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THE BULGARIAN KHANATE OF THE LOWER DANUBE (7th - 8th C.)

After the disintegration of Old Great Bulgaria the first-born son of Koubrat, Bayan, remained in ,,the land of the forefathers" and pledged to pay tax to the Hazars. The second son of Koubrat Kotrag settled with the Bulgarians under his rule in the territories along the middle reaches of the River Volga. The third son Khan Asparouh (680 - 601) crossed the rivers Dnepar and Dnestar and settled north of the Danube, in the region of Ongal (today's Romania), which was protected with a ditch and an embankment and the inner part was surrounded by a wooden fortification. From here he undertook attacks on Byzantine territories.
A union for joint action against Byzantium was concluded in the end of the 70s between the united Slavic tribes in the region between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains and Asparouh's Bulgarians. Alarmed, the Emperor of Byzantium Constantine IV organized a march against the Bulgarians by land and sea. In the battle of Ongle in 680 Khan Asparouh, in union with the local Slavic tribes, won a great victory. Following the retreating Byzantines, he crossed the Danube, conquered the lands up to the Balkan Mountains and in the summer of 681 forced the Byzantine Emperor to sign a peace treaty.
Byzantium recognized the new state and pledged to pay yearly tax to the Bulgarian Khan.
This is how the first ,,barbarian" state formation on the Balkans was born, one of the earliest European mediaeval states on the Balkan Peninsula - the Bulgarian khanate of the Lower Danube. In the northeast the Bulgarian khanate reached up to the River Dnepar, in the west - to the gorge of the Danube called Zhelezni vrata, in the south the natural frontier were the Balkan Mountains. The Khan's residence Plyuska (Pliska) became the capital town. According to the treaty, the Bulgarians received territory to settle down. Slavs and Bulgarians kept their internal independence. The Bulgarians were responsible for the military organization of the new union state and their ruler Khan Asparouh in practice possessed the whole power.
After the death of Khan Asparouh, who fell in battle with the Hazars c. 700 - 701, the power passed into the hands of his son Khan Tervel (701 - 721). In 705 he helped the Emperor of Byzantium Justinian II to be reinstated in the throne of Constantinople. To repay him, the Emperor bestowed on the Bulgarian ruler the title of Caesar and gave him the Zagore region (between the Eastern Balkan Mountains, Strandzha and the Black Sea). This was the first territorial expansion of the Bulgarian khanate south of the Balkans. Pressed by the Arabs in the east, Byzantium agreed in 716 to conclude a peace treaty with the Bulgarian khanate. This was the first treaty between two states in mediaeval Europe. In the capital of Byzantium was set up a special market-place for Bulgarian goods. Byzantium pledged to pay yearly tax to the Bulgarian ruler.
In 717 - 718 the Bulgarian army drove back the Arabs, lying in siege round the capital of Byzantium. In this way not only Byzantium but the whole of Europe was saved from the Arab Muslims in the Middle Ages.

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