Byzantine Empire Macedonian dynasty

Of Magyars, Bulgars, and Pechenegs
©Angus McBride
896 Jan 1

Of Magyars, Bulgars, and Pechenegs

Pivdennyi Buh River, Ukraine

In 894 a war broke out between Bulgaria and Byzantium after the decision of Emperor Leo VI the Wise, to implement a request of his father-in-law, basileopater Stylianos Zaoutzes, to move the center of the Balkan trade activities from Constantinople to Thessaloniki, turned out inducing higher tariffs on Bulgarian trade. So Bulgaria's Tsar Simeon I defeats the Byzantines near Adrianople, before the year is over. But then the Byzantines turn to their standard method for handling such situations: they bribe a third party to assist, and on this case, they hire the Magyars of the Etelköz State to attack Danube Bulgaria from the northeast. The Magyars cross the Danube in 895, and are victorious over the Bulgars twice. So Simeon withdraws to Durostorum, which he successfully defends, while during 896 he finds some assistance for his side, persuading the usually Byzantine-friendly Pechenegs to help him out. Then, while the Pechenegs began to combat the Magyars on their eastern frontier, Simeon and his father Boris I, the former tsar who left his monastery retreat to assist his heir in the occasion, gather an enormous army and march to the north to defend their empire.

The result was a great Bulgarian victory which forced the Magyars of the Etelköz realm to abandon the steppes of southern Ukraine. The victory allowed Simeon to lead his troops to the south where he decisively defeated the Byzantines in the battle of Boulgarophygon.