South Slavs, Bulgaria

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The South Slavs are a subgroup of Slavic peoples who speak the South Slavic languages. They inhabit a contiguous region in the Balkan Peninsula, southern Pannonian Plain and eastern Alps, and are geographically separated from the body of West Slavic and East Slavic people by the Romanians, Hungarians, and Austrians. They include the Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs, and Slovenes. They are the main population of the Central and Southern European countries of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia


Following the collapse of Old Great Bulgaria, Asparukh's Bulgars arrived in Scythia Minor in 680 and allied with the local Slavic population to form Bulgaria. The Slavs accepted as their rulers the Bulgar Khans but retained significant autonomy. Both peoples had to protect the country from the Byzantines to the south and the Avar Khanate to the north-west. The Byzantines were aware of this new threat but were completely defeated in the Battle of Ongal and in 681 officially recognized Bulgaria as a sovereign country, known nowadays as the First Bulgarian Empire. By the mid 9th century Bulgaria expanded into much of the Slavic-populated areas of the Balkan peninsula in Thrace, Moesia, Macedonia and Dacia. Khan Omurtag (814-831) made an administrative reform which aimed the centralization of the country and deprived the Slavs of their autonomy. As a result some Slavic tribes to the north-west rebelled but they were quickly subjugated.

Following the Christianization of Bulgaria and the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets and the formation of a literary Bulgarian language, the Bulgars and Slavs finally merged into the Bulgarian people. In 927 the Byzantines also had to recognize the Imperial title of the Bulgarian rulers (in Bulgarian цар - Tsar) and the Bulgarian Patriarchate. Bulgaria became the cultural center of the Slavic Orthodox world in the 9th and 10th centuries. Following the destruction of the First Bulgarian Empire by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II in 1018, Bulgaria came under Byzantine rule in 1018. The Second Bulgarian Empire secured its independence from Byzantium in 1185, lasting until 1396 when it was conquered by the Ottomans.

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