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Czar Kaloyan
23.04.2007   www.bnr.bg
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The battle near Adrianopole

A unique Kaloyan exposition, a joint project of the Veliko Tarnovo municipal council and the Bulgarian National Bank Mint, featured the historic battle near Adrianople (today Edirne in Turkey) of 14 April 1205. On that day the troops of the Bulgarian Czar Kaloyan, who ruled the country from 1197 to 1207, dealt a major blow on the crusaders of Emperor Baldwin of Flanders. Previously the Baldwin army had the image of an invincible power. Kaloyan not only defeated it, but took Baldwin hostage. The great military victory near Adrianopole consolidated Bulgaria’s prestige in European international affairs in 13 c.

The exposition displayed the bone relics of Czar Kaloyan, as well as an anthropological replica of his bust, his gold ring seal as well as original ware from the epoch of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. All finds on display come from grave No. 39 unearthed in 1972 during archaeological digs in the Forty Martyrs Church in the old Bulgarian medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo, Central Bulgaria.

Czar Kaloyan is the only Bulgarian medieval sovereign whose relics have been found on the territory of Bulgaria. Using the bone relics, leading anthropologist Prof. Yordan Yordanov reproduced the appearance of the great leader. He was killed in his late 30s, during the siege of Salonika in 1207. His skull exhibits traces of two old wounds he suffered in combat quite some time before his demise. The Tsar was an unusually tall man – 1.9 m. “All data from the study including identification of gender, age, height, physical strength, health condition, traumas, indisputably indicate that the man buried with a 62-gram gold ring seal is Czar Kaloyan himself. The reproduction of his appearance proceeded through various stages, and it is presented here in a version with reproduced attire and hat. This reproduction shows the grandeur of that Bulgarian sovereign”, Prof. Yordanov explained.

Archaeological digs in his grave came across some garments and a gold diadem. However the most emblematic find is a massive ring seal of a high carat (23.56) weighing 61.1 g. It reads “Czar Kaloyan” and depicts a lion. After decoding a cross was also discovered on it. The cross is on the ring to suggest that the power of the tsar had been predetermined by God, said Prof. Hristo Haritonov, Director of the regional history museum in Veliko Tarnovo.

“The story that our items recount becomes very clear with the presentation of a spear’s edge. Legend has it that the spear belonged to the chieftain of the Kumani, Manaster. During a mutiny he killed Czar Kaloyan who had located his troops just outside the walls of Salonika. I should like to make two important points concerning the role of Czar Kaloyan. The first one is that upon the signature of a truce between the Bulgarians and Byzantines in 1187, Bulgaria was in need of international acknowledgement. And the Vatican was the key institution of prestige in the Middle Ages. Tsar Kaloyan engaged in communications with Pope Innocent III. Diplomatic talks continued for 4 years. As a result in November 1204 Pope Innocent III sent his envoy Cardinal Leo to Tarnovo who crowned Kaloyan as King. He was the only Bulgarian tsar crowned by the Pope. This was the way in which Bulgaria’s international image was successfully enhanced. The second important fact about Tsar Kaloyan is that 800 years ago – in 1205 – in a major battle near Adrianople, the Bulgarian sovereign debunked the myth of the invincible crusader army. He not only beat the warriors of the Fourth Crusade, but also took their Emperor Baldwin hostage. This spectacular military triumph made it sure that Bulgaria would be respected and feared in medieval Europe."

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