Worldwide Guide to Women in Leadership
Female Heads of State of Bulgaria
(Female Suffrage for Married women 1937, others 1944)

Also see Bulgaria Ministers


1246....Possible Regent Dowager Tsarina Irene Komnene
Together with her parents, Despot Theodore Komnenos Doukas of Epirus, and Maria Petraliphaina she was taken prisoner by the troops of tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria in the battle of Klokotnitsa and they were taken in Tarnovo, where Irene grew up in the Palace and 1237 she got married to the tsar and had three children: Anna (or Theodora), Maria (who married Mitso Asen, who was tsar of Bulgaria 1256–57) and Michael Asen I, who succeeded his halfbrother, Kaliman I. Acording to one theory she poisened her step-son in order to secure the throne for her son. It is assumed that she took over the government as tsarina-regent, becouse her son was still a child when he ascended the throne, but there is little evidence to prove this hypothesis. Later she retired to a monastery under the monastic name Xenia, and lived (before 1220-after 1241/46).

 
1261-68 Politically Influential Tsarina Irene Doukaina Laskarina
The year after their marriage, her huband, Constantine Tikh Asen, was elected Tsar of Bulgaria by a boyar council in Tarnovo a In 1261 Irene's brother, Byzantine emeperor Jean IV Laskaris, was deposed by Michael VIII Palailogos, who seized the power in the Byzantine Empire and she became a leader of anti-Byzantine party in the Bulgarian court. She was a daughter of Emperor Theodore II Laskaris of Nikaea and Elena of Bulgaria and mother of 1 son and 1 daughter. (d. 1268). 

1272-77 De-facto in Charge of the Government Tsarina Maria Palaiologina Kantakouzene
1277-78 Regent Dowager TsarinaAccording to George Pachymeres, she supported the military coup d'état of her uncle, Michael VIII Palaiologos, and the she prompted him to blind the legitimate Emperor Jean IV Laskaris. When Jean's sister, the Bulgarian tsarina Irene died 1268, her widower, Connstantin, he married Michael's niece Maria. Quarrels over the surrender of her promised dowry, the Black Sea ports of Mesembria and Anchialos, made her side with her husband against her uncle, and the Bulgarian government entered into an alliance with King Carlos I of Sicily who was planning a campaign against Michael VIII, who struck back, by marrying his illegitimate daughter Euphrosyne Palailogina to Nogai Khan of the Golden Horde, who pillaged Bulgaria in 1274. In the last years of his reign, her husband was partly paralyzed from a fall off his horse, and the government was firmly in her hands. She crowned their son Michael Asen II co-emperor soon after his birth, in about 1272. Her husband was killed during an uprising in 1277 lead by a swineherd named Ivaylo, who was able to extend his authority across much of the country, but the capital Tarnovo remained under the control of her and her son, the new tsar Michael Asen II. Her uncle then married his eldest daughter Eirene to Ivan Asen III, a descendant of Bulgaria's ruling dynasty living at the Byzantine court, and dispatched troops to place him on the throne. This caused her to marry Ivaylo, who became co-tsar in 1278 with her son, and he led a successful defense of the Balkan passes against the Byzantine campaigns and met with success against casual Mongol raids, but in 1279 a major Mongol army blockaded him in the fortress of Dorostolon on the Danube for three months. A rumor of his death caused panic in Tarnovo, where the nobility surrendered to a new Byzantine army and accepted Ivan Asen III as emperor. She was sent into exile together with her son to Byzantine, where she gave birth to a daughter, whose name is unknown. She was the second daughter of Ioannes Komnenos Angelos Kantakouzenos and Eirene Komnene Palaiologina.

1298-99 Regent Dowager Tsarina Smiltsena Paleologina
After the death of her husband, Tsar Smilets of Bulgaria (1292-98) she was regent in the name of her minor son, Ivan II, after apparently having defeated her brothers-in-law, Radoslav and Voysil (Vojsil), who sought refuge in the Byzantine Empire and entered into Byzantine service. To meet this threat and the invasion of the Mongol prince Chaka, she sought an alliance with Aldimir (Eltimir), the brother of the former ruler George Terter I, who was then married to her daughter Marija. 1299 she gave over the capital Tărnovo to Chaka, who installed himself as Tsar. Ivan II and his retinue settled in the possessions of Aldimir, where they may have remained even after the accession of Aldimir's nephew Theodore Svetoslav to the throne in 1300. In 1305 she was negotiating with the Byzantine government on behalf of either Aldimir or her son, but with Aldimir's subjugation by Theodore Svetoslav in the same year, the family disappears into obscurity. In the sources she is named as Smitlstsena, but her first name is not mentioned, she was
daughter of the byzantine Prince Constantine Palaiologos and (d. after 1306).

1330 Regent Dowager  Czarina Theodora Paĉologina of Byzans
She was removed by her late husband’s ex-wife.


1340s- late 1380s Politically Influential Tsarina Sarah-Theodora
There are some Greek and French sources claiming her to be a daughter of a Venetian banker, but sources agree that she was Jewish, having lived with her family in the Jewish Neighbourhood in Tarnovo, and converted to Christianity in order to marry Tsar Ivan Alexander, who divorced his wife of many years, Theodora of Wallachia, who was forced to become a nun. She became renowned for her fierce support of her new religion, the Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and was one of the instigators of a church council against the Jews. She also played a significant role in the separation of the Bulgarian Empire between her firstborn son Ivan Shishman and her step-son, Ivan Stratsimir, who was crowned co-emperor by his father, who made his elder son Despot of Vidin, which he declared a separate empire after his father's death. From now on, the relationship between the two Bulgarian Empires became cold and remained so despite the threat of the forthcoming Ottoman invasion. The date of her death is unknown, although some historians assume she died in the late 1380s. although she is widely known as Sarah or Sarah-Theodora, the name she wore before her conversion to Christianity is not mentioned in any historical source. Sarah, the name that she is known under, came from the tragedy Toward the Precipice, written by the great Bulgarian writer Ivan Vazov. Mother of at least 5 children. (d. circa 1380s). 

1330-31 Tsarina Regnant Ana Neda of Serbia
Initially regent for son, zar Ivan Stephan after the death of her ex-husband,, Michael Sismas. She took over the reigns after her brother, the king of Serbia removed Czarina Theodora. Ana Neda was later removed herself.

1958-71 Member of the Council of State Rada Todorova

Circa 1966-72 Member of the Council of State Prof. Rada Balerska

1971-76 and 1981-85 Member of the Council of State Ivanka Dikova

1971-89 Member of the Council of State Naida Ferkadova Asparuchova

1971-89 Member of the Council of State Elena Lagadinova

1974-86 Member of the Council of State Tslola Dragoicheva

1979-86 Member of the Council of State Draza Vulcheva
Possibly Vice-Chairperson of the Council of State 1979-81.

1981-85 Member of the Council of State Stanka Shopova

1986-89 Member of the Council of State Aysa D. Emilova

1986-89 Member of the Council of State Emilija M. Kostova

1992-93 Vice-President Dlagia Nikolova Dmitrova  
A poet. She lived (1922-2003).

2012- Vice President Margarita Popova
Former Prosecutor, Law Professor and Minister of Justice 2009-11. (b. 1956-)

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7- Vice-President-elect Iliana Malinova Yotova
MP 2005-07 and Member of the European Parliament 2007-16. (b. 1964-)

 

Last update 22.01.12