|Monarchy of Bulgaria|
|First monarch|| Asparukh |
|Last monarch|| Simeon II |
|Abolition||15 September 1946|
The monarchs of Bulgaria ruled the country during three periods of its history as an independent country: from the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 to the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria in 1018; from the Uprising of Asen and Peter that established the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185 to the annexation of the rump Bulgarian principality into the Ottoman Empire in 1396; and from the re-establishment of an independent Bulgaria in 1878 to the abolition of monarchy in areferendum held on 15 September 1946.
Early Bulgarian rulers possibly used the title Kanasubigi (Khan), later knyaz (prince) for a brief period, and subsequently tsar (emperor). The title tsar, the Bulgarian form of the Latin Caesar , was first adopted and used in Bulgaria by Simeon I, following a decisive victory over the Byzantine Empire in 913. It was also used by all of Simeon I's successors until the fall of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule in 1396. After Bulgaria's liberation from the Ottomans in 1878, its first monarch Alexander I adopted the title knyaz, or prince. However, when de jure independence was proclaimed under his successor Ferdinand in 1908, the title was elevated to the customary tsar once more. The use of tsar continued under Ferdinand and later under his heirs Boris III and Simeon II until the abolition of monarchy in 1946.
While the title tsar was translated as "emperor" in the First and Second Bulgarian Empires, it was translated as "king" in modern Bulgaria.
In the few surviving medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the monarchs of Bulgaria styled themselves as "In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians" or similar variations, sometimes including “... and Romans, Greeks, or Vlachs".
This list does not include the mythical Bulgar rulers and the rulers of Old Great Bulgaria listed in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans as well as unsuccessful claimants to the throne who are not generally listed among the Bulgarian monarchs.
|Dulo dynasty (681–753)|
|Khan [a]||Asparukh||681–701||Son of Khan Kubrat, ruler of Old Great Bulgaria. After his victory at the Battle of Ongal in 680 he formed the country of Bulgaria. Died in 701 in battle against the Khazars.|
|Khan||Tervel||701–721||Received the Byzantine title Caesar in 705 for helping Justinian II recover his throne. Tervel aided the Byzantines during the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople. Died in 721.|
|Khan||Kormesiy||721–738||Unknown date of death.|
|Khan||Sevar||738–753||Last ruler of the Dulo dynasty. Died a natural death or was dethroned in 753.|
|Vokil clan (753–762)|
|Khan||Kormisosh||753–756||Beginning of a period of internal instability. Deposed in 756.|
|Khan||Vinekh||756–762||Murdered in 762.|
|Ugain clan (762–765)|
|Khan||Telets||762–765||Murdered in 765.|
|Khan||Sabin||765–766||Might have been of Slavic origin. Deposed by a People's Council in 766, fled to the Byzantine Empire.|
|Vokil clan (766)|
|Khan||Umor||766||Ruled for only 40 days. Deposed in 766 and fled to the Byzantine Empire.|
|Khan||Toktu||766–767||Killed in the forests of the Danube in 767 by the opposition.|
|Khan||Pagan||767–768||Murdered by his servants in the region of Varna.|
|Krum/Dulo dynasty (768–997) [b]|
|Khan||Telerig||768–777||Son of Tervel. Fled to Constantinople in 777 and baptised.|
|Khan||Kardam||777–803||End of the internal crisis. Stabilization and consolidation of the country. Unknown date of death.|
|Khan||Krum||803–814||Famous for the battle of Pliska in which the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I perished. Krum is also famous for introducing the first written laws into Bulgaria. Died a natural death (very likely from a stroke) on 13 April 814. There are several theories regarding his death.|
| Kanasubigi |
Ruler of the many Bulgarians
|Omurtag||814–831||Known for his construction policy, administrative reform and the persecution of Christians.|
|Khan||Malamir||831–836||Third and youngest son of Omurtag. Died of natural causes at an early age.|
|Khan||Presian I||836–852||Almost the whole of Macedonia was incorporated into Bulgaria.|
|Prince (Knyaz) [c]||Boris I Michael I [d]||852–889||Christianization of Bulgaria; adoption of Old Bulgarian as the official language of the State and the Church; recognition of an autocephalous Bulgarian Church. Abdicated in 883, died on 2 May 902, aged around 80. Proclaimed a Saint.|
|Prince||Vladimir||889–893||Eldest son of Boris I. Tried to restore Tengriism. Deposed and blinded by his father in 893.|
Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Romans (claimed)
Emperor of the Bulgarians (recognized)
|Simeon I||893–927||Third son of Boris I, raised to become a cleric but enthroned during the Council of Preslav. Bulgaria reached its apogee and greatest territorial extent. Golden age of Bulgarian culture. Died of a heart attack on 27 May 927, aged 63.|
Emperor of the Bulgarians
|Petar I||927–969||Second son of Simeon I. His 42-year rule was the longest in Bulgarian history. Abdicated in 969 and became a monk. Died on 30 January 970. Proclaimed a Saint.|
|Emperor||Boris II||970–971||Eldest son of Petar I. Dethroned by the Byzantines in 971. Accidentally killed by the Bulgarian border guards in 977 when he tried to return to the country.|
|Emperor||Roman||977–991 (997)||Second son of Petar I. Castrated by the Byzantines but escaped to Bulgaria in 977. Captured in battle by the Byzantines in 991 and died in prison in Constantinople in 997.|
|Cometopuli dynasty (997–1018)|
Emperor of the Bulgarians
|Samuel||997–1014||Co-ruler and general under Roman between 976 and 997. Officially proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria in 997. Died of a heart attack on 6 October 1014, aged 69–70.|
|Emperor||Gavril Radomir||1014–1015||Eldest son of Samuel, crowned on 15 October 1014. Murdered by his cousin Ivan Vladislav in August 1015.|
|Emperor||Ivan Vladislav||1015–1018||Son of Aron and nephew of Samuel. Killed in the siege of Drach. His death brought the end of the First Bulgarian Empire which was annexed by the Byzantine Empire.|
|Emperor||Peter Delyan||1040–1041||Claimed to have been descendant of Gavril Radomir. Led an unsuccessful uprising against Byzantine rule.|
|Emperor||Constantine Bodin||1072||Named Constantine Bodin and Descendant of Samuel, he was proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria after the sainted emperor Petar I during the Uprising of Georgi Voiteh. Between 1081 and 1101 he ruled as King of Duklja.|
|Emperor||Petar II (also known as Peter IV)||1185–1190||Originally named Theodore, he was proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria as Petar IV during the successful Uprising of Asen and Petar. In 1190 he gave the throne to his younger brother.|
|Emperor||Ivan Asen I||1190–1196||Younger brother of Peter IV. A successful general, he ruled until 1196 when he was murdered by his cousin Ivanko.|
|Emperor||Petar II (Peter IV)||1196–1197||After his brother's death, he returned to the Bulgarian throne. Murdered in 1197.|
|Emperor [e] |
Emperor of Bulgarians and Vlachs, the Romanslayer
|Kaloyan||1197–1207||Third brother of Asen and Petar. Expanded Bulgaria and concluded a Union with the Catholic Church. Murdered by plotters during the siege of Salonica.|
|Emperor||Boril||1207–1218||Son of a sister of Kaloyan. Deposed and blinded in 1218.|
Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Greeks
|Ivan Asen II||1218–1241||Eldest son of Ivan Asen I. The Second Bulgarian Empire reached its apogee. Died a natural death on 24 June 1241, aged 46–47.|
|Emperor||Kaliman Asen I||1241–1246||Son of Ivan Asen II. Born in 1234, he died, possibly after being poisoned, in 1246, aged 12.|
|Emperor||Michael II Asen||1246–1256||Son of Ivan Asen II. Murdered by his cousin Kaliman.|
|Emperor||Kaliman Asen II||1256||Murdered in 1256.|
|Emperor||Mitso Asen||1256–1257||Son-in-law of Ivan Asen II. Fled to the Nicaean Empire in 1261.|
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of the Bulgarians
|Constantine I||1257–1277||Bolyar of Skopie. Killed in battle in 1277 by the peasant leader Ivaylo.|
|Emperor||Ivan Asen III||1279–1280||Eldest son of Mitso Asen. Fled to Constantinople with the treasury.|
|Emperor||Ivaylo||1277–1280||Leader of a major peasant uprising. Fled to the Golden Horde but was murdered by the Mongol Khan Nogai.|
|Terter dynasty (1280–1292)|
|Emperor||George Terter I||1280–1292||Bolyar of Cherven. Fled to the Byzantine Empire in 1292, died in Bulgaria in 1308–1309.|
|Emperor||Smilets||1292–1298||Bolyar of Kopsis. Murdered or died of natural causes in 1298.|
|Emperor||Chaka||1299–1300||Son of the Mongol Nogai Khan. Deposed and strangled in prison in 1300.|
|Terter dynasty (1300–1322)|
|Emperor||Theodore Svetoslav||1300–1321||Son of George Terter I. Spent his youth as a hostage in the Golden Horde. His rule marked a revival of Bulgaria. Died a natural death in late 1321, aged 50–55.|
|Emperor||George Terter II||1321–1322||Son of Theodore Svetoslav. Died a natural death in late 1322.|
|Shishman dynasty (1323–1396)|
|Emperor||Michael III Shishman||1323–1330||Bolyar of Vidin. Mortally wounded in the battle of Velbazhd on 28 July 1330 against the Serbs.|
|Emperor||Ivan Stephen||1330–1331||Son of Michael III Shishman. Deposed in March 1331 and fled to Serbia. Might have died in 1373.|
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Greeks
|Ivan Alexander||1331–1371||Bolyar of Lovech. Descended from the Asen, Terter and Shishman dynasties. Second Golden Age of Bulgarian culture. Following his death of natural causes on 17 February 1371, Bulgaria was divided among his sons.|
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Greeks
|Ivan Shishman||1371–1395||Fourth son of Ivan Alexander.|
Emperor of the Bulgarians
|Ivan Sratsimir||1356–1396||Third son of Ivan Alexander. Ruled in Vidin.|
|Tsar (Emperor) of Bulgaria||Constantine II||1397–1422||Son of Ivan Sratsimir (Ivan Sracimir) of Bulgaria by Anna, daughter of prince Nicolae Alexandru of Wallachia. He was crowned co-emperor by his father in or before 1395.|
|conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire.|
|House of Battenberg|
|Prince||Alexander I||29 April 1879 – 7 September 1886||Abdicated due to Russian pressure. Died on 23 October 1893 in Graz.|
|House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha|
|Prince/Tsar||Ferdinand I||7 July 1887 – 3 October 1918||Became Tsar after the official proclamation of independence on 22 September 1908. Abdicated on 3 October 1918 after Bulgaria's defeat in World War I. Died on 10 September 1948 in Coburg.|
|Tsar||Boris III||3 October 1918 – 28 August 1943||Died on 28 August 1943.|
|Tsar||Simeon II||28 August 1943 – 15 September 1946||Became tsar of Bulgaria at age 6, following the death of his father, Boris III. Monarchy abolished by the Communists. He served as the 48th Prime Minister of Bulgaria between 24 July 2001 and 17 August 2005. Still living as of 2020.|
There is one living former Bulgarian Tsar: Simeon Sakskoburggotski.
A documentary named "The Boy Who Was a King", about his remarkable life, was displayed at the 2011 edition of the IDFA.
^ a: In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans the title of Asparukh is the Slavic Knyaz (Prince). The title Khan is not used in the manuscript.
^ b: There are sources which suggest that Krum descended from those Bulgars who settled in Pannonia and lived under the rule the Avars. Some historians assume that Krum was from the Dulo dynasty and that with his ascension the old ruling dynasty was restored. According to Zlatarski, Krum was the founder of a new dynasty.
^ c: In the Ballshi Inscription, the title of Boris I is Archon of Bulgaria. The Byzantine title archon is usually translated with ruler. Contemporary Bulgarian sources used the title Knyaz, while during the Second Bulgarian Empire he was referred to as Tsar.
^ d: When Boris I was baptised he received the Christian name Michael, after his godfather, the Byzantine emperor Michael III. He is often called by the historians Boris-Michael. For this reason there is no explicit Michael I, while there are both Boris II and Michael II.
^ e: During the negotiations with Pope Innocent III, Kaloyan insisted that the Pope should recognize him as Imperator, the title equal to Tsar and based his claims on the imperial recognition of the monarchs of the First Bulgarian Empire. He was only crowned as Rex (King) but in his later correspondence with Innocent III, Kaloyan sent him his gratitude for his recognition as Imperator and used that title.
Tsar SimeonI the Great ruled over Bulgaria from 893 to 927, during the First Bulgarian Empire. Simeon's successful campaigns against the Byzantines, Magyars and Serbs led Bulgaria to its greatest territorial expansion ever, making it the most powerful state in contemporary Eastern and Southeast Europe. His reign was also a period of unmatched cultural prosperity and enlightenment later deemed the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture.
Vladimir-Rasate was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire from 889 to 893.
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state that existed in Southeastern Europe between the 7th and 11th centuries AD. It was founded in 681 when Bulgar tribes led by Asparuh moved to the northeastern Balkans. There they secured Byzantine recognition of their right to settle south of the Danube by defeating – possibly with the help of local South Slavic tribes – the Byzantine army led by Constantine IV. At the height of its power, Bulgaria spread from the Danube Bend to the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River to the Adriatic Sea.
The Battle of Boulgarophygon or Battle of Bulgarophygon was fought in the summer of 896 near the town of Bulgarophygon, modern Babaeski in Turkey, between the Byzantine Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire. The result was an annihilation of the Byzantine army which determined the Bulgarian victory in the trade war of 894–896.
The Battle of Marcellae took place in 792 at Marcellae (Markeli), near the modern town of Karnobat in south eastern Bulgaria, the same site as an earlier battle in 756. The battle was between the forces of the Byzantine Empire, led by Constantine VI, and those of Bulgaria under Kardam. The Byzantines were routed and forced to retreat to Constantinople.
The Battle of Southern Buh occurred near the banks of the eponymous river, in modern Ukraine. The result was a great Bulgarian victory which forced the Magyars of the Etelköz realm to abandon the steppes of southern Ukraine, as well as their aspirations of subduing Danube Bulgaria, retreating to the newly occupied lands beyond the Carpathian Mountains, centering on Pannonia, from where they will stage their next war, against Moravians this time, defeating them and establishing a new Hungary, after the Etelköz state in modern Ukraine, which succeeded an earlier stage of statehood for the Magyars, the legendary although short-lived Levedia, and even one before that, in the actual country of origin for the Magyars, Yugra, beyond river Ob.
The Battle of Pegae was fought between 11 and 18 March 921 in the outskirts of Constantinople between the forces of the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire during the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927. The battle took place in a locality called Pegae, named after the nearby Church of St. Mary of the Spring. The Byzantine lines collapsed at the very first Bulgarian attack and their commanders fled the battlefield. In the subsequent rout most Byzantine soldiers were killed by the sword, drowned or were captured.
The medieval Bulgarian army was the primary military body of the First and the Second Bulgarian Empires. During the first decades after the foundation of the country, the army consisted of a Bulgar cavalry and a Slavic infantry. The core of the Bulgarian army was the heavy cavalry, which consisted of 12,000–30,000 heavily armed riders. At its height in the 9th and 10th centuries, it was one of the most formidable military forces in Europe and was feared by its enemies. There are several documented cases of Byzantine commanders abandoning an invasion because of a reluctance to confront the Bulgarian army on its home territory.
From ca. 970 until 1018, a series of conflicts between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire led to the gradual reconquest of Bulgaria by the Byzantines, who thus re-established their control over the entire Balkan peninsula for the first time since the 7th-century Slavic invasions. The struggle began with the incorporation of eastern Bulgaria after the Russo–Byzantine War (970–971). Bulgarian resistance was led by the Cometopuli brothers, who based in the unconquered western regions of the Bulgarian Empire led it until its fall under Byzantine rule in 1018.
The Treaty of 815 was a 30-year peace agreement signed in Constantinople between the Bulgarian Khan Omurtag and the Byzantine Emperor Leo V the Armenian.
Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria refers to a conflict beginning in 967/968 and ending in 971, carried out in the eastern Balkans, and involving the Kievan Rus', Bulgaria, and the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines encouraged the Rus' ruler Sviatoslav to attack Bulgaria, leading to the defeat of the Bulgarian forces and the occupation of the northern and north-eastern part of the country by the Rus' for the following two years. The allies then turned against each other, and the ensuing military confrontation ended with a Byzantine victory. The Rus' withdrew and eastern Bulgaria was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire.
Kutmichevitsa was an administrative region of the Bulgarian Empire as well as Byzantine Empire during much of the Middle Ages, corresponding roughly with the northwestern part of the region of Macedonia and the southern part of Albania, broadly taken to be the area included in the triangle Saloniki-Skopje-Vlora. It had an important impact on the formation, endorsement and development of the Old Church Slavonic and culture. The Debar–Velich diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was created in Kutmichevitsa whose first bishop between 886 and 893 was Clement of Ohrid, appointed by Knyaz Boris I.
Peter was a Bulgarian noble and relative of knyaz (khan) Boris I who was in charge of diplomatic missions during the Christianization of Bulgaria. His position in the Bulgarian administrative hierarchy is unknown but it has been suggested that he had the title kavhan, i. e. the second person in the state after the monarch.
The People's Council of Preslav took place in 893. It was among the most important events in the history of the First Bulgarian Empire and was a cornerstone of the Christianization of Bulgaria under prince Boris I.
The Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 894–896, also called the Trade war, was fought between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire as a result of the decision of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI to move the Bulgarian market from Constantinople to Thessaloniki which would greatly increase the expenses of the Bulgarian merchants.
The Bulgarian–Serbian wars of 917–924 were a series of conflicts fought between the Bulgarian Empire and the Principality of Serbia as a part of the greater Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927. After the Byzantine army was annihilated by the Bulgarians in the battle of Achelous, the Byzantine diplomacy incited the Principality of Serbia to attack Bulgaria from the west. The Bulgarians dealt with that threat and replaced the Serbian prince with a protégé of their own. In the following years the two empires competed for control over Serbia. In 924 the Serbs rose again, ambushed and defeated a small Bulgarian army. That turn of events provoked a major retaliatory campaign that ended with the annexation of Serbia in the end of the same year.
The Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927 was fought between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire for more than a decade. Although the war was provoked by the Byzantine emperor Alexander's decision to discontinue paying an annual tribute to Bulgaria, the military and ideological initiative was held by Simeon I of Bulgaria, who demanded to be recognized as Tsar and made it clear that he aimed to conquer not only Constantinople but the rest of the Byzantine Empire, as well.
The Battle of Constantinople was fought in June 922 at the outskirts of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, between the forces of the First Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantines during the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927. In the summer the Byzantine Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos sent troops under the commander Saktikios to repel another Bulgarian raid at the outskirts of the Byzantine capital. The Byzantines stormed the Bulgarian camp but were defeated when they confronted the main Bulgarian forces. During his flight from the battlefield Saktikios was mortally wounded and died the following night.
Leontius was the first Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Very little is known of his life and tenure. He was mentioned as the first Patriarch of Bulgaria in the Book of Boril, written in 1211.
Krum's dynasty refers to the royal and later imperial family founded by the Khan of Bulgaria Krum, producing the monarchs of First Bulgarian Empire between 803 and 991. During this period Bulgaria adopted Christianity, reached its greatest territorial extend and triggered a golden age of culture and literature. Under the patronage of these monarchs Bulgaria became the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet; Old Bulgarian became the lingua franca of much of Eastern Europe and it came to be known as Old Church Slavonic. As a result of the victory in the Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927 the Byzantine Empire recognized the imperial title of the Bulgarian rulers and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as an independent Patriarchate.