Tsar Ivan Asen II

Gold coin, Tsar Ivan Assen II
Gold coin, Tsar Ivan Assen II



The son of Kaloyan's brother, Ivan Asen II, sat on the Turnovo throne  from 1218 to 1241. Although his military undertakings were successful, he put under his sceptre vast territories between the Black, the Aegean and the Adriatic Sea mainly through diplomatic moves. As a rule, the exchanges in these negotiations were his own marriages or the weddings of his daughters, whose feminine charms he was obviously able to sell at a good price. Allied by marriage with the Hungarian king, he received as dowry the Belgrade and Branichevo districts (today in Serbia), and his relationship with the Latins in Constantinople made him guardian of their underage emperor.

Bulgaria became again the most powerful state on the Peninsula - well administered, with a flourishing foreign trade, living in peace and exceptional religious tolerance. The Bulgarian church was once more recognized as an independent patriarchate.

The most serious military conflict in the time of his reign was the battle that took place in 1230, when he fought the Byzantines belonging to a state known as the State of Epirus - in this battle Ivan Asen took their emperor Theodore Comnenus and his aristocrats prisoners, but set the thousands of ordinary soldiers free. This gesture, as well as his overall peace policy, accounted for the fact that, later, his death was lamented by everybody - no matter whether Bulgarians, Greeks, or other people from the neighbouring countries.

Although the family of Ivan Asen II did not exist for a very long period as a Bulgarian dynasty, many of its members infused their blood in the veins of monarchs, hierarchs and aristocratic families, some of  which, in Italy, for example, have their living representatives even today.