List of Bulgarian monarchs

The monarchs of Bulgaria ruled the country during three periods of Bulgaria's history as an independent country: from the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 to the Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria in 1018; from the Uprising of Asen and Peter that established the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1185 to the annexation of the rump Bulgarian state into the Ottoman Empire in 1396; and from the re-establishment of an independent Principality of Bulgaria in 1878 to the abolition of monarchy in a referendum[1] held on 15 September 1946.

Monarch of Bulgaria
Монарх на България
Standard Tsar of Bulgaria 2.svg
Standard of the Tsar of Bulgaria
2017-07-04-MMPF-WP-IMG 7576.jpg
Simeon II
StyleHis Majesty
First monarchAsparukh (as Khan)
Last monarchSimeon II (as Tsar)
Abolition15 September 1946
ResidenceRoyal Palace
Pretender(s)Simeon II

This list does not include the mythical Bulgar rulers and the rulers of Old Great Bulgaria listed in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian rulers, as well as unsuccessful claimants to the throne who are not generally listed among the Bulgarian monarchs, neither rulers of Volga Bulgaria, or other famous Bulgarian rulers as Kuber or Alcek.

Early Bulgarian rulers possibly used the title Kanasubigi (possibly related to Knyaz, Khan) before the 7th century and until the 9th century, possibly read as Kanas U Bigi or Kanas Ubigi, was a title of the early rulers. The title khan for early Bulgar rulers is an assumed one, as only the form kanasubigi or "kanasybigi"[2] is attested in stone inscriptions. Among the proposed translations for the phrase kanasubigi is, more recently, "(ruler) from God", from the Indo-European *su- and baga-, i.e. *su-baga (an equivalent of the Greek phrase ὁ ἐκ Θεοῦ ἄρχων, ho ek Theou archon, which is common in Bulgar inscriptions).[3] This titulature presumably persisted until the Bulgars adopted Christianity.[4] Some Bulgar inscriptions written in Greek and later in Slavonic refer to the Bulgarian ruler respectively with the Greek title archon or the Slavic title Knyaz.[5]

The title Knyaz (Prince) was used for a brief period by Boris I of Bulgaria (and his two successors) after the Christianization of Bulgaria in 864. In Nominalia of the Bulgarian rulers the title Knyaz was also used.

The title tsar (emperor), the Bulgarian form of the Latin Caesar, was first adopted and used in Bulgaria by Simeon I the Great (son of Knyaz Boris I), following a decisive victory over the Byzantine Empire in 913. It was also used by all of Simeon I's successors until the fall of Bulgaria under Ottoman rule in 1396. After Bulgaria's liberation from the Ottomans in 1878, its first monarch Alexander I adopted the title knyaz, or prince. However, when de jure independence was proclaimed under his successor Ferdinand in 1908, the title was elevated to the customary tsar once more, but this time in the sense of king. The use of tsar continued under Ferdinand and later under his heirs Boris III and Simeon II until the abolition of monarchy in 1946. While the title tsar is translated as "emperor" in the cases of the First and Second Bulgarian Empires, it is translated as "king" in case of the Third Bulgarian State in the 20th century.

In the few surviving medieval Bulgarian royal charters, the monarchs of Bulgaria styled themselves as "In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians" or similar variations, sometimes including “... and Romans, Greeks, or Vlachs".

The early Bulgarian ruler Kubrat (632-665), as important allied foreign ruler, was granted the title of Patrikios (Patrician) by the Eastern Roman Emperor. His ring A was inscribed in Greek XOBPATOY and ring C was inscribed XOBPATOY ПATPIKIOY,[6] indicating the dignity of Patrikios (Patrician) that he had achieved in the Byzantine world.[7]

In 705 the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian II gave the title caesar to the Bulgarian ruler Tervel, the first foreigner to receive this title.[8][9]

The Pope Innocent III dispatched Cardinal Leo Brancaleoni to Bulgaria in early 1204 to crown Kaloyan with the title of King of the Bulgarians and Vlachs.[10][11]


First Bulgarian Empire (681–1018)Edit

Image Title Name Reign Notes/Death
Dulo dynasty (681–753)
  Kanasubigi (Kanas) [a][12][13] This titulature presumably persisted until the Bulgars adopted Christianity.[14][15] Asparukh 681–701 (20 Years) Son of Kubrat, ruler of Old Great Bulgaria. After his victory at the Battle of Ongal in 680 he formed the country of Bulgaria. Died in 701 in battle against the Khazars.[16]
  Kanasubigi Tervel 701–721 (20 Years) Received the Byzantine title Caesar in 705 for helping Justinian II recover his throne.[17][18] Tervel aided the Byzantines during the Second Arab Siege of Constantinople. Died in 721.[19]
Kanasubigi Kormesiy 721–738 (17 Years) Unknown date of death.[20]
Kanasubigi Sevar 738–753 (15 Years) Last ruler of the Dulo dynasty. Died a natural death or was dethroned in 753.[21]
Vokil clan (753–762)
Kanasubigi Kormisosh 753–756 (3 Years) Beginning of a period of internal instability. Deposed in 756.[22]
Kanasubigi Vinekh 756–762 (6 Years) Murdered in 762.[23]
Ugain clan (762–765)
Kanasubigi Telets 762–765 (3 Years) Murdered in 765.[24]
Vokil clan (766)
Kanasubigi Sabin 765–766 (1 Year) Might have been of Slavic origin. Deposed by a People's Council in 766, fled to the Byzantine Empire.[25]
Kanasubigi Umor 766 (40 Days) Ruled for only 40 days. Deposed in 766 and fled to the Byzantine Empire.[26]
Non-dynastic (766–768)
Kanasubigi Toktu 766–767 (1 Year) Killed in the forests of the Danube in 767 by the opposition.[27] (Dulo dynasty)
Kanasubigi Pagan 767–768 (1 Year) Murdered by his servants in the region of Varna.[28]
Krum/Dulo dynasty (768–997)[b]
  Kanasubigi Telerig 768–777 (9 Years) Son of Tervel. Fled to Constantinople in 777 and baptised.[29]
Kanasubigi Kardam 777–803 (26 Years) End of the internal crisis. Stabilization and consolidation of the country. Unknown date of death.[30]
  Kanasubigi Krum 803–814 (11 Years) Famous for the Battle of Pliska, in which the Byzantine emperor Nikephoros I perished. Krum is also famous for introducing the first written laws into Bulgaria. Died a natural death (very likely from a stroke) on 13 April 814. There are several theories regarding his death.[31]
Ruler of the many Bulgarians[33]
Omurtag 814–831

(17 Years)

Known for his construction policy, administrative reform and the persecution of Christians.[34]
Kanasubigi Malamir 831–836 (5 Years) Third and youngest son of Omurtag. Died of natural causes at an early age.[35]
Kanasubigi Presian I 836–852 (16 Years) Almost the whole of Macedonia was incorporated into Bulgaria.[36]
  Kanasubigi and Knyaz (Prince) after 864[c] Boris I Michael I[d] 852–883

(31 Years)

Christianization of Bulgaria; adoption of Old Bulgarian as the official language of the State and the Church; recognition of an autocephalous Bulgarian Church.[37] Abdicated in 883, died on 2 May 902, aged around 80.[38] Proclaimed a Saint.
Knyaz Vladimir 883–893 (10 Years) Eldest son of Boris I. Tried to restore Tengriism. Deposed and blinded by his father in 893.[39]
  Knyaz and Tsar (Emperor) after 913/924/927
Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Romans (claimed)[40]
Emperor of the Bulgarians (recognized)[41]
Simeon I 893–927 (34 Years) Third son of Boris I, raised to become a cleric but enthroned during the Council of Preslav. Bulgaria reached its apogee and greatest territorial extent. Golden age of Bulgarian culture. The title "tsar" (and its Byzantine Greek equivalent basileus) was actually adopted and used for the first time by Simeon the Great I, following a makeshift imperial coronation performed by the Patriarch of Constantinople in 913. After an attempt by the Byzantine Empire to revoke this major diplomatic concession and a decade of intensive warfare, the imperial title of the Bulgarian ruler was recognized by the Byzantine government in 924 and again during the reign of Peter I of Bulgaria (son of Simeon) at the formal conclusion of peace in 927. Simeón dies of a heart attack on 27 May 927, aged 63.[42]
Emperor of the Bulgarians[43]
Petar I 927–969 (42 Years) Second son of Simeon I. His 42-year rule was the longest in Bulgarian history. Abdicated in 969 and became a monk. Died on 30 January 970.[44] Proclaimed a Saint.
  Emperor Boris II 969–971 (2 Years) Eldest son of Petar I. Dethroned by the Byzantines in 971. Accidentally killed by the Bulgarian border guards in 977 when he tried to return to the country.[45]
  Emperor Roman 977–991 (997) (14/20 Years) Second son of Petar I. Castrated by the Byzantines but escaped to Bulgaria in 977. Captured in battle by the Byzantines in 991 and died in prison in Constantinople in 997.[46]
Cometopuli dynasty (997–1018)
Emperor of the Bulgarians[47]
Samuel 997–1014 (17 Years) Co-ruler and general under Roman between 976 and 997. Officially proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria in 997. Died of a heart attack on 6 October 1014, aged 69–70.[48]
  Emperor Gavril Radomir 1014–1015 (9 Months) Eldest son of Samuel, crowned on 15 October 1014. Murdered by his cousin Ivan Vladislav in August 1015.[49]
  Emperor Ivan Vladislav 1015–1018 (2 Years) Son of Aron and nephew of Samuel. Killed in the siege of Drach.[50] His death brought the end of the First Bulgarian Empire, which was annexed by the Byzantine Empire.

Proclaimed monarchs during Byzantine rule (1040–1185)Edit

Image Title Name Reign Notes/Death
  Emperor Peter Delyan (also known as Peter II) 1040–1041 (1 Year) Claimed to be Gavril Radomir's son. Led an unsuccessful uprising against Byzantine rule.[51]
  Emperor Constantine Bodin (also known as Peter III) 1072 (<1 Year) A descendant of Samuel of Bulgaria, he was proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria under the name Peter during the Uprising of Georgi Voyteh.[52] Between 1081 and 1101, he ruled as King of Duklja.

Second Bulgarian Empire (1185–1396)Edit

Image Title Name Reign Notes/Death
Asen dynasty
  Emperor Peter II (also known as Peter IV) 1185–1197 (12 Years) Originally named Theodor, he was proclaimed Emperor of Bulgaria as Peter at the start of the anti-Byzantine uprising in 1185. Ruled together with his younger brother Asen. After Asen's death in 1196, he appointed the youngest of the brothers, Kaloyan, as his co-ruler. Murdered in 1197.[53]
  Emperor Ivan Asen I 1187/1188–1196 (8/9 Years) Younger brother of Peter II. A successful general, he ruled until 1196 when he was murdered by his cousin Ivanko.[54]
King of the Bulgarians and Vlachs
Kaloyan 1196–1207 (11 Years) Younger brother of Peter II and Ivan Asen I. Peter made him co-ruler in 1196. To obtain an imperial title from the Holy See, Kaloyan entered into correspondence with Pope Innocent III, offering to acknowledge papal primacy. His expansionist policy brought him into conflict with the Byzantine Empire, Hungary, and Serbia. A papal legate crowned him "king of the Bulgarians and Vlachs" on 8 November 1204, but he continued to style himself as tsar (emperor). Died during the siege of Salonica in 1207.[55]
  Emperor Boril 1207–1218 (11 Years) Son of a sister of Kaloyan. Deposed and blinded in 1218.[56]
Emperor of the Bulgarians and the Greeks[57]
Ivan Asen II 1218–1241 (23 Years) Eldest son of Ivan Asen I. The Second Bulgarian Empire reached its apogee. Died a natural death on 24 June 1241, aged 46–47.[58]
Emperor Kaliman Asen I 1241–1246 (5 Years) Son of Ivan Asen II. Born in 1234, he died, possibly after being poisoned, in 1246, aged 12.[59]
  Emperor Michael II Asen 1246–1256 (10 Years) Son of Ivan Asen II. Murdered by his cousin Kaliman.[60]
Emperor Kaliman Asen II 1256 (<1 Year) Murdered in 1256.[61]
Emperor Mitso Asen 1256–1257 (1 Year) Son-in-law of Ivan Asen II. Fled to the Nicaean Empire in 1261.[62]
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of the Bulgarians[63]
Constantine I 1257–1277 (20 Years) Bolyar of Skopie. Killed in battle in 1277 by the peasant leader Ivaylo.[64]
Emperor Ivan Asen III 1279–1280 (1 Year) Eldest son of Mitso Asen. Fled to Constantinople with the treasury.[65]
Emperor Ivaylo 1277–1280 (3 Years) Leader of a major peasant uprising. Fled to the Golden Horde but was murdered by the Mongol Khan Nogai.[66]
Terter dynasty (1280–1292)
Emperor George Terter I 1280–1292 (12 Years) Bolyar of Cherven. Fled to the Byzantine Empire in 1292, died in Bulgaria in 1308–1309.[67]
Smilets dynasty (1292–1299)
Emperor Smilets 1292–1298 (6 Years) Bolyar of Kopsis. Murdered or died of natural causes in 1298.[68]
Emperor Ivan II 1298-1299 (1 Year) Son of Smilets. Inherited title as a child. Disposed by Chaka. Lived rest of life in exile in Byzantium and died a monk before 1330.
Non-dynastic (1299–1300)
Emperor Chaka 1299–1300 (1 Year) Son of the Mongol Nogai Khan. Deposed and strangled in prison in 1300.[69]
Terter dynasty (1300–1322)
  Emperor Theodore Svetoslav 1300–1321 (21 Years) Son of George Terter I. Spent his youth as a hostage in the Golden Horde. His rule marked a revival of Bulgaria. Died a natural death in late 1321, aged 50–55.[70]
Emperor George Terter II 1321–1322 (1 Year) Son of Theodore Svetoslav. Died of a natural death in late 1322.[71]
Shishman dynasty (1323–1396)
  Emperor Michael III Shishman 1323–1330 (7 Years) Bolyar of Vidin. Mortally wounded in the battle of Velbazhd on 28 July 1330 against the Serbs.[72]
  Emperor Ivan Stephen 1330–1331

(8 Months)

Son of Michael III Shishman. Deposed in March 1331 and fled to Serbia.[73] Might have died in 1373.
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians[74] and Greeks[75]
Ivan Alexander 1331–1371 (39 Years) Bolyar of Lovech. Descended from the Asen, Terter and Shishman dynasties. Second Golden Age of Bulgarian culture. Following his death of natural causes on 17 February 1371, Bulgaria was divided among his sons.[72]
In Christ the Lord Faithful Emperor and Autocrat of all Bulgarians and Greeks[76]
Ivan Shishman 1371–1395 (24 Years) Fourth son of Ivan Alexander.
Emperor of the Bulgarians[77]
Ivan Sratsimir 1356–1396

(40 Years)

Third son of Ivan Alexander. Ruled in Vidin.
Emperor of Bulgaria Constantine II 1396–1422 (26 Years) Son of Ivan Sratsimir (Ivan Sracimir) of Bulgaria by Anna, daughter of prince Nicolae Alexandru of Wallachia. He was crowned co-emperor by his father in or before 1395.
conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire.

Principality of Bulgaria and Kingdom of Bulgaria (1878–1946)Edit

Image Title Name Reign Notes/Death
House of Battenberg
  Prince Alexander I 29 April 1879 – 7 September 1886 (7 Years,131 Days) Abdicated due to Russian pressure. Died on 23 October 1893 in Graz.
House of Oldenburg
  Prince Valdemar of Denmark 29 October 1886 – 11 November 1886 (12 Days) Elected prince by 3rd Grand National Assembly, but refuses the throne.
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
  Prince/King Ferdinand I 7 July 1887 – 3 October 1918 (31 Years,87 Days) Became King after the official proclamation of independence on 22 September 1908. Abdicated on 3 October 1918 after Bulgaria's defeat in World War I. Died on 10 September 1948 in Coburg.
  King Boris III 3 October 1918 – 28 August 1943 (24 Years,330 Days) Died on 28 August 1943.
  King Simeon II 28 August 1943 – 15 September 1946 (3 Years,17 Days) Became King of Bulgaria at age 6, following the death of his father, Boris III. Monarchy abolished by the Communists. He served as the 48th Prime Minister of Bulgaria between 24 July 2001 and 17 August 2005. Still living as of 2022.

See alsoEdit


^ a: In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans the title of Asparukh is the Slavic Knyaz (Prince). The title Khan is not used in the manuscript.[78]
^ b: There are sources which suggest that Krum descended from those Bulgars who settled in Pannonia and lived under the rule of the Avars. Some historians assume that Krum was from the Dulo dynasty and that with his ascension the old ruling dynasty was restored.[79][80] According to Zlatarski, Krum was the founder of a new dynasty.[81]
^ c: In the Ballshi Inscription, the title of Boris I is Archon of Bulgaria. The Byzantine title archon is usually translated with ruler. Contemporary Bulgarian sources used the title Knyaz, while during the Second Bulgarian Empire he was referred to as Tsar.[82]
^ d: When Boris I was baptised he received the Christian name Michael, after his godfather, the Byzantine emperor Michael III. He is often called by the historians Boris-Michael.[83] For this reason there is no explicit Michael I, while there are both Boris II and Michael II.
^ e: During the negotiations with Pope Innocent III, Kaloyan insisted that the Pope should recognize him as Imperator, the title equal to Tsar and based his claims on the imperial recognition of the monarchs of the First Bulgarian Empire. He was only crowned as Rex (King) but in his later correspondence with Innocent III, Kaloyan sent him his gratitude for his recognition as Imperator and used that title.[84]


  1. ^ "1946: Third Bulgarian Kingdom ends with a referendum". BNR Radio Bulgaria. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  2. ^ Florin Curta, Roman Kovalev, “The” Other Europe in the Middle Ages: Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans ; [papers ... Presented in the Three Special Sessions at the 40th and 42nd Editions of the International Congress on Medieval Studies Held at Kalamazzo in 2005 and 2007], BRILL, 2008, p. 363, ISBN 9789004163898
  3. ^ "Digital object identifier - Early Medieval Europe, vol. 10, issue 1, pp. 1-19, March 2001 (Article Abstract)". doi:10.1111/1468-0254.00077. S2CID 154863640. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Sedlar, Jean W,. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, p. 46
  5. ^ Manassias Chronicle, Vatican transcription, p. 145, see Battle of Pliska
  6. ^ Kardaras 2018, pp. 99–100.
  7. ^ Vachkova 2008, p. 343.
  8. ^ Андреев, Й. Българските ханове и царе (VII-XIV в.). София, 1987
  9. ^ Хан Тервел - тема за кандидат студенти Archived 1 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Sweeney 1973, pp. 323–324.
  11. ^ Madgearu 2016, p. 133.
  12. ^ Florin Curta, Roman Kovalev, “The” Other Europe in the Middle Ages: Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans ; [papers ... Presented in the Three Special Sessions at the 40th and 42nd Editions of the International Congress on Medieval Studies Held at Kalamazzo in 2005 and 2007], BRILL, 2008, p. 363, ISBN 9789004163898
  13. ^ "Digital object identifier - Early Medieval Europe, vol. 10, issue 1, pp. 1-19, March 2001 (Article Abstract)". doi:10.1111/1468-0254.00077. S2CID 154863640. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Sedlar, Jean W,. East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, p. 46
  15. ^ Manassias Chronicle, Vatican transcription, p. 145, see Battle of Pliska
  16. ^ Andreev, p. 19
  17. ^ Andreev, p. 23
  18. ^ Whittow, p. 273
  19. ^ Andreev, p. 27
  20. ^ Andreev, p. 29
  21. ^ Andreev, p. 30
  22. ^ Andreev, p. 32
  23. ^ Andreev, p. 33
  24. ^ Andreev, p. 35
  25. ^ Andreev, p. 36
  26. ^ Andreev, p. 38
  27. ^ Andreev, p. 39
  28. ^ Andreev, p. 40
  29. ^ Andreev, p. 42
  30. ^ Andreev, p. 44
  31. ^ Andreev, pp. 53–54
  32. ^ "Tarnovo Inscription of Khan Omurtag" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  33. ^ Andreev, p. 62
  34. ^ Andreev, pp. 61–62
  35. ^ Andreev, pp. 67–68
  36. ^ Andreev, p. 70
  37. ^ Whittow, p. 284
  38. ^ Andreev, pp. 85–86
  39. ^ Andreev, p. 89
  40. ^ Stephenson, p. 23
  41. ^ Stephenson, p. 22
  42. ^ Andreev, pp. 103–104
  43. ^ Whittow, p. 292
  44. ^ Andreev, p. 112
  45. ^ Andreev, p. 118
  46. ^ Andreev, pp. 121–122
  47. ^ Whittow, p. 297
  48. ^ Andreev, p. 127
  49. ^ Andreev, pp. 129–130
  50. ^ Andreev, p. 133
  51. ^ Andreev, p. 136
  52. ^ Andreev, pp. 142–143
  53. ^ Andreev, pp. 146–147
  54. ^ Andreev, pp. 157–158
  55. ^ Andreev, p. 173
  56. ^ Andreev, p. 184
  57. ^ Laskaris, p. 5
  58. ^ Andreev, p. 193
  59. ^ Andreev, p. 197
  60. ^ Andreev, p. 205
  61. ^ Andreev, p. 208
  62. ^ Andreev, p. 211
  63. ^ Ivanov, pp. 578–579
  64. ^ Andreev, p. 229
  65. ^ Andreev, p. 233
  66. ^ Andreev, p. 136
  67. ^ Andreev, p. 239
  68. ^ Andreev, p. 240
  69. ^ Andreev, p. 244
  70. ^ Andreev, p. 251
  71. ^ Andreev, p. 254
  72. ^ a b Andreev, p. 263
  73. ^ Andreev, p. 267
  74. ^ Ivanov, p. 584
  75. ^ Ivanov, pp. 590–591
  76. ^ Ivanov, pp. 602–608
  77. ^ Miletich, L. "Daco-Romanians and their Slavic Literacy. Part II" (in Bulgarian). p. 47. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  78. ^ "Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans" (in Bulgarian). Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  79. ^ Andreev, p. 45
  80. ^ Runciman, p. 51
  81. ^ Zlatarski, pp. 321–322
  82. ^ Bakalov, pp. 144, 146
  83. ^ Andreev, pp. 71, 75
  84. ^ Andreev, pp. 163–165


External linksEdit