The Danube Bulgar Khanate was a successor state of the Khanate of Great Bulgaria, taking what was left of the former Khanate's land which hadn't been absorbed by the Khazars. This minor state, which as its name suggests took residence in the areas around the Danube Valley, retained its uneasy independence until the early 8th century AD, when it was absorbed in to the Patzinak Empire as a tributary state. The Khanate maintained itself for another century, until, after a confused, Byzantine-subsidised independence attempt, it was permanently annexed to the Patzinak state.


After the fall of the Khanate of Great Bulgaria in 620 AD, a junior member of the ruling line, which had been in evidence since the advent of the Huns, took control of the Bulgar tribes to the south of the empire. His state was allowed to exist simply because the Khazars were not interested in extending that far west, and that their allies in the Byzantine Empire had never shown much interest in their northern frontier. The Byzantines were even prepared to grant the Bulgars subsidies to defend the frontier from any more horsebased incursions, though the Bulgar rulers never took up the offer. In the time given to the Bulgars to organise into a kingdom by their uninterested neighbours, the Bulgars could in fact think of few useful things to do.

The Arrival of the Patzinaks

Time was running out; in the early months of 695 AD the Khazar Empire was wiped out by a new Turkish clan, the Patzinaks. Unlike the Khazars, the Patzinaks were not interested in either alliances, trade or peace, by 700 they were already probing the borderlands in search of new conquests. In both Byzantium and the Ummayad Caliphate, they found enemies that would not tow the line; the two rivals even combined their forces to block the Patzinak advance. It was in Bulgaria, however, that the Patzinaks found their next major success; the Bulgar army was annihilated in a single campaign - and the promise of reinforce from Byzantium seemed not to turn up. By 702, the Khan had surrendered his independence to the Patzinaks, who were all too pleased to leave their new vassals to probed the Byzantines northern provinces.

End of the Khanate

The Byzantines were understandably upset about this - though, really, there was no need. The Danube Bulgars had no means of making raids effective, the Patzinaks had turned their eyes, and their extensive forces, to other areas; and in any case the Byzantines weren't prepared to make any positive action on their own. However, at the turn of the century they were to get their chance; the old Khan died, and his hot-headed heir was prepared to come to a deal with the Byzantines about claiming independence from the Patzinaks. Sadly the Byzantines still failed to provide an adequate force, which allowed the Patzinaks to crush the Bulgars just as easily as they had 100 years earlier. A totally unnecessary, and somewhat late foray by the Byzantines into Bulgaria caused the Patzinaks to defeat this force too - and though a follow up attack was rebuffed by the Emperor in person, the whole debacle resulted in two things:

  • The detirioration of relations between the Patzinaks and the Byzantines
  • The annexation of the Danube Bulgar Khanate to the Patzinak Empire.

The attempt at independence had failed - and the short history of the Danube Bulgar Khanate came to an end.

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