A complete list of rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire. Established in the year 681, Bulgarians point to this entity to support their claim for having the oldest European state. The communists made a big deal out of this in 1981, conflating the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian state with a celebration of Communism in Bulgaria.
Sparse contemporaneous evidence and conflicting reports among medieval chroniclers has left historians with an uncertain chronology for the rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire.
Rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire
Khan Asparukh (681-700) Led the Bulgars across the Danube. He is credited with establishing the First Bulgarian Empire.
Khan Tervel (700-721) Son of Asparukh of the house of Dulo. He played an important role in defeating the Arab siege of Constantinople in 717-18, for which he was canonized in Orthodox Christianity and awarded the moniker “Savior of Europe.”
Khan Kormesiy (721-738) A ruler following Tervel from the house of Dulo. Conflicting statements among chroniclers cause confusion about the precise dates and circumstances of his reign.
Khan Sevar (738-753) The last ruler from the house of Dulo. With his passing the lineage of Attila the Hun came to an end.
Khan Vinekh (756-762) Murdered in 762.
Khan Telets (762-765) Murdered in 765.
Khan Sabin (765-766) Might have been of Slavic origin. Deposed by a People’s Council in 766, fled to the Byzantine Empire.
Khan Umor (766) Ruled for only 40 days. Deposed in 766 and fled to the Byzantine Empire.
Khan Toktu (766-767) Killed in the forests of the Danube in 767 by the opposition.
Khan Pagan (767-768) Murdered by his servants in the region of Varna.
Khan Telerig (768-777) Fled to Constantinople in 777 and baptised.
Khan Kardam (777-803) End of the internal crisis. Stabilization and consolidation of the country. Unknown date of death
Khan Krum (803-814) Famous for the battle of Pliska in which the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I perished and for his laws. Died of natural death (very likely from stroke) on 13 April 814. There are several theories on his death.
Great Khan Omurtag (814-831) Ruler of the many Bulgarians Known for his construction policy, the administrative reform and the persecution of the Christians.
Khan Malamir (831-836) Third and youngest son of Omurtag. Died of natural death at early age.
Khan Presian I (836-852) Almost the whole of Macedonia was included in Bulgaria.
Khan/Knyaz Boris I (852-889) Christianization of Bulgaria; adoption of Old Bulgarian as the official language of the State and the Church; recognition of an autocephalous Bulgarian Church. Abdicated in 883, died on 2 May 902, aged around 80. Proclaimed a Saint.
Prince Vladimir (889-893) Eldest son of Boris I. Tried to restore Tengriism. Deposed and blinded by his father in 893.
Tsar Simeon I (893-927) Third son of Boris I, prepared for a cleric but enthroned during the Council of Preslav. Bulgaria reached its apogee and greatest territorial extend. Golden age of the Bulgarian culture. Died of heart attack on 27 May 927, aged 63. Prince/Emperor (Tsar)
Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Romans (claimed)
Emperor of the Bulgarians (recognized
Emperor Peter I (927-969) Second son of Simeon I. His 42-year rule is the longest in Bulgarian history. Abdicated in 969 and died as a monk on 30 January 970. Proclaimed a Saint.Emperor of the Bulgarians
Emperor Boris II (970-971) Eldest son of Peter I. Dethroned by the Byzantines in 971. Accidentally killed by the Bulgarian border guards in 977 when he tried to return to the country.
Emperor Roman (977-991, 997) Second son of Peter I. Castrated by the Byzantines but escaped to Bulgaria in 977. Captured in battle by the Byzantines in 991 and died in prison in Constantinople in 997.
Emperor Samuel (997-1014) Emperor of the Bulgarians Co-ruler and general under Roman between 976 and 997. Officially proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria in 997. Died of heart attack on 6 October 1014, aged 69-70.
Emperor Gavril Radomir (1014-1015) Eldest son of Samuel, crowned on 15 October 1014. Murdered by his cousin Ivan Vladislav in August 1015.
Emperor Ivan Vladislav (1015-1018) Son of Aron and nephew of Samuel. Killed in the siege of Drach. His death brought the end of the First Bulgarian Empire which was annexed by the Byzantine Empire.
Quicklinks to all Bulgarian Rulers
Rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire
Asparukh Tervel Kormesiy Sevar Kormisosh Vinekh Telets Sabin Umor Toktu Pagan Telerig Kardam Krum Omurtag Malamir Presian I Boris I Vladimir Simeon I Peter I Boris II Roman Samuil Gavril Radomir Ivan Vladislav
Rulers of the Second Bulgarian Empire
Modern Bulgarian Rulers
(Monarchy) Alexander I Ferdinand I Boris III Simeon II
(Communist Era) Georgi Dimitrov Todor Zhivkov
(Post Communist Era)