INSIGNIA OF THE MEDIEVAL BULGARIAN RULERS
(crowns, scepters, spheres, weapons, attire)

by George Atanassov
The royal symbols (insignia, regalia) has been studied since long ago by numerous European historians, art historians, sphragists, numismatists, archaeologists and heraldicists. Based on the Roman heritage and on the achievements of the East, Byzantium built its own oecumenical doctrine, which set the place of each state and ruler in a hiearchic order, with the basileos of Constantinople standing undisputedly on the top of it. The title of each ruler of another country was determined on the basis of this order. Specific and strictly specified insignia and dress corresponded to the title. That is why the insignia and the dress were not items of fashion and wishfull thinking, but a principle in the international relations throughout the whole span of the Middle Ages. A principle, which was abided to by both East and West, as well as by the barbarian countries.

During the whole period of its medieval existence Bulgaria was in a direct and unmeditated contact with Byzantium, and the capitals of the Bulgarian rules were just a few hundred kilometres away from Constantinople. This, on the one hand, called for unceasing confrontation with the Empire for Lebensraum and political legitimacy? and, on the other hand, brought prestigious tituleage? and regalia. The last two must be studied in great details in order to unravel? the position Bulgaria had in the world Christian family. This position was modified by the wise policy of the Bulgarian rulers. Their achievements are significant and, sometimes, with no parallel in the civilized world of that time.

Regalia, attire and religious beliefs of the first Bulgarian khans
  • Khan Kubrat (c. 635-665) and patrician Organa (c. 615-635)
  • Khan Asparuh (681-700), Kuber and Altzek
  • Tervel (700-718) - Khan of Bulgaria and Byzantine Caesar
  • Pagan khans. Krum (803-814) and Omurtag (814-831)

    Insignia and attire of the rulers of the First Bulgarian kingdom after the conversion to Christianity (864-1018)
  • Saint Boris I - Mihail (852-889)
  • Tsar Simeon The Great (893-927)
  • Tsar Peter I (927-970)
  • Tsar Boris II (970-971) and Roman I (977-997)
  • Tsar Samuil (997-1014) and the last rulers of the First Bulgarian kingdom

    Insignia and attire of the Bulgarian rulers during the period of the Second kingdom (1185-1396)
  • Tsar Peter IV (1185-1197) and Tsar Assen I (1186-1196)
  • Tsar Kaloyan (1197-1207)
  • Tsar Boril (1207-1218)
  • Tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241)
  • Heirs apparent to tsar Ivan Assen II (between 1241 and 1277)
  • Insignia of the Terters (between 1280 and 1322)
  • Mihail-Shishman (1323-1330)
  • Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371) and his successors (between 1371 and 1422)

    Insignia and attire of the wives of the medieval Bulgarian rulers

    Insignia and attire of the Bulgarian high ranking dignitaries in the Middle Ages

    About the treasure of Preslav and the insignia and the adornments of the noblest Bulgarian aristocrats during the Middle Ages
  • The page has been prepared by Hristo Tsenov and represents the summary of the book "Insigniite na srednovekovnite bylgarski vladeteli" by Georgi Atanassov (Pleven, 1999), which can be ordered on-line from the Bulgarian Online Bookshop.

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    Lead seal of khan Tervel (701-718)
    Lead seal of khan Tervel (701-718)
    Golden medallion of khan Omurtag (814-831)
    Golden medallion of khan Omurtag (814-831)
    Lead
    Lead "anonymous" seal of tsar Simeon the Great
    (893-927)
    Bronze seal matrix of tsar Peter I (927-970)
    Bronze seal matrix of tsar Peter I (927-970)
    Golden seal of tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241)
    Golden seal of tsar Ivan Assen II (1218-1241)
    Golden seal of tsar Constantine Assen - Tikh (1257-1277)
    Golden seal of tsar Constantine Assen - Tikh (1257-1277)
    Coin of tsar Teodor Svetoslav (1299-1321)
    Coin of tsar Teodor Svetoslav (1299-1321)