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Khan. Omurtag, impatient of a delay which encouraged the rebellious spirit of his Slavonic dependencies, indited another letter, which he dispatched by the same officer who had been the bearer of his first missive (A.D. 826).1 He requested the Emperor to consent to an immediate regulation of the frontier; and if this proposal were not acceptable, he asked that, without any formal treaty, each power should keep within his own borders. The terms of this message show that the principal object of Omurtag was an agreement which should restrain the Franks from intervening in his relations to his Slavonic subjects. Lewis found a pretext for a new postponement. A report reached him that the Khan had been slain. or dethroned by one of his nobles, and he sent an emissary to the Eastern Mark to discover if the news were true. no certain information could be gained,2 he dismissed the envoy without a letter.
The sublime Khan would wait no longer on the Emperor's pleasure. Policy as well as resentment urged him to take the offensive, for, if he displayed a timid respect towards the Franks, his prestige among the Slavs beyond the Danube was endangered. The power of Bulgaria was asserted by an invasion of Pannonia (A.D. 827). A fleet of boats sailed from the Danube up the Drave, carrying a host of Bulgarians who devastated with fire and sword the Slavs and Avars of Eastern Pannonia. The chiefs of the Slavonic tribes were expelled and Bulgarian governors were set over them.3 Throughout the ninth century the Bulgarians were neighbours of the Franks in these regions, and seem to have held both Sirmium and Singidunum.* We may be sure that Omurtag did not fail to lay a heavy hand on the disloyal Slavs of Dacia.
The operations of Omurtag in this quarter of his empire are slightly illustrated by an incidental memorial, in a stone recording the death of Onegavon. This officer, who was one of the king's "men" and held the post of tarkan, was on his
way to the Bulgarian camp and was drowned in crossing the river Theiss.1
A similar memorial, in honour of Okorses, who in proceeding to a scene of war was drowned in the Dnieper,2 shows that the arms of Omurtag were also active in the East. The situation in the Pontic regions, where the dominion of the Bulgarians confronted the empire of the Khazars, is at this time veiled in obscurity. The tents of the Magyars extended over the region between the Don and the Dnieper. The country to the west was exposed to their raids, and not many years later we shall find their bands in the neighbourhood of the Danube. The effect of the Magyar movement would ultimately be to press back the frontier of Great Bulgaria to the Danube, but they were already pressing the Inner Bulgarians into a small territory north of the Sea of Azov, and thus dividing by an alien and hostile wedge the continuous Bulgarian fringe which had extended along the northern coast of the Euxine. Although the process of the Magyar advance is buried in oblivion, it is not likely that it was not opposed by the resistance of the lords of Pliska, and it is tempting to surmise that the military camp to which the unlucky Okorses was bound when the waters of the Dnieper overwhelmed him was connected with operations against the Magyars.
From the scanty and incidental notices of Omurtag which occur in the Greek and Latin chronicles, we should not have been able to guess the position which his reign takes in the internal history of Bulgaria. But the accidents of time and devastation have spared some of his own records, which reveal him as a great builder. He constructed two new palaces, or palatial fortresses, one on the bank of the Danube, the other at the gates of the Balkans, and both possessed strategic significance. Tutrakan, the ancient Transmarisca (to the east of Rustchuk), marks a point where the Danube, divided here by an island amid-stream, offers a conspicuously convenient passage for an army. Here the Emperor Valens built a bridge of boats, and in the past century the Russians have frequently chosen this place to throw their armies across
1 Aboba, 191 Ωνεγαβον . . . [ἀπ]ελθὼν [εἰς] τὸ φουσᾶτον ἐπνίγην εἰς τὴ[ν] Τήσαν τὸν ποταμόν.
2 16. 190 Ωκορσῆς ὁ κοπανός.
3 For the Hungarians see below, p. 423 and Appendix XII.
the river.1 The remains of a Bulgarian fortress of stone and earth, at the neighbouring Kadykei,2 probably represent the stronghold which Omurtag built to command the passage of Transmarisca.3 On an inscribed column, which we may still read in one of the churches of Tyrnovo, whither the pagan monument was transported to serve an architectural use, it is recorded that "the sublime Khan Omurtag, living in his old house (at Pliska), made a house of high renown on the Danube." But the purpose of this inscription is not to celebrate the building of this residence, but to chronicle the construction of a sepulchre which Omurtag raised half-way between his "two glorious houses" and probably destined for his own resting-place. The measurements, which are carefully noted in the inscription, have enabled modern investigators to identify Omurtag's tomb with a large conical mound or kurgan close to the village of Mumdzhilar.5 The memorial concludes with a moralising reflexion: "Man dies, even if he live well, and another is born, and let the latest born, considering this writing, remember him who made it. The name of the ruler is Omurtag, Kanas Ubêgê. God grant that he may live a hundred years."
If the glorious house on the Danube was a defence, in the event of an attack of Slavs or other enemies coming from the north, Omurtag, although he lived at peace with the Roman Empire, thought it well to strengthen himself against his southern neighbours also, in view of future contingencies. The assassination of Leo and the elevation of Michael II., whose policy he could not foresee, may have been a determining motive. At all events it was in the year following this change of dynasty that Omurtag built a new royal residence and fortress in the mountains, on the river Tutsa, command
1 Cp. Aboba, 562. 2 Uspenski, ib. 552, identifies Kadykei with the Roman Nigrinianae. Under the remains of the Bulgarian fortress there is a stratum of Roman work.
3 The inscription (see next note) gives 40,000 pyviai as the distance between the old and the new palace. This (45 kilometres) corresponds to the distance of Pliska from Silistria and from Kadykei. The Bulgarian fortress at the latter place and the
discovery of an official inscription there (Aboba, 228) justify the identification of Uspenski. See ib. 519, 551-552.
4 Printed by Jireček, Geschichte, 148; by Uspenski, with improved text, in O drevn. gor. Tyrnova, 5. Jireček's translation is in several points incorrect.
5 Aboba, 553.
6 A.D. 821-822. See inscription translated below.
7 Now called the Great Kamchiia. It is mentioned by Theophanes (4362),
ing the pass of Veregava, by which Roman armies had been wont to descend upon Pliska, as well as the adjacent pass of Verbits. We do not know how the new town which the King erected in front of the mountain defiles was called in his own tongue, but the Slavs called it Preslav, "the glorious," a name which seems originally to have been applied to all the palaces of the Bulgarian kings.1 It is not probable that Omurtag intended to transfer his principal residence from the plain to the hills, but his new foundation was destined, as Great Preslav, to become within a hundred years the capital of Bulgaria.
The foundation of the city is recorded on a large limestone column which was dug out of the earth a few years ago at Chatalar,3 about four miles from the ruins of Preslav. "The sublime Khan Omurtag is divine ruler in the land where he was born. Abiding in the Plain of Pliska, he made a palace (aulê) on the Tutsa and displayed his power to the Greeks and Slavs.5 And he constructed with skill a bridge over the Tutsa. And he set up in his fortress four columns, and between the columns he set two bronze lions.7 May God grant that the divine ruler may press down the Emperor with his foot so long as the Tutsa flows, that he may procure
where the texts give εἰσῆλθεν (sc.
1 Preslav corresponds to πάνφημος, the adjective applied to the house on the Danube and to Pliska in the Tyrnovo inscription (τον δυο υκο τον πανφημον, a genitive plural wrongly taken for οἶκον τὸν π. by Jireček ; see Bury, App. 10 to Gibbon, vi.). The palace on the Danube is also called ὑπέρφημος (ib.). Cp. τὸ ἀρχαιότατον ὑπέρφημον and [ὑπὲρ] ἅπασαν φήμην in an inscription of Malamir (Aboba, 233). This word, like preslav, evidently translated a Bulgarian appellative.
ις τις Πλσκας τον κα(μ)πον.
Doubtless Káμos designates not the whole Tedíov of Aboba, but the fortified enclosure of Pliska.
5 καὶ [. .] τὴν δύναμίν του [ἰς] Γραικοὺς καὶ Σκλάβους. Uspenski supplies eye. But Omurtag lived at peace with the Greeks. I would supply ëdeige (edice) or some equivalent, and restore iseis (Uspenski èri).
μετ[ήνεγκεν] καὶ ἔστη[σεν] εἰς αὐτὸ τ[ὸ κάστ]ρον (Uspenski). κάστρον, Ι think, is right, but μernveɣkev very doubtful.
7 I read καὶ [μέσ]α [τῶ]ν στύλων. The four columns marked a space in the centre of which were the two lions, or else two columns were on either side of a gateway and the lions between them. Uspenski restores kai [eis ev]a ("and placed two lions on one of the columns"), an arrangement which sounds too inartistic to be credible.
8 μὲ τὸν πό[δα] αὐτοῦ τὸν βασιλέα κάμψειν ἕως τρέ]χ[?] ἡ Τοῦτζα. I read káu (the future is required); Uspenski gives κάμπτειν. καταβαλεῖν might also be thought of.
many captives for the Bulgarians, and that subduing his foes he may, in joy and happiness, live for a hundred years. The date of the foundation was the Bulgarian year shegor alem, or the fifteenth indiction of the Greeks" (A.D. 821-822). In this valuable record of the foundation of Preslav, we may note with interest the hostile reference to the Roman Emperor as the chief and permanent enemy of Bulgaria, although at this time Bulgaria and the Empire were at peace. It was probably a standing formula which had originally been adopted in the reign of some former king, when the two powers were at war.
It has been already related how Omurtag intervened in the civil war between Michael and Thomas, how he defeated the rebel on the field of Kêduktos, and returned laden with spoils (A.D. 823). This was his only expedition into Roman. territory; the Thirty Years' Peace was preserved inviolate throughout his reign. The date of his death is uncertain.2
§ 6. The Reigns of Malamir and Boris
Omurtag was succeeded by his youngest son Presiam,3 though one at least of his elder sons was still living. Presiam is generally known as Malamir, a Slavonic name which he assumed, perhaps toward the end of his reign. The adoption of this name is a landmark in the gradual process of the assertion of Slavonic influence in the Bulgarian realm. We may surmise that it corresponds to a political situation in which the Khan was driven to rely on the support of his Slavonic subjects against the Bulgarian nobles.
We have some official records of the sublime Khan Malamir, though not so many
1 καὶ [δ]όσ[ῃ αἰχμαλώ]τους πολλοὺς Bouλyá[p]s. I translate this extremely uncertain restoration of Uspenski, only substituting δόσιν, v.ε. δώσειν, for his dwon.
2 Later than A.D. 827. See above, p. 365. Zlatarski dates the reign as 814-831/2 (see Aboba, 236).
3 The evidence, as I hold, points to the identity of Presiam with Malamir; see Appendix X. Enravotas, also called Bolvos (is this Bulgarian Baian or Slavonic "warrior"?), was the
or so important as the records
eldest son and survived Omurtag, according to the story told by Theophylactus, op. cit. 192. See below, p. 382.
4 We know that Malamir was ruler of Bulgaria in the reign of Theophilus from Simeon (Cont. Georg. 818). The vers. Slav. 101 calls him Vladimir, and so the Cod. Par. 854 and Vatic. 1807; the printed texts of Cont. Georg., Leo Gr., and Theod. Mel. have Βαλδίμερ. The error may have arisen from confusion with a later Khan Vladimir, who succeeded Boris,