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The Cometopuli dynasty ( ; Byzantine Greek: ) was the last royal dynasty in the First Bulgarian Empire, ruling from ca. 976 until the fall of Bulgaria under Byzantine rule in 1018. The actual name of the dynasty is not known, “Cometopuli” is merely the nickname which is used by Byzantine historians to address rulers from the dynasty as its founder, boyar Nikola, was a comes (governor, cognate to "count"; Byzantine Greek Κóμης, from the Latin; Bulgarian Комита Komita) probably of the region of Sredetz (the present-day capital of Bulgaria, Sofiamarker).

In view of his position and status, count Nikola is most likely to have been a member of the Slavonized Bulgar aristocracy and at least distantly related to the royal family of Tsar Peter I. According to other theories, the dynasty was of Slavic, or even Armenianmarker or Vlach origin. In 969 AD and following the Russian conquest of northeastern Bulgaria, count Nikola assumed control of the Bulgarian lands west of the Iskar. By the time of the Byzantine conquest of Preslavmarker and the dethronement of Tsar Boris II in 972, Nikola had been killed and the rule assumed by his four sons, David, Aaron, Moses, and Samuil. David led the defence of southwestern Bulgaria and resided in Prespa, Moses of southeastern Bulgaria residing in Strumicamarker, Aaron ruled over the region of Sredetz, whereas Samuel was in charge of northern Bulgaria with the town of Bdin (Vidinmarker).

Both David and Moses lost their lives early – David was murdered by wandering Vlachs, whereas Moses died during the siege of Serresmarker. A conflict broke out between Samuil and Aaron as the latter grew more and more pro-Byzantine and on June 14, 976 Aaron was executed near Dupnitzamarker. Later the same year, the dethroned Boris II and his brother, Romanus, managed to escape from captivity in Constantinoplemarker and reached the borders of Bulgaria. Boris II was, however, killed by mistake by the border guards. As a result, it was Romanus who was crowned as Bulgarian Tsar although real power and the control of the army lay in the hands of Samuel. It was not until the death of Roman in 997 that Samuel officially was crowned as Tsar in the absence of any other direct heirs to the throne.

After the death of Samuel in 1014, the crown passed on to his son, Gavril Radomir (1014 – 1015). In 1015, he was murdered by his first cousin and son of Aaron, Ivan Vladislav. With his own death in 1018 the First Bulgarian Empire came to an end. An attempt at restoration of Bulgarian independence was made some 20 years later by Peter Delyan (1040-1041), son of Gavril Radomir. He, aided by his cousin Alusian of Bulgaria organised an uprising and managed to push away the Byzantines from Ochrid for a short period, but was eventually betrayed by Alusian. Alusian's heirs were given noble titles and land in the Byzantine Empire.


  1. On his writings of XI century historian Asoghik wrote that Samuil had only one brother. According to Asoghik who lived in Derjan, located in an Armenian region of the Byzantine Empire, Samuil was also from Derjan and had Armenian origin.
  2. Asoghik version is supported by the historian Nicholas Adontz who analyzes in depth the events and facts of the century and comes to the conclusion that Samuil had only one brother – David.


  • Степанос Таронеци-Асохик (Asoghik, Stepanos T., 10th - 11th c.). Всеобщая история Степаноса Таронского - Асохика по прoзванию, писателя ХІ столетия. Перевод с армянскoго и объяснения Н.Эминым. Москва, Типография Лазаревского института восточных языков. 1864. ХVІІІ, 335 стр.
  • Asoghik (Stepanos de Taron). L'histoire universelle, Paris, 1859. Translation in German, Leipzig, 1907.
  • Stepanos, Tarōnetsi (Stepanos Asoghik Taronetsi, 10th-11th c.) Tiezerakan patmutyun, Erevan, 2000.
  • Adontz, Nikoghayos. Samuel l'Armenien, Roi des Bulgares. Bruxelles, Palais des academies, 1938.
  • Adontz, Nicolas. Etudes Armeno-Byzantines. Livraria Bertrand. Lisbonne, 1965.
  • Lang, David M. The Bulgarians, London, 1976.
  • Lang, David M. The Armenians. A People in Exile. London, 1981.

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