The Bulgars, a Turkic nomadic people, originated in the 5th-century Hunnic confederation and considered Attila their first ruler. Upon Attila's death, the tribes that later formed the Bulgars had retreated east into the Black Sea-Caspian Steppe. The western Bulgar tribes joined the Avar Khaganate, while the eastern Bulgars came under the Western Turkic Khaganate by the end of the 6th century.
Theophanes the Confessor called him "king of the Onogundur Huns". Patriarch Nikephoros I (758-828) called Kubrat "lord of the Onu?undur" and "ruler of the Onu?undur-Bul?ars".John of Nikiu (fl. 696) called him "chief of the Huns". D. Hupchick identified Kubrat as "Onogur", P. Golden as "O?uro-Bul?ar", H. J. Kim as "Bulgar Hunnic/Hunnic Bulgar". According to H. J. Kim the Onogundur/Onogur were evidently part of the Bulgar confederation.
This project is concerned with Kubratos, chief of the Huns [sic], the nephew of Organa, who was baptized in the city of Constantinople, and received into the Christian community in his childhood and had grown up in the imperial palace. And between him and the elder Heraclius great affection and peace had prevailed, and after Heraclius's death he had shown his affection to his sons and his wife Martina because of the kindness [Heraclius] had shown him. And after he had been baptized with life-giving baptism he overcame all the barbarians and heathens through Virtue of holy baptism. Now touching him it is said that he supported the interests of the children of Heraclius and opposed those of Constantine.
Whether he was a child or a young adult during his time in Constantinople is unclear. The exact time of this event is also unknown but probably coincided with the reign of Emperor Heraclius (r. 610-641). His or Organa's conversion to Christianity is placed circa 619 AD. It seems that young Kubrat was part of the pre-planned coalition, initiated by Heraclius or Organa, against the Sasanian-Avar alliance. This coincides with other alliances by Heraclius with steppe peoples, all in the interest of saving Constantinople.
According to Nikephoros I, Kubrat instructed his five sons (Batbayan, Kotrag, Asparukh, two others unmentioned are considered to be Kuber and Alcek) to "never separate their place of dwelling from one another, so that by being in concordance with one another, their power might thrive". However, the loose tribal union broke up under internal tensions and especially Khazars pressure from the East.
Imaginative depiction of Kubrat by Dimitar Gyudjenov (1926)
The Pereshchepina Treasure was discovered in 1912 by Ukrainian peasants in the vicinity of Poltava, in village Malo Pereshchepyne. It consists of diverse gold and silver objects of total weight of over 50 kg from the migration period, including a ring which led scholars to identify the site as Kubrat's grave. The ring was inscribed in Greek "Chouvr(á)tou patr(i)k(íou)", indicating the dignity of patrikios that he had achieved in the Byzantine world. The treasure indicates close relation between the Bulgars and Byzantines, e.g. the bracelets were influenced or made by a Byzantine goldsmith. The first treasure coins were issued after 629, by Heraclius, and the last c. 650 AD, by Constans II, which can be associated with the upcoming Khazar conquest.
Kubrat is mentioned in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans, according which his birth is given the sign of the ox (shegor vechem) in the Bulgar calendar. It also says his rule was 60 years. Presuming lifespan is meant, this would place his death in 653 or 665 AD. Thus, the date of Kubrat's death according historical and archaeological sources is placed between 650 and 665 AD. Correspondingly his birth could have been between 590 and 615 if Somogyi's theory is correct.
^Also rendered Kubratos, Cubratus, Kuvrat, Qubrat, Qobrat, Xubraat; possibly derived from Turkic qobrat/quvrat, "to gather".Kurt () is derived from Turkic qurt, "wolf".
^Kiril Petkov, The Voices of Medieval Bulgaria, Seventh-Fifteenth Century: The Records of a Bygone Culture East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450, BRILL, 2008, ISBN9047433750, p. 1.
^Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250, Florin Curta, Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN0521815398, p. 78.
Fiedler, Uwe (2008). "Bulgars in the Lower Danube region: A survey of the archaeological evidence and of the state of current research". In Curta, Florin; Kovalev, Roman (eds.). The Other Europe in the Middle Ages: Avars, Bulgars, Khazars and Cumans. Brill. pp. 151-236. ISBN9789004163898.
Zalesskaia, V.N., 2006. Zlatoto na khan Kubrat. Pereshchepinskoto s?krovishte.
Todorov-Berberski, H., 1997. Great Bulgaria under Khan Kubrat-Some disputed issues from a linguistic perspective (9th century Bulgaria). BULGARIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW-REVUE BULGARE D HISTOIRE, (2-3), pp. 180-204.
Baba, S.M., 2013. Origin and History of Volga Bulghars: A Study of the Journey from Central Asia to Volga-Ural Region and the Formation of Volga Bulgharia. Journal of Asian Civilizations, 36(1), p. 189.
1983: Kurt, Kubrat ili Kurt Kubrat [Kurt, Kubrat oder Kurt Kubrat]. In: Bälgarski Ezik 33. S. 341-342.