AFTER THE REMARKABLE RULE of Simeon, Bulgaria fell into decay. Many historians tend to blame the successor of Simeon the Great, Tsar Peter I, for the decline of the country. They describe him as weak, sickly, meek and unstatesmanlike. Indeed, he did not have his father’s dash, his abilities as a military commander, his diplomatic skill or his immense erudition. Yet that quiet and modest monarch remained on the throne longer than any other medieval Bulgarian ruler: from 927 to 970.
The reason for Bulgaria’s unhappy lot should not be reduced to the faults of Simeon’s son. While many years of wars led to an unprecedented expansion of the state, the peasantry, which constituted the main source of soldiers for the army, was depleted. Human losses, suffering, taxes and the draining of the nation’s vital resources was the price Bulgaria paid for the victories of Simeon the Great.