The Pechenegs or Patzinaks were a semi-nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia speaking the Pecheneg language which belonged to the Oghuz branch of Turkic language family. The Pechenegs were mentioned as Bjnak, Bjanak or Bajanak in medieval Arabic and Persian texts, as Be-ča-nag in Classical Tibetan documents, as Pačanak-i in works written in Georgian. Anna Komnene and other Byzantine authors referred to them as Patzinakitai. In medieval Latin texts, the Pechenegs were referred to as Bisseni or Bessi. East Slavic peoples use the terms Pečenegi or Pečenezi, while the Poles mention them as Pieczyngowie or Piecinigi; the Hungarian word for Pecheneg is besenyő. Three of the eight Pecheneg "provinces" or clans were collectively known as Kangars. According to Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, the Kangars received this denomination because "they are more valiant and noble than the rest" of the people "and, what the title Kangar signifies". For no Turkic word with similar meaning is known, Ármin Vámbéry connected the ethnonym to the Kirghiz words kangir and kani-kara, while Carlile Aylmer Macartney associated it with the Chagatai word gang.
Omeljan Pritsak proposed that the name had been a composite term deriving from the Tocharian word for stone and the Iranian ethnonym As. If the latter assumption is valid, the Kangars' ethnonym suggests that Iranian elements contributed to the formation of the Pecheneg people. Mahmud al-Kashgari, an 11th-century man of letters specialized in Turkic dialects argued that the language spoken by the Pechenegs was a variant of the Cuman and Oghuz idioms, he suggested that foreign influences on the Pechenegs gave rise to phonetical differences between their tongue and the idiom spoken by other Turkic peoples. Anna Komnene stated that the Pechenegs and the Cumans shared a common language. Although the Pecheneg language itself died out centuries ago, the names of the Pecheneg "provinces" recorded by Constantine Porphyrogenitus prove that the Pechenegs spoke a Turkic language; the Huns and Pechenegs are thought to have belonged to the same proto-Turkic group of languages as the modern Chuvash language.
Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos lists eight Pecheneg tribal groupings, four on each side of the Dnieper river, reflecting the bipartite left-right Turkic organization. These eight tribes were in turn divided into 40 sub-tribes clans. Constantine VI records the names of eight former tribal leaders who'd been leading the Pechenegs when they were expelled by the Khazars and Oghuzes. Golden, following Németh and Ligeti, proposes that each tribal name consists of two parts: the first part being an equine coat color, the other the tribal ruler's title; the first three tribes in the list below formed the Qangar/Kenger and were deemed "more valiant and noble than the rest". Paul Pelliot originated the proposal that the Book of Sui—a 7th-century Chinese work—preserved the earliest record on the Pechenegs; the book mentioned the Pei-ju people who had settled near the En-ch'u and A-lan peoples, to the east of Fu-lin. Victor Spinei emphasizes that the Pechenegs' association with the Pei-ju is "uncertain".
He proposes that an 8th-century Uighur envoy's report, which survives in Tibetan translation, contains the first certain reference to the Pechenegs. The report recorded an armed conflict between the Be-ča-nag and the Hor peoples in the region of the river Syr Darya. Ibn Khordadbeh, Mahmud al-Kashgari, Muhammad al-Idrisi, many other Muslim scholars agree that the Pechenegs belonged to the Turkic peoples; the Russian Primary Chronicle stated that the "Torkmens, Pechenegs and Polovcians" descended from "the godless sons of Ishmael, sent as a chastisement to the Christians". Omeljan Pritsak says that the Pechenegs' homeland was located between the Aral Sea and the middle course of the Syr Darya, along the important trade routes connecting Central Asia with Eastern Europe; the Orkhon inscriptions listed the Kangars among the subject peoples of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate. The Turkic Khaganate collapsed in 744 which gave rise to a series of intertribal confrontations in the Eurasian steppes; the Karluks attacked the Oghuz Turks, forcing them to launch a westward migration towards the Pechenegs' lands.
The Uighur envoy's report testifies that the Oghuz and Pecheneg waged war against each other in the 8th century, most for the control of the trade routes. The Oghuz made an alliance with the Karluks and Kimaks and defeated the Pechenegs and their allies in a battle near the Lake Aral before 850, according to the 10th-century scholar, Al-Masudi. Most Pechenegs launched a new migration towards the Volga River, but some groups were forced to join the Oghuz; the latter formed the 19th tribe of the Oghuz tribal federation in the 11th century. The Pechenegs who left their homeland settled between the Volga rivers, their new territory was quite large, according to Muslim sources. Their territory bordered on the Khazars, Slavs and Ouzes; the Pechenegs sold their captives. The Khazars made an alliance with the Ouzes against the Pechenegs and they invaded the Pechenegs' land from two directions; the double attack forced the Pechenegs into a new westward migration. They marched across the Khazar Khaganate and expelled the Magyars
Basileopatōr was one of the highest secular titles of the Byzantine Empire. It was an exceptional post, conferred only twice in the Empire's history, its holder was not the emperor's biological father, although the exact functions associated with the post remain obscure, it is hypothesized that it was meant to denote a regent acting as a custodian and tutor over a young emperor. A different interpretation, has been offered by A. Schmink, whereby the alternative spelling basileiopatōr, found both in contemporary seals and in the Life of Theophano hagiography, ought to be preferred; the title could be interpreted as meaning "father of the palace", confirming the holder's position as the emperor's chief aide without implying any sort of tutelage over him. The title was created, sometime between August 891 and May 893, by Emperor Leo VI the Wise for Stylianos Zaoutzes, the father of Leo's long-time mistress and second wife, Zoe Zaoutzaina. Coming in addition to Stylianos's earlier title of magistros and the position of logothetēs tou dromou, by this act Leo, according to the traditional interpretation, is held to have formally placed the affairs of the Byzantine Empire in Zaoutzes's hands until the latter's death in 899.
More recent scholarship, has cast doubt on the image of the "all-powerful basileopatōr", citing evidence in support of Leo's effective control of the government. Either way, the title placed Stylianos at the apex of the civil bureaucracy, directly below the emperor himself; the title was revived in 919 for admiral Romanos Lekapenos after he married his daughter Helena to Emperor Constantine VII, but within a few months he was raised further to Caesar and, shortly after, was crowned senior co-emperor. The title was not used thereafter except in a literary context. There was an attempt by supporters of Michael Palaiologos to revive the title in 1259, when he was appointed regent over the infant Nicaean emperor John IV Laskaris, but it came to nothing. Bury, John Bagnell; the Imperial Administrative System of the Ninth Century - With a Revised Text of the Kletorologion of Philotheos. London: Published for the British Academy by Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press. Kazhdan, Alexander. "Basileopator".
In Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 263–264. ISBN 0-19-504652-8. Tougher, Shaun; the Reign of Leo VI: Politics and People. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-10811-0
The Bosporus or Bosphorus is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace; the world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, the Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Most of the shores of the strait are settled, straddled by the city of Istanbul's metropolitan population of 17 million inhabitants extending inland from both coasts. Together with the Dardanelles, the Bosporus forms the Turkish Straits; the name of the channel comes from the Ancient Greek Βόσπορος, folk-etymologised as βοὸς πόρος, i.e. "cattle strait", from the genitive of bous βοῦς "ox, cattle" + poros πόρος "passage", thus meaning "cattle-passage", or "cow passage". This is in reference to the mythological story of Io, transformed into a cow, was subsequently condemned to wander the Earth until she crossed the Bosporus, where she met the Titan Prometheus, who comforted her with the information that she would be restored to human form by Zeus and become the ancestress of the greatest of all heroes, Heracles.
The site where Io went ashore was near Chrysopolis, was named Bous "the Cow". The same site was known as Damalis, as it was where the Athenian general Chares had erected a monument to his wife Damalis, which included a colossal statue of a cow; the English spelling with -ph-, Bosfor has no justification in the ancient Greek name, dictionaries prefer the spelling with -p- but -ph- occurs as a variant in medieval Latin, in medieval Greek sometimes as Βόσφορος, giving rise to the French form Bosphore, Spanish Bósforo and Russian Босфор. The 12th century Greek scholar John Tzetzes calls it Damaliten Bosporon, but he reports that in popular usage the strait was known as Prosphorion during his day, the name of the most ancient northern harbour of Constantinople; the Bosporus was known as the "Strait of Constantinople", or the Thracian Bosporus, in order to distinguish it from the Cimmerian Bosporus in Crimea. These are expressed in Herodotus' Histories, 4.83. Other names by which the strait is referenced by Herodotus include Chalcedonian Bosporus, or Mysian Bosporus.
The term came to be used as common noun βόσπορος, meaning "a strait", was formerly applied to the Hellespont in Classical Greek by Aeschylus and Sophocles. As a maritime waterway, the Bosporus connects various seas along the Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Near East, Western Eurasia, connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara; the Marmara further connects to the Mediterranean seas via the Dardanelles. Thus, the Bosporus allows maritime connections from the Black Sea all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean via Gibraltar, the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal, making it a crucial international waterway, in particular for the passage of goods coming in from Russia; the exact cause and date of the formation of the Bosporus remain the subject of debate among geologists. One recent hypothesis, dubbed the Black Sea deluge hypothesis, launched by a study of the same name in 1997 by two scientists from Columbia University, postulates that the Bosporus was formed around 5600 BC when the rising waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Marmara breached through to the Black Sea, which at the time, according to the hypothesis, was a low-lying body of fresh water.
Many geologists, claim that the strait is much older if young on a geologic timescale. From the perspective of ancient Greek mythology, it was said that colossal floating rocks known as the Symplegades, or Clashing Rocks, once occupied the hilltops on both sides of the Bosporus, destroyed any ship that attempted passage of the channel by rolling down the strait's hills and violently crushing all vessels between them; the Symplegades were defeated when the lyrical hero Jason obtained successful passage, whereupon the rocks became fixed, Greek access to the Black Sea was opened. The limits of the Bosporus are defined as the connecting line between the lighthouses of Rumeli Feneri and Anadolu Feneri in the north, between the Ahırkapı Feneri and the Kadıköy İnciburnu Feneri in the south. Between these limits, the strait is 31 km long, with a width of 3,329 m at the northern entrance and 2,826 m at the southern entrance, its maximum width is 3,420 m between Umuryeri and Büyükdere Limanı, minimum width 700 m between Kandilli Point and Aşiyan.
The depth of the Bosporus varies from 13 to 110 m in midstream with an average of 65 m. The deepest location is between Kandilli and Bebek with 110 m; the shallowest locations are off Kadıköy İnciburnu on the northward route with 18 m and off Aşiyan Point on the southward route with 13 m. The Golden Horn is an estuary off the main strait that acted as a moat to protect Old Istanbul from attack, as well as providing a sheltered anchorage for the imperial navies of various empires until the 19th century, after which it became a historic neighborhood at the heart of the city, popular with tourists and locals alike, it had been k
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection
Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of the Roman dictator; the change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about AD 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors". For political and personal reasons, Octavian chose to emphasize his relationship with Julius Caesar by styling himself "Imperator Caesar", without any of the other elements of his full name, his successor as emperor, his stepson Tiberius bore the name as a matter of course. The precedent was set: the Emperor designated his successor by adopting him and giving him the name "Caesar"; the fourth Emperor, was the first to assume the name "Caesar" upon accession, without having been adopted by the previous emperor. Claudius in turn adopted his stepson and grand-nephew Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, giving him the name "Caesar" in the traditional way; the first emperor to assume the position and the name without any real claim to either was the usurper Servius Sulpicius Galba, who took the imperial throne under the name "Servius Galba Imperator Caesar" following the death of the last of the Julio-Claudians, Nero, in 68.
Galba helped solidify "Caesar" as the title of the designated heir by giving it to his own adopted heir, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus. Galba's reign did not last long and he was soon deposed by Marcus Otho. Otho did not at first use the title "Caesar" and used the title "Nero" as emperor, but adopted the title "Caesar" as well. Otho was defeated by Aulus Vitellius, who acceded with the name "Aulus Vitellius Germanicus Imperator Augustus". Vitellius did not adopt the cognomen "Caesar" as part of his name and may have intended to replace it with "Germanicus". Caesar had become such an integral part of the imperial dignity that its place was restored by Titus Flavius Vespasianus, whose defeat of Vitellius in 69 put an end to the period of instability and began the Flavian dynasty. Vespasian's son, Titus Flavius Vespasianus became "Titus Flavius Caesar Vespasianus". By this point the status of "Caesar" had been regularised into that of a title given to the Emperor-designate and retained by him upon accession to the throne.
After some variation among the earliest emperors, the style of the Emperor-designate on coins was Nobilissimus Caesar "Most Noble Caesar", though Caesar on its own was used. The popularity of using the title Caesar to designate heirs-apparent increased throughout the third century. Many of the soldier emperors during the Crisis of the Third Century attempted to strengthen their legitimacy by naming heirs, including Maximinus Thrax, Philip the Arab, Trebonianus Gallus and Gallienus; some of these were promoted to the rank of Augustus within their father's lifetime, for example Philippus II. The same title would be used in the Gallic Empire, which operated autonomously from the rest of the Roman Empire from 260 to 274, with the final Gallic emperor Tetricus I appointing his heir Tetricus II Caesar and his consular colleague for 274. Despite the best efforts of these emperors, the granting of this title does not seem to have made succession in this chaotic period any more stable. All Caesars would be killed before or alongside their fathers, or at best outlive them for a matter of months, as in the case of Hostilian.
The sole Caesar to obtain the rank of Augustus and rule for some time in his own right was Gordian III, he was controlled by his court. On 1 March 293, Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus established the Tetrarchy, a system of rule by two senior Emperors and two junior sub-Emperors; the two coequal senior emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors, as Imperator Caesar NN. Pius Felix Invictus Augustus and were called the Augusti, while the two junior sub-Emperors were styled identically to previous Emperors-designate, as Nobilissimus Caesar; the junior sub-Emperors retained the title "Caesar" upon accession to the senior position. The Tetrarchy was abandoned as a system in favour of two equal, territorial emperors, the previous system of Emperors and Emperors-designate was restored, both in the Latin-speaking West and the Greek-speaking East; the title of Caesar remained in use throughout the Constantinian period, with both Constantine I and his co-emperor and rival Licinius utilising it to mark their heirs.
In the case of Constantine, this meant that by the time he died, he had four Caesars: Constantius II, Constantine II, Constans and his nephew Dalmatius, with his eldest son Crispus having been executed in mysterious circumstances earlier in his reign. In the event, Constantine would be su
Battle of Achelous (917)
The Battle of Achelous or Acheloos known as the Battle of Anchialus, took place on 20 August 917, on the Achelous River near the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, close to the fortress Tuthom between Bulgarian and Byzantine forces. The Bulgarians obtained a decisive victory which not only secured the previous successes of Simeon I but made him de facto a ruler of the whole Balkan Peninsula excluding the well-protected Byzantine capital Constantinople and the Peloponnese; the battle, one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of the European Middle Ages, was one of the worst disasters to befall a Byzantine army, conversely one of the greatest military successes of Bulgaria. Among the most significant consequences was the official recognition of the Imperial title of the Bulgarian monarchs, the consequent affirmation of Bulgarian equality vis-à-vis Byzantium. After the Bulgarian victory in the War of 894–896 the Byzantines were forced to pay tribute to Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria. In 912 when the Byzantine emperor Leo VI died, his brother Alexander refused to pay tribute to the Bulgarians.
Simeon saw an opportunity to fulfill his ambitions to conquer Constantinople. Alexander died in the same year and the new government under the Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos made desperate attempts to avoid the war, promising that the infant Emperor Constantine VII would marry one of Simeon's daughters. At some point, the patriarch and Simeon met outside the walls of Constantinople, performing a coronation ceremony. Thereafter, Simeon began using the title "Tsar of the Bulgarians", the Greek title basileus in his seals. After a plot in the Byzantine court in 914 however, the new regent Zoe, Constantine's mother, rejected the marriage. In answer the Bulgarians raided Eastern Thrace. Adrianople opened its gates to Simeon in September 914, its population recognised Simeon as their ruler, while the Byzantine army was occupied in the east. In the next year the Bulgarian armies attacked the areas of Thessalonica. Both sides prepared for a decisive end of the conflict. Empress Zoe wanted to swiftly make a peace settlement with the Arabs and to engage the whole army of the East in a war with Simeon and destroy him.
The Byzantines tried to find allies and sent emissaries to the Magyars and Serbs but Simeon was familiar with the methods of Byzantine diplomacy and from the beginning took successful actions to subvert a possible alliance between his enemies. Thus the Byzantines were forced to fight alone. By 917, after a series of successful campaigns, the Byzantine empire had stabilized its eastern borders, the generals John Bogas and Leo Phocas were able to gather additional troops from Asia Minor, to reinforce the imperial tagmata and the European thematic troops, gathering a force of some 30,000 to 62,000 men; this was a large army by contemporary standards, its goal was the elimination of the Bulgarian threat from the north. The Byzantine commanders were convinced. Morale was raised; the spirit of the army was further raised as the troops were paid in advance and a fleet commanded by Romanus Lecapenus set off to the north at the mouth of the Danube. The Byzantines had tried to pay some Pecheneg tribes to attack, but Romanus would not agree to transport them across the Danube, instead they attacked Bulgarian territory on their own.
The size of the Bulgarian army under Simeon I of Bulgaria is unknown. Although they ruined the Byzantine negotiations, the Bulgarians were still afraid that the old allies of the Byzantines, the Pechenegs and the Hungarians, would attack them from the north, so two small armies were sent to protect the northern borders of the vast Bulgarian empire that spread from Bosnia in the west to the Dnieper River in the east; however Miracula Sancti Georgii points that the Bulgarian army in the battle of Achelous was allied with Hungarian and Pecheneg troops, which helped to win the victory against the Byzantine army. In addition Bulgarian forces under Marmais were deployed near the western borders with the Serb principalities to prevent possible unrest; the Byzantine army marched northwards and set its camp in the vicinity of the strong fortress of Anchialus. Leo Phocas intended to meet the Pechenegs and Lecapenus's troops in Dobrudzha. Simeon swiftly concentrated his army on the heights around the fortress.
On the morning of 20 August 917, the battle between the Bulgarians and the Byzantines began by the river Achelous near the modern village Acheloi, 8 kilometers to the north of Anchialus on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. The Byzantine generals planned to outflank the right Bulgarian wing in order to detach Simeon's troops from the Balkan Passes; the Bulgarian ruler concentrated his most powerful forces in the two wings and left the centre weak in order to surround the enemy when the centre would yield to the Byzantine attack. Simeon himself was in charge of large cavalry reserves hidden behind the hills which were intended to strike the decisive blow; the Byzantine attack was fierce and it was not long before the Bulgarians began to retreat. The Byzantine cavalry charged the infantry in the centre killing many Bulgarians; the Bulgarian position became desperate as they could not manage to hold the heights to the south of the river and began a hasty retreat to the north. Elated, the Byzantines started a bitter chase and their battle formations soon began to break as a rumour spread that their commander, Leo Phocas, had been killed.
At this point, who had detected the disarray in the Byzantine formation, ordered his army to stand, and, at th
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