Samuil's Fortress and the Bulgar Slayer

Driving as far to the southwest of Bulgaria as we could, almost reaching the Macedonian border crossing, we arrived at Samuil's Fortress, scene of one of the most historic battles and infamous tragedies in Bulgarian history.

In the year 1014, Basil II, the Byzantine ruler, defeated the Bulgarian army in a fierce battle. Samuil, the Emperor of the First Bulgarian Empire, had resolved to stop Basil II before he entered Bulgarian territory, and even attacked the Byzantines at Thessaloniki. But the Byzantines prevailed in the various battles and captured more than 14,000 Bulgarian troops.

Having crushed the Bulgarians, Basil was said to have captured 15,000 prisoners
and blinded 99 of every 100 men, leaving 150 one-eyed men to lead them back to
their ruler. Samuil was physically struck down by the dreadful apparition of his
blinded army, and he died two days later after suffering a stroke. Although the
extent of Basil's mistreatment of the Bulgarian prisoners may have been
exaggerated, this incident helped to give rise to Basil's nickname of
Boulgaroktonos, "the Bulgar-slayer", in later tradition.


Today, Samuil's Fortress is a beautiful park along a stream, with huge trees and vistas of the agricultural fields towards the Greek border.

At the top of the hill is a monument to Emperor Samuil, and remnants of his fortress.

Maybe these pitchforks were used in the battle?


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