New Russian Chronicles
Surviving monotaxocausofilia

The small victories

Historical records at this point consist mostly of records of songs of the time, compendiums of tales of bards by some villagers and some partial data of the census thanks to churches. From that it is possible to infere fairly solidly what the historical timeline was. This is a rough outline of the records that archeologists discovered and classified over the years.

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[…]But shortly after the finishing of the pride of the King, a cloud was cast on the castle. His vassal, the count of Tyrnovo has died without heirs, and his state has gone to a Russian prince from the Princedom of Vyazma. This has always been a traditional vassal of Bulgaria, now in hands of a far-off absentist lord! The unthinkable!

But the king wasn’t taken aback, judging from the preparations for war he made. We can almost imagine him pronouncing a speech before his captains, declaring his intentions to reconquer his territory:

[…]but a true son of Argyireys Dukas, King of Bulgaria, Duke of Tyrnovo and count of Serdika is not intimidated by that,

This would not stand!

1tyrnovo

For the moment, the Bulgarian king had his hands tied. His country is tired from war and needs to recover, and he has no good reason to attack anyone. But the hate remains, boiling in the hearts of the duke and counts. This has been gleaned from the exchanges of letters between the King and one vassal, that have been preserved to these day. They write to each other increasingly violently about giving a lesson to the nearby vassals of Germany in the hope of feeling secure.

The belligerence was in the air. It simmered along until at one point, a spark lit it up.

The exact timeline of events has not been ascertained, beyond establishing that a complex series of mutual alliances where called upon, and it was structured in such a way that, because of a little turf war between two counties, the big powers were suddenly in total, irrevocable, to-the death-war. And no one was very sure of wanting to do that, but they couldn’t lower their guard because any relaxation would be a weakness in the moment of mobilization. A similar situation as that before the first world wae. The end result was that Bulgaria, a medium power at the best of times was at war with Germany the biggest, meanest imperium of Europe at the time.

2germany

At first, king Rad was probably terrified. He knew in detail about the quality and number of the German troops thanks to travellers and visits from his advisors. At this point, and this is me putting into a bit of context the archeological proof we’ve unearthed, he probably scrambled for ideas to save his kingdom. His options probably where to try to advance, conquer the first two counties and defend from the coming of the main Germanic armieson the western mountains or try to negotiate peace arguing that it made no sense to both countries to ravage each other for nothing.

We know for sure that, At this point, a war started. Excavations have ascertained the encampents and places of battle of those armies.
This is how it must have happened. Then the Russian prince whose vassal had taken Tyrnovo though inheritance had declared war on Byzancion. At that moment, king Rad must have decided to take a gamble, exposing his country to a war on two fronts, one being Germany. He declared war on the Russian princes supposing that they would be beaten up by our ally the Byzantine empire, with their enormous army. If he managed to contain Germany or negotiate, he could then spare a bit of manpower and reconquer tyrnovo, taking advantage from the fact that they were probably having their butts kicked by Byzantion. If he didn’t, in any case they would be too weak to attack us, and we could sign white peace later.

And so, Bulgaria fights a war on two fronts, agains Germany, the largest power, but separated by distance and weakish vassals near Bulgaria, and against far away Russian princes with a region that was traditionally ours, close to us and impossible to defend for them, and them far away and falling back.

A widely told anecdote of the time, as found in many books of Gold of taverns and lodges of the time, was that it was surprising that the first victim of the war was a Bulgarian general.
The marshall of the Bulgarian armies, Kalojan Vysheslavich, died of a sudden heart attack hours after the war is declared. The then Chancellor, Andronikos Bota, a Greek, was then named marshall of the armies, for lack of anyone else trained in war. Some minor and barely perfunctionary minor civil servant rose to the post of Chancellor.
3rip

The war, during the first days, went as predicted. Tyrnovo was swiftly captured, a force sent to the western, montainous edges of the country, and a force sent north east, to attack some minor German vassals at Bulgaria’s back, two weak counties on the east of Bulgaria. If these were to be taken quickly, Bulgaria would be free to concentrate on only one front of the war, the west of the country, giving the kingdom much better chances of survival. This idea, according to several frescos in the onion-shaped churches of the area, was an idea that came straight from king Rad.
These two counties where Constanza and Gallaz, inhabited by a resourceful and proud race of speakers of a latin language, in an area surrounded by Slavs, the Roumanians.

This we know because of the records taken by the then court historian, St. Kliment of Okhrid, now the name of the top university in Sofia,
sofisky
(From by KARANESHEV3112 in Panoramio)

He also records how the two small counties had a stroke of luck. First, the Byzantine government hadn’t been able to mobilize, apparently it was weaker than was apparent. Rad has enough tactical genius to understand that, even if his ally was in a desperate situation, it was probably better in the long term to defend Byzancion and help it get back on it’s feet, than letting it be conquered. And so Bulgaria had to skim both armies of the west and the north east and send them to defend Tsarigrad, then Called Constantinopla, now known as Istambul. But those forces didn’t even reach the battle lines. Germany had used it’s coffers to send spies to the region. A move so effective as to destroy a hefty number of small Bulgarian armies.
4treason
Even some vassals take the opportunity to rebel and march against their former liege. They are small, but the situation probably looked very bad to the Bulgarian court at the time..

The war takes a toll on everything. At first one, two fields in a village here and there would be left unnatended because there were no hands to work them. They were in the army.

In agriculture, in incomes, in prices, every little economic indicator that we can guess at or know, including the births and deaths recorded by local churches, show a pattern that cuold be interpreted as war taking a toll in the entire country, making it more tired, much more discontent. War fatigue if you will.

It even showed in relationships. For instance, the king and his wife had a huge argument that had them live in separate wings of the castle for a couple of days.

The king, though, spent quite a bit of his remaining wealth in trying to make amends to the queen with music and delicatessen, which he managed, and at least that front was held. That is the subject of a traditional lullaby still sung in the region that students of Bulgarian learn.
5conflictwife
At that point, a letter is received from Vyazma. Apparently they had had the same idea: a fight is pointless, no side is going to bend, and so they propose a deal. They will sign peace and cede Tyrnovo, in exchange for all the gold of the Bulgarian coffers, around 87 ducats. Like this, both rulers can come out convinced of having won. Bulgaria could now concentrate on the war with Germany and Tyrnovo had been recovered for the crown. For the Byzantine empire, the white peace probably felt like a victory.

The coffers of the kingdom were now empty, but Rad could now attack the German vassals in force. Constanza falls first. At first, Rad thinks just of just forcing the count of Constanta to swear loyalty. A quick check up of his family history, apparently, revealed that he had no heirs and his county would be inherited by the king of Sweden, and so Rad decides to take his title and award it to a loyal relative.

It was then that a letter arrived from Germany. Although it hasn’t been conserved, the letter is mentioned and discussed in German records of the time, and so we know that Germany proposed Bulgaria peace in exchange of money. The offer was ultimately accepted, in what became known as the Peace of Constanta.

After the war, Bulgaria had gained a new county, Constanta, and regained a traditional territory, Tyrnovo. The German vassals north of the Kingdom, in yellow, were war torn and of little threat, peace is signed with Germany and the alliance with Byzancion stood. One could argue the storm had passed, even if it had emptied the king’s coffers and severely tested his bonds with his vassals. 6postwar

It should be noted, though, that the Byzantines had, by this time, lost huge tracts of territory to the Seljuk turks.

The king, then turned to his realm, and began rebuilding it. Judging by the records of the local clergy and the letters of local barons, his investments were succesful.
7investment

Still, the long war and the bad finances were part of the life of the kingdom for years after the war.
8forestry

It is also noteworthy that, despite having signed a peace over Tyrnovo, Bulgaria was still techically at war with some of the Russian princes, but they were too weak and far away to mount any substantial attacks on Bulgaria.

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