Portal:Bulgarian Empire

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THE BULGARIAN EMPIRE PORTAL

Coat of Arms of the Bulgarian Empire in the 14th century
The Bulgarian Empire in its expansion in the 13th century

The First Bulgarian Empire (Bulgarian: Първо Българско царство, Parvo Balgarsko Tsarstvo), was the first country of the contemporary Bulgarian people located in Southeastern Europe. Since its foundation it occupied a large part of the Balkan peninsula and struggled with the Byzantine Empire for control of the region.

Founded as a crude form of a confederacy between Bulgars, Slavs and Thracians in 681 on the two banks of the Danube river, it became the first Slavic country and is the oldest state still in existence in Europe. In 802-805 it destroyed the Avar Khanate and expanded its territory twice covering the whole area of contemporary Romania. During the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century in the course of the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars the Bulgarians took control of most of the Balkans. However in the mid 10th century the Empire suffered disastrous invasions of Magyars, Pechenegs and wars with Kievan Rus' and after a 50-year struggle it was destroyed by the Byzantines in 1018.

After the Christianization of Bulgaria the country became a major center of culture and learning. Literature flourished in the Preslav and Ohrid Literary Schools. The Bulgarian scholar Climent of Ohrid (840 - 916), who was a student of Saints Cyril and Methodius, invented the Cyrillic alphabet which carries the name of one of his teachers. The beauty and wealth of the new capital Preslav was compared by some contemporaries with Constantinople. In the 10th century in Bulgaria emerged one of the major heretic movements in Medieval Europe, the Bogomils.

The Second Bulgarian Empire (Bulgarian: Второ българско царство, Vtorо Bălgarskо Tsartsvo) was established in 1185 as a result of the Uprising of Asen and Peter and reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Up until 1256, the Second Bulgarian Empire was the dominant power in the Balkans. The Byzantines were defeated in several major battles, and in 1205 the newly-established Latin Empire was crushed in the battle of Adrianople by Emperor Kaloyan. His nephew, Ivan Asen II (r. 1218–1241), defeated the Despotate of Epiros and made Bulgaria a regional power once again. However, in the late 13th century the Empire declined under the constant invasions of Tatars, Byzantines, Hungarians, Serbs, and internal instability and revolts.

The capital Tarnovo became a major cultural, religious and literary center during 13th and 14th centuries and was considered by some as the Third Rome for a time. During the rule of Ivan Alexander (1331-1371) Bulgaria experienced its Second Golden Age.


Selected Article

A page of Codex Zographensis.
Old Church Slavonic or Old Bulgarian was developed in the First Bulgarian Empire. The 9th century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius are credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek ecclesiastical texts as part of the Christianization of the Slavic peoples. It played an important role in the history of the Slavic languages and served as a basis and model for later Church Slavonic traditions, and some Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches use Church Slavonic as a liturgical language to this day.

With the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet the literary schools of Preslav and Ohrid became the cradle of Bulgarian and Slavic culture. The existence of two major literary centres in the Empire led in the period from the ninth to the eleventh centuries to the development of two recensions, named "Eastern Bulgarian" and "Western Bulgarian" or "Macedonian" respectively.

Selected Biography

John of Rila (876 – circa 946)
Saint John of Rila (Bulgarian: свети Иван Рилски, sveti Ivan Rilski) (876 – circa 946) was the first Bulgarian hermit and the founder of the Rila Monastery. He is today honoured as the patron of Bulgarian people and one of the most important saints of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Originally a herd, Saint John of Rila became a priest at the age 25 and later dedicated himself entirely to a life of isolation in various locations in the Rila Mountains, where he prayed to God and deprived himself of an everyday life, settling in dark and cold caves in appalling conditions.

Saint John of Rila is also legendarily known to have performed a multitude of miracles in order to help people. This brought him fame throughout the country, which he did not desire and often tried to avoid contact with other people. With his growing number of followers, many young believers and supporters set up camps around his cave, seeking a blessing from him. This led the way to the creation of the Rila Monastery, which is considered to be the foremost monastery in Bulgaria.

Selected Picture

A page of the manuscript
Credit:

The Tetraevangelia of Ivan Alexander is a 14th century illuminated manuscript, a Gospel Book in Middle Bulgarian, prepared and illustrated during the rule of Tsar Ivan Alexander in the Second Bulgarian Empire. The manuscript is regarded as one of the most important literary treasures of the medieval Bulgarian culture.

Did You Know?

Monastere batchkovo.jpg
  • ... that the first Bulgarian capital Pliska encircled an area of 27 km² and had a sewerage long before cities such as Paris or London?

Topics

Battles Rulers
Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars
Bulgarian-Hungarian Wars
Croatian-Bulgarian Wars
Bulgarian-Rus' Wars
Bulgarian-Latin Wars
Bulgarian-Serbian Wars
Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars
Khans
Knyaze
Tsars (Emperors)
 
Capitals

Pliska

Preslav

Skopie

Ohrid

Tarnovo

Vidin

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