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 ¤ Book 2 ¤ Book3-1 ¤ Book3-2 ¤ Appendixes

Posting introduction

See Posting comments on the front page.

Page numbers are shown at the end of the page in blue. Page breaks in continuous text are indicated by //. Posting notes and explanations, added to the text of the author are shown in (blue italics) in parentheses and in blue boxes, or highlighted by blue headers.

Book III


Men of god and men of blood

For the rare length of forty years (I.e. 927-977 ?) there was peace in the Balkan peninsula. But it was not a peace teeming with happy, tranquil prosperity; it was the peace of exhaustion.

Bulgaria did not fight because she could not; while the Government at Constantinople was engaged in grandiose schemes far in the east. And so the years were punctuated by raids and risings that no one attempted to oppose. The foreign history of Bulgaria in Peter’s reign is a melancholy story.

But it might have been worse. Save on the side of the Empire, the frontiers were strong, mountains guarding the country from the Slav nations farther west and the Danube guarding it from the Magyars and the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks). The cardinal principle of Peter’s foreign policy was to keep on good terms with both the Empire and the Petchenegs. Everyone knew that the Petchenegs’ allies were inviolable, for everyone was in terror of the Petchenegs; even the Magyars quailed before them. But a breach with the Empire might too easily mean a breach with the Petchenegs. When it came to bribery the Empire could always outbid Bulgaria, and Bulgaria lay temptingly close to the Petchenegs’ homes. Even in Symeon’s day it had only been the incompetence and the venality of the Imperial officials that had saved Bulgaria; now the danger was far greater. Thus it was a deliberate policy as well as the influence of a Greek Tsaritsa that made the Bulgarians submit uncomplaining to their highhanded treatment by the Emperor. [1]

1. Constantine Porphyrogennetus, De Administrando Imperio, p. 71, tells how determined the Bulgarians were to keep on good terms with the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks).

Romanus indeed behaved often in a very unfriendly manner to his granddaughter’s husband, whom at times he even, so it seems, refused to call by his Imperial title. In the year 933 Prince Tzeesthlav of Serbia escaped from his Bulgarian prison and returned to Serbia. His coming encouraged all the Serbian exiles to emerge from their refuges and to rally round him in re-establishing their kingdom. The country had lain desolate for seven years, ever since the Bulgar conquest, and Tzeesthlav had a hard task in restoring it to life. But any chance that Peter might have had in crushing the revolt was spoiled by the Emperor’s actions. Romanus not only encouraged Tzeesthlav by gifts of garments and other articles of use or value, but he also accepted the suzerainty of the new State. Peter had to reconcile himself to the loss of Serbia. [1]

The storyline seems fictitious, Tzeesthlav could only have come to a desolated country, and it takes much longer than 7 years to restore population to a fighting capacity, especially so if that capacity was inferior to begin with. We are missing on a major part of a fascinating story.

For the rest, the story of foreign affairs is a story of raids into Bulgaria by raiders on the way to Constantinople. In April 934 (Only 7 years down the “forty years peace” period) the Magyars made a great incursion into the Balkans. Their goal was Constantinople, but they utilized their passage through Bulgaria. The details of the raid are hard to decipher, but it seems that they reached Develtus, and the number of their captives, who must have been chiefly Bulgarian, was so great that a woman could be bought for a silk dress. [2] In April 943 they came again through Bulgaria, journeying to Thrace. How much this time the Bulgarians suffered we cannot tell; the Empire at once concluded a truce with them. [3]

Magyar incursions into Bulgaria in 10th c.
Map depicts picture quite different from “forty years peace” period and the 10 years before the “peace period”

1. Constantine Porphyrogennetus, op. cit., pp. 158-9, dated seven years after the Bulgar conquest.
2. I deal in my Emperor Romanus Lecapenus, pp. 107 ff., with the problem of this raid, mentioned vaguely by the Hungarians (de Thwrocz, p. 147: Petrus Ranzanus, Index IV., p. 581), specifically by Theophanes Continuatus, p. 422, and other Greek chroniclers (dated April 934), and with details that cannot be ignored, though some are impossible (dated 932), by Maçoudi (tr. Barbier de Meynard, ii., p. 58).
3. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 430.

In 944 Bulgaria underwent a raid by the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks), set in motion by the vindictive restlessness of the Russians (i.e. Ruses). The whole incident showed the pathetic part now played by Bulgaria. The Russians (i.e. Ruses), from their southern centre at Kiev, were now steadily growing in power; they were a numerous nation, and they commanded the great trade route from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In 941 they had burst through the Petchenegs to make an attack by sea on Constantinople, but, though the Emperor passed sleepless nights in his anxiety, they had been heavily defeated. Their Prince, Igor, burned for vengeance. In 944 he induced the Petchenegs to accompany him in an enormous raid by land. News of it reached Bulgaria; the Bulgars were terrified, and sent the news on to Constantinople. The Emperor Romanus, with customary prudence, at once dispatched an embassy laden with gifts to the Danube, and successfully persuaded the Russians (i.e. Ruses) to negotiate. But the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks) refused to be cheated of a raid; so they crossed the river and paid a fierce and profitable visit to Bulgaria (944). Everyone was satisfied, except the Bulgarians, who did not count. [1] After that humiliating experience there was a respite for several years; but in 958 the Magyars returned, and again in 962, [2] till finally, in 965, Peter, remembering the ways of his forefathers, sought an alliance with Otto, the great King of Germany, as a means for keeping them in check. [3]

Both Byzantine and Danube Bulgaria paid a hefty price for Boris' ambitions and Symeon's complacency. The country that the Tengrian Krum left to inherit was decimated, the people that constituted the army were decimated, it appears that massive impoverishment fell on the horse pastoralists who lost their herds, and their military might with them. The Slavic militia could never be mobilized in time to resist the invading cavalry, and was not equipped to resist any organized invader. The story with Bulgarian cavalry army decimated by peasant militia in Serbia sounds way too fishy, and the two undated incursions of the Magyar cavalry into Serbia may point to the real unstated events. As a minimum, the forced “conversion” demoralized the nomadic base of the state, disabling both the rulers and ruled, but the vague references to the popular resistance and its suppression raise doubts of the true events that debilitated and dismembered the country.

How heavily these raids fell upon Bulgaria, we cannot say. We only know of them because they penetrated into the Empire and the ken of the Greek chroniclers. There may have been others directed solely against the Bulgarians.

1. La Chronique dite de Nestor, p. 35.
2. Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 462-3, 480 — undated, but their position in the chronicle suggests these dates, while the first is rendered almost certain, as in 943 a truce was made for five years, after which Magyar Princes came to Constantinople to make a further truce, which would naturally be for ten years. Both raids were checked by Imperial forces in Thrace.
3. Ibrahim-ibn-Yakub, quoted in Zlatarski, Izviestieto na Ibrahim-ibn-Yakub za Bulgaritie, pp. 67-75.

This pitiable defenselessness was helped by the internal state of the country. Symeon, disastrous though his policy had been, was great enough and personified fully enough the aspirations of his people to carry them all with him and to suffer no insubordination. Under Peter the component parts of Bulgaria fell asunder. Peter’s character was pacific and pious, his health was poor, [1] and he assumed the government very young — for it seems that, once the peace had been carried through, George Sursubul (Sursuvul) retired from the regency; — he had not the personality to awe and command a nation disillusioned and divided by failure (George Sursubul my have retired from the regency, but to retire him from the Prime Ministership and his leadership over his tribe required a use of force, whatever lousy his personality may have been, which was demonstrated by fire-sale marriage during a mourning period). In the old days the Khan had maintained his position by playing off the Slav peasantry against the Bulgar nobility (In the old days the Khan was a benefactor both to the Slav peasantry and the nomadic Bulgars, in the new, Christian times the Khan was sowing a Christian dissonance and conflict between two parts of his own state).

Peter did not even succeed in that. Under his rule the Court party became a separate faction, distrusted by the rest of the country. Besides the Government at Preslav, it probably included the merchants, all naturally in favor of peace, and the official hierarchy, and no doubt took its tone from the Tsaritsa Maria-Irene, who, if she inherited at all the traits of her family, must have easily dominated her gentle husband. We know that she kept in close touch with Constantinople, at first often journeying there: though, after her father Christopher’s death, in August 931, she only went there once again, with three of her children. [2]]

The Bulgar nobility, so often crushed by the Khans, was not yet extinct; though probably it had by now lost its racial distinction, and was Slavonic-speaking and reinforced by the more powerful of the Slavs. Politically it appeared now as the war party. Its dissatisfaction with the Court was shown early in Peter’s reign, in 929, when he discovered a conspiracy engineered against him to put his brother John on the throne.

1. According to Leo Diaconus, he died of an epileptic fit (Leo Diaconus, p. 78).
2. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 422. A proof of the Tsaritsa’s influence is that it was after her death that Peter fell under the sway of the war party.

The conspiracy was put down, and the nobles involved were severely punished. John himself was imprisoned and made to take monastic vows. Peter then sent to Constantinople to announce his happy escape. But the Emperor Romanus determined to profit by the incident; his ambassador came to Preslav and somehow, no doubt at a heavy price, secured the person of the rebel Prince. John was given a palace at Constantinople, and very soon the Emperor had him released from his vows and married him to an Armeniac bride. The Imperial diplomats liked to have foreign pretenders in their power; Romanus could hold John as a threat over Peter’s head. [1]] After this failure the war party kept quiet, till, at the close of the reign, it took control of the Government.

The narrations about “peace” and “war” parties does not hold the water when the country is ravaged by incessant war raids, and is clearly falling apart, not only without the benefits of the dynastic marriage designed to reinforce the state, but in contrast with planted internecine conflicts. The country badly needed defense, labeled here the “war party”, but what the “peace party” could stand for, except for their own petty interests? Neither merchants, nor the official hierarchy could have been interested in this utterly defenseless and dangerous “peace”.

The humbler classes were restless too. Occasionally they showed their sentiments in open lawlessness, as was shown by the career of another of the Princes. Michael, Symeon’s eldest son, chafed under the monastic restraint that his father had put upon him; and about the year 930 he escaped and made off to the mountains in the west of Bulgaria, where he was joined by large numbers of Slav malcontents (This supports the suggestion of S.Runciman that Michael was a son of a Slavic concubine, not eligible for succession. Half-Türkic, half-Slav, he was an “izgooi” prince, probably not worth much as a brigand; his story shows how ingrained was the veneration of the Türkic royal blood even among the Slavic societal outcasts that he was accepted and anointed a sinecure royal status). He lived there successfully as a brigand king; and after his death his band still held together, displaying power and prowess enough to make sudden descents into the Empire and sack the city of Nicopolis. [2]] And similar brigand companies probably existed all over the western provinces. [3] But the discontent of the main body of the populace took a very different and far more significant form.

1. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 419. The incident is placed after the great frost of 928-9.
2. Ibid., p. 420.
3. In 926, before peace was signed, the Italian ambassador, travelling to Constantinople, fell in with Slav brigands on the frontier by Thessalonica (Liudprand, Antapodosis, p. 83). The peace probably hardly affected conditions there.

Those that are disappointed and weary and fearful for the future often take refuge in religion; and so it was with the Bulgarians. After Symeon’s wars, a wave of religious activity swept over the whole country. Amongst its pioneers was the Tsar himself, well-known for his piety and for the zeal with which he sought out saints. Many of his subjects followed his lead. Crowds flocked to enter the monasteries; others sought even greater holiness by becoming hermits and settling down to lives of bitter hardness. Foremost among these was a certain herdsman called John, who, as Saint John of Rila (Ivan Rilski), has attained the eminence of patron saint of Bulgaria. John of Rila for many years lived in sanctity in a hollow oak; but at last the oak blew down, and he had to retire to the comfort of a cave high in the mountains of Rila.

There he acquired considerable fame; and the Tsar, when hunting in the neighborhood, took the trouble to find out his retreat and to pay him a visit. Peter had been annoyed by a homily that the saint had addressed to his huntsmen; but, meeting him face to face, he was deeply impressed by his holiness and eagerly gave him his patronage. When John died in 946 his body was buried in pomp at Sardica (Sofia); but later it was moved back to the mountains, to the great monastery that now bears his name. [1]]

But this religiosity had another side. In its most perverted form it appeared in the case of the Tsar’s own brother, Benjamin, the only one to abstain from political intrigue. Benjamin’s life was given over to a study of the Black Arts; and he became so clever a magician that at will he could turn himself into a wolf or any other animal you pleased. [2]

1. Zhivot Jovana Rilskog (ed. Novakovitch), passim, esp. pp. 277 ff. (the account of Peter’s interview): Ivanov, Sv. Ivan Rilski, pp. 1 — 20, passim.
2. Liudprand, Antapodosis, p. 88.

Many of his fellow Bulgars took too great an interest in fortune-telling and in demon powers, [1] but few could hope to acquire a proficiency such as his; and so, though in himself he might be actively unpleasant, he never attracted a large following. Far more influential and deplorable, politically as well as doctrinally, was a humble pope or village priest called Bogomil.

Here we go. The recital of nonsense accounts from Middle Age peasantry on magic and perversion is needed to derogate the upcoming Bogomil subject, of which S.Runciman knows next to nothing, although Bogomilism was live and kicking in the Danube Bulgaria in 1930s as much as it is now. The magic properties of turning into a wolf or any other animal are the properties of Alps, who in the Tengrian cosmogony play the role of Angels and Archangels of Judaism, Islam and Christianity, where the Angels' turning into visible and sometimes animated objects is a daily affair. The societal and state breakup became expressed in the language of the time, taking a religious form loaded with societal resentment. The movement also serves as a symptom showing the underlying impoverishment and despondency, which facilitate the religious response. The Türkic Hudoyar (Or Khudoyar) name is a composite of Hudai/Khudai = God, Lord, Almighty, and yar - veneration, sanctification, adoration, with their verbs and other grammatical forms. Its Slavic translation Hudoyar is Bogomil, composed from literal translation of the same words, the verb -mil could be transitive and intransitive form. In English, it would be “God-loving”, “God-revering”, in Greek “Theophyl”. Only in Christianity the  “God-loving”, “God-revering” could become an obscene word. The Hudoyarism and Bogomilism were syncretic expressions of Christian and Tengriist religions, an attempt to internalize the new Christian faith with the old Tengrian faith, encompassing the distinct, fundamentally monotheistic, etiologically Tengrian concept that has already absorbed the Manichean vision of Good and Evil.

Pope Bogomil, the greatest heresiarch of all the Middle Ages, is a figure lost in obscurity (Pope Bogomil, like the Pope Hudoyar, was invented in the course of demonizing the rebellious non-hierarchical teaching that appealed to a common-sense intellect, not fears). We cannot tell where or when he lived nor who he was. All that we know is that ‘in the reign of the Orthodox Tsar Peter there was a priest called Bogomil (I.e. a priest called God-loving or Theophyl, very popular names to this day, mammas break their legs running to name their kids Theophyls: “Godlover, please stop sucking your thumb”), who was the first to sow heresy in the Bulgar tongue’ (Here we shyly do not discriminate between the Slavic and Türkic Bulgars) [2] that, following the custom of his sect of taking a second name, he was also called Jeremiah, that he was credited with the authorship of several parables and doctrinal pronouncements, and that his heresy was flourishing before the year 956. [3] Even the doctrines that he himself taught are somewhat hard to decipher. Of the writings of the Bogomils themselves — as Pope Bogomil ’s followers were called in Eastern Europe — nothing survives except a few legendary tales of Bible characters or saints and liturgies so simple as hardly to smack of heresy at all. [4] For the details of their belief and practices we have to resort to the evidence of their enemies; but even most of these are of a later date — and heresies, like orthodox religions, may change and elaborate their tenets considerably in a century or two. There are, however, two exceptions, two documents written against Bogomil himself either in his lifetime or soon after his death (We must give a due credit to the Church, which brilliantly succeeded in destroying all written materials in the diabolic runiform alphabet, and all stray writings in every other alphabet, compounded with a prohibition to read the scriptures altogether. A rumor goes that Vatican depositories have preserved some runiform manuscripts and much more).

1. Kozma inveighs against the prevalent taste for fortune-telling, etc.
2. Slovo Kozmy , p. 4. The Sinodik na Tsar Borisa, p. 32, contains one short similar sentence.
3. i.e. before the death of the Patriarch Theophylact of Constantinople. See Ivanov, Bogomilski Knigi, pp. 22 ff.
4. See Ivanov, op. cit., where the theologically important writings are given; also Léger, L’Hérésie des Bogomiles, passim, and La Literature Slave en Bulgarie au Moyen Age: Les Bogomiles, where some of their more popular legends are given.

The Patriarch Theophylact Lecapenus of Constantinople, the Tsaritsa’s uncle, a prelate more often to be seen in his stables than in his cathedral, was sufficiently shocked by the growth of the Bogomil heresy to write about it to Tsar Peter — probably about the year 950; in 954 Theophylact had a severe riding accident, which incapacitated him during his remaining two years of life. [1] Theophylact was anxious that all the prevalent heresies should be anathematized, and so he did not distinguish between the Paulician teachings and those of Bogomil; but some of his remarks were clearly intended for the latter alone. More important is a work of considerable length, written probably about 975, by a Bulgarian priest called Kozma (Cosmas) purely against the heretics. [2]

From Theophylact and Kozma, as from all the later evidence, one fundamental doctrine appears. The Bogomil heresy was what was called at the time Manichaean[3]; though it only shared with Mani’s faith the basis of Dualism. The Bogomils were frankly Dualist, contrasting God with Satan, good with evil, light with darkness, spirit with matter, and considering both Forces equal, though, it seems, in the end God would triumph. [4] Dualism has always been a natural and attractive religion; but Pope Bogomil was inspired by the Paulicians who were settled in the borders of Bulgaria (The vision of religious thought only in the doctrinal forms, which so conveniently brings discussion on the terrain familiar to the hierarchical denominations, blurs the subject, and leaves investigator to dig only in the sanitized pile under a light pole. Paulicians may have added something to the Hudoyar/Bogomil thought, but the Hudoyar/Bogomil movement would have developed all the same if no Paulician ever contributed to it. Ditto Arianism and other doctrinal and misleading labels).

1. This letter, the manuscript of which is in the Ambrosian Library in Milan, is printed in the Izviestiya ot. Russ. Tazyka i Slov ., vol. xviii., knig. 3, pp. 356 ff. Of its authenticity there can be no doubt.
2. Slovo Sv. Kozmy Presbitera na Eretiki (ed. Popruzhenko). Kozma refers to Peter’s reign as though it were over, but he was acquainted with the clergy of Symeon’s time.
3. Throughout the Middle Ages, in the West as in the East, Manichaean is used simply as synonymous with Dualist.
4. Theophylact’s letter, p. 364: God’s ultimate triumph is foretold in Secret Book (Taïna Kniga), Carcassonne MSS, printed in Benoest, Histoire des Albigeois, p. 295, and in Ivanov, op. cit., p. 86.

The Paulicians were an Armenian sect who had strained the dualism inherent in the New Testament to its utmost extent, putting great faith in the words of St. John’s Gospel (xii. 31 and xiv. 30) which attributed to the Devil the rule of this world. They rejected the ordinances of the Orthodox Church or even the Armenian Monophysite Church, and instead had their own rites and their own ecclesiastical organization. [1] They had long been a source of annoyance to the Empire, at times even forming politically independent communities [2]; and one of the methods employed to deal with them had been to transplant them to Europe, especially to Thrace. But their migration never damped their ardor; already in the days of Boris their missionaries were working in Bulgaria. [3]

But the Paulicians were a sect of some education, versed in theology. Bogomil’s genius lay in his adaptation of this intricate Armenian religion to suit the needs of the European peasantry. Probably he taught Paulicianism as he understood it [4]; but his teaching was nevertheless something new, and something so suited to its purpose that before two centuries were over it had spread to the mountains of Spain. Besides the Dualist basis of their creed, it seems that the Bogomils believed that the Mother of God was not Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anna, but the Upper Jerusalem, and that Christ’s life and death were but fantasy — for God could never take on anything so evil as a material body; they rejected the Old Testament, both the Mosaic law and the prophets, and they restricted their prayers to the Paternoster; nor would they cross themselves — for that would be a tactless reminder of the wood on which God seemingly suffered.

1. The Paulician tenets may be found in Conybeare, The Key of Truth ; also in Petrus Siculus’s diatribe.
2. e.g. their republic at Tephrice, which Basil I had difficulty in capturing in 871. Basil’s own family had been transported from Armenia to Adrianople, and possibly was itself originally Paulician.
3. Nicolaus Papa, Responsa, p. 1015.
4. ‘Μανιχαισμὸς γάρ ἐστι Παυλιανισμῷ συμμιγής’ (Manichaismos gar esti Pavlianismo symmigis - Paulicianism focuses components of Manichaeism). Theophylact ’s letter, p. 363. The taking of a second name, e.g. Bogomil’s assumption of the name Jeremiah, was copied from a Paulician habit.

With regard to Satan, called Satanail or Samail, there were two schools of thought: had he always been evil or was he a fallen angel? The former was the Paulician theory, deriving from Zoroastrianism, and from the Paulician settlements it seems to have enjoyed a considerable vogue in the Balkans, especially in the Greek districts; the latter was what Bogomil himself taught (The popular and diffused Tengriism abounded in adventurous myths that never directly stated, but implied that supernatural Alps were creations of the Almighty to rule aspects of the mortal world. None of the Alps were evil, but all of them combined elements of good and evil. Judging by the Türkic names of the leading personalities, Adam and Eve, both versions of the creation myth in the Book o Genesis came from or are a recital of one of these myths. Plenty of them survived and are recorded in the ethnological literature, and they can't be singularly attributed to a particular ethnos: what is rated as a Kipchak myth can be found among non-Kipchaks, while Kipchaks have a series of considerably different versions. Recited at a campfire for 160+ generations, syncretized over many different contributing ethnicities, and recombined with the later historical events, little is left from the versions recorded in the Gilgamesh or the Hebrew Bible).[1] There were some theories that Satan was either the elder or the younger son of God and brother of Jesus. There was equal divergence in their views of the origin of Adam and Eve, whose date incidentally was 5500 BC: were they fallen angels transformed into human beings, or created by God or by Satan? It was also said that Eve was unfaithful; Abel was her son by Adam, but she bore Cain and a daughter, Calomela, to Satan. [2] Out of these stories arose a cycle of popular legends. Pope Bogomil himself is said to have pronounced on such subjects as ‘how many particles became Adam ’ and ‘how Jesus Christ became a pope’ or ‘how he labored with the flesh’; and he may too have been the author of the story that tells how Saint Sisinni met the twelve daughters of Tsar Herod on the shores of the Red Sea, and they told him that they were come to bring disease into the world. [3]

1. The Constantinopolitan Bogomils appear to have been followers of the more Paulician school, which was probably the so-called Dragovitsan Church after the village of Dragovitsa, near Philippopolis, in a Paulician district. The same divergence appears to have separated the Cathari and the Paterenes in the west.
2. Theophylact’s letter, pp. 364 ff.: Slovo Kozmii, passim: Sinodik na Tsar Borisa, pp. 34 ff.: Euthymius Zigabenus, Contra Bogomilos, passim: Euthymius of Acmonia in Ficker, Die Phundagiagiten, passim: The Secret Book (in Ivanov, op. cit.). Summaries can be found in Ivanov, op. cit., pp. 24 ff., and Léger, La Littérature Slave..
3. Quoted in Léger, op. cit.

Thus far the Bogomil heresy (Heresy is a bad word, from the viewpoint of Judaism, the Christianity is a heresy; the situation is totally analogous with the word “paganism”, it is a particular point of view characterizing the speaker instead of the subject), distressing though it was theologically, need not have troubled the lay authorities. But a faith that teaches that all matter is evil is bound to have serious social consequences. Many of the Bogomils’ habits were admirable; in contrast to the Orthodox Bulgarians, who danced and drank and sang to their gouslas all day and all night long, they were modest, discreet, silent, and pale with fasting; they never laughed out loud nor talked of vanities; food and drink came from Satan, they said, so they took both in extreme moderation, touching neither meat nor wine. But when they shut themselves up in their houses for four days and nights on end to pray, [1] employers of labor might well look askance. Moreover, convinced as they were of the evil of their bodies, they firmly discouraged marriage or other less lawful methods of propagating the race. Indeed, their abstention from women was so marked that among their later disciples in France, often called the Bougres, from the Bulgar origin of their doctrine, it aroused the prurient suspicions of the Orthodox; and their name in its English translation still preserves the meaning of an alternative form of vice (Thus propagating Tengriism to the very foundations of the American colonies and ultimately the USA). Pope Bogomil was not hopeful enough to expect the whole of his followers to commit racial suicide; so, following the practice of the Paulicians, he set aside certain persons known as the Elect, whose abstinence from sexual intercourse was complete, and from bodily nourishment and comforts as nearly complete as possible; they were the aristocracy among the Bogomils, and their spiritually feebler brethren ministered to them. [2] Their democratic instincts made them averse to authority (What an intolerable vice in the eyes of the secular and ecclesiastical hierarchies. They dared to think for themselves. Hence the democratic institutions in the American colonies and ultimately the USA). In their early days they even had no clergy — Bogomil and his chief disciples, Michael and Theodore, Dobr, Stephen, Basil, and Peter, had no official position — but later they seem to have recognized the orders of deacon, priest, and bishop [3]; and by the thirteenth century there existed in Bulgaria a spiritual potentate known throughout Christendom as the Black Pope himself (The concept hated for intolerance of institutions is blamed for institutionalizing by institutionalized clergy - only in institutionalized denominations can such perverted claim be concocted). [1]

1. Slovo Kozmy , pp. 36 ff.
2. Ivanov and Léger, loc. cit.: Ivanov, p. 123 n.
3. Ivanov, op. cit., pp. 29-30. The names of the heresiarchs (Hierarchy of heresy - viva the great noble Hellenic language) are given in the Sinodik na Tsar Borisa, loc. cit.

But what made the Bogomils an inevitable menace to the State and necessitated their persecution was their view, based on their dislike of things that were temporal, that it displeased God if a servant worked for his master or a subject worked for his prince (Yeah, this is really heretical, especially in the societies that still enjoyed the fruits of slavery - and needed an accommodating religious doctrine to sanctify it. In fact, the Christian-sanctified serfdom and slavery survived beyond the WWII. In the nomadic societies, the forced labor and dependency is not an issue - you can't put shackles on a nomad and his herds, hence people only confederate, never bind). [2]

The method and extent of the persecution employed by the (Newly Christian) Government to combat so dangerous a heresy are unknown to us, as are most of the details of Bulgarian history during these years. The Patriarch Theophylact had recommended the employment of secular authority in crushing them, and his advice was no doubt followed (A Tengrian ruler can't do that, religious tolerance is a backbone of syncretism). But Bogomilstvo was a faith for which its adherents would gladly suffer martyrdom; and it increased in strength. Its success was greatly helped by the political and social atmosphere of the country. It was the expression of discontent by the poorer classes, the Slavs, members of a race that has always had a democratic bias. The people had long been opposed to the aristocracy, which still was for the most part alien by birth, if no longer in speech; they had lost touch with their old ally the Khan, who now as Caesar was bravely imitating the autocracy and luxury of New Rome. The orthodox Bulgarian clergy were proving unsatisfactory; they were probably under the control of the Court, whose interests they pursued, and, unlike the Greeks, whose culture and learning had at first dazzled the Bulgarians, the average priests were lazy and debauched and little better educated than their congregations — the Bogomils called them blind Pharisees — while the higher clergy were out of touch with the people.

1. He is mentioned in a letter of the Legate Conrad written in 1223, (Gervasii Praemonstratensis, ep. 120, p. 116). But his actual existence is uncertain — it was generally misunderstood in the West that every Eastern village priest was called a pope (In Türkic, priest is “papan”, in Slavic “pop” = “pope”, but without a connotation of the Catholic Pope; that terminology coalesced upon encountering with Christianity, a Manichean priest is not called “papan”, the head of the congregation was called Kagan, or Ev-Kagan = Kagan of the House, with ev = “house, yurt, premises” [See Zuev Yu.A., “Ancient Türkic social terminology in Chinese text of the 8th c.”//Problems of Kazakhstan Archeology, Issue 2, Almaty-Moscow, 1998, pp. 158-159]).
2. Slovo Kozmy , pp. 40 — 1.

The Bogomil Elect provided a remarkable and impressive contrast, just as the ordinary Bogomils — so Kozma had to admit — compared very favorably in their manners with the orthodox laity (If religion is supposed to improve people and make them suitable for the admittance to the Heaven/Paradise, that is what Bogomilism did, and what the organized Church tried to defame and destroy). It was scarcely surprising that the best of the crushed and disillusioned peasantry should feel the world to be an evil place and all its matter the work of Satanail, and should follow Pope Bogomil, who was of their number and understood their souls (S.Runciman blindly follows propaganda about the fantom Pope Bogomil, of whom he admits he knows nothing). Nor could so well suited a faith long remain confined by the frontiers of Bulgaria; it spread southward to Constantinople itself and the provinces of the Empire, it spread eastward to Serbia and to Bosnia and Croatia, and across to Lombardy and the Alps, finding its second great home in the land of Languedoc, between the Cevennes and the Pyrenees: till at last that poor land was cleansed and purified by the blood-baths of de Montfort and the fires of Saint Dominic. [1]

But the history of the Bogomils in France and Italy in centuries to come, or of their baneful influence (Harmful to make people favorably impressive?) on the Balkan lands that was to last till the Ottoman conquest, is outside of our limits here (Many Bogomils joined Islam, as consistent with their basic tenets of good and evil). In Peter’s time and in the years that followed close after, they had not yet reached their full notoriety; but, though they worked invisibly and humbly, their work was that of a worm gnawing at the heart of Bulgaria. The decline and fall of her first Empire came very largely from the unceasing labors and increasing strength of the followers of Pope Bogomil.

For the rest, life in Bulgaria under Peter seems to have passed without much incident. Trade probably returned with peace and flourished, and the mines were no doubt worked.

1. The descent of the Albigeois heretics from the Bogomils is sometimes denied; e.g. H. Lea, in his History of the Inquisition in the Middle Ages (i., p. 90), dismisses the Bogomils in a footnote as a side-track. However, mediaeval writers (e.g. Reinerius Sacchoni and Moneta) trace the Albigeois from them, and certainly the Languedoc heretics looked to Bulgaria as the source of their faith. Some historians like to consider any traditional opinion as being therefore wrong; but any doubt on this question must vanish before a comparison of the Slavonic Bogomil literature with the Latin-Languedoc literature of the Cathars and Paterenes, as is given in Ivanov, op. cit.

That churches and palaces and monasteries were built throughout the country is certain: though we can assign no extant building confidently to these years. Of the arts in detail we know nothing; nothing has survived. Literature was extremely fashionable; the priest Kozma complained bitterly that everyone wrote books instead of reading them (That is the most eye-opening description of reality, unless S.Runciman's assertion on fashionable literature is grossly inaccurate. Of the two groups, Bulgars left traces of considerable literacy, the surviving inscriptions point to literacy at the level of stone-cutters and construction workers using Türkic runiform alphabet. The Slavic illiteracy famously extended to the 20th c.,  the 1897 census showed illiteracy in European Russia at 77.1%, and that included non-Slavic populace like Jews and Tatars whose literacy level was nearly 100%. These two points allow to suggest that in ethnical terms Kozma's complaints pertained to Bulgars, not to the Slavs, whose alphabet was taught at Slavonic college at Constantinople, whose manuscripts are chiefly coming from two points in the Ochrida and Rila districts, and whose alphabet in 975 was barely 90 years old. An example of the “wrote books instead of reading them” has survived in the poetical myth “Shan Kyzy Dastany” written down by Mikhail Bashtu in Kyiv in 882. In any fashionableness contest, “Shan Kyzy Dastany” would win hands down over anything written up in the Kozma's monastery, and its wide circulation ensured its long-term survival).

These books were mostly translations of Greek religious works or romances; but Kozma’s own writing shows the advance in Slavonic literature that had been made in the last half-century. Not only was it the first original work of any length written in the (Slavic) Bulgarian vernacular, but it has a maturity of form and flexibility of language far in advance of the writing of Symeon’s day, of Khrabr or John the Exarch. [1]

Moreover, the Bogomils introduced a popular literature, telling legends that sooner or later were written down. These too were mostly translations or adaptations from the Greek, some even showing traces of Indian mythology, but others were original compositions. But, in spite of this activity, the general standard of culture and comfort was low. Even at the Court it did not probably extend far beyond the furniture and trappings that the Greek Tsaritsa would bring with her on her journeys from her home. When, after her death, her daughters visited Constantinople, they travelled not in the litters that would convey any lady of quality in the Empire, but in chariots whose wheels were armed with sharp scythes. The Bulgarian ambassador at Constantinople in 968 was even less civilized; he shaved his head like a Hungarian and wore a brass belt, apparently to keep his trousers up, and was quite unwashed.

Thanks to unwitting S.Runciman, we can peek into Bulgarian ethnological traits. The Greek religious mythology was definitely out of reach for the Hudoyars/Bogomils, it was a suppressed literature, and must be an empty phrase; but what is hidden under the “Indian mythology”, with no connections between India and Danube Bulgaria whatsoever, we were even told that still much closer Bulgarian brethren under Franks were out of reach for Danube Bulgaria. What S.Runciman is really saying that the legends had no connection to the Greek or Slavic mythology, they were purely Türkic Bulgarian myths carrying background of Tengriist cosmogony, like in the example of the “Shan Kyzy Dastany”.

The idea of pole-bearers carrying a litter on a long trip across terrain is totally out of this world, that can only happen to the people living within confines of a small city with level streets. Unless the Greek Tsaritsa's daughters were incarcerated at the court, they have already travelled in princely corteges paying visits and touring around, using traditional means of transportation for which Bulgars, as any other horse pastoralist nomadic peoples, were famous for. Anyone can appreciate the difference between a long travel in a wheelchair vs. a coach, and we have nice descriptions on the conveniences afforded by horse-drawn nomadic coaches. Probably, the carriages did not change much from the beginning of the Iron Age, when iron became a construction material to substitute for less reliable materials. Arming the royal wagons with sharp scythes might have allowed Bulgar rulers to cut through attackers and flee to safety on their long ways from the Central Asian steppes to Danube. Probably, the princesses wagons were the same wagons that carried royal commanders in their raids on Greece, Magyars, and Slavs. It appears that the Bulgarian scythe-armed wagons are a hapax, not mentioned in literature or found in graves, and they deserve a closer attention.

The description of the Bulgarian ambassador at Constantinople in 968, wearing Türkic princely haircut, trousers, and an attracting attention brass belt should have reminded S.Runciman the line in Nominalia he analyzed in Appendix II, the line “ruled with shorn heads on the other side of Danube for 515 years” is too familiar to the author to accuse him of ignorance. Once again, it is nice to learn from S.Runciman that some of the Hungarians, maybe the princes from the line of Bulgarian Kabars, had the Türkic royal haircut, but in the context of the Danube Bulgarian history, the Türkic royal haircut and Türkic caftan girded with metallic belt was worn by a Bulgarian prince serving as an ambassador, with all Türkic princely attributes demonstrating his dignity, and it can be confidently projected on the princely and royal appearances in the Preslav Court, which severely contrast with the false images presented to the Bulgarian population later. The derogatory references to the trousers, apparently written by still trouserless observer, and to the bad hygiene serve to highlight the necessary part of the Türkic male and female costume, and the haughty attitude of the observer, who however is more direct and honest than the obfuscating S.Runciman. Independent references describe the “surprising” hygiene of the Türkic nomads.

Depiction of Boris I Modern patriotic depiction
of Boris' remote cousin Svyatoslav of Rus
No shorn head
Two nearly invisible royal braids
Royal earrings hidden by painted wig
Greek toga instead of Türkic kaftan
Undignified absence of metal belt
Depicted without pants and boots
Fairly truthfully reflected:
Shorn head with braid
Türkic kaftan lapelled on the left
Utensils suspended from belt
Trousers and boots

Cloth belt instead of metal
Absent proud earrings
He was noted for
Mongoloid appearance

1. Kozma probably wrote after Peter’s death (see above, p. 191), but I treat of him here, as he considered himself a disciple of the Preslav school of Symeon ’s day.

Bishop Liudprand of Cremona, ambassador of Otto I, was furious at such a creature having precedence over him — and yet the North Italians themselves were none too clean in the tenth century. [1] But probably this ambassador was a member of the war-party — a boyar who would despise the decadent cleanlier habits of the Court. Thus for close on four decades Bulgaria lay in this weary parody of peace. At last, in 965, the Tsaritsa Maria-Irene, eponymous leader of the peace party, died. Years had brought Peter no greater strength of character, and almost at once, deprived of his wife’s pacific influence, he fell under the control of warlike boyars, who counseled him to show a brave, aggressive front against Constantinople. Things had changed in Constantinople. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus, Symeon’s adversary, had fallen long since, and had died a repentant monk; Constantine, the Porphyrogennetus, restored to his rightful place, was dead now too; even his son, the second Romanus, grandson of old Lecapenus, had died. The Imperial crown was now worn officially by two little boys, the sons of Romanus II — the younger an indolent child called Constantine, the elder called Basil, who would later bear a surname dreadful to Bulgarian ears. Their mother, the lovely Empress Theophano, warned by the fate of Zoe Carbopsina, had maintained herself in power by a second marriage; her husband had been the Imperial Commander-in-Chief, Nicephorus Phocas, grandson of the first Nicephorus Phocas and nephew of the victim of the Achelous. Nicephorus, from his prowess and from this marriage, was now firmly seated with his stepsons on the Imperial throne, co-Emperor and Regent of the Empire.

1. Liudprand, Legatio, pp. 185-6. Ibrahim ibn Yakub describes the Bulgarian ambassador at Otto I’l Court in 965 as wearing a similar costume. See above, p. 186 (Apparently, the modern nationalistic scholars do not have any use for the obsolete writings of the old Ibrahim ibn Yakub, or of the old Bishop Liudprand of Cremona, even in the renditions of the old obsolete S.Runciman).

It would have been wise not to provoke the warrior-Emperor who had conquered Crete from the Infidel and was conquering in the east. But the Bulgarians hoped that Nicephorus would be too fully occupied in his schemes against the Saracens not to yield to the demands of Bulgaria, should she show a warlike spirit. And so, when Nicephorus revisited Constantinople for the winter of 965-6, fresh from his capture of Tarsus, he was accosted by an embassy from the Tsar, sent to receive the ‘customary tribute’. [1]

This tribute was the old income that the Empire had agreed to pay, by the peace of 927, during the lifetime of the Tsaritsa (Actually, the tribute was permanent, with minor interruptions and rebellions, the size of the tribute was renegotiable and renewable; it ultimately started with Roman tribute to Alans, and then was inherited by every successor state on both sides; Asparukh gained a right to tribute in 679, and by 965 the Byzantine tribute to Danube Bulgaria  had a 286-year tradition). Peter’s demand for it after her death was an act of unwarrantable aggression; and to call what was practically a dowry paid in installments tribute was an intolerable insult. The ambassadors’ reception was short and painful. Nicephorus was furious; rhetorically he asked his father, the Caesar Bardas, what could they mean by demanding tribute from the Roman Emperor. He then turned on the ambassadors and poured abuse on them, calling their race one of filthy beggars, and their Tsar, not an emperor, but a prince clad in skins. [2] His refusal was categorical; the unhappy Bulgarians, amid blows from the humbler courtiers, were dismissed from the Presence. It was an audience almost unparalleled in the history of Imperial etiquette, similar only to Alexander’s reception of Symeon’s envoys in 913.

1. I give my reasons for my disentanglement of Nicephorus ’s wars with Bulgaria in Appendix XII.
2. Leo Diaconus, p. 62.

But Peter was not Symeon; nor was Nicephorus Alexander. His rage was real, not the product of drunken bravado, and he did not confine himself to words. At once he moved with a large army to the frontier, and even captured a few of the Bulgarian forts that still guarded the Great Fence; but he had no wish to go campaigning in Bulgaria, that difficult country where so many Imperial lords and soldiers had been slain — he still had work to do in the east. He thought of an easier way to deal with Bulgaria, a method dictated by the traditions of Byzantine diplomacy. The Russians (i.e. Ruses) were a vigorous race and lay beyond Bulgaria. They could do his work for him. But for the moment there was no work to be done. Peter was terrified by the result of his bellicose gesture. Hastily he sent to make peace, withdrawing, we may presume, his demand for ‘tribute,’ and handing over his two sons, Boris and Romanus, as hostages to the Emperor — an act that was not as humiliating as it might seem; the young men were simply going, as Symeon had gone, to finish their schooling at Constantinople, the one place where they would receive an education worthy of civilized princes. That they were there in the Emperor’s power could be regarded as a side-issue.

The episode gave Nicephorus food for reflection. For close on forty years the Empire had ignored Bulgaria; but Bulgaria had not lost her warlike temper. It was only weariness that kept her tranquil; if she were allowed time to recover, the age of Symeon might come back again. Nicephorus proceeded with his negotiations with the Russians (i.e. Ruses). [1]

The Imperial ambassador sent to the Russian (i.e. Rus) Court was the Patrician Calocyras, son of the chief magistrate of Cherson, the Imperial colony in the Crimea, the starting point of most of the missions into the Steppes. Calocyras, who had lived most of his life in his native district, was admirably fitted to deal with the savage neighboring tribes, knowing their languages and their habits well (What languages are the languages of the “”savage neighboring tribes”? Gothic and Bulgarian Türkic? Or S.Runciman knows something else?). Moreover, he took with him a sum of money enormous even in those days of the wholesale bribery of nations — 1,500 lb. of gold.

1. Zlatarski’s suggestion that Nicephorus called the Russians (i.e. Ruses) into Bulgaria to keep them from attacking Cherson is, I think, unnecessary. Cherson could be defended easily still by calling in the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks).

The Russian (i.e. Rus) monarch, the heathen (Tengrian, but S.Runciman would discriminate between Türkic and Norman religions) Varangian (Viking) Prince Svyatoslav, fell an easy prey to the ambassador’s bribes and blandishments. He was a young man, only recently released from the tutelage of his stern Christian mother, the Grand Princess Olga (i.e. Helga, a Dane Viking); already he had waged wars successfully against his neighbors on the Steppes, and he was ambitious and eager to show his prowess further afield. By the summer of 967 the Russians (i.e. Ruses) were ready to descend upon Bulgaria.

Prince Svyatoslav was no Varangian or Viking, and he did not preside over Russia, but over a future spec of incipient Rus. Both the description of his appearance, with Mongolic eyes and Türkic princely braid on shaved head, and his tamga testify that he was a Türkic Bulgarian prince. Bulgarian annals call him by his Türkic name Barys. His mercenary army was dominated by mercenary Vikings in his retinue plus freelance mercenary Vikings. His pretensions to the Danube Bulgarian throne point to his descent from the Bulgarian dynastic lines. The whole affair with the conquest of the Danube Bulgaria was a family feud. The Varangian pedigree and Rus-Bulgarian antithesis was a later invention, by 967 the Danube Bulgaria was a formed and recognized state with 300-years history and a long line of 21 consecutive rulers, while the Rus just gained independence from the Khazaria and was not yet a state but a small aggressive princely possession.

“Rus Land” territory in the 9th c.

In June 967 the Emperor Nicephorus marched to the frontier to inspect its defenses — a useful precaution when war was to be let loose beyond it. At the same time, he wished to salve his conscience for calling in heathen (non-Christian) barbarians against a Christian country with which he was at peace. So from the frontier he wrote to the Tsar accusing him of having so often allowed the Magyars to cross the Danube and penetrate to the Empire. Peter had no answer. He would gladly have prevented the Magyars from raiding in his country, but he had not been strong enough; but naturally, when they did invade, he encouraged them to pass on as quickly as possible into the provinces of some other ruler. His reply was inevitably unsatisfactory; and so Nicephorus could consider himself justified. [1] Confident that the Russians (i.e. Ruses) would do his work thoroughly, he turned his attention again to the east.

1. Zonaras, iii., p. 512-13, says that Nicephorus was actuated by a Magyar invasion. Cedrenus (Scylitzes), however (ii., p. 372), on whom Zonaras based his chronicle, implies that it was a general pretext. The invasion in Zonaras is clearly due to his misinterpretation of the passage in Scylitzes.

In August Svyatoslav crossed the Danube with Calocyras to guide him and sixteen thousand men. The Bulgarians had been warned, and sent twice that number to oppose his landing on the southern bank; but they were badly defeated and fled to the fortress of Dristra. Svyatoslav overran the north of the country, capturing twenty-four towns, and established himself for the winter in that very district of Onglus where Asperuch the Bulgar had lived, holding his Court in Preslav-on-the-Danube, Little Preslav, the fortress that commanded the river delta. Thither the Emperor sent him additional subsidies [1]; and next spring he invaded southward again, devastating the land even more fiercely than before.

The Bulgarians were in despair. The Tsar Peter’s health was affected by the disasters; he had an apoplectic fit from which he never properly recovered. His Government, however, kept its head sufficiently to apply the only possible remedy; it called in the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks). The Petchenegs were only too glad to intervene; the Russian (i.e. Rus) power was rivaling their own, and already their prestige was diminishing compared to the better ordered hordes of the Varangians (Vikings). Moreover, Svyatoslav had violated their territory in marching to the Danube; for they still roamed over the Wallachian plain and the Steppes on the Black Sea coast. They banded themselves together in the summer of 968 and marched in full force against Kiev. The Grand Princess Olga (i.e. Helga) defended the city as best she could, but her forces were outnumbered and famine intervened. The news at last reached Svyatoslav, and reluctantly he saw that he must return. He arrived back in time to save his capital: while his people reproached him for adventuring in foreign lands and neglecting his own. But, though Bulgaria thus won a respite, his heart was set on going there again.

The ailing Tsar took a second precaution. That same summer he swallowed his pride and humbly sent an ambassador to Constantinople — the unwashed Patrician whose precedence so vexed Liudprand of Cremona.

1. This is clearly what is meant by ‘Nestor’s’ assertion that the ‘Greeks paid him tribute there’.

Nicephorus received him non-committally; he was as yet undecided in his policy. But as the year wore on alarming news came from Russia (i.e. Rus). The Patrician Calocyras had succeeded only too well in winning Svyatoslav’s confidence; he now was planning to use it against his Emperor. Continually he urged the Russians (i.e. Ruses) to invade the Balkans again, hoping either to be carried on Russian (i.e. Rus) arms to the Imperial throne itself, or more probably so to divert the Emperor that he could return to his native Cherson and establish himself there independently. Svyatoslav fell eagerly in with his plans.

The south tempted him; he wished to hold his Court for ever at Preslav-on-the-Danube; for there, he said, was the centre of his lands; there all the riches came, from Greece, silver, stuffs and fruits, and varied wines, from Bohemia and from Hungary, silver and horses, from Russia (i.e. Rus), skins and wax and honey and human slaves. [1] It was indeed a fine site for a capital, so near the mouth of the great river and commanding the gate to the rich Balkan world. It was all that his mother Olga (i.e. Helga) could do to restrain him, to keep him with her at Kiev (Kyiv) till she died; for already she was very ill. [2]

Nicephorus learnt from his spies that the situation was really serious; he himself thought that war with Russia (i.e. Rus) was unavoidable. He hastily sent to fortify the Imperial possessions in the Crimea, [3] and at the same time instructed the Patrician Nicephorus Eroticus, and Philotheus, Bishop of Euchaita, to proceed to the Bulgarian Court and propose an alliance. The Bulgarians received them delightedly; the need for Imperial help, they said, was very urgent indeed.

1. Chronique dite de Nestor , pp. 53-4.
2. Ibid., loc. cit.
3. It is this fact that makes me believe that Cherson was at first Calocyras’s objective.

Everything was arranged for a common defense of the peninsula. At Nicephorus ’s suggestion the alliance was to be further cemented by a marriage between two little Bulgar Princesses [1] and the two young purple-born Emperors. This clause was enthusiastically accepted; and the two princesses set out in scythe-wheeled chariots to Constantinople, to be trained in their future high duties. But these marriages never took place; and we only hear of them once again. Early on the December night on which the Empress Theophano had her husband Nicephorus murdered, she came to talk to him about the upbringing of these foreign girls, and left him to make some arrangement for them. [2] After that nothing is known of them. They soon lost their political importance; probably they were given as brides each to some respectable gentleman of Constantinople (Would not that be a greatest affront to the allied state, its people, and the princesses' royal parents and grandparents? S.Runciman interprets the unknown like it is a pair of broodmares contracted to mate a prize stallion and instead mated with mules). [3]

In the midst of these arrangements the Tsar Peter died, on January 30, 969. [4] He had reigned nearly forty-two years, a good man, but a bad king. His task had been almost impossible; he had inherited a weary kingdom, and he had not been strong enough to hold it together. If he kept the peace he aroused the irritation of his boyars ; but his show of warlike temper at the end was even more disastrous. And all the while he had to face the passive but increasing hostility of the peasant heretics.

1. It is uncertain who these Princesses were. They can hardly have been the children of Peter and Maria, as is generally said, for they were married forty-one years previously, whereas the Princesses were clearly quite young. They were probably the children either of Boris II (though one gathers that Boris was hardly old enough), or of some elder but now dead son of Peter’s.
2. Leo Diaconus, p. 86.
3. Such was the fate of the Princesses of Samuel’s family (see below, p. 257).
4. The date (Jan. 30) is supplied by the Office of Tsar Peter (see Ivanov, Bulgarski Starini, p. 83). For the year, see Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 2, p. 589. As he shows, 969 must be correct, though I disagree with some of his other dates.

His had not been a happy life; even in his youth he was a disillusioned man, murmuring to Saint John of Rila that, however great your longing for riches and for glory may be, they will not bring you peace. [1] And Peter had not even lived gloriously. Death alone was kind to him, for it spared him the woes that were coming to his country.

On Peter’s death the Emperor sent his sons back to their homes from Constantinople; and the elder, Boris, ascended the throne. Boris was probably in his middle twenties.

In character and ability he was alike mediocre; the only thing about him that was really remarkable was his thick red beard. [2] His accession brought with it no new policy. Indeed, under the circumstances, there was nothing to be done, save to put the country into some state of defense, and then await the inevitable onrush of the Russians (i.e. Ruses).

The storm broke in the early autumn of that year (969). [3] The great Princess Olga (i.e. Helga) died during the summer, and Svyatoslav now had nothing to retain him at Kiev. He set off at once with an army of Russians (i.e. Ruses) and Petchenegs (Bosnyaks) and Magyar subjects or mercenaries (How could he get the Magyar subjects or mercenaries? He maintained relation with his cousins Kabars?) for his new capital of Preslav-on-the-Danube, and from there marched into the heart of Bulgaria. Whatever defenses Boris may have organized, they fell utterly to pieces before the Russian (i.e. Rus) hordes. [4] They swept down through the northern provinces, on to Great Preslav itself; after a sharp battle the capital fell into their hands, and in it they took prisoner the Tsar, his brother Romanus, and all his family. [5] From Preslav they moved to Philippopolis, the greatest town of the south.

1. Zhivot Jovana Rilskog, p. 279.
2. Leo Diaconus, p. 136.
3. For the dating see Appendix X.
4. ’Nestor’ says that the Russian (i.e. Rus) army was only 10,000 strong (p. 56); the later Greeks, however, considered it thirty times as large (300,000; Zonaras, iii., p. 524: 308,000; Cedrenus, ii., p. 384). ‘Nestor’s’ number probably represents the pure Russians (i.e. Ruses, i.e. Viking mercenaries); but there were the additional Petcheneg, Magyar, and, later, Bulgarian auxiliaries (What Bulgarian auxiliaries? From where?). Probably Leo Diaconus’s estimate (p. 109) of 30,000 is fairly correct.
5. Cedrenus, ii., p. 383: Chronique dite de Nestor , p. 55. Here I think Pereia-slavets is Great Preslav, not, as before, Preslav-on-the -Danube.

Philippopolis, it seems, made a brave but feckless show of resistance; Svyatoslav in revenge impaled twenty thousand of its inhabitants. [1] By the fall of winter the Russians (i.e. Ruses) had overrun and held firmly the whole of Eastern Bulgaria, as far as the Thracian frontier of the Empire. There they paused to winter, Calocyras still with them and urging them on. His ambitions were boundless now; the Russians (i.e. Ruses) should carry him in triumph to Constantinople, and there, as Emperor, he would reward them with his province of Bulgaria. [2]

There was great alarm in Constantinople; and it was not allayed by a grand tragedy in the Palace. On December io, 969, the Emperor Nicephorus was murdered by the order of his wife Theophano and her lover, his best general, John Tzimisces. In the retribution that followed the Empress was deserted and dispatched into exile; and John, doubly traitorous, became Emperor. [3] John was an excellent soldier and an able statesman, younger and less scrupulous than his predecessor. The Empire had no reason to regret his elevation. But for Bulgaria it was less felicitous.

John at first attempted to negotiate with Svyatoslav. He sent to him offering to complete the subsidies promised by Nicephorus — their payment had presumably been stopped when Nicephorus allied himself with Bulgaria; and he requested him to evacuate what was, he said, a rightful possession of the Empire. Those words must have fallen strangely on the ears of the Bulgarian captives at the Great Prince’s Court.

But Svyatoslav’s reply was to order John to cross into Asia; he would only consider a peace that gave him all the European lands of the Emperor, and if he were not given them he would come and take them. Despite this ferocity, John sent a second message, sterner but still conciliatory, probably to gain more time.

1. Leo Diaconus, p. 105.
2. Cedrenus, loc. cit.
3. Leo Diaconus, pp. 84 ff.

Again Svyatoslav issued an insulting message to the Imperial ambassadors. So both sides settled down to war. [1]

It was a war that was miserable for Bulgaria. The Bulgarians, weary and disunited, had at last met the fate for which diplomats at Constantinople so long had plotted; they had succumbed to barbarians from the Steppes (To call sea- and river-faring Vikings “people from the Steppes” is perplexing. “Barbarians from the Steppes” is codeword for Türkic horse nomads, not the Viking boat people. There must be a hidden context for this slip). And now they had to watch the barbarians and the Imperial armies fighting over their lands, knowing that, whichever might be victorious, neither would give them back their independence.

They were a melancholy sight — the Tsar a captive in his palace, his soldiers taken off to swell the ranks of the Russians (i.e. Ruses), while the merchants and the farmers watched the ruined tracks of war and the heretic peasants sulked in passive indolence. Only in the west, where the Russians (i.e. Ruses) never penetrated, was there still some active national life and feeling: which would bear fruit later.

In the summer of 970 the Russians (i.e. Ruses) advanced into Thrace. The Emperor sent his brother-in-law, Bardas Sclerus, out to meet them. After preliminary skirmishes there was a great battle at Arcadiopolis, the Lule-Burgas of today. It was a long-drawn-out contest, full of heroic hand-to-hand combats; but in the end the Russians (i.e. Ruses) were beaten, and swept back, with their numbers sadly reduced, to Bulgaria (Hand-to-hand combat is patently non-nomadic, non-cavaly, non-archer and lasso, non-people from the Steppes combat). But the Imperial army did not follow up its advantage. Probably the year was too well advanced; and John Tzimisces wished to make fuller preparations before adventuring an army into the Balkan mountains. [2]

1. Leo Diaconus, pp. 105 ff., after giving a rough and inaccurate history of the early Bulgars: Chronique dite de Nestor, pp. 55 ff., giving it all in a light flattering to Russian (i.e. Rus) pride: Cedrenus ii., pp. 383 ff.
2. Ibid., pp. 108 ff.: Cedrenus, ii., pp. 384 ff. The attempts of Russian historians (e.g. Drinov, Yuzhnye Slavyane i Vizantiya , p. 101) to prove that this was really a Russian (i.e. Rus) victory are a scandalous piece of misguided patriotism, as Schlumberger (L’Epopée Byzantine, i., pp. 57 — 9) has shown: though, of course, the figures given by Greek chroniclers of the casualties have been exaggerated owing to similar patriotism.

But the delay was made longer than the Emperor had hoped. Throughout the autumn of 970 and the winter he assembled troops and prepared his fleet; but in the early spring of 971 news came to Constantinople of the serious revolt at Amassa of Bardas Phocas, the late Emperor’s nephew. John’s armies had to march to Asia instead of to the north. Thus the season was lost, and the Russians (i.e. Ruses) remained, keeping their heavy yoke upon Bulgaria. As the year moved on they recovered some of their confidence, and in the autumn conducted some raids round Adrianople. Their task was made the easier by the gross incompetence of the local Imperial governor, the Emperor’s cousin, John Curcuas, a man abnormally fond of eating and drinking. [1]

By the new year of 972 the rebel Bardas Phocas was defeated, and the ships and the soldiers were almost ready for the Bulgarian campaign. When spring came the Emperor set out from Constantinople, blessed by the holiest of the city ’s relics, at the head of a huge, well-trained, and richly furnished army. Meanwhile his fleet of fire - shooting galleys sailed to the Danube, to cut off the Russians’ (i.e. Ruses) retreat. Russian (i.e. Ruses) spies in the guise of ambassadors waited on the Emperor at Rhaedestus, but he let them go free. He marched on through Adrianople, and in the last days of Lent crossed the frontier and began to wind his way through the Pass of Veregava and the other defiles of the Balkan mountains on the road to Preslav. By a strange good fortune the Russians (i.e. Ruses) had left these passes unguarded. Whether, as John himself suggested, they had not expected the Emperor to go campaigning in Holy Week, or whether, as is more likely, the Bulgarian population was restive and the Russians (i.e. Ruses) had not enough troops to spare, they certainly neglected the one satisfactory opportunity of checking John’s advance.

1. Leo Diaconus, p. 126. This John was probably the grandson of Romanus I’s general, John Curcuas, John Tzimisces’s great-uncle: his father was called Romanus.

On Wednesday, April 3 (972), the Emperor arrived before Great Preslav. The city was defended by Svyatoslav’s third-in-command, Svengel, a Varangian (Viking) of immense stature and bravery, [1] and by the traitor Calocyras. Svyatoslav himself was at Dristra, on the Danube, probably trying to keep open communications with Russia (i.e. Rus) in the teeth of the Imperial fleet. The Russians (i.e. Ruses) at once gave battle, but after a terrible and long-undecided conflict they were severely defeated and fell back behind the city walls. Next morning, on Holy Thursday, reinforcements reached the Emperor, including his latest machines for shooting fire. Thereupon he gave the order for assault of the city to begin.

During the night Calocyras, who had noticed the Imperial insignia among the attacking force, and who knew what his fate would be were he captured and recognized, slipped out of the city and fled to Svyatoslav’s camp at Dristra. Svengel, however, defended the walls as best he could; but the Russians (i.e. Ruses), weakened by the previous day’s battle, could not man the huge enceinte properly against the outnumbering assailants, and they were no match for the Greek Fire. After a few hours’ desperate fighting they retired, as many as could, into the inner city, the fortress-palace of the Tsars.

The Emperor’s troops burst into the outer city and overran it, slaying what Russians (i.e. Ruses) they met. Many, too, of the Bulgarian inhabitants perished, guilty or suspected of having helped the heathen (non-Christian, but this iss not a religious war) barbarians. In the midst of the butchery they came upon Tsar Boris and his wife and two children, for over two years the prisoners of the Russians (i.e. Ruses).

1. ‘Σφέγκελος’ (Sfenkelos). Drinov (op. cit., p. 104) identifies him with ‘Nestor’s’ Svienald, a Varangian (Viking) chief who had served under Igor (Ugyr) and who was mentioned in the peace of 972, but, according to Leo Diaconus, he was killed before Dristra.

This miserable family was brought before the Emperor. John deigned to receive them graciously, saluting Boris as Prince [1] of the Bulgars, and saying he was come to avenge the injuries inflicted on Bulgaria by the Russians (i.e. Ruses). But, though he released Bulgarian prisoners, his actions put a curious interpretation on his words.

Meanwhile, his soldiers besieged the Palace, a vast, well-fortified group of buildings forming, like the Great Palace at Constantinople, a town within the city. The Russians (i.e. Ruses) resisted with some success till the Emperor brought fire to his aid. Flames swept over the palace buildings, burning the Russian (i.e. Rus) warriors or forcing them out to the open, to their deaths. Svengel, with a small bodyguard, fled through the Imperial army to Dristra. Thus by the evening all Preslav was in the Emperor’s hands.

Good Friday morning broke on a mass of smoldering ruins and streets choked with corpses. It was the end of Great Preslav, the city that so few years before had been the largest and wealthiest of all the cities of Eastern Europe, save only Constantinople.

The Emperor John spent the Easter weekend there, restoring order and refreshing his army, and sending a curt embassy to Svyatoslav at Dristra, to bid him either lay down his arms and beg for pardon, or meet the Imperial armies and be slain. A few days later he set out in full force for Dristra. Before he left, he rebuilt the fortifications of Preslav and re-christened it after his own name, Ioannupolis. Henceforward it should be a minor provincial city of the Empire, distinguished only for the vastness of its ruins.

1. ‘ Κοίρανον’ (Koiranon), not ‘βασιλέα’ (Basilea) in Leo Diaconus (p. 136). However, Leo speaks of him as ‘βασιλεύς’ (Basileus), and Cedrenus says that John called him ‘βασιλέα’ (Basilea) (ii., p. 396).

Svyatoslav at Dristra heard of his troops’ disaster in a wild fury. There were large numbers of Bulgarian hostages or unwilling auxiliaries at his camp, and on them he gave rein to his rage. Suspecting treachery from their compatriots, knowing that even Imperial rule was better in their eyes than his, and, determining to terrorize them into alliance, he threw the Bulgarians in his power into chains, and beheaded all the magnates and the boyars, to the number of three hundred (Exaggerated or not, annihilation of the most able and educated upper crust of society is an unrecoverable damage that changes the fate of the whole people. Taken in proportion, it would quite compare with the worst crimes of humanity, equating to killing 50,000 of British top strata or 300,000 of USA leaders of all spheres). [1] Later, as the Emperor approached, he released the humbler Bulgarians and enrolled them in his armies; but he ordered his Petcheneg allies to mow them down without mercy should they attempt treachery or flight.

From Preslav John marched to Pliska, the ancient capital, and thence, by way of a town called Dinea, to Dristra. He arrived before the city on Saint George’s Day; and at once the two armies met in battle on the plain outside the walls. It was another hard, heroic contest, but by nightfall the Russians (i.e. Ruses) were driven back with heavy losses behind their fortifications. John could not, however, proceed at once with the siege; his fleet had not yet arrived to cut the Russians (i.e. Ruses) off on the river side. He spent April 24 in fortifying his camp on a hillock close by, but on the 25th impatiently ordered an assault. This attack failed, as also a rival sortie of the Russians (i.e. Ruses); but in the evening the Emperor saw his great fleet come sailing up the Danube. On the 26th, after a third great battle, the siege of Dristra began. John had hoped to take the city by storm, but almost at once he realized its impossibility. Restraining his army’s ardor, he waited, closely guarding every access to the city.

The weeks passed by, full of stirring episodes. The Russians (i.e. Ruses) made many murderous sorties, but they never could break right through the besiegers’ circles; nor could their arrows keep the Greek Fire from burning their ships.

1. The number is supplied by Scylitzes (Cedrenus, ii., p. 400), who, however, has an unfailing habit of exaggerating numbers. He also says that the Bulgarian prisoners in Dristra numbered 20,000.

The Bulgarians recognized that it was only a question of time now. Many of their northern cities, including Constantia (Kostanza) sent deputations to the Emperor’s camp, handing over their keys to him and offering him help. Nevertheless, while John sat before Dristra, fortune almost upset his whole career; the restless and vindictive family of the Phocae once more rose in rebellion, in Constantinople itself; and only the energy of the eunuch Basil the Paracoemomenus, son of Romanus Lecapenus and a Bulgarian woman, saved John his throne.

As July wore on, the Russians (i.e. Ruses) grew desperate. They had lost many of their finest heroes, including Svengel, the defender of Preslav, and their food was running short.

Finally, on July 21 (972), Svyatoslav held a council with his generals, at which, after long discussions, they decided, at the Great Prince’s exhortation, to make one last attempt to fight their way to freedom. On the 24th [1] they burst out of the city with all the force and courage of despair. So furious was their attack that the Imperial forces almost gave way before them; and for a moment their fate hung in the balance.

In Constantinople everyone waited eagerly for news from the Danube. On the night of the 23rd a pious nun had a dream; she saw the Mother of God herself, protectress of the city, summon Saint Theodore Stratilates, the soldier, and bid him go to the aid of their beloved servant John. At Dristra during the battle men noticed a noble warrior on a white horse dealing destruction amongst the pagan hordes (This hateful language continuously betrays the non-scholar stance of the author, compounded with uncritical citations on dead saints running around killing people). When, afterwards, the Emperor sought him out to thank him, he could not be found. Saint Theodore may have saved the Empire.

1. Leo Diaconus (p. 152) dates it Friday, July 24; but in 972 July 24 was a Wednesday. In Cedrenus (ii., p. 405) the day before Svyatoslav’s council of war is dated July 20; the attack would therefore fall on July 22. I follow Leo’s monatal (monthly) dating, as he is usually the more reliable, but, considering that he is self-contradictory, the whole thing remains unsatisfactory.

The battle certainly was full of strange incidents; John even offered to settle it in single combat with Svyatoslav. But the Imperial victory was in the main due to John’s adoption of the old Parthian tactics of a feigned retreat (That indicates that Byzantine army enlisted unstated help of unnamed nomadic army under professional command, able to feign a retreat and take advantage of it without being wiped out). By nightfall the Russians (i.e. Ruses) were routed, this time beyond all hope of a recovery.

On the morning of the 23rd, Svyatoslav bowed to fate and sent envoys to the Emperor. He only asked now to be allowed to cross the river without an attack from the terrible fire-shooting ships, and to be given a little food for the starving remnant of his men. [1] In return he promised to hand over all the prisoners that he had made, to evacuate Dristra and all Bulgaria for ever, and never to invade Cherson. He also begged that the previous commercial treaties and arrangements about the Russians (i.e. Ruses) in Constantinople should be renewed. John Tzimisces, almost equally weary of fighting, accepted his terms; and so the war was ended. Bulgaria had no voice in the treaty.

Before the Varangian (Viking, but in this case the Türkic Svyatoslav) prince retired to his northern country, he asked for an interview with the Emperor. The monarchs met on the edge of the great river. John rode down clad in his golden amour, with a splendid retinue; Svyatoslav came in a little boat, rowing with the other rowers, distinguished from them only in that his plain white robe was slightly cleaner than theirs; and he wore one golden earring, set with two pearls and a carbuncle, and from his shaven head fell two long locks, signifying his rank. For the rest, he was of medium height, very well built, with fair hair, blue eyes, an aquiline nose, and long moustaches — a true Norseman (Not too many Normans would agree with this funny description of a “true Norseman”).

Claudy Lebedev (1852-1916) accurately depicted Svyatoslav as a Türkic chieftain,
with an earring and two Türkic princely locks on a shaven brachycephalic head.
After ruling by 675 for 515 years “on the other side of the river”, they kept ruling there for another 890 years.
We can bet our shirts that his papa Igor/Ugyr/Ingvar had the same genes, appearance and trimmings,
but the case with his grandfather Oleg/Helgi is mysterious, unless Saint Theodore Stratilates also interfered with his magic wand

1. Leo Diaconus (p. 156) says that 22,000 Russians (i.e. Ruses) remained, 38,000 having perished in the war. These numbers might well be true (It is inconceivable that Svyatoslav could hire so many Viking mercenaries for his campaign, they were too expensive. Allowing for liberal 5,000 Viking mercenaries, 45,000 of his army mast have come from local Türkic nomadic population, probably a mixture of mounted Oguz, Bosnyak/Besenyo (i.e. Kipchak), and Bulgar (i.e. Ogur) tribes, which would explain his impressive successes).

Their conversation was very short, but the two mortal enemies were enabled to see one another — the Swede (As we can see, rather a Swedish Türk or a Türkic Swede, possibly via his mamma Helga) that ruled over Russia (i.e. Rus) meeting the Armenian Emperor of the Romans, after this long contest for the land of the Bulgarians. [1]

And so Svyatoslav returned sadly towards Kiev, sailing in his little ships down the Danube and along the coast to the mouth of the Dnieper. Then he began his laborious journey up the river through the territory of the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks). Winter overtook him there, and cold and hunger added to his humiliations. Meanwhile the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks), forgetting the troops that they had sent to help him, and rejoicing in his downfall, waited hungrily by; they could not believe that he was bringing back no treasure from the war (To bring booty to be divided between participants of the campaign was his mortal obligation to each and every nomadic tribe that he had engaged in the campaign). The old Imperial ambassador, Philotheus of Euchaita, was at the Court of Kouria, chief prince of the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks), making a separate peace in which they promised never to cross the Danube. But when he asked them in the Emperor’s name to be merciful and let the Russians (i.e. Ruses) through, they angrily refused. In the early spring Svyatoslav moved on up the Dnieper. At the great Cataracts the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks) lay in ambush, and as he came they fell on him and slew him. Of his skull they made a drinking-cup, even as Krum had done with the skull of an Emperor. [2]

John’s return home was very different. He rested in Dristra, rechristening it Theodorupolis, after the saint that fought by his side; then he journeyed southward in glory, the royal family of Bulgaria following in his train.

1. The main source for the campaign is Leo Diaconus (pp. 105-159), whose account is very full and who himself was alive at the time. Scylitzes’s account (Cedrenus, ii., pp. 392 — 413) is less detailed, but provides one or two additional facts. Zonaras merely recapitulates him (iii., pp. 523 — 32). La Chronique dite de Nestor (pp. 53-59) is crude and over-patriotic, but brings out facts such as Olga’s (i.e. Helga) restraining influence. There is an excellent modern critical account of the war in Schlumberger’s Epopée Byzantine, vol. i. chapters i-iii.
2. La Chronique dite de Nestor, pp. 59 — 60, saying that the Greeks provoked the attack. Cedrenus ii., p. 412, shows that the opposite was the case. Philotheus of Euchaïta is called here Theophilus of Euchaïta.

All Eastern Bulgaria lay in his power, from Preslav-on-the Danube and the new Theodorupolis, to Philippopolis and the Great Fence frontier to the sea. Soon, he hoped, he might confirm his rightful power over the turbulent poorer provinces of the west. In the meantime he celebrated his triumph in Constantinople. A long and splendid procession wound from the Golden Gate down the Triumphal Way to Saint Sophia. After rows of warriors and captives, there came a golden chariot in which was borne the most precious of all the spoils, the icon of the Virgin of Bulgaria.

Whence this icon came we do not know, but the Emperor revered it exceedingly and draped it in the Imperial mantle of the Tsars. Behind it rode the Emperor John on his white horse; and after him, on foot, there came the Tsar of the Bulgarians. At the cathedral John laid the icon and the crown-jewels of Bulgaria on the altar of God’s Wisdom; the crown itself was a thing of marvelous richness and beauty. The Court then moved to the palace, and there, before all the dignitaries of the Empire, Boris of Bulgaria abdicated his throne. [1]

Vengeance had fallen on the seed of Krum and of Symeon. The Empire in the end had conquered. The Emperor treated the fallen monarch kindly; he was given the title of Magister, and took his place amongst the Imperial nobility. His brother Romanus was made a eunuch (Castrated to prevent pretensions, in a loving Christian spirit). [2] The abdication of the Tsar had released the Empire from its legal obligations; the Emperor could declare Bulgaria to be forfeited to himself. At the same time he abolished the independence of the Bulgarian Church.

1. Leo Diaconus, pp. 158-9: Cedrenus, ii., pp. 412-13.
2. Ibid., loc. cit. When Romanus was captured and when he was castrated are alike unknown. He appears as a eunuch a few years later (Cedrenus, ii., p. 435), having been castrated by the Paracoemomenus Joseph. Boris’s two children were probably daughters, as we hear no more of them.

A quiet end was given to the patriarchate of Preslav, whither the see had been moved after the death of Damian of Dristra. [1] Bulgaria, like any other province of the Empire, should depend on the Oecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

In Eastern Bulgaria, by the old capitals of the Balkan invaders, men were too warworn to protest. But Bulgarians still lived on the slopes of Vitosh and of Rila, and in the valleys and lakesides of Albania and Upper Macedonia. There the Russians (i.e. Ruses) had never come spreading desolation, nor the Emperor in all his might to combat them, and to reap the harvest that they had sown with blood. There the Bulgarians were proud and unconquered, scorning the decrees that were issued on the Bosphorus.

The house of Krum had faded in ignominy; but, even as the afternoon was passing into night and the shadows had gathered, the sky was lit up in the west with golden and with red.

Bulgaria of Cometopuli ca 972-986
Danube Bulgaria suffered the Rus' Svyatoslav occupation for 3 years,
 969-972, and Byzantine occupation for 14 years, 972-986
Samuel restored Bulgarian control over the whole Bulgarian territory in 986

1. See above, p. 182, and references given there.

The end of an empire

In the west of Bulgaria, at the time of the Russian (i.e. Rus) invasions, there lived a count or provincial governor called Nicholas. By his wife Rhipsimé he had four sons, whom he named David, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel; to the world they were collectively known as the Comitopuli, the Count’s children. [1] Of what province Nicholas was governor we do not know, nor when he died. By the time of the abdication of Tsar Boris, his sons had succeeded to his influence; and to them the Western Bulgarians looked to preserve their independence.

Of the history of this revolution we know nothing. The Emperor John Tzimisces was apparently unconcerned by troubles in Bulgaria after his victory at Dristra. His attention was mainly turned to his eastern frontier. We only hear that, following the old Imperial policy, he established large numbers of Armenians, Paulician heretics, round Philippopolis and on the borders of Thrace. [2] This would dilute and weaken the Slavs; but it weakened them chiefly in the one way which as a pious Emperor he might regret — it increased the vigor of the Dualist heresy. To the provinces further to the west he paid no attention.

Time to time S.Runciman pays a lip service to nationalistic distortions and falsifications, but that does not prevent him from trotting the same paths. No doubt that the wars and blows weakened the Danubian Türkic Bulgars, but to pretend that they evaporated from the face of the earth, and that in the 10th c. Danube Bulgaria was a Slavic state is exactly the same distortion, contrasted by the facts S.Runciman unwittingly supplies.

1. In Drinov (op. cit., p. 88) and Jirecek (Geschichte, pp. 173, 186, 189), and other works, we hear of a certain Shishman who was the father of the Comitopuli. His existence is deduced solely from a list of the Tsars of Bulgaria interpolated probably as late as the eighteenth century, in the Register of Zographus (see Zlatarski, op. cit., pp. 638-9). The Charter of Pincius (see Farlati’s Illyricum Sacrum, iii., pp. 111-12), calling the Tsar ‘Stephen’ in 974, is equally suspicious (Zlatarski, loc. cit.). The names Nicholas and Rhipsimé are given in a deed of Samuel’s (op. cit., p. 637), and in Bishop Michael of Devol’s MS of Scylitzes (Prokic, Die Zusätze in der Handschrift des Johan. Scylitzes, p. 28.)
2. Cedrenus, ii., p. 382.

It was only after his death, in January 976, that statesmen at Constantinople fully realized the fact that, not only were there large numbers of Bulgarians quite unconquered, but they were restively and aggressively airing their independence.[1]

Already they had looked around for foreign support. At Easter time in 973 the old Western Emperor, Otto I, was at Quedlinburg, receiving embassies from many varied nations; and among them were envoys from the Bulgarians (Which Bulgarians, Danube Bulgarians, Pannonia Bulgarians, Khazar Bulgarians, Itil Bulgarians, or non-affiliated Bulgarians?). But Otto was dying, and his son had other cares. Nothing came of this mission. [2]

Meanwhile, at home, Samuel, the youngest of the Comitopuli, was establishing himself in sole supremacy. How the brothers organized the independent kingdom is uncertain; possibly they each took over a quarter of the country and ruled it as some form of a confederacy, with David, the eldest, as their head. [3] Fortune, however, favored Samuel. David was soon killed by Vlach brigands at a spot called the Fair Oak Wood, between Castoria and Prespa, in the extreme south of the kingdom.

Moses set out to besiege the Imperial town of Serrae (Seres), probably in 976, on the news of the death of the terrible Emperor John; there a stray stone cast by the defenders ended his life. [4]

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 434, says that the Comitopuli revolted on John Tzimisces’s death; but we know that they were independent in 973 (see below). Probably the West Bulgarian question lay dormant, till on John’s death the Bulgarians became actively aggressive. Drinov’s theory (loc. cit.) of an independent Western Bulgaria that seceded in 963 depends on the existence of the mythical Shishman and on a paragraph in Cedrenus, ii., p. 347, which has clearly been interpolated out of place. Drinov has, however, been copied by Jirecek and Schlumberger and the Cambridge Mediaeval History (Maybe not adequately supported by written accounts, the rise of Comitopuli is consistent with the historical trends, when a demise of a ruling house brings a rise of previously autonomous rulers. The related examples are numerous, and the production of the isgoi lines under Lateral Succession order furnishes an abundance of suitable candidates with royal blood:  the rise of Shambat/Samo, the rise of Kurbat, the rise of Asparukh,  the rise of Krum,  the rise of Svyatoslav line,  the rise of Almush - they all follow the same scenario).
2. Annales Hildesheimenses, p. 62. An embassy from Constantinople arrived at the same time.
3. Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 640) definitely divides up the country between them. I think that rather too confident.
4. Cedrenus, ii., p. 435. He mentions Aaron’s death at the same time as David’s and Moses’s, though actually it occurred later. The legend of David’s retirement, as the sainted Tsar David, into a monastery, given in Païssius (Istoriya Slaveno-bolgarskaya , pp. 33, 63, 66, 70), and in Zhepharovitch’s Stemmatigraphion (eighteenth-century works, though compiled from older sources), is obviously of no historical value. See Zlatarski (op. cit., pp. 646-7) (Consistent selective discounting of the sources is perilous for the investigator, that's how the enthusiastic re-writers of history operate).

Aaron had a gentler temperament than his brothers, it seems, for it was his pacifism that was to prove his ruin in the end. At the moment he was content to play second fiddle to Samuel, who probably by the year 980, if not before, was enjoying the title of Tsar. [1]

From the Peace of Dristra till his death in 976 the Emperor John had ignored the west, though probably he intended to deal with it later, when an occasion should arise. On his death the young Basil II, already for thirteen years a nominal Emperor, succeeded to the full authority. But for four years Basil’s hands were tied by the great rebellion of Bardas Sclerus in Asia. Even till 985 his position was insecure; he himself was gay and careless, while all his ministers and generals plotted against him.

These years gave Samuel his opportunity. Already in 976 the Comitopuli had been aggressive enough to attack Seres; and, though that attack failed, under cover of such action they were able to establish themselves over all of Peter’s former Empire west of a line drawn south from the Danube considerably to the eastward of Sofia; though Philippopolis lay to the east of it. At the same time Samuel sought to add prestige and spiritual force to his dominion by refusing to acquiesce in the extinction of the independent patriarchate.

1. For Aaron’s career see below, pp. 230-1. With regard to Samuel, I think that he already called himself Tsar by the time of Boris’s and Romanus’s escape (see below, pp. 220 -1); but Constantinople never recognized the title (Which is little relevant to his title. Relevant is the undisclosed procedure of raising to the throne, that traditional procedure of selection, voting, and raising on a felt carpet was the anointment that made supreme leaders; also is left in the shade the role of the maternal dynastic tribe led by the Prime Minister, who represents the people of the country. That the traditions were followed and they provided legitimacy is demonstrated in the previous generation, with bypassing ineligible Michael and the prominence of the maternal dynastic tribe led by the Prime Minister George Sursubul. In metamorphosed form these traditions survived as Szlachta traditions well into the 18th c.).

The old seats, Dristra and Preslav, were no longer available; but, it seems, a Patriarch, called Gabriel or Germanus, was established first in Sofia, and later moved to Vodena, and thence to Moglena and to Prespa; on his death his successor, Philip, had his seat at Ochrida. [1] These peregrinations probably coincided with the movements of Samuel’s Court, which, after visiting Sofia and Vodena, settled for about the last fifteen years of the century at Prespa, and soon after 1000 moved to Ochrida, the holy city of Clement and of Nahum, the real centre of Western Bulgarian civilization. [2] The presence of a patriarchate under his close control must have greatly strengthened Samuel’s hands, especially as Samuel, unlike Peter, could not be suspected of leanings towards the Greeks. But Samuel also seems to have dealt tactfully with the Bogomils. We have no direct evidence; but throughout his career he seems never to have come into collision with the people. Probably the aristocracy of his realm was more Slav than Bulgar, and therefore there was less cause for friction than there had been in Peter’s reign, round the old Bulgar capitals. Possibly, too, the Bogomil heresy never penetrated far into Macedonia, where Clement had established the orthodox faith on more popular foundations. Samuel’s consolidation was very nearly wrecked by an embarrassing escapade on the part of the sons of Peter. Soon after the Emperor John’s death the ex-Tsar Boris and his brother Romanus escaped from Constantinople and set out for Samuel’s court at Vodena. It would have been difficult for Samuel to know how to receive his former sovereign; and Boris probably did not realize that he was seeking refuge with a rebel. However, fate intervened.

1. In Ducange’s List of Bulgarian Archbishops (op. cit., p. 175), Gabriel-Germanus, the first after 972, resided at Vodena, then Prespa. In Basil II’s ordinances about the Bulgarian Church, quoted in Gelzer (in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, ii., pp. 44 — 5), Sofia (Sardica, Triaditza, or Sreditza), Vodena, Moglena, and Prespa appear as having been seats of the patriarchate. Gabriel’s successor, Philip, is placed in Ducange’s list (loc. cit.) at Ochrida.
2. Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 640) makes Sofia Aaron’s capital; but I do not think that the land was divided up so definitely. I think that the capital moved with the patriarchate. By 986 (the capture of Larissa), Samuel’s capital was Prespa (see below, p. 222; also Presbyter Diocleae, p. 294). By 1002 it was Ochrida (see Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 2, pp. 702-3).

As the brothers reached a wood on the frontier, a Bulgarian outpost took them to be Imperial spies; and Boris was shot dead by a Bulgarian arrow. Romanus managed to save his life, hastily explaining who he was. At first the soldiers received him with enthusiasm as their Tsar. But their zeal died down when they learnt that he was a eunuch, and they took him to Samuel. It has always been a cardinal principle that no eunuch can sit upon a throne, so Romanus by himself presented no difficulty (S.Runciman refers to the Türkic cardinal principle and belief that mental and physical capability embody the blessing of the Almighty, and vice-versa, a principle formalized in the Lateral Succession order, where the most potent candidate is selected to lead the state. In Byzantine, this ancient Tengrian tradition where the Emperor is seen as a reflection of the Heavenly Authority, degraded into a notorious trait with its culture of political mutilations).

Samuel took him into his service and gave him various honorable positions. [1] Secure in his own dominions, Samuel soon indulged in further aggressions abroad.

All along the frontier, in Thrace and Macedonia and on the Adriatic coast, there were ceaseless and destructive Bulgarian raids.

This little note carries a deep and hidden message. To control a territory means to tax the people in the territory. The apointment of local governors serves the purposes of taxation; the people, and principally their leaders who were responsible for collections need to reorient themselves to a new parasite on the block, and the parasite needs to create an alternate collection system to substitute for the old one that does not work any more. The process of replacement is of necessity cruel, and incites resistance exceeding that of the previous system. Until the new system takes hold and starts functioning without much friction, any claims to conquest are illusory.

Byzantium, using Svyatoslav mercenary, temporarily removed about half of the Bulgarian territory from the Bulgarian tax collection system. The traditional collection system was organized with the use of djiens (jiens), tax collection meetings scheduled by the ruler, which combined a number of social events: market, fair, celebrations, court hearings, tax collection, census, petitions, awards and appointments, to name a few. Held after the summer harvest, djiens were ingrained millennia-old tradition that bonded rulers and ruled into a state. We have descriptions of Bulgarian and Khazarian djiens, the story with Svyatoslav papa Ugyr/Igor/Ingvar collecting twice from Agathyrs  (Sl. “Drevlyans”) is a story of a djien gone bad, the Slavic annals have numerous references to other djiens. The Rus conquests mechanically replaced previous beneficiary of the djiens with a new ones, a commonplace practice in the fluid nomadic world. After Russian colonization of the Siberian space, it initially also interjected itself into the existing djien system. Frequently, the old masters did not recognize the conquest, nor the self-proclaimed right to collect what belonged to them, and continued collections uninterrupted. In such cases population fell into an unenviable position of having two masters to pay to. Over the course of the history, this scenario was repeated over and over again multiple times, some of the best described was the treaty between the Caucasian Agvans (Albans) and the Caucasian Huns after the Arab conquest of Agvania, when the Agvans, suffering from double taxation, demanded that Huns protect them from the Arab impositions, and the double taxation imposed on the Siberian population, who for centuries had to pay both to the Russians and to their old masters Enisei Kirgizes and Tele.

Understanding the djien taxation system readily explains the “ceaseless and destructive Bulgarian raids”. The leaders of the Bulgarian ruling class were annihilated, but the djien system continued its life. Replacement kavkans kept making djien rounds, collecting equivalent of two pelts per household per year, and not listening to excuses, one of which could be that Byzantines have already collected the tax.  Non-payment was punished with requisitions and destructions. And the Byzantine officials could only report about “those bad Slavs” and those “destructive Bulgarian raids”, and it is hard to imagine that Byzantine could control even in name any steppe areas from Thrace to Dniester, or the foothill areas.

But from the year 980 onwards he concentrated particularly on the Greek peninsula, directing his main attention against the city of Larissa in Thessaly. Every spring, before the harvest was reaped, he led his army down into the fertile plain and sat before the city. But Larissa was defended by a wily soldier. In 980 a certain Cecaumenus, of Armenian origin, was appointed Strategus of Hellas — the theme in which Larissa was included. Each year, as Samuel approached, Cecaumenus hastily made his submission to him: until such time as the season’s harvest was gathered and the city amply provisioned; then Larissa re-announced its allegiance to the Emperor, who highly approved of this maneuver.

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 435, who tells of the brothers’ escape and of Boris’s death, and announces that he will tell more of Romanus later, which he does on p. 455. Yachya of Antioch (translated in Rosen, Imperator Vasilii Bolgaroboïtsa, pp. 20 -1) amplifies the story by saying that Romanus was proclaimed Tsar, and proceeds as though it was Romanus who conducted the war against Basil. But Yachya apparently did not realize that Romanus was a eunuch, which would prevent him occupying the throne. Zlatarski (op. cit., pp. 650 — 60) assumes from Yachya that Romanus was Tsar with ‘Comitopulus’ working for him; but it was unheard of that a eunuch should reign; moreover, Yachya, writing at a distance, clearly mistook Romanus for Samuel most of the time, especially with regard to his death (p. 58), which is an utter muddle. I think that Uspenski is right, in his review of Rosen’s book, not to take Yachya too seriously.

Samuel, who could not, or did not wish to, attempt to storm the city, thus found it, on its revolt from him, in a fit state to stand a protracted siege. And so for three years he was foiled in his ambitions against it. But in 983 Cecaumenus was recalled, and the new strategus was unwise and honest in his loyalty. When next Samuel invaded Thessaly he found the country openly hostile; so he destroyed all the crops.

After three seasons of such treatment, in 986 Thessaly was more or less in a state of famine; and when that summer he began a close blockade on Larissa, the city was soon face to face with starvation. To such straits were the inhabitants reduced that a woman was found eating the thigh of her late husband: whereupon the authorities decided to surrender. Samuel treated the population with severity, selling them all as slaves, with the exception of the family of Niculitzes, one of the local gentry. For some reason Niculitzes, who was a connection of Cecaumenus, was spared, and showed his gratitude by taking service under Samuel. [1] Amongst the captives was a little girl called Irene, whose beauty was later to raise her to a fatal eminence.

Along with the population, Samuel transferred the city’s holiest relics, the bones of its bishop, Saint Achilleus, to decorate and sanctify his new capital at Prespa. [2]

1. Cecaumeni, Strategicon, ed. Vassilievsky and Jernstedt, pp. 65-6, written by the Strategus’s grandson. The date is fixed by evidence provided by an anonymous writer in the same MS, whose grandfather, Niculitzes, probably the father of the turncoat of Larissa (ibid. p. 96), was Strategus of Hellas in 980. See preface (ibid., pp. 4, 7) and the excellent account in Schlumberger, op. cit., pp. 622 ff.
2. Cedrenus, ii., p. 436.

The capture of Larissa scandalized Constantinople. Already there had been growing anxiety there about the Bulgarian menace. In 985, when a great comet trailed across the sky, the poet John Geometrus wrote an ode entitled with grim punning ‘To The Comitopulus’ in which he presaged woe and called for his great hero, the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, to rise from the dead and save his Empire. [1] But, though Nicephorus was gone for ever, the Emperor Basil was ready to act as his stepfather’s substitute. In 985 he had disgraced the great Paracoemomenus Basil, on the suspicion of some vast plot, the secret of which has never been unraveled. [2] The strain of the experience utterly changed the young Emperor’s character. He was now aged twenty-seven. Hitherto Basil had been gay and dissipated and idle; henceforward he threw all that aside, and schooled himself into a state of relentless asceticism, unrivalled in Byzantium save among the holiest saints. He hardened his body to welcome discomfort and his mind to distrust culture. Henceforward his energy was unflagging; he thought nothing of campaigning at seasons when armies usually reposed in winter quarters; he was unmoved by horrors or by pity. He became a terrible figure, chaste and severe, eating and sleeping sparsely, clad in unrelieved dark garments, never even wearing the purple cloak nor the diadem on his head. He concentrated on one thing only, the establishment and consolidation of his own personal power, as Emperor, for the harmony of the Empire. [3] Tsar Samuel, a Bulgarian rebel in the Emperor’s eyes, [4] might well fear such an adversary, for all his own boldness and ruthlessness. But as yet the change brought no result. The Emperor was young and untried.

1. Joannes Geometrus, Carmina, p. 920.
2. This episode is admirably told in Schlumberger, op. cit., pp. 573 ff.
3. Psellus, Chronographia, pp. 16 — 19 — a portrait and character sketch of Basil II.
4. Cecaumenus, in his correspondence with the central Government, talks of the ‘Rebel Samuel’ (Strategicon, p. 65). According to Matthew of Edessa (p. 34), Basil ordered the Bulgarian rebels to submit in 986. Asoghic (pp. 124–5) traces the war to a story of the Bulgarian king asking for an Imperial wife and having a substitute foisted off on to him. This must be a complete legend.

Moreover, his first trial of strength against Bulgaria was disastrous. In the summer of 986, as soon as possible after the news from Larissa had reached him, he set out with a large army into the heart of the Balkans, along the old Roman road past Philippopolis. His objective was Sofia, the capture of which would prevent the Bulgarians from expanding into their old eastern provinces. The Emperor’s approach brought Samuel hurrying back from Thessaly, and, with Aaron and the eunuch-prince Romanus, he marched up to defend the city. The Imperial troops successfully passed up the River Maritsa, and through the Gate of Trajan (the Pass of Kapulu Derbend) (Türkic kapag/kapa is “gate”, ulu is “great”, Kapulu is “Great Gate”. The Arabic calque of “Great Gate” was Bab al-Hadid, the Persian calques were Dar-i Ahanin and دربند Darband used from the 5th c.; how come that a Balkan Great Gate Pass has an additional Persian term from the S.Caucasus? Apparently, Armenians could use the Tukified form Derbend as a generic for Pass, creating a tautologous compound) into the plain in which Sofia lies; there they encamped at a village called Stoponium, just beyond the pass, some forty miles from Sofia, to wait for the rearguard to come up. Meanwhile Samuel had time to occupy the mountains near the city. At last, at the end of July, Basil moved on again and reached the walls of Sofia. But his attempted siege was marked with ill success. Owing to mismanagement or lethargy — it was the height of summer — or mere treachery, his soldiers conducted themselves half-heartedly: while a surprise Bulgarian attack on his foraging parties made the whole army short of provisions (What foraging parties of the Byzantine army? The Imperial army was roaming around robbing local populace?). After only twenty days Basil gave the order to retreat. Already discouraged and depressed, he had heard disquieting rumors. He had left the Magister Leo Melissenus to guard the passes through which he came. The Domestic Contostephanus now spread a report that Melissenus, of whom he was desperately jealous, was engaged in deserting his post and betraying the Emperor. Melissenus had played a somewhat equivocal part in Syria shortly before; and so the Emperor’s suspicions were easily roused against him. Basil would /225/ not risk his throne by remaining in the depths of Bulgaria.

The first day of the retreat passed quietly enough; but the Imperial army, encamping that night in a wood, was reduced almost to panic by a rumor that the Bulgarians were in possession of the passes and by the passage of a brilliant meteor across the sky. Next day, Tuesday, August 17, (986) as it entered the defiles, Samuel suddenly swooped down from the mountains. The carnage was tremendous, and all the Imperial baggage was captured. The author, Leo Diaconus, was only saved by the agility of his horse. It was with a pathetically small remnant of his army that the Emperor Basil reached Philippopolis. On his way he discovered that Melissenus had remained at the passes with perfect loyalty, and that the perfidious conspirator was Contostephanus. Humiliated and angry, Basil reached Constantinople, vowing that some day he would be avenged. Giving voice to the disappointment of the Empire, John Geometrus wrote another ode, entitled ‘To the Woe of the Romans in the Bulgarian Defile.’ [1]

Of the next years we know little. Samuel apparently followed up his victory by overrunning Eastern Bulgaria, capturing the old capitals, Preslav and Pliska, and establishing his power as far as the Black Sea coast. [2] (I.e. Samuel restored Bulgarian control over the whole Bulgarian territory. Danube Bulgaria suffered Svyatislav occupation for 3 years,  969-972, and Byzantine occupation for 14 years, 972-986)

1. Joannes Geometrus, Carmina, p. 934. Leo Diaconus took part himself in the campaign, of which he gives a vivid account (pp. 171–3), though he does not mention the treachery of Contostephanus. That is told by Scylitzes (Cedrenus, ii., pp. 436–8). Leo’s failure to mention it does not, I think, render the story suspect. Basil would certainly try to keep it at the time from his soldiers. Moreover, Leo mentions that there was a rumor that the passes were in Bulgarian hands. Asoghic mentions the campaign, but with fictitious details.
2. Basil had to recapture them in his 1001 campaign (see below, p. 235). They were probably occupied now; indeed, Basil’s attack on Sofia seems to imply that Samuel was known to be contemplating an eastern campaign.

Soon afterwards he turned his attention to the west, against the great Imperial city of Dyrrhachium. How, or exactly when, it fell into his hands we do not know; probably it was before the year 989. The government of the city was given to the Tsar’s father-in-law, John Chryselius. [1]

The capture of Dyrrhachium gave Bulgaria an outlet on the Adriatic, and put the country in direct touch with the West. Samuel had, it seems, already received a confirmation of his Imperial title from the Pope — probably from some creature of Saxon Emperors such as Benedict VII, at the time of the Emperor Otto II’s wars against the Eastern Empire in 981 or 982; certainly the Pope did not, or could not, insist that his recognition should be accompanied by a declaration of his spiritual suzerainty. [2] At present, however, Samuel could hope for little aid from the West.

The ruler of the West was a Greek, the Empress-Mother Theophano, sister to the Eastern Emperor Basil.

Basil had been unable to prevent Samuel’s expansion. From 986 to 989 he was distracted again by great rebellions in Asia, those of Bardas Phocas and Bardas Sclerus. The year 989 was the gloomiest of all at Constantinople. On April 7 the Aurora Borealis lit up the sky with terrible pillars of fire, presaging woe; and soon news came that the Russians (i.e. Ruses) had captured Cherson and the Bulgarians had captured Berrhoea. [3] The Russians (i.e. Ruses) soon gave up their conquest, tamed by conversion to Christianity and appeased by the gift of an Imperial bride to their Great Prince — Basil’s own sister Anna was sacrificed in marriage to Vladimir (Türkic Budimir), son of the savage Svyatoslav. But Basil could not so easily dispose of the Bulgarians.

1. Yachya (p. 27) and Joannes Geometrus, Carmina, p. 955, both make allusions to Samuel’s aggressions in the west about 988–9. Probably these refer especially to the capture of Dyrrhachium, which remained in Samuel’s hands till 1005. (See below, p. 239.)
2. Innocent III (Ep., p. 1112) refers to Samuel as having been papally recognized as Emperor.
3. Leo Diaconus, p. 175.

Berrhoea, situated among the foothills of Macedonia, was one of the strongest fortresses that guarded the approach to Thessalonica; and it was soon clear that the great seaport was the object of Samuel’s present ambitions.

After Berrhoea, the Bulgarians, under Samuel’s lieutenant, Demetrius Polemarchius, managed by a ruse to capture the fortress of Serbia (Selfidje) [1]; and Bulgarian marauders began to occupy the countryside right down to the Aegean coast. Things became so serious that Basil was forced into fresh action. Already in 988 he had attempted to guard against Bulgarian encroachments by establishing colonies of Armenians on the Macedonian frontier; but they had proved ineffectual. By the end of 990, however, his troubles in Asia and with the Russians (i.e. Ruses) were settled, and he could plan more drastic steps.

Early next spring the Emperor set out for Thessalonica. At the end of February he passed through the Thracian village of Didymotichum, where the old rebel Bardas Sclerus was living now in retirement. Basil went to interview him, and invited him to come to the war; but Bardas refused, on the plea of old age and infirmity — with justification, for he died a few days later, on March 7. [2] Meanwhile Basil reached Thessalonica, where he paid his vows at the altar of Saint Demetrius, patron of the city and one of the most helpful of all the saints that watched over the Empire. He also won the support of a living local saint, called Photius, who prayed for him nightly throughout his campaigns. [3]

But of these campaigns we know nothing, save that for four years the Emperor remained in Macedonia, capturing many cities, razing some and garrisoning others, and eventually returned to Constantinople with a large amount of prisoners and booty.

1. Cecaumenus, Strategicon, pp. 28–9 — undated, but this seems to be the most probable occasion. Demetrius caught the Imperial commanders bathing outside the walls.
2. Yachya, p. 27.
3. Encomium of Saint Photius of Thessalonica, quoted in Vasilievski, Odin iz Grecheskikh Sbornikov, p. 100 — 1.

Among the recaptured cities was Berrhoea. [1] It is to be doubted that Basil spent all four years in the field; probably he made frequent journeys to his capital to superintend the government. We are told of various Armenian warriors who took over the command in the Emperor’s absence. All seem to have fought bravely, but in the end were worsted by the Bulgar. Foremost amongst them were princes of the dispossessed house of Taron, which for some time past had intermarried with the aristocracy of the Empire. Samuel’s movements during these years are very obscure.

Probably he kept to the mountains, following the old Bulgar practice of avoiding a pitched battle save when the enemy should be caught in a difficult position, in some valley or defile. But Basil, wilier now, never gave him the opportunity. This caution, however, kept Basil from completing his work. He never risked advancing into the wild country that Samuel made his headquarters [2]; and so, for all his booty and captured fortresses, the Bulgarian menace was only very slightly lessened when in 995 the Emperor was summoned again on urgent business to the east.

Basil left behind him, as commander on the Thessalonican front, Gregory, Prince of Taron. [3] On the news of the Emperor’s departure, Samuel came down from the mountains and advanced to Thessalonica. Deceived by the meagre force with which Samuel demonstrated before the walls, Gregory sent his young son Ashot, with too few troops, out to meet him. They were ambushed by the main Bulgarian army and for the most part slain; Ashot himself was taken alive. Gregory, hearing of it, lost his head and rashly hurried out to rescue his son.

1. Yachya, pp. 27-8. Scylitzes (Cedrenus, ii., p. 447) merely says that Basil visited Thessalonica, to see to its defenses and pray to Saint Demetrius. Asoghic (ii., p. 145) refers to the recapture of Berrhoea and tells of the Armenian soldiers.
2. Ibn-al-Asir (Rosen, op. cit., p. 246) says that Basil reached the centre of Bulgaria. This probably refers to his previous campaign against Sofia, then known as Sredetz (the centre).
3. Cedrenus, loc. cit.

But he too fell into a Bulgarian trap, and was butchered with almost all his army, fighting bravely. [1]

This disaster to the garrison was very serious, but Samuel did not venture to attack Thessalonica itself. Instead, after ravaging the countryside and recapturing Berrhoea, he took his prisoners back to his capital. Basil was too busy to come back to Europe himself; but he sent one of his ablest generals to command against the Bulgarians, Nicephorus Uranus, who arrived with reinforcements at Thessalonica in the course of the year 996. [2]

Samuel was spending the season of 996 in the Greek peninsula. He had held its gateway Larissa for ten years now, and he was able to advance unopposed up the Vale of Tempe and through Thermopylae and Boeotia and Attica to the Isthmus of Corinth. There was a panic in the Peloponnese; even the Strategus Apocaucus was affected by it, and fell ill from worry and uncertainty as to how he could organize a defense. It needed all the tact and spiritual gifts of Saint Nicon Metanoitë to soothe his shattered nerves. But, as everyone waited anxiously for the attack, the news came that the Bulgarian army was in full retreat for the north. [3]

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 449.
2. Ibid., loc. cit.: Berrhoea, retaken by Basil in 991, had to be again retaken in 1003. Samuel must therefore have recaptured it now.
3. Ibid., loc. cit.: Nicon Metanoite, ed. Lampros, pp. 74-5. This incident must occur now (not, as Schlumberger says, in 986) — the only occasion when we know that Samuel advanced on the Isthmus of Corinth.

Nicephorus Uranus had followed Samuel into the peninsula, and succeeded in recapturing the fortress of Larissa. Leaving his heavier accoutrements there, he passed on through Pharsalia and over the hills of Othrys to the valley of the Spercheus. On the far bank of the river the Bulgarians were encamped, laden with the spoils of Greece. The river was flooded from the summer thunder-showers; and Samuel thought himself secure. But by night the Imperial troops forced their way through the turgid torrent and fell upon his camp. The Bulgarians were slaughtered as they slept. Samuel and his son Gabriel-Radomir were wounded, and only just managed to escape with a few followers. Their losses were terrible; all their booty was recovered, and all their prisoners released. Uranus returned in triumph to Thessalonica, and later to celebrate in Constantinople the glory of having driven out the invaders from Greece. [1]

Yet, despite this victory, Basil could not venture on a final crushing campaign; he was still too heavily committed in Asia. And so the next few years remained probably the most splendid in Samuel’s career. After the first shock of his defeat he had written to the Emperor offering to submit on terms; but soon he withdrew his offer, realizing that he was not at the moment to be attacked. According to a rumor current in Antioch, he was negotiating when he heard that the rightful Tsar (Romanus, son of Peter) had died in captivity at Constantinople. He at once broke off the negotiations and proclaimed himself Tsar. But Romanus, so far from being a Tsar imprisoned in Constantinople, was a eunuch in Samuel’s own service, and lived on for many more years. Probably it is now that we must place the story told earlier by Scylitzes of Samuel’s last surviving brother, Aaron.

Aaron, more peaceful than Samuel, urged for terms to be made with the Empire, and probably succeeded in winning the support of a large proportion of the Bulgarians.

1. Cedrenus, loc. cit. Sathas, Chronique de Galaxidi, and Schlumberger (op. cit., ii., pp. 139 ff.) place here the story of the Bulgarian attack on the village of Galaxidi on the Gulf of Lepanto. See above, p. 174.

His influence and his policy were alike distasteful to Samuel; and so he was taken and summarily put to death with all his children, save one son only, John Vladislav, who was saved by his cousin Gabriel-Radomir. Thus Samuel was left sole and undisputed Tsar; but the news reached the eastern frontier of the Empire in a rather vague form, which the local historians amended in their own imaginative way. [1] Samuel’s ruthlessness cowed the peace party; and so when he decided to break off relations again with the Emperor there was no opposition left. The internal history of Samuel’s reign is a blank to us. We only know of his system of taxation, namely that every man to possess a yoke of oxen was obliged to pay yearly a measure of corn, a measure of millet, and a flagon of wine.[2] This was no doubt a very old Bulgarian system. It seems that the people, Bogomils as well as orthodox, made no complaint against his rule, either from indifference or from terror. His lieutenants, on the other hand, used all too frequently to betray him. This was probably due to the greater prospects of material comfort and luxury that the Empire could offer; for Samuel’s Court in the Macedonian mountains was lacking somewhat in refinement. The Comitopuli do not seem to have extended the same patronage over letters and culture as did the monarchs of the house of Krum. On the other hand, Samuel was a great builder. Not only did he throw great fortifications round his strongholds; but from these years date several churches, still standing in part to this day. Near Prespa the Church of Saint Germanus, and the church built on the island to hold the relics of Saint Achilleus from Larissa, and in Ochrida — which became his capital soon after the turn of the century — the Churches of Saints Constantine and Helena and Saint Sophia show his architectural zeal.

Historian S.Runciman finally gets to the fundamentals of the state, the taxation system. It is clear that taxation applied to the sedentary agriculturists tilling the land with yokes of oxen, supposedly predominantly Slavs, with a substrate of pre-Slavic Thachians and Illirians, and with exclusion of the nomadic Türkic population and of the ruling class. Monetarily, the size of the tax is not too far from the Khazarian tax of two pelts from a household, the pelts being monetary units of the time in the parts of Europe ruled by the Huns' descendent states. The scale of monetary exchange can be clarified by later reforms, see Eric R Schena Russian Monetary System.

1. Yachya (in Rosen), p. 34: Cedrenus, ii., p. 435. I do not think that Yachya deserves much credence with regard to Bulgarian affairs. Scylitzes’s account is much more likely to be true. We know that Aaron was living in 986 (from Michael’s MS of Scylitzes, Prokic, p. 29). This seems to be the most likely occasion for his pro-Greek policy to have been a menace, and also his death may well provide the origin of Yachya’s story.
2. Cedrenus, ii., p. 530. Basil continued this system.

The devastations and improvements of subsequent generations make it hard now to pronounce upon their style. They appear to belong in temper to the provincial Byzantine school, as opposed to the Imperial school of Constantinople — a school in close touch with Armenian architecture. Possibly Samuel’s architects were Armenian captives from the colonies in Macedonia; but more probably these churches represent the first ambitious artistic efforts of the native Bulgarian-Slavs.

The nearly contemporaneous stone construction in Rus was generally done by Türkic Bulgarians from Eastern European Bulgaria (later called Itil Bulgaria), who established the Rus stone construction tradition.

Comforts might be crude, but there was romance too in the Bulgarian Court. The Tsar, by his wife Agatha Chryselia, had several children whose wild passions brought love into Bulgarian history. Samuel had brought Ashot, the captive Prince of Taron, to his capital and kept him there imprisoned. But Miroslava, the Tsar ’s eldest daughter, caught sight of him and lost her heart. Vowing to kill herself unless she became his bride, she secured his release. After their marriage, Ashot was sent by his father-in-law to help in the government of Dyrrhachium. They betrayed the Tsar later. [1]

About the same time — probably in 998 — Samuel, checked for the moment in the south and the east, determined to expand to the north-west, along the Adriatic coast; the possession of Dyrrhachium showed him the value of being an Adriatic Power.

He was too cautious to attempt, like his predecessors, to conquer the valleys of inland Serbia; instead he kept to the coast, where an excellent opportunity was given to him. The principality of Dioclea, modern Montenegro, was suffering from the weak rule of a child, Vladimir. Samuel invaded his country, capturing the town of Dulcigno and the person of the young Prince without any effective opposition.

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 451: Prokic, p. 29.

Vladimir was sent into captivity at Prespa, and Samuel moved northward and made himself suzerain of Terbunia, the principality that lay next along the coast. In consequence of this Bulgarian aggrandizement, the Emperor Basil, who could not afford to maintain squadrons so far away, formally handed over the policing of the Adriatic to his loyal vassal-state of Venice. [1]

Again one of Samuel’s daughters intervened. Like her sister, the Princess Kosara was stirred by the thought of a handsome young captive; and before long she fell in love with the Dioclean (Karatag/Montenegro) prince. Samuel listened to Kosara’s prayers; Vladimir was released and restored to his throne, with Kosara as his consort. At the same time Vladimir’s uncle, Dragomir, was established in Terbunia. Both the princes acknowledged the overlordship of the Bulgarians, and Vladimir at least abode loyally by his fealty. [2]

The fame of Samuel’s prowess reached even to the Magyars; and their king, Saint Stephen of Hungary (967–1038, House of Arpad), sent to make an alliance with Bulgaria. Its terms were somewhat vague, but they were sealed by a marriage-alliance; Stephen sent his daughter to wed Samuel’s son and heir, Gabriel-Radomir (This is a very significant arrangement in Türkic traditions, the Hungarin Stephen was becoming a father-in law of the Bulgarian Crown Prince, with all respect and primacy befitting this relationship. In essence, it is an acceptance of a form of a vassalage by the Danube Bulgaria upon the rise of the Crown Prince to the throne). But the Hungarian girl was not as lucky in love as were her sisters-in-law. There was at the court of Ochrida a slave called Irene, who had been captured as a child at the fall of Larissa, a creature of marvelous beauty. The Princess, probably all too well endowed with the looks of her father’s race, the race that gave its name to ogres, could never hope to rival the radiant Greek captive (This is certifiably the ugliest statement of the whole monograph, displaying both xenophobia and utter ignorance. Stephen of the House of Arpad branch of the House of Dulo, and Samuel of the Asparukh branch of the House of Dulo or some other Türkic Bulgarian dynastic tribe were remote offshoots of same cultural, if not genetic, roots, and the derision applied to one is as easily applicable to another. Both branches ascend to the same Ogur Hunnic family of tribes, which in S.Runciman's allusion produced the Latin Orcus (Hades) from the noun/ethnonym Ogur. The “radiant Greek captive” from Larissa may have had not a single drop of the “Greek” blood, while the distance of 360 years from their Kurbat forefather implies about 15 generations infused with all kinds of admixtures, the undoubtedly included ethnically Greek contributions).

1. Presbyter Diocleae, pp. 294-5. Undated, but it probably was the cause of Basil’s formal cession of the Adriatic to Venice (Dandolo, p. 227).
2. Ibid., loc. cit.

Gabriel-Radomir forgot his wife’s high lineage, that her father was a king and her mother a princess of the Imperial blood of the West, and left her for the low-born Irene. Samuel, always sympathetic to his children’s passions, condoned the desertion and recognized the marriage with Irene — the Hungarian alliance was of very little value. Of the further fate of the Princess, nothing is known. Deserted and divorced, in this wild Court far from her home, she probably sought refuge in a convent. One son was born of her marriage, Peter Delean, who probably died young; many years later, after the fall of his dynasty, he was impersonated by an ambitious but unsuccessful rebel against the Emperor. [1] But while these lovedramas were still incomplete, probably even before the Hungarian marriage, the Emperor Basil returned to the field. In about 998 Samuel’s cause had seemed so flourishing that several of the European nobility of the Empire contemplated deserting to his allegiance. Basil was informed, and arrested two of them at Thessalonica, the Magister Paul Bobus and the Protospatharius Malacenus, and deported them — the latter to Asia, the former to Constantinople; whereupon some of the intending traitors at Adrianople, Vatatzes and Basil Glabas, fled at once to Samuel. Basil imprisoned Glabas’s son for three years, but could take no other action. [2] It is probable that Nicephorus Uranus continued to lead yearly expeditions against the Bulgarians, but we know nothing of them. In the spring of 1001, however, Basil made peace on his eastern frontier and was able to turn his full attention to the west. For four years he campaigned regularly in Samuel’s dominions. [3]

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 529: Prokic, pp. 31, 36.
2. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 451-a.
3. In Cedrenus (ii., p. 452) the first campaign is dated 999; but we know from Yachya (in Rosen, p. 42), who is very reliable about eastern affairs, that Basil did not leave the east till 1001. Cedrenus must therefore be two years out throughout these four years.

The first of these campaigns, in 1001, was directed against Sofia. Making Philippopolis his starting-point — he left it strongly garrisoned under the Patrician Theodorocanus — he marched through the Gates of Trajan, and captured many castles round Sofia, though he did not attack the city itself, before retiring to winter at Mosynopolis, the modern Gumuldjina, in southwestern Thrace. The reason of this campaign was to cut Samuel off from his eastern provinces; and so next year Basil sent a large army under Theodorocanus and the Protospatharius Nicephorus Xiphias to conquer the districts between the Lower Danube and the Black Sea, the old centre of Bulgaria. He himself probably waited near to Sofia, to intercept any help that Samuel might send. The maneuver was successful; the former capitals, Little Preslav, Pliska, and Great Preslav fell once more into the Emperor’s hands. [1]

In 1003 Basil struck in Macedonia. As his great armament approached Berrhoea, Dobromir, the Bulgarian governor, took fright and surrendered without a struggle.

Basil always attempted to attach former Bulgarian commanders to the Empire by giving them titles, and sometimes posts in provinces far enough away for them to be able to do no harm. Dobromir was honored with the dignity of Anthypatus and sent to Constantinople. From Berrhoea the Emperor attacked Serbia. The town was defended by Niculitzes, the traitor that Samuel had spared at Larissa. Niculitzes made a valiant resistance, but in the end the town was taken. Basil treated the defenders leniently; despite Niculitzes’s past history, he was made a Patrician, and accompanied the Emperor back to Constantinople, some time in the summer of 1003, when Basil thought it advisable, after his recent successes, to pay a short visit to his capital.

1. Cedrenus, loc. cit.

But the fierce traitor could not be won by a title. After a few days he escaped and made his way back to Samuel. Samuel, in the orthodox Bulgarian fashion, had remained in the mountains during the Emperor’s invasion, resolutely avoiding any pitched battle. On Basil’s departure he came down with his army, and with Niculitzes, attempted to recover Serbia. But Basil was well informed, and moved swiftly. Forced marches brought him back to the borders of Thessaly; and Samuel and Niculitzes fled. The latter was soon captured in an ambush and sent to imprisonment in Constantinople. A few years later he escaped once more. The Emperor spent the next month or two in Thessaly, rebuilding the castles that the Bulgarians had destroyed and recapturing those that they still held. The Bulgarian garrisons were sent to colonize the district of Volerus, where the Maritsa flows into the Aegean Sea. From Thessaly Basil turned northward, to the great fortress of Vodena, placed on the edge of the high Macedonian plateau, by where the river of Ostrovo falls in grand cascades into the valley below. A Bulgarian called Draxan made a valiant defense, but in the end was forced to surrender, probably in the late autumn. The garrison was sent to fill up the colony at Volerus, but Draxan obtained permission to reside at Thessalonica. There he married the daughter of one of the chief clergy that attended to the shrine of Saint Demetrius. His subsequent history was strange. After two children had been born to his wife, he suddenly fled to the Bulgarian Court. He was soon recaptured and pardoned, on his father-in-law’s intercession. But shortly afterwards he repeated his flight, with the same result. He then waited in Thessalonica until two more children were born: whereupon he fled once more. This time the Emperor’s patience was exhausted. When he was recaptured, he was summarily impaled.

In 1004 Basil determined to complete the conquest of Danubian Bulgaria, and very early in the year [1] set out to besiege Vidin (Bichin - “Monkey”, after the Year of Monkey, year 492 AD), on the Danube, the easternmost fortress left to Samuel. Against these well-organized and carefully led expeditions Samuel could do nothing, but now he attempted a diversion that almost succeeded in forcing the Emperor to raise the siege. On August 15, when the citizens of Adrianople were on holiday, celebrating the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, the Bulgarians suddenly fell upon the city.

Adrianople was utterly taken by surprise; no one had ever expected Samuel to advance so far from his centre. He massacred and destroyed without hindrance, and then retired as suddenly as he had come, with a long train of prisoners and booty.

But this brilliant foray was too late; Vidin, after an eight months’ siege, was on the point of falling. Basil waited until he could storm the city, probably early in September; then, garrisoning it strongly, he hastened southward to catch the Bulgarians on their return. His march, up the Timok and the Morava, through hostile, unconquered country, was as bold an achievement as Samuel’s to Adrianople.

The Emperor caught up the Tsar and his army near Skopie (Uskub), on the banks of the Vardar. The river was in flood; and Samuel had not learnt his lesson sufficiently at the Spercheus. The two armies encamped on either bank, the Imperial troops with due precaution, the Bulgarians with an insolent carelessness, confident that the river could not be crossed. But a Greek soldier found a ford that was passable; and the Emperor crept over secretly at the head of his troops. The Bulgarians were too suddenly surprised to attempt to fight; they all hastily fled in confusion, Samuel amidst them. The Tsar’s own tent was captured, and the camp, with all the booty from Adrianople, fell into the Emperor’s hands.

1. Probably in January, as Vidin fell after an eight months’ siege soon after the raid on Adrianople. Basil, as Psellus tells us, thought nothing of campaigning in the depths of winter.

After the battle, the Bulgarian governor of Skopie came down to hand over the keys of his city to the Emperor. It was Romanus, the eunuch son of Peter, last scion of the house of Krum. [1] Basil received him gently and created him a Patrician. He finished his strange career as governor of Abydos.

From Skopie Basil marched eastwards to attack the castle of Pernik, which commanded the upper valley of the Struma. But Pernik was impregnably placed and magnificently defended by the ablest of Samuel’s generals, Krakra. Basil, after losing many of his men, and finding Krakra to be incorruptible, abandoned the siege and moved back, late in the winter of 1004, to his headquarters at Philippopolis.

Thence he soon returned to Constantinople. [2]

Thus in four years Samuel had lost half his Empire. From the Iron Gate of the Danube to Thessalonica all the east of the Balkan peninsula was in the Emperor’s hands, except only for Sofia and Strumitsa and a few castles around Pernik and Melnik in the western slopes of Rhodope; and Imperial garrisons were stationed on the borders of Thessaly and along the River Vardar. The campaign had been among the most glorious in the history of Byzantine arms; it had shown that the Imperial troops, when they were ably led, were still the finest machine for warfare that the world at that day knew; it had shown that the Bulgarians, for all their courage and ardour, their ruses and their traps, were no match for them now.

Citation from Sh.S.Kamoliddin Ancient Türkic Toponyms of the Middle Asia, Tashkent, Shark, 2006, p. 29, ISBN 978-9943-00-003-2 on etymology of -dar in Vardar (Türkic name Kuba-dar):
“The word daria (darya), widely represented in the modern hydronymy of the Middle Asia, has not Iranian, but the Altai languages’ etymology with the meaning ‘‘the big channel of the river” [Ismoilov, 1987, p. 53]. The word darya (dare/dere) as a topoformant with the meaning ‘‘river”, ‘‘valley” is also found in the Crimean [Superanskaya, 1969, p. 191] and Gagauz toponyms, which indirectly confirm the Türkic origin of the word. The ethnic history of Gagauzes passed far from the Iranian peoples, and in their language the Iranian loanwords are almost absent. (Dron, Kuroglo, 1989, p. 57, 64).” Notably, the term daria (darya) for the Middle Asia rivers Amu and Syr (Amudarya and Sirdarya) gained popularity only in the 17th c. Prior to that, they were called with numerous other topoformants. The topoformant -dar in Vardar indicates its Hunnic or Hunno-Bulgar origin.

1. We hear now that he was also called Symeon, after his grandfather; but there is no reason to suspect him of being any other son of Peter than the eunuch Romanus (Exept that Peter could have had numerous other sons, and one of them could be called Symeon, after his grandfather).
2. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 452-6, for the whole campaign.

Samuel, like every great Bulgar general, had avoided pitched battles, trusting to his speed and to ambushes and sudden descents; but now he had to face an adversary that could make forced marches across the wildest enemy country and yet never now be caught unguarded in a valley or a mountain-pass — an adversary, too that had rid himself of distractions, that had determined not to cease from fighting till Bulgaria should be no more. Even Samuel’s own followers were beginning to see the true state of things. In 998 Imperial magistrates had broken their allegiance to pay homage to him, as the rising sun; but now, with treacherous foresight, his own officials were beginning to transfer their services to the Emperor. Every desertion was a heavy blow to him; it was on his governors and generals and the soldiers that they commanded that his whole strength lay. The common people, it seems, were too poor or too indifferent or, as Bogomils, too conscientiously passive, to help or to hinder his cause. [1]

The cursory description of Samuel's tactics conclusively points to his army as typical Türkic nomadic army, testifying that at the end of the 10th c. the Danube Bulgarian state was firmly rooted in the Türkic nomadic tribes. It is their tribal leaders that were exhausted or depleted by the continuous warfare, and sought to preserve their tribes by gaining a period of peace. The Samuel's tactics also points to diminished size of his forces, his first strategic objective was to preserve his army. The weak spot of cavalry armies are their horses, they need pastures, and a base of large herds to draw on for replacements. Extended pitched campaigns on attrition invariably exhaust the strength of the cavalry. Of necessity, the nomadic campaigns must be short and explosive, with extended recuperation breaks. The warriors' loss of horses forces their spontaneous disbanding back to their homes.

Samuel, though as yet no foreign army had reached the high lakes where he held his Court, might well feel apprehensive of the future.

In 1005 the canker of treachery entered into the heart of his family. His daughter Miroslava and her husband, Ashot the Taronite, fled from Dyrrhachium, where he held a command, to Constantinople. Ashot had long yearned to return to his former home, and had persuaded the Princess that a wife’s duty ranked before a daughter’s. But Miroslava was not the only traitor in the family. Ashot brought with him to the Emperor a letter from the Tsar’s own father-in-law, John Chryselius, who was left in charge of the fortress. John offered to hand Dyrrhachium over to Imperial troops in return for money for himself and the title of Patrician for both his sons.

1. The whole internal history of Samuel’s reign is so unknown that even such generalizations must be qualified. It seems, however, that Samuel never became nor has become a popular national hero, as Symeon did: though Symeon did infinitely more harm to his country.

The offer was accepted; and the Patrician Eustathius Daphnomelas took a fleet to the Adriatic and received back the city. Ashot was made a Magister, and Miroslava a Girdled Patrician, becoming thus one of the greatest ladies at the Imperial Court. [1]

The loss of Dyrrhachium hit Samuel hard, both in his affections and his power. He had no outlet now to the western sea, save through Dioclea, the territory of his faithful son-in-law, Vladimir.

The story of the next nine years is lost in obscurity. From 1006 onwards it seems that the Emperor Basil yearly invaded Bulgaria [2]; and in 1009 there was a battle at a village called Creta, probably somewhere near Thessalonica, where he heavily defeated Samuel. [3] All through these years the Imperial troops were pressing nearer and nearer to the centre of the Tsar’s dominions. Only the mountains of Upper Macedonia and Albania remained in Samuel’s hands, and the valley of the Upper Struma, where Krakra held out. It was probably from Krakra that Samuel learnt that the Emperor journeyed each year on his way to the war through the narrow pass of Cimbalongus, or Clidion, that led from Seres into the upper valley of the Struma. Samuel conceived the plan of occupying this pass, and thus either checking the Emperor on his way or forcing him to make a detour that would leave the enemy strongly entrenched in his rear. In 1014 Samuel carried out his scheme, and took possession of the pass, fortifying its entrance with wooden palisades.

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 451. He tells of it out of its place, after talking of Ashot’s capture and marriage. The date, however, is supplied by Lupus Protospatharius, writing at Bari, just across the sea (ad. ann. 1005, p. 41). The Theodore whom he mentions as having carried out the transaction was no doubt a son of the aged John Chryselius. It is uncertain who really commanded Dyrrhachium. It seems unlikely that John was placed under his foreign grandson-in-law, though Cedrenus implies so, merely calling Ghryselius one of the chief magistrates, though in Bishop Michael’s MS of Scylitzes he is ‘πρωτεύων’ (protevon = chief). Probably he was retired, as he must have been old.
2. Cedrenus, ii., p. 457, says Basil invaded the country yearly. Matthew of Edessa (p. 37) talks of Basil inaugurating a long war against the Bulgars in 1006.
3. Reported in the life of Saint Nicon Metanoeite (Vasilievski, op. cit., loc. cit.). See Zlatarski (op. cit., pp. 849-50).

Meanwhile he sent other troops, under Nestoritsa, to create a diversion near Thessalonica. But Nestoritsa was routed by the Imperial strategus, Theophylact Boteniates, who then was able to join the Emperor’s army as it approached Cimbalongus.

At the sight of the strong Bulgarian palisades, Basil hesitated, and, after a few futile attacks, was in despair. But his lieutenant, the strategus of Philippopolis, the general Nicephorus Xiphias, suggested taking a detachment over the forest-covered mountainside and attacking Samuel in the rear; he thought that it was just feasible.

Basil agreed, and Xiphias set out through the forest of Balathistes (the Sultanina Planina of today), and at last managed to arrive behind the Bulgarian army. On July 29 Basil made a grand onslaught on the palisades. At the same moment Xiphias fell unexpectedly on Samuel’s rear. The Bulgarians were taken by surprise and caught.

Many were slain, and many more were captured. Samuel himself was only saved by the endurance and the bravery of his son, and fled away to his fortress of Prilep. The captives numbered fourteen or fifteen thousand (Drawn from the base of less than 100,000 population, probably a significant part of the army were drafted Slavic foot soldiers). Basil, whose clemency had come to an end, determined to teach the Tsar a bitter lesson. All the captives were deprived of their sight, save for one in every hundred, who had one eye left to him. Then, with these one-eyed men to guide them, they were set free to grope their way back to their master (This is one of the gruesomest examples of the Christian institutional savagery, conducted by one of the functionaries of the holiest “viceroy of Christ” hierarchy, and hymned by the Church as the most Christian deed. The nomadic troops had a tradition of handling the folks of their dependents and adversaries as their chattel to be prized and used, but in contrast with the Christian barbarism they saw every human as God's being, and never descended to the barbaric insanity pursued by Christianity. Execution of their enemies carried a solemn sacral objective of sending them back to Tengri for reincarnation as friends and allies, with no associated gloating, and no self-gratifying mutilation. Notably, S.Runciman openly condones acts of Christian barbarism). [1]

1. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 457, 459. He numbers the prisoners at 15,000; Cecaumenus (Strategicon, p. 18) numbering the prisoners at 14,000. Michael Attaliates (p. 229) also refers to the battle.

Meanwhile Basil turned to the north, to clean up the districts of Western Rhodope, where Krakra valiantly held out. He advanced to Strumitsa, and captured the neighboring castle of Matrucium. Thence he sent Boteniates with some troops to burn the palisades that the Bulgarians had thrown across the road to Thessalonica. Boteniates performed his task successfully, but on his return fell into a Bulgarian ambush, where he perished with all his men. This victory heartened the Bulgarians, but it was of little avail. The Emperor continued in the district — one of the many called Zagoria, ‘across the mountains’ — and even its strongest fortress, the impregnable castle of Melnik, surrendered itself to him. After its capture he retired for a while to Mosynopolis; and there, on the 24th of October, joyful news reached the Imperial camp. [1]

The blind victims of Cimbalongus at last found their way back to the Tsar. Samuel was at Prespa, ill with anxiety and fear. The ghastly procession of his former grand army was too much for him. He fell to the ground in an apoplectic fit. A glass of cold water brought him to his senses for a moment, but he passed again into unconsciousness, and two days later, on October 6, 1014, he died. [2]

It was the end now. The last red streak of sunset had shone on Bulgaria in the defiles of Cimbalongus. Now it was twilight, and dim figures hurried to and fro to ward off the inevitable darkness. Nine days after Samuel’s death, his son Gabriel-Radomir, whom the Greeks called Gabriel-Romanus, was proclaimed Tsar; he had probably been away with the army at the time of his father’s death, and it took him some time to reach the Court. Gabriel-Radomir, for all his valor and his magnificent physique, had none of his father’s greatness.

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 460.
2. Ibid., ii., p. 458. The date of the death is given in Bishop Michael’s MS (Prokic, p. 30). Lupus Protospatharius refers to it (p. 41, ad ann. 1015).

He could command none of the same awe and respect; and almost at once his throne began to totter. [1] On the news of the great Tsar’s death, Basil at once recommenced his campaign.

Leaving Mosynopolis, he marched to the valley of the Cherna, as far as the great town of Bitolia (Monastir) where Gabriel-Radomir had a palace. The destruction of this palace was the only act of violence that the Emperor now committed. From Bitolia Basil turned back — to advance on higher in the depths of winter would be unwise — and he descended the Cherna, while his troops captured Prilep and Shchip (Ishtip, Stypeum). Thence he returned by way of Vodena to Thessalonica, where he arrived on January 9, 1015.

At the beginning of spring he set out again. Through treachery the Bulgarians had recovered Vodena; so Basil at once flung his whole army at it and terrorized it into submission. Again its garrison was transported to the colony at Volerus, while, to keep it securely in his hands, he built two castles to over-awe it, one called Cardia, the other Saint Elias. He then went back to Thessalonica. As he sojourned there, a Greek soldier called Chirotmetus (as he had lost one hand) came to the Emperor with a letter from the Tsar promising his submission. But Basil feared a ruse, and dismissed Chirotmetus without an answer. Instead he sent his army under Nicephorus Xiphias and Constantine Diogenes to besiege the city of Moglena, one of the strongest cities left to the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Moglena was under the command of the local governor, Elitzes, and the Kavkan Dometian, one of the Tsar’s most intimate counsellors.

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 458–9. He says that Gabriel-Radomir was proclaimed on Sept. 15, Ind. xiii., i.e. Sept. 15, 1015; but that must be a mistake for Oct. 15, Ind. xiii., i.e. Oct. 15, 1014. This date fits with Oct. 6 as the date of Samuel’s death, and Oct. 24 as the date when Basil heard the news. Cedrenus is wrong here about the slave girl of Larissa. As Michael’s MS shows (see above, p. 234), she was Gabriel-Radomir’s wife, not Samuel’s.

So firmly was the fortress defended that Basil himself had to come and conduct operations. It was only when he had diverted the river that surrounded the city and undermined its walls that the garrison was driven to surrender. The Emperor deported them far away, to the borders of Armenia; the city was destroyed and burnt, and the same fate befell the neighboring castle of Enotia. [1]

Five days after the fall of Moglena, in August 1016, Chirotmetus again appeared at the Emperor’s camp, this time with a more sensational story. The Tsar Gabriel- Radomir had been murdered while out hunting at the village of Petrisk on the Lake of Ostrovo, by his cousin, Prince John-Vladislav, Aaron’s son, whose life he once had saved [2]; and John-Vladislav was master of the remnant of Bulgaria. With Gabriel-Radomir had perished his wife, the lovely Irene of Larissa. [3] Chirotmetus brought with him various servants of the new Tsar and letters offering submission.

Basil was at first half convinced, but about the same time another kavkan, the brother of the Kavkan Dometian, joined the Emperor, by whom he was well received; and probably he explained the duplicity of the letters. Basil at once set out for the enemy country, and moved up into the Macedonian highlands, past Ostrovo and Sosk, blinding every Bulgarian that he captured (If Bulgars were to blind every Greek that they captured, that would be called a savagery of uncivilized heathen nation. What is it in case of the most Orthodox Christian viceroy of Christ, an apotheosis of the Christian love? S.Runciman does not dwell on the savagery of this Orthodox Christian savagery, he has no poison to spew, no derogation to preach. The Church that went berserk on the crime of using three fingers to cross oneself went on to sanctify systematic genocide by adopting an allegory of St. George striking a dragon, sanctifying it as a noble Christian feat). [4]

1. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 461 — 2.
2. Ibid., ii., pp. 459, 462. Petriscus is not Petrich in the Struma valley; there is a fifteenth-century MS at Rila in praise of Saint Demetrius which gives a full account of the death, and makes it occur at Sosk (Zlatarski, op. cit., pp. 850-2). No doubt the Tsar was residing at Sosk, but hunting in the neighborhood of the village of Petrisk on Lake Ostrovo, where the murder occurred. Yachya (in Rosen, pp. 58 — 9) has a confused account where he gives the protagonists their fathers’ names. The date must be c. Aug. 1015, as Gabriel-Radomir reigned for less than a year.
3. Ibid., p. 469.
4. Ibid., ii., p. 462. Presbyter Diocleae, p. 295, referring to the murder, says that it was due to Basil’s intriguing. The account in Scylitzes seems definitely to contradict this; the priest probably had heard of the subsequent negotiations, though there was certainly a good deal of treachery at the Bulgarian Court.

Gabriel-Radomir’s death threw the country into further disorder. John-Vladislav was a usurper, probably little more than a party leader; and in the chaos every Bulgarian general began to consider his own interests. But John-Vladislav had a considerable ruthless energy. He retired to the north-west before the Emperor, into the Albanian mountains, to rally his forces. There he summoned Vladimir of Dioclea as his vassal to consult with him; he probably wished to secure a safe retreat there, and was angry that Vladimir’s gentle nature inclined towards peace with the Emperor. The good prince wished to go, but his wife, Kosara, Samuel’s daughter, distrusted her brother’s murderer, and, fearing for her husband’s life, determined to go in his stead. John-Vladislav received Kosara with such cordiality that at last, on a safe-conduct guaranteed by David, [1] the Bulgarian Patriarch, Vladimir set out to the Tsar’s Court. When he arrived he was summarily beheaded, on May 22, 1016, and his body was denied burial, till it performed so many miracles that even his murderer was impressed. Kosara received permission to bury it at Kraina, by Lake Scutari; and she herself, broken-hearted, took the veil in a convent close by. [2] The murder removed the danger of treachery in the rear, but otherwise it did little save to add to the general disorder. The Bulgarians soon lost their hold over Dioclea.

1. The Patriarch David, who features several times in Cedrenus (see below, passim), is not mentioned in Ducange’s list, but he is almost certainly the same as John, who succeeded Philip (see above, p. 219). In Michael of Devol’s MS he is called John, both here and when he subsequently appears (Prokic, op. cit., pp. 32, 33, also his Jovan Skilitsa, p. 146).
2. Cedrenus, ii., p. 463: Presbyter Diocleae, pp. 295–6, giving date May 22. The year must be 1016.

Meanwhile the Emperor had penetrated far into the heart of the Macedonian mountains, into that mysterious land of high lakes and valleys where Samuel had held his Court. In the early autumn of 1015 he reached Ochrida, the capital. But barely had he occupied the city when he heard that John-Vladislav was attacking Dyrrhachium. At once Basil left a garrison in Ochrida and marched down to save the great seaport. But there worse news arrived. On his march to Ochrida he had left the Strategus George Gonitziates, and the Protospatharius Orestes, with a considerable army, to remain in the foothills guarding the road to the mountains. But George had been led into an ambush by the Bulgarian general, Ivatsa, a soldier of notorious brilliance, and had been butchered at the head of all his army. Basil was forced to leave Dyrrhachium to its fate — a fate which, however, was averted — and hurried across the mountains in pursuit of Ivatsa, to reopen the road. But Ivatsa avoided his path and retired to the south; he managed, however, to recover Ochrida for the Tsar, and to re-establish the Court there. The Emperor returned to Thessalonica and thence to Mosynopolis. There he divided his forces into two portions; one he sent under David Arianites to attack Strumitsa, the other under Xiphias against Sofia. Arianites succeeded in capturing a fort near Strumitsa called Thermitsa, and Xiphias various castles near Sofia, including Boyana. The Emperor himself went to Constantinople, where he arrived in January 1016.

Later in the year Basil returned to the field, and himself led an expedition against the Bulgarian districts of the Upper Struma. The centre of resistance was Pernik, where the brave and loyal Krakra — he was loyal to each Tsar in succession — still held out. Once again Basil attempted to storm the stronghold; and once again his attempts cost him so many men that he gave up the siege. As autumn came on he turned south, to winter and to refresh his men at Mosynopolis.

In the first fine days of 1017 the old Emperor took the field again. He sent David Arianites and Constantine Diogenes to raid on the Upper Vardar; he himself took the castle of Longus. [1] The Imperial armies captured vast numbers of men and herds of cattle and sheep — the chief wealth of the country. The prisoners were divided into three portions; one was shared by Imperial troops (Divvying booty is the perennial Türkic method of paying off the tribal militias for the campaign, was the Byzantine doing the same?), one went to the Russian (i.e. Rus) auxiliaries — the beginnings of the famous Varangian (Viking) Guard — and the third to the Emperor himself (To do what with the capture people? Sell on the market as slaves?). From Longus, Basil moved southward to besiege Castoria.

But as he lay before its strong walls he received a letter from the Strategus of Dristra, to announce that John-Vladislav and his viceroy in Rhodope, Krakra, were attempting to negotiate with the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks), who roamed in strength beyond the Danube. Basil took no risks. At once he lifted the siege and hastened northward to be at hand should anything occur. As he passed by, he stormed and burnt the castle of Bosograd or Vishegrad, [2] and ordered the ruined walls of Berrhoea to be rebuilt, and then, coming up to Ostrovo and Moliscus, [3] destroyed every Bulgarian castle that he found still standing. When he arrived there he heard that the Tsar’s alliance with the Petchenegs (Bosnyaks) had failed; the Petchenegs would not risk arousing the enmity of the terrible old Emperor.

Basil returned southward again, and captured the town of Setaena (the present village of Setina on the Brod, on the edge of the valley of the Cherna). Samuel had had a palace there; and Basil found great stores of provisions. The palace was burnt and the food distributed to the troops. The Tsar and his army came hurrying to the neighborhood, to see what might be done: whereupon Basil sent out to find him Constantine Diogenes and the troops of the European themes. But Constantine fell into a trap laid by John-Vladislav, and was on the point of perishing, when Basil, who somehow had heard of it and was anxious, suddenly rode up with a picked band of soldiers and joined in the battle.

1. Its position is unknown — probably not far to the north of Castoria.
2. Probably not far to the north of Gastoria.
3. Presumably near Ostrovo.

The Bulgarians, well-nigh victorious, were aghast: ‘Fly, fly! The Emperor!’ [1] they cried, and all followed that advice. In the rout, many were left dead on the field; two hundred fully armed horsemen were captured, with all the baggage of the Tsar and his nephew.

After this victory Basil moved to Vodena and strengthened its garrison; then, in January 1018, he returned to his capital. [2] Every season the Emperor was more firmly established in Bulgaria; but John-Vladislav, in his restless energy, did not despair. No sooner had Basil left the field, than he came down from the mountains to attack with all his remaining strength the city of Dyrrhachium. It was his last effort. As he fought before the walls a warrior attacked him, in whom he suddenly thought that he recognized Vladimir of Dioclea, the saint that he had murdered. In a mad frenzy he cried for help, but none could reach him. And so the unknown warrior, were he a spectre (ghost), or some casual Greek, or even a Bulgarian traitor, struck the Tsar dead. [3]

His death meant the end of Bulgaria. His sons were young and inexperienced, and even the most fervent Bulgarian leaders began to see that further resistance was hopeless. The Emperor, on the news, set out from Constantinople. As he journeyed across the peninsula, various of his old opponents came to make their peace. At Adrianople he met the son and the brother of Krakra, who brought him news of the great general’s submission and the surrender of his impregnable fortress Pernik.

1. ‘Βεξεῖτε, ὸ Τσαῖσαρ’ (Bexeite, o Tsaisar), i.e. Begaite, Tsesar — fly, the Tsar.
2. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 462 — 8. Who the nephew of the Tsar was, we do not know.
3. Ibid., pp. 466-7: Presbyter Diocleae, p. 266, giving the miraculous intervention of Vladimir.

Basil received them kindly and gave them high Imperial dignities; Krakra was created a Patrician. At Mosynopolis, legates came from Bitolia, Morovizd, and Liplyan, [1] handing over the keys of their towns. At Seres, Krakra himself joined the Emperor, with the commanders of the thirty-five castles that he had held; he was shortly followed by Dragomuzh, the governor of Strumitsa. Dragomuzh brought with him John the Chaldee, who had been captured by Samuel twenty-two years before, when the Taronites were routed. The Emperor made Dragomuzh a Patrician, and moved towards Strumitsa. As he approached the city a new embassy came up to him, headed by David, the Patriarch of Bulgaria.

On John-Vladislav’s death, his widow Maria took over the government, and at the Patriarch’s advice decided to surrender, on a few conditions as to her family’s safety. Her eldest son Prusian and two of his brothers objected to this policy, and left Ochrida for the mountains; but the bulk of her Court agreed with her. David was now bearing her letters to the Emperor. At the same time a high official called Bogdan arrived; he was commander of the ‘inner castles,’ and had favored the Imperial cause to the extent of slaying his warlike son-in-law. As a reward he became a Patrician.

From Strumitsa Basil crossed to Skopie, where he stationed David Arianites with a strong garrison. He himself, in a triumphant progress, moved back to Shchip, and thence to Prosek on the Vardar, and passed on southward and then westward, and so up to Ochrida. At the city gates the Tsaritsa herself met the Emperor, bringing with her all the royal family that was at the Court — three of her sons and her six daughters, a bastard son of Samuel, and the two daughters of Gabriel-Radomir and his five sons, one of whom had been blinded.

1. Bitolia is called here Pelagonia, after the district of which it was chief town. The other towns, ‘Morobisdus’ and ‘Lipenius,’ were situated close by Bitolia.

Basil received them kindly and accepted their submission. He found there too the treasury of the Tsars, which he had not had time to open during his former brief occupation. It was filled with golden pieces, and garments sown with gold and golden diadems set with pearls. The money, to the extent of a hundred centenaria, he divided amongst his troops (Another Türkic tradition and obligartion). Then, leaving the city well garrisoned under Eustathius Daphnomelus, he set out southward. More Bulgarians joined his camp — Nestoritsa and the younger Dobromir, with all their men. Even Prusian and his brothers, the Tsaritsa’s elder sons, came down from the wild slopes of Mount Tomor, whither Basil had sent to pursue them, and threw themselves on his mercy.

Basil received them at Prespa. Prusian he created Magister, the others Patricians. It was now the middle of August.

At Prespa Basil received another distinguished, but less willing supplicant. The general Ivatsa had been living in proud independence in his castle on the Devol, surrounded with fair gardens. For nearly two months the Emperor had been negotiating with him, seeking his bloodless submission; but Ivatsa had grandiose ambitions to be Tsar and was only playing for time. In August Ivatsa, as he had always done, invited his friends and relatives to celebrate with him the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. As the negotiations were still being carried on, Eustathius Daphnomelus asked to be allowed to come too. Ivatsa was surprised, but delighted, that an enemy should place himself in his hands, and welcomed Eustathius with outward cordiality. After the feast was over, Eustathius demanded a private interview with Ivatsa. It was held in a distant orchard, for secrecy’s sake. There, when they were alone, the Greek suddenly overpowered the Bulgarian, and gagged him and put out his eyes.

Two servants of Ivatsa heard his first smothered cries and summoned the company. The Bulgarians rushed up, enraged at this abuse of hospitality against their friend. But Eustathius waited for them calmly, and as they approached harangued them for their folly in opposing the Empire. His words and his confidence impressed them, and they realized their ultimate impotence against the mighty Emperor. Prudently they bowed to fate and accompanied Eustathius and the blind Ivatsa back to the Emperor at Prespa. As a reward Eustathius was made Strategus of Dyrrhachium and given all Ivatsa’s possessions.

At the same time Niculitzes, the traitor of Larissa, who had been hiding in the mountains and now found himself deserted by his followers, wearily gave himself up one night into the Emperor’s hands. Basil, however, would not see him, but sent him to a prison in Thessalonica.

From Prespa Basil made a detour, to arrange things in Dyrrhachium, Colonea, and Dryinopolis in Epirus, and then came to Castoria. There he found two daughters of Tsar Samuel, who were brought to his camp. When they saw there the Tsaritsa Maria, their rage knew no bounds. It was with difficulty that they were kept from doing her serious bodily harm. To relieve himself from further distressing scenes of this type, Basil sent the captive royal family to Constantinople. The Tsaritsa was appointed, as the Princess Kosara had been, a Girdled Patrician. The Emperor himself journeyed southward, his work over, to visit his province of Hellas. As he passed through Thessaly he saw the bones of the Bulgarians bleaching on the banks of the Spercheus, where Uranus had slain them in their thousands, and he marveled at the great fortifications built after that battle to guard the narrows of Thermopylae; and then he came through Boeotia to the glorious city of Athens. [1]

1. Cedrenus, ii., pp. 470–6.

Meanwhile Xiphias received the homage of the remaining free Bulgarians. He strengthened the garrisons of Serbia and Sosk, and as he waited at Stagi in Thessaly, the last of the unconquered generals, Elemagus of Berat (Belograd) made his submission. Bulgarian independence was dead, save only in the distant north, where Sermon, governor of Sirmium, established himself for a few months longer as an independent prince, even striking his own coins. But in 1019 Constantine Diogenes extinguished this last flicker [1]; and even the princes of Serbia and Croatia hastened to announce their vassaldom. [2]

The Emperor Basil saw his life-work finished. All his reign, for more than forty years, he had striven to destroy the Empire of the Bulgarians. At last it was done, and he would be famous throughout the coming ages as Bulgaroctonus, the Bulgar-Slayer. Here in Athens, in the Church of the Mother of God, he rendered up his thanks to his Creator — in the church known, in an earlier Virgin’s honor, as the Parthenon. [3]

1. Cedrenus, ii., p. 477. For Sermon’s coins see Schlumberger (op. cit., p. 417)·
2. Ibid., p. 476: Lucius, p. 297.
3. Cedrenus, loc. cit.


The Bulgarian Empire was ended. Worn out by its weakness within and by the everlasting, ever-reviving strength of Imperial Rome, it had finally succumbed; and for nearly 170 years Bulgaria would be numbered among the Imperial provinces. Of its history during those years we know little, nor does it concern us here. The Emperor Basil, with the wise moderation that characterized the great statesmen of Byzantium, who preferred when they could to respect local customs and institutions, made few changes that would affect the common Bulgarian people. The country was divided into two themes, Bulgaria and Paristrium. The former contained the bulk of Samuel’s empire, the latter the Danubian province and the older capitals; probably the former frontier fortresses, such as Philippopolis, had already been included in existing Imperial themes. The governor of the Bulgarian theme enjoyed the title of Pronoëtes and was apparently one of the governors who found their salaries out of the local taxes. Basil, however, ordained that Samuel’s system of taxation — payment in kind — should be maintained; and, though later governors were to provoke revolt by attempting to alter the system, it actually endured throughout the period of Imperial rule. With regard to the Church, Bulgaria was granted by Basil concessions unknown in any other of his provinces.

Danube Bulgaria - Byzantrine provonces Bulgaria and Paristrion ca 1025 -1186 AD

The whole ecclesiastical organization was revised, and the patriarchate abolished.

But the Archbishop of Bulgaria, installed at Ochrida in the Patriarch’s place, only owed a faint allegiance to the Patriarch of Constantinople; and the thirty Bulgarian bishops and the 685 ecclesiastics obeyed him alone.

We do not know how far these thirty bishoprics instituted by Basil corresponded with the old bishoprics of the Bulgarian Empire; but their seats had all been Bulgarian towns in Samuel’s heyday. Basil so far relied on the loyalty of the Bulgarian Church to the new Government that in several dioceses he increased its jurisdiction at the expense of the dioceses of former Imperial provinces, no doubt in districts chiefly inhabited by Slavs, who would appreciate the Slavonic liturgy. How far he proposed controlling the Church himself, or through the Patriarch of Constantinople, we do not know. He kept on the Bulgarian Patriarch David as Archbishop of Bulgaria; but on David’s death the Imperial Government adopted the custom of appointing Greeks to the Archbishopric — save once when they appointed a converted Jew — thus keeping the whole fabric in close connection with Constantinople. Among the Archbishops thus appointed was Theophylact of Euboea, who occupied his time in that wild country in writing the lives of its martyrs and of its great saint, Clement. [1]

Bulgaria, on the whole, acquiesced in its annexation. The aristocracy, worn out by its resistance, was glad to sink into the luxurious service of the Empire. The merchant classes, such as they were, welcomed peace. Those of the peasantry that held political views were almost all of the Bogomil heresy, equally but passively opposed to all Governments. Twice during the next sixty years the misgovernment of Imperial officials was to provoke the Bulgarians into serious revolt; but both rebellions were soon put down; and, so long as the Government remained competent, Bulgaria was content to rest in peace: till, at the close of the twelfth century, the whole Empire fell into chaos under the rule of the feeble house of Angelus, with Western Europe stabbing it in the back.

1. The ecclesiastical settlement is given in Basil’s ordinances, published by Gelzer, in vol i., pp. 245 ff., and vol. ii., pp. 2 ff. of the Byzantinische Zeitschrift . The best complete account of the reorganization of Bulgaria under Basil is given in Schlumberger’s Epopée Byzantine, vol. ii., pp. 418-32, where the meager information is fully summarized and discussed.

As for the actors of the final scenes, the princes and princesses of Bulgaria and the great generals, they were merged into the functionaries of Byzantium. They walked before the Emperor on his triumphal entry into Constantinople; then the men were given Imperial posts and titles and the women husbands from among the aristocracy. Of the fate of Tsar Samuel’s few surviving descendants nothing is told; but many of John-Vladislav’s family enjoyed a certain eminence. Of his sons, Prusian, the eldest, created a Magister on his surrender, became the strategus of the important Bucellarian theme, till he quarreled with his colleagues so badly that he had to be exiled. Aaron, as Catepan (κατεπάνω, lit. “topmost”) of Vaspurakan, later played a prominent part in the Armenian campaigns of the Empire. Of Trajan, Radomir, and the youngest son of all we have no information; but Alusian, the second son, after being made a Patrician (on his surrender to Basil) and, later, strategus of the theme of Theodosiopolis, involved himself disgracefully in the Bulgarian rebellion of 1048 — the rebellion kindled by an impostor who claimed to be Peter Delean, son of Tsar Gabriel-Radomir and the Princess of Hungary. Alusian first betrayed the Emperor for him, and then betrayed him to the Emperor. Of John-Vladislav’s six daughters, one married Romanus Curcuas, who was involved in Prusian’s quarrels and was blinded; another, the Princess Catherine, sat for a while on the Imperial throne itself, as the wife of the nervous Emperor, Isaac Comnenus. Of the next generation, Alusian’s son, the Vestarch Samuel-Alusian, fought with distinction in the desperate Manzikert campaign of Romanus Diogenes, while his daughter was the first wife of that unhappy Emperor. Aaron’s son, Theodore, became strategus of the theme of Taron in Armenia; while Trajan’s daughter, Maria, married Andronicus Ducas. One of their daughters, Irene Ducaena, became the wife of the Emperor Alexius Comnenus and the ancestress of that great dynasty.

And so, after long journeying, through the Angeli and the Hohenstaufen and the houses of Castile, of Hapsburg and of Bourbon, the blood of the last Tsar of the first Bulgarian Empire flows in the veins of the first Tsar of modern Bulgaria and his present successor. [1]

The First Bulgarian Empire was ended. Its end was not inevitable nor foredoomed — unless it be that everything is foredoomed. But history is so full of accidents improvised by a whimsical providence that it is idle to explore the roads of what might have been. Nevertheless, the First Bulgarian Empire was planned by fate in its grandest, most sweeping scale. There is the small beginning, the nomads entering the Balkan peninsula, and gradually, by the ability of the Khans of the House of Dulo, establishing themselves there with increasing strength: so that even the chaos and disasters that followed the dynasty’s extinction could not remove them thence.

Then we come to Kardam and the swift revival, and the greatness of Krum and his successors, when Bulgaria was numbered among the great Powers of Europe, and wooed and feared by the East and the West, and so to Boris, the Christian Prince, the greatest of them all, who (disastrously lost half of his country and people but instead) outwitted the Pope and used the Patriarch to secure his country the Church that he desired.

1. The fate of John-Vladislav’s descendants can be found in various passages of Cedrenus — ii., pp. 469, 483, 487, 497 (for Prusian), 469, 470, 531 (Alusian), 469, 573-4 (Aaron), 469 — and Prokic — pp. 34 (Trajan and Radomir), 678 (Samuel-Alusian), 483 (the wife of Romanus Curcuas), 628, 650 (the Empress Catherine). Psellus, p. 63-4, calls Alusian brother, not son, of John-Vladislav, but we know that John had no surviving brothers (We can'tknow for sure). Bryennius (p. 19) calls Catherine Samuel’s daughter, but dates make it unlikely, and Cedrenus provides circumstantial evidence. See also Prokic, p. 36. Bryennius also (pp. 106-7) tells of Trajan’s daughter Maria’s marriage, calling Trajan Samuel’s son. But Prokic, p. 34, shows this to be wrong. Bryennius probably had only heard of Samuel, and not of John-Vladislav. Aaron’s son, Theodore, is identified by evidence given in Skabalonovitch, Vizantinskoe Gosudarstvo , p. 198. Attaliates (p. 123) mentions Samuel-Alusian.

After Boris was Symeon and the summit. For Symeon was the hero of a Greek tragedy, too prosperous, too triumphant, too defiant of Nemesis, wearing out Bulgaria with too many victories and dying in disappointment. The curve swerves downward, in the long afternoon of Peter’s reign: while Pope Bogomil gave form to the discontent of a disillusioned people (that has nothing to do with the phantom Pope). The first shadows of evening were terrible amid the Russian (i.e. Rus) storms; but the sunset was lit with splendor before the night came at last. But the tragedy is not perfect. Bulgaria did not bear within herself all the seeds of her decline and fall (Except that royal egomaniacs were undermining the backbone of the state for their personal survival). Bulgarian history must always be read with Constantinople in sight. It was Byzantium, the Empire, that decided its destiny. The Bulgars had come into the Balkans at a time when the Empire was weak, when the Roman world was still shaken by the first sudden blows of Islam; and they had established themselves there before the Empire had recovered. But since the middle of the eighth century the Empire had gradually been growing in power though the growth had been veiled by the development of Bulgaria and by periodical setbacks, usually more spectacular than really disastrous. It was at the climax of Symeon’s career and of the whole Bulgarian Empire, at Symeon’s interview with Romanus Lecapenus, that the truth was revealed. The Emperor, for all his armies’ defeats, was the victor. After that, the end was as inevitable as anything in this world can be; and, though much blood was shed before Bulgaria was extinguished, the length of the struggle was due rather to Samuel’s genius and Imperial dissensions than to uncertainty as to the ultimate result.

Nor need Bulgaria stand ashamed. It is a tribute rather to the greatness of her rulers that they could, as no other invaders had been able to do, build up a nation at the very gates of the mightiest empire of Christendom (Not counting the Ogur Huns spanning empire from Rome to Siberia, and the Oguz Ottomans who foreclosed the “mightiest empire of Christendom”). Not only was Byzantium supreme amongst her neighbors in material wealth and organization, but, as the heir of Rome, she held unbroken the conception and prestige of the Universal Empire; and her civilization was the highest of its hemisphere (at least as far as savagery is concerned). Sooner or later she would surely absorb the close inhabitants of the Balkan peninsula, for all that a line of brilliant Khans had knit together Slav and Bulgar and all the remnants of races that lingered there into a nation. At times, indeed, great monarchs, lured by the siren call of Constantinople, would attempt to make the absorption of their doing, but in vain — and fortunately so; for that would be the wrong way round, as was proved by the greatest crime in history, the Crusaders’ sack of the Christian city in the year 1204.

And, indeed, the absorption was no bad thing for Bulgaria; for it did not happen too soon. The Bulgarian monarchs had had time to instill into their country a consciousness that was strong enough to survive. In the meantime, peace and the penetration of the Imperial civilization came as a boon to the weary country and taught the Bulgarians more than they could have learnt in a long struggle for independence (And judging by the parallels of the Bulgarian and Byzantine organizations, taught Greeks a thing or two). But now they had their memories and, still more, their Slavonic Church to remind them who they were (Better than that, they created a Tengrian-Christian movement that spread across Western and Eastern Europe, and scared the guts out of both Catholic Churches); and not all Pope Bogomil’s teachings and his followers ever broke that down (The teachings were massively exterminated on a grandeur Christian scale along with the followers the Church could get their hands on, but their descendents are still with us, live and kicking). And so, when the time came, and the Empire no longer was wise and beneficial, Bulgaria was ready to assemble again round an independent standard raised by the noble House of Asen at Tirnovo (Otherwise known as Belgun, from Türkic belgün = “wise”, cognate of Bilge, as in Ashina's Bilge Kagan, and of Hunnic Jükü 屠耆, and of Oguz Turkish Ükü; speculation goes that it is a Kipchak/Kuman form, or Bechen/Bosnyak form, but it is as likely can be native Bulgarian Ogur form; on Asen speculation goes that it is a derivative of Ashina, which could come via Khazar branch of Tung Yabgy Kagan, or via Oguz line of Oguz Yabgy Kagan).

So it had been worth while — and worth while, too, to countries outside of Bulgaria. The Bulgars had brought order to the Slavs and had lifted them out of chaos, setting an example for the whole Slav world to follow. The Serbian tribes could profit by it; and, moreover, had not /261/ Bulgaria lain between, they might never so have freed themselves from the influence of Constantinople, to form a proud nation, until it was too late: while, similarly, the same bulwark preserved the Empire from many harmful barbarous invasions. But the great gift of Bulgaria to Europe lay in her readiness to take over the legacy of Cyril and Methodius, so carelessly thrown away by the Moravians. This work had been initiated in Constantinople and greatly helped by the Patriarch Protius and the Emperor Basil, with that strange mixture of philanthropy and political cunning that characterized Byzantium. But it was Boris of Bulgaria that brought it to completion, and thus put all the Balkan peninsula and all the Russias (Apparently references to White Rus - Byelorussia, Great Rus - Northeastern offshoot of the Kyiv Rus, and Lesser Rus - Ukraine) into his debt. To his lead those countries owe their Churches, Churches well suited to them — Churches that kept their pride alive through all the dark days that they were to endure, at the hands of fierce and infidel barbarian invaders (Fierce and infidel barbarian invaders - apparently reference to the Bulgars' kins Kipchaks aka Tatars, who pacified, organized, and civilized Rus as much as the Bulgars civilized and organized Bulgar Slavs, and in addition prevented institution of brutal slavery that took hold after Russia gained independence).

Though clouds pass at times over the face of Bulgaria, she may well be content with her history. The First Empire has left her memories rich in glory. It is a splendid procession that stretches backward into the far-off darkness, past Samuel and his passionate Court beside the high mountain-lakes of Macedonia; past Symeon on his golden throne, his silken raiment weighed down with studded pearls; past Boris, issuing from his aureoled palace with angels to escort him; past Krum, with bowing rows of concubines, crying ‘Sdravitsa’ to his boyars as he drank from an Emperor’s skull; past Tervel, riding in to Constantinople by the side of a slit-nosed Emperor; past Asperuch and his brothers, and his father, King (Kagan or Kağan) Kubrat (Kurbat), and past the princes of the Huns, back through dim ages to that wild marriage from which her race was born, the marriage of the wandering Scythian witches to the demons of the sands of Turkestan (Citation of the Norse myth).

Citation from R. Wolff, 1949, The 'Second Bulgarian Empire.' Its Origin and History to 1204, Speculum 24 (2): 167–206:

During the years between 1018 and the accession of Alexius Comnenus in 1081 were three Bulgarian revolts. The first (1040-1041) arose because of the intolerable exactions of Michael IV's minister, John the Orphanotrophos, who for the first time demanded that taxes be paid in Bulgaria in money rather than in kind.

The rebellion was led by Peter Deljan (Delyan; Batyr Djilan, djilan is snake in Kipchak Türkic, his name probably points to his or his mother tribal origin from the Herodotic Scythian tribe Gelon = Djidan/Djilan/Gilyan = Kayi/Haidak/Djidan, that was adjacent to the Caucasian Bulgars), probably a son of Gabriel Radomir, himself the son of the great Tsar Samuel. Gabriel Radomir had been murdered by his rival John Vladislav, son of Aaron, who, it is now believed, was the representative of the legitimate Bulgarian royal family against the Armenian 'Comitopouloi' (Armenian in geographical terms, they could have been Djilans, and Gilyans once were one of the Scythian Türkic tribes in Magna Armenia). The hostility between the rival families continued into the third generation: Alusian, son of John Vladislav, first left Byzantine service in Asia Minor to join Deljan's revolt, then betrayed and blinded Deljan, and finally betrayed the rebels to the Byzantines, [33] who had in any case defeated them outside Thessalonica. Whatever conclusions may be drawn from the sources as to the legitimacy of Deljan, there can be little doubt that this was a genuinely Bulgarian revolt, inspired by popular discontent, and made possible by popular loyalty to the old dynasty.

Thereafter, the influx of Pechenegs (Bosnyaks) and Cumans (aka Kumans, i.e Kipchaks) turned Bulgaria into a battle ground between Byzantium and these Turkish (I.e. Türkic) tribes; and we hear of no expressions of Bulgarian national self-consciousness or of rebellion until 1073. Then a new revolt broke out during a lull in the Pecheneg (Bosnyak) war. This was engineered by Bulgarian nobles under George Voitech, (Slavic voi is a derivative of the Türkic word with the same meaning, “war, warrior, military commander”, well internationalized by the 10th. c) with the assistance of the Serbs /180/ who supplied a new 'Tsar' in the person of their prince Constantine Bodinus (Budini/Bodini were one of the Herodotic Scythian tribes, Türkic budini = “people, human mass”, with derisive connotation pointing to non-Türkic origin, but by the 10th. c. Budini probably solidly amalgamated with Türks, became indistinguishable from Bulgars), who took the name of Peter. The revolt was put down by Byzantine troops. [34]

Shortly thereafter, a third revolt (ca 1078-1080) broke out, headed by a Greek Bogomile named Lika and by a Slavic Bogomile named Dobromir or Dragomir (Both lines could have originally been Tengrian Türks-Bulgars, assimilated into their neighborhood, hense their Bogomile faith). The country was being overrun by the Pechenegs (Bosnyaks), who seem to have supported the revolt (Bosnyaks brought their Tengriism to Balkans from Middle Asia - S.Siberia - Urals); and the Bogomile religious views of its two leaders indicate that there was more behind this movement than mere political discontent with Byzantine rule. It is virtually impossible to decide what role was played by the Bulgarian population during this uprising. [35]

But, to judge from the decreasing effectiveness of the three successive revolts, and from the cessation of all rebellion for a period of more than a century under the Comnenoi, it seems reasonable to suppose that, after the mid-eleventh century, the ability of the Bulgarians to revolt successfully against Byzantium was diminished. The first revolt seems to have been purely Bulgarian; the second was partly Serbian in inspiration; the third was probably religious rather than national (Although Bogomilism/Hudoyarism was and remained Bulgarian in its origin). This diminishing effectiveness may be attributed partly to the exhaustion and depopulation suffered during the wars with Basil II; but it is surely to be explained in large measure by the fact that Bulgaria had become the scene of the war between Byzantium and the Pechenegs (Bosnyaks) and Cumans (Kumans/Kipchaks), as well as the staging ground for military operations against the Normans on the Adriatic coast, and the thoroughfare for the armies of the first three Crusades. Even Zlatarski refers to this period before 1185 as the 'period of Grecization.' [36]


Book 1 ¤ Book 2 ¤ Book3-1 ¤ Book3-2 ¤ Appendixes
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
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