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For the Bulgarian town, see Kubrat (town).
Patrikios of Magna Bulgaria
Reign c. 635 – c. 650/665
Predecessor Gostun
Successor Batbayan
House Dulo

Kubrat (Xubraat, Qubrat, Qobrat; Greek: Kούβρατος, Κοβρāτος; Bulgarian: Кубрат; Turkic qobrat/quvrat, "to gather"[1][2]) was the Bulgars ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in c. 635 AD. In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans Kubrat is mentioned as Kvrt, and the descendant of the Dulo clan.


Kubrat's Old Great Bulgaria c. 650 AD.

All information that Kubrat grew up in Constantinople, where he converted to Christianity derived from only one publication - an erroneous translation of The Chronicles of John of Nikiû by H. Zotenberg (1883). In this translation H. Zotenberg unreasonably replaced the name of a character "Qetrades"[3] of the famous Chronicles by "Koubratos".[4] This erroneous translation in the historiography later used as a primary source of information due to the absence of access to original Chronicles manuscripts written in unique Ge'ez language. Since Charles R. (1916),[5] historians did not refer to the original Chronicles, but to a wrong translation of Zotenberg H. (1883): «A very bad case occurs on p. 197, where we read 'Kubratos chief of the Huns the nephew of Organa' without any hint that these names are not in the Ethiopic, and the same is the case with Zotenberg's final translation. But from the Journal Asiatique we learn that the Ethiopic has «Qetrades», «Moutanes», and «Kuernaka», and the identification with the Cubratus mentioned by Nicephorus is only a conjecture.Accordingly, although a new translation should supersede all previous ones, the scholar who wishes to use John of Nikiu for historical purposes must have the three volumes of the Journal Asiatique before him as well as Dr. Charles's translation ».[6] Information by John of Nikiû that Ketrades grew up in Constantinople and was baptized has no relation to Kubrat. This error occurred in the scientific circulation for over a century.[7]

It seems that young Kubrat was part of the pre-planned coalition, initiated by Heraclius or Organa, against the Sasanian–Avar alliance.[8] This coincides with other alliances by Heraclius with steppe peoples, all in the interest of saving Constantinople.[9][10] Kubrat, in 635, according to Nikephoros I, "ruler of the Onoğundur–Bulğars, successfully revolted against the Avars and concluded a treaty with Heraclius".[10] The state Old Great Bulgaria (Magna Bulgaria[10]) was formed. Kubrat died "when Konstantinos was in the West", somewhere during the reign of Constans II (641–668).[10]

According to Nikephoros I, Kubrat instructed his five sons (Batbayan, Kotrag, Asparukh, two others unmentioned are considered to be Kuber and Alcek[9]) to "never separate their place of dwelling from one another, so that by being in concordance with one another, their power might thrive".[9][10] However, the loose tribal union broke up under internal tensions and especially Khazars pressure from the East.[9][10]

Kubrat's death[edit]

The Pereshchepina Treasure was discovered in 1912 by Ukrainian peasants in the vicinity of Poltava, in village Malo Pereshchepyne.[11][12] It consists of diverse gold and silver objects of total weight of over 50 kg from the migration period, including a ring which eventually hinted the scholars to identify the site as the Kubrat's grave.[11][12] 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.[13] The treasure indicates close relation between the Bulgars and Byzantines, e.g. the bracelets were influenced or made by a Byzantine goldsmith.[14] The first treasure coins were issued after 629, by Heraclius, and the last ca. 650 AD, by Constans II, which can be associated with the upcoming Khazar conquest.[11]

Kubrat's lifespan is mentioned in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans, according which his birth is given the sign of the ox (shegor vechem) in the Bulgar calendar and 60 years of life.[15] This would place his death in 653 or 665 AD.[15] Thus, the date of Kubrat's death according historical and archaeological sources is placed between 650 and 665 AD.[15]


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.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Golden 1992, p. 244.
  2. ^ Golden 2011, p. 144.
  3. ^ Zotenberg H. Mémoire sur la chronique byzantine de Jean, évêque de Nikiou // Journal Asiatique. – 1879. – T. 13. – P. 379.
  4. ^ Chronique de Jean, Eveque de Nikiou / Texte ethiopien publie et traduit par H. Zotenberg. – Paris, 1883. – P. 460.
  5. ^ The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu. Trans. by R. H. Charles. – London, 1916. – P. 197–198.
  6. ^ Brooks E. W. Review on Charles, 1916 // The English Historical Review. – 1917. – Vol. 32. – №. 127. – Р. 429–430.
  7. ^ Mingazov S. Kubrat – the ruler of Great Bulgaria and Qetrades – John of Nikiu character. – Kazan: History Institute of Academy of Sciences, 2012. (Мингазов Ш. Р. Кубрат — правитель Великой Болгарии и Кетрадес — персонаж Иоанна Никиусского. — Казань: Институт истории АН РТ, 2012).
  8. ^ Golden 1992, p. 244–245.
  9. ^ a b c d Golden 1992, p. 245.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Golden 2011, p. 145.
  11. ^ a b c Somogyi 2008, p. 128.
  12. ^ a b Fiedler 2008, p. 152.
  13. ^ Vachkova 2008, p. 343.
  14. ^ Lippitz-Deppert, Barbara (1993). "A Group of Late Antique Jewelry in the Getty Museum". Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Getty Publications. pp. 119–120. ISBN 9780892362035. 
  15. ^ a b c Somogyi 2008, p. 104.
  16. ^ Khan Asparuh (1981) Full Cast & Crew - IMDB

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bulgarian Ruler Succeeded by