Under Ivan Assen II (1218 - 1241), the Bulgarian state expanded, for the last time in history, to the shores of three seas - Black, White and Adriatic. The former largest borders of Bulgaria are with the kings Simeon (893 - 927) and Samuel (997 - 1014) from the time of The first Bulgarian kingdom. Ivan Assen II is a justly exalted ruler, because against the backdrop of persistent political trouble from the time of The Second Bulgarian KingdomIn these extremely troubled times, he succeeded not only in strengthening his power, but in raising the prestige of the Bulgarian ruler to the heights which he had never attained, never before. If we look for the most characteristic thing about him, with which he should be remembered, of course, this is his skillful diplomatic policy, and in particular "Joan Assen's Weddings" (under the title of the movie of the same name by Willie Tsankov, with Apostle Karamatev and Costa Tsonev in the lead roles).

When we read the story of Ivan / John Assen II, unlike the history of dozens of other medieval Bulgarian rulers, we can more clearly perceive the pulse of personality in it, we can feel what kind of person is hiding behind the dry facts and the innumerable names and events . King Ivan Assen II is a man of honor, of the word given.

Great is the difference between him and the other two great rulers who conquered large territories for the Bulgarian state - Simeon and Samuel. Simeon and Samuel's plans and actions are under the sign of ambition. Guided by their offended honor, the two can be said to be acting too emotionally, even gambling, putting the Bulgarian cause at risk over a broad time horizon. It is not surprising, therefore, that after the Golden Age of Simeon, which in foreign policy is full of military action, the Bulgarian state is exhausted to the utmost. And his successor, King Peter (927 - 969), is forced to conclude a long-standing peace treaty with Byzantium, which is a recognition of the disparity between the desires and opportunities of Simeon the Great. Recall that Simeon's big dream is to sit on the throne of the Byzantine emperors. This unfulfilled dream is also devoted to military campaigns against Byzantium.

For Samuel, things are even more tragic, because with the end of his rule the crisis that led to the fall of Byzantine rule on the Bulgarian lands came. The battle of the village of Klyuch in the 1014 is memorable, in which the captured Samuel soldiers were blinded by order of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II Bulgarians, leaving one hundred one-eyed one blind to lead them. The kind of Bulgarians who returned from the battle so strikes King Samuel that he dies shortly after.

In this line of thought we can also mention the reign of Tsar Kaloyan, whose immense hatred of the Roma is symptomatic. His cruel treatment of the Byzantines captured (buried alive) after a battle won him the nickname Romeo. Later, Greek cunning in the negotiations between the two sides aided his decision to abandon Orthodoxy at the expense of Catholicism (union with the Pope of 1204).

With Ivan Asen II, there is no such escalation in the passions: there is no complacency in revenge (Kaloyan), no painful ambition (Simeon), no brotherhood / brotherhood in the name of authority (Samuel). The politics of Ivan Assen II cannot be seen and read only through the prism of Byzantine - Bulgarian opposition. In this sense, it is much more unpredictable to opponents because it is devoid of insidiousness. And because Ivan Byssen II was absent from the proverbial "Byzantine complex" for the Bulgarian Middle Ages.
As the Byzantine historian Georgi Acropolit points out, this Bulgarian king “all admired and adored him because he did not use weapons against his own and did not tarnish himself with the killings of the Romans like the Bulgarians before him. That is why he is loved not only by the Bulgarians, but also by the Roma and other peoples. "In addition, this ruler" glorified and enlightened the Bulgarian church more than all the Bulgarian kings who were before him. "Indeed, King Ivan Assen II, deprived of" Byzantine complex, did not shrink from returning the Bulgarian church to the bosom of Orthodoxy, freeing it from the suffocating influence of the power-loving Roman popes. Moreover, on the path of diplomacy, Ivan Assen II succeeded in bringing about the erection of the Metropolitan Joachim of Tarnovo in the patriarchal order, thus restoring the Bulgarian Patriarchate again - the spiritual institution of all Bulgarians even today.

What has Ivan Assen II accomplished in maintaining Bulgarian ancestral memory throughout the centuries?

In order to commemorate his victory in the Battle of Klokotnitsa (9-March 1230), the king ordered an inscription to be carved on one of the columns of the temple "St. Forty Martyrs "in Turnovgrad, part of which reads:" ... I went out on a branch in Romania and smashed the Greek army and captive King Cyrus Theodor Komnen himself with all his boyars, and conquered all the land from Edirne to Drach ... "From this inscription they learn about the great territorial expansion that the Bulgarian kingdom acquired. More interesting in the case, which actually highlights the already mentioned feature of the Bulgarian king's character, is that, according to the testimony, just before the battle between the Bulgarians and Byzantines, Ivan Assen II ordered his soldiers to "hang the written oath" on the banner, extinguished by the Greek ruler. Thus, Ivan Assen II declares himself a man of honor, standing above intrigues and holding on to personal arrangements. And when these arrangements are violently violated, the Bulgarian king is forced to act with force to redeem justice.

Later, confronted with the temptation to become the guardian of the young Latin emperor in Constantinople, Ivan Assen II lured himself into altering his oaths of relations with the Greeks at that time, to stand on the side of the Latin people. Obtaining a sign of providence, losing his wife and one of his children after the epidemic, the Bulgarian king quickly returned to his Greek positions, although they did not bring him political dividends at the time. This is how Ivan Assen once again argues against the dishonest benefits.

For the rest of his life, Ivan Assen II remains a man of the honest word about concessions, peace and compromises. From the point of wisdom, he states that direct confrontation, "phillies" and "phobias" in foreign relations cannot and cannot do any good to his people. Instead, the ruler relies on sound domestic policies. Trade incentives through contracting with Dubrovnik merchants, known to us from the Dubrovnik diploma, the cutting of gold coins (Ivan Asen's famous "gold coins"), patronage of churches and literature - "churches and monasteries decorated with rich stones, pearls ".

With this, Ivan Assen II won the place of the last truly great king of the Bulgarians.

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