Siege of Bilär

The siege of Bilär was a battle for the capital city of the Volga Bulgaria between the Volga Bulgars and the Mongols. It took place in autumn 1236 and lasted for 45 days. It ended with the total destruction of Bilär and the massacre of its population, estimated several dozen thousands.

Siege of Bilär
Part of Mongol invasion of Volga Bulgaria
Result Decisive Mongol victory; the fall of Volga Bulgaria
Volga Bulgaria Mongol Empire
Commanders and leaders
Mir-Ghazi Batu Khan
10,000-50,0001 100,000-150,0002
Casualties and losses
Entire army and population Few
1 Friar Julian
2 only Batu's horde

After the battle of Samara Bend the Bolghars renovated all fortification of Bilär, the city was encircled with the third 11-kilometre-long wall of stone and wood. However, after the Mongols besieged the city, it withstood the siege only for 45 days.

By the material, provided by archaeological excavations the city was burnt, the unburied remains of its population could be found all over Bilär. The excavations prove the Kazan Tatar legends and the Russian chronicles, which wrote that the Mongols:

…взяша славный Великий город Болгарьский и избиша оружием от старца и до унаго и до сущаго младенца, и взяша товара множества, а город пожгоша огнем, и всю землю их плениша.

…took the glorious Great city of Bolghar and massacred everybody, from monks to babies, and took many goods and set a fire to city and captivated their land.

Then Mongols destroyed many Bulgarian cities, but the north of the country remained intact, so many survivors resettled to the North and to the West from the Bulgarian mainland. The country was incorporated to the Ulus Jochi, but the resistance lasted for forty years.

Some years after the fall of Bilär, Bolghars tried to revive the Great City, but this attempt had no result.


  • (in Russian) История Татарстана, Казань, "ТаРИХ", 2001.
  • (in Russian) История Татарской АССР, Казань, Татарское книжное издательство, 1980
  • "Bilär/Биләр". Tatar Encyclopaedia (in Tatar). Kazan: The Republic of Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Institution of the Tatar Encyclopaedia. 2002.