THE FOUNDER

In 679, when the Proto-Bulgarians, having already invaded the lands along the Danube delta,  pushed the army of Emperor Constantine IV out to the Black Sea, hardly anyone believed this to be anything but an ordinary episode in Byzantium's battles against the barbaric peoples who kept  flooding in from the North.

Still, Asparoukh, the invaders' leader,  came to this land for something else but the usual plundering of the fertile Northern province of  Moesia. The third eldest of the five sons of Khan Kouber, whose Volga kingdom had disintegrated under the attacks of the Hazars, found, at last, a place under the sun for those members of his tribe, who had followed him in his way south-east across the vast Russian Steppes. In addition, Asparoukh found a princely throne for himself - something he would have hardly be able to aspire to in his home land. Entering a union with the native Slavs in 681, he concluded his first peace treaty with Byzantium - this was the official recognition of a new political reality - Bulgaria.

The foundations of the state, laid by Asparoukh (who perished about the year of 700, most probably in a battle against the Hazars), proved to be as firm and solid as the massive stone blocks used by him and his descendants to build their towns, fortresses and palaces in North-Eastern Bulgaria. Beside his merits of a soldier and builder, the first Bulgarian monarch possessed an extraordinary political talent, fertilized by the state tradition of the Volga period. His death would be followed by an entire century of clan intestine wars over the throne, insidious intrigues and military campaigns from the South, undertaken by  Byzantium; it would take about two centuries before the island of the Proto-Bulgarians, a people belonging to the Turkic family, would be absorbed by the surrounding Slavic sea - and still, until the present day there would be no substantial evidence of ethnic friction in this union, where the first fiddle was played by the minority. In fact, it seems that Asparoukh was well aware of his mission - by his order, for example, the first genealogy of the Bulgarian rulers was compiled, tracing their roots back to Attila himself.
 


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