History of Bulgaria between 700-2004

History of Bulgaria-Who is the first Bulgarian king?

The first Bulgarian king was Khan Asparuh, who founded the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 AD. Asparuh was the son of Khan Kubrat, the leader of the Bulgarian tribes, who had formed a powerful confederation in the 7th century. After Kubrat’s death, his sons fought for the leadership of the tribes, but Asparuh emerged victorious and became the new Khan.

Under Asparuh’s leadership, the Bulgars defeated the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Ongal in 680 AD and secured their independence. Asparuh then founded the Bulgarian capital city of Pliska and established the foundations of the First Bulgarian Empire, which would last for over two centuries.

Asparuh is considered a national hero in Bulgaria, and his legacy is celebrated every year on September 22 as the country’s Independence Day.

History of Bulgaria

Tsars of the first Bulgarian empire

The First Bulgarian Empire was ruled by a succession of khans and tsars, who held the highest position of power in the state. Here are some of the most notable rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire:

Khan Asparuh (681-700) – founder of the First Bulgarian Empire and its first ruler.

Khan Asparuh is considered the founder of the First Bulgarian Empire, which he established in 681 AD after leading the Bulgars to victory over the Byzantine Empire in the Battle of Ongal. Asparuh became the first ruler of the new empire, and he is remembered as a national hero in Bulgaria for securing the country’s independence and laying the foundations for its subsequent development. During his reign, Asparuh consolidated the power of the Bulgarian tribes and established the capital city of Pliska. He ruled until his death in 700 AD, and was succeeded by his son Tervel.

History of Bulgaria


Khan Tervel (700-721) – a successful military leader who defeated the Arab Umayyad Caliphate in the Battle of Constantinople in 717-718.

Khan Tervel was the second ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire, succeeding his father Khan Asparuh upon his death in 700 AD. Tervel is known for his military victories against the Byzantine Empire, particularly his role in the Battle of Constantinople in 717-718. In that battle, Tervel and his Bulgarian forces allied with the Byzantine Emperor Leo III to defeat the Arab Umayyad Caliphate, which had besieged the city. The victory was a turning point in the Byzantine-Arab Wars and helped to ensure the survival of the Byzantine Empire.

Tervel’s reign also saw the expansion of Bulgarian territory and the consolidation of the empire’s power. He died in 721 AD and was succeeded by his son Kormesiy, who ruled for only a brief period before being overthrown in a coup. Despite his short reign, Tervel is remembered as one of Bulgaria’s most successful and influential rulers.

Khan Krum (803-814) – expanded the territory of the empire and conquered the Byzantine city of Serdica (modern-day Sofia).

Khan Krum was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire from 803 to 814 AD. During his reign, he expanded the empire’s territory and established Bulgaria as a major power in southeastern Europe. One of his most significant military victories was the defeat of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I in the Battle of Pliska in 811 AD. Krum’s forces inflicted a crushing defeat on the Byzantine army and captured the emperor’s skull, which Krum used as a drinking cup.

In addition to his military campaigns, Krum is also remembered for his cultural and religious policies. He encouraged the spread of Christianity among the Bulgarian people and supported the building of churches and monasteries. He also established a legal code that regulated social and economic relationships, as well as the conduct of warfare.

Khan Krum died in 814 AD, and was succeeded by his son Omurtag, who continued his father’s policies and further expanded the power and influence of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Bronze Rosette from Pliska

Khan Omurtag (814-831) – known for his administrative reforms and codification of Bulgarian law.

Khan Omurtag was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire from 814 to 831 AD, succeeding his father Khan Krum. During his reign, Omurtag continued his father’s military campaigns, expanding the empire’s territory and securing its borders. He is also known for his administrative and legal reforms, which helped to establish a more centralized and efficient government.

One of Omurtag’s most significant achievements was the codification of Bulgarian law, known as the “Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans”. This legal code regulated the relationships between the ruler, the aristocracy, and the common people, and also set out guidelines for the conduct of warfare. The Nominalia was written in Old Bulgarian, making it one of the earliest examples of Slavic literature.

Omurtag also encouraged the spread of Christianity among the Bulgarian people, although he maintained a tolerant attitude towards other religions. He is remembered as one of the most successful and influential rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire, and played a crucial role in shaping the country’s culture and identity.

Khan Boris I (852-889) – converted the Bulgarian people to Christianity and established the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Khan Boris I, also known as Boris-Mikhail, was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire from 852 to 889 AD. He is remembered for his significant role in the Christianization of Bulgaria and the establishment of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

Boris I initially practiced a form of paganism, but he was eventually converted to Christianity and baptized in 864 AD. He then declared Christianity as the official religion of the First Bulgarian Empire and initiated a process of Christianization throughout the country. Boris I invited missionaries from the Byzantine Empire to help establish the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which was recognized as an autocephalous (independent) church in 870 AD.

Boris I’s reign also saw significant political and military developments, including the expansion of the Bulgarian Empire’s territory, the establishment of a strong centralized government, and the creation of a written legal code. He also oversaw the construction of important cultural and religious monuments, such as the Golden Church in the capital city of Pliska.

Boris I abdicated the throne in 889 AD and became a monk, taking the name Michael. He died in 907 AD and was later canonized by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. He is remembered as one of the most important rulers in Bulgarian history, and his legacy continues to be felt in Bulgarian culture and identity.

Tsar Simeon I (893-927) – expanded the empire’s territory and brought Bulgaria to the height of its power and influence.

Tsar Simeon I, also known as Simeon the Great, was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 927 AD. He is considered one of Bulgaria’s greatest rulers, known for his military conquests, cultural achievements, and political and administrative reforms.

During his reign, Simeon expanded the Bulgarian Empire’s territory, conquering large parts of the Byzantine Empire and establishing Bulgaria as a major power in the region. He also established a strong centralized government and a well-organized military system. Simeon was also a patron of the arts and education, promoting the development of Bulgarian literature and culture.

One of Simeon’s most significant accomplishments was the establishment of the Bulgarian Patriarchate, which was recognized as an independent institution by the Eastern Orthodox Church in 927 AD. This was a major milestone in the development of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and a symbol of Bulgaria’s cultural and religious independence.

Simeon’s reign was also marked by conflicts with the Byzantine Empire, particularly under the reign of Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos. However, Simeon ultimately triumphed over the Byzantines, and his reign is remembered as a period of prosperity and cultural flourishing in Bulgarian history.

Simeon abdicated the throne in 927 AD and became a monk. He died in 927 or 928 AD and was buried in the imperial palace at Preslav. He is remembered as one of Bulgaria’s most important and influential rulers.

These rulers, among others, played important roles in the development and history of the First Bulgarian Empire.

Here is a brief timeline of Bulgarian history:

  • 681 AD: Khan Asparuh founds the First Bulgarian Empire.
  • 864 AD: Khan Boris I converts to Christianity and declares it the official religion of Bulgaria.
  • 893-927 AD: Tsar Simeon I reigns over the First Bulgarian Empire and establishes it as a major power in southeastern Europe.
  • 1018 AD: The Byzantine Empire conquers the First Bulgarian Empire and Bulgaria becomes part of the Byzantine Empire.
  • 1185 AD: The Second Bulgarian Empire is founded by the Asen dynasty after a successful rebellion against the Byzantine Empire.
  • 1396 AD: The Ottoman Empire conquers the Second Bulgarian Empire and Bulgaria becomes part of the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1878 AD: Bulgaria gains independence from the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Turkish War.
  • 1908 AD: Bulgaria declares itself a kingdom with Ferdinand I as its first king.
  • 1912-1913 AD: Bulgaria participates in the Balkan Wars and gains territory from the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1915-1918 AD: Bulgaria participates in World War I as part of the Central Powers.
  • 1944 AD: The Bulgarian Communist Party seizes power in a coup and Bulgaria becomes a socialist state.
  • 1989 AD: The Communist government falls and Bulgaria transitions to democracy.
  • 2004 AD: Bulgaria joins the European Union.

This is just a brief overview, and there are many other events and developments that have shaped Bulgarian history over the centuries.

Bulgarian-Russian history

Bulgaria and Russia have a long and complex history, with many political, cultural, and economic ties. Here are some key events in the history of Bulgarian-Russian relations:

  • 1877-1878 AD: The Russo-Turkish War, also known as the Liberation War, leads to the independence of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire with the support of Russia. Russia played a significant role in helping Bulgaria gain independence and establishing the new Bulgarian state.
  • 1879-1946 AD: Bulgaria and Russia enjoyed a period of close political, military, and cultural ties, with Russia providing significant economic and military aid to Bulgaria. Many Bulgarian intellectuals, writers, and artists were influenced by Russian culture during this time.
  • 1944-1989 AD: Bulgaria became a communist state after World War II, and it aligned itself closely with the Soviet Union. Bulgaria was a member of the Warsaw Pact and received economic and military aid from the Soviet Union during this time.
  • 1990s AD: After the fall of communism, Bulgaria and Russia established new relations based on mutual interests and cooperation. Bulgaria joined the Commonwealth of Independent States, a regional organization of former Soviet republics, and maintained close cultural and economic ties with Russia.
  • 2010s AD: Bulgarian-Russian relations have been strained in recent years due to a number of factors, including Bulgaria’s membership in NATO and the EU, disagreements over energy policy, and allegations of Russian interference in Bulgarian politics. However, cultural and economic ties between the two countries remain strong.


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