The Bulgarian state returned to autonomy after a successful uprising in 1185 A.D. by brothers Asen and Petar who chose the well-fortified city of Veliko Tarnovo as their capital. The Byzantine empire, weakened and in turn shrinking, was dealt a terrible blow when the Latins conquered Constantinople in 1204. In the meantime, the Asen dynasty (Asen, Petar, their younger brother Kaloyan and their nephew Ivan Asen II) consolidated the power of Bulgaria, defeated those same Latins near Adrianople in 1205 and ushered a new Golden Age of prosperity for Bulgaria and for its capital Veliko Tarnovo. Books were written, monasteries and palaces built, and Veliko Tarnovo became the cultural capital of South-Eastern Europe.
As a new threat to Christian Europe, the Ottomans, was emerging in the East in the 14th century, Bulgarian rulers became embroiled in struggles for succession and eventually split up the once powerful empire into hostile principalities that waged mutually exhausting wars with each other. In 1393, the Ottomans, having bypassed a ransomed Constantinople, besieged Tarnovo. Despite three months of fierce resistance, the city fell, its books were burnt, its aristocracy slaughtered and its palaces looted. The Second Bulgarian Empire ended with a whimper, another province in the vast holdings of the Ottoman empire, where it would remain for almost five centuries. The Ottomans advanced further into Europe, conquering Constantinople in 1452 before being finally stopped outside Vienna in 1532.