Khan Tervel (Bulgarian: Тервел) also called Tarvel, or Terval,
or Terbelis in some Byzantine sources, was the Khan of
First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire at the beginning of the 8th century. In 705
Justinian II named him Caesar, the first foreigner to receive
this title. He was probably a Christian like his grandfather
Khan Kubrat. Tervel played an important role in defeating the
Arabs during the Siege of
Constantinople in 717–718.
Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans
Nominalia of the Bulgarian khans states that Tervel belonged to
Dulo clan and reigned for 21 years. According to the chronology
developed by Moskov, Tervel would have reigned 695–715. Other
chronologies place his reign in 701–718 or 700–721, but cannot be
reconciled with the testimony of the Imennik. The testimony of the
source and some later traditions allow identifying Tervel as the son
and heir of his predecessor Asparukh, who had perhaps died in battle
against the Khazars. The Emperor Tervel is a Bulgarian Saint, painted
in many medieval and renaissance frescoes in many churches and
monasteries in Bulgaria. [page needed][not in citation given]
1 Alliance with Justinian II
2 The war with the Arabs in 717–718 and later life
4 See also
7 Further reading
8 External links
Alliance with Justinian II
Battle of Anchialus (708)
Battle of Anchialus (708) and Madara Rider
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 restored emperor executed his
supplanters, the emperors Leontius and Tiberius III, alongside many of
their supporters. Justinian awarded Tervel with many gifts, the title
of kaisar (Caesar), which made him second only to the emperor and the
first foreign ruler in Byzantine history to receive such a title, and
a territorial concession in northeastern Thrace, a region called
Zagora. Whether Justinian's daughter Anastasia was married to Tervel
as had been arranged is unknown.
Bulgaria during the rule of Tervel. The territorial expansion of 705
can be seen on the map.
Only three years later, however, when
Justinian II consolidated his
throne he violated this arrangement and commenced military operations
to recover the ceded area but Khan Tervel routed the Byzantines at the
Battle of Anchialus (near present-day Pomorie) in 708. In 711, faced
by a serious revolt in Asia Minor, Justinian again sought the aid of
Tervel, but obtained only lukewarm support manifested in an army of
3,000. Outmaneuvered by the rebel emperor Philippicus, Justinian was
captured and executed, while his Bulgarian allies were allowed to
retire to their country. Tervel took advantage of the disorders in
Byzantium and raided
Thrace in 712, plundering as far as the vicinity
Given the chronological information of the Imennik, Tervel would have
died in 715. However, the Byzantine Chronicler Theophanes the
Confessor ascribes Tervel a role in an attempt to restore the deposed
Emperor Anastasius II in 718 or 719. If Tervel had survived this long,
he would have been the Bulgarian ruler who concluded a new treaty
(confirming the annual tribute paid by the Byzantines to Bulgaria, the
territorial concessions in Thrace, regulating commercial relations and
the treating of political refugees) with Emperor
Theodosius III in
716. However, elsewhere Theophanes records the name of the Bulgarian
ruler who concluded the treaty of 716 as Kormesios, i.e., Tervel's
eventual successor Kormesiy. It is probable that the chronicler
ascribed the events of 718 or 719 to Tervel simply because this was
the last name of a Bulgar ruler that he was familiar with, and that
his sources had been silent about the name, as in his account of the
siege of Constantinople. According to another theory Kermesios was
authorized by Tervel to sign the treaty.
Most researches agree that it was during the time of Tervel when the
famous rock relief the
Madara Rider was created as a memorial to the
victories over the Byzantines, to honour his father Asparukh and as an
expression of the glory of the Bulgarian state.
The war with the Arabs in 717–718 and later life
See also: Siege of
The Madara Rider.
On 25 May 717
Leo III the Isaurian
Leo III the Isaurian was crowned Emperor of Byzantium.
During the summer of the same year the Arabs led by Maslama ibn Abd
al-Malik crossed the
Dardanelles and besieged
Constantinople with a
large army and navy.
Leo III made a plea 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 spring, the
Byzantine navy destroyed
the Arab fleets that had arrived with new provisions and equipment,
while a Byzantine army defeated Arab reinforcements in Bithynia.
Finally, in early summer the Arabs engaged the Bulgarians in battle
but suffered a crushing defeat. According to Theophanes the Confessor,
the Bulgarians slaughtered some 22,000 Arabs in the battle. Shortly
after, the Arabs raised the siege. The Byzantine-Bulgarian victory of
718 and the victory of the Frankish king
Charles Martel in the battle
of Tours (732) stopped the Muslim advance in the interior of Europe.
In 719 he again interfered in the internal affairs of the Byzantine
Empire when the deposed emperor Anastasios II asked for his assistance
to regain the throne. Tervel provided him with 360,000 gold coins and
sent troops. Anastasios marched to Constantinople, but its population
refused to cooperate. In the meantime Leo III sent a letter to Tervel
in which he conjured him to respect the treaty and to prefer peace to
war. Because Anastasios was abandoned by his supporters, the Bulgarian
ruler agreed to the pleas of Leo III and broke relations with the
usurper. He also sent to Leo III many of the conspirators who had
sought refuge in Pliska.
Tervel Peak on
Livingston Island in the South Shetland Islands,
Antarctica is named after Tervel of Bulgaria.
History of Bulgaria
^ a b c Свети благоверен цар Български
Тривелий - Хан Тервел Cite error: Invalid <ref>
tag; name "първа" defined multiple times with different content
(see the help page).
^ Хан Тервел - тема за кандидат
студенти Archived 1 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
^ „История славянобългарска“,
св.Паисий Хилендарски, 18 век.
^ "Българите", докум. филм, реж. и
сценарист П. Петков, опер. Кр. Михайлов.
Производство bTV. 2006 год., България
Imennik na bălgarskite hanove (novo tălkuvane), Sofia
Jordan Andreev, Ivan Lazarov, Plamen Pavlov, Koj koj e v srednovekovna
Bălgarija, Sofia 1999.
(primary source), Bahši Iman, Džagfar Tarihy, vol. III, Orenburg
(primary source), Nikephoros Patriarch of Constantinople, Short
History, C. Mango, ed., Dumbarton Oaks Texts 10, 1990.
(primary source), The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, C. Mango and
R. Scott, trans., Oxford University Press, 1997.
"The Bulgarian Theme in Constantinople’s Monuments "
Bulgaria - Tervel
Khan of Bulgaria
First Empire (681–1018)
Second Empire (1186–1396)
Ivan Asen I
Ivan Asen II
Kaliman I Asen
Michael II Asen
Kaliman II Asen
Ivan Asen III
George Terter I
George Terter II
Principality (1878–1908) and