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The Bulgarian lands during the reign of Ivan Alexander[1]
Map of the Principality of Karvuna

The Principality of Karvuna (Bulgarian: Добруджанско деспотство or Карвунско деспотство, Romanian: Ţara Cărvunei) was a 14th-century quasi-independent state in the region of modern Dobruja. It emerged as a polity under the influence of the Byzantine Empire, and probably had a population composed of Bulgarians, Gagauz, Greeks, Tatars, and Vlachs. The principality's name is derived from the fortress of Karvuna (modern Kavarna, Italian: Carbona, ancient Greek: Bizone), mentioned in Bulgarian and Byzantine documents and Italian portolans of the 14th century as its first capital, and located between Varna and Cape Kaliakra.

The principality was spun off from the Second Bulgarian Empire (followed by other frontier regions of Bulgaria such as Vidin and Velbuzhd) around 1320 under Balik (member of the Bulgarian-Cuman dynasty of Terter according to some authors[2]) and placed itself ecclesiastically under the Patriarchate of Constantinople. A "Metropolitan of Varna and Carbona" was mentioned in 1325. Under Balik's son Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici (1347–1386; ruling with the title of "despot" after 1357) the principality came to its greatest power and extension and the capital was moved to Kaliakra.

In 1358, the principality was plagued by the Black Death, transmitted by Genoese boats from Caffa before they finally brought it to Sicily, Genoa and the whole of Western Europe. The principality had its own navy, which also engaged in piracy forcing the Genoese to complain, and possibly took part in an operation off Trebizond. In 1453, the Ottoman navy at the siege of Constantinople was initially lead by one admiral Baltoglu, a Bulgarian convert from the former principality.

In 1366, Ivan Alexander refused to give conduct to the John V Palaiologos who was returning home from Hungary. In order to force the Bulgarians to comply, John V ordered his relative Count Amadeus VI of Savoy to attack the Bulgarian coastal towns. In the fall of the same year, Amadeus' navy took Pomorie, Nessebar, Emona, and Kozyak, and on 25 October besieged the strong fortress of Varna, where it was repulsed. As a result, Ivan Alexander gave the Byzantines safe conduct across Bulgaria and they kept the conquered towns;[3] Varna was ceded to Dobrotitsa for his help against Amadeus.

As a traditional breadbasket, Dobruja supplied wheat to Constantonople mostly via the major ports of Varna and Kaliakra frequented by the Genoese and Venetian fleets. The republics held their consulates at Varna and kept trading colonies at Castritsi and Galata outside that city.

Between 1370 and 1375, allied with Venice, Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici challenged Genoese power in the Black Sea. In 1376, he tried to impose his son-in law, Michael, as Emperor of Trebizond, but achieved no success. Dobrotitsa supported John V Palaeologus against his son Andronicus IV Palaeologus. In 1379, the Bulgarian fleet participated in the blockade of Constantinople, fighting with the Genoese fleet.

In 1386, Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici died and was succeeded by Ivanko, who in the same year made peace with Murad I, moved his capital from Kaliakra to Varna, and in 1387 signed a commercial treaty with Genoa at Pera. This same year, Ivan Shishman attacked him, defeating and killing his former vassal Dan I of Wallachia, an ally of Ivanko's, but didn't manage to bring Dobruja back under his rule. Varna fell to the Ottomans in 1389, Ivanko himself dying in battle in 1388. The same year, parts Dobrudja with Drastar citadel was put under the rule of Mircea cel Bătrân, until 1420 (with short interruptions).[4] In 1414, the area was devastated by Tatars. In 1413, Varna was turned over to Manuel II Palaiologos until 1444, when the Ottomans secured it after the Battle of Varna.

In the very end of the 14th century, German traveller Johann Schiltberger described these lands as follows:[5]

I was in three regions, and all three were called Bulgaria. The first Bulgaria extends there, where you pass from Hungary through the Iron Gate. Its capital is called Vidin. The other Bulgaria lies opposite Wallachia, and its capital is called Tarnovo. The third Bulgaria is there, where the Danube flows into the sea. Its capital is called Kaliakra.

Venetian sources from the late 14th century refer to Dobrotitsa/Dobrotici as a "despot of Bulgarians" (DESPOTUM BULGARORUM DOBROTICAM) and to his realm as "parts of Zagora (Bulgaria) subordinate to Dobrotitsa" (PARTES ZAGORAE (BULGARIAE) SUBDITAS DOBROTICAE).[6]

References

  1. ^ Based on Lalkov, Rulers of Bulgaria
  2. ^ Г. Бакалов, История на българите, Том 1, 2003, с. 457
  3. ^ Fine, Late Medieval Balkans, p. 367
  4. ^ İnalcık, Halil. (1998). "Dobrudja". Encyclopaedia of Islam II. Leiden: E. J. Brill. 611 a-b
  5. ^ Delev, Petǎr; Valeri Kacunov, Plamen Mitev, Evgenija Kalinova, Iskra Baeva, Bojan Dobrev (2006). "19. Bǎlgarija pri Car Ivan Aleksandǎr" (in Bulgarian). Istorija i civilizacija za 11. klas. Trud, Sirma.  
  6. ^ Васил Гюзелев, ed (2001) (in Bulgarian). Венециански документи за историята на България и българите от XII–XV в.. София: Главно управление на архивите при Министерския съвет. pp. 108, p. 136. ISBN 954-0800-22-9.  

Further reading

  • Васил Н. Златарски, История на българската държава през средните векове, Част I, II изд., Наука и изкуство, София 1970.

See also

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