Bulgars, Eastern

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Bulgars, Eastern

Eastern Bulgars (bŭl´gärz, –gərz), Turkic-speaking people, who possessed a powerful state (10th–14th cent.) at the confluence of the Volga and the Kama, E European Russia. The Bulgars appeared on the Middle Volga by the 8th cent. and became known as the Eastern, Volga, or Kama Bulgars. Another branch of the same people moved west into present Bulgaria and merged with the Slavs. The Eastern Bulgars accepted Islam in the 10th cent. From the 10th to the 12th cent. the Bulgar state was at the height of its power. Its chief city, the Great Bulgar, was a prosperous trade center. Destroyed by the Mongols in 1237, the state flourished again until it was conquered by Timur in 1361. It finally disappeared after its capture by the grand duke of Moscow in 1431. The modern Tatars and Chuvash may be descended from the Eastern Bulgars. The Great Bulgar and the Bulgars themselves are sometimes called Bulgari or Bolgari.

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