Tsarevets, The Baldwin Tower

    There are places in Bulgaria connected entirely with the spirit of our ancient history. Such a sacred place for the Bulgarians is the Great Tarnovgrad. It is no chance that the patriarch Kalist from Constantinople in saint’s Teodosii Tarnovski passionary writes: “The town of Tarnovo is the capital of the Bulgarians and is the second town in words and in deeds after Constantinople”. It is a successor of millenial culture and had been a capital of the medieval Bulgaria for two centuries. Today the town of Veliko Tarnovo is an attractive place for thousands of Bulgarian and foreign tourists not only with its remarkable cultural and historical heritage, but also with its unique location and nature.Tsarevets – The Baldwin Tower
      We are walking into the fortress through the central west entrance. We are going through the third, the most imposing and entirely restored gate and we are finding ourselves inside the very kingly fortress. We can go on along the street which follows the curves of the south fortified wall. The south slope of Tsarevets is quite steep and was comparatively sparsely populated. Before long in front of us is outlined the so-called Baldwin tower, restored during the thirties of the XX century on the model of the preserved up to this present day tower from the medieval fortress near the village of Cherven in the Russe region. Several metres on the north was situated the Frenkisar gate, the second entrance of Tsarevets, which was used as an entrance to the quarter of the foreign tradesmen. The name of the tower reminds us of the time of the Fourth Crusade of the knights who conquered Constantinople in 1204 and established the Latin Empire. Baldwin of Flanders, one of the leaders of the crusade, a count of Flanders and Hainaut, relying on the numerous knights of Flanders and on the support of the Venetians, was chosen as the first Latin Emperor of Constantinople. On 14 April 1205 in the battle of Adrianople his crusaders were beaten by the army of King Kaloyan and according to some authors he himself was captured by the Bulgarian ruler. According to other versions he vanished without a trace or was killed on the battle-field.The Baldwin Tower These uncertain facts created a romantic glory of the Emperor Baldwin І. Geoffrey de Villehardouin – the eminent historiographer of the Fourth Crusade and participant in the events mentioned about the fact of Baldwin’s captivity, of bringing him to Tarnovo and of his probable death as a captive in prison. The monk Alberich from a French monastery, who also wrote a chronicle of the events happened during the first half of XІІІ century, gave us valuable information about the Bulgarian history, Baldwin’s captivity and his putting into prison in Tarnovgrad. He announced a story, narrated by a priest from Flanders, who on his coming back from Constantinople dropped in Tarnovo and became a witness of the following tale: “Kaloyan’s wife, while the Bulgarian king was absent, sent a love letter to the Latin Emperor suggesting that she would discharge him from prison and captivity if he married her and took her with him to Constantinople. The emperor refused this proposal and didn’t pay attention to it. That is why she complained to his husband telling him that the emperor promised her that he would take her to Constantinople and would crown her empress if she discharged him from prison. Late one night during a feast Kaloyan ordered to bring the emperor and to kill him in his presence. Thus, by his order, the emperor was sabred by axe, thrown to the dogs and it was forbidden the citizens to talk about his death. The priest also says that a woman from Burgundy, who had stayed in Tarnovo, one night noticed twinkling lights near the dead body and took care that he would be buried with honours.” According to an old legend this knight became a victim of the love of the Bulgarian queen and found his death in the tower which was called after his name.

Rumyana Pavlova – a gude
Regional Historical Museum