Obraz cara bułgarskiego Samuela w źródłach bizantyńskich (XII w.)
Samuel, the ruler of Bulgaria from the turn of the tenth and eleventh centuries is without a doubt a significant figure in the history of his country, having left a clear mark on its relations with the Byzantine Empire. It was he who challenged the Byzantines, who occupied a considerable part of Bulgaria in 971. Over the course of several decades, he was first wrenching Bulgarian territories from the Byzantine hands and subsequently defended his possessions with great determination. It was only several years after his death (1014) that the Bulgarian state fell into Byzantine hands (1018), ushering an almost hundred and seventy yearperiod of its nonexistence – the time of Byzantine captivity.
Information included in the 12th‑century Byzantine sources (Nicephor Bryennios, Anna Komnene, John Zonaras, Michael Glykas, The Life of Nikon Metanoeite”), analysed in the present article and relating to Samuel are focused on the two fundamental questions, specifically the circumstances in which he had taken the reins of power and the military activity he conducted against Byzantium. The portrayal of the Bulgarian ruler included therein was on the one hand influenced by the trend present in the Byzantine literature to diminish the successes of the Empire’s enemies by indicating their causes were to be found on the Byzantine side, and on the other by the fact that the Bulgarians became subjects of the Byzantine ruler. Some of them entered into the elite of the Byzantine society, sometimes through familial connections. In these circumstances, it was better to be related to Samuel the Basileus, rather than to Samuel the barbarian.