Did you know that the face of Europe would have been very different today if it hadn’t been for the Bulgarian khan Tervel who saved the Christian world from Arab invasion?

By the early 700s, the Arabs had conquered most of the Middle East, Mecca and Medina, Jerusalem, Syria, Damascus, Persia, Cyprus, Egypt, Cartagena, Spain, and Lisbon. By 716, they besieged Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, both by land and by sea. Europe had never seen such difficult times. It was about to be crushed by two Muslim fists, one from the West and one from the East.

Bulgar Khan Tervel accepts gifts of gold and silver from Byzantine Emperor Justinian

Constantinople was barely holding after three years under siege until a miracle happened. On August 15th, 718, the Bulgar Khan Tervel took the  Arabs by surprise. The Bulgar army annihilated the invaders, who didn’t return to the Balkans for at least a few centuries. Thus, the Bulgar khan became not only the savior of the Byzantine Empire, which in fact had always been its greatest enemy, but the savior of the entire European Christian civilization.

What would’ve happened if khan Tervel had not stopped the Arabs at Constantinople’s gates? Some historians think that the European society, and therefore most of the world as we know it today, would have been heavily influenced by the Islamic culture. Khan Tervel was called “Savior of Europe” and canonized as a saint by his contemporaries (although Bulgarians became Christian under King Boris a hundred years later).

Why have these historical facts, which were once known to all Europeans, been slowly disappearing from history textbooks? I don’t know, but I recently heard the theory that when Bulgaria joined the Communist bloc, Western Europe turned its back to her in many aspects, and this resulted in the omission of important historical truths.

Many believe than the Madara Rider was carved into the rock in honor of khan Tervel (read my previous post).

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