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01.03 14:03 - Tsar Samuil and evidences for his Bulgarian origin
Автор: observo Категория: Други   
Прочетен: 96 Коментари: 0 Гласове:

Последна промяна: 01.03 14:05


I decided to start this text, provoked by another failure of the Bulgarian-Macedonian Commission, which aims to solve controversial historical issues. According to the news of yesterday, the issue of the affiliation of the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil remains problematic. Friends abroad wrote me with wonder about this and for their convenience, as well as to any English-speaking reader, I decided to make a brief reference to Tsar Samuil using only historical sources of the time. Thus, I believe, it is easiest for any unadjust reader to be able to orient themselves and judge according to the facts, not according to the politically motivated statements in the Republic of North Macedonia.

Until the 1860s, no one imagined that it was possible for Macedonians to be portrayed as something other than Bulgarians. To call some people by another ethnic name (completely foreign) is quite difficult. Thus came the idea that the Macedonians should be presented as something separate from the Serbs, but even more importantly from the Bulgarians. Although not chronologically, I will start with a source in Serbian for Tsar Samuil, that illustrates his origin. This is “Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja”, ХХХІІІ (Ljetopis Popa Dukljanina, XXXIII):

“At that time, some Samuil, who commanded to be called emperor, rose up in the Bulgarian people,  and he fought  many wars against the Greeks, which he expelled from all over Bulgaria, so in  his day they were no longer allowed to get close to that  side.”

The Greek sources themselves are unambiguous on this issue. These are chronicles of prominent authors such as Cedrin Scylitzes, Cecaumenus, loannis Zonara, Michel Psellos, etc. In these testimonies there is no hint that the Macedonians are anything other than the Bulgarians.

For the Bulgarian origin of Samuil the Byzantine author Cecaumenus (XI c.) is definitive (Georgii Cedreni compendium, op. cit., pp. 434-435; cf. ГИБИ, VI. p. 275; the original is in Greek):

“…It was in this way that, in the gorge of Zagora, the porphyrogenitus Emperor Lord Basil2 cap­tured fourteen thousand Bulgarians, headed by the excellent warrior Samuil.

If you set out to fight against some people or some fortress, first of all, after you have settled and built a camp, arrange the troops in the camp - each in his unit. Do not set up your camp very near lest you be observed by them. After you have settled your troops and have rested, then if you wish, begin the battle, either against the population or against the fortress. Hear, in fact, how badly those fared who did not observe this rule. Thessalonica is a town ... pop­ulous ... /Alusianus,3 setting out/ with a great multitude of Bulgarians, so as to conquer it, did not put up his tent first, settling his troops in a suitable place but, as he was proceeding with the supply-column, approached the town walls and started the assault. His troops were exhausted from fatigue and the dif­ficulties, because even those who are distinguished by their strength and soundness of body may become slack and inert when wearied from a long journey. And since he did not establish them in a camp, as I have mentioned, they scattered hither and thither, some wanting to drink water, others to give their horses some rest, and still others - to recover from their fatigue. When those inside the fortress saw them wandering about in a disorderly manner, they came out all of a sudden, attacked the Bulgarians and inflicted a great defeat upon them ...

While my late grandfather Cecaumenus was in Larissa as governor of Hellas, the Bulgarian ruler Samuil often tried either by war or by stratagem to capture Larissa but failed, and was repulsed and outwitted by him...”

Another prominent source is the writing of another Byzantine historian - Cedrin Scylitzes (XI-XII c.):

“Immediately after the death of Emperor Ioannes the Bulgarians rose in revolt and four brothers were chosen to govern them: David, Moses, Aaron and Samuil, sons of one of the all-powerful comites of the Bulgarians and for this reason named Kometopouli...Of the four brothers, David was immediately killed by some Wallachian vagabonds between Castoria, Prespa and the so-called “Fair Oak Wood.” While besieging Seres, Moses was hit by a stone cast from the wall and died. Aaron was killed by his brother Samuil on July 142 in the place called Razmetanitsa, together with all his kin, because he was a sup­porter, so they say, of the Byzantines, or because he was trying to seize power for himself. Only his son Vladislav Ivan was saved by Samuil"s son Radomir Roman. Thus Samuil became the absolute ruler of all Bulgaria ...”

A particularly interesting testimony is that of Michel Psellos of the XI century (Michel Psellos, ГИБИ, VI, pp.94-99; the original is in Greek), which describes the uprising of Peter Delyan. It clearly states that the basis for the claims of leadership of the Bulgarians by Peter Delyan is his direct kinship with Samuil:

“When he realized that the entire people wanted to break away from the Byzantines but that for the lack of an initiator and leader they remained only with intentions, he first of all began to put himself forward as the most worthy and experienced in giving counsel and also as extremely versed in military affairs. Having later won their good will, the only thing he lacked was a brilliant origin so that he could be raised to the supreme power (because the Bulgarians are accustomed to appoint as leaders of the people those of royal descent). Knowing that this was so, both by tradition and by law, he linked himself to the celebrated Samuil and his brother Aaron, who had ruled and reigned over the entire people not long ago.”

Again the Byzantine historian Scylitzes tell us the story of blinding of 15000 captured Bulgarian soldiers, the death of tsar Samuil and the conquest of all Bulgaria (Georgii Cedreni compendium, ГИБИ, VI, pp. 283-296; the original is in Greek).

“Every year the Emperor continued to invade Bulgaria and devastated and laid waste everything on his way. Samuil could not put up opposition in the open field, nor could he come out in an open battle against the Emperor, and he suffered defeats on all sides and began to lose his strength. For this reason he decided to dig trenches and block the Emperor"s road to Bulgaria ... The Emperor was already losing hope of getting through when Nicephorus Xiphias, appointed it that time by him as strategus of Philippopolis, persuaded him to remain there and to keep up his constant assaults on the barrier, saying that he would go to see whether he could not do something advantageous and salutary. And so, having taken his soldiers ..., all of a sudden, with cries and noise, he appeared on high ground in the rear of the Bulgarians. Terrified by his sudden appearance, they fled. The Emperor destroyed the abandoned palisade and began to pursue them. Many were slain and many more were captured. Samuil was barely saved from death by his son, who valiantly warded off the attackers. He put him on a horse and led him to the fortress called Prilep. And the Emperor blinded the captive Bulgarians, about 15,000 so they say, ordering each group of one hundred to be led by a soldier with one eye, and thus sent them to Samuil. When the latter saw them coming in rows of equal numbers he could not stand this suffering courageously and in silence, but became unwell, fainted and fell to the ground. Those present tried to restore his breathing with water and perfumes and succeeded in bringing him round a little. When he had recovered consciousness, he asked for cold water, but after taking a drink, he suffered a heart attack, and two days later he died.”

This story has quite interesting other references. For instance the Byzantine author makes a clear distinction between the Bulgarians and Serbians describing Vladimir, who was in possession of Trimalia and the lands in the vicinity of “Servia”. Meanwhile the description of the Bulgarian lands westward fully corresponds to the present day Republic of North Macedonia.

For the Bulgarian nature of these lands there are available many other sources. Amongst them it is very meaningful the Charters granted by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II (1019, 1020, 1020-1025) to the Bulgarian Church after his conquest of Bulgaria. I’ll give here several examples and as it is evident, there is also a clear reference of Basil II himself for the Bulgarian origin of tsar Samuil (Second charter) and therefore the Samuil’s possessions should be part of the Bulgarian archbishop:

“First charter:

Many and great are the favours which man-loving God has at different times conferred upon our Empire and which surpass all number; the greatest of them is that the Byzantine State has expanded and that the State of the Bulgarians has passed under one yoke /with it/.

Therefore on account of this we confirm the most pious monk Ioan1 to be Archbishop of Bulgaria and to direct affairs relating to the archbishopric.

The Archbishop himself shall have, in the towns of his diocese, i.e. in Ohrid, Prespa, Mokro and in Kichevo, 40 kleroikoi and 30 paroikoi.

Second charter

Since, following the issue of this sigilium referring to the scope of each Bulgarian archbishopric, the holiest Archbishop of Bulgaria asked our Majesty to issue another sigilium concerning his other bishoprics not listed in the first sigilium and the other bishoprics subordinate to him, because the neighbouring metropolitans had seized them from the Bulgarian region and had misap­propriated them, and since our Majesty does not allow any one of them or of their people to make even one step into the boundaries of the Bulgarian region, we therefore decree that the present most holy Archbishop shall possess and govern all the Bulgarian bishoprics, as well as all other towns which were under the power of Tsar Peter and Samuil and were also held by the archbishops of that time.”

In line with that there is another testimonia (XI-XII c.) describing the city of Ohrid are Bulgarians and speak Bulgarian (Theophylacti epistola XXI, ed. Meursio; cf. Letters of Theophylactus of Ohrid, translated by metropolitan Symeon from Greek).

“(a) from a letter to Anem: 
When you say that you have become a complete barbarian among the Bulgarians, you, my dearest, are saying what I dream /in my sleep/. Because just think how much I have drunk from the cup of vulgarity, being so far away from the countries of wisdom, and how much I have drunk from the lack of culture ... Since we have been living for a long time in the land of the Bulgarians, vulgarity has become our close companion and fellow-inhabitant.

(b)  from a letter to the Empress Maria:
Since I went from Ohrid to the Queen of Towns, my holy Lady, I have encountered many sorrows, because of my numerous sins ... And so I come among the Bulgarians, I, a true citizen of Constantinople, a Bulgarian by some miracle.”

A Western chronicler Pulcherius also witnessing the region of Macedonia as Bulgarian (Receuil des historiens des Croisades. Historiens orientaux. III, p. 331;  the original is in Latin):

“After being detained for three days amidst high waves with a wind that was already abating, on the fourth day we reached land near the town of Dyrrachium, as I estimate, about ten miles from it. Moreover, our fleet took shelter in two ports. Then, filled with joy, we took the road on land and passed through the town mentioned above. And so we went on across the Bulgarian regions, across steep mountain slopes and waste lands. Then we all reached the rapid river of Devol, which is rightly called so by the local inhabitants. Because we saw how many men hoping to wade through it step by step were suddenly drowned by the current of the powerful water, none of those looking on from either side being able to help them ... Early in the morning at crack of dawn and at the sounds of the bugles we set out, and began climbing the mountain called Bagulatus. Afterwards we crossed the mountains and the towns of Lucretia, Botella, Bofinat, Stella, we reached a river called Vardar ... The next day, after crossing it, we pitched our tents before the town of Thessalonica, which abounded in all goods.”

There is no doubt that tsar Samuil is from Bulgarian origin. It has proven to have come from the Bulgarian people and in a Bulgarian land. Now we are witnesses of a process driven by political reasoning but not historical facts. In the last hundred years the ethnic Bulgarians were killed and displaced, and this was accompanied by a severe propaganda with the aim of assimilation. Even in the present days the rest Bulgarians in Republic of North Macedonia are subjects of threats as in the beginning of XX century and as a result of propaganda there are numerous hostile acts. However, the historical claims of the new nation of North Macedonians is baseless. Moreover, it is a disgrace to twist the history for conjunctional purposes.


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Автор: observo
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