Mediaeval Bulgaria, 681

Mediaeval Bulgaria, 681-1393
Problems confronting the newly created Bulgarian state:
• need to establish clearly defined and secure borders
• need to bind together the two different ethnicities that inhabited the
are i.e. the Proto- Bulgarians and the Slavs
Chronology of Bulgaria 681-852
716 treaty with Byzantium awarding Bulgaria with northern
Thrace. => Bulgarian state assisted Byzantium to fight the
Arabs in Asia Minor. At that time chief of the Bulgarians
was Khan Tervel
Middle of 8th century Bulgaria included Moravia valley
(today’s southern Romania, parts of Ukraine) as part of its
Lack of technological involvement impeded Bulgarians to
create own navy and thus increase its territory on the
north and south on its Black See boarders. => Expansion
on ground to the north-west (collapse of the Avar kingdom
led to new opportunities for bulgariang rulers); To the
south and south west during the reign of Khan Krum(803814) Bulgarians acquired Sredets(Sofia) and Nesebur
followed by march as far as the walls of Byzantim, Emperor
Nicephorus lost his life in this epic battle.
Chronology of Bulgaria 681-852
Khan Omurtag succeeded Krum (814-831), concluded a
peace treaty and gained territories around Tundja valley
and later Belgrade (Singidunum) ; He took advantage of
the preoccupied Byzantines who were fighting on many
fronts and by the middle of the century Bulgaria acquired
Orid and Prespa and much of southern Albania. Omurtag
continued his predecessor’s work in building proper legal
system, but he was most appreciated for his notable
achievements in reconstructing Pliska (burned in 811).
Chronology of Bulgaria 852-888
The Reign of Boris I(852-888) and the Conversion to Christianity
 Christianity essential for Bulgarians as if they were to be
accepted as an equal amongst the powerful states of Europe.
 Christianity is a powerful tool to lessen the gap between the
two main ethnic groups in Bulgaria, the Proto-Bulgarians and
the Slavs. Common language Slavo-Bulgarian (Slav tongue of
the conquered masses predominated)
 Potential problem – the difference between pagan and
Christian could provide a dividing line, which could be
exploited by an external enemy. Expansion to the south of the
Balkans and in Macedonia led to increase in Slavic population
as well as christian prisoners during the 8th and 9th centuries.
 Key to centralize the Bulgarian state => Christianity
Chronology of Bulgaria 852-888
864 – Boris accepted Christianity for himself and forced all his
subordinates to do the same, 52 nobles rejected his order and
were mercilessly executed
 Bulgarian Church was part of Byzantine church and was
deprived of the right to have patriarch or to appoint its own
bishops. => Fear in Bulgarians that Byzantine influence would
increase through the Church.
 Boris seeks better terms from Rome. -> Rome refused to give
patriarch or the right to appoint its own bishops so Bulgaria
stayed locked to Byzantine church.
 870 – High church organs in Constantinople ruled that
Bulgaria’s church was to be headed by an archbishop chosen
and dependent upon the patriarch in Constantinople. -> Greek
missionaries were sent to educate the newly converted
Bulgarians of the Christian canons. => thanks to the
conversion by the 10th century there were Bulgarians as
opposed to Slav and Proto-Bulgarians in the pagan Bulgarian
Chronology of Bulgaria 852-888
Parallel to the process of conversion was the emergence of
alphabet designed for Slavonic languages, it emerged in
mid to late 9th century. The creation of the Cyrillic alphabet
is generally acknowledged to Cyril and Methodius, they
made it on request of the Moravian ruler in his attempt to
decrease the influence of Franks and Germans over his
 The introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet was of enormous
importance for Bulgaria because it prevented the
absorption of the Bulgarians by the Greeks to the south
and the Franks to the west.
 Birth of Bulgarian literature- Kliment of Ohrid established
thriving school embracing many studies.
 Alphabet was essential for creating legal code- “Zakon
Sudnii Liudim”
 Alphabet enabled the Bulgarian Church to use SlavoBulgarian as the language of the liturgy
Chronology of Bulgaria 893-927
The reign of Simeon the Great
 Raised and educated in Constantinople; In his first years at
the throne he engaged wars with the empire and other
neighbors => Extended boundaries westwards to the Adriatic,
south to the Aegean and north-westwars to incorporate most
of modern Serbia and Montenegro.
 Besieging Constantinople twice led to a peace treaty in 896
which gave the right to Bulgaria to have its own independent
church. Simeon was given the title king or tsar by Byzantium.
 Change the capital city of Bulgaria from Pliska to Preslav.
 The peaceful 20 years after 896 led to flowering in literature
and art as a whole. The prosperity was due to the close and
healthy commercial relations of Bulgaria with the empire ; and
through links with Venetia and the west world.
Chronology of Bulgaria 896-1018
The end of the first Bulgarian Empire
 In 927 Simeon died and his son Petur succeeded him.
 Petur 927-970 ruled in years of decline for Bulgaria
 Continuous wars defensive wars, main threat – the Magyars in
the north. Clashes with Byzantine to the south. => Weakening
of the Bulgarian state in consequence of the long lasting wars.
–the nation dreamed of the golden days of peace/the church
fell to corruption and self-enrichment
 The 10th century marked the era when landowners steadily
increased their economic and social power, due to the lack of
centralized authority in the state.
 Hard times for the poor masses in the state-> alienation set
in/ church no longer credible – some turned to Heresy (a
willingness to withdraw from the world and its problems);Ivan
Rilski (876,880-947) national saint and hermit
 Bogomilism – a flow that argues that the entire visible world
was the creation of Satan; only human soul was created by
God. The bogomils believed the gratification of all bodily
pleasures to be an expression of the diabolic side of creation,
they preached poverty and temperance and vegetarianism.
Chronology of Bulgaria 896-1018
Bogomils’ philosophy questioned the social order by
preaching that man should live in communities where
property was shared and individual ownership unknown.
Bogomils’ purpose was to satisfy the spiritual hunger
amongst peasant masses. Bogomilism was essentially a
reaction to the hardships that followed after the adoption
of Christianity.
The end of the 10th century was turning point to the rapid
decline of the first Bulgarian state. Endless wartime with
the Kievan Russians in the north and the resumed conflict
with Constantinople in the south led in 971 to the fall of
Preslav; it was conqueroed by the armies of
Constantinople.-> end of Great Bulgaria of Krum, Boris and
Simeon … new capital in Ohrid.
Chronology of Bulgaria 896-1018
The Reign of Tsar Samuil (997-1014)
 998 Bulgaria regained large part of its lost the territories
south of Denube
 Strategic expansion in present day Albania and Montenegro
due to the preoccupation of the empire to fight the Arabs
from Asia Minor
 1014 marks the year of the end of the First Bulgarian
State- the final battle in Macedonia. -> 15000 captured
Bulgarian soldiers from which 99 out of 100 were blinded
and the remaining were left with one eye to guide. At the
sight of his defeated army Samuil died in 3 days.
Chronology of Bulgaria 1018-1185
Bulgaria under Byzantine rule
 Bulgarian church was allowed to continue as a separate
national institution although it was under Byzantine rule.
 Gradually the Ohrid patriarch fell under Greek influence
and Bulgarian bishops were no longer allowed to elect their
own patriarch.
 Tax system changed for the worse
 New form of land-holding was introduced: the proniya –
holders of this land had the right to its produce but could
not pass it on by inheritance.
 1040 Petur Delyan a descent of Samuil gathered an army
and took Skopje, his revolt though was not nationalist
movement but a protest against worsening social
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