First Bulgarian Empire

First Bulgarian Empire

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First Bulgarian Empire

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The First Bulgarian Empire (modern ) was a medieval state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 681 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes. At the height of its power it spread between Budapest and the Black Sea and from the Dnieper River in modern Ukraine to the Adriatic Sea.

As the state solidified its position in the Balkans, it entered on a centuries-long interaction, sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile, with the Byzantine Empire. Bulgaria emerged as Byzantium's chief antagonist in the Balkans, resulting in several wars. The two powers however also enjoyed periods of peace and alliance, most notably during the Second Arab siege of Constantinople, where the Bulgarian army played a crucial role in breaking the siege. Byzantium had a strong cultural influence on Bulgaria, which also led to the eventual adoption of Christianity by Bulgaria in 864. After the disintegration of the Avar Khanate, the Bulgarians expanded their territory up to the Pannonian Plain (in present-day Hungary). Later the Bulgarians confronted the advance of the Pechenegs and Cumans, and achieved a decisive victory over the Magyars, forcing them to establish themselves permanently in Pannonia.

During the late 9th and early 10th centuries, Tsar Simeon I achieved a string of victories over the Byzantines, and expanded the Bulgarian Empire to its apogee. After the annihilation of the Byzantine army in the battle of Anchialus in 917, the Bulgarians laid siege to Constantinople in...
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