picture of Dimitar Gudzhenov

"Simeon, the king of Bulgaria, wrote many books, and like King David, he played on gold strings, and he loved books most of all."


Simeon the Great is the only Bulgarian ruler whom is spoken abroad with genuine reverence and undisguised admiration. He was probably born in 864, and is therefore called the "child of peace". Simeon is the third son of Boris. He is the first among all Bulgarian rulers and among the sons of Prince Boris, who was brought up entirely in the Christian tradition. He was sent to study at the best educational institution of his time - the Magnaur School (around 878), because one day he is expected to become head of the Bulgarian Church. Instead, after his brother Vladimir Rasate's attempt to return to paganism in Bulgaria, it was the "devotee of holy ascension". the troubled Simeon is summoned to sit on the throne of the Bulgarian kings.


His ascension took place in 893, and is in connection with the landmark Preslav Church (893). During the congregation, a decision is made in the Bulgarian Church to hold worship in their native language instead of Greek.


Tsar Simeon the Great is the main ideologist for Bulgaria to become the "state of the spirit" in medieval Europe. Thanks to it, our country became the first Slavic-speaking empire in history in the 10th century. A new European Christian civilization, based on the Old Bulgarian language, begins to develop in Bulgaria, which will become an inexorable rival in the centuries, but also a necessary partner of the older (Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking) civilizations. Simeon's Golden Age, consciously or not, becomes a role model for centuries to come.


Entrance to the round / golden church of Veliki Preslav.


When the Serbs recall in detail their most glorious times, during their reign of the Nemanichi dynasty (12 - 14 century), and the Russians - the successes of their Romanovs (17 - 20 century): they are practically talking about what Bulgaria has already achieved. Simeon. The first Bulgarian king settled his Slavic-speaking empire, his own state of mind, and for the first time spoke about the "Golden Age" of Slavic writing and culture. After him come the achievements of other Slavic-speaking Orthodox Christians - Serbs and Russians. It is in connection with these events that our national poet Ivan Vazov will exclaim: "We have given something to the world and to all Slovenia to read books."


The greatness in the reign of Simeon is mainly due to the personal virtues of the king. Simeon said in written sources that he "loved books more than anything else." His education is magnificent. This is acknowledged even by his major military opponents, the Byzantines, who call him "half-Greek" because of his extensive knowledge. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Nicholas Mystic, who had been in intense contact with Simeon, wrote that he "lived as a decent monk and had never tasted wine during his life."


What gives reason to claim that Simeon received the royal title (equal in rank to the imperial one) and that it was during this time that the Bulgarian kingdom became an empire? First, Simeon's ambitions are imperial. He is aware of what Byzantium (Byzantine universalism) means in legal terms - a common state of all Roma, ie. of the Orthodox "Romans", who speak Greek, regardless of their origin (Armenian, Greek, Bulgarian, etc.). Byzantium therefore cannot voluntarily accept the Bulgarian ruler as an equal, because he considers it his rightful right to exercise his superiority over the Bulgarians who use her Greek in the Bulgarian administration, initially in the Bulgarian church and among the aristocratic circles. Byzantium must be forced to give recognition.


Here, this "half-Greek" Simeon, a graduate of the Magnaur School in Constantinople, sees the only way for Bulgaria to get out of the Byzantine orbit once and for all. This is through the domination of the mother tongue and the repression of Greekism: in the same way that our mother tongue - Old Bulgarian (Church Slavonic) should become equal to Greek. Thus, both the Bulgarian sovereign title and the Bulgarian state system should correspond to the Byzantine ones. It can be argued that this attitude of Simeon was inspired by the Christian precepts of his faith. It is no accident that Simeon was initially prepared to lead the Bulgarian church. And knowing that "the sun shines for all equally," Simeon cannot allow the Bulgarian people to remain "blind and deaf" and forever bow their heads to Byzantine superiority.


How in particular does Simeon succeed? There are three roads. Recognizing his title can be said to be the fastest and easiest. It requires at least once the Byzantines to perform a symbolic act according to which Simeon will be considered equal to their rulers in honor, and then our king will simply hold on to what has already been gained. Byzantine recognition came in August 913. Then Simeon undertook a great march against Constantinople. It reaches unobstructed in front of the walls of the Byzantine capital. Thus, the Byzantines are forced to ask for peace from him and succeed, but with one condition. It is to organize a celebration in honor of Simeon in the capital city of the empire. All the most distinguished Bulgarians and Byzantines feast on the festive table. The final of the celebration comes when the Byzantine Patriarch Nicholas Mystic performs the symbolic coronation of King Simeon. Finally, "honored with countless and great gifts, Simeon and his sons returned to their own country."


Naturally, in the years to come, the Byzantines renounce the shameful act of crowning Simeon. But the ruler of the Bulgarians insists on his once honored and seeks confirmation of his royal dignity whenever he communicates with the Byzantines. They do not tolerate holding on to him, but on the contrary. He makes them feel bad that they don't pay him credit. Simeon has carried out some of the greatest military pogroms in the entire history of Byzantium. At the Battle of Bulgarofigon (896), sources testify that the Roma troops "were all but killed and all killed." And nearly half a century after the defeat at Aheloy of August 20 on August 917, the Lion Deacon will write: "And now one can still see the piles of bones at Anhialo, where the fleeing army of the Romans was then visited."


The second time to increase Simeon's imperial self-esteem and dignity goes through his claims to territories in which not only Bulgarians live. As you know, empires are a combined formation in ethnic terms. That is why Simeon proclaims himself "king of the Bulgarians and Greeks": thus he admits that various subjects are entering his lands. This is how the principle of Simeon's time - "Bulgaria on Three Seas" is realized. This is something unfamiliar to his predecessors, those of the pagan period, who emphasize that they are Bulgarian rulers only in "the land where they were born" (Omurtag) but have no claim to foreign lands.


The third, the most difficult and exhausting the way to consolidate Bulgarian civilization is through the word in the native language. Here all the talent and excellent Simeon's preparation. During his youth, the Bulgarian ruler, before leaving to study in Byzantium, entered into close relations with the students of Cyril and Methodius, who received a welcome reception in Bulgaria by Prince Boris. After taking power, Simeon sends Kliment Ohridski, the first bishop in Bulgarian, to spread the word of God and to prepare students in the southwestern Bulgarian lands. Simeon knows and befriends the brightest minds of the era - the ideologues of Bulgaria. As mentioned, the idea of ​​equalizing the native language (Old Bulgarian) with the other "sacred languages" (Greek and Latin) means that in Old Bulgarian the "high" literature characteristic of the epoch in medieval Europe should also appear. This literature is for the most part translated and related to Scripture, but there are original works and commentaries. The ancient Bulgarian writers Kliment Ohridski, Ioan Exarch, Naum, Konstantin Preslavsky, Chernorizets Hrabar with their works bring the "golden" glory of Simeon's "Golden Age". King Simeon, who plays with gold strings, like King David, writes his "Gold Stream" with a gold pen, and sits on a golden throne in his throne room, girded with a gold sword.


This "golden" king of ours and the "golden age" of Bulgaria prove that Bulgarians are among the builders of Christian Europe. Simeon symbolizes Bulgaria's special place, the "state of the spirit," in the old world. It is a proof of our country's leadership in the history of Slavic writing and culture.

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