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Empress consort of Bulgaria
Sarah-Theodora of Bulgaria.jpg
Manuscript miniature of Sarah-Theodora (Tetraevangelia of Ivan Alexander).
Empress consort of Bulgaria
Tenure 1349–1371
Predecessor Theodora of Wallachia
Successor Kira Maria
Born Unknown
Died Unknown
Spouse Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria
Issue Kera Tamara
Ivan Shishman
Ivan Asen
Desislava of Bulgaria
Dynasty Shishman
Religion Eastern Orthodox
prev. Judaism

Sarah, Theodora or Sarah-Theodora was an Empress of Bulgaria during the Second Bulgarian Empire and second wife of Tsar Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria (ruled 1331–1371).


Sources agree that she was Jewish, having lived with her family in the Jewish neighbourhood in Tarnovo. Ivan Alexander divorced his wife of many years, Theodora of Wallachia, who was forced to become a nun, and Sarah converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, accepted the name Theodora and soon became the Tsar’s second consort. Their marriage took place in the late 1340s.

The new Tsaritsa was renowned for her fierce support of her new religion, the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. She was one of the instigators of a church council against her compatriots, the Jews. She restored many churches and built a lot of monasteries and this is the reason why she was held in such high regard by the Bulgarian Church.

There is no doubt that Theodora played a significant role in the separation of the Bulgarian Empire between her firstborn, Ivan Shishman, and Ivan Sratsimir, the sole surviving son of the former Tsaritsa. Since Ivan Shishman was the first son born to Ivan Alexander after his accession to the throne ("born in the purple"), Theodora insisted that he was the only one worthy of the crown. Ivan Shishman was crowned co-emperor by his father who made his elder son Despot of Vidin in exchange. After Ivan Alexander died in 1371, Ivan Shishman became Tsar and Ivan Sratsimir declared Vidin a separate empire. 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 the death of the Tsaritsa is unknown, although some historians assume she died in the late 1380s.


There are five known children born to Tsar Ivan Alexander and Tsaritsa Theodora:Kera Tamara, Kera-Maria, Ivan Shishman, Ivan Asen, Desislava of Bulgaria, and Vasilisa.[1]


Mount Sara Teodora on Oscar II Coast in Graham Land, Antarctica is named after Sarah-Theodora.


  1. Иван Божилов, "Фамилията на Асеневци (1186-1460). Генеалогия и просопография", Издателство на Българската академия на науките "Марин Дринов", София, 1994, стр. 168 - 170 (in Bulgarian; in English: Ivan Bozhilov, "The family of the Asens (1186-1460). Genealogy and prosopography", Publishing house of the Bulgarian Academy of sciences "Marin Drinov", Sofia, 1994, p. 168-170).
Preceded by
Theodora of Wallachia
Empress consort of Bulgaria
Succeeded by
Kira Maria