefly to the tact and affability of one man, Formosus, Bishop of Porto. He won entirely the Khan’s affections and trust; and Boris destined him for the patriarchate that he still hoped to receive from Rome. After a year, in 867, he sent to Rome demanding that Formosus should be made archbishop at least. [3] But Nicholas was unaccustomed to dictation: Boris had to learn now what the Roman Church was. Possibly, had Boris asked for anyone but Formosus, his request might have been granted. But Formosus was beginning to be regarded with suspicion at the Papal Court. He had been thought suitable to go to Bulgaria in the first place from his known hatred of Greeks. But he was wildly ambitious; perhaps he was encouraging Boris in his dreams of an autonomous Bulgar Church, that he might be its independent Patriarch.

1. Nicolaus Papa I, Responsa, cap. lxxii., pp. 592-3.
2. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Preface to the Eighth Oecumenical Council, Mansi, vol. xvi., p. 11.
3. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Nicolai, pp. 1375 - 6.

Certainly Boris was said to have undertaken solemnly always to press forward Formosus’s claims. [1] Nicholas was suspicious: Formosus, he reminded the Khan, was Bishop of Porto, and his diocese needed him back after so long an absence. He recalled the previous envoys, and instead sent to Bulgaria two new bishops, Grimoald of Polimarti and Dominic of Treviso. [2]

The Bulgars might be angry, but the Pope thought that he could afford it now. The European situation had altered. In September 867 the Emperor Michael was murdered by the stable-boy that he had so extravagantly befriended, and Basil the Macedonian was installed in his victim’s place. Basil wished for popularity: he also had designs in Italy and Illyricum that would be helped by an understanding with Rome. Photius had enemies even in Constantinople who had never forgiven him his treatment of Ignatius. Basil promptly declared Photius deposed, and reinstalled Ignatius. He then wrote to the Pope to ask him to send legates to a council at which the past should be forgotten, the Roman precedence stated and supremacy hinted, and no one should mention the word ‘Filioque.’ [3] Nicholas saw in this the utter triumph of Rome, and his conciliatory movements decreased. He little knew the monarchs with whom he had to deal, the parvenu Basil, and Boris the ex-barbarian.

And he never was to find out the truth about them. On November 13, 867, still victorious, he died. [4]

His successor, Hadrian II, was a personal enemy of Formosus. More than ever the Papacy was stern in its refusal of the Bulgar request. Grimoald and Dominic continued on their journey; and Formosus and Paul of Populonia had to return to their shepherdless congregations.

1. Johannes VIII Papa, Epistolae, passim collectae, p. 327.
2. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, op. cit., pp. 1376-7.
3. For the Eighth Oecumenical Council, see below, pp. 113-4.
4. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, op. cit., p. 1378. Ignatius was not actually reinstated till November 23.

But Boris clung to the hope of having an archbishop of his own choice — if not Formosus, at least someone personally acceptable to him. There was a deacon Marinus, whom Nicholas had once sent on a mission to Constantinople at the height of the Photian war. The Emperor had refused to admit him into the Empire, and he had taken refuge at the Bulgar Court, where he had won the Khan’s friendship. He had no diocese calling for his care; could he not be the Bulgar archbishop? A second embassy, again led by Peter, travelled to Rome, in company with the returning bishops. But Hadrian II was inexorable. Boris must be taught once and for all that the Pope intended always to appoint whomsoever he chose all over his spiritual dominions. [1]

Towards the close of 869 a council, known proudly as the Eighth Oecumenical Council, with legates from all the Patriarchs, assembled at Constantinople. The Papal legates — Stephen, Bishop of Nepi, Donatus, Bishop of Ostia, and Marinus, Boris’s friend — attended with all the smugness of certain victory. Things did not go altogether smoothly; the Emperor Basil took a different view to them with regard to the procedure for the trial of Photius. But they adhered to their instructions, and finally emerged triumphant. On February 28, 870, the council was dismissed, with a growing feeling of hostility on all sides; but the Papal legates were well satisfied with their achievements. Three days later the indefatigable Peter, ambassador of his cousin the Khan, [2] arrived at Constantinople, to ask the Oecumenical Council to which patriarchate Bulgaria belonged. Basil summoned the assembly to meet again.

1. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Adriani, pp. 1393-6.
2. For the curious list of the Bulgar ambassadors, see Appendix V (page 288).

The legates of the Eastern Patriarchs, well entertained by Basil and at one with the Greeks in disliking the pretentions of Rome, gladly concurred with the Greek bishops and with historical truth in answering that it was to Constantinople. The Pope’s representatives were in a tiny minority; they could only record their protest. Then they returned, crestfallen, to their master; a mocking providence detained them on the way for nine months, spent chiefly as the prisoners of Dalmatian pirates. Hardly were the Papal legates gone, before Ignatius on March 4 consecrated an archbishop and bishops for Bulgaria — presumably persons of Boris’s choice. [1]

The reversal was complete. The frontier now was closed to Roman priests; the Roman bishops were sent back in ignominy to Rome. [2] In the place of Latin, Greek was heard once more in the churches. Boris was well satisfied. He had taught the great hierarchs to treat him with respect, and the Greeks, more adaptable than the Latins, had learnt the lesson. The Bulgarian Church was still under the Constantinopolitan patriarchate; but the yoke weighed lightly. The Archbishop of Bulgaria ranked next after the Patriarch; and the Bulgar monarch was tacitly allowed similar powers to the Emperor’s in his high ecclesiastic officials. Thus Boris’s dream of an autonomous Church was practically realized; but Constantinople kept a nominal control, lest in the distant future it might be useful.

The news came as an appalling shock to Rome; the Pope had never contemplated such insubordination, such ingratitude in a barbarian, nor such wiliness and presumption in the gentle old Patriarch, in whom, as the victim of Photius, he had condescended to place such trust. He wrote in a tone of hurt surprise to Basil, asking what all this meant. [3] But Basil, though very friendly, was quite unyielding. When Hadrian died, in December 872, the check had been in no way recovered.

1. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 242: Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Adriani, pp. 1395 -6: Idem, Praefatio in Synodum VIII., p. 148; ibid., pp. 20 ff.
2. Idem, Vita Adriani, loc. cit.
3. Hadrian II Papa, Epistolae, p. 1310.

Rome, however, still hoped. She could not believe that this triumph, this extension of her realm almost to the very gates of the hateful Patriarch’s city, had been so very ephemeral. All her energies were devoted to winning back the vaunted land. Even in the north were felt the reverberations of the struggle. A decade now had passed since the Macedonian brothers had set out to convert Moravia. With the help of their Slavonic liturgy and the goodwill of the Moravian monarchs — the great King Rostislav, and Kocel, prince of the country round Lake Balaton — their work had been crowned with success; but, to ensure its permanence, Cyril had decided, with remarkable broad-mindedness for a friend of Photius, that it must be confirmed by Rome. Constantinople was too far away, with the bulk of Bulgaria in between, to be able always to watch and to protect. Cyril’s overtures, however, somewhat embarrassed the Papal Court. The Popes could not wholeheartedly approve of missionary enterprise that was not conducted in the Latin tongue. But, in the desperation of his struggle against Photius, Pope Nicholas had been eager to accept so great a prize, even at the price of recognizing the Slavonic liturgy. To make sure of the future, he summoned the brothers to Rome. He died before they arrived, and his successor, Hadrian, was a more uncompromising statesman. But, in view of the support given them by the Moravian lay powers and with Constantinople in the background, Hadrian could not do otherwise than receive them with honor [1] and set his approval upon all that they had done. To silence opposition he had their disciples consecrated by that notorious anti-Greek, Formosus.

1. The honorable reception was largely due to the fact that St. Cyril brought with him the relics of St.Clement.

 While they were at Rome, Cyril, the younger but more brilliant of the brothers, died, and Methodius was left to carry on the work alone.

Methodius was sent back to Moravia, authorized to use the Slavonic liturgy wheresoever he chose. Hadrian had determined to found him a diocese, but was still uncertain of the details when news came through of the terrible defection of the Bulgars. At once Hadrian subordinated his Moravian to his Bulgarian policy.

Hoping to use the weapon of the Slavonic liturgy to capture the Bulgars, he revived for Methodius the old diocese of Sirmium, whose seat was on the very edge of their dominions and whose jurisdiction spread along the length of their northwestern frontier. But this seductive scheme was never given a fair trial; Methodius on his return found his patron Rostislav fallen; his nephew and successor Svatopulk (“Svyato” = Eng. “holy” = Türk. “Yar”, and “polk" is Türkic “army unit” , so non-Slavicized origin of “Svyatopolk” is the Türkic “Yaropolk”, that was probably his original Türkic name), though he attained to independence and dominions even exceeding his uncle’s, was, all the same, deeply attracted by German culture and despised the Slavonic liturgy as plebeian and unimpressive. Under his patronage the German bishops were able to imprison the valiant missionary as an impertinent impostor. Before his protests could reach Rome, Pope Hadrian was dead and John VIII was installed in his place.[1]

John VIII had not come under the influence of the Bulgar disappointment. The tradition of Nicholas was forgotten; Rome went back to the thunder of intransigeance. John thought he could terrify the Bulgars into obedience. One of his first actions was to write Boris a letter in which he threatened the Bulgars and all the Greek clergy with excommunication, ‘that thus they may join the Devil, whom they have imitated.’ [2]

1. For the history of Methodius in Moravia, see Dvornik, op. cit., pp. 209 ff.
2. Johannes VIII Papa, Fragmenta, Ep. 7, p. 277.

Meanwhile, careless of Methodius’s persuasive influence, and trusting on Svatopulk’s fondness for the Latin tongue, he released Methodius from his German prison, but forbade him the use of the Slavonic liturgy. Methodius was in despair; to save Christianity he ignored the order; but the situation was not one that would help him to win his neighbors for Rome.

Boris remained unmoved by the Pope’s fulminations, particularly as in Croatia and along the Dalmatian coast Latin influence was dying, and the local States were airing their independence or falling under the suzerainty of the Eastern Emperor.

Experience taught John that he must employ milder methods. In February 875 he wrote again to the Bulgarian Court, still sternly forbidding the Bulgars to receive the sacrament from Greek priests, under the penalty of being considered schismatic. [1]

Boris in reply sent an embassy to Rome to pay his respects there, and continued to encourage the Greek clergy. A simultaneous letter from the Pope to the Emperor asking for Ignatius to face his trial at Rome produced even less effect. [2]

But John was indefatigable. In April 878 his legates — Eugenius, Bishop of Ostia, and Paul, Bishop of Ancona — set out for Constantinople, with instructions to call on the way at the Khan’s Court. John was now trying a new method. The legates brought four letters with them for Bulgaria. The first was addressed to the Greek bishops in Bulgaria, categorically ordering them to leave within thirty days a diocese that belonged to Illyricum and so to Rome. [3] The second letter was to Boris. Here John captured the tone of Nicholas. Boris was greeted with great cordiality; the Pope only wished to warn him of the dangers of adhering to Constantinople, the birthplace of so much schism and heresy.

1. Johannes VIII Papa, Fragmenta, Ep. 37, pp. 294-5.
2. Ibid., Fragmenta, Ep. 40, p. 296.
3. Ibid., Ep. 71, pp. 66-7.

He reminded the Khan of the fate of the Goths, baptized by the Greeks and soon the victims of that dreadful Arianism (The Goths are marked by the Catholic and Byzantine Churches as wrong Christians, “Monophysites” and “Arians”, i.e. the Goths were monotheists, or a race incompatible with the Roman and Byzantine brand of Christianity. The Gothic religion was a version of Tengriism, a sister of the Bulgar religion, later expressed as syncretic Christian Tengriism known under Türkic as Khudayar, under Slavic as Bogomil, and in western Europe as Catharism). [1] The third letter was to Peter of Bulgaria, that relative of Boris’s who twice had figured in embassies to Rome. John addresses him as an intimate friend and begs him to use his influence on the Khan to bring him back to the see of Saint Peter. [2] The fourth was to another Bulgar notable, apparently Boris’s own brother, probably the monk Duks, urging him too to do what he could to further the cause of Rome. [3] Having delivered the Bulgarian letters, the bishops proceeded to Constantinople with a letter to Ignatius, ordering him, in the same severe language as the Greek bishops in Bulgaria had received, to remove his clergy from Bulgaria within thirty days, under the definite penalty of excommunication. [4] A letter to the Emperor Basil required him to aid the Papal legates in their work. [5] But all these letters were written too late. On October 23, 877, the aged Patriarch Ignatius had died. No sooner was he dead than Basil made the whole world gasp by appointing in his stead his rival, the ex-Patriarch Photius.[6]

In Rome and in Constantinople the situation was entirely altered. But, in Bulgaria, things went on just the same. Neither the Khan nor his nobles answered the Papal letters; nor did the Greek clergy leave Bulgaria. Yet the Pope could not abandon his hopes. He had to evolve a new policy with regard to Constantinople. To recapture Bulgaria first would help him so much. Once more in 879 he wrote to Boris and to his boyars , to Peter, Zergobul, and Sondok. This time the letters were sent by the hand of John the Presbyter, his legate to Dalmatia and Croatia.

1. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 66, pp. 58 ff. In this letter he complained also about the interference of George, the (Greek) Bishop of Belgrade, in Serbia or Pannonian Croatia.
2. Ibid., Ep. 67, pp. 60 ff.
3. Ibid., Ep. 70, pp. 65-6 ff. For the identity of the recipient, see Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 2, pp. 168-70.
4. Ibid., Ep. 68, pp. 62-3.
5. Ibid., Ep. 69, pp. 63-5.
6. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 276.

There, even as he wrote, the sky was brightening; Zdeslav, the Byzantine-made prince of Croatia, had just been deposed by Branimir (Slavo-Türkic “Head of Guards”), an adherent of the Roman faction. Branimir would see to it that John the Presbyter reached Bulgaria safely. The Pope’s tone to Boris was even more pleading and conciliatory; he apologized if the Khan had been displeased by anything in his former embassy.[1]

Meanwhile, he was vastly cheered by his dealings with the Patriarch. Photius brazenly and illogically, to please the Emperor, had sought Papal approval of his appointment. John, with that unhappy passion for bargaining, known as realism at Rome, offered his consent on one condition, a condition showing the greatest longing of his heart — that Constantinople would give up the Church of Bulgaria. To his delighted surprise the Patriarch promptly agreed. Once again Papal legates journeyed to Constantinople to take part in a peace-bringing council.

The council opened in November 879, and sat without a hitch. The Emperor Basil, in mourning for his eldest son, did not attend; Photius managed it all as he chose. The Roman legates, ignorant of the Greek language, were unaware that Photius’s selfjustification, so enthusiastically received by the 383 bishops present, had been facilitated by slight mistranslations of the Papal letter; they also failed to realize that they subscribed to a resolution refusing the Pope’s wish to prohibit the nomination of laymen to the episcopate, and to an anathema against all who added to the Nicene creed — that is to say against all the Western Church guilty of the interpolation of ‘Filioque’. The question of the Bulgarian Church was referred to the Emperor, who condescended to decide in favor of Rome.

1. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 182, p. 146; 183, p. 147. He wrote again a month later (June 879) in an equally friendly tone (Ep. 10,2, p. 153).

Rome in its satisfaction would not, so Photius calculated, challenge the authority of the decision: whereas, by establishing the Emperor’s right to decide, Constantinople was safeguarded against the future.[1]

The legates returned in happy innocence to Rome, and Rome rejoiced at her victory. But the Pope had carelessly forgotten that the persons most concerned in the transaction were the Bulgarians themselves. Early in 880 an embassy arrived from Boris to the Papal Court. John was full of hope, but the Bulgarian ambassador, a boyar called Frunticus, merely paid his master’s respects and announced that everything was going very pleasantly in Bulgaria; and that was all. However, John could not but regard it as a favorable sign; he sent back a letter teeming with eager expectation, [2] and wrote, too, to the Emperor Basil to announce his contentment.[3] But there was no reply from Bulgaria. John was puzzled and distressed. He wrote again at the close of 880, to ask by what mischance no further embassy had been sent; the Croatian bishop, Theodosius of Nona, had given him to understand that one was forthcoming. But again there was silence; and silence greeted his next letter, written in 881. [4] John could not understand what had happened. At last, towards the close of that year, the Bishop Marinus, Boris’s former friend, returned from an embassy to Constantinople and opened his eyes to what had really happened at the council of 879. In his fury, John deposed the two legates that had attended the council, and excommunicated Photius. [5] But, as he wrote, the truth was dawning over him; he began to understand why Photius had so smilingly given up his rights over Bulgaria. Photius had not forgotten the Bulgarians.

1. Council of 879 in Mansi, xvii., pp. 365-530.
2. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 198, pp. 158-9.
3. Ibid., Ep. 259, pp. 228 ff.
4. Ibid., Ep. 298, p. 260; 308, pp. 266-7.
5. Stephanus V Papa, Ep. I, pp. 786-9: Hergenrother, Photius, Patriarch von Konstantinopel, ii., pp. 576-8.

Photius realized that Boris could not wish to go back to Roman bondage; the ways of the Eastern Church suited him far better. And Boris was well able to look after himself.

Rome was defeated. John had been cheated of his victory, outwitted by the Patriarch. Bulgaria, the land for which Saint Peter’s successors had striven so hard, had eluded their grasp for ever. But Pope John was not given long on earth in which to brood upon his bitter humiliation. On December 15, 882, he died, poisoned, men said, by his enemies. The Bishop Marinus stepped into his place — but there was something mysterious, something sinister, about the whole affair. [1]

Boris had chosen the East rather than the West; and his choice was almost inevitable. At first sight there might be some advantage in preferring the distant rule of Rome to the near-by rule of Constantinople; but Rome could not really give him what he wanted, nor had it the same attractions for him. In Constantinople the Emperor was supreme, and his supremacy was sanctioned by the Church. He was not only Caesar, but also the viceroy of God, and therefore all things, Caesar’s and God’s alike, could rightly be rendered unto him. In the West, on the other hand, there was always a dual allegiance. The Roman Church refused to recognize its dependence on any temporal power. Its ambitions were international, and its sole autocrat was the Roman Pontiff; and he not only forbade the interference of any lay ruler, but aimed at controlling even their unspiritual actions. Whatever Boris’s motives may have been in first adopting Christianity, he certainly intended to use the conversion for his own ends in unifying his country and perfecting his autocracy. His model was the Emperor; the Empire’s Caesaropapism should be copied in Bulgaria.

1. Annales Fuldenses, pp. 395, 398.

It was because Constantinople had been unwilling to allow him the independence that he wished that he had turned to Rome; but he soon learnt that Rome always aimed at a far stricter control. It was only useful to him as a threat to hold over the head of Constantinople. Then, apart from practical considerations, Constantinople would certainly impress the Bulgars infinitely more than Rome. Their memories did not stretch as far back as the days when Rome was mistress of the world and Constantinople was only still Byzantium, obscure in its distant province. They saw Rome as she was in their time, a dirty town on a yellow river, rich only in churches and prelates and vast, crumbling ruins. How could it compare with the wealthiest city in all the universe, Constantinople, the home of art and of learning, with towers and gleaming domes and never-ending walls, the merchant ships crowding in the harbors, the palaces teeming with mosaics and tapestries, and the Emperor seated on his golden throne? All this glory had been since first they crossed the Danube. Why should they cross the bleak Albanian mountains and the windy sea to do obeisance in a dying town, when so much splendid life was at their gates? Rome could not compete with Constantinople in the vigor and perfection of her civilization; and already the Bulgars had come under the influence of the Greeks. Greeks had built them palaces in Pliska and Preslav (Bersula), had given them a written tongue in which to keep their records, had painted them pictures and woven them stuffs. The Romans had done nothing for them save to talk to them in unintelligible Latin and to issue them peremptory commands. It was both natural and wise for Boris to make the decision that he made.

Had Boris been allowed to retain Formosus or Marinus, history might have been different: though probably they, like him, would have grown to resent Papal interference. But destiny forbade those ambitious prelates to side-track their careers in Bulgaria. Both attained to the heights of the Papal throne, Marinus over a poisoned corpse, and Formosus amid a storm and turmoil that tore him even from his grave.

Meanwhile, Greek was all the fashion in Bulgaria; Greek artisans came with Greek priests, to build churches and houses suitable for Christian gentlemen. The Bulgars even strove to obtain some part of the famous learning of the Greeks. The nobles hastened to send their sons to Constantinople in order to perfect their education. [1]

Thither among them came the Prince Symeon (Türkic Shamgun), younger son of the Khan himself.

Boris was well informed about events in the Imperial Palace. He knew that growing up there was a prince, the youngest son of the Emperor Basil, whom his father designed for the Patriarchal throne. Boris thought the idea excellent; it smacked of true Caesaro-papism. His younger son should go to Constantinople, and should come back in due course, stocked with Greek lore, to become Archbishop and Primate of Bulgaria. [2]

Fashions, however, change. Bulgaria was not to become a mere provincial annex of Byzantium. Thanks largely to their great Khans, the Bulgarian subjects had too strong a national feeling to suffer absorption; and the Imperial statesmen, farsighted in their moderation, and haunted by the specter of Rome, decided not to press Bulgaria too far. Their one aim now was to advance Christianity in Bulgaria along lines that would most help Christianity, not the Empire. It was an altruistic policy, originating largely in genuine missionary zeal; but also, like most altruistic policies, it would probably pay in the end.

1. Photius, Ep. xcv., pp. 904-5. He put the Bulgar nobles under the charge of the Higumene Arsenius.
2. Liudprand, Antapodosis , p. 87.

Towards the close of 881, while the Pope and the Patriarch were still officially friends, a distinguished visitor arrived in Constantinople — Methodius, the surviving apostle of the Slavs. [1] He had long wished to revisit his fatherland; and Emperor Basil and Photius, his old friend, had much to discuss with him. He returned to Moravia next spring, [2] but Basil kept back a Slavonic priest and a deacon and certain liturgical books which the brothers had written in the Slavonic language. The Imperial Government had learnt from the great missionary’s own lips of his experiences; they were encouraged to emulate his methods. Rome had long profited by the work of the Macedonian brothers; but Constantinople had sent them forth; she would profit now. And she had one great advantage over Rome. The Romans could hardly bear to admit a liturgy in a tongue other than Latin. The Greeks had no such prejudices; they saw the Georgians worshipping God in Georgian, the Abasgians (Apswa, Abkhazians) in Abasgian; and both the Georgian and the Abasgian Churches recognized themselves, and were welcomed, as being under the Constantinopolitan Patriarch. Basil and Photius decided to make use themselves of Saint Cyril’s liturgy. A Slavonic school was founded at Constantinople, possibly with the idea of using it as a training-ground for the conversion of the Russians (i.e. Ruses), and certainly to aid in the good work in Bulgaria.[3]

1. This visit of Methodius is only recorded in the Vita Methodii (Pastrnek, pp. 234 ff.), but it is useless to regard it either as apocryphal or as marking a revolution in Methodius’s career. (See Dvornik, op. cit., pp. 271 ff.) Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 219) follows Malyshevski (Kiryll i Methodi, pp. 279 ff.), in dating it 883-4, but it must have occurred before the schism with Rome.
2. It is most unlikely that Methodius visited Boris of Bulgaria on his return, as Zlatarski (loc. cit.) says. The only authority for saying so is the sentence in the Life of Saint Clement (p. 1201), which says that Boris was specially favored of Methodius. This need not mean more than that Methodius was pleased with Boris’s career and had high hopes of him.
3. The existence of this school is nowhere stated, but it is distinctly implied by such stories as that of the slaves in Venice. It was probably under the Higumene Arsenius, as Photius’s letter to him (cit. above) implies.

The year 885 was a turning-point in the history of Slavonic Christianity. That year Methodius died in Moravia, his whole work on the brink of failure. John VIII had in the end supported him, but Marinus threw him over, and Hadrian III and Stephen V continued against him, urged on by the wholesale forgeries of Wiching, Latin bishop of Nitra, and by Methodius’s refusal to join Rome in heresy and tamper with the Nicene Creed.

Methodius’s death meant the end of the Slavonic liturgy in Central Europe. He had named his ablest disciple, Gorazd (Sl. “Skillful”), as his successor; but Gorazd’s abilities were powerless against the torrent of Latin and German intrigue, reinforced by the lay powers, by King Svatopulk. The leaders of the Slavonic Church — Gorazd, Clement, Nahum, Angelarius, Laurentius, and Sabbas — were seized and imprisoned with their followers. As they lay in prison sentence was passed. Many of the minor clergy were kept in captivity; the more prominent were condemned to perpetual exile. One day that winter a little group of the faithful, headed by Clement, Nahum, and Angelarius, was brought under guard to the Danube, and there left to find its own fortune. [1]

That same winter an embassy from the Emperor Basil was visiting Venice. As he passed one day the booths of the Jewish merchants the ambassador’s notice was struck by some slaves. On inquiring, he discovered that they were Slavonic clergy sold by the Moravian lay powers as heretics. He knew his master’s interest in such persons, so he bought them and brought them with him to Constantinople. Basil was delighted, and received them with honor, and even provided them with benefices. [2] Some went on soon, probably at the Emperor’s behest, into Bulgaria, equipped with the Slavonic liturgy. [3]

1. Vita S. Clementis, pp. 1220 -1.
2. Zhitiya Sv. Naum, ed. Lavrov, pp. 4-5.
3. Ibid., p. 5.

But they were not the only newcomers to Bulgaria. Clement and his following came down the Danube, longing to reach that country that seemed to them the Promised Land of the true orthodox faith. In time they came to Belgrade, the great frontier fortress, where the governor, the Tarkan Boris, [1] welcomed them gladly and sent them on to the Court at Pliska. The Khan’s welcome was even warmer than the tarkan’s; Boris was delighted to see experienced and distinguished Slavonic missionaries, who would make him less dependent on Greek clergy: while the Imperial Government, pursuing its altruistic policy, could make no objection. The Court nobility followed its master’s lead; the officers of state hastened to offer hospitality to the holy visitors. Ekhatch (Sl. “Rider, Driver”), the sampses, entertained Clement and Nahum, while Angelarius lodged with a certain Tcheslav (Sl. “Vain”). [2]

The names of Boris courtiers acquire Slavic flavor, it appears that Boris filled court servant positions with Slavs.

The Greek clergy in Bulgaria were a little less pleased. They were not in a very strong position; Basil and Photius were encouraging the Slavs. But it was always probable that Basil and Photius would protest and take measures if things became too bad. The Greek clergy were, however, to be robbed of that potential support. On August 29, 886, the Emperor died. His successor, Leo V, detested Photius and at once deposed him; a youth of eighteen, the Emperor’s brother Stephen, followed him on the Patriarchal throne. Leo, his youth embittered by a doubtful parentage and a miserable marriage, was an apathetic, indolent statesman; he would never go out of his way to intervene abroad. And the Patriarch, in his youthful inexperience, was an equally broken reed. But the Greek clergy had one support; Boris himself was uncomfortable at rousing their displeasure. The situation was a little difficult for him. The lower classes, the Slav peasants, were, it seems, taking to Christianity willingly, if not enthusiastically; but the Bulgar nobility, thinned though it had been by Boris’s treatment after its revolt, was growing up again.

1. Βοριτακανω τω τοτε φιλασσοντι (Boritakano to tote filassonti). Boritacanus must, I think, be the Tarkan (provincial governor) Boris.
2. Vita S. Clementis, pp. 1221, 1325.

These Bulgar nobles, naturally contemptuous of the new religion, were not likely to be impressed by Slavonic clergy. They could be overawed by the Greek ecclesiastics with their majestic background of culture and self-confidence, hierarchs whose mode of life was filled with refinement and whose minds saw niceties that the crude Bulgar intelligence could never grasp. He took the only way out; the Greek clergy remained at the Court, and the Slavonic clergy were sent to missionize the provinces. Soon, probably in 886, Clement set off to take up his residence in Macedonia (Another less biased view may be that the exaggerated ritualism and pictures brought by Greeks seemed antithetical to the accepted norms for solemn veneration of the Almighty Tengri, much like the Voodoo practices appear to modern Moslems and Christians. That negative attitude was carried forward by Khudayars, Bogomils, Cathars, Reformists, Protestants, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Baptists, etc. In Türkic Tengri is synonymous not only with Heaven, but also with God, with the Almighty God without a personal name).

The Macedonian Slavs were the most recent of the Khan’s subjects; but they apparently had accepted his rule with pleasure. They were, however, difficult to govern; they had joined Bulgaria as being the great Slav State, and so they might resent the rule of governors drawn from the old Bulgar nobility. Boris determined to bind them to his rule by means of Slavonic Christianity. Christianity had barely as yet reached their lonely valleys, but a desire for conversion was animating the whole Slavonic world (What a glaring nonsense, before the advent of the modern freedom of choice concept, which historically is still in its infancy and alien to the majority of the world population, nobody ever had a notion of abandoning the religion received with the mother's milk; all conversions were conducted by force and violence and encountered passive or active resistance, rarely addressed by theological schools. Even the religious revolts were not a matter of choice, but violent reactions to the dominating force and violence). Boris was bidding for their souls against the Empire, his one political rival in the south-west, which only gave them Greek Christianity, wishing always to strengthen the Greek sections of the population. Then, the Slavonic Christianity firmly established in Macedonia, it could in time be introduced all over the Bulgar dominions; the Greek clergy, at present so useful, should one by one be replaced by Slavs, till at last the Khans’ old dream should be realized. The Bulgar lords would be swamped in a sea of Slavdom, and the Khan would rival the Emperor in Byzantium, and should rule a great Empire bound, like his, with two strong bonds — a common faith and a common language.

Somehow S.Runciman, in spite of his recriminations about biases, completely avoids references to the Türkic Bulgars, who in his own assessment accounted for about a half of the population. The Türkic-lingual population could not miraculously switch to the Slavic language, they needed Türkic-lingual missionaries, liturgy, and Gospels. In case of the Causasian Huns (or Suvars, the same Suvars that also lived in the Danube Bulgaria) the Agvanian missionaries translated Scripture into Ogur Türkic of the Bulgarian-type Hunnic language, spending 14 years to accomplish that, and at the end announced its publication in 520. According to the S.Runciman's scenario, of all the state affairs Boris was preoccupied with religion and religious nation-building, and thus necessarily had to enable proselytization of the Türkic half of the population. Moreover, his proselytization concerns should have been more with the explosive constituency of the Türkic half, versus the more compliant Slavs.


Thus it was as the prelude of a vast new policy that Clement was dispatched. In pursuit of it, Boris altered the government of Macedonia. Hitherto it was one province, known as the ‘Colony’ [1]; Boris detached from it the districts farthest to the south-west (where the nationalist propaganda and the missionary work would be most useful), known as Kutmitchevitza and Devol, [2] and, recalling the local Bulgar governor, [3] sent to administer it a lay official called Dometa [4] — probably a Slav; — at the same time he sent Clement with Dometa, to act as spiritual adviser, and apparently as Dometa’s superior. [5]

Clement was given three residences in the Devol district and houses at Ochrida and at Glavenitza. [6] Clement set to work in earnest in his civilizing mission; and Boris had the satisfaction of seeing his scheme well started on its first important phase. A year or two later, Boris showed his hand more openly.

1. ‘τοῦ κοτοκίου’ (the kotokiou): I think this must be an adaptation of the Greek word ‘κατοικία’ (katoikia = home), a colony.
2. Devol must be the district between Lake Ochrida, the River Devol, and the River Ozum; Kutmitchevitza extended probably to the east and slightly to the south of Devol — the extreme south-west of Boris’s dominion. See above, p. 104.
3. ‘παράλυσας τὸν οὖτρον τῆς διοικήσεως’ (paralysas ton outron tis dioikiseos), Vita S. Clementis MS: ‘παράλυσας ἑαυτον κτλ’ (paralysas eafton ktl), Moscow MS: ‘παράλυσας αὐτὸν κτλ’ (paralysas afton ktl) text in the Patrologia Graeca (p. 1224). The first reading makes best sense, if we assume ‘οὖτρον’ (outron) to be a Bulgar proper name. I cannot, however, follow Zlatarski in saying emphatically that it is the same as Kurt (Zlatarski, op. cit., p. 229).
4. ‘Δομεταν’ (Dometan) in Ochrida MS; ‘Δοβετᾶν’ (Dobetan) in Moscow MS; and printed in text in the Patrologia. It seems to be a Slav name (Appears to be a Türkic -m/b alternation).
5. Vita S. Clementis, loc. cit. The hagiographer’s eloquence slightly obscures the exact relationship, but it seems that Dometa was subordinate to Clement.
6. Ibid., loc. cit. Glavenitza has been identified by Zlatarski (Izviestiya, pp. 70 ff.) as being between the upper waters of the Voiusa and the Ozum, near Mount Tomor.

Nicephorus I, during the transportations that he had made to bolster up the Greek or Anatolian element in Macedonia, had moved, amongst others, many citizens from Tiberiupolis in Bithynia; and they brought with them to their new Tiberiupolis, a town near the present Strumitsa, some sixty miles north of Thessalonica, [1] many of their holiest relics, those of Saint Germanus and other saints martyred by Julian the Apostate. Now Tiberiupolis was part of the Khan’s dominions. About this time miracles were reported; visions of Saint Germanus and his followers were seen in the streets of Tiberiupolis, and their bones performed wonders. Boris came to hear of it, and at once ordered the local governor, the Bulgar ‘Count’ Taridin, to build a church for the relics in the diocese of Bregalnitsa and to move them to this new home. Probably the church was to adorn the town of Bregalnitsa itself, a growing Slavonic village that was the seat of a Bulgarian bishopric. The citizens of Tiberiupolis were furious at being robbed of possessions so revered and so useful; they rioted and would not let them go. Taridin had to use all his industry and tact to prevent the outbreak spreading. At last a compromise was agreed upon. Saint Germanus was allowed to remain in peace at Tiberiupolis; three only of his saintly comrades were taken — Timothy, Comasius, and Eusebius. Their relics were conveyed with honor to Bregalnitsa, performing miracles as they journeyed. There they were received into the new church, and clergy were appointed for them to hold the liturgy in the Slavonic tongue. [2] The new Christianity was creeping over Bulgaria.

Boris was well pleased. He had seen his country through the vastest revolution in its history; he had inherited it as a great power, he had made it a great civilized power.

1. See above, p. 55. Tiberiupolis is located by Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., 2, p. 236).
2. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, Historia Martyrii XV Martyrum, pp. 201-8.

He could vie now on equal terms with the Frankish monarchs, even with the Emperor himself. And his country’s Church was his to control; he had made the world realize that. The versatile bargaining and the dogged persistence had triumphed in the end. And now his schemes were leaping higher, and still successfully. Soon Bulgaria would have one national Church, to bind it together and to enhance the glory of the Khan. Boris could rest now. His conversion had been sincere; it was from genuine piety even more than from policy that he had built so many churches and monasteries, and the purity and austerity of his life had long been admired throughout the Christian world. Now, ill and weary, he decided to retire from the world, to give himself up utterly to a life of devotion. In 889 he abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Vladimir (Vladimir-Rosate in Slavonic chronology), and entered into a monastery, probably into Nahum’s great foundation, the monastery of Saint Panteleimon by Preslav (Bersula). [1] All Christendom was edified by this renunciation; men told of good King Boris in Germany and Italy. [2]

But Boris had done more than convert his country; he had shaped its destinies for ever. Since the days of Krum Bulgaria had faced two fronts. Was she to expand on the West on the middle Danube, where German culture came filtering through and where there was no lasting power to oppose her, only the ephemeral principalities of the Slavs? Or was she to remain in the Balkans, looking to the East and battling against the eternal walls of New Rome? Omortag had leaned on the West, and Boris, toying with the Roman Church, had almost made himself a Central European potentate. But in the end he chose the Christianity of Byzantium, the Christianity best suited to his country. And by so doing he anchored Bulgaria for ever in the Balkans.

Boris not only abandoned the faith of his ancestors and took away from his own people the most sacral Türkic tradition of freedom of choice, he also broke the connection so proudly announced in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans, Our “princes reigned on the other side of Danube for 515 years with shaven heads”, the heritage that for Danube Bulgaria lasted for about 700 years,  from ca 165 to ca 865, and included legendary personalities of Bülümar, Attila, Bel-Kermek/Irnik, Kurbat, Asparukh, and Krum. His father Svinitse was a half-Slavic son from a secondary wife of Slavic origin and a scion from non-dynastic maternal line, not eligible for succession; and Boris was a son of non-royal Svinitse, whose progeny, in spite of his belonging to the paternal dynastic line Dulo, was destined for a status of side princely line: only the sons of the reigning Kağans were eligible to be elected Kağans, and thus Boris was not eligible for succession. In Slavic, the term for such disenfranchised princes was “izgoi”, with a connotation of unfortunate and troublemaker. Probably, S.Runciman was not aware of the intricacies of the Türkic succession tradition, and following the less strict and defined succession traditions of the European states, he did not accentuate that Boris was an illegal usurper.

Boris' paternal uncle Krum left a powerful Bulgarian state that could be proud of its status and was able to rival any European superpower. For his personal gain, Boris' bloody coup beheaded the military base of the state, killed off the rival ancient Bulgarian dynastic clans, and brought Bulgaria from its primacy to being a manipulated appendage of the sly and corrupt decaying Empire. Worse of all, Boris initiated decimation of the ancient culture, its literary and spoken language, its traditions, its pedigree, its quest for freedom and predominance, and its religion, and inaugurated centuries of dissentions and conflicts. The only Türkic tradition that Boris followed was assassination of his siblings, summoned from time to time by venturous pretenders to overcome competition produced by polygamous ancestors and Lateral Succession laws. For the service in destroying the mighty state that proudly imposed a 200-years old yoke of annual tribute on the crumbling Empire, the bloody usurper was awarded a sainthood in the Empire's pantheon. That was the Judas' payout.

Saint Boris, Bulgarian Tsar

1. For the monastery of Saint Panteleimon, the ruins of which are now called Patleina, see Zlatarski in Izviestiya na Bulgarskiya Archeol. Institut, vol. i., pp. 146-62. I incline to think that Symeon’s movement of the capital to Preslav (Bersula) (see below, p. 136) was due to his father’s presence close by.
2. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, op. cit., p. 201: Regino, p. 580: Manegold of Lautenbach, p. 364: Sigebert, p. 341.

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
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; Türkic