Mongol invasion of Bulgaria and Serbia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Mongol invasion of Bulgaria)
Jump to: navigation, search

During the Mongol invasion of Europe, Mongol tumens led by Batu Khan and Kadan invaded Serbia and then Bulgaria in the spring of 1242 after having defeated the Hungarians at the battle of Mohi and ravaged the Hungarian regions of Croatia and Dalmatia.[1]

Relations between Hungary and Serbia were poor on the eve of the Mongol invasion, the Serbian king, Stefan Vladislav, had married Beloslava, daughter of Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria, in 1234 in an effort to form an anti-Hungarian alliance.[2] By the time of the Mongol invasion, however, there were good relations between Hungary and Bulgaria, the Bulgarian tsar, the child Kaliman I, was a nephew of the Hungarian king, Béla IV, being the son of Béla's sister, Anna Maria, and Ivan Asen II. Around 1240, facing the threat of Mongol invasion, the Hungarians, Bulgars and Cumans may have entered into an alliance, as evidenced by the presence in that year of a Bulgarian emissary at Béla IV's court.[3][4][2]


When the Mongol commander Kadan withdrew from the invasion of Hungary, he entered Bosnia in late March or early April 1242. Bosnia was at this time a divided country: although nominally under Hungarian suzerainty, part of the country had been occupied by Hungarian crusaders opposed to the Bosnian Church while the remainder was under the control of the Bosnian ruler (ban) Ninoslav. The passing-through of the Mongols forced the Hungarians to evacuate the territory and allowed Ninoslav to assume control of the whole of Bosnia.[5][6]

Continuing south, the Mongols entered the Serbian region of Zeta. According to the local historian Thomas the Archdeacon, they inflicted minimal damage on independent Dubrovnik, which was too strong to take; in Zeta, however, the forces of Kadan attacked Kotor, razed to the ground Svač and Drisht and probably also destroyed Sapë, which was only rebuilt several decades later. The city of Ulcinj may have been spared because of an agreement reached with Dubrovnik in April. There is no record that they met any resistance, and it is possible that George, the governor of Zeta, sought to use them to detach his principality from Serbian overlordship,[5] he began to use the title of "king" at this time.[7]

According to Thomas the Archdeacon, the Mongols "overran all of Serbia and came to Bulgaria." This is the extent of our knowledge of the invasion of Serbia proper (Rascia) from literary sources. The raiding and looting in Serbia was over by late spring, when the tumens had moved on to Bulgaria.[5]

In the 1250s, William of Rubruck, a Flemish missionary in the Mongol Empire, reported that a French goldsmith in the Mongol capital of Karakorum had been captured in Belegrave by the forces of Bujek, a son of Tolui (and not by Kadan). This location is usually identified with Belgrade. If so, then Belgrade, which been under Hungarian control since 1235, was probably occupied by the Mongols in 1241 or 1242. If the former date is correct, it is likely that the Mongols crossed the Danube at Kovin, an important crossing, where evidence of destruction from that period has been unearthed.[8] A large coin hoard buried in 1241 has been found at the nearby fortress of Dupljaja.[9] If the Mongols under Bujek did not take Belgrade while crossing into Croatia in 1241, it is possible that Kadan took it—the Hungarians having evacuated—in 1242 while devastating Serbia.[8]

Although Stefan Vladislav was overthrown by his nobles in 1243, nothing suggests that this was related to his response to the Mongol invasion.[5]


Having passed through Bosnian and Serb lands, Kadan joined up with the main army under Batu in Bulgaria towards the end of spring. There is archaeological evidence of widespread destruction in central and northeastern Bulgaria around 1242. There are several narrative sources of the Mongol invasion of Bulgaria, but none is detailed and they present distinct pictures of what transpired,[10] it is clear, though, that two forced entered Bulgaria at the same time: Kadan's from Serbia and another, led by Batu himself or Bujek, from acros the Danube.[11]

The destruction of Bulgaria is mentioned by the contemporary Brabantine theologian Thomas of Cantimpré. Writing a litte later, the Italian missionary Ricoldo of Montecroce wrote that the Mongols had conquered the Vlachs.[12] According to the Persian historian Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, even the Buglarian capital of Tarnovo was sacked,[1] on the other hand, reports that the tsar's army dealt a defeat to the Mongol army reached as far afield as Flanders, where the victory is mentioned in the chronicle of Philippe Mouskès, and Palestine, where it is mentioned by the Syriac writer Bar Hebraeus. It is unlikely that the Bulgarians scored a victory over anything greater than a small raiding party.[1]

By 1253, when William of Rubruck visited the Mongol capital, Bulgaria was paying tribute: "from the Don to the Danube all is theirs [the Mongols'], and beyond the Danube towards Constantinople [in Vlachia and Bulgaria] they pay tribute", although no source indicates when the paying of tribute began, modern historians usually link it to the invasion of 1242.[13] Some historians believe that Bulgaria escaped major destruction by accepting Mongol suzerainty, while others have argued that the evidence of Mongol raiding is strong enough that there can have been no escaping; in any case, the campaign of 1242 brought the frontier of the authority of the Golden Horde (Batu's command) to the Danube, where it remained for some decades.[10][14]

A series of clashes between the Mongols and the Empire of Constantinople took place in 1243 as the invaders were passing through southern Bulgaria.[14]


  1. ^ a b c Jackson (2005), p. 65.
  2. ^ a b Sophoulis (2015), p. 257.
  3. ^ Jackson (2005), p. 61.
  4. ^ Dimitrov (1997), p. 14.
  5. ^ a b c d Sophoulis (2015), pp. 269–72.
  6. ^ Fine (1987), p. 145.
  7. ^ Fine (1987), p. 138.
  8. ^ a b Sophoulis (2015), pp. 259–60.
  9. ^ Radičević (2012), p. 87.
  10. ^ a b Sophoulis (2015), pp. 272–73.
  11. ^ Giebfried 2013, p. 131.
  12. ^ Jackson (2005), p. 79, n. 55.
  13. ^ Jackson (2005), p. 103.
  14. ^ a b Vásáry 2005, p. 70.


  • Cahen, Gaston (1924). "Les Mongols dans les Balkans". Revue Historique. 146: 55–59. 
  • Dimitrov, Hristo (1997). "Über die bulgarisch-ungarischen Beziehungen (1218–1255)". Bulgarian Historical Review. 25 (2–3): 3–27. 
  • Fine, John V. A. (1987). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. University of Michigan Press. 
  • Giebfried, John (2013). "The Mongol Invasions and the Aegean World (1241–61)". Mediterranean Historical Review. 28 (2): 129–39. 
  • Jackson, Peter (2005). The Mongols and the West, 1221–1410. Routledge. 
  • Madgearu, Alexandru (2016). The Asanids: The Political and Military History of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185–1280). Leiden: Brill. 
  • Radičević, Dejan (2012). "Medieval Fortifications in Dupljaja and Grebenac". Proceedings of the Regional Conference – Research, Preservation and Presentation of Banat Heritage: Current State and Long Term Strategy. Vršac. pp. 85–88. 
  • Sophoulis, Panos (2015). "The Mongol Invasion of Croatia and Serbia in 1242". Fragmenta Hellenoslavica. 2: 251–77. 
  • Vásáry, István (2005). Cumans and Tatars: Oriental Military in the Pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185–1365. Cambridge University Press. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Schreiner, Peter (1985). "Die Tataren und Bulgarien: Bemerkungen zu einer Notiz im Vaticanus Reginensis gr. 18". Études balkaniques. 4: 25–29. 
  • Decei, Aurel (1973). "L'invasion des Tatars de 1241/1242 dans nos régions selon la Djāmiʿ ot-Tevārīkẖ de Fäzl ol-lāh Räšīd od-dīn". Revue Roumaine d'Histoire. 12: 101–21. 
  • Nikov, Petur (1919–20). Tatarbolgarskite otnosheniia prez srednite vekove s ogled k′m tsaruvaneto na Smiletsa. Godishnik na Sofiiskiia Universitet, I. Istoriko-filoologicheski fakultet 15–16. Sofia. 
  • Pavlov, P.; Atanasov, D. (1994). "Preminavaneto na tatarskata armija prez Bulgarija (1241–1242)". Voennoistori česki Sbornik. 63: 6–20.