The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation sponsored me during my study in Oxford. I have been especially fortunate to teach in the Department of Slavic Stud- ies of the University of Athens and should like to thank all my colleagues and staff for providing a fine environment in which to work and study at the highest level.
Finally, I must thank my family for their constant support and encouragement, and particularly my father for all he has done for me. Panos Sophoulis. Thus, I refer to I. Jordanov rather than Iordanov. Place names in Romania follow current Romanian usage. Arabic names follow a simplified version of that in the Encyclopedia of Islam Leiden, ff. Armenian names follow the spelling adopted by R. I: The plain of Pliska Fig.
IV: The palace complex at Pliska after Angelov et al. VI: Inventory inscription on a marble column from Preslav Fig. X: The inscription no. XI: The walls of Mesembria Fig. AB Analecta Bollandiana Brussels, ff. ABul Archaeologia Bulgarica Sofia, ff. Arheol Arheologija Sofia, ff. Curtius and A. Angeliki Laiou et al.
East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages,
Washington D. McKitterick Cambridge, Erste Abteilung — , ed. Lilie, C. Ludwig et al. Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans, ed. Vyz Vyzantina Thessalonike, ff. VV Vizantiiskii Vremmenik, vols. Moscow, ff. Taking advantage of the third civil war in the Caliphate — , that emperor had diverted his military resources to the Balkans in a concerted effort to re-establish imperial power up to the Danube.
Between ca. Internecine strife further contributed to the weakening of the Bulgar polity, but, nonetheless, Constantine V was unable to deal the final blow and either conquer it or impose imperial suzerainty and a lasting peace.
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The events of the years — led to a decisive turning point in the history of the Bulgar state and opened a new phase of extensive Byzantine involvement in the region. Not only did the Bulgars succeeded in repelling a massive imperial attempt at the reconquest of the northeastern Balkans, but after made themselves masters of large parts of Thrace, eventually pushing as far as Constantinople and besieging the city. These events made a strong impression in Byzantium, as indicated by the accounts of contemporary or near contemporary writers, not least because they provided the context for important political, ideological and social change.
Certainly, apart from being one of the factors contributing to the political instability which engulfed the empire at this time, the repeated defeats at the hands of the Bulgars played a central role in the re-establishment of iconoclasm as an imperially sanctioned doctrine by Leo V — Most surveys on this subject were written in the first half of twentieth century.
Since then, a great deal of archaeological research, which provides us with insights into a great range of aspects of medieval life in the Balkans, as well as historiographical work on the Byzantine sources. However, an essential task, the integration of the written account with the material record, in other words, a synthesis and deeper analysis of the period in question, has not yet been undertaken.
The ultimate ambition of this monograph is to fill this gap, and so produce a closely argued, fresh interpretation of events. Given his broad chronological scope, Zlatarski was inevitably restricted to providing a narrowly political account on which all subsequent studies depend. Recent contributions in the field include I. As well as C. Mango and R. Dimitrov, M.
Byzantium and Bulgaria, 775-831 (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450)
Jordanov, U. Fiedler and J. The hope is that by the end of the volume a number of important problems that scholars have so far failed to address, let alone resolve, will at least have been clearly stated and our knowledge and appreciation of the early medieval Balkans will have been improved considerably. This study is predicated on the understanding that the historical record must be at the heart of the construction of any modern narrative of Byzan- tine-Bulgar relations. I have therefore begun my investigation by submitting the historiography of the period in question to thorough, critical scrutiny.
Although this book will primarily draw upon written sources, most—but not all—Byzantine, the material record inscriptions, coins, lead seals etc. As well as re-evaluating the primary sources and considering a substantial amount of secondary literature on the subject, I have also benefited from travelling extensively and visiting archaeological sites throughout the region with which this study is concerned. If the relations between the Byzantine empire and Bulgaria during the late eighth and early ninth centuries are to be meaningfully analysed, attention first needs to be paid to the geographical and historical context in which they developed.
The scene is set in Chapter 2 which begins by outlining the relief, climate, and urban and communications network of Byzantine Thrace and Bulgaria.
The second part of the chapter is principally aimed at unravel- ling and understanding the steppe character of the Bulgar state—a character which some scholars, contrary to the growing body of evidence, continue to challenge. It describes its basic structures and institutions, and specifically its social, political and military organization, with special emphasis placed on the spiritual life and ideology of the Turkic-speaking ruling elite. It then goes on to provide a synopsis of Byzantine-Bulgar relations from ca. The scene is then set for the next four chapters which investigate the Byzan- tine-Bulgar rivalry for political mastery over the Slavic tribes of the southern Balkans between and A significant portion of each of these chapters.
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