Simeon I of Bulgaria

Simeon I of Bulgaria

Infobox Monarch | name =Simeon I
title =Tsar of the Bulgarians and the Byzantines

caption =Anonymous seal of Simeon I
reign =893–27 May 927
coronation =
predecessor =Vladimir
successor =Peter I
consort =two, names unknown
issue ="see below"
father =Boris I
mother =Maria
date of birth =864/865
place of birth =
date of death =death date|927|5|27|df=y
place of death =
buried =|

Simeon (also Symeon) [For example in Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans".] I the Great ( _bg. Симеон I Велики, transliterated "Simeon I Veliki"; [This article uses the United Nations-authorized scientific transliteration system to romanize Bulgarian Cyrillic. For details, see Romanization of Bulgarian.] pronounced|simɛˈɔn ˈpɤrvi vɛˈliki) ruled over Bulgaria from 893 to 927,Lalkov, "Rulers of Bulgaria", pp. 23–25.] during the First Bulgarian Empire. Simeon's successful campaigns against the Byzantines, Magyars and Serbs led Bulgaria to its greatest territorial expansion ever, [cite book |title=Enciklopedija Bǎlgarija |year=1988 |publisher=Akademično izdatelstvo "Marin Drinov" |language=Bulgarian |oclc=75865504 ] making it the most powerful state in contemporary Eastern Europe. [cite web |url= |title=The First Bulgarian Empire |publisher=Encarta |accessdate=2007-03-03 ] His reign was also a period of unmatched cultural prosperity and enlightenment later deemed the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture. [cite book |url= |format = PDF | last=Hart |first=Nancy |title=Bulgarian Art and Culture: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives |pages=p. 21 |publisher=University of Texas at Austin |accessdate=2007-03-03 ]

During Simeon's rule, Bulgaria spread over a territory between the Aegean, the Adriatic and the Black Sea, [cite book |title=Etnografija na Makedonija |url= |last=Weigand |first=Gustav |chapter=1 Istoriko-geografski obzor: 4 Srednovekovie |chapterurl= |year=1924 |location=Leipzig |publisher=Friedrich Brandstetter |others=trans. Elena Pipiševa |language=Bulgarian ] Bakalov, "Istorija na Bǎlgarija", "Simeon I Veliki".] and the new Bulgarian capital Preslav was said to rival Constantinople. [cite web |url= |format = PDF |title=About Bulgaria |publisher=U.S. Embassy Sofia, Bulgaria |accessdate=2007-03-03 ] The newly-independent Bulgarian Orthodox Church became the first new patriarchate besides the Pentarchy and Bulgarian Glagolitic translations of Christian texts spread all over the Slavic world of the time. [cite book |title=Istorija na Balkanite XIV–XX vek |last=Castellan |first=Georges |others=trans. Liljana Caneva |year=1999 |publisher=Hermes |location=Plovdiv |id=ISBN 954-459-901-0 |language=Bulgarian |pages=p. 37 ] Halfway through his reign, Simeon assumed the title of Emperor ("Tsar"), ["Цѣсарь Блъгарѡмъ". Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 367.] having prior to that been styled Prince ("Knyaz").Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 280.]


Background and early life

Simeon was born in 864 or 865 as the third son of Knyaz Boris I of Krum's dynasty. [cite web |url= |last=Dimitrov |first=Božidar |authorlink=Bozhidar Dimitrov |title=Hramǎt “Sveti Četirideset mǎčenici” |accessdate=2007-03-07 |language=Bulgarian |publisher=National Historical Museum] As Boris was the ruler who Christianized Bulgaria in 865, Simeon was a Christian all his life.Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 132.] Because his eldest brother Vladimir was designated heir to the Bulgarian throne, Boris intended Simeon to become a high-ranking cleric,Delev, "Bǎlgarskata dǎržava pri car Simeon".] possibly Bulgarian archbishop, and sent him to the leading University of Constantinople to receive theological education when he was thirteen or fourteen. He took the Hebrew name Simeon ["From the Greek form of the Hebrew name שִׁמְעוֹן ("Shim'on") which meant "hearkening" or "listening"." cite web |last=Campbell |first=Mike |url= |title=Biblical Names |publisher=Behind the Name |accessdate=2007-03-04 ] as a novice in a monastery in Constantinople. During the decade (ca. 878–888) he spent in the Byzantine capital, he received excellent education and studied the rhetoric of Demosthenes and Aristotle. ["Hunc etenim Simeonem emiargon, id est semigrecum, esse aiebant, eo quod a puericia Bizantii Demostenis rhetoricam Aristotelisque sillogismos didicerit". Liutprand of Cremona. "Antapodosis", cap. 29, p. 66. Cited in cite book |last=Drinov |first=Marin |authorlink=Marin Drinov |title=Južnye slavjane i Vizantija v X veke |pages=p. 374 |year=1876 |language=Russian ] He also learned fluent Greek, to the extent that he was referred to as "the half-Greek" in Byzantine chronicles. [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 132.
* Delev, "Bǎlgarskata dǎržava pri car Simeon".
* Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 282.
] He is speculated to have been tutored by Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople, [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 281.] but this is not supported by any source.

Around 888, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and settled at the newly-established royal monastery of Preslav "at the mouth of the Tiča", [This is not to be understood literally, as the mouth of the Tiča lies to the east, on the Black Sea coast. Researchers link the word "ustie" ("river mouth") in the sources to a narrow section of the river or to the Ustie pass near the city. cite book |title=Pravoslavnite cǎrkvi prez Bǎlgarskoto srednovekovie |last=Nikolova |first=Bistra |pages=p. 88 |chapter=Veliki Preslav |language=Bulgarian |year=2002 |isbn=954-430-762-1 |location=Sofia |publisher=Bulgarian Academy of Sciences ] where, under the guidance of Naum of Preslav, he engaged in active translation of important religious works from Greek to Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian), aided by other students from Constantinople. Meanwhile, Vladimir had succeeded Boris, who had retreated to a monastery, as ruler of Bulgaria. Vladimir attempted to reintroduce paganism in the empire and possibly signed an anti-Byzantine pact with Arnulf of Carinthia, ["Annales Fuldenses", p. 408. Cited in Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 133.] forcing Boris to assume the throne for a second time only to depose and punish Vladimir and promptly appoint Simeon as the new ruler. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 283.] Todt, "Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon".] This was done at an assembly in Preslav which also proclaimed Bulgarian as the only language of state and churchcite book |title=A Concise History of Bulgaria |chapter=The Reign of Simeon the Great (893–927) |last=Crampton |first=R.J. |id=ISBN 0521850851 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |year=2005 |pages=pp. 16–17] and decided to move the Bulgarian capital from Pliska to Preslav. [cite web |url= |title=Slavjanskata pravoslavna civilizacija |accessdate=2007-03-12 |last=Kalojanov |first=Ančo |date=2005-05-11 |language=Bulgarian ] It is not known why Boris did not place his second son, Gavril, on the throne, but instead preferred Simeon.

Trade War with Byzantium and Magyar invasions

With Simeon on the throne, the long-lasting peace with the Byzantine Empire established by his father was about to end. A conflict arose when Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise, acting under pressure from his wife Zoe Karbonopsina and her father, moved the marketplace for Bulgarian goods from Constantinople to Thessaloniki, where the Bulgarian merchants were heavily taxed. The Bulgarians sought protection by Simeon, who in turn complained to Leo. However, the Byzantine emperor ignored his embassy. [John Skylitzes. Skylitzes–Kedrenos, II, p. 254.4–16] [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 144–145.]

Forced to take action, in the autumn of 894 Simeon invaded the Byzantine Empire from the north, meeting with little opposition [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 289.] due to the concentration of most Byzantine forces in eastern Anatolia to counter Arab invasions. [Theophanes Continuatus, p. 312., cited in cite book |last=Vasil'ev |first=A. |title=Vizantija i araby, II |year=1902 |pages=p. 88, p. 104, pp. 108–111 |language=Russian ] Informed of the Bulgarian offensive, the surprised Leo sent an army consisting of guardsmen and other military units from the capital to halt Simeon, but his troops were routedCanev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 198.] somewhere in the theme of Macedonia. The Bulgarians took most of the Khazar mercenary guardsmen prisoners and killed many archons, including the army's commander. However, instead of continuing his advance to the Byzantine capital, Simeon quickly withdrew his troops to face a Magyar invasion from the north. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 289–291.] These events were later called "the first trade war in medieval Europe" by Bulgarian historians.

Unable to effectively respond to the Bulgarian campaign due to the engagement of their forces against the Arabs, the Byzantines convinced the Magyars to attack Bulgaria, promising to transport them across the Danube using the Byzantine navy. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 145.] Leo VI may have also concluded an agreement with Arnulf to make sure that the Franks did not support Simeon against the Magyars. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 294–295.] In addition, the talented commander Nikephoros Phokas was called back from Italy to lead a separate army against Bulgaria in 895 with the mere intention to overawe the Bulgarians. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 146.] Simeon, unaware of the threat from the north, rushed to meet Phokas' forces, but the two armies did not engage in a fight. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 295.] Instead, the Byzantines offered peace, informing him of both the Byzantine foot and maritime campaign, but intentionally did not notify him of the planned Magyar attack. Simeon did not trust the envoy and, after sending him to prison, ordered the Byzantine navy's route into the Danube closed off with ropes and chains, intending to hold it until he had dealt with Phokas. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 296–297.]

Despite the problems they encountered because of the fencing, the Byzantines ultimately managed to ferry the Magyar forces led by Árpád's son Liüntika across the Danube, [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 297.] possibly near modern Galaţi, [According to toponymic evidence. cite book |title=Relationum Hungarorum cum oriente gentibusque originis historia antiquissima |last=Kuun |first=Géza |year=1895 |pages=p. 23 |language=Latin ] and assisted them in pillaging the nearby Bulgarian lands. Once notified of the surprise invasion, Simeon headed north to stop the Magyars, leaving some of his troops at the southern border to prevent a possible attack by Phokas.Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 298–299.] Simeon's two encounters with the enemy in Northern Dobruja resulted in Magyar victories, forcing him to retreat to Drǎstǎr. [Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 199.] After pillaging much of Bulgaria and reaching Preslav, the Magyars returned to their lands, [Bakalov, "Istorija na Bǎlgarija", "Simeon I Veliki".
* Delev, "Bǎlgarskata dǎržava pri car Simeon".
* Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 199.
] but not before Simeon had concluded an armistice with Byzantium towards the summer of 895. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 146.] A complete peace was delayed, as Leo VI required the release of the Byzantine captives from the Trade War. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 301–304.]

Anti-Magyar campaign and further wars with Byzantium

Having dealt with the pressure from the Magyars and the Byzantines, Simeon was free to plan a campaign against the Magyars looking for retribution. He negotiated a joint force with the Magyars' eastern neighbours, the Pechenegs, and imprisoned the Byzantine envoy Leo Magister in order to delay the release of the captives until after the campaign against the Magyars. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 304.] This would allow him to renegotiate the peace conditions in his favour. In an exchange of letters with the envoy, Simeon refused to release the captives and ridiculed Leo VI's astrological abilities. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 304–311.]

Using a Magyar invasion in the lands of the neighbouring Slavs in 896 as a "casus belli", Simeon headed against the Magyars together with his Pecheneg allies, defeating them completely [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 147.] in the Battle of Southern Buh and making them leave Etelköz forever and settle in Pannonia. Following the defeat of the Magyars, Simeon finally released the Byzantine prisoners in exchange for Bulgarians captured in 895.

Claiming that not all prisoners had been released, [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 147.] Simeon once again invaded Byzantium in the summer of 896, heading directly to Constantinople. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 315.] He was met in Thrace by a hastily-assembled Byzantine army, but annihilated the Byzantine forces in the Battle of Bulgarophygon (at modern Babaeski, Turkey). [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 316.] Arming Arab captives and sending them to fight with the Bulgarians as a desperate measure, Leo VI managed to repel the Bulgarians from Constantinople, which they had besieged. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 317.] The war ended with a peace treaty which formally lasted until around Leo VI's death in 912 and under which Byzantium was obliged to pay Bulgaria an annual tribute. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 148.] Under the treaty, the Byzantines also ceded an area between the Black Sea and Strandža to the Bulgarian Empire. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 318–321.] Meanwhile, Simeon had also imposed his authority over Serbia in return for recognizing Petar Gojniković as their ruler. [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 141.]

Simeon often violated the peace treaty with Byzantium, attacking and conquering Byzantine territory on several occasions, [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 321.] such as in 904, when the Bulgarian raids were used by Arabs led by the Byzantine renegade Leo of Tripoli to undertake a maritime campaign and seize Thessaloniki. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 324.] After the Arabs plundered the city, it was an easy target for Bulgaria and the nearby Slavic tribes. In order to dissuade Simeon from capturing the city and populating it with Slavs, [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 152.] Leo VI was forced to make further territorial concessions to the Bulgarians in the modern region of Macedonia. With the treaty of 904, all Slavic-inhabited lands in modern southern Macedonia and southern Albania were ceded to the Bulgarian Empire, [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 334–337.] with the border line running some 20 kilometres north of Thessaloniki. ["In the year 6412 since the creation of the world, indict 7 (904). Border between Byzantines and Bulgarians. In the time of Simeon, by the grace of God Prince of the Bulgarians, under Olgu Tarkan Theodore and under Komit Drista." Border marking inscription from Narǎš (modern Greece). cite journal |last=Uspenskij |first=F.I. |authorlink=Fyodor Uspensky |title=Pograničnyj stolb meždu Vizantiej i Bolgariej pri Simeone |journal=Izvestija russkogo arheologičeskogo instituta v Konstantinopole |year=1898 |pages=pp. 184–194 |language=Russian ]

Recognition as Emperor

The death of Leo VI on 11 May 912 and the accession of his infant son Constantine VII under the guidance of Leo's brother Alexander, who expelled Leo's wife Zoe from the palace, constituted a great opportunity for Simeon to attempt another campaign against Constantinople, the conquest of which remained a dream of his all his life. In the spring of 913, Simeon's envoys, which had arrived in Constantinople to renew the peace of 896, were sent away by Alexander, who refused to pay the annual tribute, urging Simeon to prepare for war. [Todt, "Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon".
* Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 155.
* Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 352.
* "Bǎlgarite i Bǎlgarija", 1.2.

Before Simeon could attack, Alexander died on 6 June 913, leaving the empire in the hands of a regency council headed by Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos. [Todt, "Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon".
* Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 155.
* Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 212.
] Many of the residents of Constantinople did not recognize the young emperor and supported the pretender Constantine Doukas, [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 156.] which, exacerbated by revolts in southern Italy and the planned Arab invasion in eastern Anatolia, was all to Simeon's advantage. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 353.] Constantine Nicholas tried to discourage Simeon from invading Byzantium in a long series of pleading letters, but the Bulgarian ruler nevertheless attacked in full force in late July or August 913 and reached Constantinople without any serious resistance."Bǎlgarite i Bǎlgarija", 1.2.] However, the anarchy in Constantinople had ceased after the murder of the pretender Constantine Doukas and a government had promptly been formed with Patriarch Nicholas at the helm.Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 359.] This urged Simeon to raise his siege and enter peace negotiations, to the joy of the Byzantines. The protracted negotiations resulted in the payment of the Byzantine tribute's arrears, [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 157.] the promise that Constantine VII should marry one of Simeon's daughters and, most importantly, Simeon's official recognition as Emperor of the Bulgarians by Patriarch Nicholas [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", pp. 144–148.] [cite journal |first=George |last=Ostrogorsky |authorlink = George Ostrogorsky|title=Avtokrator i samodržac |journal=Glas Srpske kraljevske akademije |language=Serbian |issue=CLXIV |year=1935 |pages=pp. 95–187 ] in the Blachernai Palace.

Shortly after Simeon's visit to Constantinople, Constantine's mother Zoe returned to the palace on the insistence of the young emperor and immediately proceeded to eliminate the regents. Through a plot, she managed to assume power in February 914, practically removing Patriarch Nicholas from the government, disowning and obscuring his recognition of Simeon's imperial title [cite journal |title=A re-examination of the ‘coronation’ of Symeon of Bulgaria in 913 |last=Loud |first=G.A. |year=1978 |journal=The Journal of Theological Studies |publisher=Oxford University Press |issue= XXIX |pages=pp. 109–120 |doi=10.1093/jts/XXIX.1.109 |volume=xxix ] and rejecting the planned marriage of her son to one of Simeon's daughters. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 367–368.] Simeon had to resort to war to achieve his goals. He invaded Thrace in the summer of 914 and captured Adrianople. Zoe was quick to send Simeon numerous presents in order to conciliate him and managed to convince him to cede back Adrianople and withdraw his army. In the following years, Simeon's forces were engaged in the northwestern Byzantine provinces, around Drač (Durrës) and Thessaloniki, but did not make a move against Constantinople. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 158–159.]

Victories at Anchialos and Katasyrtai

By 917, Simeon was preparing for yet another war against Byzantium. He attempted to conclude an anti-Byzantine union with the Pechenegs, but his envoys could not match the financial resources of the Byzantines, who succeeded in outbidding them. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 159.] The Byzantines hatched a large-scale campaign against Bulgaria and also tried to persuade the Serbian Prince Petar Gojniković to attack the Bulgarians with Magyar support. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 375–376.]

In 917, a particularly strong Byzantine army led by Leo Phokas, son of Nikephoros Phokas, invaded Bulgaria accompanied by the Byzantine navy under the command of Romanos Lekapenos, which sailed to the Bulgarian Black Sea ports. En route to Mesembria (Nesebǎr), where they were supposed to be reinforced by troops transported by the navy, Phokas' forces stopped to rest near the river of Achelaos, not far from the port of Anchialos (Pomorie).Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 160–161.] [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 376–377.] Once informed of the invasion, Simeon rushed to intercept the Byzantines, and attacked them from the nearby hills while they were resting disorganized. In the Battle of Anchialos of 20 August 917, one of the largest in medieval history, [Dimitrov, "Bulgaria: illustrated history".] the Bulgarians completely routed the Byzantines and killed many of their commanders, although Phokas managed to escape to Mesembria. [cite web |title=Symeon of Bulgaria wins the Battle of Acheloos, 917 |author=Theophanes Continuatus, trans. Paul Stephenson |url= |accessdate=2007-03-10 ] Decades later, Leo the Deacon would write that "piles of bones can still be seen today at the river Achelaos, where the fleeing army of the Byzantines was then infamously slain". [Leo the Deacon, " [ History] ", p. 12410–12. Cited in Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 216.]

The planned Pecheneg attack from the north also failed, as the Pechenegs quarrelled with admiral Lekapenos, who refused to transport them across the Danube to aid the main Byzantine army. The Byzantines were not aided by Serbs and Magyars either: the Magyars were engaged in Western Europe as Frankish allies, and the Serbs under Petar Gojniković were reluctant to attack Bulgaria because the Bulgarian ally Mihailo Višević of Zahumlje had notified Simeon of their plans. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 370.]

Simeon's army quickly followed up the victory of Anchialos with another success. The Bulgarians sent to pursuit the remnants of the Byzantine army approached Constantinople and encountered Byzantine forces under Leo Phokas, who had returned to the capital, at the village of Katasyrtai in the immediate proximity of Constantinople. [cite book |first=Сarl Gothard |last=De Boor |title=Vita Euthymii |pages=p. 214 |location=Berlin |publisher=Reimer |year=1888 ] The Bulgarian regiments attacked and again defeated the Byzantines, destroying some of their last units before returning to Bulgaria. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 382.]

uppression of Serbian unrest and late campaigns against Byzantium

Immediately after that campaign, Simeon sought to punish the Serbian ruler Petar Gojniković who had attempted to betray him by concluding an alliance with the Byzantines. Simeon sent an army led by two of his commanders, Theodore Sigrica and Marmais, to Serbia. The two managed to persuade Petar to attend a personal meeting, during which he was enchained and carried off to Bulgaria, where he died in a dungeon. Simeon put Pavle Branović, prior to that an exile in Bulgaria, on the Serbian throne, thus restoring the Bulgarian influence in Serbia for a while. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 385–386.]

Meanwhile, the Byzantine military failures forced another change of government in Constantinople: the admiral Romanos Lekapenos replaced Zoe as regent of the young Constantine VII in 919, forcing her back into a convent. Romanos betrothed his daughter Helena Lekapene to Constantine and advanced to the rank of co-emperor in December 920, effectively assuming the government of the empire, [cite book |title=Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium |editor=Alexander Kazhdan |publisher=Oxford University Press |year=1991 ] [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 163.] which was largely what Simeon had planned to do. [Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 217.]

No longer able to climb to the Byzantine throne by diplomatic means, the infuriated Simeon once again had to wage war to impose his will. Between 920 and 922, Bulgaria increased its pressure on Byzantium, campaigning in the west through Thessaly reaching the Isthmus of Corinth and in the east in Thrace, reaching and crossing the Dardanelles to lay siege on the town of Lampsacus.cite book |title=Medieval Lands |last=Cawley |first=Charles |chapter=Bulgaria: Symeon I 893–927 |url= |chapterurl= |publisher=Foundation for Medieval Genealogy |date=2006–2007 ] Simeon's forces appeared before Constantinople in 921, when they demanded the deposition of Romanos and captured Adrianople, and 922, when they were victorious at Pigae, burned much of the Golden Horn and seized Bizye.Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 164–165.] ["Vita S. Mariae Junioris".] In the meantime, the Byzantines attempted to ignite Serbia against Simeon, but he substituted Pavle with Zaharije Pribisavljević, a former refugee at Constantinople that he had captured.

Desperate to conquer Constantinople, Simeon planned a large campaign in 924 and sent envoys to the Fatimid caliph Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, who possessed a powerful navy which Simeon needed. The caliph agreed and sent his own representatives back with the Bulgarians to arrange the alliance. However, the envoys were captured by the Byzantines at Calabria. Romanos offered peace to the Arabs, supplementing this offer with generous gifts, and ruined their union with Bulgaria. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 168–169.]

In Serbia, Zaharije was persuaded by the Byzantines to revolt against Simeon. Zaharije was supported by many Bulgarians exhausted from Simeon's endless campaigns against Byzantium. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 446–447.] The Bulgarian emperor sent his troops under Sigrica and Marmais, but they were routed and the two commanders beheaded, which forced Simeon to conclude an armistice with Byzantium in order to concentrate on the suppression of the uprising. Simeon sent an army led by Časlav Klonimirović in 924 to depose Zaharije. He was successful, as Zaharije fled to Croatia. After this victory, the Serbian nobility was invited to come to Bulgaria and bow to the new Prince. However, he did not appear at the supposed meeting and all of them were beheaded. Bulgaria annexed Serbia directly. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", p. 459.]

In the summer of 924, Simeon nevertheless arrived at Constantinople and demanded to see the patriarch and the emperor. He conversed with Romanos on the Golden Horn on 9 September 924 and arranged a truce, according to which Byzantium would pay Bulgaria an annual tax, but would be ceded back some cities on the Black Sea coast. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 169–172.] During the interview of the two monarchs, two eagles are said to have met in the skies above and then to have parted, one of them flying over Constantinople and the other heading to Thrace, as a sign of the irreconcilability of the two rulers. [Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 405–407.] In his description of this meeting, Theophanes Continuatus mentions that "the two "emperors"… conversed", which may indicate renewed Byzantine recognition of Simeon's imperial claims. ["tôn "basileôn" omilountôn". Discussed in cite web |url= |title=The peace agreed between Romanos Lekapenos and Symeon of Bulgaria, AD 924 (translation of Theophanes Continuatus) |last=Stephenson |first=Paul |accessdate=2007-03-11 ]

War with Croatia and death

Most likely after (or possibly at the time of) Patriarch Nicholas' death in 925, Simeon raised the status of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church to a patriarchate. [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 156.] This may be linked to Simeon's diplomatic relations with the Papacy between 924 and 926, during which he demanded and received Pope John X's recognition of his title as "Emperor of the Romans", truly equal to the Byzantine emperor, and possibly the confirmation of a patriarchal dignity for the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. [cite journal |last=Mladjov |first=Ian |title=Between Byzantium and Rome: Bulgaria and the West in the Aftermath of the Photian Schism |journal=Byzantine Studies/Études Byzantines |year=1999 |pages=pp. 173–181 ]

In 926, Simeon's troops under Alogobotur invaded Croatia, at the time a Byzantine ally, but were completely defeated by the army of King Tomislav in the Battle of the Bosnian Highlands. Fearing a Bulgarian retribution, Tomislav accepted to abandon his union with Byzantium and make peace on the basis of the "status quo", negotiated by the papal legate Madalbert. [Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 225.] [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", p. 176.] In the last months of his life, Simeon prepared for another siege of Constantinople despite Romanos' desperate pleas for peace. [Zlatarski, "Istorija na Pǎrvoto bǎlgarsko carstvo", pp. 489–491.]

On 27 May 927, Simeon died of heart failure in his palace in Preslav. Byzantine chroniclers tie his death to a legend, according to which Romanos decapitated a statue which was Simeon's inanimate double, and he died at that very hour. [Runciman, "A history of the First Bulgarian Empire", pp. 176–77.] [Canev, "Bǎlgarski hroniki", p. 226–227.]

He was succeeded by his son Peter I, with George Sursuvul, the new emperor's maternal uncle, initially acting as a regent. As part of the peace treaty which Bulgaria and Byzantium signed in October 927 and Peter's marriage to Maria (Eirene), Romanos' granddaughter, the existing borders were confirmed, as were the Bulgarian ruler's imperial dignity and the head of the Bulgarian Church's patriarchal status. [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans".]

Culture and religion

rquote|right|A new Ptolemy as he presented himself to them,
but not in faith — in desire mostly,
and due to his collection of all
divine and most precious books,
with which his palaces he'd filled,
he earned himself eternal memory. [Ivanova, " [ Pohvala za car Simeon] ", "Tǎržestvo na slovoto".]
"Praise to Tsar Simeon" by an anonymous contemporary of the tsar

During Simeon's reign, Bulgaria reached its cultural apogee, becoming the literary and spiritual centre of Slavic Europe.Delev, "Zlatnijat vek na bǎlgarskata kultura".] In this respect, Simeon continued his father Boris' policy of establishing and spreading Slavic culture and attracting noted scholars and writers within Bulgaria's borders. It was in the Preslav Literary School and Ohrid Literary School, founded under Boris, that the main literary work in Bulgaria was concentrated during the reign of Simeon.Ivanova, " [ Introduction] ", "Tǎržestvo na slovoto".]

The late 9th and early 10th century constitute the earliest and most productive period of medieval Bulgarian literature. Having spent his early years in Constantinople, Simeon introduced Byzantine culture to the Bulgarian court, but eliminated its assimilative effect by means of military power and religious autonomy. The disciples of Cyril and Methodius, among whom Clement of Ohrid, Naum and Constantine of Preslav, continued their educational work in Bulgaria, actively translating Christian texts, such as the Bible and the works of John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus, Athanasius of Alexandria, as well as historic chronicles such as these of John Malalas and George Hamartolus, to Bulgarian. The reign of Simeon also witnessed the production of a number of original theological and secular works, such as John Exarch's "Six Days" ("Šestodnev"), Constantine of Preslav's "Alphabetical Prayer" and "Proclamation of the Holy Gospels", and Černorizec Hrabǎr's "An Account of Letters". Simeon's own contribution to this literary blossoming was praised by his contemporaries, for example in the "Praise to Tsar Simeon" preserved in the "Zlatostruj" collection and "Simeon's Collection", to which the tsar personally wrote an addendum. [Ivanova, " [ Pribavka ot samija hristoljubiv car Simeon] ", "Tǎržestvo na slovoto".]

Simeon turned the new Bulgarian capital Preslav into a magnificent religious and cultural centre, intended more as a display of his realm's heyday and as a royal residence than as a military fortress. With its more than twenty cross-domed churches and numerous monasteries, its impressive royal palace and the royal Golden (or Round) Basilica, Preslav was a true imperial capital. The development of Bulgarian art in the period is demonstrated by a ceramic icon of Theodore of Amasea and the Preslav-style illustrated ceramics. [cite web |title=Risuvana keramika |publisher=Muzej Preslav |url= |accessdate=2007-03-10 ]


Simeon was married twice. By his first wife, whose identity is unknown, Simeon had a son called Michael, [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 160.] who was born before 913. He was excluded from the succession in 927 and sent to a monastery. He died in 931, shortly after organizing a revolt.

By his second wife, the daughter of the influential noble George Sursuvul, he had three sons: Peter, who succeeded as Emperor of Bulgaria in 927 and ruled until 969; Ivan, who rebelled against Peter in 928 and then fled to Byzantium; and Benjamin (Bajan), who, according to Lombard historian Liutprand of Cremona, "possessed the power to transform himself suddenly into a wolf or other strange animal". ["Antapodosis", p. 309.]

Simeon also had several daughters, including one who was arranged to marry Constantine VII in 913, and was thus born before that date. The marriage was annulled by Constantine's mother Zoe once she had returned to the court. [Fine, "The Early Medieval Balkans", p. 148.]

Legacy and popular culture

Tsar Simeon I has remained among the most highly valued Bulgarian historical figures, as indicated by popular vote in the "Velikite Bǎlgari" (a spin-off of "100 Greatest Britons") television programme, which in February 2007 placed him fourth among the greatest Bulgarians ever. [cite web |url= |title=Vasil Levski beše izbran za naj-velikija bǎlgarin na vsički vremena |publisher=Velikite Bǎlgari |language=Bulgarian |accessdate=2007-03-25 |date=2007-02-18 ] The last Bulgarian monarch, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was named after Simeon I. [cite web |url= |title=Simeon Sakskoburggotski (Car Simeon Vtori) | |language=Bulgarian |accessdate=2007-03-25 ] A brand of high-quality grape rakija, "Car Simeon Veliki", also bears his name, [cite web |url= |title=Grozdova rakija: Car Simeon Veliki |accessdate=2007-03-25 |language=Bulgarian |publisher=Vinex ] and an Antarctic peak on Livingston Island of the South Shetland Islands was named Simeon Peak in his honour by the Antarctic Place-names Commission. [cite web |url= |title=Bulgarian Antarctic Gazetteer: Simeon Peak |publisher=Antarctic Place-names Commission. Republic of Bulgaria, Ministry of Foreign Affairs |accessdate=2007-03-25 ]

Simeon the Great has also been regularly featured in fiction. Bulgarian national writer Ivan Vazov dedicated a children's patriotic poem to him, "Car Simeon", and it was later arranged as a song, "Kraj Bosfora šum se vdiga" ("Noise Is Being Made Near the Bosphorus"). [cite web |url= |title=Večnite pesni na Bǎlgarija |publisher=Novoto vreme |language=Bulgarian |accessdate=2007-03-25 ] An eleven-episode drama series filmed in 1984, "Zlatnijat vek" ("Golden Age"), retells the story of Simeon's reign. In the series, the tsar is played by Marius Donkin. [cite web |url= |title="Zlatniyat vek" (1984) |publisher=IMDb |accessdate=2007-03-25 ] A historical drama play called "Car Simeon — Zlatnijat vek" and produced by Stefan Stajčev, director of the Silistra Theatre, debuted in December 2006. Ivan Samokovliev stars in the part of Simeon. [cite news |url= |title=Tazi večer v Silistra e premierata na grandioznija istoričeski spektakǎl "Zlatnijat vek — Car Simeon Veliki" |publisher=bTV Novinite |date=2006-12-07 |language=Bulgarian |accessdate=2007-03-25 ]


External links

*PDFlink| [ Detailed list of Bulgarian rulers] |192 KiB
*bg icon [ "The Realm of War and the Realm of Peace"] , an article by Georgi Todorov
* [ "Noise Is Being Made Near the Bosphorus"] , bg icon [ lyrics]
* [ OrdoSimeoni, Order of Simeon the Great]

NAME=Simeon I the Great
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Symeon I the Great; Симеон I Велики (Bulgarian); Simeon I Veliki (transliteration)
PLACE OF BIRTH=Bulgaria, possibly Pliska
DATE OF DEATH=27 May 927
PLACE OF DEATH=Bulgaria, most likely Preslav

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