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From 'Steppe' To Christian Empire And Back: Bulgaria Between 800 And 1100

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Chapter Summary

Despite the fact that rulers of early medieval, pre-Christian Bulgaria were undoubtedly khans ('khana'), a number of scholars, from Mark Whittow to Peter Golden, prefer to refer to Bulgaria as a khaganate. As Bulgaria was a de facto khaganate from the early ninth century onwards, substituting Bulgars for Avars was no poetical license. The title of "khagan" is therefore a hint at Bulgaria's position within the pair of peoples that, since Methodius of Pathara, defined the "barbarian empire". From an eleventh-century perspective, Bulgaria may have appeared as both a steppe empire and a Christian kingdom. But after 1018, such a perspective could only be called political nostalgia. The unknown authors of the Bulgarian apocalyptic texts skillfully manipulated several sources and combined them in such a way as to bring out the imperial idea using the theme of the succession of the four kingdoms.

Keywords: Christian Empire; khaganate; pre-Christian Bulgaria; steppe empire



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