For the Bulgarian town, see Kubrat (town).
Patrikios of Magna Bulgaria
Reign c. 635 c. 650/665
Predecessor Gostun
Successor Batbayan
House Dulo

Kubrat (Xubraat, Qubrat, Qobrat; Greek: Kούβρατος, Κοβρāτος; Bulgarian: Кубрат; Turkic qobrat/quvrat, "to gather"[1][2]) was the OnoğundurBulgars[3] ruler credited with establishing the confederation of Old Great Bulgaria in c. 635 AD. In the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans Kubrat is mentioned as Kvrt, and the descendant of the Dulo clan.


Old Great Bulgaria and migration of the Bulgars

Kubrat spent his early life at the Byzantine Empire imperial palace in Constantinople. As the 7th-century Byzantine historian John of Nikiu narrates:

This project is concerned with Kubratos, chief of the Huns [sic], the nephew of Organa, who was baptized in the city of Constantinople, and received into the Christian community in his childhood and had grown up in the imperial palace. And between him and the elder Heraclius great affection and peace had prevailed, and after Heraclius's death he had shown his affection to his sons and his wife Martina because of the kindness [Heraclius] had shown him. And after he had been baptized with life-giving baptism he overcame all the barbarians and heathens through Virtue of holy baptism. Now touching him it is said that he supported the interests of the children of Heraclius and opposed those of Constantine.[4]

Whether he was a child or a young adult during his time in Constantinople is unclear. The exact time of this event is also unknown but probably coincided with the reign of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641). His or Organa's conversion to Christianity is placed circa 619 AD.[5][6] It seems that young Kubrat was part of the pre-planned coalition, initiated by Heraclius or Organa, against the Sasanian–Avar alliance.[7] This coincides with other alliances by Heraclius with steppe peoples, all in the interest of saving Constantinople.[5][6]

Kubrat, in 635, according to Nikephoros I, "ruler of the Onoğundur–Bulğars, successfully revolted against the Avars and concluded a treaty with Heraclius".[6] The state Old Great Bulgaria (Magna Bulgaria[6]) was formed. Kubrat died "when Konstantinos was in the West", somewhere during the reign of Constans II (641–668).[6]

According to Nikephoros I, Kubrat instructed his five sons (Batbayan, Kotrag, Asparukh, two others unmentioned are considered to be Kuber and Alcek[5]) to "never separate their place of dwelling from one another, so that by being in concordance with one another, their power might thrive".[5][6] However, the loose tribal union broke up under internal tensions and especially Khazars pressure from the East.[5][6]

Kubrat's death

The Pereshchepina Treasure was discovered in 1912 by Ukrainian peasants in the vicinity of Poltava, in village Malo Pereshchepyne.[8][9] It consists of diverse gold and silver objects of total weight of over 50 kg from the migration period, including a ring which eventually hinted the scholars to identify the site as the Kubrat's grave.[8][9] The ring was inscribed in Greek "Chouvr(á)tou patr(i)k(íou)", indicating the dignity of patrikios that he had achieved in the Byzantine world.[10] The treasure indicates close relation between the Bulgars and Byzantines, e.g. the bracelets were influenced or made by a Byzantine goldsmith.[11] The first treasure coins were issued after 629, by Heraclius, and the last ca. 650 AD, by Constans II, which can be associated with the upcoming Khazar conquest.[8]

Kubrat's lifespan is mentioned in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans, according which his birth is given the sign of the ox (shegor vechem) in the Bulgar calendar and 60 years of life.[12] This would place his death in 653 or 665 AD.[12] Thus, the date of Kubrat's death according historical and archaeological sources is placed between 650 and 665 AD.[12]


Kubrat Knoll on Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named after Kubrat of Great Bulgaria.

Kubrat was portrayed by Vassil Mihajlov in the 1981 Bulgarian movie Aszparuh, directed by Ludmil Staikov.[13]

See also


  1. Golden 1992, p. 244.
  2. Golden 2011, p. 144.
  3. Hyun Jin Kim (2013). The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 138. ISBN 9781107009066.
  4. "The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu". Translated by Robert Charles. London: Williams and Norgate. 1916.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Golden 1992, p. 245.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Golden 2011, p. 145.
  7. Golden 1992, p. 244–245.
  8. 1 2 3 Somogyi 2008, p. 128.
  9. 1 2 Fiedler 2008, p. 152.
  10. Vachkova 2008, p. 343.
  11. Lippitz-Deppert, Barbara (1993). "A Group of Late Antique Jewelry in the Getty Museum". Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Getty Publications. pp. 119–120. ISBN 9780892362035.
  12. 1 2 3 Somogyi 2008, p. 104.
  13. Khan Asparuh (1981) Full Cast & Crew - IMDB
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Preceded by
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