A history of the First Bulgarian Empire

Steven Runciman





The auction of souls



A war was raging in Christendom, a spiritual struggle that was moulding the destinies of Europe. The caprice of Providence had brought contemporaneously into the world two of the greatest statesmen of ecclesiastical history, two whose ambitions and conceptions would inevitably lead to conflict. In April 858, through the influence of the unsuspecting Western Emperor Louis II, a certain Nicholas ascended the Papal throne at Rome. Eight months later, on Christmas Day, the Caesar Bardas, regent of the East, having somewhat roughly dispossessed the former Patriarch of Constantinople, Ignatius, appointed in his stead his friend, the First Secretary Photius. Pope Nicholas I was possessed of boundless vigour and resolution, bold and far-sighted, praised by his followers as a man of deeds not words; and all his talents were directed at one splendid aim, the world-supremacy of the Roman see. Christendom was still one, save in the distant south and east, where Copts, Armenians, or Nestorians indulged in their various heresies; and its spiritual pinnacles were occupied by five Patriarchal thrones—those of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. Of these patriarchates the Roman bishopric, the see of St. Peter, had always enjoyed the first place. Its jurisdiction extended over all Christian Europe north and west of the Adriatic (save for Sicily and Calabria), an area vastly increased in recent centuries by the spread of civilization along the Baltic and North Seas. Compared to his Roman rival, the Patriarch of Constantinople was a parvenu, the last to be created; but he had always enjoyed great power through his association with the Eastern







Empire, over all of whose provinces he was spiritual governor. The other patriarchates were of little importance now; their sees were in territories controlled by the infidel. Though the patriarchates had their order of precedence, except at Rome, none was considered supreme over any of the others; the only supreme office or body in the Church was a general Oecumenical Council to which all sent their representatives; and such representatives were even invited to the less important synods and councils in any one patriarchate—but save at Constantinople they were seldom held; the other patriarchs, freer from secular control, regarded them as a challenge to their authority. [1]


Nicholas wished to alter this. He was the first bishop of the world; he intended to be supreme bishop. He experienced difficulty even among his own subjects. The German Church had always been closely influenced by the secular powers, and pandered to the whims of the German monarchs. But Nicholas was a match for it. A climax came in 863 over the matrimonial high-handedness of Lothair of Lorraine: when the Pope triumphantly asserted his jurisdiction and defied the whole great Carolingian clan. At the same time he was turning his attention to the East, to the rival Empire, where the irregularity in Photius’s election to the patriarchate gave a splendid loophole for intervention.


But Nicholas little knew the man with whom he had to deal. Photius was prodigiously learned—too learned, some said, whispering of sorcery; he was as determined and courageous as the Roman, and far more subtle,



1. I cannot here go into the highly controversial details of Romano-Byzantine ecclesiastical relations, which Roman historians have almost always befogged by confusing ‘primacy’ with ‘supremacy,’ and by regarding the various settlements that favoured Rome as final and the others as ephemeral. Actually all attempts to settle the question once and for all had been equally ephemeral, and were to be so till the ultimate schism in the eleventh century. Here I have merely stated the general view held in the East in the ninth century.





far more imaginative, with far more knowledge of his audiences. The battle began in 860. Nicholas had at first attempted to bargain, to recognize Photius in return for the ecclesiastical provinces of Calabria and Illyricum, which had belonged to Rome till the reign of the Emperor Leo III; but Photius outwitted the Papal legates and wrote to Nicholas letters of perfect courtesy, but letters as from an equal to an equal. Things steadily worsened. Nicholas grew more and more outraged and furious, and the Patriarch, sure of secular support at home, more and more serenely independent. At last, in April 863, the Pope solemnly excommunicated Photius, and Photius made the superb retort of excommunicating the Pope.


It was in the midst of this storm that Rostislav’s ambassadors arrived at Constantinople. Rostislav well knew what was happening, and he had learnt his lesson. He, like the Basileus, must have a Church under his secular power. Neither Germany nor Rome would give it to him; but Constantinople, in theory the champion of spiritual independence, in practice too distant to control such a Church, would help him now. Moreover, the goodwill of the Empire would be useful in case he had trouble with his new powerful neighbour, the Bulgarian Khan.


The Emperor Michael received the embassy gladly. His uncle, the Caesar Bardas, who governed in his name, and the Patriarch thought of their mutual friend Constantine the Philosopher, a Greek from Thessalonica, better known by the name that he assumed on his deathbed, Cyril, a missionary of previous experience and a linguist and philologist of renown. Accordingly Cyril and his elder brother Methodius set off for Moravia, armed with an alphabet by means of which they would translate the holy writings into the Slavonic tongue. [1]



1. I deal with the question of the Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets in Appendix IX.





The news of the embassy and the mission stirred the European Courts. Boris of Bulgaria at once suspected a political significance. He took the obvious measures for safeguarding himself, and entered into negotiations with Louis the German. Later in the year (862), when Louis’s son Carloman, governor of the East Mark, revolted with Moravian help against his father, the Bulgarians appeared as the close allies of the German king. [1] We do not know the clauses of this treaty, but there was apparently one amongst them that roused the government at Constantinople to action. Boris, like Rostislav, was toying with the idea of Christianity; he now was undertaking to receive it from the German Court. [2]


Various stories were related of the cause of the Khan’s conversion. Some told of a Greek slave, a monk called Theodore Cupharas, who had long laboured to convert his royal master. After some time, Cupharas was ransomed by the Empress Theodora in exchange for the Khan’s own sister, an honoured captive in Constantinople. But the princess had embraced Christianity, and she too used her influence to persuade the Khan. Nevertheless, Boris was obdurate, till at last a dreadful famine visited the country, and the old heathen deities could give no help. In despair the Khan turned to the God of his sister and of his slave, and there he met with help. In gratitude he became a Christian. [3] A second story was simpler. A Greek painter called Methodius had been commissioned to paint hunting-scenes round the walls of the royal palace; when Boris, moved by a sudden whim, told him instead to paint something terrible, no matter what. Methodius, who was a monk, piously considered that nothing would be more terrible than the Last Judgement; and so he



1. Annales Fuldenses, p. 367 (?).


2. Annales Bertiniani (Hincmar), p. 465; Nicolaus I Papa, Epistolae, p. 293.


3. Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 162-3.





depicted with ghastly realism the punishment meted out to the wicked, and the righteous being rewarded. The Khan was deeply awed, and in terror joined the ranks of the righteous. [1] Others told merely of the True Faith being forced upon Bulgaria by Imperial arms and diplomacy. [2]


The story of Methodius is probably apocryphal, despite the handsome tribute that it pays to the potency of art. It has too suspicious an air of monkish naïveté. But the story of Cupharas may well be mainly true. The influence that these educated slaves had on their masters has been shown in the case of the Prince Enravotas, while it is very likely that some Bulgar princess should have been a hostage and been converted at Constantinople, and have used her powers of persuasion on her return. But the Emperor’s armies were the final decisive factor.


The idea of Carolingian influence spreading to the Balkans by means of religion was seriously alarming to Constantinople. Carolingian influence meant in the end the spiritual control of Rome. At the moment, it is true, the German bishops were rebellious against the stern rule of the Papacy, but it was a pitiably poor rebellion that hardly could be hoped to succeed. At any time the Emperor would have regretted Roman intervention so close to his capital; now, with Nicholas and Photius at the height of their contest, the thing was unthinkable. But there was one way out, one way of turning it all to the profit of the Empire. The Emperor Michael brought his army to the frontier and dispatched his fleet along the Black Sea coast.


It was a good moment to strike. The Bulgar armies were away far in the north, campaigning against Carloman and the Moravians. Moreover, by what, surely, seemed the direct interference of Heaven, Bulgaria was being visited by



1. Theophanes Continuatus, pp. 162-3.


2. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, p. 824: Logothete (Slavonic version), p. 104.





a peculiarly severe famine. Boris was powerless, and wisely made no resistance. At the first news of the invasion, he sent to ask the Emperor’s conditions of peace. [1]


Michael and his advisers were eager to be propitiatory. As a sop to the Khan it seems that they recognized his jurisdiction over Upper Macedonia as far as a frontier line drawn roughly from the Rivers Black Drina, Devol, Ozum, and Voiusa, and round Mount Grammus up the Lake Ostrovo, thus including all the land round Lake Ochrida and Lake Prespa. [2] But in return Boris must give up his offensive alliance with the Germans and indulge in nothing closer than an ordinary treaty of peace. And, most important of all, Boris and his people must accept Christianity, and accept it from Constantinople. To all of this Boris agreed, even surprising the Greeks by his readiness to change his faith. His ambassadors at Constantinople were baptized there, as a guarantee of their master’s intentions. Finally, early in September 865, [3] with the Emperor standing sponsor, the Khan himself was baptized, and rechristened by his godfather’s name of Michael. [4]


In this great revolution, Boris had been guided, not only by a spiritual impulse and by the diplomatic needs of the moment, but also by a wise foresight of the political effect



1. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, loc. cit.: Logothete (Slavonic version), loc. cit. In Theophanes Continuatus (pp. 165 ff.) this is muddled up with Theodora’s Bulgar treaty (see above, p. 90).


2. Ochrida and Prespa were definitely Bulgar later in Boris’s reign. It was probably a formal cession of such territory now that muddled the Continuator of Theophanes and made him connect the whole Conversion with Theodora’s cession of Develtus. I accept Zlatarski’s rough frontier-line (Izviestiya, pp. 70 ff.).


3. The date of Boris’s baptism has been fixed by Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., 2, pp. 29 ff.) as between September 1 and 19, 865. Photius (Epistolae, p. 742) and the Vita S. Clementis, p. 1201, give rough dates, but Zlatarski’s ingenious arithmetic is based on Tudor Doksov’s Poslieslovie (p. 98) and on an Albanian inscription.


4. Georgius Monachus Continuatus, loc. cit.: Logothete (Slavonic version) loc. cit. Henceforward the chroniclers usually call him Michael. I shall however, for the sake of simplicity, continue to call him Boris.





within his dominions. Hitherto the State religion had been the old Bulgar idolatry, a crude worship of the heavenly bodies and the forces of nature; and the Slavs had had to join as best they could in the devotions of the masters. Christianity would be a common religion for them all, a religion that welcomed Bulgar and Slav alike. Moreover, the old heathenism was probably bound up with the old Bulgar institutions, with the clan-system that the Khans had so long tried to break down; possibly many of the clans claimed a divine origin, and so would never recognize in the Khan more than a mere primacy. But Christianity gave the Emperor in Constantinople a sacrosanctity removing him far above all his subjects. Boris, too, sought such a halo; he too would be a viceroy of God, in altitudes that his noblest subjects could never reach.


Boris began the process of evangelization on a very large scale; all his subjects had to undergo the rite of baptism. But the country could not be converted quite so simply. The Bulgar nobility, too, appreciated the position. Some of the boyars may have been attached to their old religion; all were certainly attached to their rights. In their anger they incited the people of all the ten provinces of the kingdom against the Khan, and Boris was soon surrounded in his palace at Pliska by a huge and seething mob. That the Khan, helped as he was only by a few faithful followers, should have escaped at all seemed miraculous; people talked of divine intervention, and by the time that this story reached Western Europe this intervention had grown to fine proportions. Boris, so they said in France, had only forty-eight Christian friends with him. [1] With the bravery of despair he led them out to face the multitudes,



1. Annales Bertiniani (Hincmar of Reims), pp. 473—4, supply the details. Theophanes Continuatus (p. 164) says briefly that Boris had few followers, and that he emerged from the palace bearing a cross and was victorious. Nicolaus I Papa (Responsa, cap. xvii., p. 577) refers to the victory over the great rebellion being due to divine aid.





calling on Christ’s name and bearing a cross on his breast; but, as the gates opened, seven priests, each with lighted taper in his hand, appeared marching before him. Then, as they gazed, the angry crowds saw strange sights. Behind, the palace seemed to be on fire and like to fall down on their heads; in front, the horses of the royal party were walking on their hind-legs and with their forelegs kicking at the rebels. Terror rushed over them; unable to fight or to flee, they fell to the ground and lay prostrate.


Be that as it may, the rebellion was crushed, and Boris was able to take a revenge shocking in so new a devotee of Christian meekness, but salutary for his country. Fifty-two nobles, the ringleaders of the revolt, were put to death, and with them their children. The leaders of the clans, the rivals of the monarch, were thus wiped out for ever. The rebels belonging to middle and lower classes he spared and pardoned; their opposition had been genuinely religious, not political; they would have no social prejudices against their ultimate conversion.


But, even though the boyars were crushed, the Conversion did not at once have the effect that Boris hoped from it. The Emperor had firmly ordained in the treaty that the new Church must be spiritually dependent upon the see of Constantinople. Accordingly, Bulgaria was flooded with Greek priests, come to organize its structure and teach it true doctrines: while the Patriarch himself wrote a letter to the Bulgar monarch, to ‘my beloved son, Michael the archon of Bulgaria . . . the fair ornament of my labours.’ It was an extremely long letter. First it contained a full account of the articles of faith as laid down in all seven of the Oecumenical Councils. Then, after touching on the general principles of morality, showing how they arise out of the two New Testament commandments, the Patriarch went on to delineate the duties of the good prince, in almost a hundred polished





aphorisms and shrewd comments derived from all the wisdom of the Hebrews and the Greek philosophers. [1] Historians ever since have gaped at this torrent of patronizing culture and metaphysical sensibility that was poured over a simple barbarian, who sought only to have far simpler problems solved for him—whether trousers were indecent and turbans counted as hats. But Photius knew his business. The high authorities of the Church should not trouble about details; it was their work to impress, not to conciliate. The mysteries of the True Faith were in the keeping of the Patriarch. It showed the Khan better the relative status of his country and the Emperor’s, that he should understand not one word of those subjects that were apparently the common talk of Constantinople. Photius took a long view; he kept his dignity intact even at the expense of the needs of the moment.


Boris, the beloved son Michael, was impressed, but dissatisfied. It was more difficult than he had thought to be a Christian. The inrushing Greek clergy sought to teach in Greek, a method that was being successful among the Slavs of the Empire, but one that the Bulgarian government somewhat resented. Moreover, many of these Greeks were of inferior quality; some were of those who had not the ability to secure good posts in the Church within the Empire, and so had to seek their fortunes abroad. And missionaries of other tenets joined in the invasion. With the Greeks came Armenians; some perhaps were mere monophysite heretics, but there were others of a far more sinister and pregnant brand, Paulicians, to sow the seed of the fatally attractive creed of Dualism. [2] Meanwhile, in the north, the Carolingians, safeguarded



1. Photius, Epistolae, viii., pp. 628 ff.


2. Nicolaus I Papa (Responsa, cap. cvi., p. 599) mentions the Armenians, probably Paulician heretics. It was a growing Imperial custom to settle such heretics in colonies in provinces such as Thrace, whence they could easily spread to Bulgaria.





by a new alliance with Constantinople, sent in their German missionaries to acquire what influence they could; and all the time Pope Nicholas was waiting to intervene. So many creeds and nations were anxious to help; but none would give the Khan the simple guidance necessary to enable him to provide his country with a Church not too disturbing for its traditions and well under his secular control.


After a year of Christianity, Boris was a wiser man. He was in a stronger position now, with peace on his northern frontier, and no turbulent boyars and no famine at home. And he was angry with the Greeks. The authorities at Constantinople were treating him as a poor barbarian, and were attempting to keep the Church tightly under their control, not letting it pass into his—denying him even a bishop. So Boris looked elsewhere. The struggle between the Pope and Photius was reaching its climax; Photius, to his scandalized glee, had found the Pope subscribing to the monstrous and indefensible heresy of the Dual Procession of the Holy Ghost and was preparing denunciations to rouse the indignation of all true Christians. [1] Boris had no strict views about the mystical symmetry of the triangle. On the other hand, he realized that he could be a useful factor in the struggle. In August 866, Bulgar ambassadors, the Khan’s cousin Peter, John, and Martin, arrived in Rome with rich and holy gifts and asked the Pope in Boris’s name for a bishop and for priests. They also submitted to him a list of 106 questions on which their master desired his opinions. [2] Boris also, lest Rome should fail him, sent a similar request for a



1. Photius did not actually denounce the Roman heresy in public till 867, but already the Churches were mutually excommunicated and the Patriarch had discovered the heresy.


2. Johannes VIII Papa, Epistolae, p. 159: Anastasius Bibliothecarius, pp. 1373-4. The presents included the arms wearing which Boris had defeated the heathen rebels. Louis the German promptly demanded them from the Pope (Annales Bertiniani, p. 474).





bishop and priests to Ratisbon to Louis the German. Louis complied, but when his clergy arrived they found their places already filled, and went back promptly to Germany. [1]


Nicholas was overjoyed at this unexpected support. At once he dispatched a consignment of his clergy to Bulgaria, supplying them fully with books and vessels and robes and all the trappings of his faith, and placed at their head two of his ablest legates—Paul, the Bishop of Populonia, and Formosus, Bishop of Porto. At the same time he sent detailed answers to all the questions, however trivial, that the Khan had submitted to him.


Nicholas’s answers made a document vastly different from the polished, subtle, theological sermon sent by Photius. It was simply written, helpful and very conciliatory. Boris had asked almost entirely about matters of religious practice, when to fast and what to wear in church, and whether the stricter forms of abstinence demanded by the Greek priests were really obligatory. There were also one or two special cases, particularly to do with a Greek who pretended to be a priest and baptized huge numbers of innocent Bulgars; need they all be re-baptized ? But Boris even asked advice about matters more properly concerning civil law, such as the penalties for murder, and matters entirely social: should he continue to eat his meals in solitude, and what did the Pope really think about his costume? Nicholas was deeply concerned not to lay too heavy a yoke on a people as yet rude and untrained. As regards abstinence, though strict, he condemned many of the complications introduced by the Greeks; it was not necessary to fast every Wednesday as well as Friday, nor to abstain from bathing on both days, nor to refuse to eat food killed by eunuchs: though one should not eat food hunted by a Christian but killed by



1. Annales Fuldenses, p. 379.





a heathen, or vice versa. [1] Trousers were permissible; but the Greeks were right in insisting that turbans, like other forms of headgear, should be removed in churches, and women should, of course, enter churches veiled. [2] He denounced the Greek habit of sortes biblicae as well as a long list of pagan superstitions. [3] As for the Khan refusing to eat in company, this was bad manners, but not actually impious. [4] With regard to murder, the civil law should see to that, but the right of sanctuary in churches should be upheld. [5] Polygamy, which is the same as adultery, was a far worse crime; the surplus wives must firmly be discarded, and the priest must impose a suitable penance. [6] Nicholas also wished the Khan to mitigate the severity of his punishments. [7] He showed up the uselessness as well as the barbarity of extracting evidence by torture; he censured Boris’s treatment of the rebels. He even considered that the Khan had been too severe in cutting the nose off the Greek who had pretended to be a priest. [8] Even resolute heathens were to be wooed by persuasion, though socially shunned by the faithful. One class of criminals alone must be punished without mercy—the apostate, who had sworn fidelity to the Christian creed and had fallen back into heathendom. That was the one unforgivable sin. [9]


Boris had also asked whether his country might some time have a Patriarch. Nicholas had to answer carefully. The Western Church over which he ruled was suspicious of Patriarchs. Boris’s request was due to his simple, hopeful longing to be the equal of the Eastern Emperor. The Pope was non-committal. Boris should have bishops, and later, when the Bulgarian Church was larger, an



1. Nicolaus I Papa, Responsa, cap. iv., v., lvii., xci., pp. 570-2, 588, 596.


2. Ibid., cap. lviii., lxvi., pp. 588, 590-1.     3. Ibid., cap. lxvii., p. 593.


4. Ibid., cap. xlii., p. 583.     5. Ibid., cap. lxxxiii., p. 595.


6. Ibid., cap. li., p. 586.     7. Ibid., cap. lxxxiii.—lxxxvi., p.595.


8. Ibid., cap. xiv.-xvii., p. 575-7.     9. Ibid., cap. xli., pp. 582-3.





archbishop; and then they would consider about a Patriarch. Constantinople had grudged him even his bishops; so he had to be content for the while with the promise of an archbishop from Rome. [1]


Certainly the Roman clergy started their work with the most ingratiating zeal. Boris gave them the monopoly within his dominions, dismissing all other priests and missionaries. Latin replaced Greek as the sacred tongue. The Romans built churches and organized congregations, bringing the light of Christian doctrine into the darkest homes and teaching at the same time the beauties of obedience to the civil powers. Boris was overjoyed. Taking hold of his hair, in the old Bulgar manner, he swore that he would always remain faithful to the see of Saint Peter. [2] The Papal Court, too, was delighted, and spread the Khan’s praises throughout the Western world. Save in Constantinople, everyone was happy.


This triumph was due chiefly to the tact and affability of one man, Formosus, Bishop of Porto. He won entirely the Khan’s affections and trust; and Boris destined him for the patriarchate that he still hoped to receive from Rome. After a year, in 867, he sent to Rome demanding that Formosus should be made archbishop at least. [3] But Nicholas was unaccustomed to dictation: Boris had to learn now what the Roman Church was. Possibly, had Boris asked for anyone but Formosus, his request might have been granted. But Formosus was beginning to be regarded with suspicion at the Papal Court. He had been thought suitable to go to Bulgaria in the first place from his known hatred of Greeks. But he was wildly ambitious; perhaps he was encouraging Boris in his dreams of an autonomous Bulgar Church, that he might be its



1. Nicolaus Papa I, Responsa, cap. lxxii., pp. 592-3.


2. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Preface to the Eighth Oecumenical Council, Mansi, vol. xvi., p. 11.


3. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Nicolai, pp. 1375-6.





independent Patriarch. Certainly Boris was said to have undertaken solemnly always to press forward Formosus’s claims. [1] Nicholas was suspicious: Formosus, he reminded the Khan, was Bishop of Porto, and his diocese needed him back after so long an absence. He recalled the previous envoys, and instead sent to Bulgaria two new bishops, Grimoald of Polimarti and Dominic of Treviso. [2]


The Bulgars might be angry, but the Pope thought that he could afford it now. The European situation had altered. In September 867 the Emperor Michael was murdered by the stable-boy that he had so extravagantly befriended, and Basil the Macedonian was installed in his victim’s place. Basil wished for popularity: he also had designs in Italy and Illyricum that would be helped by an understanding with Rome. Photius had enemies even in Constantinople who had never forgiven him his treatment of Ignatius. Basil promptly declared Photius deposed, and reinstalled Ignatius. He then wrote to the Pope to ask him to send legates to a council at which the past should be forgotten, the Roman precedence stated and supremacy hinted, and no one should mention the word ‘Filioque.’ [3] Nicholas saw in this the utter triumph of Rome, and his conciliatory movements decreased. He little knew the monarchs with whom he had to deal, the parvenu Basil, and Boris the ex-barbarian.


And he never was to find out the truth about them. On November 13, 867, still victorious, he died. [4]


His successor, Hadrian II, was a personal enemy of Formosus. More than ever the Papacy was stern in its refusal of the Bulgar request. Grimoald and Dominic continued on their journey; and Formosus and Paul of



1. Johannes VIII Papa, Epistolae, passim collectae, p. 327.


2. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, op. cit., pp. 1376-7.


3. For the Eighth Oecumenical Council, see below, pp. 113-4.


4. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, op. cit., p. 1378. Ignatius was not actually reinstated till November 23.





Populonia had to return to their shepherdless congregations. But Boris clung to the hope of having an archbishop of his own choice—if not Formosus, at least someone personally acceptable to him. There was a deacon Marinus, whom Nicholas had once sent on a mission to Constantinople at the height of the Photian war. The Emperor had refused to admit him into the Empire, and he had taken refuge at the Bulgar Court, where he had won the Khan’s friendship. He had no diocese calling for his care; could he not be the Bulgar archbishop? A second embassy, again led by Peter, travelled to Rome, in company with the returning bishops. But Hadrian II was inexorable. Boris must be taught once and for all that the Pope intended always to appoint whomsoever he chose all over his spiritual dominions. [1]


Towards the close of 869 a council, known proudly as the Eighth Oecumenical Council, with legates from all the Patriarchs, assembled at Constantinople. The Papal legates—Stephen, Bishop of Nepi, Donatus, Bishop of Ostia, and Marinus, Boris’s friend—attended with all the smugness of certain victory. Things did not go altogether smoothly; the Emperor Basil took a different view to them with regard to the procedure for the trial of Photius. But they adhered to their instructions, and finally emerged triumphant. On February 28, 870, the council was dismissed, with a growing feeling of hostility on all sides; but the Papal legates were well satisfied with their achievements. Three days later the indefatigable Peter, ambassador of his cousin the Khan, [2] arrived at Constantinople, to ask the Oecumenical Council to which patriarchate Bulgaria belonged. Basil summoned the assembly to meet again. The legates of the Eastern Patriarchs, well entertained by Basil and at one with the Greeks in disliking



1. Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Adriani, pp. 1393-6.


2. For the curious list of the Bulgar ambassadors, see Appendix V.





the pretentions of Rome, gladly concurred with the Greek bishops and with historical truth in answering that it was to Constantinople. The Pope’s representatives were in a tiny minority; they could only record their protest. Then they returned, crestfallen, to their master; a mocking providence detained them on the way for nine months, spent chiefly as the prisoners of Dalmatian pirates. Hardly were the Papal legates gone, before Ignatius on March 4 consecrated an archbishop and bishops for Bulgaria—presumably persons of Boris’s choice. [1]


The reversal was complete. The frontier now was closed to Roman priests; the Roman bishops were sent back in ignominy to Rome. [2] In the place of Latin, Greek was heard once more in the churches. Boris was well satisfied. He had taught the great hierarchs to treat him with respect, and the Greeks, more adaptable than the Latins, had learnt the lesson. The Bulgarian Church was still under the Constantinopolitan patriarchate; but the yoke weighed lightly. The Archbishop of Bulgaria ranked next after the Patriarch; and the Bulgar monarch was tacitly allowed similar powers to the Emperor’s in his high ecclesiastic officials. Thus Boris’s dream of an autonomous Church was practically realized; but Constantinople kept a nominal control, lest in the distant future it might be useful.


The news came as an appalling shock to Rome; the Pope had never contemplated such insubordination, such ingratitude in a barbarian, nor such wiliness and presumption in the gentle old Patriarch, in whom, as the victim of Photius, he had condescended to place such trust. He wrote in a tone of hurt surprise to Basil, asking what all this meant. [3] But Basil, though very friendly,



1. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 242: Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Vita Adriani, pp. 1395-6: Idem, Praefatio in Synodum VIII., p. 148; ibid., pp. 20 ff.


2. Idem, Vita Adriani, loc. cit.


3. Hadrian II Papa, Epistolae, p. 1310.





was quite unyielding. When Hadrian died, in December 872, the check had been in no way recovered.


Rome, however, still hoped. She could not believe that this triumph, this extension of her realm almost to the very gates of the hateful Patriarch’s city, had been so very ephemeral. All her energies were devoted to winning back the vaunted land. Even in the north were felt the reverberations of the struggle. A decade now had passed since the Macedonian brothers had set out to convert Moravia. With the help of their Slavonic liturgy and the goodwill of the Moravian monarchs—the great King Rostislav, and Kocel, prince of the country round Lake Balaton—their work had been crowned with success; but, to ensure its permanence, Cyril had decided, with remarkable broad-mindedness for a friend of Photius, that it must be confirmed by Rome. Constantinople was too far away, with the bulk of Bulgaria in between, to be able always to watch and to protect. Cyril’s overtures, however, somewhat embarrassed the Papal Court. The Popes could not wholeheartedly approve of missionary enterprise that was not conducted in the Latin tongue. But, in the desperation of his struggle against Photius, Pope Nicholas had been eager to accept so great a prize, even at the price of recognizing the Slavonic liturgy. To make sure of the future, he summoned the brothers to Rome. He died before they arrived, and his successor, Hadrian, was a more uncompromising statesman. But, in view of the support given them by the Moravian lay powers and with Constantinople in the background, Hadrian could not do otherwise than receive them with honour [1] and set his approval upon all that they had done. To silence opposition he had their disciples consecrated by that notorious anti-Greek, Formosus. While they were at Rome, Cyril, the



1. The honourable reception was largely due to the fact that St. Cyril brought with him the relics of St. Clement.





younger but more brilliant of the brothers, died, and Methodius was left to carry on the work alone.


Methodius was sent back to Moravia, authorized to use the Slavonic liturgy wheresoever he chose. Hadrian had determined to found him a diocese, but was still uncertain of the details when news came through of the terrible defection of the Bulgars. At once Hadrian subordinated his Moravian to his Bulgarian policy. Hoping to use the weapon of the Slavonic liturgy to capture the Bulgars, he revived for Methodius the old diocese of Sirmium, whose seat was on the very edge of their dominions and whose jurisdiction spread along the length of their northwestern frontier. But this seductive scheme was never given a fair trial; Methodius on his return found his patron Rostislav fallen; his nephew and successor Svatopulk, though he attained to independence and dominions even exceeding his uncle’s, was, all the same, deeply attracted by German culture and despised the Slavonic liturgy as plebeian and unimpressive. Under his patronage the German bishops were able to imprison the valiant missionary as an impertinent impostor. Before his protests could reach Rome, Pope Hadrian was dead and John VIII was installed in his place. [1]


John VIII had not come under the influence of the Bulgar disappointment. The tradition of Nicholas was forgotten; Rome went back to the thunder of intransigeance. John thought he could terrify the Bulgars into obedience. One of his first actions was to write Boris a letter in which he threatened the Bulgars and all the Greek clergy with excommunication, ‘that thus they may join the Devil, whom they have imitated.’ [2] Meanwhile, careless of Methodius’s persuasive influence, and trusting



1. For the history of Methodius in Moravia, see Dvornik, op. cit., pp. 209 ff.


2. Johannes VIII Papa, Fragmenta, Ep. 7, p. 277.





on Svatopulk’s fondness for the Latin tongue, he released Methodius from his German prison, but forbade him the use of the Slavonic liturgy. Methodius was in despair; to save Christianity he ignored the order; but the situation was not one that would help him to win his neighbours for Rome.


Boris remained unmoved by the Pope’s fulminations, particularly as in Croatia and along the Dalmatian coast Latin influence was dying, and the local States were airing their independence or falling under the suzerainty of the Eastern Emperor. Experience taught John that he must employ milder methods. In February 875 he wrote again to the Bulgarian Court, still sternly forbidding the Bulgars to receive the sacrament from Greek priests, under the penalty of being considered schismatic. [1] Boris in reply sent an embassy to Rome to pay his respects there, and continued to encourage the Greek clergy. A simultaneous letter from the Pope to the Emperor asking for Ignatius to face his trial at Rome produced even less effect. [2]


But John was indefatigable. In April 878 his legates—Eugenius, Bishop of Ostia, and Paul, Bishop of Ancona—set out for Constantinople, with instructions to call on the way at the Khan’s Court. John was now trying a new method. The legates brought four letters with them for Bulgaria. The first was addressed to the Greek bishops in Bulgaria, categorically ordering them to leave within thirty days a diocese that belonged to Illyricum and so to Rome. [3] The second letter was to Boris. Here John captured the tone of Nicholas. Boris was greeted with great cordiality; the Pope only wished to warn him of the dangers of adhering to Constantinople, the birthplace of so much schism and heresy. He reminded the Khan of the fate of the Goths, baptized by the Greeks and soon



1. Johannes VIII Papa, Fragmenta, Ep. 37, pp. 294-5.


2. Ibid., Fragmenta, Ep. 40, p. 296.


3. Ibid., Ep. 71, pp. 66-7.





the victims of that dreadful Arianism. [1] The third letter was to Peter of Bulgaria, that relative of Boris’s who twice had figured in embassies to Rome. John addresses him as an intimate friend and begs him to use his influence on the Khan to bring him back to the see of Saint Peter. [2] The fourth was to another Bulgar notable, apparently Boris’s own brother, probably the monk Duks, urging him too to do what he could to further the cause of Rome. [3] Having delivered the Bulgarian letters, the bishops proceeded to Constantinople with a letter to Ignatius, ordering him, in the same severe language as the Greek bishops in Bulgaria had received, to remove his clergy from Bulgaria within thirty days, under the definite penalty of excommunication. [4] A letter to the Emperor Basil required him to aid the Papal legates in their work. [5] But all these letters were written too late. On October 23, 877, the aged Patriarch Ignatius had died. No sooner was he dead than Basil made the whole world gasp by appointing in his stead his rival, the ex-Patriarch Photius. [6]


In Rome and in Constantinople the situation was entirely altered. But, in Bulgaria, things went on just the same. Neither the Khan nor his nobles answered the Papal letters; nor did the Greek clergy leave Bulgaria. Yet the Pope could not abandon his hopes. He had to evolve a new policy with regard to Constantinople. To recapture Bulgaria first would help him so much. Once more in 879 he wrote to Boris and to his bоyars , to Peter, Zergobul, and Sondok. This time the letters were sent by the hand of John the Presbyter, his legate to Dalmatia



1. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 66, pp. 58 ff. In this letter he complained also about the interference of George, the (Greek) Bishop of Belgrade, in Serbia or Pannonian Croatia.


2. Ibid., Ep. 67, pp. 60 ff.


3. Ibid., Ep. 70, pp. 65-6 ff. For the identity of the recipient, see Zlatarski, Istoriya, i., 2, pp. 168-70.


4. Ibid., Ep. 68, pp. 62-3.


5. Ibid., Ep. 69, pp. 63-5.


6. Theophanes Continuatus, p. 276.





and Croatia. There, even as he wrote, the sky was brightening; Zdeslav, the Byzantine-made prince of Croatia, had just been deposed by Branimir, an adherent of the Roman faction. Branimir would see to it that John the Presbyter reached Bulgaria safely. The Pope’s tone to Boris was even more pleading and conciliatory; he apologized if the Khan had been displeased by anything in his former embassy. [1]


Meanwhile, he was vastly cheered by his dealings with the Patriarch. Photius brazenly and illogically, to please the Emperor, had sought Papal approval of his appointment. John, with that unhappy passion for bargaining, known as realism at Rome, offered his consent on one condition, a condition showing the greatest longing of his heart—that Constantinople would give up the Church of Bulgaria. To his delighted surprise the Patriarch promptly agreed. Once again Papal legates journeyed to Constantinople to take part in a peace-bringing council.


The council opened in November 879, and sat without a hitch. The Emperor Basil, in mourning for his eldest son, did not attend; Photius managed it all as he chose. The Roman legates, ignorant of the Greek language, were unaware that Photius’s self-justification, so enthusiastically received by the 383 bishops present, had been facilitated by slight mistranslations of the Papal letter; they also failed to realize that they subscribed to a resolution refusing the Pope’s wish to prohibit the nomination of laymen to the episcopate, and to an anathema against all who added to the Nicene creed—that is to say against all the Western Church guilty of the interpolation of ‘Filioque.’ The question of the Bulgarian Church was referred to the Emperor, who condescended to decide in favour of Rome. Rome in its satisfaction would not, so



1. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 182, p. 146; 183, p. 147. He wrote again a month later (June 879) in an equally friendly tone (Ep. 10,2, p. 153).





Photius calculated, challenge the authority of the decision: whereas, by establishing the Emperor’s right to decide, Constantinople was safeguarded against the future. [1]


The legates returned in happy innocence to Rome, and Rome rejoiced at her victory. But the Pope had carelessly forgotten that the persons most concerned in the transaction were the Bulgarians themselves. Early in 880 an embassy arrived from Boris to the Papal Court. John was full of hope, but the Bulgarian ambassador, a boyar called Frunticus, merely paid his master’s respects and announced that everything was going very pleasantly in Bulgaria; and that was all. However, John could not but regard it as a favourable sign; he sent back a letter teeming with eager expectation, [2] and wrote, too, to the Emperor Basil to announce his contentment. [3] But there was no reply from Bulgaria. John was puzzled and distressed. He wrote again at the close of 880, to ask by what mischance no further embassy had been sent; the Croatian bishop, Theodosius of Nona, had given him to understand that one was forthcoming. But again there was silence; and silence greeted his next letter, written in 881. [4] John could not understand what had happened. At last, towards the close of that year, the Bishop Marinus, Boris’s former friend, returned from an embassy to Constantinople and opened his eyes to what had really happened at the council of 879. In his fury, John deposed the two legates that had attended the council, and excommunicated Photius. [5] But, as he wrote, the truth was dawning over him; he began to understand why Photius had so smilingly given up his rights over Bulgaria. Photius had not forgotten the Bulgarians. Photius realized that



1. Council of 879 in Mansi, xvii., pp. 365-530.


2. Johannes VIII Papa, Ep. 198, pp. 158-9.


3. Ibid., Ep. 259, pp. 228 ff.


4. Ibid., Ep. 298, p. 260; 308, pp. 266-7.


5. Stephanus V Papa, Ep. I, pp. 786-9: Hergenrother, Photius, Patriarch von Konstantinopel, ii., pp. 576-8.





Boris could not wish to go back to Roman bondage; the ways of the Eastern Church suited him far better. And Boris was well able to look after himself.


Rome was defeated. John had been cheated of his victory, outwitted by the Patriarch. Bulgaria, the land for which Saint Peter’s successors had striven so hard, had eluded their grasp for ever. But Pope John was not given long on earth in which to brood upon his bitter humiliation. On December 15, 882, he died, poisoned, men said, by his enemies. The Bishop Marinus stepped into his place—but there was something mysterious, something sinister, about the whole affair. [1]


Boris had chosen the East rather than the West; and his choice was almost inevitable. At first sight there might be some advantage in preferring the distant rule of Rome to the near-by rule of Constantinople; but Rome could not really give him what he wanted, nor had it the same attractions for him. In Constantinople the Emperor was supreme, and his supremacy was sanctioned by the Church. He was not only Caesar, but also the viceroy of God, and therefore all things, Caesar’s and God’s alike, could rightly be rendered unto him. In the West, on the other hand, there was always a dual allegiance. The Roman Church refused to recognize its dependence on any temporal power. Its ambitions were international, and its sole autocrat was the Roman Pontiff; and he not only forbade the interference of any lay ruler, but aimed at controlling even their unspiritual actions. Whatever Boris’s motives may have been in first adopting Christianity, he certainly intended to use the conversion for his own ends in unifying his country and perfecting his autocracy. His model was the Emperor; the Empire’s Caesaropapism should be copied in Bulgaria. It was because Constantinople had been unwilling to allow him the independence that he



1. Annales Fuldenses, pp. 395, 398.





wished that he had turned to Rome; but he soon learnt that Rome always aimed at a far stricter control. It was only useful to him as a threat to hold over the head of Constantinople.


Then, apart from practical considerations, Constantinople would certainly impress the Bulgars infinitely more than Rome. Their memories did not stretch as far back as the days when Rome was mistress of the world and Constantinople was only still Byzantium, obscure in its distant province. They saw Rome as she was in their time, a dirty town on a yellow river, rich only in churches and prelates and vast, crumbling ruins. How could it compare with the wealthiest city in all the universe, Constantinople, the home of art and of learning, with towers and gleaming domes and never-ending walls, the merchant ships crowding in the harbours, the palaces teeming with mosaics and tapestries, and the Emperor seated on his golden throne? All this glory had been since first they crossed the Danube. Why should they cross the bleak Albanian mountains and the windy sea to do obeisance in a dying town, when so much splendid life was at their gates? Rome could not compete with Constantinople in the vigour and perfection of her civilization; and already the Bulgars had come under the influence of the Greeks. Greeks had built them palaces in Pliska and Preslav, had given them a written tongue in which to keep their records, had painted them pictures and woven them stuffs. The Romans had done nothing for them save to talk to them in unintelligible Latin and to issue them peremptory commands. It was both natural and wise for Boris to make the decision that he made.


Had Boris been allowed to retain Formosus or Marinus, history might have been different: though probably they, like him, would have grown to resent Papal interference. But destiny forbade those ambitious prelates to side-track





their careers in Bulgaria. Both attained to the heights of the Papal throne, Marinus over a poisoned corpse, and Formosus amid a storm and turmoil that tore him even from his grave.


Meanwhile, Greek was all the fashion in Bulgaria; Greek artisans came with Greek priests, to build churches and houses suitable for Christian gentlemen. The Bulgars even strove to obtain some part of the famous learning of the Greeks. The nobles hastened to send their sons to Constantinople in order to perfect their education. [1] Thither among them came the Prince Symeon, younger son of the Khan himself. Boris was well informed about events in the Imperial Palace. He knew that growing up there was a prince, the youngest son of the Emperor Basil, whom his father designed for the Patriarchal throne. Boris thought the idea excellent; it smacked of true Caesaro-papism. His younger son should go to Constantinople, and should come back in due course, stocked with Greek lore, to become Archbishop and Primate of Bulgaria. [2]


Fashions, however, change. Bulgaria was not to become a mere provincial annexe of Byzantium. Thanks largely to their great Khans, the Bulgarian subjects had too strong a national feeling to suffer absorption; and the Imperial statesmen, far-sighted in their moderation, and haunted by the spectre of Rome, decided not to press Bulgaria too far. Their one aim now was to advance Christianity in Bulgaria along lines that would most help Christianity, not the Empire. It was an altruistic policy, originating largely in genuine missionary zeal; but also, like most altruistic policies, it would probably pay in the end.


Towards the close of 881, while the Pope and the Patriarch were still officially friends, a distinguished visitor



1. Photius, Ep. xcv., pp. 904-5. He put the Bulgar nobles under the charge of the Higumene Arsenius.


2. Liudprand, Antapodosis, p. 87.





arrived in Constantinople—Methodius, the surviving apostle of the Slavs. [1] He had long wished to revisit his fatherland; and Emperor Basil and Photius, his old friend, had much to discuss with him. He returned to Moravia next spring, [2] but Basil kept back a Slavonic priest and a deacon and certain liturgical books which the brothers had written in the Slavonic language. The Imperial Government had learnt from the great missionary’s own lips of his experiences; they were encouraged to emulate his methods. Rome had long profited by the work of the Macedonian brothers; but Constantinople had sent them forth; she would profit now. And she had one great advantage over Rome. The Romans could hardly bear to admit a liturgy in a tongue other than Latin. The Greeks had no such prejudices; they saw the Georgians worshipping God in Georgian, the Abasgians in Abasgian; and both the Georgian and the Abasgian Churches recognized themselves, and were welcomed, as being under the Constantinopolitan Patriarch. Basil and Photius decided to make use themselves of Saint Cyril’s liturgy. A Slavonic school was founded at Constantinople, possibly with the idea of using it as a training-ground for the conversion of the Russians, and certainly to aid in the good work in Bulgaria. [3]


The year 885 was a turning-point in the history of Slavonic Christianity. That year Methodius died in Moravia,



1. This visit of Methodius is only recorded in the Vita Methodii (Pastrnek, pp. 234 ff.), but it is useless to regard it either as apocryphal or as marking a revolution in Methodius’s career. (See Dvornik, op. cit., pp. 271 ff.) Zlatarski (op. cit., p. 219) follows Malyshevski (Kiryll i Methodi, pp. 279 ff.), in dating it 883-4, but it must have occurred before the schism with Rome.


2. It is most unlikely that Methodius visited Boris of Bulgaria on his return, as Zlatarski (loc. cit.) says. The only authority for saying so is the sentence in the Life of Saint Clement (p. 1201), which says that Boris was specially favoured of Methodius. This need not mean more than that Methodius was pleased with Boris’s career and had high hopes of him.


3. The existence of this school is nowhere stated, but it is distinctly implied by such stories as that of the slaves in Venice. It was probably under the Higumene Arsenius, as Photius’s letter to him (cit. above) implies.





his whole work on the brink of failure. John VIII had in the end supported him, but Marinus threw him over, and Hadrian III and Stephen V continued against him, urged on by the wholesale forgeries of Wiching, Latin bishop of Nitra, and by Methodius’s refusal to join Rome in heresy and tamper with the Nicene Creed. Methodius’s death meant the end of the Slavonic liturgy in Central Europe. He had named his ablest disciple, Gorazd, as his successor; but Gorazd’s abilities were powerless against the torrent of Latin and German intrigue, reinforced by the lay powers, by King Svatopulk. The leaders of the Slavonic Church—Gorazd, Clement, Nahum, Angelarius, Laurentius, and Sabbas—were seized and imprisoned with their followers. As they lay in prison sentence was passed. Many of the minor clergy were kept in captivity; the more prominent were condemned to perpetual exile. One day that winter a little group of the faithful, headed by Clement, Nahum, and Angelarius, was brought under guard to the Danube, and there left to find its own fortune. [1]


That same winter an embassy from the Emperor Basil was visiting Venice. As he passed one day the booths of the Jewish merchants the ambassador’s notice was struck by some slaves. On inquiring, he discovered that they were Slavonic clergy sold by the Moravian lay powers as heretics. He knew his master’s interest in such persons, so he bought them and brought them with him to Constantinople. Basil was delighted, and received them with honour, and even provided them with benefices. [2] Some went on soon, probably at the Emperor’s behest, into Bulgaria, equipped with the Slavonic liturgy. [3]


But they were not the only newcomers to Bulgaria. Clement and his following came down the Danube, longing to reach that country that seemed to them the Promised



1. Vita S. Clementis, pp. 1220-1.


2. Zhitiya Sv. Naum, ed. Lavrov, pp. 4-5.


3. Ibid., p. 5.





Land of the true orthodox faith. In time they came to Belgrade, the great frontier fortress, where the governor, the Tarkan Boris, [1] welcomed them gladly and sent them on to the Court at Pliska. The Khan’s welcome was even warmer than the tarkan’s; Boris was delighted to see experienced and distinguished Slavonic missionaries, who would make him less dependent on Greek clergy: while the Imperial Government, pursuing its altruistic policy, could make no objection. The Court nobility followed its master’s lead; the officers of state hastened to offer hospitality to the holy visitors. Ekhatch, the sampses, entertained Clement and Nahum, while Angelarius lodged with a certain Tcheslav. [2]


The Greek clergy in Bulgaria were a little less pleased. They were not in a very strong position; Basil and Photius were encouraging the Slavs. But it was always probable that Basil and Photius would protest and take measures if things became too bad. The Greek clergy were, however, to be robbed of that potential support. On August 29, 886, the Emperor died. His successor, Leo V, detested Photius and at once deposed him; a youth of eighteen, the Emperor’s brother Stephen, followed him on the Patriarchal throne. Leo, his youth embittered by a doubtful parentage and a miserable marriage, was an apathetic, indolent statesman; he would never go out of his way to intervene abroad. And the Patriarch, in his youthful inexperience, was an equally broken reed. But the Greek clergy had one support; Boris himself was uncomfortable at rousing their displeasure. The situation was a little difficult for him. The lower classes, the Slav peasants, were, it seems, taking to Christianity willingly, if not enthusiastically; but the Bulgar nobility, thinned though it



1. Βοριτακάνῷ τότε φυλάσσοντι. Boritacanus must, I think, be the Tarkan (provincial governor) Boris.


2. Vita S. Clementis, pp. 1221, 1325.





had been by Boris’s treatment after its revolt, was growing up again. These Bulgar nobles, naturally contemptuous of the new religion, were not likely to be impressed by Slavonic clergy. They could be overawed by the Greek ecclesiastics with their majestic background of culture and self-confidence, hierarchs whose mode of life was filled with refinement and whose minds saw niceties that the crude Bulgar intelligence could never grasp. He took the only way out; the Greek clergy remained at the Court, and the Slavonic clergy were sent to missionize the provinces. Soon, probably in 886, Clement set off to take up his residence in Macedonia.


The Macedonian Slavs were the most recent of the Khan’s subjects; but they apparently had accepted his rule with pleasure. They were, however, difficult to govern; they had joined Bulgaria as being the great Slav State, and so they might resent the rule of governors drawn from the old Bulgar nobility. Boris determined to bind them to his rule by means of Slavonic Christianity. Christianity had barely as yet reached their lonely valleys, but a desire for conversion was animating the whole Slavonic world. Boris was bidding for their souls against the Empire, his one political rival in the south-west, which only gave them Greek Christianity, wishing always to strengthen the Greek sections of the population. Then, the Slavonic Christianity firmly established in Macedonia, it could in time be introduced all over the Bulgar dominions; the Greek clergy, at present so useful, should one by one be replaced by Slavs, till at last the Khans’ old dream should be realized. The Bulgar lords would be swamped in a sea of Slavdom, and the Khan would rival the Emperor in Byzantium, and should rule a great Empire bound, like his, with two strong bonds—a common faith and a common language.


Thus it was as the prelude of a vast new policy that





Clement was dispatched. In pursuit of it, Boris altered the government of Macedonia. Hitherto it was one province, known as the ‘Colony’ [1]; Boris detached from it the districts farthest to the south-west (where the nationalist propaganda and the missionary work would be most useful), known as Kutmitchevitza and Devol, [2] and, recalling the local Bulgar governor, [3] sent to administer it a lay official called Dometa [4] — probably a Slav;—at the same time he sent Clement with Dometa, to act as spiritual adviser, and apparently as Dometa’s superior. [5] Clement was given three residences in the Devol district and houses at Ochrida and at Glavenitza. [6] Clement set to work in earnest in his civilizing mission; and Boris had the satisfaction of seeing his scheme well started on its first important phase.


A year or two later, Boris showed his hand more openly. Nicephorus I, during the transportations that he had made to bolster up the Greek or Anatolian element in Macedonia, had moved, amongst others, many citizens from Tiberiupolis in Bithynia; and they brought with them to their new Tiberiupolis, a town near the present



1. ‘ τοῦ κοτοκίου ’: I think this must be an adaptation of the Greek word ‘ κατοικία ,’ a colony.


2. Devol must be the district between Lake Ochrida, the River Devol, and the River Ozum; Kutmitchevitza extended probably to the east and slightly to the south of Devol—the extreme south-west of Boris’s dominion. See above, p. 104.


3. ‘ παράλυσας τὸν οὖτρον τῆς διοικήσεως, ’ Vita S. Clementis MS.: ‘παράλυσας ἑαυτον κτλ ,’ Moscow MS.: ‘παράλυσας αὐτὸν κτλ,3 text in the Patrologia Graeca (p. 1224). The first reading makes best sense, if we assume ‘ οὖτρον ’ to be a Bulgar proper name. I cannot, however, follow Zlatarski in saying emphatically that it is the same as Kurt (Zlatarski, op. cit., p. 229).


4. ‘ Δομεταν ’ in Ochrida MS.; ‘ Δοβετᾶν ’ in Moscow MS.; and printed in text in the Patrologia. It seems to be a Slav name.


5. Vita S. Clementis, loc. cit. The hagiographer’s eloquence slightly obscures the exact relationship, but it seems that Dometa was subordinate to Clement.


6. Ibid., loc. cit. Glavenitza has been identified by Zlatarski (Izviestiya, pp. 70 ff.) as being between the upper waters of the Voiusa and the Ozum, near Mount Tomor.





Strumitsa, some sixty miles north of Thessalonica, [1] many of their holiest relics, those of Saint Germanus and other saints martyred by Julian the Apostate. Now Tiberiupolis was part of the Khan’s dominions. About this time miracles were reported; visions of Saint Germanus and his followers were seen in the streets of Tiberiupolis, and their bones performed wonders. Boris came to hear of it, and at once ordered the local governor, the Bulgar ‘Count’ Taridin, to build a church for the relics in the diocese of Bregalnitsa and to move them to this new home. Probably the church was to adorn the town of Bregalnitsa itself, a growing Slavonic village that was the seat of a Bulgarian bishopric. The citizens of Tiberiupolis were furious at being robbed of possessions so revered and so useful; they rioted and would not let them go. Taridin had to use all his industry and tact to prevent the outbreak spreading. At last a compromise was agreed upon. Saint Germanus was allowed to remain in peace at Tiberiupolis; three only of his saintly comrades were taken—Timothy, Comasius, and Eusebius. Their relics were conveyed with honour to Bregalnitsa, performing miracles as they journeyed. There they were received into the new church, and clergy were appointed for them to hold the liturgy in the Slavonic tongue. [2] The new Christianity was creeping over Bulgaria.


Boris was well pleased. He had seen his country through the vastest revolution in its history; he had inherited it as a great power, he had made it a great civilized power. He could vie now on equal terms with the Frankish monarchs, even with the Emperor himself. And his country’s Church was his to control; he had made the world realize that. The versatile bargaining and the dogged persistence



1. See above, p. 55. Tiberiupolis is located by Zlatarski (Istoriya, i., 2, p. 236).


2. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, Historia Martyrii XV Martyrum, pp. 201-8.





had triumphed in the end. And now his schemes were leaping higher, and still successfully. Soon Bulgaria would have one national Church, to bind it together and to enhance the glory of the Khan. Boris could rest now. His conversion had been sincere; it was from genuine piety even more than from policy that he had built so many churches and monasteries, and the purity and austerity of his life had long been admired throughout the Christian world. Now, ill and weary, he decided to retire from the world, to give himself up utterly to a life of devotion. In 889 he abdicated in favour of his eldest son, Vladimir, and entered into a monastery, probably into Nahum’s great foundation, the monastery of Saint Panteleimon by Preslav. [1] All Christendom was edified by this renunciation; men told of good King Boris in Germany and Italy. [2]


But Boris had done more than convert his country; he had shaped its destinies for ever. Since the days of Krum Bulgaria had faced two fronts. Was she to expand on the West on the middle Danube, where German culture came filtering through and where there was no lasting power to oppose her, only the ephemeral principalities of the Slavs? Or was she to remain in the Balkans, looking to the East and battling against the eternal walls of New Rome? Omortag had leaned on the West, and Boris, toying with the Roman Church, had almost made himself a Central European potentate. But in the end he chose the Christianity of Byzantium, the Christianity best suited to his country. And by so doing he anchored Bulgaria for ever in the Balkans.



1. For the monastery of Saint Panteleimon, the ruins of which are now called Patleina, see Zlatarski in Izviestiya na Bulgarskiya Archeol. Institut, vol. i., pp. 146-62. I incline to think that Symeon’s movement of the capital to Preslav (see below, p. 136) was due to his father’s presence close by.


2. Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria, op. cit., p. 201: Regino, p. 580: Manegold of Lautenbach, p. 364: Sigebert, p. 341.


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