Khan Asparukh was the third son of Khan Kubrat. He gained experience in politics and statesmanship in Great Bulgaria, and when the state disintegrated under pressure from the Khazars, he and his four brothers resumed their nomadic life, rocked by the waves of migration and military clashes.
Khan Asparukh was followed by a great number of Bulgars. He crossed the Danubian delta and while the Byzantine capital was besieged by the Arabs (674 - 678), he and his horde settled in the Ongul area ( Southern Bessarabia ). He was victorious against the Byzantine emperor Constantine IV in 680 and then he swiftly moved from the Danubian delta down to the Balkan range.
Asparukh established the State of Bulgaria in 680 as a union with the seven Slavic tribes.
He invaded Thrace in 681, seizing towns and fortresses. Unable to stop him, Emperor Constantine IV was compelled to sue for peace, thus recognizing the new state to which he was to pay annual tribute.
Khan Asparukh built the fortresses of Pliska and Druster, and chose Pliska to be the first capital of the new state.
Asparukh realized that as the new state was an alliance of tribes, it could not be established in one fell swoop but would have to be built over the course of several generations. The Slavs and the Bulgars retained their self-government and the territorial autonomy of their tribes. The historical sources from the end of the 7th to the beginning of the 10th century referred to the new state as a Slav-Bulgar state.
Asparukh was a daring leader who embodied the skills of politician and statesman, diplomat and warrior. Time taught him skills very few leaders of his rank possessed. In a century when rulers cut their way into the future with their swords, Asparukh held out his hand to the Slavs and offered them peace, a move which proved essential to the survival of the new state.
The swift victory of the new state is indicative of the fact that the combined efforts of Bulgars and Slavs made them much less vulnerable. Asparukh kept an ardent watch over the alliance and severely punished any violation of it. A tireless builder and a just arbitrator, he was the perfect leader of an emerging state in times when only God knows whether peaceful construction or military power would have better safeguarded its survival.
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