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Second Bulgarian-Vlach Empire

 Ionita Caloian, Lord of Wallachians

Blachorum domino

The reconstructed head of Tsar Kaloyan

In the fall of 1972 a medieval burial of an aristocrat was discovered during excavations in Veliko Tarnovo.

One could not but be impressed by the enormous height of the man – nearly two metres – something quite unusual for that age.

There was a heavy gold ring inscribed Ring of Kaloyan on his hand.

The deceased was dressed in robes of purple, the color of royalty in the middle ages, embroidered with pearls.

The head was covered with a cap also decorated with gold, and there were red boots on his feet. The age of the deceased was presumed to be between 35 and 40.

Tests revealed the presence of many chrysalides and flies. This indicated that the deceased was not buried immediately’ as was customary for the age, but that the body had been exposed to the air.

Plenty of chloride materials were also discovered around the body. These facts are veritably indicative that the burial was that of Tsar Kaloyan.

According to his contemporaries he was an enormous man. He was murdered at 37. After his murder near Salonika, his body was salted (hence the chloride) and transported to Tarnovo within a week. There are traces of a healed wound on the skull made by an unknown weapon. The scar probably caused a pain so terrible it could have brought its bearer to the point of madness on occasion. And that was probably precisely the cause of the bouts of fury during which Kaloyan was capable of terrible cruelty, bouts that the annals have recorded.

 Vlach–Bulgarian Rebellion

The Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion was a revolt of the Bulgars and Vlachs[1] living in the Byzantine Empire, caused by a tax increase. It began at the turn of the year 1185/1186 and ended with the creation of the Second Bulgarian Vlach Empire, ruled by the Asen dynasty.

Niketas Choniates tells us that Isaac II Angelus, in order to raise money for the wedding with the daughter of King Bela III of Hungary, levied a new tax which fell heavily on the population of the Vlach Haemus Mountains.[2] They sent two leaders (Peter and Asen) to negotiate with the emperor at Kypsella (now İpsala) in Thrace. They asked to be added to the roll of the Byzantine army and to be granted land near Haemus to provide the monetary income needed to pay the tax. This was refused, and Peter and Asen were treated roughly. Their response was to threaten revolt.[3]

    Isaac II Angelus


After their return, many of the protesters were unwilling to join the rebellion. The brothers Peter and Asen built the Church of St Demetrius of Thessaloniki in Tarnovo, dedicated to Saint Demetrius, who was traditionally considered a patron of the Byzantine city of Thessaloniki, and claimed that the Saint had ceased to favour the Byzantines: "God had decided to free the Bulgarians and the Vlach people and to lift the yoke that they had borne for so long".[4] This persuaded their followers to attack Byzantine cities, seizing prisoners and cattle. Preslav, capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, was raided, and it was after this symbolic incident that Peter assumed the insignia of Tsar or Emperor.

In the spring of 1186, Isaac started a counter-offensive. It was successful at first. During the solar eclipse of 21 April 1186, the Byzantines successfully attacked the rebels, many of whom fled north of the Danube, making contact with the Cumans. In a symbolic gesture, Isaac II entered Peter's house and took the icon of Saint Demetrius, thus regaining the saint's favour. Still under threat of ambush from the hills, Isaac returned hastily to Constantinople to celebrate his victory. Thus, when the armies of the Vlachs and Bulgarians returned, reinforced with their Cuman allies, they found the region undefended and regained not only their old territory but the whole of Moesia, a considerable step towards the establishment of a new Bulgarian-Vlach state.

The Emperor now entrusted the war to his uncle, John Ducas the Sebastocrator, who gained several victories against the rebels but then himself rebelled. He was replaced with the emperor's brother-in-law, John Cantacuzenus, a good strategist but unfamiliar with the guerrilla tactics used by the mountaineers. His army was ambushed, suffering heavy losses, after unwisely pursuing the enemy into the mountains.

The third general in charge of fighting the rebels was Alexius Branas, who, in turn, rebelled and turned on Constantinople. Isaac defeated him with the help of a second brother-in-law, Conrad of Montferrat, but this civil strife had diverted attention from the rebels and Isaac was able to send out a new army only in September 1187. The Byzantines obtained a few minor victories before winter, but the rebels, helped by the Cumans and employing their mountain tactics, still held the advantage.

In the spring of 1188, Isaac attacked the fortress of Lovech, but failed to capture it after a three-month siege. The lands between the Haemus and the Danube were now lost to the Byzantine Empire. The Emperor's only consolation was to hold, as hostages, Asen's wife and a certain John-Ionitza (future Kaloyan of Bulgaria), brother of the two new leaders of the Bulgarian state.


  1. The meaning of the term "Vlach" in this case was the subject of fierce dispute in the late 19th and 20th centuries (see also Kaloyan of Bulgaria).
  2. Niketas Choniates p. 368 van Dieten.
  3. Niketas Choniates p. 369 van Dieten. At this first stage all the sources, Byzantine and Western, agree in calling these protesters and their leaders "Vlachs".
  4. Niketas Choniates p. 371-372 van Dieten. This is the point at which the sources begin to name "Bulgarians" alongside "Vlachs".


  • Nicetas Choniates, Historia, ed. J.-L. Van Dieten, 2 vols. (Berlin and New York, 1975), pp. 368-9, 371-7, 394-9; trans. as O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates, by H.J. Magoulias (Detroit; Wayne State University Press, 1984).

 External links


  • Paul Stephenson, Byzantium's Balkan Frontier. A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) pp. 289-300.
  • R. L. Wolff, "The Second Bulgarian Empire. Its origin and history to 1204". Speculum 24 (1949): 167-206.
  • George Ostrogorsky, History of the Byzantine State. Rutgers University Press, 1969. 

 Early rulers from the Asen dynasty (particularly Kaloyan) referred to themselves as "Emperors of Bulgarians and Vlachs". Later rulers, especially the successful Ivan Asen II, styled themselves "Tsars (Emperors) of Bulgarians and Greeks".

Some members of the Asen family entered Byzantine service in the thirteenth to fourteenth centuries, and the late descendants of these Byzantine Asenids may well have been the Wallacian boyars of the clan Asan. The name also occurs as a family name in modern Greek, and could go back to the same name.

The origins of the dynasty, especially the ethnic background of the three Asen brothers (Teodor I Peter IV, Ivan Asen I and Kaloyan) are still a source of much controversy, debated between Romanian and Bulgarian historians. There are three main hypothesis regarding their origins:

  1. Vlach origin (Romanian or Aromanian), a view supported by many Romanian historians, who say that there's no reason to question the ethnicity, mentioned in some chronicles.
  2. Bulgarian origin, a view that is common among the Bulgarian historians who reckon that all native sources use predominantly the terms Bulgaria, Bulgarians and Bulgarian, that tsar Kaloyan claimed provenance from the rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire and that it's just a matter of terminology and for certain period by "Vlach" the medieval sources meant "Bulgarian".
  3. Cuman origin, as some of the names in the dynasty, including Asen and Belgun (nickname of Ivan Asen I) are derived from Cuman language.

In their own administrative documents and correspondence, the three rulers viewed themselves as descendants and successors of the Bulgarian Tsars Samuil, Peter I and Simeon I, and the state they founded as a continuation of the First Bulgarian Empire. However, this could be just a way to proclaim their legitimacy for the throne of the Empire.

A detail in the chronicles of Nicetas Choniates tell us that Asen spoke Vlach language: a Greek priest was kidnapped by Vlachs of the Haimos Mountains and implored Asen to let him go speaking in the language of the Vlachs.

In a correspondence, of 1199, the Pope talks about the "Roman descent" of Kaloyan, thing which is also reminded in Kaloyan's response. The meaning of this also has been debated: it is unclear whether the Pope referred to the Romanic origins of the Vlachs or to the Eastern Roman Empire.


The name of the dynasty comes from one of the brothers, namely Asen I. The etymology is most likely of Cuman Turkic origin, derived from "esen" which meant "safe, sound, healthy" and the Belgun nickname seems to be derived from Turkic "bilgün", which meant "wise". This could be explained by the fact that in other places, early Romanians used names of Cuman origin, for example a diploma of 1383 in Sibiu had a list of names of Romanians, which included among names of Romanian and Slavic origin, a few names of Cuman origin. Also, the most important dynasty of Wallachia had a Cuman name (Basarab dynasty)

Alternately, the name could also be of Pecheneg origin, since that language was rather similar to Cuman, however this hypothesis is less likely.

There is possible link between the Bulgarian name Assen and the Arabic name Hassan. There is evidence that the name Assen has a Turkic origin coming from the Proto-Bulgarian's or Cuman's Turkic origin. Therefore both the Arabic name Hassan that is very popular in the Turkic speaking nations, sometimes written as Assan and the Bulgarian name Assen can be of similar or even the same origin. See Hassan (given name)

See also


  • Božilov, Ivan (1985) (in Bulgarian). Familijata na Asenevci (1186–1460). Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. OCLC 14378091. 
  • Bănescu, Nicolae, "O problemă de istorie medievală: crearea şi caracterul celui de al Doilea Imperiu Bulgar (1185)", Analele Academiei Române. Memoriile Secţiunii Istorice, 3rd series, 25 (1943): 543-590
  • Vasary, Istvan (2005) "Cumans and Tatars", Cambridge University Press: pp. 34–42 
  • Stephenson, Paul (2000) "Byzantium's Balkan Frontier — A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204" pp. 289–300
  • ambushed, suffering heavy losses, after unwisely pursuing the enemy into the At this first stage all the sources, Byzantine and Western, agree in calling these protesters and their leaders "Vlachs".
  1. ^ Niketas Choniates p. 371-372 van Dieten. This is the point at which the sources begin to name "Bulgarians" alongside "Vlachs".


  • Nicetas Choniates, Historia, ed. J.-L. Van Dieten, 2 vols. (Berlin and New York, 1975), pp. 368-9, 371-7, 394-9; trans. as O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates, by H.J. Magoulias (Detroit; Wayne State University Press, 1984).

 File:Byzantine Macedonia 1045CE.svg

Instead of aiming their efforts at Palestine, as it was their Christian duty, the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade conquered Constantinople in 1204 and founded their own Latin Empire in the place of Byzantium. Kaloyan was quick to establish good relations with his new neighbors. He offered friendship and assistance but both were haughtily rejected. What was more, the crusaders declared the Bulgarians insurgents as they had split from Byzantium – whose very heirs they claimed to be. Full of contempt, the knights marched against the Bulgarians, with the decisive battle taking place by Adrianople in the spring of 1205. The Bulgarians succeeded in luring their enemy into a trap

. Count Louis of Blois was the first to give in to his temper and to lead the proud crusaders towards defeat. The knights who had recently triumphed over Byzantium suffered a complete fiasco. Their emperor, Baldwin I, count of Flanders, was captured and taken to Tarnovo.

From that point on there is no sure information about his fate. Romantic legend has it that, as a good Frenchman, he seduced the wife of the sovereign and the jealous husband ordered him thrown from the castle walls on the rocks below.

It is more probable that he died of a natural death in the prison, which was hardly a holiday villa, or was executed by order of the ruler.The defeat at Adrianople shook the Latin Empire.

Kaloyan began to tear territories away from it piece by piece and soon the Bulgarian state became nearly as large as it had been before it fell under Byzantine rule.

The boyars, however, also continued with their plotting. One of the plots was successful and the Bulgarian tsar was speared in his battle tent in a summer evening of 1207, while he was besieging the second largest city in the empire, Salonika. The Latins could heave a sigh of relief. The new tsar, who ascended to the throne as a relative of Kaloyan, was incompetent and soon squandered most of his predecessors’ acquisitions.



Imperiul Romano-Bulgar al Asanestilor 

Scurtă istorie a imperiului clădit de trei frati vlahi (aromâni) la sud de Dunăre

ÎN JURUL anului 1000, alături de bulgarii slavofoni, izvoarele bizantine, cele narative de la cancelaria imperială si de la cancelaria patriarhală îi mentionează la sud de Dunare pe aromâni, populatie romanică din regiune.

În anul 1185, în Bizant domneste tânărul împărat Isaac II Anghelos. Dorind să-si pregătească cu mare fast nunta cu fiica regelui maghiar Bela II, el pune o dare nouă asupra supusilor săi. Darea îi afectează în primul rând pe cei ce au turme de oi si vite. Este tocmai cazul valahilor, a căror îndeletnicire principală este păstoritul. Aceste dări si felul abuziv în care sunt strânse produc o mare nemultumire printre valahii care locuiesc în muntele Hemus. Acestia trimit la împărat, care se afla la Kypsella în Tracia, o delegatie condusă de fratii Petru si Asan, fruntasi ai lor, pentru a-si prezenta plângerile. Cererile lor nu sunt luate în seamă, ba, mai mult, Asan este pălmuit de un demnitar bizantin, „pentru neobrăzare”. În aceste conditii, ei se întorc la Târnovo, în biserica Sf. Dumitru unde, „în limba lor părintească”, după cum spune cronicarul Nicetas Choniates, cheamă poporul la răscoală împotriva bizantinilor. Răscoala porneste în momentul în care normanzii din Sicilia ocupă orasele Durazzo, Seres, Amphipolis si Salonic.

Răsculatii atacă rând pe rând orasele din zonă, stârnind o îngrijorare tot mai mare la curtea imperială. Împăratul se decide să conducă el însusi operatiunile militare si reuseste să înfrângă pe cei doi frati vlahi, care se refugiază peste Dunăre. Urmare a promisiunilor de supunere făcute de cei doi, Isaac renuntă a mai ocupa si satele din munti si îsi întoarce armata din drum. Petru si Asan se întorc de peste Dunăre cu forte proaspete de la vlahii si cumanii de pe celălalt mal, si încep să prade Tracia.

Împăratul Isaac trimite o nouă armată, de data aceasta sub conducerea sebastocratorului Ioan, cel care îl pălmuise pe Asan. Acesta nu rămâne mult timp la comandă, fiind bănuit de complot, si este înlocuit cu Ioan Cantacuzino, cumnatul împăratului. Acesta nu are nici o experientă militară si, în urma unui atac pe timp de noapte, suferă o grea înfrângere din partea vlahilor.

În 1187, împăratul Isaac revine în regiune în fruntea unei noi armate si, desi îi urmăreste pe răsculati de la Adrianopole la Filipolis si Triadita (actuala Sofia), nu reuseste să obtină nici o victorie majoră. El revine la Constantinopol pentru a petrece iarna, iar campania militară este reluată în primăvara lui 1188. Operatiunile se opresc temporar în momentul în care Isaac o prinde pe nevasta lui Asan si primeste ca ostatic pe cel de-al treilea frate, Ionită.

Trei ani mai târziu, împăratul Isaac trece muntii Balcani, cu gândul să ocupe Târnovo, capitala Asănestilor, dar întimpinând o rezistentă îndârjită, se retrage. Pe drumul de întoarcere, armata sa cade într-o ambuscadă într-o trecătoare din munti si suferă pierderi grele. Împăratul însusi scapă cu fuga, pierzându-si coiful. Victoria întăreste si mai mult pozitia Asănestilor, care rămân stăpâni pe teritoriul dintre Dunăre si Balcani.

În 1194, Isaac îl numeste pe Alexios Gidos în fruntea ostilor din răsărit si pe Vasile Vatatzes comandant peste armata din apus. Acesta din urmă poartă o bătălie cu vlahii lângă Arcadiopole si este înfrânt, murind omorât în luptă. Împăratul se decide să preia încă o dată conducerea. Insă, în primăvara lui 1195, desi beneficiind de o oaste mare si sprijin trimis de socrul său, regele Bela al Ungariei, pierde din nou luptele.
Isaac este detronat de un grup de nobili nemultumiti si este înlocuit de fratele său, Alexios III Anghelos, care le propune pacea răsculatilor vlahi. Petru si Asan pun conditii inacceptabile si, în timp ce Alexios se află în răsărit pentru a înăbusi răscoala pornită de un rebel din Cilicia, vlahii risipesc o altă armată bizantină în apropiere de orasul Seres. În 1196, Asan este ucis în urma intrigilor bizantinilor, recunoscuti pentru asemenea manevre. Aceeasi soartă o are si Petru, un an mai târziu (1197). După Petru, tronul este preluat de cel de-al treilea frate, Ionită cel Frumos (Caloian, 1197-1207), ce dovedeste remarcabile însusiri de militar si om politic. În urma mai multor victorii împotriva bizantinilor, întelegând că Bizantul nu-l va recunoaste niciodată ca „împărat”, Ionită apelează la Papa Inocentiu III, căruia îi cere recunoasterea ca Impărat al bulgarilor si vlahilor, precum si titlul de Patriarh pentru întâi-stătătorul bisericii sale.

Profitând de conjunctură, Inocentiu III urmăreste să impună autoritatea bisericii romano-catolice asupra statului Asănestilor. În prima sa scrisoare, formulată în decembrie 1199, Inocentiu afirmă că victoriile “nobilului Ionită” au fost posibile cu ajutorul lui Dumnezeu. De asemenea, Papa îi invocă pe strămosii lor comuni – romanii – dovadă a faptului că Ionită, împreună cu fratii săi Petru si Asan, erau vlahi, iar nu bulgari, asa cum încearcă să dovedească azi unii istorici bulgari. Mai mult, cronica grecească a lui Nicetas mentionează în mai multe rânduri că Petru si Asan erau „vlahi” si că ei apartineau acelui neam de oameni „care locuiesc în muntele Hemus” si care „înainte se numeau Mysi, iar acum vlahi se cheamă”. Originea valahă a fratilor Asănesti este confirmată de numeroase izvoare contemporane.

Se pune întrebarea cum au reusit acesti vlahi, care nu constituiau o majoritate în acea regiune, să repurteze asemenea succese? Răspunsul constă în faptul că vlahii erau elita conducătoare peste mozaicul de neamuri din regiune. În plus, ei aveau deja o traditie în opozitia fată de autoritătile bizantine. De exemplu, în jurul anului 1000, ei sprijiniseră activ rezistenta împotriva împăratului Vasile al II-lea Macedoneanul. De asemenea, ei fusesera principalii animatori ai unei răscoale cu caracter etnic si social din zona specific românească, Larissa (Thesalia) în preajma anului 1066.

Ionită îi răspunde Papei abia în 1202 si vorbeste despre sine folosind cuvintele Caloiohannes Imperator Bulgarorum et Blachorum (Caloian, împăratul bulgarilor si al vlahilor). Ii multumeste Papei pentru scrisoare si îi dezvăluie că si fratii lui, Petru si Asan, încercaseră să ia legătura cu el, nereusind însă din cauza vicisitudinilor vremii.

Papa se dovedeste un abil negociator si astfel, pe 8 noiembrie 1204, Ionită este încoronat ca „rege al bulgarilor si valahilor”, primind coroana, sceptrul si bula de recunoastere trimise de Papă, împreună cu un steag cu chipul apostolului Petru. Ionită primeste si dreptul de a bate monedă. Întâi-stătătorul bisericii româno-bulgare, Vasile, devine arhiepiscop primat. În schimb, Ionită îi dă cardinalului un act prin care el, boierii si întregul cler se obligau a se supune bisericii romano-catolice si a urma legile si ritualul acesteia. Se specifică, de asemenea, că teritoriile noi ce s-ar adăuga statului lui Ionită vor urma acelasi regim. Cardinalul se întoarce la Roma, luând cu el si doi copii, unul fiind chiar fiul lui Ionită, pentru a studia limba latină la Roma.

Spre dezamăgirea Papei, împărătia Asănestilor nu devine un pilon al Romei în sud-estul Europei si nici nu se apropie de Imperiul Latin de Răsărit, fondat de Balduin de Flandra, care cucerise Bizantul în cea de-a patra Cruciadă (1204) proclamându-se Impărat al Imperiului Latin de Răsărit.

Ionită, dorind să stabilească legături cu noii stăpâni ai Bizantului, trimite o delegatie, cerând să fie recunoscut si de acestia. Latinii fac însă o greseală fatală, cerându-i regelui să nu li se mai adreseze ca unor egali, ci ca un vasal stăpânilor săi.

Lui Ionită, ofensat, care porneste război, i se alătură o serie de nobili greci, fosti ofiteri în armata lui Alexios III, izgoniti de latini. Ionită preia conducerea noii aliante, iar latinii ajung repede să înteleagă ce greseală au făcut. Vrând să înăbuse revolta lui Ionită, ei se decid să lovească punctul principal si asediază Adrianopolele. Bătălia care are loc în ziua de 5 aprilie 1205 se încheie însă cu un dezastru pentru latini, iar Balduin este prins si dus la Târnovo, unde moare în chinuri grozave, după cum povesteste cronicarul Nicetas.

Ionită socoteste că e momentul potrivit să-si rotunjească hotarele împărătiei. Intentia avea să îi fie fatală. In timpul asediului asupra Salonicului, rămas fără rege după moartea nobilului Bonifaciu de Montferrat, este este asasinat de Manaster, unul din comandantii cumani aliati, pe 8 octombrie 1207. Papii încearcă mentinerea statului Asănestilor în sfera lor de influentă, prin abile actiuni diplomatice si politico-militare, cu implicarea regatului Ungariei, a Ordinului Teutonilor si a Imperiului Latin. Totul se dovedeste zadarnic. Urmasul lui Ionită, Borilă (un nepot de frate, 1207-1218), convoacă un sinod la Târnovo, după legea ortodoxă, iar urmasul său, Ioan Asan II (fiul lui Asan), care domneste între 1218 si 1241, repudiază oficial legăturile cu biserica Romei. În 1235, patriarhul ecumenic de la Niceea recunoaste oficial patriarhia autonomă a Bulgariei. În timpul lui Ioan Asan II, împărătia Asănestilor cuprinde Moesia (teritoriile dintre Dunăre si Balcani), o parte din Serbia cu orasele Belgrad, Nis si Skopie, Macedonia cu orasele Seres, Ohrida, Bitolia, Prosak si Sturmita, Tracia cu Adrianopole si Dimotica si Albania, fără orasul Durazzo.

In anul 1258, dinastia regilor valahi se stinge, iar statul devine în scurta vreme exclusiv bulgar. Valahii sunt redusi la rangul de minoritate, supusă intens deznationalizării. Statul Asănestilor, devenit acum cel de-al doilea tarat bulgar, este lichidat ulterior de expansiunea otomană din prima jumătate a secolului al XIV-lea.

Bogdan Mateciuc



Regnum Blachorum et Bulgaroum

Regnum Blachorum et Bulgaroum

Complex issue of ethnic composition of population in the 2nd Vlach Bulgarian Empire's attracted a lot of  dispute!
Nikitas Choniates in his investigation did not speak about the Bulgarians, but just about Vlahs,of them also speak primarily contemporary Western historians:
Ansbert,Robert Clari,Villehardouin......
Nikitas Choniates says explicitly that: "People of the Balkan mountains, which were previously called Meziens, now Vlahs"..later Teodoros Skytariotis adds: "in Teme Paristrion at that time people were called Vlahs"

The 'Second Bulgarian Empire.' Its Origin and History to 1204 by R. Wolff II

With the defeat of the Bulgarians and the annihilation of their state there begins in 1018 a period of one hundred and sixty seven years which is badly documented. The Byzantine historians deal very little with Bulgaria, now a portion of the Empire, and such information as they give is often contained in sub-clauses and phrases of sentences and paragraphs dealing primarily with other matters. The details of Basil II's own administrative reform of the Bulgarian Church (1020), including the list of bishoprics, is preserved in a later chrysobull of Michael Palaeologus, from which we known in general that the jurisdiction of the new archbishopric of Achrida was left as great in extent as that claimed by the former Bulgarian patriarchate, now abolished. [19] Seals of local Byzantine officials also provide valuable information as to the nature of local Byzantine administration in Bulgaria. [20]

One of the developments which may certainly be ascribed to this dark period is the growth in importance of the Vlach population. Essentially a pastoral and usually a nomad people, the Vlachs of the Balkans have throughout their history regularly been at least nominally subject to some other national group. Speaking a Latin dialect closely allied to modern Rumanian (the language of the Vlachs north of the Danube), the Vlachs disappear from our sources during the Middle Ages for as much as several hundred years at a time; but the probability is high that they were always resident in the Balkans, watching their flocks, and practicing transhumance and brigandage. Just before the outbreak of Basil's wars with the Bulgarians the Vlachs reappear — after over four hundred years — in the Byzantine sources. From then on, throughout the eleventh century, references to them multiply, and their traces become more frequent, until, by the third quarter of the eleventh century, we find them in large numbers wintering on the eastern slopes of the Pindus mountains and in the Thessalian plain, and summering in the high mountains to the north, living in close communion with the Bulgarians, and revolting against the high taxes imposed upon their herds by Constantine X Dukas (1059-1067). [21]
Because the sources are on the whole so scanty, and because they sometimes lend themselves to conflicting interpretation, this period (1018-1185) and the one which follows (1185-1204), with which we are most concerned, have become the subject of much controversy between chauvinist Bulgarian and Rumanian scholars.

In general, it is the Bulgarians' purpose to proclaim, so far as they can make the testimony of the sources conform to their preconceptions, that Bulgaria remained a single administrative unit until late in the period; that the Bulgarians were always restive under and rebellious against Byzantine rule; and, above all, that the Vlachs played no part in the developments at the end of the period of Byzantine occupation which led to the formation of the second 'Bulgarian' Empire. Of this school the most famous representative is Vasil Zlatarski, although Peter Mutafciev, Peter Nikov, and Ivan Duicev have not been far behind. The Rumanians, for their part, are eager to show that the Byzantine government divided Bulgaria into at least two military 'Duchies'; that the Bulgarians of this period were a primitive people with no culture of their own, willing to submit to Byzantium; and, above all, that it was the Vlach portion of the population who led the revolt of 1186 and brought new glory and independence under a Vlach dynasty to the submerged and apathetic Bulgarians. Of this school the most famous representative is, of course, the incredibly prolific Nicolae Iorga; but the most effective scholarly research has been performed and the most notable contributions to
knowledge made by Nicolae Banescu. Iorga and Banescu have sometimes been challenged by Constantin Giurescu.
I feel no sympathy for either party to the polemic, behind which, during the nineteen-twenties and thirties, there lay ill-concealed the wish to impugn or to justify, as the case might be, Rumanian possession of the southern Dobrudja. This is a matter which western scholars would not ordinarily study with reference to mediaeval conditions. But in the Balkans mediaeval data accumulated by scholars are often regarded as providing strong arguments for the settlement of present-day controversies. For this reason the contributions of the Bulgarian and Rumanian historians must be used with great care, and the sources themselves examined afresh.
It should be said at once that such a new study of the sources produces convincing evidence that in this controversy the Rumanians on the whole have much the best of it. Between 1018 and 1185 the administration of Bulgaria, contrary to the views of the modern Bulgarian scholars, was almost surely divided by the Byzantines into two 'duchies.' One of these, Paristrion, sometimes called Paradounavis, included, as its name indicates, that part of Bulgaria between the Danube and the Balkan mountains, and its  had his seat at Dristra (Silistria) on the river. The other 'duchy' was called Bulgaria; its commander had his seat at Skoplye in Macedonia. With regard to the Bulgarian attitude toward Byzantine domination, which became increasingly oppressive after Basil II, it may fairly be said that, despite several revolts in the eleventh century, there were no uprisings under the Comnenoi; the revolt of 1186 was the first for more than a century. Moreover, the testimony of the sources is overwhelming that the brothers Peter (Kalopeter) and Asen (Assen, Asan), who led the revolt of 1186, were Vlachs. A brief review of the controversy over these points will serve to guide the student through the confusing polemic of both sides and to provide him with an understanding of the origins of the 'second Bulgarian Empire.'
In 1920, Iorga published an article in which he tried to demonstrate that during the reign of Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118) certain local chieftains mentioned by Anna Comnena as living along the right bank of the Danube in Paristrion were Vlachs. Iorga relates their names — Tatos, Chalis, Sethslav and Satzas — to similar Vlach proper names. An examination of the passage in Anna Comnena indicates that there were only three of these chieftains, and not four, as Iorga mistakenly thought. [22] Anna says that one of them ruled in Dristra (Silistria) and the others in Vitzina and elsewhere; and that the 'Scyths' (Pechenegs) who were invading the Empire from the north came to an agreement with these rulers before crossing the Danube, and moving on to harass Byzantine territory, where, between 1086 and 1091, they were to cause Alexius grave concern. Anna does not give a name to the people to whom the chieftains belonged. Iorga argues that since the 'Scyths' had to consult with them, the chieftains themselves could not have been 'Scyths'; there is nothing to show that they were Bulgarians; their lands are said to have been planted with wheat and millet, which were common Vlach crops. Iorga therefore concludes that they were Vlachs, and that the chieftains dominated miniature imitations of Byzantine frontier duchies under a loose Pecheneg control, and out of Byzantine jurisdiction. He adds — without any evidence whatever — that their sway extended across the Danube into those portions of modern Rumania long known as 'Vlasca.' [23]
These conclusions were accepted by Banescu, who accumulated evidence to show the nature of Byzantine administration in Bulgaria between Basil's conquest in 1018 and the revolt of Peter and Asen in 1186. From passages in Cedrenus and Attaliotes and from seals, he began in 1922 to construct the lists of Byzantine 'dukes' of Bulgaria and Paristrion. Dukes of Bulgaria are attested to under Basil, who sent Constantine Diogenes and John Triacontopoulos,  and  with residence perhaps at Nish or Sofia (Triaditza, Serdica). Dukes of Paristrion, Banescu then thought, did not appear until the reign of Constantine IX Monomachus (1042-1055), when Katakalon Kekaumenos held the post. His immediate successors, Michael, son of Anastasius, Basil Apokapes, Nicephorus Botaneiates, the Vestarch Nestor, and George, son of Dekanos, are also known. Their title was  or sometimes  after the site of their headquarters; sometimes the word  is used as the equivalent of . After the accession of the Comnenoi in 1081, no mention of the individual dukes' names had previously been noted; but Banescu concluded that their office was maintained until the death of Manuel. To the evidence, such as it is, provided by Anna Comnena's mention of the three 'Vlach' chieftains Banescu adds that which Cedrenus and Attaliotes indirectly supply, and maintains that the Vlach element emerged under the Comnenoi as effective local rulers. Pushing aside Zonaras' clear statement that Tatos was a Pecheneg, and clinging to Attaliotes' vague mention of the polyglot population of the Danube river cities, Banescu, like Iorga, concludes that Tatos and his colleagues were 'Rumanians.' [24]
Returning to the subject, Banescu later added new and reliable evidence from Cedrenus and Cinnamus to show that, by the time of Basil's conquest, 'Bulgaria' meant to the Byzantines only that western portion of the country which had so long held out against them. He shows that Skoplye was its capital, and that there the 'Duke of all Bulgaria' (once called , once ) exercised supervisory authority over the local military commanders at Strumitza, Prilep, Prizren, Achrida, Castoria, and Stip.

In the east the Dukes of Paristrion — the term which had replaced 'Bulgaria' as applying to the territory along the river — were subject directly to the Emperor. Newly discovered seals, and a close study of Skylitzes enabled Banescu to draw up a fuller list of the Byzantine dukes of Bulgaria, and to add to the list of dukes of Paristrion a new founder of the line, Simeon Vestes (1030). [25] Although further data were added in later articles, [26] the basic Rumanian position in the controversy has not been altered: it emphasizes the division of former Bulgarian territory into two duchies and the importance of the Vlach element. In 1925 the Bulgarian response to the articles began. Mutafciev referred Iorga and Banescu to articles by Vassilievskii and Kulakovskii, and to Skabalanovich's book on the Byzantine church and state in the eleventh century, maintaining that these authorities had long since disproved the Rumanian theories. [27] But, as Banescu was quick to point out, Mutafciev had only clouded the issue: these authorities' views turned out to be not germane, out of date, or in substantial agreement with the Rumanian position. Indeed, Banescu proceeded to demonstrate that the duchy of Paristrion dated as far back as the victory of John Tsimisces over the Russian Svyatoslav in 972. [28]

During the next ten years Mutafciev wrote in Bulgarian and then translated into French and expanded an attack on the Rumanians. Here for the first time he argued that the word 'Vlach' does not mean Vlach, that is to say a Latin-speaking person, but is a device used by the Byzantine sources to avoid saying 'Bulgarian.' [29] In this way he turned the Rumanian arguments against their authors: if 'Bulgaria' meant to the Byzantines only the southern and eastern portion of the country (which the Bulgarian historians are prepared to admit only for the period of the Comnenoi) then the word 'Bulgarian' means only an inhabitant of that part of the country; and the word 'Vlach' is simply a way of designating Bulgarians from the northern and western parts of Bulgaria. 'Vlach' is only a façon de parler; it means a Bulgarian from that part of Bulgaria no longer called Bulgaria. These views were developed and expanded by Zlatarski, who disagrees with Mutafciev on details, but whose basic position is the same. [30] All the detailed arguments of the Bulgarians were once again, and I think conclusively, answered by Banescu. [31]
This is not to say that the Rumanian position on the period 1018-1081 is to be adopted in toto. I am convinced by their demonstration that from the time of Basil II on, the Byzantines had a divided military administration for Bulgaria. I believe that the reappearance of the Vlachs in the sources betokens perhaps an increase in their numbers, and surely an increase in their participation in the national life. But I cannot accept Iorga's thesis that the right bank of the Danube was held by Vlach local chieftains as early as the time of Alexius Comnenus. Indeed, Iorga's view, accepted by Banescu, has not won universal acceptance even by Rumanians, but was combatted by Giurescu, who correctly refers to it
as a mere conjecture. [32] So much then for the problem of administration after the conquest.
During the years between 1018 and the accession of Alexius Comnenus in 1081 there were three Bulgarian revolts. The first (1040-1041) arose because of the intolerable exactions of Michael IV's minister, John the Orphanotrophos, who for the first time demanded that taxes be paid in Bulgaria in money rather than in kind. The rebellion was led by Peter Deljan, probably a son of Gabriel Radomir, himself the son of the great Tsar Samuel. Gabriel Radomir had been murdered by his rival John Vladislav, son of Aaron, who, it is now believed, was the representative of the legitimate Bulgarian royal family against the Armenian 'Comitopouloi.' The hostility between the rival families continued into the third generation: Alusian, son of John Vladislav, first left Byzantine service in Asia Minor to join Deljan's revolt, then betrayed and blinded Deljan, and finally betrayed the rebels to the Byzantines, [33] who had in any case defeated them outside Thessalonica. Whatever conclusions may be drawn from the sources as to the legitimacy of Deljan, there can be little doubt that this was a genuinely Bulgarian revolt, inspired by popular discontent, and made possible by popular loyalty to the old dynasty.
Thereafter, the influx of Pechenegs and Cumans turned Bulgaria into a battle ground between Byzantium and these Turkish tribes; and we hear of no expressions of Bulgarian national self-consciousness or of rebellion until 1073. Then a new revolt broke out during a lull in the Pecheneg war. This was engineered by Bulgarian nobles under George Voitech, () with the assistance of the Serbs.
who supplied a new 'Tsar' in the person of their prince Constantine Bodinus, who took the name of Peter. The revolt was put down by Byzantine troops. [34] Shortly thereafter, a third revolt (ca 1078-1080) broke out, headed by a Greek Bogomile named Lika and by a Slavic Bogomile named Dobromir or Dragomir. The country was being overrun by the Pechenegs, who seem to have supported the revolt; and the Bogomile religious views of its two leaders indicate that there was more behind this movement than mere political discontent with Byzantine rule. It is virtually impossible to decide what role was played by the Bulgarian population during this uprising. [35]
But, to judge from the decreasing effectiveness of the three successive revolts, and from the cessation of all rebellion for a period of more than a century under the Comnenoi, it seems reasonable to suppose that, after the mid-eleventh century, the ability of the Bulgarians to revolt successfully against Byzantium was diminished. The first revolt seems to have been purely Bulgarian; the second was partly Serbian in inspiration; the third was probably religious rather than national. This diminishing effectiveness may be attributed partly to the exhaustion and depopulation suffered during the wars with Basil II; but it is surely to be explained in large measure by the fact that Bulgaria had become the scene of the war between Byzantium and the Pechenegs and Cumans, as well as the staging ground for military operations against the Normans on the Adriatic coast, and the thoroughfare for the armies of the first three Crusades. Even Zlatarski refers to this period before 1185 as the 'period of Grecization.' [36] Here too, then, the views of the Rumanian scholars are substantially borne out.
19. F. Dölger, Regesten der Kaiserurkunden des Ostromischen Reiches, Abtheilung I, Reihe A. Corpus der griechischen Urkunden des Mittelalters mid der neueren Zeit (Munich and Berlin, 1932), pp. 103 f., no. 806. See also L. de Thalloczy, C. Jirecek, and E. de Sufflay, Ada et Diplomata res Albaniae mediae aetatis illustrantia (Vienna, 1913), I, 15-16, numbers 58 and 59. The basic discussion is H. Gelzer, 'Ungedruckte und wenig bekannte Bistümerverzeichnisse der orientalischen Kirche / Byzantinische Zeitschrift, n (1893), 41 ff.
20. Seals recently discovered at Silistria (Dristra) were first published by their discoverer, P. Papahagi, 'Sceaux de plomb byzantins inédits trouves à Silistrie / Revue Historique du Sud-Est Europeen, VIII (1931), 299-311, with rough sketches, and, as it turns out, many misreadings. They were republished with photographs and discussed by N. Banescu, ‘Les sceaux byzantins trouves a Silistrie / Byzantion, VII (1931), 321-331. See also Banescu's even more recent and conclusive discoveries, 'Sceau inédit de Katakalon, Katepano de Paradounavon / Échos d'Orient, XXXV (1936), 405-408; and 'Sceau de Demetrios Katakalon, Katepano de Paradounavon / Ibid., XXXIV (1940), 157-160. See also the splendid historical article of M. Lascaris, 'Sceau de Radomir Aaron / Byzantinoslavica III (1931), 404-413, who gathers all the available evidence about one of the last of Samuel's descendants to rule in Bulgaria, who entered the Byzantine service. For others see G. Schlumberger, Sigillographie de l'Empire Byzantin (Paris, 1884), pp. 316-317; M. Lascaris, in a review of K. M.  (Alousian) Byzantinoslavica, II (1930), 424; V. Zlatarski 'Molivdovul na Samuela Alusiyan,' Izvestiya na Bulgarskiya Archeologischeski Institut, I (1921) 86-101; 'Molivdovulut na Alusiyana / Izvestiya na Istoricheskoto Druzhestvo v Sofiya, X (1930), 49-63. B. A. Panchenko, 'Katalog Molivdovulov kollektsii russkago archeologicheskago Instituta v Konstantinopolye,' Izvestiya russkago archeologischeskago Instituta v Konstantinopolye, VIII (1903), 225, no. 66, is a seal of a 'strategos of Distra.' This was republished, Ibid, x (1905), 296. Banescu does not refer to its first appearance.
21. See below, Appendix A.
22. ' ' (Alexias, ed. Reifferscheid, I, 222; ed. Leib [Paris, 1943], II, 81.) Tatos is also called Chales; the two are the same person. See below, note 32.
23. N. Iorga, 'Les premières cristallisations d'état des Roumains,' Acadèmie Roumaine, Bulletin de la Section Historique, V-VIII (1920), 33-46. The chief source is Anna Comnena, Alexias, ed. Reifferscheid, I, 222 ff; ed. Leib, II, 81 f.
24. N. Banescu, 'Les premièrs témoignages byzantins sur les Roumains du Bas-Danube,' Byzantinisch-Neugriechische Jahrbücher, III (1922), 287-311. Chief sources are Cedrenos, II, 476, 483, 487, 497, 583, 584, 585, 587, 602, 607, 610; Attaliotes, p. 204; Zonaras II, 713, which Banescu prefers to ignore. For the seals, see Schlumberger, Sigillographie, pp. 240, 103, 241, 710-711. See also Banescu's shorter article, 'La "Roma nuova" alle foci del Danubio,' L'Europa Orientate, III (1923), 580-585, in which chauvinism is more apparent than in some of the others.
25. N. Banescu, 'Changements politiques dans les Balkans après la conquête de l'Empire Bulgare de Samuel (1018). Nouveaux Duchés Byzantins: Bulgarie et Paristrion,' Académie Roumaine, Bulletin de la Section Historique, X (1923), 1-24 (separate pagination). Almost all the new evidence is supplied by seals published by J. Mordtmann, '' , XVII (1886), supplementary volume, 144 ff. Some additional data from Georgian sources (Vita beati patris nostri Ioannis atque Euthymii, ed. P. Peeters, Analecta Bollandiana, XXXVI-XXXVII [1917-1919], 50).
26. N. Banescu, 'Ein neuer ,' Byzantinische Zeitschrift XXV (1925) pp. 331-332. The new addition is mentioned by Kekaumenos (ed. Vassilievsky and Jernstedt), p. 181. This brings the total for 'Bulgaria' to thirteen. See also N. Banescu, 'Unbekannte Statthalter der Themen Paristrion und Bulgarien: Romanos Diogenes und Nicephorus Botaneiates,' Ibid., XXX (1930), 439-444, containing new data provided by a seal, cited above note 20, as published by Panchenko, and by another passage in Attaliotes (p. 97). Here Banescu specifically equates .
27. First in BZ, XXV (1925), 211; then in a note in BZ, XXVI (1926), 250-251. V. G. Vassilievskii, 'Vizantiya i Pechenegi,' Trudy (St Petersburg, 1908), I, 1-175; Yu. Kulakovskii, 'Gde nachodilas' vidrinskaya eparchia konstantinopolskago Patriarchata?' Vizantiiski Vremennik, IV (1897), 315-336. Kulakovskii tries to show (pp. 327 ff.) that Tatos and his three (really two) fellow local rulers were Russians. His line of argument, up to the conclusion, is the same as that followed by Iorga to show that they were 'Rumanians.' Exactly the same passages from Anna, Cedrenus, and Attaliotes are cited; but the proof that Tatos = Tatush (Russian) is no more (and no less) convincing to me than Iorga's that Tatos = Tatul (Rumanian). Iorga's work was all done for him by Kulakovskii; he should at least have cited the article; and, to that extent, Mutafciev's indignation is justified. N. Skabalanovich, Vizantiiskoe gosudarstvo i tserkov v XI veke (St Petersburg, 1884), pp. 225-227, gives a very short account, now out of date. V. N. Zlatarski, 'Kakuv narod se razbira u Anna, Komnina pod izraza ,' Izvestiya na Istoricheskoto Druzhestvo v Sofiya, XI-XII (1931-1932), 71-83, concludes that the local rulers were Uzes, not Pechenegs, Cumans, Russians, or Vlachs. See the most recent work of Gyoni, cited note 32 below.
28. N. Banescu, 'À propos des duchés byzantins de Paristrion et de Bulgarie,' Revue Historique du Sud-Est Européen, III (1926), 321-325; 'La domination byzantine sur les régions du bas-Danube,' Académie Roumaine, Bulletin de la Section Historique, XIII (1927), 10-22; 'Ein ethnographisches Problem am Unterlauf der Donau aus dem XI. Jahrhundert,' Byzantion, VI (1931), 297-307.
29. P. Mutafciev, 'Bulgari i Rumuni v istoriyata na Dunavskite zemli,' Godishnik na Sofiiskiya Universitet, Ist-fil fak. XXIII (1926-1927), 1-24; Bulgares et Roumains dans l'histoire des pays danubiens (Sofia, 1932). See Iorga's review in Revue Historique du Sud-Est Europeen, X (1933), 67-72. I have not seen the response to Mutafciev by P. Panaitescu, 'Les relations bulgaro-roumains au moyen âge,' Revista Aromaneasca I (1929), 9-31. BZ, XLI (1941), 262, reports an article by I. Duicev on the 'theme' of Bulgaria, reference to which he has found in MS Vat. gr. 299 of the fourteenth century, containing a text of the eleventh or twelfth. The article, which I have not seen, and whose Bulgarian title is not recorded in BZ, appeared in the Godishnik of the National Library and National Museum of Plovdiv, 1937-1939 (Sofia, 1940), p. 797.
30. V. Zlatarski, 'Ustroistvo Bolgarii i polozhenie bolgarskago naroda v pervoe vremya poslye pokoreniya ich Vasiliem II Bolgaroboitseyu,' Seminarium Kondakovianum, IV (1931), 49-68. F. Dölger, in a brief notice of this article BZ, XXXI (1931), 443-444, points out the ineffectiveness of Zlatarski's argument that Basil's maintenance of unity in the ecclesiastical administration of Bulgaria necessarily implies maintenance of a unified civil and military administration. See also 'Politicheskoto polozhenie na severna Bulgariya prez XI. i XII. vekove,' Izvestiya na Istoricheskoto Druzhestvo v Sofiya IX (1929), pp. 50, separate pagination. Zlatarski has also written an article on the subject in the Festschrift for the Yugoslav scholar, Sisic (Zagreb, 1929), pp. 143-148, inaccessible to me. 'Edna datirana pripiska na Grutski ot sredata na XI vek,' Byzantinoslavica, I (1929), 23-24, maintains that , far from being the equivalent of Paristrion, is a family name. This point was met by S. V. Kougeas, ,' , III (1930), 458-462, and K. Amantos, ,' ibid., IV. (1931), 80, who show clearly that Zlatarski is wrong.
31. N. Banescu, 'La Question du Paristrion,' Byzantion, VIII (1933), 277-308, where he lists Zlatarski's seven chief points, and answers them one by one. See also the still more recent sigillographic evidence published by Banescu, and cited above, note 20.
32. C. Giurescu, 'O noua sinteza a trecutului nostru,' Revista Istorica Romana, II (1932), 2, calls Iorga's conclusions on the Rumanian origin of the three chieftains 'nedovedita' (unproved), and corrects Iorga's misreading of the passage in Anna, rightly reducing the number of the chieftains from four to three. See also V. Bogrea's note published, Universitatea din Cluj, Anuarul Institutului de Istoria Nationala, I (1921-1922), 380-381. For Giurescu's views on the Vlachs of the Balkans see his Istoria Romanilor (Bucharest, 1938), I, 310 ff. The subject has most recently been thoroughly reviewed by M. Gyoni, Zur Frage der Rumänischen Staatsbildungen im XI. Jahrhundert in Paristrion (Archaisierende Volksnamen und ethnische Wirklichkeit in der 'Alexias' von Anna Komnene) [Ost-mitteleuropdische Bibliothek, ed. E. Lukinich, no. 48 (Budapest, 1944)] pp. 106. Like the other works of Gyoni, here cited, this became available only after the completion of this study. It examines all the polemic on the subject of the national origin of the three chieftains, makes a searching study of the vocabulary of Anna Comnena, and concludes that they were probably Pechenegs.
33. Zlatarski, Istoriya, II, 41 ff.; and 'Wer war Peter Deljan,' Suomalaisen Tiedeakaiemian Toimitaksia, Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Series B 27 (Helsinki, 1932), 354-363. Psellus, who, Zlatarski is sure, got his information from Alusian, a friend of his, says that Deljan was illegitimate; and Zonaras copies Psellus. From Skylitzes-Cedrenos Zlatarski derives a tradition that he prefers: Deljan was legitimate. He could not have been accepted by the Bulgarians, Zlatarski argues, had he not been so. See also Schlumberger, Épopée, in, 286 ff.; Vassilievsky, Trudy, I, 258 ff; and N. P. Blagoev, 'Delyan i negovoto vustanie v Moravsko i Makedoniya protiv Vizantiitsite,’ Makedonski Pregled, IV (1928), 1-2, 175-176. Harold, son of the king of Norway, took part in the Byzantine campaign against the rebels. Other sources are Kekaumenos and the Armenian Matthew of Edessa. See Adontz, loc. cit. (note 16 above), pp. 40 ff. for the proof that these murders were not, as had previously been believed, all committed within the family of the Comitopouloi. Samuel and Aaron were not brothers, as has been thought; Samuel had only one brother, David.
34. Zlatarski, Istoriya, II, 138 ff. (Source Skylitzes.) See also the Presbyter of Dioclea, ed. F. Sisic, Letopis Popa Duklyanina, Srpska Kralyevska Akademiya, Posebna Izdanya XVIII (Belgrade-Zagreb, 1928), 357-358. (Latin text.)
35. Zlatarski, Istoriya, II, 162 ff., and especially Appendix 5, pp. 495-496, where Attaliotes and Skylitzes' accounts are compared and discussed.
36. Ibid., p. 167, 'Epocha na Romeizatsiyata.' See also Zlatarski's article, 'Namestniki-upraviteli na Bulgariya prez tsaruvaneto na Aleksiya I Komnin,' Byzantinoslavica, IV (1932), 139-158 and 371-398, based almost entirely upon the letters of Archbishop Theophylact of Achrida.

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