- Established in 681 by Asparuch (q.v.), Bulgaria became the first independent state on Byzantine soil to be recognized by Byzantium (q.v.). The Bulgars, with their capital at Pliska (qq.v.), ruled over a large indigenous population of Slavs (q.v.) and Greeks. By the 10th century Bulgars and Slavs had intermixed into a single people, referred to as Bulgarians. Bulgaria always remained a kind of third-world country on Byzantium's northern border, one that was dependent on the Byzantine economy, one subject to Byzantine cultural influences. It was also an intermittent military threat, especially under khan Krum (qq.v.), and tsars Symeon and Samuel (qq.v.). Byzantine cultural influence seemed to make headway when, in 864, khan Boris I (qq.v.) received baptism from Byzantium. This provoked a revolt of the Bulgar nobility, which defended Bulgar paganism against Byzantine encroachment. Boris suppressed the revolt, but it made him hesitant to place the Bulgarian church under Byzantine ecclesiastical administration. However, in 870 he did just that, after negotiations with Pope Nicholas I (qq.v.) broke down. In 885 Boris accepted four pupils of the brothers Cyril and Methodios (qq.v.) who provided him with a Slavonic-speaking clergy and with necessary liturgical texts. Boris struggled to preserve Church Slavonic (q.v.) as the language of the Bulgarian church in the face of Byzantine insistence on Greek. Nevertheless, resistance to Byzantine cultural and ecclesiastical hegemony remained strong in Bulgaria, as Bogomilism (q.v.) demonstrated. To some extent these contradictory forces were never resolved. "Peace" meant Byzantine occupation of the country from 1018-1185, after Basil II (q.v.) ended a series of campaigns in 1014 with a decisive victory over the forces of Samuel of Bulgaria (q.v.). Subsequently a revolt occurred in 1185, which by 1186 resulted in a new state referred to as the Second Bulgarian Empire. Its capital was at Turnovo (q.v.) and its early rulers were energetic men like Kalojan and John Asen II (qq.v.). The new state expanded into Thrace (q.v.), and, after the battle ofKlokotnitsa (q.v.) in 1230, into western Macedonia (q.v.) as well. However, the growing power of Serbia (q.v.) threatened Bulgaria, and at Velbuzd (q.v.) in 1330 the Serbs destroyed a Bulgarian army. Within several decades after Velbuzd, Bulgaria's decline was made even more apparent by the Ottoman expansion into the Balkans. In 1373 Bulgaria became a vassal to the Ottomans (q.v.), and in 1393 Murad I (q.v.) conquered Bulgaria outright, burning Turnovo.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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