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Baba Vida fortress

Baba Vida is a medieval fortress in Vidin in northwestern Bulgaria and the town’s primary landmark. It consists of two fundamental walls and four towers and is said to be the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country.
The construction of the fortress began in the 10th century at the place of an Ancient Roman watchtower. The building of Baba Vida is tied to a legend, according to which a Danubian Bulgarian king who ruled at Vidin had three daughters: Vida, Kula and Gamza. Prior to his death, he divided his realm among the three. Vida, the eldest, was given Vidin and the lands north to the Carpathians, Kula was awarded Zajecar and the Timok Valley, and Gamza was to rule the lands west up to the Morava. Although Gamza and Kula married to drunkard and warlike nobles, Vida remained unmarried and built the fortress in her city. The name of the castle means “Granny Vida“.
Baba Vida served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and acted as the most important fortress of northwestern Bulgaria. The Baba Vida stronghold stood an eight-month-long siege by Byzantine forces led by Basil II, but was destroyed and once again erected during the rule of Ivan Stratsimir, as whose capital it served. Between 1365 and 1369, the fortress was in Hungarian hands. Vidin was suddenly attacked by the forces of Louis I of Hungary, but it took several months to conquer Baba Vida. In 1369, Ivan Sratsimir managed to regain control of his capital, albeit he had to remain under Hungarian overlordship.
In 1388, the Ottomans invaded Sratsimir’s lands and forced him to become their vassal. In 1396, he joined an anti-Ottoman crusade led by the King of Hungary, Sigismund, placing his resources at the crusaders’ disposal. The crusade ended in the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis at Nikopol, Bulgaria, with the Ottomans capturing most of Sratsimir’s domains shortly thereafter, in 1397.
The fortress played a significant role during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, serving as a weapon warehouse and a prison, as it has been no longer used for defensive purposes since the end of the 18th century.
Today, Baba Vida is a fortress-museum, where finds and intelligence about its history are kept. Being a popular tourist attraction, the fortress was restored to its former appearance.

EARLIEST DATA ABOUT “ВАВА VIDA” (XI-XIVcc.)
In 1002 the Byzantine emperor Vassilii II seized the town of Vidin after a siege that lasted for eight months.
“In the next year… the emperor launched a campaign against Vidin and seized it by force after a siege that lasted for eight long months. [That was the time when the Bulgarian chiefs revealed their experience. They gathered the median fire in earthenware pots and in this way extinguished it.]…And after fortifying Vidin well, the emperor returned to his capital without any losses…”
“History” by Skilitza-Kedrin. -Sources for the Bulgarian history.V.XI, (Greek sources for the Bulgarian history. V.VI.). S., 1965, p.282.
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In 1213 an uprising against king Boril took place in Vidin. It was suppressed with the help of the Hungarian king Andrew II, who sent provincial governor Yoakim to restore the authority of the Bulgarian king over his rebellious subjects.
“When Ivashin [Yoakim] arrived at the castle of Budin [Vidin], he burned down two of the town’s gates. After the fierce battle that took place there, and after his horse was killed in its ride, Ivashin [Yoakim] remained alive, although he got some deadly wounds.”
A charter by the Hungarian king Bela IV from July 1,1250 – Petrov, Peter, Vassil Gyuzelev. Reader in history of Bulgaria. V.2. Real Middle Ages (thе end of XII-XIV cc.). S. 1978, p. .
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In 1292 the ruler of Vidin despot Shishman, embarked on a campagin against Serbia, during which his armies burned down the Serbian archbishopric, situated in Zhicha. In response the Serbian king Stephen Urosh II Millutin conquered Vidin in the same year. ¦
“And arriving in his country at the town named Bdina, he seized all its region, and the unwise man put to flight. Submissive and ashamed, he r?i into the forest and crossed the river called the Danube. Everything came into the hands of this royal highness the king and he would ruin all his domains, and also the town, where his royal court was, and he would bring to ruins and devastate all his kingdom.”
ARCHBISHOP DANILO. “The Lives of Serbian Kings and Archbishops”. Petrov, Peter, Vassil Gyuzelev. Reader in History of Bulgaria. V.2. Real Middle Ages (the end of XII-XIV cc.) S., 1978, p.136.
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THE TRAVELLERS FOR “BABA VIDA”(XVIII-XIX cc.)
“The old fortress is situated by the Danube opposite the gate of Nish. Its high walls with embrasures connect sideways with the corncrs of rectangular lowers, densely filled with cannons. There arc two cannons on the walls, connecting two bastions, the one of which, facing cast and having the shape of a tower, is higher and more massive than all the rest. One low, walled up and pinnacled mound, without being fortified sideways in the old manner, goes around everything, and also a moat, deeper than wide, the opposite scarp of which is walled up. There is muddy and stagnant water in it, a couple of feet deep. By all sides the water is walled in by a simple wall only, as high as the other mounds, but it has a steep slope and is fortified by the two sides in the way, visible in the scheme hereto attached. A tiny, perpendicular and cut through by pinnacles wall, just like our old city walls, goes along the ridge. From the water side it is protected by a mound. After a narrow passage its parapet begins. It is coated up to the level of the foot of the wall. Almost everywhere it is parallel to the perimeter of the place. Just like the covered road, coming from the field, it is covered with spikes but the soil that is supposed to block it is taken away by the water almost all the way, so that the wall in front of the palisades shows peeled in many places. From the side of the gate of Nish there is a small bastion, adjoined to the masonry that splits the water, and one other earth mound like the ones lying at the side of the field. There is a door there, through which 1 paid my visit to the Pasha. The first bastion is entirely new and has been constructed after the last war. You will get acquainted much better with all this equipment from the design hereto attached “

CAPTAIN SHAD. Description and observations by Mr. Shad, captain in Gaisbruck, about the trip to Levanta, carried out with the suite of the emperor’s embassy, 1740. (in the manuscripts’ department of the Austrian national library). – Foreign travel notes about the Balkans. V.6. German and Austrian travel notes about the Balkans (XVII the middle of the XVIII cc.) V.2. S., 1986, p.354.

“The castle of Vidin has the shape of a semicircle, the diameter of which is the Danube. It is a simple surrounding wall, seesawed by corner fortifications among which an irregular rectangle, or rather a pentagon rises, surrounded by five towers. And from the height of this fortress Osman Pazvantoglu resisted all the power of the Ottoman empire for such a long time with only a couple of polish gunners.”
LOUIS OGUST FELIX BOZHUR. Military trip around the Ottoman Empire or a description of its boundaries and major means of defence, natural or artificial. VI 11 Paris, 1829. Foreign travel notes about the Balkans.VI. French travel notes about the Balkans (XV-XVIII cc.) VI. S.. 1975, p.417.
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“The walls of Vidin arc well constructed and fortified in the European manner, or rather there в a slight change in their condition since the time it was conquered by the Austrians…The old castle, although being almost in ruins, is still a majestic and reapercting grand structure. Looking at it from the riverside, it appears а marvelous and picturesque place in the overall view of the town. Its nearness to the sew buildings helps it show, that whatever the constructions could gain in reaped, of the defensive equipment, when compared to the modern means of fortification, the ones of the ancient people show a more expressive impressiveness. I did not visit the new citadel of Pazvant Oglu. but here it is considered to be a very respectful building.”
JOHN GALT. Journey by sea and road in the years 1809. 1810.1811 London, 1812. -Foreign travel anas about the Balkans.V.7. English travel notes about the Balkans (the end of XVI c the 30-ies of XIX c). V.|. S.. 1987, p.537.
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“The oldest and most interesting from historical point of view part of the fortress is situated inside the citadel, at the edge of the Danube treat. Numerous square and multiangular towers rise in the narrow space. All this forms a structure, in the construction of which all peoples, succeeding its founders, the Romans, have participated. Probably, this is the castle.^constructcd by one of the three daughters of the Bulgarian king, just like the castles in Kurvingrad and Vitball. A legend says that princess Vida built up her “Vida’s Towers” and a small church in honour of St.Petka, a trace of which is still being looked for, but probably could be found. It is certain that the residence of prince Shishman and his son Michail has been here. Later on, after being declared a king, that prince Shishman set up the third Bulgarian dynasty in Tarnovo (1323). Unfortunately, the suspicious Turkish miralai allowed me to photograph only an incomplete drawing of the bizarre structure. Its odd, irregular and thick walls, taking turns with masonry of stone and bricks, resemble some of the neighbouring ruins from the Roman-Byzantine epoch. A hand-written note on the above-mentioned drawing shows that the Austrian general Veteranni ordered in 1689 the oldest Vidin’s fortification to be surrounded by a low breastwork and a moat. Since it wasn’t good for defence, the Turks used the castle as an ammunition store. The upper part of that building is an interesting example for medieval fortification. Its closer examination will most probably show that the Old- Bulgarian caslle Bdin has been founded on the remains of the Roman-Byzantine Bononia…in September, 1864 I began completing the drawings of the castle from 1862. The wall provides a new evidence of the excellent Byzantine-Bulgarian building technique, especially in the use of bricks for metrical intervals of the strengthening massive stone masonry. In it I found ancient stone fragments, among which there were two Roman stone plates. They deserve special attention, because they belong to the rare stone inscriptions from Ratziaria, the near-by capital of Mizia.”
FELIX KANITZ. Bulgaria of the Danube and the Balkan. V.I.S., 1995, PH”Borina”, Sofia, pp.56-57.

“Afterwards we went around the so-called small fortress, which constitutes a big shapeless stone ruin in one of the corners of the present fortress. Among the tottering brick layers some roman plates with inscriptions are bricked in here and there. The fact that one of these stone plates is built in with the inscription upside down proves that they have been used as structural material only. The Sun had already set down when we reached the top of the tower that faced the Danube. The marvelous view to the whole vicinity was there again. The perfectly smooth surface of the great Danube showed up beneath our feet. On the other side of the river there was the town of Kalafat with its white houses, and in the distance the mountain chains of Hoja Balkans showed blue. In the silent, pure air and in the magic light of the coming evening everything merged into the colours of a charming panorama. The distant peaks started disappearing little by little and since even the near-by objects faded away soon, we had to part with the charming view…”
BENJAMIN KALLAI. History of the Serbian revolt 1807 – 1810. ..V.II. Budapest, 1909(Application). Foreign travel notes about the Balkans. V.2. Hungarien travel notes about the Balkans V.l. S., 1976, pp.90-91.
STATUS OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDIES OF THE CASTLE ‘BABA VIDA’
The castle “Baba Vida” is one of the best preserved defensive works in our country, dated back to the Middle Ages. It rises up in the north-eastern part of the town of Vidin and is situated on the bank of the Danube in the riverside park.
The second half of the X c. is accepted to be the probable period, during which the castle has been constructed. It is built-up on the remains of the ancient fortress Bononia. From the first medieval construction period the big south-eastern bastion is preserved. The initial design of the fortification is hard to establish because of the many changes, carried out later. The medieval fortification had considerably smaller dimensions and most probably it served as a watch-tower. Its turning into a medieval castle took place at the time of the first rulers of the Vidin’s principality. Its final extension was at the time of Ivan Sratzimir, whose name is related with the main tower of the castle. Two defensive walls were constructed -inside and outside, with adjoining towers. From the XV c. the castle had defensive functions only. It was reconstructed again at the end of the XVII c
and the beginning of the XVIII c, when the appearance of the fire weapons brought out new demands to that kind of outfits.
CHARACTERISTICS AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION
The basic design of the castle has not been drastically changed. It covers an area of 6,5 decades and is surrounded by a defensive moat, 12 metres wide and 6 metres deep. Its disposition consists of an inside fortified wall in the shape of an irregular tetragon with nine corner and intermediate towers. Later on the outside fortified wall with the entrance tower was constructed. The walls and the towers were topped with embrasures. The housing part of the castle engaged the inner side of the inside fortified wall with a view at the central courtyard. The premises were arranged on two levels. The access to the upper shooting terrace was ensured by spiral steps and a platform for drawing up of cannons, as well as by wooden steps in some of the towers.
EXTENT OF RESEARCH For the first time “Baba Vida” is recorded as a castle in an Austrian lay out of the ‘Cale’ (stronghold) of Vidill from 1783. kept in the Viennas’s library. In the second half of the XIX c. Felix Kanits provides a satisfactory description, illustrated with a comparatively precise sketch in which he uses both terms – a fortress and a castle. Later on Konstantin Irechck makes a more extensive and detailed description of the monument.
During the period from the Liberation till the end of World War I the castle was committed to the military authorities and the access to it was limited. The descriptions of At. Radoslavov and Kr. Miyatev from this period are valuable. The brochure of the local museum worker V. Atanasov is of scientific interest too. There is a drawing and vertical sections in it, worked out by architect II. Popov. About the 50-ies Iv. Velkov makes the guess that in some of the brick ornamental compositions the name of Shishman could be distinguished. In this way he expresses a more different attitude to the site, but his guess was qualified as not-proved. In 1956-1962 the first archaeological investigations were carried out. They were organized and performed by the Archaeological Institute at the Bulgarian Academy of Scicnecs and the county museum of Vidin. Immediate participarts in the investigations were the deputy director of the Archaeological Institute Stamen Michailov, and the director of the Vidin’s museum, Yordana Atanasova. The results of their work are published by Michailov. Briefly, they arc as follows:
- It is established, that the medieval structures lay over the remains of the fortress walls and outfits of the ancient Bononia. without being their immediate successor or continuator.
- Valuable data was obtained about the stratigraphy (vertical section) of the terrain, in which cultural layers from the Roman. Byzantine, Early- and Late-Bulgarian and also from the Ottoman epochs were registered.
- The construction periods and the supplemented parts differ both in the medieval and the Ottoman buildings.
Summarized in such a way, the results from those initial excavations look considerably important and there could hardiy Le any need to undertake new ones. But it only looks this way. In the article of St. Michailov one could feel an incompleteness of the excavations. The author does not present a layout of the castle from medieval period. He only fixes the existing ones as at the present stage of the buildings.
In 1969 architect Boyan Kuzupov and Yordana Atanasova undertook cleaning up of the entrance tower at the inner entrance of the castle, where they came upon an abandoned entrance and a staircase. Unfortunately, they did not announce their find anywhere and, besides, they did nothing about its timely registering. It was just in 1976 that arch. A. Strashimirov provided the museum with a technical record, without any instructions for conservation.
In their range the previous excavations cover exclusively I the all-around I courtyard and the moat, and what’s more, the studies were carried out mostly near the walls, the towers and the corners between them. An overall section of the courtyard’s terrain, to juxtapose the different levels between the inside and the outside defensive lines, wasn’t executed anywhere. Inside the castle the excavations cover the internal courtyard and some of the adjoining premises. They have been started in 1977 and are still done every year. A medieval church-chapel was discovered and that was published by s. r. a. (senior research associate) V. Vullov in 1980. Here we should mention the exceptional merits of V. Vullov, who has done the longest and the most systematical archaeological study of the castle. Thanks to his labour and high erudition the archaeological status of the castle has been clarified almost entirely.
According to the studies up to now, the construction periods arc the following: Antique – I-VI сc, Bulgarian – X-XIV сс., Ottoman XV XIX cc. The restoration activities are from the XXc. They stratify chronologically over one and the same terrain for centuries on end.
The earliest one-the Roman- is on level 33.20 m., registered in the foundations of the tower of Sratzimir. One of the gates of the Roman Bononia was discovered there. Its fortified walls extend beneath the walls of Baba Vida in the direction of the park, perpendicular to the hank of the Danube.
The construction from the XXII cc. is visible in the premises around the central courtyard and the all-around wall to the north of the tower of Sratzimir. This is approximately at level 34.40 m. The outside walls of the castle are also from (he medieval construction period -on the north-western, north-eastern, south-eastern and the south-western facades many embrasures are clearly visible at level 43 m.
In the XVII c. the castle was entirely reconstructed, both in height and design. Another line of premises was built around the inner courtyard. The medieval embrasures were filled with stone masonry, the pinnacles-remodeled and provided with new embrasures at the highest level of 46.67 №.
During the centuries that followed, the design scheme was progressively changed by forming of an all-around courtyard, the construction of barrack-room, adjoining the western outside wall of the castle. Probably in the XVIII or the beginning of the XIX c. supporting counterforts (supprting walls) were built. The arcade openings of the rooms to the central yard were closed by imitational masonry. The “emergency tower”, the foundations of which are in the all around defensive moat at the south-eastern side of the outside fortified wall, dates back to the same period. A bridge across the moat to the entrance tower was built as well. Before that, the access to the entrance was ensured by a swing-bridge, traces of which can still be seen on the entrance facade.
At the same time, architectural studies were being done. Conservation and restoration activities on the castle were started in 1960. The results from them were summarized in an article by arch. Boyan Kuzupov in 1980. The architectural and archaeological studies that are carried out up to now, the high rate of preservation and its value in the system of our national common heritage nominate it as a monument of culture of an extremely high historical and architectural value.
It provides abundant opportunities for both studying the way of life and for tracing the architectural and building traditions of the different epochs – antiquity, middle ages and ottoman, which proves the high scientific importance of the site.
“Baba Vida” is announced to be one of the hundred national tourist sites, included in the system of the cognitive-tourist routs in the country. By its importance, the castle takes a significant place among the medieval monuments of culture on the Balkan Peninsula.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDIES IN THE INSIDE PREMISES
Most of the archaeological material is of very late origin-i.e. after the middle of the XVIII c- iron cannon-balls, shells, cartridges. Earthen tobacco pipes-typical for the ottoman epoch material, are found together with faience. Its two types-the blue-coloured coffee cups of the “Kyutahya” type go together with the pipes in the upper two or three layers. Downwards, after the third working layer, i.e. from 0.75 to 1.05-1.10
m. the utensils with thin walls and the ones glazed in a single colour arc equal in number. In the deepest layers (1.50 – 1.80 in.) there is no superiority of the typical for the XIII-X1V cc. types : ordinary kitchen pottery and utensils covered with a polished stripe and net. Such fragments appear, but not in homogeneous surroundings. They appear together with the other types. And the interesting thing is, that a thin-walled pottery with porous structure, familiar and characteristic for the period XI to the beginning of the XIII c. in Tarnovo, dominates. The glass ampullas are a new and unexplored material. They appear at the depth of 1.10 m. They could be some kind of a package.
RATE OF PRESERVATION OF THE CASTLE “BABA VIDA”
For an overall assessment of the site we have to base ourselves on the rate of preservation of its particular elements, namely: archaeological finds, architectural facts, functional and structural schemes. As far as the functional scheme is concerned, it has not been preserved, but the structural one is of a high rate of preservation, due to the durability of the material, out of which the castle has been constructed.
The architectural facts, such as pavements, covers, walls, different interior and decorative facade ornaments are in good condition. Due to the fact, that the castle has been occupied permanently from the time it was constructed till nowadays, it has been maintained, repaired and renovated up till the beginning of the XX c. The integrity of the archaeological walls does not question their authenticity at all. Except for the pavements in the courtyard and the former exposition room.
The walls are original, excluding the last metre of the two covered towers (reconstruction).
The courtyard areas in front of the second entrance tower and around the tower of Sratzimir are most intensely saturated with elements, illustrating the history of the castle and the life that was led behind its walls. The same holds true for the rooms around the inner courtyard too, especially for the ones, situated in its eastern corner and along its north-western side.
VIDIN’S RULERS (IX-XIX cc.)
Many famous people from the Middle Ages and the epoch of the Ottoman authority over the Bulgarian state are connected with the castle “Baba Vida”. Some of them, members of the SHISHMAN’S DYNASTY for example, have certainly lived in it. Here is some brief information about them.
GLAD is the first ruler of Budin, about whom data is available. He had the title of “tarkan” or “komit”, he was of proto-Bulgarian origin and he ruled over considerable territories on both sides of the Danube, up to the Marosh river (in Hungary). He lived in the beginning of the X c. and his name is mentioned in connection with the military operations between Bulgarians and Hungarians in 903-907. He had enormous authorities and power: he had considerable military forces, he defended the boundaries of the state on his own and he had the authority to negotiate for peace.
Before he was declared a Bulgarian king, most probably SAMUIL (997-1014) was a ruler of the Budin’s district. When the sons of king Peter I, king Boris II and Roman fled away from Constantinople in 976, they headed for Bulgaria. When crossing the border, however, the king was killed because due to his clothing he was mistaken for a Byzantine, while “Roman took refuge in Vidin”. It would have been very reasonable for him to have looked for the protection of some of komit Nikola’s sons, who were at the head of the Bulgarian state at that time (each of them ruled over a different district). Since the brothers David and Moses acted in the districts to the south and to the south-west and Aaron ruled over the district of Sofia, we have to conclude that namely Samuil was in Vidin. His good relations with the Hungarian kingdom in the period before the year 1000 support this conclusion. (His son Gavril Radomir was married to the daughter of the Hungarian king Geza.
YAKOV SVETOSLAV is a Russian prince who came to Bulgaria looking for a refuge from the Tartar-Mongolian invasion in the 30-ies of the XIII c. He managed to achieve a high social position in the state and in 1258 or 1259 he married the grand-daughter of king Ivan Assen II (daughter of emperor Theodor II Laskaris and Elena). Most probably Yakov Svetoslav supported the Bulgarian king, Konstantin Tih-Assen, in his struggle against one of the pretenders for the throne, Mitso, and because of his merits he was granted the title of ‘Despot’, next to the title of the king by importance. Later on he maneuvered skillfully between the kingdom of Tarnovo and the Hungarian kingdom and turned into one of the main pretenders for the Bulgarian throne (Indicative in this respect are the copper coins, minted by him, on which the patron of the dynasty of the Assens, St. Dimiter, is portrayed). This gave queen Mary the reason to eliminate him ( probably by poison) about 1276. She had been forced to adopt him before that.
SHISHMAN ruled the principality of Budin from 1280 to 1312-1313. He was of Cuman origin and was also married to the grand-daughter of King Ivan Assen II (Her mother, Anna Theodora, descended from the marriage of this Bulgarian king with Irena Komnina and her father was sebastocrator Peter). Shishman was a despot and his large territories were independent from the powerful tartar khan Nogai. In 1292 Nogai incited Shishman to launch a campaign against Serbia. In that campaign the cumans from his army burned down the archbishop’s church in Zhicha, but after that the Serbian king Stephen Urosh II Millutin managed to defeat Shishman and even seized Bdin. The intervention of khan Nogai restored the power of Shishman, and the peace treaty was fastened by marriages. Shishman married a daughter of the great Serbian Zhupan (governor of a province) and his son, Michail Shishman, married the daughter of the Serbian king, Ana-Neda by name. A piece of information indicates Bdin as a capital of Bulgaria, and the Danube as a river passing through the middle of that state. Al that time despot Shishman’s co-ruler was his son Michail Shishman (and maybe his other son Bellaur too). Despot Shishman is the founder of the last Bulgarian royal family (the Shishmans) from the Middle Ages.
KING MICHAIL III SHISHMAN ASSEN is despot Shishman’s son from his first marriage. He was born about 1280. In 1308 he was already his father’s co-ruler in the region of Bdin (maybe together with his brother Bellaur). He had the title of despot, received probably from the Bulgarian king Theodor Svetoslav, who was his cousin. After the dynasty of the Terters was terminated, he was declared a king of Bulgaria (1323-1330) and, to emphasize the relations of his family with the dynasty of the Assens, he adopted the name Assen. In 1324 he divorced his wife Ana-Neda ,banished her together with their children into a monastery and married the sister of Uie Byzantine emperor Andronik III Paleolog (King Theodor Svetoslav’s widow). King Michail III Shishman Assen aspired to restore the dominant position of Bulgaria on the Balkan Peninsula, but he failed. He perished in the unfortunate battle with the Serbs at Velbuzhd (Kyustendil) on July28, 1330.
BELLAUR is despot Shishman’s son and a brother of the Bdin’s despot Michail Shishman, who later on became King of the Bulgarians. Most probably in 1324 Bellaur became the ruler of the Bdin’s district. He was among the “influential boyars”, who held negotiations w th the Serbian king Stephen III Dechanski after the battle at Velbuzhd ustendil) that brought Ivan Stephen aiid his mother Ana-Neda to the throne. Bellaur was an upholder of the Serbian influence and the chief adviser of the newly enthroned Bulgarian king, but he never missed a chance to protect his own interests. After Ivan Alexander was enthroned in the end of the winter of 1331 Bellaur detached the Bdin’s region from the central authority (1332) and caused serious troubles to the new Bulgarian ruler, who found himself compelled to ask the tartars for help against him. After all king Ivan Alexander succeeded to suppress the riot (before 1337) and to restore his power in the Bulgarian northwest. How Bellaur’s path of life ended is unknown.
IVAN STEPHAN is the first-born son of king Michail III Shishman Assen and the Serbian princess Ana-Neda. He was born in 1300 or 1301. After 1324 he was banished into a monastery together with his mother and his brothers, and in the summer of 1330 he headed the Bulgarian state together with his mother. His enthronement by the Serbs, as well as the danger of the excessive increase of their influence in Bulgaria brought to a takeover in February-March, 1331. After the take-over Ana-Neda, Ivan Stephan and her other children – Michail, Shishman and Lyudovik, were compelled to escape to Serbia and from there-to Dubrovnik. The further fate of Ivan Stephan is unknown.
MICHAIL is the second son of king Michail III Shishman Assen from his marriage with Ana-Neda. He ruled over the district of Bdin in 1323-1324 and had the title of despot, which he received from his father after his enthronement. He is portrayed in a fresco in the church of the village of Dolna Kamenitza (Presently in Serbia), where an inscription is preserved as well. It says: “Despot Michail, Faithful to Christ the God, son of king Michail”. No other information about him is available, due to which it is assumed hat he has died
young.
SHISHMAN is the third son of Michail III Shishman Assen from his marriage with Ana-Neda. He stayed whit the tartars, stayed with them for some time and appeared in Constantinople am a pretender for the Bulgarian throne in the summer of 1341. That aggravated the relations between Bulgaria and Byzantium. The Bulgarian king van Alexander insisted that his worst enemy” Shishman should be turned back to him. But the empire, unwilling to forfeit its chance to interfere whit the internal affairs of ‘its northern neighbeur threatened to send Shishman to Bdin with ships, where he could rely on some considerable support “because of the old friendship and the closeness of the family”. Gradually the problems faded away and the further fate of Shishman lis unknown. According to some information the Patriarch of Tsarigrad Josef II (1416-1439) was an illegitimate son of the “vassilevs” Shishman (perhaps the same man?).
LYUDOVIKO is the fourth son of King Michail III Shishman Assen and Ana-Neda. In a document from 1339 he is mentioned as a “cousin” of the Neapolitan King Robert After Serbia and Dubrovnik he reached Naples. The last information about him is from 1373.
The take-over in 1331 trought Ivan
Alexander to the Bulgarian throne. He was a son of the despot Shishman’s daughter, Kerat(tza) Petritza, and despot Sratzinur.
The next to rule over the district of Vidin was IVAN SRATZIMIR. He was King Ivan Alexander’s second son from his first marriage. Ivan Sratzimir was born aboul 1324-1325. He took the rule in the spring of 1337, when he was declared a king. In 1350 or 1351 king Ivan Alexander divorced Ivan Sratzimir’s mother and proclaimed Ivan Shishman. his first-born son from his second marriage, an heir to the crown. That aggravated his relations with Ivan Sratzimir, who declared himself an independent ruler of Bdin with the title “King of Bulgarians and Greeks” in the year of 1356. King Ivan Alexander accepted that with silent agreement. In 1365 1369 the Bdin’s kingdom was conquered by the Hungarians and King Ivan Sratzimir was sent to Humnik (Presently Croatia) together with his family. After he was brought back to his country with the help of his father, he continued to rule independently, especially after the death of King Ivan Alexander ( + 1371). King Ivan Sratzimir was subsequently Hungarian and Turkish vassal. He joined the crusaders of the Hungarian King Sigizmund V, turning over to them the Turkish garrison, located in Bdin. The defeat of the crusaders at Nikopol on September 25, 1396 allowed the Turks to occupy the kingdom of Sratzimir in 1397. The king was sent to the capital of Bayazid Brussa (in Asia Minor), where he probably died.
The rule of the Bdin’s region (already feudatory to the Turks) was assigned to KONSTANTIN, the son of Ivan Sratzimir. Together with his cousin Fruzhin (son of Ivan Shishman, king of Tarnovo), he tried to take advantage of the ten-year-long struggles among the sons of Sultan Bayazid I. In 1404 they both joined the anti-ottoman alliance, headed by Sigizmund V, King of Hungary. It was them again, who roused the Bulgarians from the kingdoms of Tarnovo and Bdin to revolt in 1408. It failed, But Konstantin continued to rule the region of Bdin until 1412-1413 (according to some historians even un-till421). He died in Belgrade on September 17, 1422.
OSMAN PAZVANTOGLU is the most eminent ruler of the Vidin’s region during the time when the Bulgarian territories were under Turkish authority. He descended from a well-to-do janissary family. He was born in Vidin about 1758. He was banished several times together with his father, Yomer Pazvantoglu. He succeeded to detach large territories from the central authority in Tzarigrad and ruled over them as an independent ruler (1793-1807). In the end of the XVIII c. Sultan Selim III launched three marches against Vidin. His armies besieged the town twice with no success. Military, religious and social buildings are preserved from the time of Osman Pazvantoglu. He died on February 5/17, 1807 in Vidin.

Baba Vida (Bulgarian: Баба Вида) is a medieval fortress in Vidin in northwesternBulgaria and the town’s primary landmark. It consists of two fundamental walls and four towers and is said to be the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country.

The construction of the fortress began in the 10th century at the place of an Ancient Roman watchtower. The building of Baba Vida is tied to a legend, according to which a Danubian Bulgarian king who ruled at Vidin had three daughters: Vida, Kula and Gamza. Prior to his death, he divided his realm among the three. Vida, the eldest, was given Vidin and the lands north to the Carpathians, Kula was awarded Zaječar and the Timok Valley, and Gamza was to rule the lands west up to the Morava. Although Gamza and Kula married to drunkard and warlike nobles, Vida remained unmarried and built the fortress in her city. The name of the castle means “Granny Vida”.[1]

Baba Vida served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and acted as the most important fortress of northwestern Bulgaria. The Baba Vida stronghold stood an eight-month-long siege by Byzantine forces led by Basil II, but was destroyed and once again erected during the rule of Ivan Stratsimir, as whose capital it served. Between 1365 and 1369, the fortress was in Hungarian hands. Vidin was suddenly attacked by the forces of Louis I of Hungary, but it took several months to conquer Baba Vida. In 1369, Ivan Sratsimir managed to regain control of his capital, albeit he had to remain under Hungarian overlordship.

In 1388, the Ottomans invaded Sratsimir’s lands and forced him to become their vassal. In 1396, he joined an anti-Ottoman crusade led by the King of Hungary, Sigismund, placing his resources at the crusaders’ disposal. The crusade ended in the disastrousBattle of Nicopolis at Nikopol, Bulgaria, with the Ottomans capturing most of Sratsimir’s domains shortly thereafter, in 1397.

The fortress played a significant role during the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, serving as a weapon warehouse and a prison, as it has been no longer used for defensive purposes since the end of the 18th century.

Today, Baba Vida is a fortress-museum, where finds and intelligence about its history are kept. Being a popular tourist attraction, the fortress was restored to its former appearance.

From Wikipedia

Tags: Ancient Roman watchtower, Baba Vida, Carpathians, Danubian Bulgarian king, fortress, Granny Vida, Ivan Sratsimir

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