IVAN ALEXANDER (1331 -1371)
,,GREAT KING OF ALL BULGARIANS AND GREEKS"
In the beginning of March 1331 two boyars Reksin and Philip organized a court coup. King Ivan Stefan, his mother and his brothers had to run for their lives. The star of King Ivan Alexander rose on the horizon and he ruled the Bulgarians for almost 40 years, too long for the rebellious 14th c.
Numerous miniatures and frescos in the bone-vault of the Bachkovo monastery and from the rock churches by the village of Ivanovo, Russe region, have preserved the portrait of King Ivan Alexander. Writers competed in praising him: he was ,,ruddy, fair and handsome, looking people in the eyes with good will".
He was noted for his statesmanship, political sagacity and foresight", was highly educated and a great ,,lover of books". He was compared to Alexander of Macedonia for his virtues of warrior and to Constantine the Great for his Christian faith.
There is no doubt that the rule of King Ivan Alexander marked a new peak in the cultural and literary development of Bulgarians during the Second Bulgarian kingdom. Proof of that are the numerous compositions and manuscripts - the Vatican transcript of the Manassi Chronicle, the London Tetraevangelica, and the Tomich psalm-book, created on his order and due to his generosity. His personal zeal contributed to the development of the capital Turnovo to such an extent that it was on the way to become a ,,new Constantinople", i.e. the ,,third Rome" for the Orthodox peoples for whom Slavic was the official language of the state and the church. His full title however (,,Great king of all Bulgarians and Greeks") was rather a political slogan, which tried to cover up the fear of the obvious disintegration of the country.
The first years of Ivan Alexander's reign, connected with brilliant victorious battles and great hopes, were followed by policy full of compromises, undecided victories and political fragmentation of Bulgarian territories. King Ivan Alexander died on 17 February 1371 and left to his successors a divided country with doubtful political future and alarming uncertainty in the face of the growing influence of the Turks on the Balkan Peninsula.