There are three classes that make up the proto-Bulgarian pagan society. Boilies are a kind of higher aristocracy. After them come with dignity baggage. And finally, it is the common people. Among the boilies, later called boyars, and the Baha'is are elected rulers of the country.


Closest to the ruler stands a collective body - the council of the six boyars. Besides him, the Bulgarian ruler has several other close associates who help him in state affairs. The most important among them are the canary и the boyar tarkan (sons of the ruler), as well as ichirgu boil и the kavkhan. Of all these, the Kavhan concentrates the most power in his hands. This title is the second most important after the ruling one in the whole Bulgarian state. Today we will tell you more about the Kavhans known in Bulgarian history. We will see what is their role and what are their merits for the development of Medieval Bulgaria.


In one of his works, the great Bulgarian historian Petar Mutafchiev exclaims: "In the depths of his soul, our people have remained pagan forever." This conclusion fully applies to the administrative institution "Kavkhan", which exists throughout the history of the First Bulgarian Kingdom. There are Kavhani both before and after the Baptism. Although already Christians, the Bulgarian rulers observed the pagan orders and continued to appoint their Kavkhan.

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Experts point out that the title "kavhan" has a Turkic origin. Turquoise Avars also have their kavhans ("kaphans"). In the Old Turkic runic inscriptions there is the personal name Kapagan, who is the younger brother of the ruler Kutlug kagan. Vasil Gyuzelev makes the most adequate reading of the title "Kavkhan", according to which it literally means "closest to the ruler". There is only one Kavkhan in the Bulgarian state, just as there is only one ruler (khan). Kavkhan belongs to the Boil class. However, his title is not inherited. It is remarkable that the institution lasted until the second quarter of the XI century in the Bulgarian kingdom.


It is good to mention a few words about the Bulgarians known to us by name from the sources, who held the position of "kavhan". There are four of them: Iratais, Isbul, Dometian and Theodore.


Iratais is the first known kavhan in our history. He held the position during the time of Khan Krum (803 - 814). From The Khambarli stone inscription of Khan Krum The following becomes clear to us: "For the left side of my sarak (state / army): for Anhilo, Debelt, Sozopol, Ranuli, the chief Iratais is the boy Kavkhan, and Kordil and Grigora are subordinate strategists." Kavhan Iratais leads the left wing of the Bulgarian army. - considered more important and stronger. This kavhan plays the role of the most important military leader in the country.

Khan Krum, probably with Kavkhan Iratais

After Iratais, Kavhan Isbul came to power. He was in office during the time of two Bulgarian rulers - the Khans Malamir (831 - 836) and Presian (836 - 853). Most likely, the Kavkhan Isbul ruled on behalf of the young Malamir. This is how the position evolved and from a high military leader the Kavkhan rose to a shadow ruler. An inscription from Khan Malamir reads: "Malamir, who ruled with Kavhan Isbul, went with an army against the Greeks and ravaged the fortress of Provat and the fortress of Burdizon and the lands of the Greeks and gained all fame and came to Philippopolis and the Greeks fled."


In another inscription of the same ruler it is written: “Khan subygi Malamir, from the god archon. His old boyar, the Kavkhan Isbul, made this fountain and gave it to the archon. And the archon gave the Bulgarians food and drink many times, and gave the boyars and bagainas great gifts. May God grant the god the archon to live with the kaphana Isbul for a hundred years. "The name of Isbul is also contained in an inscription of Khan Presian, accompanied by the following information:" Persian, from the god archon of many Bulgarians, sent Isbul gave troops and ichirgu boila and a jug of colobra.


We see what great power Kavhan Isbul possessed during the Khans of Malamir and Presian. He is the co-ruler of Malamir, not only ruling with him, but building fountains and creating memorial inscriptions together with the ruler. Such a co-ruling institution exists, almost synchronously in time, among the Turks (the so-called "institute of the small kagans"), as well as among the Khazars and Magyars. Under the next ruler, Presian, it is attested that the troops together with Kavhan Isbul, together with ichirgu boila and kana kolobar.

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During the Christian period, many of the powers of the Bulgarian Kavkhans fell away. After the adoption of Christianity, they are already too far from the power of Isbul. They perform their duty as commanders until their political role becomes secondary. Byzantine sources tell of the Kavkhans Dometian, from the time of Tsar Gavril Radomir (1015), and Theodore (brother of Dometian), who was a Kavkhan under Ivan Vladislav. These two Kavhans are known in the sources only as generals.


The Kavkhans played a very important role in the medieval Bulgarian history. Anyone who is interested in the state of the state and institutions during our First Kingdom should get acquainted with what is known in the sources about the Kavkhans Iratais, Isbul, Dometian and Theodore.

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