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                                                                                                                  See the Bulgarian translation: Bulgarian

Zahari Zlatev:

Tales for Bulgarian Rulers of the Dynasty Dulo

(Захари Златев: Сказания за владетелите от династията Дуло)


The series “Tales for Bulgarian Rulers of the Dynasty Dulo” consists of five books: “A Wonderful Legend about Avitohol”, “The Return of Irnik in Bulgaria”, “The Christening of Kubrat”, “Saga about the Young Aspasruh: The Prince of the Dawn” and “The Emperor who Lost His Nose and the Bulgarian Caesar”. Important periods from the history of the Old Bulgarian state in the very beginning of its existence is described in each of these books.


Events from a very ancient age, the second century B.C., are described in “A Wonderful Legend about Avitohol”. In this time Bulgaria was ruled by Avitohol, who is a nearly mythical person. According to a recently discovered legend, he was grown up by a deer. The important fact is that Avitohol was the founder of the dynasty Dulo. Moreover, following his advice and under his command, some of the Bulgarians moved from the surroundings of the mountain Pamir (which was called Imeon at that time) in the Central Asia to the areas of Northern Caucasus and Southern Ukraine. Some details about the publication can be found in .


Some episodes from the difficult struggle for survival, which the Bulgarians fought against the Huns in the fifth century, are described in “The Return of Irnik in Bulgaria”. The young Irnik, who was the only heir of the Bulgarian ruler, is sent as a hostage in Attila’s court. There he is adopted by the ruler of the Huns and named Ernach. This action, the decision to send him as a hostage, was the price which the Bulgarians had to pay in order to preserve to a certain degree the independence of their state. After the death of Attila it was highly desirable to bring the heir of the throne back to Bulgaria. It turned out that this task is very difficult. Its solution required great efforts and a lot of inventiveness. The events, which took place, while this important task was successfully resolved, are described in this book.


Some events from the second decade of the seventh century are described in “The Christening of Kubrat”. Kubrat, who was only a little boy at that time, came to Constantinople, brought there together with all leaders of his clan Dulo and their families by his uncle Organa. The young boy was christened there in year 619 and became the first Bulgarian ruler for which is certainly known that he was Christian (the fact that he was christened is documented in several medieval chronics). The reasons for performing this act and the difficult problems, which had to be resolved during the long trip from Bulgaria to Constantinople and during the stay of the young ruler in the Roman capital, are described in the third book of this series. Both the Roman Empire and the Bulgarian state had great difficulties in this period. The Roman emperor had to fight for the preservation of the existence of his state against the Avars and also against the much stronger and better organized Persians. The Bulgarians had to defend their independence against the Turks and the Avars.


The heroic fight of the Bulgarians led by Asparuh in their attempts to stop the advance of the Hazars to the West is described in “Saga about the Young Asparuh. The Prince of the Dawn”. All supporters of the Asparuh’s four brothers (Bayan, Kotrag, Altzek and Kuber), and these supports were by far not only a few, cowardly took the decision to refuse to participate in the difficult struggle against the powerful enemy. They left Bulgaria and moved in different directions. These people were punished severely for their betrayal. Sooner or later after that, they disappeared nearly without any trace. Asparuh, the Prince of the Dawn, had to resolve alone the difficult problems and he succeeded to accomplish this task in the best possible way. See also the interview in the Bulgarian National Radio: Some details about the publication can be found in .


Some events from the very beginning of the eighth century, which happened when Tervel was the Bulgarian ruler, are described in “The Emperor who Lost His Nose and the Bulgarian Caesar”. Bulgaria was one of the three most powerful states in the world at that time. The Bulgarian ruler received the title Caesar of the Roman Empire. This title was extremely prestigious in the early centuries of the Eastern Roman Empire. Then it was nearly equal to the title of the emperor. However, while outside his country Tervel is winning one victory after another, many internal problems gradually started to appear in Bulgaria, first and foremost problems in the relations between Christians and followers of the Old Bulgarian religion. It was very necessary to apply a lot of efforts for the preservation of the internal stability in the enormous state where many nationalities were living. Indeed, in the Tervel’s state the majority of the Bulgarians were still followers of their old religion, but the majority of the subjects of this ruler were Christians. The Bulgarian Caesar succeeded to resolve perfectly this extremely difficult task.


From the short description given above it is clear that deeds of five of the rulers of the ancient Bulgarian state are described in this series of books These rulers are: Avitohol, Irnik, Kubrat, Asparuh and Tervel. Each of them performed deeds, for which rightfully could be claimed that they are unique, unrepeatable and glorious.


In the time when Avitohol was the ruler, most of the Bulgarians were convinced by him to move from the areas around the mountain Pamir in Central Asia to the large regions located north from the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea. In this way he achieved simultaneously two very important aims: (a) saved the Bulgarians, who were severely attacked both by Huns and by the powerful at that time Parthian Empire, from the great danger to lose their national identity and (b) restored the Bulgarian state in a place which was much closer to the great centres of the European civilization.


Irnik succeeded to bring back the power of the Bulgarian state after the death of Attila, the leader of the Huns. The fact that the Bulgarian state again became very powerful is confirmed by a message in a medieval chronic telling us that even the mighty ruler of the Persian Empire had to take into account the intensions of the Bulgarians when planning campaigns against other neighbouring states.


Kubrat became the first Bulgarian ruler who was a Christian, received the prestigious Roman title Patrician of the Empire, spent many years in the capital of the Roman Empire Constantinople, became one of the most educated persons of his time, obtained full independence for his people from Avars and Turks and founded the highly respected at that time “Old Great Bulgaria”.


Asparuh stopped the advance of the Khazars in Western direction, concurred some Roman provinces to the South of the Danube river and moved the centre of the Bulgarian state in the former Roman province Lower Moesia (in this way he moved the centre of his state much closer to the capital of the Roman Empire, which was on the highest cultural level in the world during that time; in the seventh century).  


Тервел helped successfully one of the Roman emperors (Justinian II) to regain his title, received the title Caesar of the Empire, defeated the Arabs and forced them to abandon the siege of the Constantinople (thus, stopped forever their efforts to continue directly through the Balkan Peninsula their advance to West). Not only the destiny of Bulgaria and the Roman Empire, but also the destiny of the whole of Europe would not be the same if the Arabs had succeeded to capture the biggest and the richest city of the world at that time. This is why Tervel is the only Bulgarian ruler for which can without any doubt be claimed that he had a decisive influence on the destiny of the whole Europe.


From the above short discussion it is quite clear that the series “Tales for Bulgarian Rulers of the Dynasty Dulo” is an epopee about some forgotten or half-forgotten but very glorious pages of ancient Bulgarian history and about five of the most deserving and the most powerful rulers from a very early period of the existence of the Bulgarian state. These rulers either did a lot for the saving of the Bulgarian nation or succeeded to raise the state to one of the highest levels for the time period in which they were on the throne.


Some more details about the books from the series “Tales for Bulgarian Rulers of the Dynasty Dulo”, which have been been published in the Bulgarian Publishing House “TRUD” can be found in, and .


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Department of Atmospheric Environment, National Environmental Research Institute (Denmark)