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The Kotrags or Kazarigs (also known as Kotzagerek/Kutrigurs/Kotrigurs) were a horde of equestrian nomads later known as part of the Bulgars that inhabited the Eurasian plains during the Dark Ages. They are first mentioned in 539/540 under the leadership of Shaush in the lands of the Akacires who had previously been conquered in the 460s by the Hunugurs/Onogurs/Unogurs of Dengizich.
With the rise of the Gokturks the Kazarigs/Kotrags fled to the North East Carpathians under the rule of the Pseudo-Avar Kandik. Bar Hebraeus, as well as in the Chronicle of the late 12th century Jacobite patriarch of Antioch Michael the Syrian describe how they eventually came to be dominated by Utigur clans related to the Göktürks in the story of the arrival of three brothers from the Imaon Mountains in the late 6th century. At this point they came under the rule of the Kotrag/Kazarig Khaghan later styled a "son" of Kubrat when Kubrat united the Kotrags/Kazarigs and Utigur tribes who lived in old Great Onoguria (Magna Hungaria) by 632 to establish his short-lived state which East Roman scholars referred to as Old Great Bulgaria. Another group of Pseudo-Avar Kotrags/Kazarigs fled west into Ravenna (Italy) at the same time under the leadership of a certain Alcek who was later adopted it seems by Kubrat in a peace treaty.
Old Great Bulgaria collapsed following the death of Kubrat in the 660s, when the Kotrags/Kazarigs asserted their power in Onoguria by obtaining tribute from the Onogurs of Batbayan, Kubrat's appointee heir, and so came the downfall of Great Bulgaria. At the same time in Pannonia, the Kotrags/Kazarigs seem to have evicted other Bulgars under the leadership of Kuber in Sirmium south to the Pelagonian plain, while Asparukh's Bulgars fled south from Ongal to the banks of the lower Danube River. Kuber's Bulgars displaced some of the populations that had already settled in the region of Macedonia, and intermingled with the populations that remained. In the 8th century, the Kuber Bulgars merged with Asparuh's Bulgars who had settled in Thrace.
The dissenting faction of Kotrag/Kazarig Khaghan's Bulgars expanded their territory from there all the way to the upper Volga where their Onogur vassals founded the Volga Bulgarian state of Magna Hungaria. From this point on the Kotrags/Kazarigs of Onoguria are better known as Khazars as the Kotrag ethnicon disappears from history.
- В.Златарски, Известието на Михаил Сирийски за преселението на българите. Том V: Избрани произведения, София, 1972,с.52. (The notice of Michael the Syrian of the migration of Bulgars. Selected works, Volume 5, Sofia, 1972, page 52)
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