Byzantium and Bulgaria. A comparative study across the early medieval frontier

Robert Browning


Chronological Table




540 — Slav raiders penetrate deep into Balkans.


548 — Slav raiders reach Adriatic.


558 — Justinian signs treaty with Avars.


570 — Avars settle in Pannonia.


574 — Justin II signs treaty with Avars and Slavs, guaranteeing annual payments.


578 — Slavs besiege Corinth.


591 — Maurice begins campaigns against Avars and Slavs settled in northern



602 — Death of Maurice. Slavs blockade Thessalonika and Salona.


614 — Persians capture Jerusalem.


619 — Persians conquer Egypt.


622 — The Prophet Muhammad flees to Medina. Heraclius begins war against Persians.


626 — Avars, Slavs and Persians besiege Constantinople.


627 — Heraclius defeats Persians at Nineveh.


636-8 — Arabs occupy Palestine and Syria.


640-6 — Arabs occupy Egypt and Persian empire.


647 — First Arab invasion of Asia Minor.


674-8 — Arabs besiege Constantinople.


680-1 — Bulgarian Khan Asparuch crosses Danube and settles between Danube and Balkan range. Byzantines sign treaty recognising Bulgar conquests.


705 — Khan Tervel receives Justinian II, in flight from Khazaria, and marches with him to Constantinople where he is invested by Justinian with title of Caesar. New treaty recognises Bulgar occupation of Zagoria, south of Balkan range.


716 — Frontier between Bulgaria and Byzantium fixed by treaty.


717-8 — Second Arab siege of Constantinople.


730 — Leo III’s iconoclastic decrees.


739 — End of Bulgar dynasty of Dulo. Accession of Khan Kormisosh.


740 — Leo III defeats Arabs at Akroinion.





741 — Accession of Constantine V. Further Byzantine victories over Arabs.


756-75 — Constantine V tries to expel Bulgars from Balkans. Nine campaigns in which invasion of Bulgarian Thrace is combined with naval expedition to Danube.


763 — Crushing defeat of Khan Telets by Constantine V at Anchialus.


777 — Khan Telerig flees to Constantinople, accepts baptism, and is married to acousin of Leo IV.


784 — Empress Irene visits Berrhoea (Stara Zagora) and christens it Irenopolis.


792 — Khan Kardam defeats Constantine VI at Marcellae.


791-6 — Charlemagne invades Avar territory in Pannonia.


c 800 — Avar empire collapses under attack by Franks, Slavs and Bulgars. Krum, leader of Bulgar revolt in Pannonia, becomes Khan of an empire extending from Black Sea to Theiss, and marching with Frankish empire.


807 — Nicephorus I opens hostilities against Bulgaria, but is defeated by Krum near Strymon.


809 — Krum captures Serdica. Nicephorus sacks and burns Pliska.


811 — 26 July: Krum defeats Byzantine army and kills Nicephorus.


812 — Krum captures Develtos and Mesembria.


813 — Bulgarian siege of Constantinople. Krum captures Adrianople and transfers population north of Danube.


814 — 13 April: death of Krum.


815-6 — Khan Omurtag concludes Thirty Years Peace with Byzantium.


827 — Bulgarians invade Frankish Croatia.


828 — Louis the German leads expedition against Bulgarians.


829 — Bulgarians invade Frankish Pannonia.


c 831 Bulgarians occupy Serdica and Philippopolis and annex central Macedonia.


832 — Peace treaty between Franks and Bulgarians.


852 — Accession of Khan Boris. Bulgarians invade Frankish territory.


860 — Surprise Russian attack on Constantinople.


c 862 — Bulgarian alliance with Frankish emperor Louis the German.


864 — Byzantine military threats force Boris to renounce Frankish alliance and to accept Christianity from Constantinople. Revolt of boyars ruthlessly suppressed.





868 — Boris asks Louis the German to send a bishop and priests and requests Pope Nicholas I to appoint an independent Patriarch of Bulgaria. Responsa of Nicholas I and arrival of Roman clergy in Bulgaria.


870 — Anti-Photian Council of Constantinople returns Bulgaria to jurisdiction of Patriarch of Constantinople. Roman clergy expelled from Bulgaria. Archbishop of Bulgaria consecrated by Patriarch Ignatius.


882 — Methodius visits Constantinople at invitation of Basil I.


885 — Death of Methodius in Moravia. His disciples wel corned to Bulgaria by Boris.


886 — Clement sent to Ohrid.


889 — Abdication of Boris in favour of his eldest son Vladimir-Rasate. Anti-Christian movement among boyars.


893 — Deposition of Vladimir-Rasate and accession of Symeon. Slavonic proclaimed official language of church and state in Bulgaria.


894 — Transfer of Bulgarian trade from Constantinople to Thessalonika. Symeon invades Thrace.


895 — Leo VI invites Magyars to invade Bulgaria. Symeon calls in Pechenegs, who drive Magyars from Moldavia to Pannonia.


896 — Symeon defeats Byzantines at Bulgarophygon. Peace concluded, with annual tribute for Bulgaria.


904 — Capture of Thessalonika by Arabs under Leo of Tripoli.


907 — 2 May: death of Boris.


912 — Death of Leo VI. His successor Alexander cuts off tribute to Bulgaria and insults Bulgarian envoys. Symeon invades Thrace and appears before walls of Constantinople.


913 — 4 June: death of Alexander. Regency council appointed for boy emperor Constantine VII. Symeon once again appears before Constantinople. Negotiations between Symeon and Patriarch Nicolaus Mysticus. August: coronation of Symeon as King of the Bulgarians in Constantinople, and probable betrothal of his daughter to Constantine VII.


914 — Palace revolution in Constantinople. Nicolaus Mysticus removed from regency council. Agreement with Symeon repudiated. Symeon invades Thrace and takes Adrianople.





915-6 — Bulgarian operations near Dyrrhachium and Thessalonika.


917 — Byzantine invasion of Bulgaria. 20 August: Symeon routs Byzantines at Achelous and sweeps into Thrace.


918 — Byzantine diplomacy entangles Bulgaria in war with Serbia. Bulgarian occupation of Thessaly.


920 — Romanus Lecapenus crowned co-emperor with Constantine VII, who marries his daughter.


921-2 — Bulgarian army before Constantinople.


923 — Bulgarians recapture Adrianople.


924 — Bulgarian army before Constantinople. Autumn: meeting of Symeon and Romanus Lecapenus at Cosmidium.


c 926 — Archbishopric of Bulgaria raised to independent patriarchate. Bulgarian army defeated in Croatia by King Tomislav.


927 — 27 May: death of Symeon and accession of his son Peter. Autumn: Peter marries Maria Lecapena. Byzantines recognise Bulgarian patriarchate and undertake to pay annual subsidy to Bulgaria.


934 — Magyars invade Bulgaria.


940s — Growth of Bogomil heresy in Bulgaria.


943 — Magyars invade Bulgaria.


958-60 — Magyars invade Bulgaria.


965 — Death of Maria Lecapena. Nicephorus Phocas refuses to pay Bulgarian subsidy, makes raids into Bulgaria and negotiates alliance with Svjatoslav of Kiev.


967 — Svjatoslav overruns Dobrudja.


968 — Pechenegs, at Bulgarian request, attack Kiev. Svjatoslav withdraws from Bulgaria.


969 — Svjatoslav returns, captures Preslav and Philippopolis, occupies eastern Bulgaria and threatens Constantinople, with Magyars, Bulgars and Pechenegs as allies.


970 — John Tzimisces defeats Svjatoslav at Arcadiopolis.


971 — Byzantines annex eastern Bulgaria, capture Preslav, and defeat Svjatoslav at Silistria. Boris II abdicates and Bulgaria is proclaimed a Byzantine province.





970s — Establishment of independent state in western Bulgaria under Samuel, David, Moses and Aaron.


980 — Samuel entitles himself King of the Bulgarians and begins regular invasions of northern Greece.


986 — Samuel captures Larissa, defeats Basil II, and recaptures Preslav and Pliska.


989 — Samuel captures Berrhoea in Macedonia. Conversion of Vladimir, son of Svjatoslav.


990-4 — Basil II recaptures Berrhoea and many other Macedonian cities.


995 — Basil II goes to eastern front. Samuel defeats Byzantine army near Thessalonika.


996 — Byzantines recapture Larissa and Bulgarians abandon northern Greece.


1001-3 — Basil II returns to Bulgarian front and recaptures many points in Thrace and Macedonia.


1004 — Basil II besieges Vidin. Samuel sacks Adrianople. Basil II captures and garrisons Vidin. Bulgarians defeated near Skopje.


1005 — Byzantines recapture Dyrrhachium.


1006-14 — Byzantine campaigns in western Bulgaria.


1014 — 29 July: disastrous Bulgarian defeat at Cimbalongus. Death of Samuel.


1014-8 — Collapse and disintegration of Bulgaria.


1015 — Basil II takes Ohrid.


1016 — Basil II besieges Pernik.


1017 — Further Byzantine victories.


1018 — Bulgarian King John Vladislav attacks Dyrrhachium and is killed. Pernik surrenders to Byzantines. Basil receives surrender of Queen Maria and Bulgarian royal family at Ohrid, makes triumphant progress through conquered territory, and goes on to Athens.


1019 — Last Bulgarian resistance overcome.


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