The Tărnovo Inscription of Tsar Ivan Asen II, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, and Some Aspects of Their Cult in Byzantium and Medieval Bulgaria Cover Image
  • Price 3.00 €

Търновският надпис на Иван Асен ІІ, св. 40 „добропобедни“ мъченици и някои аспекти на култа им във Византия и в средновековна България
The Tărnovo Inscription of Tsar Ivan Asen II, the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, and Some Aspects of Their Cult in Byzantium and Medieval Bulgaria

Author(s): Maya Petrova
Subject(s): History, Language and Literature Studies, Literary Texts, Cultural history, Middle Ages, Theology and Religion
Published by: Институт за литература - BAN

Summary/Abstract: The triumph in the battle of Klokotnica in 1230, a great success for Tsar Ivan Asen II, made Bulgaria a dominant power in the European South-East. This seemingly improbable Bulgarian victory turned out to be so complete as to appear miraculous to its contemporaries. Byzantine sources explain it as a just punishment of Epirus’ Emperor Theodore Komnenos, who breached the peace treaty with Ivan Asen II and invaded Bulgarian territories with an enormous army. Yet the only Bulgarian source for this encounter, the Tărnovo inscription, attributes Ivan Asen’s victory to the help of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. In modern historical writings this evidence is unanimously interpreted as an indication that the battle took place on 9 March, the feast date of the saints. It is very likely, however, that the mention of the Forty Martyrs in the inscription has not only chronological, but also ideological meaning. The article examines the information from the Tărnovo inscription in the context of the cult of the Forty Martyrs in Byzantium (where they were particularly honoured by the imperial court) and in medieval Bulgaria, as well as in relation to their veneration as victorious helpers in battles. Attention is paid to the claim on the Forty martyrs’ patronage as a piece of propaganda and a proof for the religious sanction of Ivan Asen’s rule. It is viewed as a constituent part of the policy of Asenid dynasty for securing of powerful heavenly patrons for the state by “taking over” the cults of important Christian saints, promoting their (real or invented) Bulgarian origin, and translating saints’ relics to the new capital of Tărnovo.

  • Issue Year: 2014
  • Issue No: 49-50
  • Page Range: 69-96
  • Page Count: 27
  • Language: Bulgarian, Old Slavonic