Ruler of Bulgaria
Reign 681–701
Born around 640
Died 701
Place of death Dnieper River
Predecessor Kubrat
Successor Tervel
Issue Tervel
Royal House Dulo
Father Kubrat

Asparukh (also Asparuh, Isperih or Ispor) (Bulgarian: Аспарух, Asparuh or Исперих, Isperih) was ruler of a Bulgar kingdom in the second half of the 7th century and is credited with the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 680/681. [1]

Early life

The Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans states that Asparuh belonged to the Dulo clan and reigned for 61 years. This long period cannot be accepted as accurate due to chronological constraints, and may indicate the length of Asparuh's life. According to the chronology developed by Moskov, Asparuh would have reigned 668–695. Other chronologies frequently end his reign in 700 or 701 but cannot be reconciled with the testimony of the Namelist. According to the Byzantine sources, Asparuh was a younger son of Kubrat, who had established a spacious state ("Great Bulgaria") in the steppes of modern Ukraine. Asparuh may have gained experience in politics and statesmanship during the long reign of his father, who probably died in 665 (apud Moskov). According to Djagfar Tarikhy (a work of disputed authenticity) Asparukh was made the leader of the Onogur tribe by his father. After his father's death, Asparuh would have acknowledged the rule of his older brother Bat Bayan, but the state disintegrated under Khazar attack in 668, and he and his brothers parted ways, leading their people to seek a more secure home in other lands.

Establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire

Main article: Battle of Ongal

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. Forced to abandon the leadership of his army in order to seek medical treatment for his ailments in Anchialo ( today's Pomorie), the emperor sabotaged the morale of 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 the enemy troops at the battle of Ongala in 680. Asparuh then swiftly moved from the Danubian delta down to the Balkan range.


Asparuh's victory led to the Bulgarian conquest of Moesia and the establishment of some sort of alliance between the Bulgars and the local Slavic groups (described as the Severi and Seven Slavic tribes). As Asparuh commenced to raid across the mountains into Byzantine Thrace in 681, Constantine IV decided to cut his losses and conclude a treaty, whereby the Byzantine Empire paid the Bulgars an annual tribute as protection money. These events are seen in retrospect as the establishment of the Bulgarian state and its recognition by the Byzantine Empire. In later tradition Asparuh is credited with building the major centers of Pliska and Drăstăr, as well as at least one of the Bulgarian limes walls from the Danube to the Black Sea. Recent scholarship has questioned whether it was Asparuh that established Pliska as the capital, suggesting that the original capital of Bulgaria was in the vicinity of Varna. While the multi-tribal and hegemonic character of the Bulgarian state in the first century or two after its establishment is readily apparent, Bulgarian historians have stressed the establishment of a capital and of a state tradition that could be viewed retrospectively as national. According to a late tradition, Asparuh died fighting the Khazars on the Danube. According to one theory, advanced by the Bulgarian historian Vaklinov, his grave is located near Voznesenka ("Ascension") on the Dnieper in Ukraine.[5] The 17th century Volga Bulgar compilation Ja'far Tarikh (a work of disputed authenticity) represents Atil'kese (i.e., Asparuh) as the son and successor of Kurbat (i.e., Kubrat), and as the father and predecessor of Tarvil (i.e., Tervel) and Ajjar (otherwise unknown, but possibly the first of two lost names in the Imennik).

Asparuh Peak on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Asparuh of Bulgaria.

See also



  • John V. A. Fine, The Early Medieval Balkans, Ann Arbor, 1983.
  • Mosko Moskov, Imennik na bălgarskite hanove (novo tălkuvane), Sofia 1988.
  • Jordan Andreev, Ivan Lazarov, Plamen Pavlov, Koj koj e v srednovekovna Bălgarija, Sofia 1999.
  • (primary source), Bahši Iman, Džagfar Tarihy, vol. III, Orenburg 1997.
  • (primary source), Nikephoros Patriarch of Constantinople, Short History, C. Mango, ed., Dumbarton Oaks Texts 10, 1990.
  • (primary source), The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, C. Mango and R. Scott, trans., Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Васил Н. Златарски, История на българската държава през средните векове, Част I, II изд., Наука и изкуство, София 1970, pp. 176 – 209.

External links

  • Rulers of Bulgaria - Asparuh
  • De administrando imperio
Preceded by
Bat Bayan
Khan of Bulgaria
Succeeded by
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.