The battle of Pliska began in the Varbica Pass in Bulgaria on 25 July 811. Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus, who had long been planning an invasion of Bulgaria, set off with 80,000 men in June 811. His army quickly plundered its way through Bulgarian territory and made its way to the capital Pliska. The defenders were overrun and the city was sacked after repeated offerings of peace by the Bulgarian Khan Krum. Having pillaged much of the surrounding area, Nicephorus began his journey back to Constantinople. Krum had gathered together whatever remaining soldiers and citizens he could and set traps in the mountain passes that Nicephorus would travel through. Once Nicephorus’s army entered the Varbica pass they found that the road ahead was blocked and Krum’s forces quickly cut off their rear escape route. After trapping their enemy in the pass for three nights, the Bulgarians attacked, slaughtering the Byzantines and their emperor whilst pursuing survivors south.
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