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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Macedonian epoch (867-1081)

Relations of the Byzantine Empire with the Bulgarians and Magyars 


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This was a very significant moment in the history of Europe. For the first time, at the end of the ninth century, a new people, the Magyars (Hungarians, Ugrians; Byzantine sources frequently call them Turks, and western sources sometimes refer to them as Avars), became involved in the international relations of European states, or, as C. Grot put it, this was the first appearance of the Magyars on the arena of European wars as an ally of one of the most civilized nations. Simeon was defeated by the Magyars in several early battles, but he showed much skill in handling the difficult situation, by trying to gain time in negotiations with the Byzantine Empire, during which he succeeded in winning over the Patzinaks. With their aid he defeated the Magyars and forced them to move north to the place of their future state in the valley of the Middle Danube. After this victory Simeon turned his attention to the Byzantine Empire. A decisive victory over the Greek troops brought him to the very walls of Constantinople. The defeated Emperor succeeded in negotiating a peace treaty according to which he bound himself to refrain from any hostile action against the Bulgarians and to send rich gifts to Simeon every year.

After the Arabian siege and pillage of Thessalonica in the year 904, Simeon became very desirous of annexing this great city to his kingdom. Leo VI succeeded in preventing the realization of this scheme only by ceding to the Bulgarians other lands of the Empire. The boundary stone set up between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire in 904 still exists. It bears an interesting inscription concerning the agreement between the two powers, about which the Bulgarian historian Zlatarsky commented: According to this agreement all the Slavonic lands of contemporary southern Macedonia and southern Albania, which until this time belonged to the Byzantine Empire, now (in 904) became part of the Bulgarian Kingdom; in other words, by this treaty Simeon united under the Bulgarian sceptre all those Slavonic tribes of the Balkan peninsula which gave Bulgarian nationality its ultimate aspect. From the time of this treaty until the end of Leo's rule no collisions occurred between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire.

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