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First Bulgarian Empire

Not to be confused with Old Great Bulgaria.

Between the 7th and 10th centuries, the local population,
the Bulgars and the other tribes in the empire, which were
outnumbered by the Slavs,[14][15][16] gradually became
absorbed by them, adopting a South Slav language.[17]
Since the late 10th century, the names Bulgarians and
Bulgarian became prevalent and became permanent designations for the local population, both in the literature
and in the spoken language. The development of Old
Church Slavonic literacy had the eect of preventing the
assimilation of the South Slavs into neighboring cultures,
while stimulating the formation of a distinct Bulgarian

The First Bulgarian Empire (modern Bulgarian: o , Parvo Balgarsko Tsarstvo) is the
historiographical term for the khanate founded by the
Bulgars circa 681, when they settled in the northeastern
Balkans, subdued or drove out the Byzantines and made
the South Slavic settlers their allies. It evolved into a
principality in 864 and an empire around 913-927. 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 solidied its position in the
Balkans, it entered on a centuries-long interaction, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, with the Byzantine
Empire. Bulgaria emerged as Byzantiums chief antagonist to its north, resulting in several wars. The two
powers also 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 inuence on Bulgaria, which also 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. Later the Bulgarians
confronted the advance of the Pechenegs and Cumans,
and achieved a decisive victory over the Magyars, forcing
them to establish themselves permanently in Pannonia.

1 Nomenclature

The First Bulgarian Empire became known simply as

Bulgaria[19] since its recognition by the Byzantine Empire in 681. Some historians use the terms Danube Bulgaria,[20] First Bulgarian State,[21][22] or First Bulgarian
Tsardom (Empire). Between 681 and 864 the country was
also known as the Bulgarian Khanate,[23] Danube Bulgarian Khanate, or Danube Bulgar Khanate[24][25] in order
to dierentiate it from Volga Bulgaria, which emerged
from another Bulgar group. During its early existence,
the country was also called the Bulgar state[26] or Bulgar
qaghnate.[27] Between 864 and 917/927, the country was
During the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Simeon I known as the Principality of Bulgaria or Knyazhestvo Bulachieved a string of victories over the Byzantines, and garia.
was recognized with the title of Emperor, and expanded
the country is often known
the state to its greatest extent. After the annihilation of In English language sources,
the Byzantine army in the battle of Anchialus in 917, the
Bulgarians laid siege to Constantinople in 923 and 924. Created as a union between Bulgars and Slavs, for mutual
The Byzantines eventually recovered, and in 1014 un- protection against the Byzantine Empire to the south and
der Basil II, inicted a crushing defeat on the Bulgarians the Avars to the north-west, the First Bulgarian Empire
at the Battle of Kleidion.[10] By 1018, the last Bulgar- was ruled according to Bulgar tradition with the head of
ian strongholds had surrendered to the Byzantine Empire, state being the Khan. The Slavs kept signicant autonomy
and the First Bulgarian Empire had ceased to exist.[11] It and eventually their language and traditions shaped the
was succeeded by the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185. Bulgarian culture and people with Bulgaria becoming a
After the adoption of Christianity, Bulgaria became the Slavic country.
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, and 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.[12][13] In 927, the fully
independent Bulgarian Patriarchate was ocially recog-

2 Background
During the time of the late Roman Empire, the lands
of present-day Bulgaria had been organized into several
provinces - Scythia Minor, Moesia (Upper and Lower),
Thrace, Macedonia (First and Second), Dacia (north of

in the Balkans. Several other peoples were eventually absorbed into the new ethnicity. At that time the process of
absorption of the remnants of the old Thraco-Roman and
Thraco-Byzantine population had already been signicant in the formation of this new ethnic group. The new
single identity nation would continue to identify as Bulgarian and uphold the eponymous state as its own. Modern
Bulgarians continue to celebrate the original non-Slavic
Bulgar state and Thracian ancestors, while embracing a
Slavic identity at the same time.

3 History
The Bulgarian colonies after the fall of Old Great Bulgaria in the
7th century.

3.1 Establishing a rm foothold in the


the Danube), Dardania, Rhodope and Hermimont, and

had a mixed population of Romanized Getae and Hellenized Thracians. Several consecutive waves of Slavic
migration throughout the 6th and early 7th centuries led
to the almost complete Slavicization of the region, at least


The Bulgars

Main articles: Bulgars and Old Great Bulgaria

The Bulgars also included the tribes of Onogurs, Utigurs
and Kutrigurs.[29] Between 630 and 635, Khan Kubrat
managed to unite the main Bulgar tribes, creating a
powerful confederation called Old Great Bulgaria, also
known as Onoguria. Under strong Khazar pressure Old
Great Bulgaria disintegrated in 668.[30] Afterwards Khan
Asparuh parted ways to seek a secure home. It is dicult
to estimate the number of Asparuhs Bulgars, Zlatarski
posits that their number was not great,[31] on the contrary
Runciman consider that the tribe must have been of considerable dimension.[32] In 680 Asparukh founded after
the Battle of Ongal the First Bulgarian Empire, south of
the Danube on Byzantine territory. It was ocially recognized as an independent state by the Byzantine Empire
in 681.[33][34][35]


Formation of the Bulgarian ethnicity

It is likely that the original Bulgars were greatly outnumbered by the Slavic population among whom they were
settled. Between the 7th and the 10th centuries, the Bulgars gradually became absorbed by the Slavs, adopting
a South Slav language[17] and converting to Christianity (of the Byzantine rite) under Boris I of Bulgaria in
864. Modern Bulgarians are normally considered to be
of Southern Slavic origin. However, the Slavs were only
one of the communities that had been present in the area
conquered by Bulgars, themselves being recent migrants

Bulgaria, c. turn of 7th century

After the decisive victory at Ongala in 680 the armies of

the Bulgars and Slavs advanced to the South of the Balkan
mountains, defeating again the Byzantines who were then
forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty which acknowledged the establishment of a new state on the borders of
the Empire. They were also to pay an annual tribute to
Bulgaria. In the same time the war with the Khazars to
the East continued and in 700 Khan Asparough perished
in battle with them. The Bulgars lost the territories to the
East of the Dnester River, but managed to hold the lands
to the West. The Bulgars and the Slavs signed a treaty according to which the head of the state became the Khan


Territorial expansion

of the Bulgars, who had also the obligation to defend

the country against the Byzantine, while the Slavic leaders gained considerable autonomy and had to protect the
Northern borders along the Carpathian mountains against
the Avars.[36]
Khan Asparuh's successor, Khan Tervel helped the deposed Byzantine Emperor Justinian II to regain his throne
in 705.[37] In return he was given the area Zagore in
Northern Thrace, which was the rst expansion of the
country to the South of the Balkan mountains. However,
three years later Justinian tried to take it back by force,
but his army was defeated at Anchialus. In 716 Khan
Tervel signed an important agreement with Byzantium.
During the siege of Constantinople in 717718 he sent
50,000 troops to help the besieged city. In the decisive Khan Krum feasts after the victory at Varbitsa Pass
battle the Bulgarians massacred around 30,000 Arabs[38]
and Khan Tervel was called The saviour of Europe by his
the Frankish Empire was established along the middle
Danube. In 811 a large Byzantine army was decisively
defeated in the battle of the Varbitsa Pass.[44] The Byzan3.2 Internal instability and struggle for tine Emperor Nicephorus I was slain along with most of
his troops, and his skull was used as a drinking cup.[45]
Krum immediately took the initiative and moved the war
Khan Sevar, the last scion of the Dulo clan, died in 753. towards Thrace, defeating the Byzantines once more at
With his death the Khanate fell into a long political cri- Versinikia in 813.[46] After a treacherous Byzantine atsis during which the young country was on the verge of tempt to kill the Khan during negotiations, Krum pildestruction. In just fteen years, seven Khans ruled, all laged the whole of Thrace, seized Odrin, and resettled its
of whom were murdered. There were two main fac- 10,000 inhabitants in "Bulgaria across the Danube".[47]
tions: some nobles wanted uncompromising war against He made enhanced preparation to capture Constantinothe Byzantines, while others searched for a peaceful set- ple: 5,000 iron-plated wagons were built to carry the siege
tlement of the conict. That instability was used by equipment;[48] the Byzantines even pleaded for help from
the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V (745775), who the Frankish Emperor Louis the Pious.[49] Due to the sudlaunched nine major campaigns aiming to eliminate Bul- den death of the great Khan, however, the campaign was
garia. In 763 he defeated the Bulgarian Khan Telets at never launched. Khan Krum implemented legal reform,
Anchialus,[39][40] but the Byzantines were unable to ad- establishing equal rules and punishment for all peoples
vance further North. In 775 Khan Telerig tricked Con- living within the countrys boundaries, intending to restantine into revealing those loyal to him in the Bulgar- duce poverty and to strengthen the social ties in his vastly
ian Court, then executed all the Byzantine spies in the enlarged state.
capital Pliska.[41] Under his successor Khan Kardam, the
Khan Omurtag (814831) concluded a 30-year peace
war took a favourable turn after the great victory in the
treaty with the Byzantines,[50] thus allowing both coun[42]
battle of Marcelae in 792. The Byzantines were thortries to restore their economies and nance after the
oughly defeated and forced once again to pay tribute to
bloody conicts in the rst decade of the century. The
the Khans. As a result of the victory, the crisis was nally
northwestern boundaries with the Frankish Empire were
overcome, and Bulgaria entered the new century stable,
rmly settled along the middle Danube by 827. Extensive
stronger, and consolidated.
building was undertaken in the capital Pliska, including
the construction of a magnicent palace, pagan temples,
rulers residence, fortress, citadel, water-main, and bath,
3.3 Territorial expansion
mainly from stone and brick.
See also: Krum of Bulgaria and battle of Pliska
Under the great Khan Krum (803814), also known as
Crummus and Keanus Magnus, Bulgaria expanded southward and to the northwest, occupying the lands between
the middle Danube and Moldova, the whole territory of
present-day Romania, Soa in 809[43] and Adrianople
(modern Edirne) in 813, threatening Constantinople itself. Between 804 and 806 the Bulgarian armies thoroughly eliminated the Avar Khanate and a border with

During the short reign of Khan Malamir (831836), the

important city of Plovdiv was incorporated into the country. Under Khan Presian (836852), the Bulgarians
took most of Macedonia, and the borders of the country
reached the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. Byzantine historians do not mention any resistance against the Bulgarian
expansion in Macedonia, leading to the conclusion that
the expansion was largely peaceful.[51] Between 839 and
842 the Bulgarians waged war on the Serbs but did not


make any progress.[52]

title "Khan" was abolished and the title "Knyaz" assumed

in its place. The reason for the conversion to Christianity,
however, was not the Byzantine invasion. The Bulgarian
3.4 Bulgaria under Boris I
ruler was indeed a man of vision and he foresaw that the
introduction of a single religion would complete the conSee also: Boris I
solidation of the emerging Bulgarian nation, which was
The reign of Boris I (852889) began with numerous still divided on a religious basis. He also knew that his
state was not fully respected by Christian Europe and its
treaties could have been ignored by other signatories on
religious basis.

Bulgaria during the rule of Boris I

setbacks. For ten years the country fought against the

Byzantine and Eastern Frankish Empires, Great Moravia,
the Croats and the Serbs[53] forming several unsuccessful
alliances and changing sides. In August 863 there was
a period of 40 days of earthquakes and there was a lean
year, which caused famine throughout the country. To
cap it all, there was an incursion of locusts.


he Byzantines goal was to achieve with peace what they

were unable to after two centuries of warfare: to slowly
absorb Bulgaria through the Christian religion and turn
it into a satellite state, as naturally, the highest posts in
the newly founded Bulgarian Church were to be held by
Byzantines who preached in the Greek language. Knyaz
Boris I was well aware of that fact and after Constantinople refused to grant autonomy of the Bulgarian Church
in 866, he sent a delegation to Rome declaring his desire to accept Christianity in accordance with the Western rites along with 115 questions to Pope Nicolas I.[56][57]
The Bulgarian ruler desired to take advantage of the rivalry between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople as his main goal was the establishment of an independent Bulgarian Church in order to prevent both the
Byzantines and the Catholics from exerting inuence in
his lands through religion. The Popes detailed answers
to Boris questions were delivered by two bishops heading a mission whose purpose was to facilitate the conversion of the Bulgarian people. However, Nicolas I and his
successor Pope Adrian II also refused to recognize an autonomous Bulgarian Church, which cooled the relations
between the two sides, but Bulgarias shift towards Rome
made the Byzantines much more conciliatory. In 870,
at the Fourth Council of Constantinople, the Bulgarian
Church was recognized as an Autonomous Eastern Orthodox Church under the supreme direction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was the rst Church ocially
accepted, apart from the Churches of Rome and Constantinople. Eventually, in 893, the Old Bulgarian language became the third ocial language, recognized by
the Churches and used during services and in Christian
After the adoption of Christianity the country preserved
many institutions from the pagan state of the Bulgars.[58]

See also: Christianization of Bulgaria

3.4.2 Creation of the Slavic Writing System
In 864 the Byzantines under Michael III invaded Bulgaria on suspicions that Khan Boris I prepared to accept
Christianity in accordance with the Western rites. Upon
the news of the invasion, Boris I started negotiations for
peace.[54] The Byzantines returned some lands in Macedonia and their single demand was that he accept Christianity from Constantinople rather than Rome. Khan
Boris I agreed to that term and was baptised in September
865 assuming the name of his godfather, Byzantine Emperor Michael, and became Boris-Mihail.[55] The pagan

Although the Bulgarian Knyaz succeeded in securing an

autonomous Church, its higher clergy and theological
books were still Greek, which impeded the eorts to convert the populace to the new religion. Between 860 and
863 the Byzantine monks of Greek origin[59] Saint Cyril
and Saint Methodius created the Glagolitic alphabet, the
rst Slavic alphabet by order of the Byzantine Emperor,
who aimed to convert Great Moravia to Orthodox Christianity. However, these attempts failed and in 886 their


The Golden Age

Structure of the First Bulgarian Empire during the 9th to 10th


Old Bulgarian Alphabet

disciples Clement of Ohrid, Naum of Preslav and Angelarius, who were banished from Great Moravia, reached
Bulgaria and were warmly welcomed by Boris I. The Bulgarian Knyaz commissioned the creation of two theological academies to be headed by the disciples where the
future Bulgarian clergy was to be instructed in the local
vernacular. Clement was sent to Ohrid[60] in Southwestern Bulgaria, where he taught 3,500 pupils between 886
and 893. Naum established the literary school in the capital Pliska, moved later to the new capital Preslav. During the Council of Preslav in 893, Bulgaria adopted the
Glagolitic alphabet and Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) language as ocial language of the church and
state, and expelled the Byzantine clergy. In the early 10th
century the Cyrillic script was created at the Preslav Literary School.


Marmais. Under Tsar Simeon I (Simeon the Great), who

was educated in Constantinople, Bulgaria became again
a serious threat to the Byzantine Empire and reached
its greatest territorial extension.[62] Simeon I hoped to
take Constantinople and fought a series of wars with the
Byzantines throughout his long reign (893927). The
border close to the end of his rule reached the Northern limits of Attica in the South. Simeon I styled himself
Emperor (Tsar) of the Bulgarians and Autocrat of the
Greeks, a title which was recognized by the Pope, but
not by the Byzantine Emperor nor the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He was recognized
Emperor (Tsar) of the Bulgarians by the Byzantine Emperor and the Patriarch only at the end of his rule.

The Golden Age

Main article: Golden Age of medieval Bulgarian culture

See also: Simeon I of Bulgaria and Battle of Achelous
By the late 9th and the beginning of the 10th century,
Bulgaria extended to Epirus and Thessaly in the South,
Bosnia in the West and controlled the whole of presentday Romania and Eastern Hungary to the North. The
Serbian state came into existence in the mid-9th century as a response to the Bulgarian expansion West of the
Morava.[61] Switching loyalties between Bulgaria and the
Byzantines, the Serb rulers successfully resisted several
Bulgarian invasions until 924 AD, when it was fully subordinated under the general and possibly Count of Soa

Simeon sends envoys to the Fatimid Caliph to form an alliance

against the Byzantines.

Between 894 and 896 he defeated the Byzantines and

their allies the Magyars[63] in the Trade War, so-called
because the pretext of the war was the shifting of the
Bulgarian market from Constantinople to Thessaloniki
(Solun).[64][65] In the decisive battle of Bulgarophygon,
the Byzantine army was routed,[66] and the war ended
favourably for Bulgaria, though the peace was often violated by Simeon I.[67] In 904 he captured Solun, which
was previously looted by the Arabs, and returned it to
the Byzantines only after Bulgaria received all Slavic-


populated areas in Macedonia and 20 fortresses in Albania, including the important town Drach.[68]
After the unrest in the Byzantine Empire following the
death of Emperor Alexander in 913, Simeon I invaded
Byzantine Thrace, but he was persuaded to stop in return for ocial recognition of his Imperial title and marriage of his daughter to the infant Emperor Constantine
VII.[69][70] Simeon I was supposed to become regent of
the Emperor and to temporarily rule the Byzantine Empire. However, after a plot in the Byzantine court, Empress Zoe, mother of Constantine VII, rejected the marriage and Simeons title, and both sides prepared for a
decisive battle. By 917 Simeon I broke every attempt
of the Empire to form an alliance with the Magyars, the
Pechenegs, and the Serbs, and the Byzantines were forced
to ght alone. On 20 August the two armies clashed at
Anchialus in one of the greatest battles in the Middle
Ages.[71] The Byzantines suered an unprecedented defeat, leaving 70,000 killed on the battleeld; the pursuing Bulgarian forces defeated the remainder of the enemy armies at Katasyrtai.[72] Constantinople was saved by
a Serb attack from the West; the Serbs were thoroughly
defeated, but their attack allowed the Byzantine admiral
and later Emperor Romanos Lakepanos to prepare the
defense of the city. In the following decade the Bulgarians gained control of the whole Balkan peninsula with the
exception of Constantinople and Peloponnese.
In a CroatianBulgarian battle of 926, often called the
Battle of the Bosnian Highlands, Duke Alogobotur attacked Croatia. The Croatian forces under the leadership
of their King Tomislav completely devastated the Bulgarian army and stopped Simeons expansion westwards.[73]



See also: Sviatoslavs invasion of Bulgaria

After Simeons death in 927, Bulgarian power slowly de-

The Bulgarian Empire under Samuil[64]

clined. In a peace treaty the same year, the Byzantines

ocially recognized the Imperial title of his son Peter I

and the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Peace with Byzantium,

however, did not bring prosperity to Bulgaria. From the
beginning of his rule, Peter faced internal problems and
unrest with his brothers, and in the 930s he was forced
to recognize the independence of Rascia.[74] The biggest
blow came from the North: between 934 and 965 the
country suered ve Magyar invasions.[75] In 944 Bulgaria was attacked by the Pechenegs, who looted the
northeastern regions of the Empire. Under Peter I and
Boris II the country was divided by the egalitarian religious heresy of the Bogomils.[76]
In 968 the country was attacked by the Kievan Rus,
whose leader Svyatoslav I took Preslav[77] and established
his capital at Preslavets.[78] Three years later, Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes intervened in the struggle and defeated Svyatoslav at Dorostolon. Boris II was
captured and ritually divested of his imperial title in
Constantinople,[79] and eastern Bulgaria was proclaimed
a Byzantine protectorate.

3.7 Fall
See also: Samuil of Bulgaria and Battle of Kleidion
After the Byzantine takeover, the lands to the west of the
Iskar River remained in Bulgarian hands, and resistance
against the Byzantines was headed by the Comitopuli
brothers. By 976, the fourth brother, Samuil, concentrated all power in his hands after the deaths of his eldest
brother. When the rightful heir to the throne, Roman,
escaped from captivity in Constantinople, he was recognized as Emperor by Samuil in Vidin,[80] and the latter
remained the chief commander of the Bulgarian army. A
brilliant general and good politician, he managed to turn
the fortunes to the Bulgarians. The new Byzantine Emperor Basil II was decisively defeated in the battle of the
Gates of Trajan in 986 and barely escaped.[81][82] Five
years later he eliminated the Serbian state of Rascia.[83]
In 997, following the death of Roman, the last heir of
the Krum dynasty, Samuil was proclaimed Emperor of
Bulgaria.[84] After 1001, however, the war turned in favor
of the Byzantines, who captured the old capitals of Pliska
and Preslav, and beginning in 1004 launched annual campaigns against Bulgaria. The Byzantines further beneted
from a war between Bulgaria and the newly established
Kingdom of Hungary in 1003. The Byzantine victories
at Spercheios and Skopje decisively weakened the Bulgarian army, and in annual campaigns, Basil methodically reduced the Bulgarian strongholds. Eventually, at
the Battle of Kleidion in 1014, the Bulgarians were completely defeated.[10] The Bulgarian army was captured; it
is said that 99 out of every 100 men were blinded, with the
remaining hundredth man left with one eye so as to lead
his compatriots home (earning Basil the moniker Bulgaroktonos, the Bulgar Killer). When Tsar Samuil saw
the broken remains of his army, he suered a heart attack
and died. By 1018, the last Bulgarian strongholds had sur-



rendered and the First Bulgarian Empire was abolished.


The Madara Rider (c. 710), large rock relief carved on the
Madara Plateau east of Shumen, northeast Bulgaria.

construction materials were timber and bricks. The second type was construction of defensive walls using large
carved limestone blocks put together with plaster. The
same method was used in the construction of the fortress
of Preslav, the military camp at Han Krum, the hunting palace in Madara, and in the fortress on the island
of Pcuiul lui Soare.[87] Fortresses were mainly situated
in the plains, unlike those constructed during the Second
Bulgarian Empire.
After the adoption of Christianity in 864, intensive construction of churches and monasteries began throughout the Empire, including the Great Basilica of Pliska,
which was one of the biggest structures of the time with
its length of 99 m, and the splendid Golden Church in
Preslav. Most of the churches built during that period had
three naves. The Bulgarian capital was also famous for
the ceramics that adorned its public and religious buildings. Beautiful icons and church altars were made of special ceramic tiles. There were numerous goldsmith and
silversmith workshops producing ne jewellery.

4.2 Ceramics

The Great Basilica in Pliska

The cultural heritage of the First Bulgarian Empire is

usually dened in Bulgarian historiography as the PliskaPreslav culture, named after the rst two capitals, Pliska
and Preslav, where most of the surviving monuments
are concentrated. Many monuments of that period have
been found around Madara, Shumen, Novi Pazar, the
village of Han Krum in north-eastern Bulgaria, as well
in the territory of modern Romania, where Romanian
archaeologists called it the "Dridu culture"[85] Remains
left by the First Empire have also been discovered in Ceramic icon of St. Theodore, Preslav, c. 900, National Archaesouthern Bessarabia, now divided between Ukraine and ological Museum, Soa
One of the most famous features of the Pliska-Preslav culture was the decoration of palaces and churches with lacquered ceramic plates, which may indicate a Near East4.1 Architecture
ern (Arabic) inuence. The ceramic plates were painted
The most important feature of the early Bulgarian ar- mostly with geometric or vegetative elements, while a few
chitecture was monumental construction known to the feature depictions of saints. Among the most notable of
Romans but not used in the contemporary Byzantine Em- those is the well-preserved, 20-tile Icon of St Theodore,
pire. There were two main types of construction em- found in the ruins of the Saint Panteleimon Monastery
ployed in the building of Pliska. For the rst one the in the outskirts of Preslav.[88] The tiles were either at


or tubular and were arranged to form friezes of repeating motifs. Due to the destruction of Pliska and Preslav,
only fragments and details of the ceramic decoration have
survived. Most nds of tiles, as well as archaeological
evidence of the workshops producing them, come from
Preslav and the surrounding region (chiey the village of
The main sources for Bulgarian domestic use-oriented
pottery are the necropoleis at Novi Pazar, Devnya, and
Varna. The vessels were made with a potters wheel, unlike Slavic practice. Two-story ovens were used for the
annealing of the pottery. The shape and decoration of
the early Bulgarian pottery was similar to that found in
northern Caucasus, the Crimea, and the shores of the Sea
of Azov.


some historians to have been Simeon himself. Chernorizets Hrabar wrote his popular work An Account of
Letters, Clement of Ohrid worked on translations from
Greek and is credited with several important religious
books, John Exarch wrote his Shestodnev and translated
On Orthodox Christianity by John of Damascus, Naum
of Preslav also had a signicant contribution. Bulgarian scholars and works inuenced most of the Slavic
world, spreading Old Church Slavonic and the Cyrillic
and Glagolithic alphabets to Kievan Rus, medieval Serbia, and medieval Croatia, as well as to non-Slavic medieval Wallachia and Moldavia.

5 Religion


Depiction in the Manases Chronicle of baptism of Boris I

Culture of the First Bulgarian Empire

Bulgarian literature is the oldest Slavic literature. Missionaries from Thessalonica, Cyril and Methodius, devised the Glagolitic alphabet, which was adopted in the
Bulgarian Empire around 886. The alphabet and the Old
Bulgarian language gave rise to a rich literary and cultural
activity centered around the Preslav and Ohrid Schools,
established by order of Boris I in 886. In the beginning
of the 10th century, a new alphabet the Cyrillic script
- was developed on the basis of Greek and Glagolitic cursive at the Preslav Literary School. According to an alternative theory, the alphabet was devised at the Ohrid Literary School by Saint Clement of Ohrid, a Bulgarian scholar
and disciple of Cyril and Methodius. A pious monk and
hermit, St. Ivan of Rila (Ivan Rilski, 876946), became
the patron saint of Bulgaria.
During his reign Simeon gathered many scholars in his
court who translated an enormous number of books
from Greek and wrote many new works. Among the
most prominent gures were Constantine of Preslav, John
Exarch, and Chernorizets Hrabar, who is believed by

After the creation of the Bulgarian state, the Bulgars and

the Slavs continued to practice their indigenous religions.
The Bulgar religion was monotheistic, and they believed
in Tangra, the God of the Sky. When Omurtag and Leo
V the Armenian concluded a peace treaty in 815, the
Byzantine Emperor had to make an oath according to the
Bulgarian traditions. Byzantine historians recorded that
the most Christian ruler had to perform dierent pagan
rites including cutting dogs and using them as witnesses
for his oath.[90] The Slavs worshiped numerous deities,
and their supreme god was Perun. There is evidence that
Christianity remained widespread in Bulgaria during the
rst 150 years of its existence. In the mid-9th century,
Boris I decided to adopt Christianity in order to rmly
unite the population of the country.

6 See also
Kingdom of Balhara

Old Great Bulgaria
Bulgarian Orthodox Church


[15] The early medieval Balkans: a critical survey from the sixth
to the late twelfth century, John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press, 1991, ISBN 0-472-08149-7 p. 68.
Google Books. 15 May 1991. Retrieved 2011-11-13.
[16] Formation of the Bulgarian Nation, Academician Dimitr Simeonov Angelov, Summary, Soa-Press, 1978.
Kroraina.com. Retrieved 2011-11-13.

a. [a] Bulgaria is usually accepted to have been established in 681 when the Byzantine Empire acknowl- [17] L. Ivanov. Essential History of Bulgaria in Seven Pages.
Soa, 2007.
edged the country as a sovereign state in a treaty.
However, only some Bulgarian historians maintain [18] Who are the Macedonians? Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst &
a fringe view that Bulgaria existed since 632 with
Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-85065-534-0, pp. 19-20.
the creation of Old Great Bulgaria by Khan Kubrat
[19] Runciman, S. A History of the First Bulgarian Empire, p.
in today Ukraine.


[1] Jean W Sedlar, East Central Europe in the Middle Ages,

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[36] Theophanes, p. 359


[62] ,
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[37] Pauli Historia Langobardorum VI.31, MGH SS rer Lang

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[38] Theophanes, p. 397

[66] , , .

[39] Nicephorus, p. 69
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[67] , , .

[41] Theophanes, . 447448

[68] , , " "

[42] Theophanes, p. 467

[69] Runciman, A history of the First Bulgarian Empire, p.


[43] Classen, J. (ed.) (1841) Theophanes Chronographia,

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[83] , p. 331

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[84] , p. 43

[55] Georgius Monachus Continuatus, Logomete

[85] " :

", , , .
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[57] Anastasius Bibliothecarius, pp. 13734
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[60] Vita S. dmentis
[61] The Early Medieval Balkans. A Critical Survey from the
6th to the Late 12th Century. J V A Fine, Jr. Pg 110 they
(the Bulgarians) became a threat to the Serbs..; presumably
this danger proved to be a catalyst in uniting of various Serbian tribes to oppose it. The Byzantines were....interested in
building a stronger Serbia

[86] , . .

, , 1969, . 224-230
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[88] Kazhdan 1991, p. 335

[89] Kazhdan 1991, pp. 335, 20842085
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(8521018)], 1927)
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(in Bulgarian). : , . ISBN
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