The Armenian Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria


Samuel or Samuil became the Tsar of the First Bulgarian Empire from 997 to October 6, 1014.

Samuel was the fourth and youngest son of count Nicholas, possibly a Bulgarian or Armenian noble and Ripsimia of Armenia, the daughter of King Ashot II of Armenia of the Armenian royal Bagratid dynasty.

Samuel served as a general under Roman I of Bulgaria and co-ruled with him from 977 to 997. He managed to defeat the Byzantines during several major battles and go on the offensive in Byzantine territories, fighting against many superior armies. During Samuel’s reign, Bulgaria managed to control most of the Balkans (with the notable exception of Thrace) as far as southern Greece. The capital was moved from Skopje to Ohrid.

Because of his victories, Samuel was considered to be “invincible in power and unsurpassable in strength”. Similar comments were made even in Constantinople, where John Kyriotes made a comparison between the Bulgarian Emperor and Halley’s comet in 989.

Two months after his catastrophic battle of Kleidion, on October 6, 1014 Samuel died of a heart attack. Samuel’s energetic reign restored Bulgarian might on the Balkans, and although the Empire was disestablished after his death, he is regarded as a heroic ruler in Bulgaria.


  1. The Early Medieval Balkans; also Ostrogorsky, Treadgold, opp. cit., Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Lisbonne: Livraria Bertrand, 1965, pp. 347-407.
  2. Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250, Florin Curta, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 242.
  3. LRC Blog: Tsar Samuel: Bulgarian or Macedonian? University of Texas at Austin, Linguistics Research Center, 11 december 2013.
  4. Stephenson, P., The legend of Basil the Bulgar-slayer, p. 16.
  5. Sullivan. D. F., ed. and tr., The life of St Nikon, Brookline, 1987, pp. 140-142.
    Argoe, K. John Kyriotes Geometres, a tenth century Byzantine writer, Madison 1938, pp. 140-141.
    Schlumberger, G, L’épopée byzantine á la fin de dixiéme siécle, 1. Jean Tzimisés; les jeunes années de Basile II, le tueur de Bulgares (969-989), Paris 1896, pp. 643-644.
  6. The Encyclopedia of World History.

One thought on “The Armenian Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria

  1. Because of the war with Byzantium, it was dangerous to leave the throne vacant for long, and Samuel was chosen as the new Emperor of Bulgaria because he had the closest relations to the deceased emperor and was Roman’s long-standing military commander.

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