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Vasilief, A History of the Byzantine Empire

The Empire of Nicaea (1204-1261)

The role of Bulgaria in the Christian East under Tsar John Asen II 

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Page 2

After the capture of Hadrianople, the chief role in the Balkan peninsula was played by Theodore of Epirus, Emperor of Thessalonica, who concluded an alliance with Asen. But their friendly relations did not last long. The plan concerning John Asen's regency in Constantinople aroused serious suspicions in Theodore. He treacherously broke his alliance with Asen and opened hostilities against the Bulgars. The decisive battle was fought in 1230 at a place called Klokotinitza (Clocotimtza), now Semidje, between Hadrianople and Philippopolis, and ended in a complete victory for John Asen, who was vigorously supported by the Cuman cavalry. Theodore Angelus was captured. At first mildly treated, he plotted later against Asen's life and, on the discovery of his plot, was blinded.

The battle of Klokotinitza, in 1230, was one of the turning points in the history of the Christian East in the thirteenth century. It destroyed the western Greek Empire and the western Greek center, which seemed to be on the point of restoring the Byzantine Empire. The short-lived western empire (1222-1230) practically ceased to exist, and Manuel, the brother of Theodore Angelus, who was taken prisoner, ruled Thessalonica thereafter, some historians think, not with the title of emperor but with that of despot. But this is doubtful: he continued to sign his decrees with red ink, as befitted the imperial dignity, and called himself in the documents emperor. In the further history of the thirteenth century, Thessalonica and Epirus, two separate dominions, played no role of any importance. From that time on, the struggle for Constantinople was carried on, not between three rivals, but two: John Vatatzes and John Asen.

After the victory over Theodore of Epirus, the tsar of Bulgaria occupied Hadrianople without a struggle, as well as almost the whole of Macedonia and Albania as far as Dyrrachium (Durazzo). Thessalonica, Thessaly, and Epirus remained in the hands of the Greeks.

In an inscription on a white marble column in the Church of the Forty Martyrs at Trnovo (Bulgaria), the tsar of Bulgaria told of the results of his victory in this inflated style; I, John Asen, in Christ God the faithful Tsar and Autocrat of the Bulgars, son of the old Tsar Asen set forth on a march upon Romania and defeated the Greek troops, and I have captured the Emperor himself, Theodore Comnenus, with all his boyars (nobles), and taken all the countries from Hadrianople to Durazzo, the Greek territory, as well as the Albanian and Serbian territories. The Latins (Franks) have kept only the cities round Tsargrad itself, but even they have become subject to the power of my Majesty, for they have no king but myself, and only thanks to me have they continued their existence. From a charter granted by Asen at the same time to the Ragusan merchants concerning the freedom of their commerce in his realm, it is shown that the whole of European Turkey except Constantinople, as it was before World War I, almost all Serbia, and all Bulgaria was under Asen's influence.

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/vasilief/john-asen-ii.asp?pg=2