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Tsar (Khan) of Bulgaria
Reign 632–665
Coronation patriciu
Predecessor Gostun
Successor Batbayan
Offspring Batbayan
Kuber (possibly)
Royal House Dulo
Kubrat's Great Bulgaria and adjacent regions,
c. 650 AD

Kubrat or Kurt ("Rebel-father"; Bulgarian: Кубрат; Greek: Χουβράτης, Mari: Чумбылат) was a Bulgar ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in 632. He is said to have achieved this by conquering the Avars and uniting all the Bulgar tribes under one rule.


Historical data

The name Kubrat is first mentioned by Patriarch Nikephoros I of Constantinople, in his Historía sýntomos, breviarium in the 9th century. However the word first appears in Orkhon Inscriptions of Kokturks and literally means "founding". According to the Turkish nomadic tradition almost every king was given a title which summarized his accomplishments or stressed a major one, such as Ilterish Kagan (İl "state", Terish "organized", Kagan or Khan "king" in Turkish) for the king who united the Kokturks for a second time. The title for the founding king would be Kubrat Kagan. Khan Kubrat probably means "The Founding King", which he was.

In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans Kubrat is mentioned as Kurt of the Dulo clan. A later legend would describe him as a descendant of Attila the Hun. Some historians conclude that his maternal line was of the Ermy clan, because his maternal uncle Organa was possibly of that clan.[1]

Kubrat spent time at the Byzantine court, either as a hostage or for protection from the dynastic war within the Turkic Khaganate. As the 7th century Byzantine historian John of Nikiu narrates:

Quetrades (i.e. Kubrat), the prince of the Moutanes (i.e. Huns), and a nephew of Kuemaka (i.e. Organa), was baptized as a child and was educated in Constantinople and received into the Christian community in his childhood and had grown up in the imperial palace. He was a close friend of emperor Heraclius.[2]

Whether he was a child or an adult during his time in Constantinople is unclear, as the year of his birth is unknown. The exact time of this event is also unknown but probably coincided with the reign of Emperor Heraclius (610-641). If the above text really applies to Kubrat then it becomes clear that during his stay in Constantinople he was educated and baptized. Probably at the same time he was given the title Patrician, which was inscribed on his ring.

Quote from the Patriarch Nikephoros' Short History[3] mentioning Kubrat as ruler of the Unogundurs and the expelling of the Avars

Upon return, Kubrat took power over his tribe, the Utigur Bulgars, from Organa who had acted as regent until then. At some point, as Patriarch Nikephoros tells us, Kubrat expelled the Avar troops from his lands and ruled singlehandedly over the united Bulgars thus creating the Great Bulgaria, as it was known to its contemporaries. Under his rule the Old Great Bulgaria grew to stretch from the Danube delta to the Volga river, and was recognized by an international treaty signed with Byzantium in 635. Kubrat ruled in peace with the Byzantine Empire, a result of his close friendship with the Byzantine emperor and, conceivably, of his appreciation of Byzantine culture.

According to legend the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of the many sons of Kubrat with their hordes originally inhabited the Avar Khaganate.


In 1912 Ukrainian peasants in the vicinity of Poltava literally stumbled over a gravesite replete with magnificent gold and silver objects of total weight of 75 kg, including a ring which eventually allowed identification of the grave as that belonging to Khan Kubrat. The ring was inscribed "Chouvr(á)tou patr(i)k(íou)", indicating the status he had achieved in the Byzantine world.

Modern uses

Kubrat Knoll on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Kubrat of Great Bulgaria.

See also


  1. ^ Vasil Zlatarski, History of Bulgaria
  2. ^ John of Nikiû, Chronicle
  3. ^ Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, editor Carl G. de Boor, 24, 9-12.

External links

Preceded by
Bulgarian Ruler Succeeded by

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