Rise of Bulgaria – Events leading to the Sack of Constantinople

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New Kings and Generals animated historical animated documentary series on the Byzantine-Crusader-Bulgarian Wars, as well as the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople, fragmentation and restoration of the Eastern Roman Empire and Frankokratia, starts with an episode exploring the geopolitical situation in the region in the XII century, fall of the Komnenos dynasty and rise of the Angelos dynasty, and the restoration of the Bulgarian Tsardom under Ivan Asen and Peter. We’ll also talk about the battle of Tryavna of 1190.

Previous videos on the Crusades, Bulgaria, and the Byzantine Empire:
Varangians – Elite Bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors –
Siege of Damascus 634 – Arab – Byzantine Wars –
Byzantine Empire Strikes Back – Battle of Nikiou 646 –
Siege of Constantinople 717-718 – Arab-Byzantine Wars –
Pliska 811 – Byzantine – Bulgarian Wars – Pliska 811 – Byzantine – Bulgarian Wars
Versinikia 813 – Byzantine – Bulgarian Wars –
Third Crusade 1189-1192: From Hattin to Jaffa –
Basil II – Reformer, Restorer, Bulgarslayer –
Creation of the Medieval Roman Army –
Strategikon – Army Manual of the Eastern Roman Empire –
Medieval Battles –

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The video was made by Martin Stamatov, while the script was researched and written by Georgi Kolev. This video was narrated by Officially Devin ( The art was created by Nergiz Isaeva. Machinimas by MalayArcher on Total War: Attila engine.

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Production Music courtesy of Epidemic Sound:

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Comment (45)

  1. Most often repeating comment: ”Theodore-Peter and Ioan-Asen brothers were not vlachs…” – some can't accept history 🙂 There are hundreds of contemporary documents naming them ”vlachs” or ”blachs” or ”blaci”. Also, the land they first freed – in the Paristrion Byzantine province – was named in several sources ”Vlachia”. While nothing is certain in remote history – we can state that – most probable – the two were Vlachs (as correctly stated in the movie – congrats for the authors which took the time to make a thorough research, sometimes against the recent taboos imposed by the officially admitted history).
    According some authors, the Vlachs were essential in starting the rebelion, in the fighting; while the Bulgarian were essential in creating a state – as they had a recent tradition of running a state (while Vlachs had none).
    Best wishes!

  2. More Serbian history please! Their rise during Stefan Dusan and fall under Ottomans and their role in Janitars army were crutial for Balkans dinamics.

  3. Ah, the Eastern Roman empire royally careening out of control from what initially seemed like a relatively minor hurdle. Not like that hasn't happened before.

  4. all this because of Maria of Antioch. what a debacle…and it was just the beginning. i thought emperors in the roman empire were supposed to be capable leaders, not just picked from the streets.and while he was pretty bad, Isaac II Angelos was not the worst yet :)).

  5. This is so complicated. Remind me of th Alphabet Soup wars that have been taking place in Africa since decolonization.

  6. So the third crusade almost became the fourth crusade, interesting, what if Frederick agreed, would the Holy Roman Empire just annex the Roman empire

  7. As a Bulgarian and a history student we can for sure say that the wrongly-dubbed 'Byzantine' empire (while they called themselves 'romei'') turned into a perversion post-1000. Blindings, killings, poisonings, constant civil and feudal wars, savagery towards others and its own people persisted. In the '"West'''s eyes toda- the ''Byzantine'' were carries of some divine culture and civilization and they stopped the conquest of Europe. While it was their greed, in-fighting and using of mercenaries that lead the Seljuks into Europe and divided the Church into two.
    Hope this videos and others similar to it – would ''open'' some eyes on the true nature of the middle- to late- ''Byzantine'' empire.

  8. Not Bulgaria bul Vlachia; the bulgars, cumans, serbs, albanians, macedonians, greeks & others were minorities in Vlach Tsarate.

  9. There’s a weird pseudo-historical theory called ‘the New Chronology’ where they allege all history before 1600 AD is falsified and that, among other things, Andronikos Komenos was the historical Jesus Christ.

  10. Seems like the entire Byzantine history is their armies being ambushed in narrow mountain passes. Well that and their emperors blinding, imprisoning and killing each other.

  11. ''Oddly'' enough – mountain ambushes and skirmish tactics were the staple of the Thracian tribes. (oddly being ironic obviously, because the Thracians were the 3rd state-building peoples of the Bulgarian state. Even Britannica says so)

  12. My hometown is Tryavna. about 2 km from the city is the place where the battle took place and there is a large statue in honor of the battle. Also in the center of the city is the church built by Tsar Assen in honor of the victory over Byzantium in 1190 and to this day is a functioning church and can anyone who wants to come in and light a candle!

  13. There was a decisive and dangerous fact influencing the Eastern Roman mentality: the end of Roman-oriented mindset and the rise of a Pan-hellenic pride (so the other ethnias were racially despised). This fragmented the old unity of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire forever, the imperial court plottings, along those of the Byzantine nobility, plus the envy and animosity of Western and Eastern enemies of the ancient empire sealed its fate…

  14. The ending was so hilarious I was dying from laughter 🤣 Bulgaria was such a big pain the arse for Byzantium and yet they couldn't pull it out no matter how hard they tried 😂

  15. In the meantime the rest of the world referred to the “Byzantine Empire” as Imperium Greacorum which translates to the “empire of the Greeks” a term used both within and outside of the Byzantine lands since at least the 8th Century. To further emphasize this, I will point to a few examples taken from actual primary sources.

    Latin Bishop Liutprand of Cremona's summary of Constantinople from his AD 968 visit on behalf of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. Liutprand consistently uses the term "Greeks" when referring to the inhabitants of the Byzantine Empire. This is especially apparent in Liutprand's glaring comparisons of the Holy Roman Emperor (Otto) and the Byzantine Emperor (Nikephoros):

    "The king of the Greeks wears long hair, a tunic, long sleeves, a hood; is lying, crafty, without pity, sly as a fox, proud, falsely humble, miserly, and greedy; lives on garlic, onions, and leeks, and drinks bath-water. The king of the Franks, on the contrary, is beautifully shorn ; wears a garment not at all like a woman's garment, and a hat; is truthful, without guile, merciful enough when it is right, severe when it is necessary, always truly humble, never miserly; does not live on garlic, onions and leeks so as to spare animals and, by not eating them, but selling them, to heap money together."

    and furthermore:

    "there came-an evil augury for me-envoys of the apostolic and universal pope John, through whom he asked Nikephoros, 'the emperor of the Greeks' to close an alliance and firm friendship with his beloved and spiritual son Otto august emperor of the Romans."

  16. Being a Byzantine emperor must have sucked… generals, brothers, friend always trying to usurp. I wonder why compared to Western Europe, eastern rome seem to give less emphasis on the rightful ruler?

  17. Asparukh was followed by 30,000 to 50,000 Bulgars.[2][3][4] He reached the Danube and while the Byzantine capital Constantinople was besieged by Muawiyah I, Caliph of the Arabs (674–678), he and his people settled in the Danube delta, probably on the now-disappeared Peuce Island. After the Arab siege of Constantinople ended, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV marched against the Bulgars and their Slav allies in 680 and forced his opponents to seek shelter in a fortified encampment. Compelled to abandon the leadership of his army in order to seek medical treatment for his ailments in Anchialo (today's Pomorie), Constantine IV inadvertently demoralized his troops, who gave in to rumours that their emperor had fled. With segments of the Byzantine army starting to desert, the Bulgars and their allies broke through the blockade and routed their enemy at the Battle of Ongala in 680. Asparuh then swiftly moved from the Danubian delta down to the Balkan range.

  18. The Byzantines were centred around Constantinople which was very strategic as a Euro-Asian link. That is why the Turks had an eye on it. The Byzantines had a great fleet and used Greek fire in their warships. Great battles like Pliska were a setback to their manpower. It was sacked and plundered a number of times, from the times of the Crusaders till 1453. It later became Istanbul which is in present day Turkey. The Byzantine Empire at its zenith would have included modern Turkey, Greece, some parts of Bulgaria etc.

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