Ivan II or Ivan Asen (ēˈvän äˈsən) [key], d. 1241, czar of Bulgaria (1218–41). On the death (1207) of his father, Kaloyan, founder of the second Bulgarian empire, the throne was usurped by Ivan's cousin Boril. Ivan fled to the duchy of Halych (see Galicia, historic region, Poland and Ukraine) and secured its aid. Returning in 1218, he captured Trnovo, had Boril blinded, and was crowned czar. Under Ivan II the Bulgarian empire reached its zenith, becoming the strongest power in the Balkans; he added Macedonia, Epirus, and much of Albania and Serbia to his lands. He campaigned (1235) with John III of Nicaea against the Latin Empire of Constantinople, but later helped the Latins oppose John. Ivan's generally mild conduct and sincere faith endeared him even to his foes. He restored the autonomy of the Bulgarian church, established a central administration, and encouraged the settlement of Ragusan merchants. For his repudiation (1232) of the union with Rome and his support of the heretic Bogomils, he was excommunicated (1236) by Pope Gregory IX. Ivan II was succeeded by his sons Kaliman I, who reigned 1241–46, and Michael, who reigned 1246–57. With Michael's death the direct Asen line became extinct.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.