Bulgarian Kings: Tervel (Bulgarian: Тервел)

From Wikipedia:

Tervel (Bulgarian: Тервел) was the ruler of the Bulgarians at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705 he received the title Caesar by the Byzantine emperor which was a precedent in history. He was probably a Christian like his grandfather Khan Kubrat. After the Bulgarian army crushed the Arabs during the siege of Constantinople (718) Tervel was called by contemporaries the Saviour of Europe.

The Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans states that Tervel belonged to the Dulo clan and reigned for 21 years (695–715). Tervel was likely the son and heir of his predecessor Asparukh, who had died in battle against the Khazars.

Alliance with Justinian II and becoming a Caesar

Tervel is first mentioned in the Byzantine sources in 704, when he was approached by the deposed and exiled Byzantine emperor Justinian II. Justinian acquired Tervel's support for an attempted restoration to the Byzantine throne in exchange for friendship, gifts, and his daughter in marriage. With an army of 15,000 horsemen provided by Tervel, Justinian suddenly advanced on Constantinople and managed to gain entrance into the city in 705.

The war with the Arabs in 717-718 or Siege of Constantinople (718), "Savior of Europe"

During the summer of 717 the Arabs led by Maslama crossed the Dardanelles and besieged Constantinople with 200,000 men. According to Arab sources, his fleet consisted of 2,500 ships.

Leo III plead to Tervel for help relying on the treaty of 716 and Tervel agreed. The first clash between the Bulgarians and the Arabs ended with a Bulgarian victory. During the very first stages of the siege the Bulgarians appeared in the Muslim rear and large part of their army was destroyed and the rest were trapped. The Arabs built two trenches around their camp facing the Bulgarian army and the walls of the city. They persisted with the siege despite the severe winter with 100 days of snowfall. In the summer of 718 the Arabs engaged the Bulgarians in a decisive battle but suffered a crushing defeat and had to abandon the siege. According to Theophanes, the Bulgarians slaughtered some 22,000 Arabs in the battle. The Bulgarian victory of 718 and the victory of the Frankish king Charles Martel in the battle of Tours stopped the Muslim invasion in the interior of Europe. Khan Tervel was called the Saviour of Europe by his contemporaries.

The Madara Rider monument

The basrelief of Madara Rider - a Bulgarian national symbol. Image source: Wikipedia, Svik, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2.

During the time of Tervel, the famous rock relief the Madara Rider was created as a memorial to the Bulgar god Tangra, the victories over the Byzantines, to honour his father Asparukh and as an expression of the glory of the Bulgarian state.

Bulgarian rulers after Tervel (source: Wikipedia)

Ajjar (715) was the brother and successor of Tervel, and the uncle and predecessor of Kermes (Kormesiy).

Kormesiy (Bulgarian: Кормесий) was a ruler of Danubian Bulgaria who is sometimes considered the direct successor of Tervel. Kormesiy was a descendant of the royal Dulo clan and would have reigned 715–721 (or 738).

The name of Kormesiy is also found in the inscriptions around the Madara Rider monument. The surviving part of the text speaks of an annual gold tribute that Kormesiy received from the Byzantine Emperor - it seems as if the peace treaty was re-established during his rule. The end of the inscription mentions a worsening of Bulgarian relations with the Byzantine Empire. However, this inscription could possibly be referring to the later Bulgarian rulers Kormisoš or Krum.

Kormesiy (Kermes) was deposed by the nobility and replaced on the throne by his son Sevar.

Sevar (Bulgarian: Севар) belonged to the royal Dulo clan and ruled for 15 years (approx. 721–737 or 738–754). It is possible that his reign was peaceful, because the Byzantine chronicles do not report any events on the Empire’s northern borders from that period (same as with Kermes).

Kormisosh (Bulgarian: Кормисош) belonged to the Ukil (or Vokil) clan and ruled for 17 years (approx. 737–754 or 753–756).  Kormisosh represents a change of dynasty, but it remains unclear whether that was done through violence. The reign of Kormisosh inaugurated a prolonged period of war with the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos had begun to fortify the frontier and started settling Armenians and Syrians in Byzantine Thrace. In response Kormisosh demanded the payment of tribute, perhaps constituting an increase in the traditional payments. Rebuffed, Kormisosh raided into Thrace, reaching the Anastasian Wall stretching between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara 40 km in front of Constantinople. Constantine V marched out with his army, defeated the Bulgarians and turned them to flight.

Vinekh (also spelled Vineh; Bulgarian: Винех) reigned for 7 years and was a member of the Ukil clan (approx. 754–762 or 756–762). 

Vinekh ascended the throne after the defeat of his predecessor Kormisosh by the Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos, which has led some scholars to assume that he was an usurper. In c. 756 Constantine V campaigned against Bulgaria by land and sea, and defeated the Bulgarian army led by Vinekh at Karnobat. The defeated monarch senr his own children as hostages. In 759 Constantine V invaded Bulgaria again, but this time his army was ambushed in the mountain passes of the Stara Planina (battle of the Rishki Pass). Vinekh did not follow up his victory and sought to re-establish the peace. This won him the opposition of the Bulgarian nobility, which had him massacred together with his family.

Telets (Bulgarian: Телец) reigned for 3 years (762–765) and was a member of the Ugain clan. Byzantine sources indicate that Telets replaced the legitimate rulers of Bulgaria and was a brave and energetic man in his prime (about 30 years old). Telets may have belonged to an anti-Slavic faction of the Bulgarian nobility.

After his accession, Telets led a well-trained and well-armed army against the Byzantine Empire and devastated the Empire's frontier zone, inviting the emperor to a contest of strength. Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos marched north in 763, while another army was carried by a fleet of 800 ships. 

Telets at first fortified the mountain passes with his troops and some twenty thousand Slavic auxiliaries. Later he changes his mind and led out his troops to the plain of Anchialos (Pomorie). The bloody battle began at mid-morning, and lasted until dusk. At the end Telets was abandoned by his Slavic auxiliaries, who deserted to the emperor, who won the field, but chose to return home in triumph. According to the Byzantine sources, Constantine V brought home a throng of Bulgarian prisoners in wooden restraints, for the entertainment of Constantinople's populace.

The military defeat sealed the fate of Telets, who was lynched together with his supporters by his rebellious subjects.

Sabin (Bulgarian: Сабин) was the ruler of Bulgaria 765–766. He was a Slav related by marriage to Kormisosh, who was either a father-in-law or a brother-in-law of Sabin. 

Sabin rose to the throne after the murder of Telets in 765 and represented that part of the Bulgarian nobility, which was seeking a policy of accommodation with the Byzantine Empire. He swiftly dispatched secret emissaries to Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos, who had recently defeated Sabin's predecessor Telets, seeking to re-establish peace. When the negotiations were discovered, the Bulgarians rebelled and held an assembly, in which they accused Sabin of causing Bulgaria's enslavement by the Byzantines.

Deserted by his supporters, Sabin fled to Byzantine Mesembria (Nesebăr) in 766, from where he went to Constantinople. There he was received by the emperor, who arranged for the transfer of Sabin's family from Bulgaria. In 768 Sabin attended Constantine V's negotiations with a new Bulgarian ruler, Pagan, but the emperor's words on behalf of the former monarch made little impression. Sabin passed the remainder of his life in exile.

Umor (Bulgarian: Умор) reigned for only 40 days in 766 and belonged to the Ukil clan, which makes him a relative of Vinekh and possibly Kormisosh. 

Toktu (Bulgarian: Токту) was the ruler of Bulgaria 766–767 who was a member of that fraction of the Bulgarian nobility, which advocated a hostile policy towards the Byzantine Empire. He was soon faced with a rebellion and attempted to flee the country. Unlike his predecessor Sabin, Toktu tried to flee northwards, but was caught and killed together with his brother Bayan and their supporters near the Danube.

Pagan (Bulgarian: Паган) was the ruler of Bulgaria 767–768 was a member of that faction of the Bulgarian aristocracy which sought to establish peaceful relations with the Byzantine Empire. After ascending the throne following the murder of his predecessor Toktu, Pagan set out together with his court to attend negotiations with Emperor Constantine V Kopronymos in Thrace. In the heated talks, the emperor represented himself as intent on keeping the peace in Bulgaria and upbraided the Bulgarians for their anarchy, and for deposing their former ruler Sabin, who lived as a refugee at the imperial court. The emperor nevertheless agreed to make peace, and Pagan returned home.

At this point, Constantine V suddenly invaded Bulgaria and managed to penetrate across the mountains into the core area of the Bulgarian state, setting afire settlements around the Bulgarian capital Pliska. Although Constantine V did not follow up his relatively successful invasion and returned home, Pagan faced the wrath of his subjects who accused him of credulity and inability to oppose the enemy. The monarch fled in the direction of Varna, but was murdered by his servants.


Tervel of Bulgaria. Wikipedia.
Image source: Seal of kaisar Terbellis (Tervel) of Bulgaria, ca. 705 A.D. Wikipedia, public domain.
И този брой на списание National Geographic България е с българска корица! Водещата статия в брой юли 2013 е посветена на хан Тервел - Спасителят на Европа. http://on.fb.me/16bkaa4 -- http://bit.ly/16bkcyV --Древните българи | National Geographic България http://bit.ly/16bkg1H


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