Michael II Asen

Michael II Asen
Еmperor of Bulgaria

A mural Emperor Michael Asen I.
Reign 1246–1256
Predecessor Kaliman Asen I
Successor Kaliman Asen II
Born Between 1238-1241
Died 1256
near Tarnovo
Spouse Unnamed daughter of Rostislav Mikhailovich
House Asen dynasty
Father Ivan Asen II
Mother Irene Komnene of Epirus

Michael II Asen (Bulgarian: Михаил II Асен)[a] ruled as emperor (tsar) of Bulgaria from 1246 to 1256. He was the son of Ivan Asen II and his third wife Irene Komnene of Epirus (nun Xene), daughter of Theodore I Ducas of the Despotate of Epirus. He was born between 1238 and 1241 and died in 1256.


Michael II Asen was still a child when he ascended the throne in succession to his brother Kaliman Asen I. It is assumed that his mother Eirene took over the government as regent, but there is little evidence to prove this hypothesis. At the news of a second underage monarch on the Bulgarian throne, the neighboring powers, the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus and the Kingdom of Hungary, invaded Bulgaria and annexed significant territories. The losses included Thrace to Nicaea, much of Macedonia to Epirus, and the Belgrade area and the banate of Severin to Hungary. In spite of the losses, in 1247 Bulgaria was forced to aid Nicaea against the Latin Empire.

In 1253 the government of Michael II Asen concluded a commercial and military treaty with the Republic of Ragusa (a.k.a. Dubrovnik) directed against Stefan Uroš I of Kingdom of Serbia. The Bulgarian attempt to conquer Serbia failed completely in spite of an inroad deep into Serbian territory.

Second Bulgarian Empire (1241-1256)

The death of John III Doukas Vatatzes in 1254 inspired an attempt by the Bulgarians to recover the lands lost to Nicaea. By this time Michael II Asen was coming of age and he participated in the campaign, which met with initial success, overrunning Thrace and obtaining the surrender of various fortresses in the Rhodope Mountains area by the sympathetic local population. However, the swift advance of the new emperor of Nicaea Theodore II Doukas Laskaris caught the Bulgarians by surprise, and Michael II Asen suffered accidental wounds during his precipitous flight through a forest. In the following year, 1255, Michael II Asen attempted to strike back with an army of Cuman foederati and again obtained some initial success. In 1256 the belligerents concluded a peace essentially reflecting conditions before the war.

The meagre sources leave the impression that Michael II Asen spent most of his reign under the influence of one or another powerful figure at court. This role was first fulfilled by his mother Eirene. By the treaty with Dubrovnik in 1253, the sources single out the sebastokratōr Peter, who had married Michael II Asen's sister Anna (or Theodora). The last years of Michael II Asen's reign seem to reflect the influence of Rostislav Mikhailovich, a Russian prince of the house of Chernigov, who had settled in Hungary, married Anna of Hungary, a daughter of King Béla IV of Hungary and Maria Laskarina of Nicaea, and had become ban of the Belgrade area. Probably about this time Michael Asen I married a daughter (it is not certain which one) of Rostislav, and in 1256 Rostislav served as an intermediary at the signing of the peace treaty with Nicaea.

Perhaps infuriated with the concessions of Michael Asen I and his father-in-law in the peace treaty, a group of nobles rallied around the emperor's cousin Kaliman Asen. During a hunting trip in the vicinity of the capital Tărnovo, Kaliman Asen murdered Michael Asen I and usurped the throne.


  1. ^ He is known in Bulgarian historiography as Michael II Asen[1] (Михаил II Асен).[2][3]


  1. Kiril Petkov (31 August 2008). The Voices of Medieval Bulgaria, Seventh-Fifteenth Century: The Records of a Bygone Culture. BRILL. pp. 532–. ISBN 90-04-16831-1.
  2. Димитър Зафиров (2007). История на българите. TRUD Publishers. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-954-528-752-7.
  3. Vasil Gi͡uzelev (1981). Srednovekovna Bŭlgarii︠a︡ v svetlinata na novi izvori. Nar. prosveta. p. 165.


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Preceded by
Kaliman Asen I
Emperor of Bulgaria
Succeeded by
Kaliman Asen II
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