Portal:Bulgarian Empire

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The Bulgarian Empire in its expansion in the 13th century

In the medieval history of Europe, Bulgaria's status as the Bulgarian Empire (Bulgarian: Българско царство, Balgarsko tsarstvo [ˈbəlɡɐrskʊ ˈt͡sarstvʊ]), wherein it acted as a key regional power (particularly rivaling Byzantium in Southeastern Europe) occurred in two distinct periods: between the seventh and eleventh centuries, and again between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The two "Bulgarian Empires" are not treated as separate entities, but rather as one state restored after a period of Byzantine rule over its territory.

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The inscription of Mostich with the title "Tsar" enclosed in red.
Tsar (Bulgarian: цар, Russian: About this sound царь ) is a Slavic term derived from the Latin word Caesar, meant emperor in the European medieval sense of the term, that is, a ruler who claims the same rank as a Roman emperor, with the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch). Occasionally, the word could be used to designate other, non-Christian, supreme rulers. In Russia and Bulgaria the imperial connotations of the term were blurred with time and, by the 19th century, it had come to be viewed as an equivalent of King.

The title was adopted and used for the first time by Simeon I (r. 893-927) in 913 and was officially recognized by the Byzantines in 927. Some of the earliest attested occurrences of the contraction "tsar" (car' ) from "tsesar" (cěsar' ) are found in the grave inscription of the (ichirgu-boil) Mostich, a contemporary of Simeon I and Peter I, from Preslav. The title, later augmented with epithets and titles such as autocrat to reflect current Byzantine practice, was used by all of Simeon's successors until the complete conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire in 1422. The last person to hold the title was Simeon II (r. 1943-1946).

Selected Biography

Reconstruction of Samuil's face.
Samuil (Bulgarian: Самуил; [samuˈiɫ]) was the Emperor (Tsar) of the First Bulgarian Empire from 997 to 6 October 1014. From 976 to 997, he was a general for Roman, the second surviving son of Emperor Peter I of Bulgaria, and at least de facto co-ruled with him, as Roman bestowed him command of the army and the real authority. An energetic ruler, Samuil struggled to preserve his country's independence from Byzantium. His rule was characterized by constant war against the Byzantine Empire and its similarly ambitious ruler Basil II.

During his reign, Bulgaria gained control of most of the Balkans except Thrace and southern Greece. He moved the capital from Skopje to Ohrid, which had been the cultural and military centre of southwestern Bulgaria since Boris I's rule, and also made the city the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Although Samuil's reign brought the end of the First Bulgarian Empire, he is regarded as a heroic ruler.

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The Patriarch's Church on the top of the hill Tsarevets.
Credit: Kandi

The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Holy Ascension of God in Tarnovo, the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire is situated at the top of the fortified Tsarevets hill. The late 11th and early 12th century edifice was the seat of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for more than two centuries. It was part of a larger complex which accommodated the Patriarch.

Did You Know?

Bulgarians nominate Peter Deljan as king of Bulgary from the Chronicle of John Skylitzes.jpg
  • ... that after the siege of Serdica (809) Khan Krum massacred the whole garrison of 6,000 despite his promise to give them a safe conduct?


Battles Rulers
Byzantine–Bulgarian wars
Bulgarian–Hungarian wars
Croatian–Bulgarian wars
Bulgarian–Rus' wars
Bulgarian–Latin wars
Bulgarian–Serbian wars
Bulgarian–Ottoman wars
Tsars (Emperors)







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