Presian II of Bulgaria

Not to be confused with Presian I of Bulgaria.
Presian II
Tsar of Bulgaria
Reign 1018
Predecessor Ivan Vladislav
Successor Peter II
Born c. 996
Died c. 1060
Spouse Unknown
House Cometopuli
Father Ivan Vladislav
Mother Maria
Religion Bulgarian Orthodox

Presian II (Bulgarian: Пресиян II) (or also Prusian) was emperor (tsar) of Bulgaria for a short time in 1018. The year of his birth may have been 996/997; he may have died in exile in 1060/1061. He was clearly the legitimate and unchallenged claimant to the crown of Bulgaria in 1018 and was in charge of the resistance to Byzantine conquest, but his ephemeral and constrained rule has resulted in his omission from most lists of Bulgarian monarchs.


Presian II was the eldest son of Emperor Ivan Vladislav of Bulgaria and his wife Maria. After the death of Ivan Vladislav at the siege of Drach in February 1018, the Byzantine Emperor Basil II invaded Bulgaria and quickly obtained the submission of much of the nobility, including the widowed Empress Maria and the Bulgarian Patriarch.

Tonsure of Presian, from the Madrid Skylitzes, Fol. 203v

Although the capital Ohrid also surrendered, some of the nobility and the army rallied around Presian II as his father's successor. The young emperor and his brothers, Aron and Alusian, headed a determined opposition to the Byzantine conquest in and around the Albanian mountain Tomorr during a long Byzantine blockade in 1018. Eventually Presian II and his brothers were forced to surrender and were integrated into the court nobility in Constantinople. There Presian was granted the high court title of magistros, mirroring the last Bulgarian ruler to be deposed by the Byzantines, Boris II.

About a decade later, in the late 1020s, Presian became involved in the conspiracy of his sister's husband, Romanos Kourkouas, against Emperor Constantine VIII. Returning from exile after the accession of Romanos III Argyros in 1029, Presian was once again implicated in a plot, together with Maria. This time Presian was planning to marry Theodora, a daughter of Constantine VIII, and to usurp the throne. The plot was discovered, Presian was blinded and tonsured as a monk in 1030. His subsequent fate is unknown, but the gravestone of a certain "Prince Presian" found in Michalovce, Slovakia (then part of Hungary), may indicate that he could have emigrated to the Kingdom of Hungary where he died in 1060/1061.


    Preceded by
    Ivan Vladislav
    Tsar of Bulgaria
    Succeeded by
    Title next held by
    Peter II
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