The Balkans

The Bulgarian Black Sea Coast in the 14th Century a Contact Zone of Orthodoxy and Catholicism

Momchil Mladenov


The paper presents the place of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast in the geography of religious contacts and conflicts in the 13th – 14th centuries. This area is characterized by ethnic and religious diversity. But the local ethnic and cultural appearance is determined by the Orthodox population – Bulgarians and Greeks. In the first part of the paper, the author presents the Venetian commercial activities in Varna, Messembria, Sozopol and Anhialo. In the 14th century, the West coast of the Black Sea was gradually caught up in Genoese trade expansion. That is why in the paper, the problem is posed about the role of the Italian colonies as a factor for Catholic propaganda in the Bulgarian lands in the 14th century. According to the author in this respect, Venetians and Genoese had limited influence. More significant factor were the Catholic bishoprics in the Black Sea area. Among them the bishopric of Kaffa (present Feodosia in Crimea) stood out where in 1317, a Latin prelate established himself. During same military conflicts on the Bulgarian Coast in the 14th century, separate cases of religious confrontation were observed. The paper also examines the role of the Orthodox episcopates and monasteries. In the 14th century, no elements of strong confrontation between Orthodox Christians and Catholics on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast could be traced. The conversion of particular individuals from Orthodoxy to Catholicism was due to concrete and extraordinary circumstances.


Bulgarian Black Sea coast, Bulgarian Kingdom, Venice, Genoa, Catholic propaganda, Orthodox episcopates


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