Prince of the Dawn

(The Fight of the young Asparuh against the Khazars)

Zahari Zlatev


Short resume

The year was 669. The Eastern Roman Empire (also known as Bizantium) was deadly threatened by the Arabs. Many of its provinces were conquered by the victorious armies of their caliph Muawiya. Constantinople, the capital of the empire, was their next aim. The capture of Constantinople by the Arabs would not only mean total defeat of the empire. It would also completely change the destiny of the whole Europe. Constantine IV, the emperor at that time, tried desperately to secure the Northern borders of his empire and to use all resources at his disposal in the fateful defense of the capital. This task was by no means easy. There was a great problem at the Northern border of the empire. Two countries, Bulgaria and Khazaria, both of them allies of the Eastern Roman Empire at that time, were fighting each other. The emperor wanted only one state in the Northern regions and his choice was the stronger state, Khazaria. He believed that one powerful state would much easier secure the peace in the North and even help the empire in the coming war against the Arabs. Therefore, the Khazarian khagan was strongly supported by the empire.

The situation of the Bulgarians was hopeless. Their ruler Kubrat was very ill, most probably dying. Four of his sons decided not to fight against the enemy. Kubrat’s fifth son, Asparuh, was the only hope of the Bulgarians in their struggle for survival, but was far away. He was studying in the capital of the empire and in love with a Roman princess there. Asparuh was asked to return from Constantinople to Bulgaria and to fight against the Khazars. This was an extremely difficult job, an impossible mission, both because the powerful emperor desperately tried to keep Asparuh in the empire and because the Khazarian armies were very strong. The Bulgarian prince received help from one of his father’s advisers and from a member of the imperial family, Irina, who firmly believed that the existence of two states along the Northern borders best served the interests of the empire and who was a great friend of Asparuh’s father with a special relation to him. However, the task to return to Bulgaria and to fight the Khazars was still tremendously perilous and very complicated. Great courage and resolute actions were absolutely necessary. Asparuh and his friends were well-prepared to be both courageous and resolute in their decisions. They were bound by strong ties of friendship and deep passions. They were heroic.  However, it was by far not sure that all this would be sufficient in their efforts to overcome the numerous obstacles and the great dangers along the long route from Constantinople to Bulgaria and in the war against the Khazars.

 

 


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Department of Atmospheric Environment, National Environmental Research Institute (Denmark)