Smilets of Bulgaria

Еmperor of Bulgaria
Reign 1292–1298
Predecessor George Terter I
Successor Ivan II of Bulgaria
Died 1298
Spouse Smiltsena Palaiologina
Issue Marina Smilets of Bulgaria
Teodora of Bulgaria, Queen of Serbia
Ivan II of Bulgaria
House Smilets dynasty

Smilets (Bulgarian: Смилец) reigned as emperor (tsar) of Bulgaria from 1292 to 1298. The date of his birth is unknown.


Although Smilec is credited with being descended "from the noblest family of the Bulgarians", his antecedents are completely unknown. Judging by the landholdings of his brothers Radoslav and Vojsil, the family held extensive lands between the Balkan mountains and Sredna Gora.

Before ascending the throne replacing George Terter I in 1292, Smilec had married an unnamed Byzantine princess, the daughter of the sebastokratōr Constantine Palaiologos, a half-brother of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. Apart from the information that Smilec became emperor of Bulgaria according to the wishes of Nogai Khan, we know nothing of the circumstances of Smilec's accession. He was crowned by Patriarch Joachim III. Joachim III was executed for treason in 1300 by emperor Theodore Svetoslav, George Terter I's son, and historian John Van Antwerp Fine Jr. theorizes that the alleged treachery might be linked to the obscure period when Smilets overthrew George Terter I.[1]

The reign of Smilec has been considered the height of Mongol overlordship in Bulgaria. Nevertheless, Mongol raids may have continued, as in 1297 and 1298. Since these raids pillaged parts of Thrace (then entirely in Byzantine hands), perhaps Bulgaria was not one of their objectives. In fact, in spite of the usually pro-Byzantine policy of Nogai, Smilec was quickly involved in an unsuccessful war against the Byzantine Empire at the beginning of his reign.

About 1296/1297 Smilec married his daughter Theodora to the future Serbian King Stefan Uroš III Dečanski, and this union produced the Serbian king and later emperor Stefan Uroš IV Dušan.

In 1298 Smilec disappears from the pages of history, apparently after the beginning of Chaka's invasion. He may have been killed by Chaka or died of natural causes while the enemy advanced against him. Smilec was briefly succeeded by his young son Ivan II.

Smilets Point in Antarctica is named after Smilets of Bulgaria.


Smilec was married to an unnamed Byzantine princess, daughter of sebastokratōr Constantine Palaiologos. She was called just Smiltsena (Bulgarian: Смилцена; the wife of Smilets). By her he had at least three children:

  1. Ivan II, who succeeded as emperor of Bulgaria 1298–1299/1300
  2. Teodora of Bulgaria, Queen of Serbia
  3. Marina


  1. Fine 1987, p. 228


Preceded by
George Terter I
Emperor of Bulgaria
Succeeded by
Ivan II
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