The Tsar of Bulgaria, Samuel ( -1014)


Samuel (who was also named as Stefanos) was the youngest of the 4 children of the Bulgarian prefect Nikolaos. At that time Bulgaria was part of the Byzantine empire and Nikolaos was a prefect appointed by the Byzantinian emperor. He was the one that started a revolution against the Byzantine empire and was soon successed by his son Samuel. Continuing the work of his father, Samuel liberated Bulgaria and then turned to the South conquering Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly establishing a Bulgaric state with capital the town of Achrida. After that he was recognized as a Tsar by the Bulgarians in 980.

In 17/8/986 the Byzantine Emperor Vasileios II was defeated by Samuel near Sardiki (Sofia), and it took him 3 years to reorganize the army and deal with Samuel. In 996 the general of the army Nikiforos Ouranos defeated the Bulgarians near the Spercheios river. Samuel hardly managed to escape. After 997 the Byzantine army had re-acquired the lost territories and was chasing off the Bulgarian troops. In 1002 Vassilios II captured the town of Scopje. During the years 1002-1014, Vasilleios II regularly invaded the remaining areas of Samuel's state (that were the areas around Achrida), so that the Bulgarian forces couldn't be reorganized. Finally, in 1014 Vassilios II almost destroyed Samuel's army in a battle that was held the night of 29/7/1014, near the village Klidi, near Serres. Samuel, himself hardly managed to escape, for the second time. After the battle, Vassilios II captured the bulgarian army (14,000 soldiers), and was really cruel to them:

He blinded all the soldiers leaving the 100th of every 100, half-blinded, to guide the rest 99! The reason of his cruelty was that he treated the soldiers not as war-prisoners but as soldiers that had rebelled against the Byzantinian emperor. Those soldiers returned to Samuel, in Bulgaria, who was that shocked at the sight of them, that he died 2 days after he saw his soldiers (2/10/1014). Four years later (1018) his state was again conquered by the Byzantinians.

Because of the cruelty with which he dealt with the Bulgarian soldiers, and his success in the war with them, Vassilios II is known in history as Vassilios II the Bulgarocton (killer of the Bulgarians).


Updated 27 December 1998