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Bulgar titles and names

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In alphabetical order:

Bagain – Lower noble rank, the so called “fed people” of the khan, used by the khan’s authority for restriction of the boils influence. The backbone of the armoured cavalry {2}; Lower officers (this title has many variations such as biri-bagain, batir-bagain, bagir-bagain, bagatur-bagain) {2}; Title from the time of the First Bulgarian state. It’s met in the Bulgarian inscriptions from the IX century. It signifies a commander or a leader of a small military detachment. The bagains are bolyars, which stand lower than the boils. {3};

Bagatur - (Turkic) – literally “brave man”. Title, given by the Bulgars to the representatives of the aristocracy, which have glorified themselves in battles. {1}; It literally means a brave champion, a hero. It was used as a lower noble rank, again under the khan’s auspices, basis of the unarmoured cavalry or the horse archers. {2}; A warrior caste, the heavily armed horsemen, the core of the army (as an analogy with the western knights and the Japanese samurais) {2}; A title from the ruling system from the time of the First Bulgarian state. Given mainly for military merits. Used in the Bulgarian inscriptions usually in combination with other titles. {3};

Bagatur-boila-kolober - (Bulgar) – High post in the early-medieval Bulgarian state, which signifies a military leader, belonging to the class of the boils, who showed courage in battles. {1};

Boila-tarkan (vulias-tarkan) - (Bulgar) – Title, given in the Bulgarian Khanate to a governor of a big border region. {1}; Bulgar title. It was given in the First Bulgarian state to the second son of the ruler. Together with the class belonging, it shows also ranking position, as the title tarkan signifies that its bearer is performing the duties of a deputy of the ruler in a particular region. {3};

Boils (bolyars) - (Bulgar) – General name for the higher class of the Bulgarian aristocracy. It passed from medieval Bulgaria to other Slavic states (Serbia, Russia) and in the XIV-XV century also in Walachia and Moldavia. {1}; High noble rank, usually these families were 100 and every boil family governed one region of the khanate. After Kniaz Boris, who killed 52 boil families, these families decreased and gradually decayed. {2}; Bulgar title, equal to the Slavic “bolyarin”. Given to representatives of the ruling feudal class in the time of the First Bulgarian state. In some sources it’s mentioned in combination with other titles and shows the class position of the official person. From other sources: The title means “notable”, “high-ranked” and shows belonging to the highest class of the Bulgarian aristocracy. It’s a hereditary title. {3};

Bori-tarkan - (Bulgar) – An official title of a governor of a region in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. {1}; Commander of the heavily armoured cavalry, in later time a commandant of an “aul” (fortress) {2}; Bulgar title from the First Bulgarian state. Familiar is bori-tarkan Radislav, who welcomed the disciples of Cyril and Methodius after they were expelled from Velikomoravia. {3};

Chigot – (Bulgar) – literally “sword-bearer”. A warrior from the bodyguard unit of the early-medieval Bulgarian khans and tsars. {1};

Great boils – There were 4 great boils (“veliki boili” on Bulgarian) according to Fadlan, respectively 6 of them according to K. Porfirogenet – most probably their number was increased with the enhancing of the state. After the conversion the 4 of them were probably increased to 6, as by obvious reasons the khana-boila-kolober fell off. It could be presumed that the three new ones were the minik (head of the royal stables) and two, which bore the title sampsis (at the council in 869-870 there were two with this title – Pressian and Alexius Hunol). {2}; 6 high counselors of the khan, they sit on his right side. {2};

Ichirgu-bagain – Bulgar title from the time of the First Bulgarian state. It is mentioned for the first time in the second half of the IX century when it was given to an unknown military leader. {3};

Ichirgu-boila (churgubilia) - (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state, governor of its “interior region”. It held the third place in the state’s hierarchy after the ruler and the kavhan. {1}; First and most important boil, taking care of the interior of the khanate. {2}; There are reports that he carried out internal political missions, as well as taking care of administering of regions. {2}; Bulgar title from the time of the First Bulgarian state. It is know in Slavic translation as “churgobilia”. It’s mentioned in the beginning of the IX century. It was given to the closest persons to the Bulgarian ruler, which performed the duty of governing the inner fortresses of the capital. Except military, the bearers of this title performed also juridical functions and took part in diplomatic missions. At the time of Khan Krum (803-814) this title was given to the bolyar Tsok and in the first half of the X century – the bolyar Mostich. {3};

Ichirgu-kolober – Bulgar military title from the time of the First Bulgarian state. It is mentioned in one of Omurtag’s inscriptions. {3};

Kanasubigi, Iuvigi Khan – Title of the Bulgarian rulers in the first half of the IX century. The name corresponds to the Slavic words “velik” (great), “preslaven” (most glorious). It is mentioned in memorial inscriptions from the time of Khan Omurtag (814-831), Khan Malamir (831-836) and Khan Pressian (836-852). {3};

Kanartikin (Kana-irthituin) – (Bulgar) – Title of the heir to the crown of the Bulgarian khan, also used after the conversion. {1}; The first-born son of the khan and the future successor to the throne. {2}; The eldest tarkan (it’s not a title of the heir to the throne by rule, but most probably it was given at the moment of the delegating of the heir (as for example Kniaz Kiril of Preslav was a regent of Simeon II, but regent is not the title of the kniaz’s brother)) {2}; Title of the Bulgarian heir to the crown in the period of the First Bulgarian state. {3};

Kana-bagatur - (Bulgar) – Official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. {1};

Kana-boila-kolober – (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. It is presumed that it was given to a military commander, whose detachment enters first in a fight with the enemy. {1};

Kandidat – Title in the First Bulgarian state, member of the personal guard of the ruler, institution, borrowed from Byzantium. From the time of Khan Omurtag it is known the kandidat Turdacis. {3};

Kavhan - (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. Its bearer was the first assistant in the ruler’s governing and held the second place in the hierarchy. {1}; The highest title after the khan’s. First deputy and assistant. In a time of war he commanded the armies in the khan’s absence. This title is preserved until 1018. {2}; Bulgar title, given to representatives of the most notable Bulgar families. It was transferred also hereditary. Its bearer performed important administrative functions (usually as a governor of a region). In war times he was given command of parts of the khan’s army. In the time of Khan Omurtag (814-831) kavhan was now the second person in the state after the ruler. More familiar names, which bore this title, were Iratais (by Khan Krum), Isbul (by Omurtag, Malamir and Pressian), Todor (by Tsar Simeon I), Dometian (by Tsar Samuil) and others. {3};

Khagan - (Turkic) – Title of supreme leader among the Turkic nations. Equal by importance to “great khan” (“iuvigi khan”), which was the title of the Bulgarian rulers in the pagan period. {1};

Khan – The ruler of medieval Bulgaria. This title was until 864, replaced with the title kniaz and in 927 with tsar. {2}; Ruler, monarch. Originally the title signified a chief of a tribe. Later – a kniaz’s (prince) title and subsequently – ruler’s title of many eastern nations (Tatars and others). The power of the khan was given by heritage to the first-born son. His authority was unlimited. It was considered to have a divine origin. The Bulgar rulers kept the title until 864 (until the conversion to Christianity). Replaced with the title tsar. From other sources: In the latest researches it’s considered that the title is “kan” (from “kun”/”кън” – blood) – a leader of blood relatives. In line with this it’s now also considered that it’s not equal to the title khagan, meaning khan of the khans. The Bulgarian ruler bears the title khan, as in the inscriptions from the VII-IX century it is “kanasubigi” – great khan. An older thesis exists, which spells out the title as “kana su bigi” – the kana master of forces. In the foreign sources the Bulgarian ruler is mentioned as “archon”, “igimon”, “rex”, “kirios”, which are translated as kniaz, chief, master. The title “kanasubigi” disappears from the inscriptions after Khan Malamir. After the acceptance of the Christianity by Khan Boris the title of the Bulgarian ruler is replaced with the title kniaz, coming from the Indo-European “kuneng” – tribal chief, elder. The power of the khan is practically unlimited, as he has the functions of a military leader, lawgiver, judge and high priest. The power itself is viewed as given to him by God, for which signifies the phrase “ek teu archon” – put by God, but in the sense put by heaven – a formula met also among the Turkic nations. According to the sources, the power by the Bulgarians is transferred by birth, i.e. by heritage and by the right of the first-born son. But in the Bulgarian history there are a number of examples, in which these rules were not followed. {3};

Kolober – The priest society. Many ranks exist also of this title, but unfortunately there is no accurate data for their ranking. They sit on the left side of the khan. {2};

Komit – [Note: This title was put to use in the time of Khan Omurtag, i.e. after the establishment of Danubian Bulgaria] Title, given to regional governors from the IX to the XI century. Borrowed from Byzantium at the time of Khan Omurtag (814-831). Its bearer combined both the administrative and the military power in his entrusted region – komitat. Better known bearers of this title are: Taridin – governor of the Bregalnitsa region, Dameta – of the Devol region, Dristur – of the Struma region, and Nikola – of the Sredets region. {3};

Kopan – Bulgar title, given to high military commanders, close associates of the khan. A bearer of this title in the time of Khan Omurtag (814-831) was Okors. {3};

Minik - (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian khanate (tsardom). Its bearer took care for the ruler’s stables and commanded the cavalry. {1};

Oglu-tarkan (olgu-tarkan) - (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state of a governor of a big region. {1}; Bulgar title, given in the time of the First Bulgarian state to the highest dignitaries. {3};

Sampsis – At the council in 869-870 there were two with this title – Pressian and Alexius Hunol. {2}; Bulgar title, given to representatives of the Bulgar aristocracy, performing diplomatic and other missions. {3};

Shaman - (Turkic) – Priest in the pagan religions of the Turkic-nomadic nations, also by the Bulgars. {1};

Tarkan - (Bulgar) – High official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. Its bearer was usually a governor of a border region. {1}; Commander of 1 000 horsemen (“thousander”) {2}; The high officers (this title has many variations like bori-tarkan, tumen-tarkan, tarkan; probably every one of them was responsible for a definite number of sabers) {2}; Bulgar military title, given mainly to representatives of the high capital aristocracy. It’s usually met combined with another title: bori-tarkan, zhupan-tarkan, oglu-tarkan etc. {3};

Tumen-tarkan – Commander of a tumen (10 000 horsemen) {2};

Zera-Tarkan - (Bulgar) – Governor of a border region in the early-medieval Bulgarian state. {1}; Official title of persons with military functions on the First Bulgarian state. Known is zera-tarkan Onegavon, who drowned in the river Tissa. {3};

Zhupan-tarkan - (Bulgar) – Official title in the early-medieval Bulgarian khanate (tsardom) of a governor of a Slavic region. {1}; The zhupan – K. Porfirogenet says that this was an elder by the Serbs. Therefore, the zhupan-tarkan is most probably an elder, who was approved by the khan to administrate his tribe (something like a vassal). {2}; Bulgar military title. According to the existing in the First Bulgarian state military hierarchy, it was placed second after the boila-tarkan. Known bearer of this title was Okhsun, who’s mentioned in one of Omurtag’s inscriptions. {3};

High (administrative/official) ranking (the khan and the great boils):

1. Khan (khagan, kanasubigi)

2. Kavhan

3. Ichirgu-boila

4. Kana-boila-kolober (falls away after the Christianization)

5. Kanartikin

6. Minik

7. 2 Sampsises

Lower (military) ranking:

1. Boila-tarkan

2. Zhupan-tarkan

3. …

Bibliography legend (secondary sources):

{1} – History textbook for 11th grade by publishing house “Anubis”

{2} – Internet (Military-historical forum “Boina Slava ”)

{3} – Electronic encyclopedia “History of Bulgaria” by publishing house “Sirma”

===================================================

Old Bulgar dignities

According to Petur Dobrev the Bulgars come to this side of the Danube with a developed state structure, in which there are 37 dignities. At least those are we know of, but they may have been more. We draw information about them from different stone inscriptions, in which Bulgarian officials are mentioned, as well as from foreign chroniclers. Unfortunately, their titles were written on Greek or with Greek letters and in the worst case they were translated according to their Byzantine correspondences. Thus for example the komits appear – throught the Byzantine influence (from Latin “comes”) and the kandidats (spatarius or protospatarius). In other cases there are difficulties to determine whether it is a name or a title. For example, the title boritarkan of the governor of Belgrade, who welcomed the disciples of Cyril and Methodius coming from Velikomoravia to Bulgaria, is written by Teophilakt of Ohrid as a personal name – Boritarkan. In another case it is not clear if “tortuna pile zhoapan” is a title or is it the “pile zhoapan Tortuna”. Despite these difficulties with a great accuracy could be restored the names and meaning of these 37 titles or dignities (ranks). It is also not completely clear if they are offices, classes, military ranks or combinations of the three. Their numeration is given by Beshevliev. The explanation of the titles is of Petur Dobrev.

Inscription № 59 of kanasubigi Omurtag:

“Kanasubigi Omurtag: the kopan Korsis was my “fed man”. When he went to the army, he drowned in the river Dniepr. He was from the Chakarar family.”

Inscription № 60 of kanasubigi Omurtag:

“Kanasubigi Omurtag: the zera tarkan Negavon was my “fed man”. When he went to the army, he drowned in the river Tissa. He was from the Kubiar family.”

Inscription № 64 of kanasubigi Omurtag:

“Kanasubigi Omurtag. The bagatur bagain Slavnas was my “fed man” and when he got ill he died.”

Inscription № 66 of kanasubigi Omurtag:

“Kanasubigi Omurtag: the kandidat Turdachis was my “fed man”. He died inside.” (Kandidat is a Byzantine title, given to spatariuses and protospatariuses.)

Inscription № 58 of kanasubigi Malamir:

“Kanasubigi Malamir, from God ruler. His old boila, kavhan Isbul, made this fountain and gave it to the ruler. And the ruler gave to the Bulgarians a lot of food and drink and to the boils and the bagains he gave large gifts. May God honour the ruler from God to live together with kavhan Isbul many years.”

The Hambarli inscription № 47 of kanasubigi Krum:

“...I made my brother, and the strategus Leon to be his subordinate. From Beroia … Dultroini is first for the right side the ichirgu boila Tuk, and the strateguses Vardan and Iani to be his subordinates. For the left side of my sarakt [sarakt was the name for the Bulgarian state], for Anhialo, Debelt, Sozopol, Ranuli [bulgarian fortresses and cities] chief is Iratais, the boila kavhan, and Kordil and Grigora his subordinated strateguses.”

Inscription № 13 of kanasubigi Malamir:

“(Kanasubigi Malamir) from God ruler. My grandfather Krum found with us these works… My father the ruler Omurtag, as concluding a 30 years peace, lived well with the Greeks. And I lived well, but the Greeks devastated our lands and the ruler Malamir, who ruled together with kavhan Isbul, went to war with the Greeks and destroyed the fortress of Provat and the fortress of Burdizon in the lands of the Greeks and acquired all glory. And he came to Philipopolis and the Greeks fled. And then kavhan Isbul, together with the glorified ruler made a meeting with Philipopolians.”

Inscription №14 of kanasubigi Pressian at Philippi:

“Pressian of God ruler of the many Bulgarians sent kavhan Isbul, by giving him an army, the ichirgu boila and the kana boila kolober. And the kavhan at the Smolians…”

Inscription № 69 of kanasubigi Malamir:

“Kanasubigi Malamir: Chepa, bagatur boila kolober was my “fed man”. He got ill and died inside.”

Konstantin Bagrianorodni [“Mantle-born”?] writes in “For the governing” for the war of Boris-Mikhail I with the Serbs: “The Serbs inflicted upon him such a defeat that they captured and chained his son Vladimir and twelve great boils”, but in his work “For the ceremonies” he writes only for six great boils.

Inscription № 48 from the village of Narush of tsar Simeon:

“In the year 6412 (904) from the Creation of the world, indiktion 7, a border between the Bulgarians and the Romeans by the from God ruler of the Bulgarians Simeon, olgu tarkana Teodor and komita Dristar.”

From these inscriptions and from other data the assumption could be made that boils and bagains are honorary titles, showing the belonging to a certain class. The classes were probably four – ordinary Bulgarians, bagains, boils and kolobers. At least thus are numbered the first three in the above quoted inscription № 58 of Malamir.

The kolobers were probably a priest class, but this assumption is based only upon the chronicler Teophilakt Simokata, who writes for one Avar priest, called on Greek βοοκολοβρας, translated by Ivan Venedikov as bu-kolober. Bu from the root boi (boila), which according to him means “family of kolobers”. To this uncertain assumption we could not give a confirmation from the Bulgarian stone inscriptions, because there the title kolober is given in a military or neutral context. This however does not exclude the priestly functions. It is possible that the kolobers were not a separate class, but a part of the bagain and boil ones.

The offices are in the same time military-administrative and political. The kavhan was the first substitute of the kanasubigi, co-ruler, as in the case with kavhan Isbul and is commanding the left part of the army, as with Krum. In the inscription he is called the boila kavhan. Probably the title boila shows the belonging to the class or rank of nobility, while kavhan – the office of a first substitute of kanasubigi.

The ighirgu boila is next in rank after the kavhan, commanding the right wing of the army, and sometimes he’s also a diplomatic delegate. Thus, for example, the ichirgu boila Stazis, who wrote in the Chividalsko Gospel the names of the members of kniaz Boris’s family, so that they would be mentioned in prayers, was sent by kniaz Boris in Rome to the Pope.

The tarkans are probably governors, military and administrative. The boritarkan is chief of a city. According to P. Dobrev it comes from the Iranian boru (borui) – fortress and tarkan (chief or judge) in the East-Iranian languages. For the olgu tarkan it is known only that he’s higher than komita, maybe a regional/provincial governor over several komitats. Zhoapan tarkan is with a rank of governor – he rules an independent region/province. Known are also zeratarkans, kalu tarkans and kulu tarkans.

Samuchii (самъчий) is a secretay of kanasubigi. There is one mentioned Eskhach [Есхач] in service of kniaz Boris. Kopan is probably a military office, chigot – sword-bearer. The bagaturs are lower military ranks. Some consider them as an analogue of the knights. There are after all kana boila kolober and bagatur boila kolober. If for the first one it could be considered to be the personal priest of the khan from the class of the boils, then for the second one it could hardly be explained the title bagatur, if it’s given to lower warriors.

Some researchers believe that the dignity ichirgu is given to officials in service in the inner region/province of the state, while iuk is for those from the outer regions (komitats). And from there are the iuk-boil and the ichirgu-boil, ichirgu bagain and ichirgu kolober.

The heir to the throne is called kanartikin, while the second son is boila tarkan.

Kanasubigi is the title of the ruler. Because it is written on Greek as καναςυβίγι the possible pronounciations are many: kanasiubigi and kanas iubigi, kanasubigi or kana siuvigi. According to Ivan Venedikov, unlike the Russian-Slavic kniaz, in Bulgarian the name is kunaz (къназ (кънїз)). It could even be assumed that kniaz is a derivative from kanasubigi – through kanas – kunaz – kniaz.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Kanasubigi

Emperor

2. Kanartikin

Heir to the throne

3. Kavhan

First substitute of the khan, co-ruler

4. Boila kavhan

5. Ichirgu boil

Probably minister for foreign affairs and commandant of the capital

6. Chitkoi ichirgu boil

7. Ichirgu kolober

8. Ichigu bagain

9. Kana boila kolober

10. Kana tarkan

11. Boil

12. Iuk boil

13. Boila tarkan

The second son of the ruler

14. Boila chigat

15. Bagatur

16. Bagatur boila kolober

High priest

17. Bagatur kana

18. Bagatur bagain

19. Bagain

20. Setit bagain

21. Iuk bagain

22. Biri bagain

23. Tarkan

24. Boritarkan

Chief of fortress

25. Zera

26. Zeratarkan

27. Olgutarkan

Governor of a region including komitats

28. Kalutarkan

29. Kulutarkan

30. Zhoapan tarkan

Governor of a big region

31. Zhoapan

32. Tortuna pile zhoapan

Military deputy for the region – elder zhoapan

33. Chitkoimir

34. Kormuchii [кормъчий]

Superior

35. Chigot (chigat)

36. Samuchii [самъчий]

Secretary of the khan

37. Kopan

38. Imnik

=================================================

List of Bulgar names and the original titles of their bearers [Note that I haven’t included those names, which I believe to be of Slavic or Greek origing]

Alzek (son of Kubrat)

Asparukh (Isperikh, Ispor) (680-700) (son of Kubrat, establisher of Danubian Bulgaria)

Bayan (Bezmer, Batbayan, Boyan) (first-born son of Kubrat, khan of Old Great Bulgaria)

Boris (852-889) (khan (later kniaz) of Bulgaria, Christian name - Mikhail)

Chepa (bagatur boila kolober from the time of Malamir)

Dizeng (regent of Omurtag)

Dometa (komita)

Dristar (komita)

Dukum (regent of Omurtag)

Eskhach (secretary at the time of Boris I)

Grigora (subordinate to the boila kavhan in the time of Krum)

Iani (subordinate to the ichirgu boila in the time of Krum)

Iratais (boila kavhan at the time of Krum)

Isbul (kavhan at the times of Omurtag, Malamir and Pressian)

Kardam (777-802) (khan of Bulgaria)

Kordil (subordinate to the boila kavhan in the time of Krum)

Kormesiy (721-738) (khan of Bulgaria)

Kormisosh (753-756) (khan of Bulgaria)

Korsis (Okors) (kopan from the time of Omurtag)

Kotrag (son of Kubrat, establisher of Volga Bulgaria)

Krum (802-814) (khan of Bulgaria)

Kuber (son of Kubrat, establisher of the Macedonian Bulgaria)

Kubrat (Kurt, Kuvrat, Krovat) (632-663-668) (Leader of the Onogundurs (610s-632) and establisher of Old Great Bulgaria)

Malamir (831-836) (khan of Bulgaria)

Okhsun (zhupan-tarkan from the time of Omurtag)

Omurtag (814-831) (khan of Bulgaria)

Onegavon (zera-tarkan)

Pagan (767-768) (khan of Bulgaria)

Pressian (836-852) (khan of Bulgaria)

Rassate (889-893) (kniaz of Bulgaria, Christian name – Vladimir)

Sabin (765-766) (khan of Bulgaria)

Sevar (738-753) (khan of Bulgaria)

Slavnas (bagatur bagain from the time of Omurtag)

Stazis (ichirgu boila at the time of Boris I)

Taridin (komita)

Telec (762-765) (khan of Bulgaria)

Telerig (768-777) (khan of Bulgaria)

Tervel (700-721) (khan of Bulgaria)

Toktu (766-767) (khan of Bulgaria)

Tsog (regent of Omurtag)

Tuk (ichirgu boila at the time of Krum)

Turdacis (kandidat from the time of Omurtag)

Umor (766) (khan of Bulgaria)

Vardan (subordinate to the ichirgu boila in the time of Krum)

Vinekh (756-762) (khan of Bulgaria)

According to Wikipedia:

Kutrigur (western Bulgar tribe) leaders:

Kutrigur (490s-510s)

Khinialon (Chinialus) (540s-551)

Sinnion (Synion) (551-550s)

Zabergan (550s-582)

Gostun (582-584)

Utigur (eastern Bulgar tribe) leaders:

Uturgur (490s-510s)

Grod (520-528)

Mugel (528-530)

Sandilch (Sandil) (540s-560s)

Onogundur (federation of Kutrigurs and Utigurs) leaders:

Houdbaad (Hudbaad, Khudbard) (c.581-c.600)

Organa (Organ, Ornag; uncle and regent over the Onogundurs (617-630) of Kubrat)

From other sources (from the times the raiding period):

Buzan (Bulgar chieftain around 488)

Bulger and Drong (Bulgar leaders around 538)

Odolgan (around 546)

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