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    Trajan's Gate fortress

    Since 971 Bulgaria and Byzantium have been in a permanent war, having gone through various vicissitudes.

    Trajan's Gate fortress

    After the fall of Preslav and the capture of the Bulgarian Tsar Boris I, the war continued with the governors of the regions in the western and beyond the Danube part of the Bulgarian state, choosing Samuel, the son of one of the regional governors, as commander-in-chief of the Bulgarian army. In 980, Tsar Boris I and his brother Roman escaped captivity, but a Bulgarian border guard killed Boris because he was dressed in Roman clothes.
    Then Roman was proclaimed king of Bulgaria and his residence was appointed Skopje. However, the real power remains in the hands of Samuel. By skillful action by 986, Samuel succeeded in freeing Moesia, Bessarabia, northern Greece, to sweep away the Serbian principalities. When the Byzantine emperor Basil II learned that the Bulgarians were preparing to liberate their last occupied territory in 971 (Thrace), he decided to strike ahead. It is aimed at Via Militaris - the shortest route to Central Europe. The idea is not only to cut Bulgaria apart, but also to encourage the Magyars to invade the Bulgarian lands in Transylvania and Wallachia. In early August 986, with the whole army of the Byzantine Empire, Basil II departed from Plovdiv to Sofia.

    Trajan's Gate fortress

    A small detachment sent to Thessaloniki succeeded in misleading Samuel that the main Byzantine forces had landed in the city and from there along the Vardar valley they would advance to the then Bulgarian capital, Skopje. Therefore, with the whole Bulgarian army, Samuel settles in front of Thessaloniki to stop the enemy at the border with Bulgaria. On the day he pulls off the Byzantine Byzantine squad, he is horrified to learn that the Byzantine army, led by the emperor himself, is in front of Sredets and is preparing to storm the city, defended by elders and adolescents under the command of his brother Aaron.
    On the same day, Samuel takes down the siege of Sofia and heads down the Struma valley to Sredets. This is 20 days and he does not believe Sredets will last that long. But Sredets endured. The ancestors of the shops repelled the first assault, and hours before the second, through tunnels beneath the fortress walls, they reach the prepared siege machines and burn them. The garrisons emerge from the small fortresses on the hills around Sofia Field at night and attack the Byzantines.
    In the second week after these shoplifting exercises, sixty thousand Byzantine army were left without food. Having suffered heavy losses, left without food, and learned that Samuel had already reached Dupnitsa with the Bulgarian army, Vasily II decided to withdraw to Plovdiv. Samuel takes a bold maneuver and instead of Sofia goes the Dupnitsa-Samokov-Shtipon road with the clear intention of blocking the road of the Byzantine army. In the rear Basil is followed by the garrisons in Sofia Field and the Imperial Guard, led personally by Tsar Roman.
    On August 19, Byzantium's army was in front of the Trajan's Gate. But he is surrounded by the tight lines of Bulgarian soldiers. And in the rear, the rear guard of the Roma army is already fighting the Sredets and the Skopje garrison. Basil II is in the position of Emperor Nicephorus in the willow pass. But it does not panic. In order to save himself, he sacrifices his army by throwing it at the Bulgarians in the center of the barrier. In the narrow passage after today's tunnel, this attack has no chance.
    But the Bulgarian regiments gathered at this place free up a path on the surrounding hills, along which the Armenian security company takes Vasily II out of the hoop and reaches Plovdiv with a mad ride. These are the only ones saved in battle. Sixty thousand Romeans lie under the Bulgarian sword. In the coming months, Byzantium, left without troops, is helpless in the face of the Bulgarian offensive in all directions. Thrace was liberated, present-day Central Greece, Albania, and Dalmatia. Bulgaria is at the zenith of its might.

    Author: Prof. Dr. Bozhidar Dimitrov


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