Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927
The Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927 was fought between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire for more than a decade. Although the war was provoked by the Byzantine emperor Alexander's decision to discontinue paying an annual tribute to Bulgaria, the military and ideological initiative was held by Simeon I of Bulgaria, who demanded to be recognized as Tsar and made it clear that he aimed to conquer not only Constantinople but the rest of the Byzantine Empire, as well. In 917, the Bulgarian army dealt a crushing defeat to the Byzantines at the Battle of Achelous, resulting in Bulgaria's total military supremacy in the Balkans; the Bulgarians again defeated the Byzantines at Katasyrtai in 917, Pegae in 921 and Constantinople in 922. The Bulgarians captured the important city of Adrianople in Thrace and seized the capital of the Theme of Hellas, deep in southern Greece. Following the disaster at Achelous, Byzantine diplomacy incited the Principality of Serbia to attack Bulgaria from the west, but this assault was contained.
In 924, the Serbs ambushed and defeated a small Bulgarian army on its way to Serbia, provoking a major retaliatory campaign that ended with Bulgaria's annexation of Serbia at the end of that year. Simeon was aware that he needed naval support to conquer Constantinople and in 922 sent envoys to the Fatimid caliph Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah in Mahdia to negotiate the assistance of the powerful Arab navy; the caliph agreed to send his own representatives to Bulgaria to arrange an alliance but his envoys were captured en route by the Byzantines near the Calabrian coast. Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos managed to avert a Bulgarian–Arab alliance by showering the Arabs with generous gifts. By the time of his death in May 927, Simeon controlled all Byzantine possessions in the Balkans, but Constantinople remained out of his reach. In 927, both countries were exhausted by the huge military efforts that had taken a heavy toll on the population and economy. Simeon's successor Peter negotiated a favourable peace treaty.
The Byzantines agreed to recognize him as Emperor of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as an independent Patriarchate, as well as to pay an annual tribute. The peace was reinforced with Romanos's granddaughter Irene Lekapene; this agreement ushered in a period of 40 years of peaceful relations between the two powers, a time of stability and prosperity for both Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire. In the first years after his accession to the throne in 893, Simeon I defended Bulgaria's commercial interests, acquired territory between the Black Sea and the Strandzha mountains, imposed an annual tribute on the Byzantine Empire as a result of the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896; the outcome of the war confirmed Bulgarian domination in the Balkans, but Simeon I knew that he needed to consolidate his political and ideological base in order to fulfil his ultimate goal of claiming an imperial title for himself and assuming the throne in Constantinople. He implemented an ambitious construction programme in Bulgaria's new capital, Preslav, so that the city would rival the splendour of the Byzantine capital.
Simeon I continued the policy of his father Boris I of establishing and disseminating Bulgarian culture, turning the country into the literary and spiritual centre of Slavic Europe. The Preslav and literary schools, founded under Boris I, reached their apogee during the reign of his successor, it was at this time that the Cyrillic alphabet was invented, most by the Bulgarian scholar Clement of Ohrid. The Magyar devastation of the country's north-eastern regions during the War of 894–896 exposed the vulnerability of Bulgaria's borders to foreign intervention under the influence of Byzantine diplomacy; as soon as the peace with Byzantium had been signed, Simeon I sought to secure the Bulgarian positions in the western Balkans. After the death of the Serb prince Mutimir, several members of the ruling dynasty fought over the throne of the Principality of Serbia until Petar Gojniković established himself as a prince in 892. In 897 Simeon I agreed to recognize Petar and put him under his protection, resulting in a twenty-year period of peace and stability to the west.
However, Petar was not content with his subordinate position and sought ways to achieve independence. The internal situation of the Byzantine Empire at the beginning of the 10th century was seen by Simeon I as a sign of weakness. There was an attempt to murder emperor Leo VI the Wise in 903 and a rebellion of the commander of the Eastern army Andronikos Doukas in 905; the situation further deteriorated as the emperor entered into a feud with the Ecumenical Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos over his fourth marriage, to his mistress Zoe Karbonopsina. In 907, Leo VI had the patriarch deposed. At the beginning of the 10th century, the Arabs completed the conquest of Sicily and from 902 began attacking Byzantine shipping and towns in the Aegean Sea. In 904, they sacked the empire's second-largest city, taking 22,000 captives and leaving the city empty. Simeon I decided to exploit that opportunity, the Bulgarian army appeared in the vicinity of the deserted city. By securing and settling Thessalonica, the Bulgarians would have gained an important port on the Aegean Sea and would have cemented their hold on the western Balkans, creating a permanent threat to Constantinople.
Aware of the danger, the Byzantines sent the experienced diplomat Leo Choirosphaktes to negotiate a solution. The course of the negotiations is unknown – in a surviving letter to emperor Leo VI the Wise, Choirosphaktes boasted that he had "convinced" the Bulgarians not to take the city but did not mention more details. However, a
Battle of Arcadiopolis (970)
The Battle of Arcadiopolis was fought in 970 between a Byzantine army under Bardas Skleros and a Rus' army, the latter including allied Bulgarian and Hungarian contingents. In the preceding years, the Rus' ruler Sviatoslav had conquered Bulgaria, was now menacing Byzantium as well; the Rus' force had been advancing through Thrace towards Constantinople when it was met by Skleros' force. Having fewer men than the Rus', Skleros prepared an ambush and attacked the Rus' army with a portion of his force; the Byzantines feigned retreat, succeeded in drawing off the Pecheneg contingent into the ambush, routing it. The remainder of the Rus' army panicked and fled, suffered heavy casualties from the pursuing Byzantines; the battle was important as it bought time for the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes to settle his internal problems and assemble a large expedition, which defeated Sviatoslav the next year. In 965 or 966, a Bulgarian embassy visited the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros II Phokas at Constantinople to receive the annual tribute, agreed by the two powers as the price of peace in 927.
Phokas and self-confident from a series of victories against the Arabs in the East that had led to the recovery of Crete and Cilicia, refused to comply, had the envoys beaten up. He followed this up with a show of military strength, by sending a small force to raze a number of Bulgarian border posts in Thrace, it was a clear declaration of war, but Nikephoros' forces were preoccupied in the East. Thus the emperor turned to the traditional Byzantine expedient of turning one of the peoples living further north, in modern-day Ukraine, against Bulgaria, he sent an ambassador, the patrikios Kalokyros, to Sviatoslav, ruler of the Rus' with whom the Byzantines had maintained close relations. Sviatoslav enthusiastically responded, invaded Bulgaria in 967 or 968 in a devastating raid, before returning home to defend his capital against a Pecheneg attack; this forced the Bulgarian tsar, Peter I, to the negotiating table, agreeing to terms favourable to Byzantium. However, this brief sojourn awakened in Sviatoslav the desire to conquer Bulgaria and establish his own realm there.
He conquered the country within a few months. Nikephoros' scheme had backfired dramatically: instead of peace, a new and formidable foe had appeared in the Balkans, a large part of the Bulgarian nobility appeared to side with the Rus' prince; the emperor, was murdered in December 969, it fell to his successor, John I Tzimiskes, to deal with the Rus' threat. Sviatoslav now turned his sights on Byzantium, to John's entreaties for peace he answered that the Empire should abandon its European territories to him and withdraw to Asia Minor. Tzimiskes himself was preoccupied with consolidating his position and with countering the unrest of the powerful Phokas clan and its adherents, delegated the war in the Balkans to his brother-in-law, the Domestic of the Schools Bardas Skleros, to the eunuch stratopedarches Peter, they were to winter in Thrace and raise an army, whilst sending spies to discover Sviatoslav's intentions. At the news of this, a powerful Rus' force, along with many Bulgarians and a Pecheneg contingent, was sent south over the Balkan Mountains.
After sacking the city of Philippopolis in Thrace, they bypassed the defended city of Adrianople and turned towards Constantinople. The size of the Rus' army, whether it comprised the entirety of Sviatoslav's forces or just a division, is unclear. John Skylitzes, for instance, implies that this was the entire Rus' army, numbering an incredible 308,000 men, but the contemporary Leo the Deacon reports that it was a detachment of "over 30,000 men", it is clear, that the Byzantines were outnumbered, that the Rus' force at Arcadiopolis included significant numbers of Bulgarians, as well as allied contingents of Pechenegs and "Turks". Skleros quickly assembled a force of ten to twelve thousand men and set out to meet the Rus'; the two armies met near some 80 km west of Constantinople. The two primary accounts on the Byzantine side differ on the preliminaries of the battle: Leo the Deacon reports that Skleros sent a scouting detachment ahead under the patrikios John Alakaseus, gave battle after only a day, but the chronicle of Skylitzes reports that for a few days, Skleros with his men remained within the walls of Arcadiopolis as the Rus' encamped nearby, refused to come out and meet them in battle despite their repeated challenges for him to do so.
According to Skylitzes, the Rus' became convinced that the imperial army was too afraid to face them. Skleros set out from the city, divided his forces into three groups: two divisions were placed in ambush on the wooded sides of the road leading towards the Rus' camp, while another some 2,000–3,000 men, was placed under himself and went forth to attack the Rus' host; the Byzantine detachment came into contact with the Rus' army, charged the Pecheneg contingent. The Byzantines executed a gradual orderly retreat, turning at intervals to charge back at the pursuing Pechenegs, who had thus become separated from the main body of the Rus' army; this conflict was fierce and bloody, taxing the discipline and
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed in Southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was founded in 681. There they secured Byzantine recognition of their right to settle south of the Danube by defeating – with the help of local South Slavic tribes – the Byzantine army led by Constantine IV. At the height of its power, Bulgaria spread from the Danube Bend to the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River to the Adriatic Sea; as the state solidified its position in the Balkans, it entered into a centuries-long interaction, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, with the Byzantine Empire. Bulgaria emerged as Byzantium's chief antagonist to its north; the two powers enjoyed periods of peace and alliance, most notably during the Second Arab siege of Constantinople, where the Bulgarian army broke the siege and destroyed the Arab army, thus preventing an Arab invasion of Southeastern Europe. Byzantium had a strong cultural influence on Bulgaria, which led to the eventual adoption of Christianity in 864.
After the disintegration of the Avar Khaganate, the country expanded its territory northwest to the Pannonian Plain. The Bulgarians confronted the advance of the Pechenegs and Cumans, achieved a decisive victory over the Magyars, forcing them to establish themselves permanently in Pannonia. During the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Simeon I achieved a string of victories over the Byzantines. Thereafter, he was recognized with the title of Emperor, proceeded to expand the state to its greatest extent. After the annihilation of the Byzantine army in the battle of Anchialus in 917, the Bulgarians laid siege to Constantinople in 923 and 924; the Byzantines, however recovered, in 1014, under Basil II, inflicted a crushing defeat on the Bulgarians at the Battle of Kleidion. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had surrendered to the Byzantine Empire, the First Bulgarian Empire had ceased to exist, it was succeeded by the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185. After the adoption of Christianity, Bulgaria became the cultural center of Slavic Europe.
Its leading cultural position was further consolidated with the invention of the Glagolitic and Early Cyrillic alphabets shortly after in the capital Preslav, literature produced in Old Bulgarian soon began spreading north. Old Bulgarian became the lingua franca of much of Eastern Europe and it came to be known as Old Church Slavonic. In 927, the independent Bulgarian Patriarchate was recognized; the ruling Bulgars and other non-Slavic tribes in the empire mixed and adopted the prevailing Slavic language, thus forming the Bulgarian nation from the 7th century to the 9th century. Since the late 9th century, the names Bulgarians and Bulgarian gained prevalence and became permanent designations for the local population, both in literature and in common parlance; the development of Old Church Slavonic literacy had the effect of preventing the assimilation of the South Slavs into neighbouring cultures, while stimulating the formation of a distinct Bulgarian identity. The First Bulgarian Empire became known as Bulgaria since its recognition by the Byzantine Empire in 681.
Some historians use the terms First Bulgarian State, or First Bulgarian Tsardom. Between 681 and 864 the country was known as the Bulgarian Khanate, Danube Bulgarian Khanate, or Danube Bulgar Khanate in order to differentiate it from Volga Bulgaria, which emerged from another Bulgar group. During its early existence, the country was called the Bulgar state or Bulgar Khaghanate. Between 864 and 917/927, the country was known as the Principality of Bulgaria or Knyazhestvo Bulgaria. In English language sources, the country is known as the Bulgarian Empire. Parts of the eastern Balkan Peninsula were in antiquity inhabited by the Thracians who were a group of Indo-European tribes; the whole region as far north as the Danube River was incorporated into the Roman Empire by the 1st century AD. The decline of the Roman Empire after the 3rd century AD and the continuous invasions of Goths and Huns left much of the region devastated, depopulated and in economic decline by the 5th century; the surviving eastern half of the Roman Empire, called by historians the Byzantine Empire, could not exercise effective control in these territories other than in the coastal areas and certain cities in the interior.
Nonetheless, it never relinquished the claim to the whole region up to the Danube. A series of administrative, legislative and economic reforms somewhat improved the situation but despite these reforms disorder continued in much of the Balkans; the reign of Emperor Justinian I saw temporary recovery of control and reconstruction of a number of fortresses but after his death the empire was unable to face the threat of the Slavs due to the significant reduction of revenue and manpower. The Slavs, of Indo-European origin, were first mentioned in written sources to inhabit the territories to the north of the Danube in the 5th century AD but most historians agree that they had arrived earlier; the group of Slavs that came to be known as the South Slavs was divided into Antes and Sclaveni who spoke the same language. The Slavic incursions in the Balkans increased during the second half of Justinian I's reign and while these were pillaging raids, large-scale settlement began in the 570s and 580s; this migration is associated with the arrival of the Avars who settled in the plains of Pannonia between the rivers Danube and Tisza in the 560s subjugating various Bulgar and Slavic tribes in the process.
Consumed in bitter wars with th
Battle of Boulgarophygon
The Battle of Boulgarophygon or Battle of Bulgarophygon was fought in the summer of 896 near the town of Bulgarophygon, modern Babaeski in Turkey, between the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire. The result was an annihilation of the Byzantine army which determined the Bulgarian victory in the trade war of 894–896. Despite the initial difficulties in the war against the Magyars, who acted as Byzantine allies, the battle of Boulgarophygon proved to be the first decisive victory of the young and ambitious Bulgarian ruler Simeon I against the Byzantine Empire. Simeon would go on to inflict a number of defeats on the Byzantines in pursuit of his ultimate goal, the throne in Constantinople; the peace treaty, signed as a result of the battle confirmed the Bulgarian domination in the Balkans. During the rule of Boris I, Bulgaria underwent major changes – the Christianization of the country and the admission of the disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which marked the beginning of the creation and consolidation of the medieval Bulgarian literature and alphabet.
Despite a number of military setbacks against most neighbouring countries, Boris I managed to preserve Bulgarian territorial integrity. During the Council of Preslav in 893, assembled after the unsuccessful attempt of Boris I's eldest son Vladimir-Rasate to restore Paganism, it was decided that Old Bulgarian was to replace Greek as a language of the church and the Byzantine clergy was to be banished and replaced with Bulgarians; the Council sealed Boris I's ambitions for cultural and religious independence and calmed down the concerns among the nobility, who feared any strong Byzantine influence in the internal affairs of Bulgaria. It was decided that his third son Simeon, born after the Christianization and called child of peace, was to become the next Prince of Bulgaria; these events ruined the Byzantine hopes to exert influence over the newly Christianized country, emperor Leo VI soon had a chance to retaliate. Some members of the Byzantine court had an interest in moving the market of the Bulgarian goods from Constantinople to Thessaloniki, which meant that the Bulgarian merchants would have to pay higher taxes.
That move affected not only private interests but the international commercial importance of Bulgaria, regulated with the Byzantine–Bulgarian Treaty of 716. The ousting of the merchants from Constantinople, a major destination of trade routes from all over Europe and Asia, was a heavy blow for Bulgarian economic interests; the merchants complained to Simeon I, who in turn raised the issue with Leo VI, but the appeal was left unanswered. Simeon, seeking a pretext to declare war and begin implementing his plans, launched an invasion of Byzantine Thrace, resulting in what has sometimes been called the first commercial war in Europe; the Byzantines hastily assembled a large army under the generals Prokopios Krenites and Kourtikios, which included the Imperial Guard that consisted of Khazar mercenaries. In the ensuing battle in the Theme of Macedonia around Adrianople, the Byzantines were defeated and their commanders perished. Most of the Khazars were captured and Simeon had their noses cut and "sent them in the capital for shame of the Romans ".
Since the main Byzantine forces were engaged in the east against the Arabs, Leo VI turned to the well-tried methods of Byzantine diplomacy and sent envoys with rich gifts to the Magyars, who in that time inhabited the steppes to the north-east of Bulgaria. When Simeon I refused to conclude peace and imprisoned the Byzantine envoy Konstantinakios, at the end of 894 the Byzantine navy was used to ferry the Magyars across the Danube, despite the fact that the Bulgarians had barred the river with chains and ropes. Simeon I, at the Byzantine-Bulgarian border facing the general Nikephoros Phokas, had to march northwards to confront them, his army was defeated by the Magyars somewhere in Dobruja and Simeon himself had to flee to the strong fortress Drastar. The Magyars looted and pillaged unopposed, reaching the outskirts of the capital Preslav, after they sold the captives to the Byzantines they retreated to the north of the Danube. Simeon pretended that he wanted to negotiate and put forward the issue of prisoner exchange.
The Byzantines sent Leo Choirosphaktes in Preslav to negotiate the terms. As Simeon needed time to address the Magyar threat, he deliberately prolonged the negotiations and Choirosphaktes was refused an audience. In the meantime Simeon allied with the Pechenegs, while the people appealed to his father Boris I, who had become a monk, to assume the command of the army. In the decisive battle the Magyars suffered a devastating defeat, but the victorious Bulgarians were themselves said to have lost 20,000 riders; that was the only victory in the battlefield Boris I achieved. As a result of this defeat, the Magyars had to move westwards and settle in Pannonia, where they established the Kingdom of Hungary; when Simeon I returned to Preslav "proud of the victory" he broke the negotiations with Choirosphaktes and once again invaded Byzantine Thrace, further encouraged by the death of the capable general Nikephoros Phokas. The Byzantines transferred "all themes and tagmata", i. e. all forces that were fighting the Arabs, to Europe.
The army was commanded by the Domestic of the Schools Leo Katakalon, who lacked the ability of Phokas. The two armies clashed at Boulgarophygon in the summer of 896 and the Byzantines were routed. A Byzantine historian wrote: Among the casualties was the protovestiarios Theodosius, the second-in-command of the army, while Leo Katakalon managed to escape with a few other survivors; the Byzantine defeat was so
Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896
The Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896 called the Trade war, was fought between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire as a result of the decision of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI to move the Bulgarian market from Constantinople to Thessaloniki which would increase the expenses of the Bulgarian merchants. Following the defeat of the Byzantine army in the initial stages of the war in 894 Leo VI sought aid from the Magyars who at the time inhabited the steppes to the north-east of Bulgaria. Aided by the Byzantine navy, in 895 the Magyars defeated the Bulgarian troops. Simeon I called for truce and deliberately protracted the negotiations with the Byzantines until securing the assistance of the Pechenegs. Cornered between the Bulgarians and the Pechanegs, the Magyars suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Bulgarian army and had to migrate westwards, settling in Pannonia. With the Magyar threat eliminated, Simeon led his hosts south and routed the Byzantine army in the battle of Boulgarophygon in the summer of 896, which forced Byzantium to agree to the Bulgarian terms.
The war ended with a peace treaty which restored the Bulgarian market in Constantinople and confirmed Bulgarian domination in the Balkans. The Byzantine Empire was obliged to pay Bulgaria an annual tribute in exchange for the return of captured Byzantine soldiers and civilians. Under the treaty, the Byzantines ceded an area between the Black Sea and the Strandzha mountains to Bulgaria. Despite several violations, the treaty formally lasted until Leo VI's death in 912. During the reign of Boris I Bulgaria underwent major changes — the Christianization of the country and the admission of the disciples of Saints Cyril and Methodius, which marked the beginning of the creation and consolidation of the medieval Bulgarian literature and alphabet. Following intense negotiations with the Papacy in Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Bulgaria converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which caused discontent among part of the nobility who directly associated the new religion with the Byzantine Empire and feared that the country would fall under Byzantine influence.
During the Council of Preslav in 893, assembled after the unsuccessful attempt of Boris I's eldest son Vladimir-Rasate to restore the traditional Bulgar religion, Tengriism, it was decided that Old Bulgarian would replace Greek as the language of the church and the Byzantine clergy would be banished and replaced with Bulgarians. The Council sealed Boris I's ambitions to secure the cultural and religious independence from the Byzantine Empire and calmed down the concerns among the nobility, it was decided that his third son Simeon, born after the Christianization and called the "child of peace", would become the next Prince of Bulgaria. These events brought an end to the Byzantine hopes to exert influence over the newly Christianized country. In 894 Stylianos Zaoutzes and leading minister of Leo VI the Wise, convinced the emperor to move the Bulgarian market from Constantinople to Thessaloniki; that move affected not only private interests but the international commercial importance of Bulgaria and the principle of Byzantine–Bulgarian trade, regulated with the Treaty of 716 and agreements on the most favoured nation basis.
The Bulgarian merchants were allowed to live in Constantinople, resided in their own colony and paid favourable taxes. The city was a major destination of trade routes from all over Europe and Asia and the transfer of the Bulgarian market to Thessaloniki cut short the direct access to goods from the east, which under the new circumstances the Bulgarians would have to buy through middlemen, who were close associates of Stylianos Zaoutzes. In Thessaloniki the Bulgarians were forced to pay higher tariffs to sell their goods, enriching Zaoutzes' cronies; the Byzantine chronicler Theophanes Continuatus described the reasons for the conflict as follows: The ousting of the merchants from Constantinople was a heavy blow for Bulgarian economic interests. The merchants complained to Simeon I, who in turn raised the issue to Leo VI, but the appeal was left unanswered. Simeon, who according to the Byzantine chroniclers was seeking a pretext to declare war and to implement his plans to seize the Byzantine throne, provoking what has sometimes been called the first commercial war in Europe.
However, many historians including Vasil Zlatarski and John Fine consider those claims unlikely, arguing that in the beginning of his reign Simeon needed to consolidate his power and imperial ambitions had not yet been crystallised, therefore his military intervention was a defensive act to protect the Bulgarian commercial interests. In the autumn of 894 Simeon I launched an invasion of Byzantine Thrace, taking advantage of Byzantium's engagements with the Arabs to the east, which had left the Balkan provinces vulnerable. Leo VI hastily assembled an army under the generals Prokopios Krenites and Kourtikios and many archons, which included the Imperial Guard that consisted of Khazar mercenaries. In the ensuing battle in the Theme of Macedonia around Adrianople, the Byzantines were defeated and their commanders perished. Most of the Khazars were captured and Simeon had their noses cut and "sent them in the capital for shame of the Romans "; the Bulgarians retired to the north taking many captives.
This failure urged the Byzantines to seek aid from the Magyars, who at the time inhabited the steppes between the Dnieper and the Danube. Leo VI sent his envoy Nicetas Scleros to the Magyar leaders Árpád and Kurszán in 894 or 895 "to give presents" a
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed between 1185 and 1396. A successor to the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Tsars Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, it was succeeded by the Principality and Kingdom of Bulgaria in 1878. Until 1256, the Second Bulgarian Empire was the dominant power in the Balkans, defeating the Byzantine Empire in several major battles. In 1205 Emperor Kaloyan defeated the newly established Latin Empire in the Battle of Adrianople, his nephew Ivan Asen II made Bulgaria a regional power again. During his reign, Bulgaria spread from the Adriatic to the economy flourished. In the late 13th century, the Empire declined under constant invasions by Mongols, Byzantines and Serbs, as well as internal unrest and revolts; the 14th century saw a temporary recovery and stability, but the peak of Balkan feudalism as central authorities lost power in many regions.
Bulgaria was divided into three parts on the eve of the Ottoman invasion. Despite strong Byzantine influence, Bulgarian artists and architects created their own distinctive style. In the 14th century, during the period known as the Second Golden Age of Bulgarian culture, literature and architecture flourished; the capital city Tarnovo, considered a "New Constantinople", became the country's main cultural hub and the centre of the Eastern Orthodox world for contemporary Bulgarians. After the Ottoman conquest, many Bulgarian clerics and scholars emigrated to Serbia, Wallachia and Russian principalities, where they introduced Bulgarian culture and hesychastic ideas; the name most used for the empire by contemporaries was Bulgaria, as the state called itself. During Kaloyan's reign, the state was sometimes known as being of both Vlachs. Pope Innocent III and other foreigners such as the Latin Emperor Henry mentioned the state as Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Empire in official letters. In modern historiography, the state is called the Second Bulgarian Empire, Second Bulgarian Tsardom, or the Second Bulgarian Kingdom to distinguish it from the First Bulgarian Empire.
An alternative name used in connection with the pre-mid 13th century period is the Empire of Vlachs and Bulgars. However, Arabic chronicles from the 13th century had used only the name of Wallachia instead of Bulgaria and gave the Arabic coordinates of Wallachia and specified that Walachia was named "al-Awalak" and the dwellers "ulaqut" or "ulagh" In 1018, when the Byzantine emperor Basil II conquered the First Bulgarian Empire, he ruled it cautiously; the existing tax system and the power of low-ranking nobility remained unchanged until his death in 1025. The autocephalous Bulgarian Patriarchate was subordinated to the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople and downgraded to an archbishopric centred in Ohrid, while retaining its autonomy and dioceses. Basil appointed the Bulgarian John I Debranin as its first archbishop, but his successors were Byzantines; the Bulgarian aristocracy and tsar's relatives were given various Byzantine titles and transferred to the Asian parts of the Empire. Despite hardships, the Bulgarian language and culture survived.
Most of the newly conquered territories were included in the themes Bulgaria and Paristrion. As the Byzantine Empire declined under Basil's successors, invasions of Pechenegs and rising taxes contributed to increasing discontent, which resulted in several major uprisings in 1040–41, the 1070s, the 1080s; the initial centre of the resistance was the theme of Bulgaria, in what is now Macedonia, where the massive Uprising of Peter Delyan and the Uprising of Georgi Voiteh took place. Both were quelled with great difficulty by Byzantine authorities; these were followed by rebellions in Thrace. During the Comnenian Restoration and the temporary stabilisation of the Byzantine Empire in the first half of the 12th century, the Bulgarians were pacified and no major rebellions took place until in the century; the disastrous rule of the last Comnenian emperor Andronikos I worsened the situation of the Bulgarian peasantry and nobility. The first act of his successor Isaac II Angelos was to impose an extra tax to finance his wedding.
In 1185, two aristocrat brothers from Tarnovo and Asen, asked the emperor to enlist them into the army and grant them land, but Isaac II declined and slapped Asen across the face. Upon their return to Tarnovo, the brothers commissioned the construction of a church dedicated to Saint Demetrius of Salonica, they showed the populace a celebrated icon of the saint, whom they claimed had left Salonica to support the Bulgarian cause and called for a rebellion. That act had the desired effect on the religious population, who enthusiastically engaged in a rebellion against the Byzantines. Theodore, the elder brother, was crowned Emperor of Bulgaria under the name Peter IV, after the sainted Peter I. All of Bulgaria to the north of the Balkan Mountains—the region known as Moesia—immediately joined the rebels, who secured the assistance of the Cumans, a Turkic tribe inhabiting lands north of the Danube river; the Cumans soon became an important part of the Bulgarian army, playing a major role in the successes that followed.
As soon as the rebellion broke out, Peter IV attempted to s
Basil II, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was a Byzantine Emperor from the Macedonian dynasty whose effective reign—the longest of any Byzantine monarch—lasted from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025. He had been associated with the throne since 960 as a junior colleague to a succession of senior emperors: his father Romanos II, his step-father Nikephoros II Phokas, John I Tzimiskes. In addition to these emperors, Basil's influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos held power for several decades until he was overthrown in 985. From 962, Basil II's brother Constantine, who succeeded him as Constantine VIII, was nominal co-emperor; the early years of Basil's reign were dominated by civil wars against two powerful generals from the Anatolian aristocracy. Basil oversaw the stabilization and expansion of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire and the complete subjugation of the First Bulgarian Empire, its foremost European foe, after a prolonged struggle. Although the Byzantine Empire had made a truce with the Fatimid Caliphate in 987–988, Basil led a campaign against the Caliphate that ended with another truce in 1000.
He conducted a campaign against the Khazar Khaganate that gained the Byzantine Empire part of Crimea and a series of successful campaigns against the Kingdom of Georgia. Despite near-constant warfare, Basil distinguished himself as an administrator, reducing the power of the great land-owning families who dominated the Empire's administration and military and filling its treasury, he left the Empire with its greatest expanse in four centuries. Although his successors were incapable rulers, the Empire flourished for decades after Basil's death. One of the most important decisions taken during his reign was to offer the hand of his sister Anna Porphyrogenita to Vladimir I of Kiev in exchange for military support, thus forming the Byzantine military unit known as the Varangian Guard; the marriage of Anna and Vladimir led to the Christianization of the Kievan Rus' and the incorporation of successor nations of Kievan Rus' within the Byzantine cultural and religious tradition. Basil is seen as a Greek national hero but as a despised figure among Bulgarians.
The courtier and historian Michael Psellos, born towards the end of Basil's reign, gives a description of Basil in his Chronographia. Psellos describes him as a stocky man of shorter-than-average stature, an impressive figure on horseback, he had light-blue eyes arched eyebrows, luxuriant sidewhiskers—which he had a habit of rolling between his fingers when deep in thought or angry—and in life a scant beard. Psellos states that Basil was not an articulate speaker and had a loud laugh that convulsed his whole frame. Basil is described as having ascetic tastes and caring little for the pomp and ceremony of the Imperial court wearing a sombre, dark-purple robe furnished with few of the gems that decorated imperial costumes, he is described as a capable administrator who left a well-stocked treasury upon his death. Basil despised literary culture and affected scorn for the learned classes of Byzantium. According to the 19th century historian George Finlay, Basil saw himself as "prudent and devout.
For Greek learning he cared little, he was a type of the higher Byzantine moral character, which retained far more of its Roman than its Greek origin". The modern historian John Julius Norwich wrote of Basil, and it is hardly surprising: Basil was ugly, coarse, boorish and pathologically mean. He was in short un-Byzantine, he cared only for the greatness of his Empire. No wonder that in his hands it reached its apogee". Basil II was born c. 958. He was a porphyrogennetos, as were his father Romanos II and his paternal grandfather Constantine VII. Basil was the eldest son of Romanos and his Laconian Greek second wife Theophano, the daughter of a poor tavern-keeper named Krateros and may have originated from the city of Sparta, he may have had an elder sister named Helena. Romanos succeeded Constantine VII as sole emperor upon the latter's death in 959. Basil's father crowned him as co-emperor on 22 April 960, his brother Constantine in 962 or 963. Only two days after the birth of his youngest child Anna, Romanos II died on 15 March 963 at 24 years of age.
His unexpected death was thought at the time to be the result of poisoning with hemlock. Basil and Constantine were too young to rule in their own right when Romanos died in 963. Therefore, although the Byzantine Senate confirmed them as emperors with their mother as the nominal regent, de facto power passed for the time into the hands of the parakoimomenos Joseph Bringas. Theophano did not trust Bringas and another enemy of the powerful parakoimomenos was Basil Lekapenos, an illegitimate, eunuch son of Emperor Romanos I – Basil's great-grandfather. Lekapenos himself had been parakoimomenos to Constantine VII and megas baioulos to Romanos II, yet another enemy of Bringas was the successful and popular gene