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1190 Battle of Tryavna ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: Bulgarian decisive victory and rebirth of the Bulgarian state 1190
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Uprising of Asen and Peter
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Tryavna Location:
Near the town of Tryavna, central Bulgaria
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Isaac II Angelos) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Isaac II Angelos Ivan Asen
Forces: Unknown Unknown
Losses: Annihilated
Background story: Brothers Theodore and Ivan Asen taking advantage of the Bulgarians’ discontent at the heavy taxation imposed by Emperor Isaac II Angelos to finance his wars against the Normans and his marriage, raised a revolt against Byzantine rule in late 1185. The rebellion led to the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire under the Asen dynasty. Theodore was proclaimed Emperor of the Bulgarians under the name Peter IV. During 1185 and 1186 the Bulgarians took over most of Moesia and raided across the Balkan mountains into Thrace.
Two expeditions by Isaac II in 1186 and 1187 were ineffective. Isaac II Angelos was forced to conclude a truce thus de facto recognizing the independence of Bulgaria. Until 1189, both sides observed the truce but when the soldiers of the 3rd Crusade reached the Bulgarian lands, Asen and Peter offered to help the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Frederick I Barbarossa with a force of 40,000 against the Byzantines. However, the relations between the Crusaders and the Byzantines smoothed and the Bulgarian proposal was ignored.
The Battle:
After the passing of the 3rd Crusade, Isaac II Angelos decided to deal with the Bulgarians decisively and organized a big campaign.
The Byzantine army, after passing the Balkan passes, marched westwards to besiege Tarnovo, the new Bulgarian capital. At the same time, the Byzantine fleet reached the Danube in order to bar the way of Cuman auxiliaries from the North.
The defense of Tarnovo was led by Ivan Asen himself and the demotivated Byzantine army could not take it. Furthermore, Asen tricked the Byzantine emperor to retreat by spreading rumors of the arrival of an enormous Cuman army to the relief of the besieged city. The Cumans had played a role in the failure of his previous campaigns and Isaac called for a hastily retreat through the nearest pass.
The Bulgarian Emperor guessed that the enemy would go through the Tryavna Pass. Indeed, the Byzantine army marched through that road, with their troops and baggage stretching for miles. The Bulgarians staged an ambush there, from the heights of a narrow gorge. When the Byzantine vanguard approached the end of the gorge and began fighting the Bulgarians that were defending the exit, those positioned on the heights showered the Byzantine force below with rocks and arrows. In panic, the Byzantine force broke up and began a disorganized retreat, prompting a Bulgarian charge. The Bulgarians slaughtered everyone on their way. Isaac II Angelos barely escaped; his guards had to cut a path through their own soldiers, enabling their commander's flight from the rout.
The victorious Bulgarians captured the Imperial treasure including the golden helmet of the Byzantine Emperors, the crown and the Imperial Cross which was considered the most valuable possession of the Byzantine rulers - a solid gold reliquary containing a piece of the Holy Cross.
Noteworthy: The Bulgarians captured the Imperial treasure including the golden helmet of the Byzantine Emperors, the crown and the Imperial Cross which was the most valuable possession of the Byzantine rulers - containing a piece of the Holy Cross.
Aftermath: The victory was very important for Bulgaria. Up to that moment, the official Emperor was Peter IV but after the major successes of his brother he gave the power to his smaller brother Asen.