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Bulgaria marks 1006 years since death of Tsar Samuel

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October 6, 2020 is the 1006th anniversary of the death of Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria, whose persistent struggle against Byzantine Emperor Basil II did not allow the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantine rule until the end of his reign.

Samuel ruled Bulgaria with his three brothers from 971 and after their deaths became sole ruler of Bulgaria from 997 to October 6, 1014, when he died, most likely of a heart attack after seeing his blinded soldiers after the battle near the village of Klyuch.

After several unsuccessful attacks, the Byzantine emperor was forced to send two detachments to bypass the fortress across the mountain and attack the Bulgarian soldiers from behind. The surprise assault turned a large part of the Bulgarian soldiers into captives, whom the Byzantine emperor ordered to be blinded.

After the death of Samuel, Bulgaria failed to oppose military pressure from the Byzantine Empire and in 1018 the end of the First Bulgarian Kingdom came.

The personality and rule of Tsar Samuel are occasion for heated discussions between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, as part of the historical disputes between the two countries. However, the decision of the Bulgarian-North Macedonian Historical Commission for Tsar Samuel to be honored by both countries has not put an end to the commission’s work. More questions remain unanswered and they are of crucial importance when it comes to the question if the EU membership agreement of Bulgaria’s western neighbor would be ratified by the Bulgarian Parliament.

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