Kaloyan (Tsar)

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Kalojan Assen ( Bulgarian Калоян Асен , scientific transliteration Kalojan Asen, also Johannitzes; * around 1170, † 1207 ) was Tsar of the Bulgarians from 1197 to 1207 . He belonged to the Assen dynasty .


Kalojan (from the Greek Kaloioannes, the beautiful Johanes) was the third ruler of the Second Bulgarian Empire after his brothers Iwan Assen I and Theodor Peter IV . In Kalojan's documents a continuity with the rulers of the First Bulgarian Empire is established.

He was held hostage in Constantinople and returned to Bulgaria

Probably after 1187 with Byzantium concluded Treaty of Lovech , where the existence of the Second Bulgarian Empire was sealed Kalojan went to Konstantin Opel to there, often, as in the Middle Ages as a hostage of the other Party " in a personal capacity to guarantee" peace. Kalojan was able to escape from hostage as early as 1189.

Back in Bulgaria, Kalojan helped his brothers rebuild their statehood. To this end, he was given several offices. When his second brother Theodor Peter IV was murdered by a Boljar conspiracy , Kaloyan ascended the throne in Tarnowo in 1197 and was crowned tsar.

Coronation as tsar of the Bulgarians

The Bulgarian Empire under Kaloyan

Tsar Kalojan ruled the Bulgarian Empire between 1197 and 1207 and supported Iwanko and Dobromir Chrysos , who had separated part of the Rhodope and Macedonia from the Byzantine Empire (1198–1200). After Iwanko by Alexios III. was captured, Kaloyan initiated a new anti-Pyzantine insurrection in Macedonia and Thessaly, led by Dobromir Chrysos and Manuel Kamytzes . The strong Thracian fortress Konstancia (now Simeonovgrad ) was quickly captured.

Tsar Kalojan then marched with his army to the city of Varna , which was protected by a large Latin garrison made up of western mercenaries. The Bulgarian army besieged the city and built four-sided war machines rolling on wheels, the length of which corresponded to the width of the moat and the height of the city walls. After three days of siege, Tsar Kalojan conquered the city of Varna on March 24, 1201 , which was the last city north of the Balkan Mountains / Stara Planina remaining under Byzantine rule . Lieutenants and mercenaries of the Latin garrison were tied up and buried alive in the fortress moat, as revenge for the blinding of around 14,000 Bulgarian prisoners on the orders of the Byzantine emperor Basil II in 1014 after his victory in the battle of Kleidion, who later became the "Bulgarian butcher" (Βασίλειος ὁ Βουλγαροκτόνος Basíleios ho Bulgaroktónos) was called. After the conquest of Varna, Tsar Kalojan was called "Byzantine butcher" / "Romei butcher" because of his revenge on the Latin garrison.

The long war against the Byzantine Empire was ended in 1201 or early 1202 by a peace treaty in which Byzantium was forced to recognize territorial gains of the Bulgarian Empire, but not the title of Tsar of Kaloyan and not the title of patriarch for the highest Bulgarian cleric.

The military successes consolidated the state, and the rule of the upper class (Boljars) of the empire, which had only recently broken away from Byzantine rule, stabilized. The recognition of the new status was expressed, among other things, in the fact that Kalojan was awarded the title Rex: Pope Innocent III. sent a cardinal to crown Tsar Kaloyan as king. Against Byzantine attempts to influence, also in religious terms, Tsar Kalojan concluded a covenant with Pope Innocent III: the Bulgarian Church should be united with the Roman Catholic Church.

The union was short-lived, however, and Kalojan's troops marched successfully against the knights of the Fourth Crusade. In 1204 Kalojan restored Bulgarian rule over Ohrid and incorporated the Archdiocese of Justiniana Prima and Bulgaria (also called the Archdiocese of Ohrid ) back into the Bulgarian Orthodox Church .

In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the Crusaders conquered Constantinople and created the Latin Empire . Emissaries from parts of the Byzantine Empire that were not controlled by the Crusaders then offered Kaloyan to make him emperor if he were to act against the new rulers. Kaloyan took control of Adrianople . Venetians and crusaders began to siege the city on March 29, 1205. Kaloyan gathered a relief army of Bulgarians, Wallachians and Cumans , which clearly outnumbered the Crusaders. On April 14th the battle of Adrianople broke out between the two armies . Kaloyan triumphed and took Emperor Baldwin I prisoner, who died in custody on June 11th. The Byzantines in Thrace , who had initially supported him as a protector from the Crusaders, now feared the new strength of the Bulgarians and turned away from Kaloyan.

By the summer of 1205 Kalojan conquered large areas of Thrace, including Rodosto and Enez, in battles partly against the " Latins " and partly against the Greeks . On January 31, 1206 he defeated the Latins in the Battle of Rusion. In August 1206 he conquered the strong twin fortress Didymoticho . When the Crusaders won several battles in early 1207 and the tide threatened to turn, Kalojan concluded an alliance with Theodor I Laskaris in March 1207 , who fought the Latins from the east. In April Kaloyan besieged Adrianople but withdrew after the Cuman mercenaries left his army.

In the autumn of 1207 Kaloyan died during the siege of Thessaloníki . Some sources state that he was murdered by the leader of the Cumans in his army. Others see his death as a miracle of Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki . According to Nikolai Ovcharov , he died of a heart attack .

Tsar Boril Assen , a nephew of Kalojans, was elected as his successor . Tsar Kaloyan was married only once, to a Cuman princess. From this marriage he had two children: Bethleem and Marja († after 1216), who married the Latin Emperor of Constantinople Heinrich von Flanders in 1209 .


In 1936 the Bulgarian village of Kaloyanovets near Stara Sagora was named after Kalojan Assen. In addition, the Kalojan Nunatak on Livingston Island in Antarctica bears his name.


  • Ivan Božilov: Фамилията на Асеневци (1186–1460). Генеалогия и просопография. Марин Дринов Publishing House, Sofia 1994.
  • Constantin Jos. Jireček : History of the Bulgarians. F. Tempsky publishing house, Prague 1876; Olms, Hildesheim / New York 1977, ISBN 3-487-06408-1 .
  • Richard J. Crampton: A Concise History of Bulgaria. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, ISBN 0-521-85085-1 , pp. 22-27.


  1. Hanswilhelm Haefs : The golden empire of the Pamir-Bulgarians on the Danube and Wardar . Norderstedt 2016, ISBN 978-3-8334-2340-6 , p. 190.
  2. ^ Andreas Külzer : Tabula Imperii Byzantini , Vol. 12: Eastern Thrace (Eurōpē) . Publishing house of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 2008, ISBN 978-3-7001-3945-4 , p. 142.
  3. Kerstin Holm : With weapons of heaven. Holy warriors in the Icon Museum Recklinghausen . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, November 29, 2016, p. 14.
  4. Miroslav Marek: The house of Asenids . December 8, 2003.
predecessor Office successor
Ivanko Tsar of Bulgaria