Khan Malamir (831-836)

When Khan Malamir took control of Bulgaria in 831 AD, he inherited a land in peace. His father, Khan Omurtag, had just concluded a two-year campaign against the Franks. Thanks to Omurtag, Bulgaria was also in the midst of a thirty-year peace with the Byzantine Empire. During Malamir’s rule, he did expand Bulgaria’s holdings in the Upper Thracian Lowland on both banks of the Maritsa River. Philippoupolis (Plovdiv) was incorporated in the Bulgarian state and named Pupuldin (Puldin).

Some have said that Malamir was also an ardent anti-Christian. His father, Omurtag, had been so upset at his first-born, Enravotha’s, conversion to Christianity, that he denied him the throne – instead giving it to Malamir. On being crowned in 831, the new Khan ordered the death of his older brother. It is said that this makes Enravotha the first martyr of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. However, The Lives of the Saints by Theophilactus of Ohrid records the argument between Khan Malamir and his brother Enravotha says: “This faith, in the name of which I am dying now, will multiply in Bulgarian lands. In vain are your hopes to limit it by means of my death. The sign of the cross will be put everywhere, temples of the true God will be erected and pure priests will serve purely the pure God…”. There were priests in Bulgaria at the time, and while Malamir may not have been a Christian himself, it is unclear whether Enravotha’s execution was a question of religious belief or of dynastic expediency. Curiously, in his inscription Malamir addresses not Tangra but God: “Long live together with Isbul for many years”.

After only five years as ruler of Bulgaria, in 836 Malamir was succeeded by his uncle, Pressian.

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