Samuel of Bulgaria

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Samuel[1] (also Samuil, representing Bulgarian: Самуил, pronounced [samuˈil]) was the Emperor (Tsar) of the First Bulgarian Empire from 997 to 6 October 1014. From 980[2] to 997, he was a general under Roman I of Bulgaria, the second surviving son of Emperor Peter I of Bulgaria, and co-ruled with him, as Roman bestowed upon him the command of the army and the effective royal authority.[3] As Samuel struggled to preserve his country's independence from the Byzantine Empire, his rule was characterized by constant warfare against the Byzantines and their equally ambitious ruler Basil II.

In his early years Samuel managed to inflict several major defeats on the Byzantines and to launch offensive campaigns into their territory.[4] In the late 10th century, the Bulgarian armies conquered the Serb principality of Duklja[5] and led campaigns against the Kingdoms of Croatia and Hungary. But from 1001, he was forced mainly to defend the Empire against the superior Byzantine armies. Samuel died of a heart attack on 6 October 1014, two months after the catastrophic battle of Kleidion, and Bulgaria was fully subjugated by Basil II four years later, ending the five decades-long Byzantine–Bulgarian conflict.[6]

Samuel was considered "invincible in power and unsurpassable in strength".[7][8] Similar comments were made even in Constantinople, where John Kyriotes Geometres penned a poem offering a punning comparison between the Bulgarian Emperor and a comet which appeared in 989.[9][10]

During Samuel's reign, Bulgaria gained control of most of the Balkans (with the notable exception of Thrace) as far as southern Greece. He moved the capital from Skopje to Ohrid,[4][11] which had been the cultural and military centre of southwestern Bulgaria since Boris I's rule,[12] and made the city the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Although Samuel's reign brought the end of the First Bulgarian Empire, he is regarded as a heroic ruler in Bulgaria[13][14].

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