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For the Bulgarian town, see Kubrat (town).
Khan of Bulgaria
Reign 632–665
Predecessor Gostun
Successor Batbayan
House Dulo

Kubrat or Kvrt (Bulgarian: Кубрат; Ukrainian: Кубрат; Chuvash: Купрат, Kuprat; Greek: Kούβρατος, Mari: Чумбылат, meaning "Wolf") was a Utigur Bulgar Khan credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in 632. He is said to have achieved this by overthrowing the Avars and Turkic overlordship and uniting Kutrigurs who dominated the northern steppe with his Utigur (Bulgar tribes) under one rule. In his time the rule of the Bulgar Onogurs occupied the lands between two major rivers, the Volga in the east, and Danube in the west.


Kubrat's Great Bulgaria and adjacent regions, c. 650 AD
Quote from the Patriarch Nikephoros' Short History,[1]mentioning Kubrat as ruler of the Utigurs and the elimination of the Avar hegemony.

In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans Kubrat is mentioned as Kvrt of the Dulo clan. According to Runsiman, Vernadsky, Marquart and other historians who consider the first two names of Nominalia to be Attila and his son Ernakh, Kubrat must have been a descendant of Attila the Hun.[2][3][4] Some historians conclude that his maternal line was of the Ermy clan, because his maternal uncle Organa was possibly of that clan.[5][page needed] In Hungarian history, the Great Prince of the Onogurs, Árpád son of Almos, the founder of the Hungarian empire in Europe, descended from the Kubrat line.[6][page needed][better source needed]

Kubrat spent his time at the Byzantine court, either as a hostage or for protection from the dynastic war within the Turkic Khaganate. As the 7th-century Byzantine historian John of Nikiu narrates:

This project is concerned with Kubratos, chief of the Huns, the nephew of Organa, who was baptized in the city of Constantinople, and received into the Christian community in his childhood and had grown up in the imperial palace. And between him and the elder Heraclius great affection and peace had prevailed, and after Heraclius's death he had shown his affection to his sons and his wife Martina because of the kindness (Heraclius) had shown him. And after he had been baptized with life-giving baptism he overcame all the barbarians and heathens through Virtue of holy baptism. Now touching him it is said that he supported the interests of the children of Heraclius and opposed those of Constantine.[7]

Whether he was a child or an adult during his time in Constantinople is unclear, as the year of his birth is unknown. The exact time of this event is also unknown but probably coincided with the reign of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641). If the above text really applies to Kubrat then it becomes clear that during his stay in Constantinople he was educated and baptized. Probably at the same time he was given the title patrikios, which was inscribed on his ring.

Upon his return, Kubrat took power over his tribe, the Utigur Bulgars, from Organa, who had acted as regent until then. At some point, as Patriarch Nikephoros records, Kubrat overthrew the Kutrigur's Avar hegemony and ruled alone over the united Bulgars, thus creating "Great Bulgaria" of Onoguri, as it was known to its contemporaries. Under his rule, Old Great Bulgaria grew to stretch from the Danube (under generals Alcek and Kuber) in the west to the Volga river (under general Kotrag) in the east, and was recognized by a treaty signed with Byzantium in 635. Kubrat ruled in peace with the Byzantine Empire, a result of his close friendship with the Byzantine emperor and, conceivably, of his appreciation of Byzantine culture.

According to legend the 3rd (Asparukh), 4th (Kuber), and 5th (Alcek) of the many generals (styled "sons") of Kubrat with their hordes originally inhabited the Avar Khaganate. Altcek's Bulgars were isolated from the Bulgar Onoguri during Kubrat's lifetime. After Kubrat's death, the Kazarig general subjugated Kubrat's son Batbayan forcing the Utigur hordes to move the Onoguri capital to Pannonia officially in 677,[8][citation needed] but were ousted again by the Kazarig's new "Avar" allies in the 680s.[9][citation needed]

The Pereshchepina hoard was discovered in 1912 by Ukrainian peasants in the vicinity of Poltava, yielding, gold and silver objects of total weight of 75 kg, including a ring which eventually allowed identification of the grave as that belonging to Khan Kubrat. The ring was inscribed in Greek "Chouvr(á)tou patr(i)k(íou)", indicating the dignity of patrikios that he had achieved in the Byzantine world.[citation needed]


Kubrat Knoll on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Kubrat of Great Bulgaria.[citation needed]

Kubrat was portrayed by Vassil Mihajlov in the 1981 Bulgarian movie Aszparuh, directed by Ludmil Staikov.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, editor Carl G. de Boor, 24, 9-12.
  2. ^ http://www.promacedonia.org/en/sr/sr_app3.htm
  3. ^ Vernadsky, George (1943). A History of Russia 1. New Haven.
  4. ^ Vernadsky, George (1948). A History of Russia 2. New Haven.
  5. ^ Vasil Zlatarski, History of Bulgaria
  6. ^ The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Heritage; Koestler, Arthur
  7. ^ "The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu". Translated by Robert Charles. London: Williams and Norgate. 1916. 
  8. ^ Chronicon Pictum
  9. ^ Miracles of Saint Demetrius

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bulgarian Ruler Succeeded by