|Carolingian Union||First Bulgarian Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Christophorus I || Radoslav of Bulgaria †
Not to be confused with the series of OTL conflicts known as the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars .
The Bulgar War was a conflict beginning in 884 that lasted until 892 between the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire. Initiated by Radoslav of Bulgaria, the war was an attempt to take advantage of the Byzantine Empire due to its lack of a suitable heir. The Bulgarian Empire, heavily weakened by the Unification Wars earlier that century, desired to take much of its territory back. Unexpectedly, the Byzantine Empire responded with heavy, competent force. Aided by the Franks, the Eastern Roman Empire fought back the Bulgarian Invaders and, after a war that lasted eight years, forced the surrender and capitulation of the First Bulgarian Empire.
The Eastern Roman Empire and the First Bulgarian Empire had suffered poor relations with each other for quite some time. Since the 7th century, the Bulgarians and the Byzantines had been fighting in a series of conflicts known as the Byzantine-Bulgarian Wars. The hostilities reached a maximum during the early 9th century, during the Unification Wars. The Bulgarians invaded the Byzantine Empire under Krum during the conflict.
The Byzantines repelled the attackers before invading Bulgarian lands. The war cost Krum his life. Pliska was captured and the Bulgarian Empire was left without a ruler. The Byzantines returned Pliska to Bulgaria, though they forced the empire to pay them tribute every year. While the Bulgarians licked their wounds, the Byzantines were able to turn their attention away from the Bulgarians for some time. When Carloman went missing in 879, his infant son, Christophorus I, became the Byzantine Emperor. This resulted in the Byzantine Empire seeming ineffective to its opponents. The Bulgarians, under the leadership of Radoslav of Bulgaria, invaded the seemingly weakened Byzantine Empire in 884.
Battle of AdrianopleThe first major battle of the war took place in the Byzantine city of Adrianople. The site of five major battles throughout history, Antioch was no stranger to being caught up in war. The Bulgarians entered the town and ransacked much of the northern portion before the Byzantines were able to drive the Bulgarians out. A strategic victory in the end, the Battle of Adrianople resulted in a large loss of life and the destruction of much of Adrianople. Following the Battle of Adrianople, the Byzantines worked to expel the Bulgarians from Tracia, finally doing so at some point before 887.
Battle of Pliska
Following the expulsion of the Bulgarians from Tracia, the Byzantine Empire decided to destroy Pliska in response. The Bulgarian capital, which had been damaged in the Unification Wars, was very close to Byzantine borders, allowing the Byzantine Empire to quickly attack the city. The Byzantines entered Pliska, fought the Bulgarians out of the city, and destroyed much of the city by burning it to the ground. With Pliska destroyed, the Bulgarians regrouped at Preslav.
Battle of Preslav
Following the Battle of Pliska, Radoslav fled to Preslav to regroup. A capital was established and the Bulgarians regrouped in the city. Meanwhile, the Byzantines pushed into Bulgarian territory. Countless victories against locations along the Danube pushed the borders to the lands north of the river. Then, in 880, a Byzantine fleet in the Black Sea was rallied to take out the new Bulgarian capital of Preslav. Concurrently, a tagma was sent to Preslav to take out the Bulgarians.
The battle left the city absolutely devastated. The walls of the city were breached and the Byzantine Tagma stormed the city. Much like Pliska, parts of the city were burned to the ground. According to witnesses, the only thing that stopped the Byzantines from buring the rest of the city was the death of Radoslav and subsequent surrender of the Bulgarian troops. The Bulgarian Empire surrendered and was annexed by the Byzantine Empire, though a number of rebellions delayed the end of the war for two years.
The Bulgar War left a lasting impression on Eastern Europe, for better or for worse. The lands conquered in the Unification Wars were reminded of the capabilities of the Byzantine Empire, fear keeping any would-be rebels in check. The Avars remained loyal to the Carolingian Union throughout the 10th century. However, word of Byzantine brutalities reached the enemies of Byzantium, leading them to further believe that the Byzantines were violent savages.
Nevertheless, the Theme of Bulgaria was created in the aftermath of the war, though it was incredibly short-lived. With the Magnam Europae charter, the Theme of Bulgaria became the Duchy of Bulgaria in the Carolingian Union and remained part of the Carolingian Empire for the remainder of its history.