TSAR IVAN ALEXANDER was the tsar with the unhappy fate of watching the medieval Bulgarian state fade away. The Despot of Lovech Ivan Alexander took the throne triumphantly in 1331, having ousted Tsar Ivan Stefan, Anna-Neda’s son.
The first decade of the reign of Mihail Shishman’s nephew showed no sign of the impending decline of his state. He was successful in his battles with Bulgaria’s eternal enemy, Byzantium, and a number of fortresses in Thrace and the Khodopes came under his rule. In the summer of 1332, the Bulgarians defeated the Byzantine army at Kusocastro, south of the Balkan range, and the Byzantine emperor was compelled to sue for peace. Ivan Alexander wisely interfered in the power struggle in Byzantium, seeking a middle road between the mighty Serbian King Stefan Dusan and the Basileus.