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8-08-2015, 00:26

The bulgarian empire revived

Each of these three very different entities reacted to the events of 1204 in different ways. For Bulgaria, the partitio Romaniae was a direct challenge, since the frontier regions around Philippopolis and Adrianople were doled out to Latins, despite the long-standing Bulgarian claims to them that are enshrined in the treaty of 1202. Renier de Trit held Philippopolis from autumn 1204 to June 1205, when Kalojan retook the town, on his way back from an expedition against Thessaloniki;14 and in 1206 Venice granted out Adrianople to the ‘collaborationist’ arch¯on Theodore Branas.15 This blocked Bulgarian aspirations to dominate the Maritsa valley and gain direct access to theAegean at last.16 The Bulgarianswere bound to be further disquieted by the fact that the partitio of 1204 granted Venice, in addition to the Albanian coastline, the province of Koloneia, between Kastoria and Korc¸a: expansion towards the Adriatic was another long-standing Bulgarian goal.17 Tsar Kalojan (1197–1207) managed to contain various separatist tendencies within Bulgaria, and he was able to draw on considerable military resources, especially among the peasantry of the Danube valley. Fully aware of what was happening on the international scene, he hoped to take advantage of Byzantium’s unexpected collapse and rejected the terms of the partitio.18 His preliminary contacts with the crusaders, which appear to predate the fall of Constantinople, came to nothing. Kalojan saw in Innocent III (1198–1216) – himself unenthusiastic about the course the Fourth Crusade was taking – a guarantor against the crusaders’ aggressive ambitions. 19 For the papacy this was an unhoped-for opportunity, a chance to bring Bulgaria within the Roman confession. Neither the Bulgarians nor the inhabitants of Serbia and Bosnia had raised a finger to help Zara, whose enforced submission to Hungary during the crusade ensured that it would remain a catholic city. Indeed, the Bosnians, who were allied with theHungarians, even took the opportunity to reconcile themselves with Rome in 1203, pledging to deal with Bogomilism:20 Bosnia was regarded as a main bastion of this dualist heresy.21 Kalojan obtained recognition of his claim to the imperial title of tsar, and asked Innocent III to nominate a patriarch to head the Bulgarian church. Such demands led negotiations to drag on, and in the end Kalojan had to settle for the relatively modest titles of king for himself and primate for his senior bishop. But the result was that at T’rnovo on 7 November 1204 he received from a cardinal a royal crown, and thus in principle at least came under the pope’s wing.22 In reality, of course, this was a tactical move and Kalojan never gave up his orthodox faith or his imperial ambitions.23 Up to the end of the second Bulgarian empire, the titles tsar and patriarch remained in use. Thus, for example, at T’rnovo in 1211 the usurper Boril (1207–18) adopted a synodikon which, without renouncing Rome, reaffirmed Bulgarian orthodoxy as well as reasserting the traditional struggle of the Bulgarian tsars against Bogomilism.24 This heresy had never been eradicated from the Bulgarian lands, as events at Philippopolis in 1205 make clear: Villehardouin describes the quarter of the city inhabited by the heretics, which the paltry army of Renier de Trit burnt down.25 Kalojan also benefited from offers of service coming from the Greekspeaking archontes of Thrace, who were reacting against the intransigence of the Latin emperor of Constantinople, Baldwin I (1204–5). These archontes, despairing of reaching a modus vivendi with the Latins, were even prepared to offer the imperial crown to the Bulgarian tsar at the beginning of 1205. The intrigues of a Bulgaro-Vlach, ˇSiˇsman, caused uproar in Thessaloniki in May and June, and Boniface of Montferrat, its lord, had to lift his siege of Nauplion in a bid to rescue his wifeMaria of Hungary from imprisonment in the acropolis of Thessaloniki.26 In the short term at least, Bulgarian policy produced results. On 14 April 1205 the Graeco-Bulgarian coalition, backed up by a formidable squadron of Cuman horsemen,27 wiped out the Latin army at Adrianople, capturing the Latin emperor himself.28 This disaster posed such a threat to Constantinople that Theodore I Laskaris (1205–21) was left with a free hand to build up his own power base in Asia Minor, the rump state of Nicaea (see above, pp. 734–5, 737). All too quickly, Kalojan revealed his real ambitions in Thrace; from 1205 to 1207 his armies lived off the land, while local manpower and livestock were carried off to the Danube regions where men and animals were in short supply.29 Indeed, he was already known as ‘killer of Romans’ (i.e. of Greeks: R¯omaioktonos) because of his earlier treatment of theGreeks, for whom he would always be ‘John theDog’ (Kynoi¯oann¯es).30 It is no surprise that the Greeks hated the Bulgarians, all the more so once the new Latin emperor Henry of Hainault (1206–16) abandoned his brother’s brutal policy towards the Greek aristocracy. The provincial archontes readily came to terms with the Latins, with whom some had already contracted marriage alliances. A case in point is Theodore Branas, whose wife Agnes was the sister of King Philip Augustus of France. It is a moot point where Kalojan would have gone next if he had not been killed suddenly in October 1207, under the walls of Thessaloniki.31 In any event, his death brought a reprieve to the Latin empire which, underHenry, managed to hold onto the extreme north-west of AsiaMinor. Bulgaria was plunged into turmoil after Boril seized the throne from Kalojan’s son, Ivan (later Ivan II Asen). Its neighbours fomented this: between the Vardar and Strymon rivers to thewest, Alexios Slavos, governor ofMelnik, submitted to the Latins, while the Serbian veliki ˇzupan Stefan recognised Boril’s brother, Strez, as lord of the region around Prosek and Strumica.

 

 

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