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KHAN KROUM (796 - 814) - CONQUEROR AND LAW-MAKER

In the beginning of the 9th c. the Bulgarian khanate was headed by one of the greatest rulers and founder of a new dynasty Khan Kroum. He managed to destroy the Avar haganate and to annex some territories north of the River Danube.

The Byzantine Empire never gave up the goal of subjugating the Bulgarians and their state. In the summer of 811 the Emperor of Byzantium Nikiforas I Genik led a big military expedition whose aim was to "completely abolish" Bulgaria. The young Bulgarian state stood up in direct conflict with the mighty empire. Khan Kroum sent messengers to the Emperor, offering peace, but the offer was rejected twice. In the morning of July 26 811 Khan Kroum's army attacked the Byzantines unexpectedly in the Varbitsa Pass. Caught in a trap, the Byzantine army was completely destroyed, "the entire Roman might was ruined", and the Emperor himself was killed. In the next year Khan Kroum conquered many towns along the Black Sea coast and in Thrace. On June 22 813 the Bulgarian army struck a deadly blow at the new Emperor Michael II Rangavae in the battle of Versinikiya and, reaching Constantinople, before the amazed eyes of the Byzantines, Kroum stuck his spear into the "Golden Gate", a symbol not only of his victory but also an eternal dream for future rulers of Bulgaria.

Khan Kroum created the first written laws in the Bulgarian khanate, which are preserved in a reproduced form in the Byzantine dictionary Suda. They protected private property and created order equal for the two ethnic communities in the country, Bulgarians and Slavs. In this way they helped to overcome tribal differences and build up a unified administrative mechanism.

Kroum's legislation did away with local rule of Slavic chiefs and incorporated them into central power. Thus it set the beginning of real integration within the boundaries of the Bulgarian khanate.

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