How the Greeks came to Arbanassi

  Once there lived a girl in Tarnovo. She had been brought to the palace of the Bulgarian king Ivan Asen II while still was a child of six. Nobody paid any attention to her, and as the years went by, the child grew into a girl. Her name was Irina. She played along with the king's daughters, but was not treated as one of them. Sometimes the girl helped the servants but she was not one of them either. The King's people were not sure how to behave towards her, there were some who liked her, others shook their hands in sympathy and tried to help her as best they could, still others avoided her, pursed their lips impatiently when she passed by and trew unkindly words behind her back.
  Irina was the daughter of the former Greek king Theodore Comnenus. Ivan Assen II had defeated his army at Klokotnitsa and had then made a harsh decision that all his family is brought to Tarnovo. The rest of the family was kept in captivity while Theodore Comnenus was blinded and sent to a monastery. The king did that in order to punish the Greeks for their perfidy and in the intrest of his state..
  Bulgaria's victories and fame grew, but there was not much joy in the King's life - an insidious illness had carried off his wife and son, he was lonely, sought consolation for his manly heart and then he noticed her - beautiful, young, sometimes gay at, other times sad and lonely, too. She was a captive and the King could have made her his concubine, but as fate would have it, the powerful and wise ruler fell ardently in love with the young Greek princess and married her. A wedding took place and Irina became Bulgarian Queen. Soon afterwards she sent for forty of her father's closest retinue and as befitted her new status in the palace installed them as her entourage.
  The Greeks came to Tarnovo bringing their families , lots of household property, guards and servants. Originally they settled on the Tsarevets and Trapezitsa Hills, the quarters of the Bulgarian nobility. However, there was not enough room and the new Bulgarian Queen required that they should be set up befittingly. The King agreed and ordered the court doctor to look for a suitable place. However, Irina herself chose Arbanassi for its fresh air and lovely scenery.
  Thus the Greeks settled down, some were employed at the Palace, others became tradesmen. They were rich and personable, beneficient and charitable, they believed in God and built magnificent churches and monasteries adorned with beautiful paintings and woodcarvings. They donated valuable gifts to the God's temples and on great Christian feasts laid out rich spreads in the courtyards of their houses. Over the years some became related in blood to Bulgarian boyars, others married among the Albanian settlers; they forgot their homeland but not their native language so soon everyone spoke Greek. And the glory of the royal village grew...
                                                                                                                                                                    Collected and Presented by Zhivka Radeva