|Khan of Bulgaria|
Seal of Telerig
|Spouse||Unknown Byzantine princess|
|Mother||Anastasia of Byzantium|
Although Telerig is first mentioned in the Byzantine sources in 774, he is considered the immediate successor of Pagan, who was murdered in 768. In May 774, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine V embarked on a major expedition against Bulgaria, leading his field army on land, and dispatching a fleet of two thousand ships carrying horsemen towards the Danube delta. The fleet disembarked in the vicinity of Varna, but the emperor did not press his potential advantage and inexplicably retreated.
Shortly afterwards the two sides signed a truce promising the cessation of hostilities. However, in October 774 Telerig sent an army of twelve thousand men to raid Berzitia, Macedonia and to transfer its population to Bulgaria. Collecting a large army of eighty thousand troops, Constantine V surprised the Bulgarians and won a resounding victory. The subsequent attack on Bulgaria failed, because the imperial fleet encountered contrary winds in the Black Sea.
At this point Telerig sent a secret emissary to Constantine V, indicating his intention to flee Bulgaria and seek refuge with the emperor, and seeking assurances of hospitality and a list of Byzantine people who might help him. Telerig succeeded in having the emperor betray his own agents in Bulgaria, who were duly rounded up and executed. The expected Byzantine retaliation failed to materialize as Constantine V died in 775. In spite of his apparent success, Telerig found it necessary to flee to the new Byzantine emperor, Leo IV the Khazar in 777. The Byzantine government gave Telerig asylum and the title of patrikios. Telerig converted to Christianity under the name of Theophylaktos and married a cousin of the Empress Eirene.
Telerikh is a major character in Harry Turtledove's "Islands in the Sea" (1989), a short story of alternate history. It originally appeared in Alternatives, edited by Robert Adams. It was reprinted in Departures and The Best Alternate History Stories of the Twentieth Century.
| Khan of Bulgaria