Centralised monarchy

Medallion of Khan Omurtag, Tzarevetz
Medallion of Khan Omurtag, Tzarevetz

Under Krum (803-814) and Omurtag (814-831) the independence of the Slav principalities was eliminated. The enormous territory of the country was divided into eleven administrative areas - one of them was the capital and was called internal area and the other ten were external. They were not governed by people who had the hereditary right to do so, but by officials appointed by the central power. The boundaries of the administrative areas did not have anything in common with the boundaries of the various Slav, Avar and other tribes. Thus, from a federation of voluntarily associated tribes, Bulgaria became an early feudal centralized monarchy.

The wars, the territorial acquisitions, and the requirements for control over the new territories caused large-scale population shifts. A large part of the initial compact main body of the Bulgarians established in Dobrudja got dispersed in many small detached places in strategic centers all over the vast country. The removal of the boundaries between the Slav tribes speeded up the process of population diffusion. The latter, in its turn, gave rise to a new ethno- demographic development - the building up of a united Bulgarian nation. Towards the middle of the 9th century, both Byzantine and West European chroniclers ceased to use different names for the different tribes dwelling in Bulgaria. At that time they were already referring to the state of the 'numerous Bulgarians'. A prodigy - the new ethnic category 'a Bulgarian people', appeared as the finale of these developments: it took its name from the Turkic Bulgarians and its language from the Slavs. Both in Old Bulgarian and in the contemporary written and spoken language of the Bulgarian nation, there have survived only a few thousand words of the language of the small but highly mettled and organized ancient Bulgarian race which ventured and eventually succeeded in founding its own state on the most contended land on the European continent.

The consolidation of the Bulgarian nation in the middle of 9th century came up against a stumbling block - the religious pluralism among the Bulgarian subjects. It is difficult to enumerate all religions and the heretic diversions from them, all peacefully co-existing before the condescending eyes of the authorities. The Turkic Bulgarians believed in Tangra, the God-Heaven. Part of them were Christians. The Slavs were polytheists - their chief deities' idols Perun, Lada and Volos were patrons of large territories in Moesia, Pannonia, part of Macedonia, Wallachia and Moldavia. The areas in Thrace and Macedonia which had been detached from Byzantium were inhabited by Christianized Slavs and Thracians some of whom were adherents of various Christian heresies. The Christian preachers demonstrated the zeal of the early Christian missionaries in conducting active religious propaganda in the heathen-populated areas. We can judge of their success by the facts about Christianized members of noble families from 830 AD onwards, as reported by West European chroniclers. Although less successful, the Jewish and the Muslim missionaries also conducted religious propaganda during the first half of the 9th century.

The problem was not so much in the ethnic or language differences as in the impossibility to have the population of the state observe only one consistent law. According to medieval practices still valid in some Muslim countries, each religious group acknowledged as its own basic law the code of moral and legal norms, inherent to the respective religious doctrine. This led to mutual contradictions between the various religious communities as well as between their attitudes and the requirements of the centralized monarchy. This problem confronted the Bulgarian political minds and demanded prompt resolution.

We've tried to make the information on this web site as accurate as possible, but it is provided 'as is' and we accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by anyone resulting from this information. You should verify critical information (like visas, health and safety, customs and transportation) with the relevant authorities before you travel.