Byzantine bureaucracy and aristocracy
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the hierarchy stood the emperor, yet "Byzantium was a republican absolute monarchy and not a monarchy by divine right". Beneath the emperor, a multitude of officials and court functionaries operated the complex administrative machinery, necessary to run the empire. In addition to those officials, a large number of honorific titles existed, which the emperor awarded to his subjects or to friendly foreign rulers. Over the more than thousand years of the empire's existence, different titles were adopted and discarded, many lost or gained prestige. At first the various titles of the empire were the same as those in the late Roman Empire. However, by the time that Heraclius was emperor, many of the titles had become obsolete. By the time of Alexios I reign, many of the positions were drastically changed. However, from that time on they remained the same until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.
In the early Byzantine period the system of government followed the model established in late Roman times under Diocletian and Constantine the Great, with a strict separation between civil and military offices and a scale of titles corresponding to office, where membership or not in the Senate was the major distinguishing characteristic. Following the transformation of the Byzantine state during the 7th century on account of massive territorial loss to the Muslim conquests, this system vanished, during the "classic" or middle period of the Byzantine state, a new, court-centered system emerged. In this, the new titles derived from older, now obsolete, public offices, dignities of a certain level were awarded with each office. A senatorial class remained in place, which incorporated a large part of the upper officialdom as every official from the rank of protospatharios was considered a member of it. During this period, many families remained important for several centuries, several Emperors rose from the aristocracy.
Two groups can be distinguished: a metropolitan civil nobility and a provincial military one, the latter remaining regionally based and having large land-holdings, but no military forces of their own, in contrast to contemporary Western Europe. The 10th and 11th centuries saw a rise in importance of the aristocracy, an increased number of new families entering it; the catastrophic losses in the latter 11th century again prompted a reorganization of the imperial administrative system, at the hands of the new Komnenos dynasty: the older offices and titles fell into disuse, while an array of new honorifics emerged, which signified the closeness of their recipient's familial relationship to the Emperor. The Komnenian-led Empire, their Palaiologan successors, were based on the landed aristocracy, keeping the governance of state controlled by a limited number of intermarrying aristocratic families. In the 11th and 12th century for instance, some 80 civil and 64 military noble families have been identified, a small number for so large a state.
In the Palaiologan system as reported by pseudo-Kodinos one can discern the accumulated nomenclature of centuries, with high ranks having been devalued and others taken their place, the old distinction between office and dignity had vanished. These were the highest titles limited to members of the imperial family or to a few select foreign rulers, whose friendship the Emperor desired. Basileus: the Greek word for "sovereign" which referred to any king in the Greek-speaking areas of the Roman Empire, it referred to the Shahs of Persia. Heraclius adopted it in 629, it became the Greek word for "emperor." Heraclius used the titles autokrator and kyrios. The Byzantines reserved the term "basileus" among Christian rulers for the emperor in Constantinople, referred to Western European kings as rēgas, a Hellenized form of the Latin word rex; the feminine form basilissa referred to an empress. Empresses were addressed as eusebestatē avgousta, were called kyria or despoina. Primogeniture, or indeed heredity itself, was never established in Byzantine imperial succession, because in principle the Roman Emperor was selected by common acclamation of the Senate, the People and the Army.
This was rooted in the Roman "republican" tradition, whereby hereditary kingship was rejected and the Emperor was nominally the convergence of several offices of the Republic onto one person. Many emperors, anxious to safeguard their firstborn son's right to the throne, had them crowned as co-emperors when they were still children, thus assuring that upon their own death the throne would not be momentarily vacant. In such a case the need for an imperial selection never arose. In several cases the new Emperor ascended the throne after marrying the previous Emperor's widow, or indeed after forcing the previous Emperor to abdicate and become a monk. Several emperors were deposed because of perceived inadequacy, e.g. after a military defeat, some were murdered. Porphyrogennētos – "born in the purple": Emperors wanting to emphasize the legitimacy of their ascent to the throne appended this title to their names, meaning they were born in the delivery room of the imperial palace, to a reigning emperor, were therefore legit
Basiliscus was Eastern Roman Emperor from 475 to 476. A member of the House of Leo, he came to power when Emperor Zeno was forced out of Constantinople by a revolt. Basiliscus was the brother of Empress Aelia Verina, the wife of Emperor Leo I, his relationship with the Emperor allowed him to pursue a military career that, after minor initial successes, ended in 468, when he led the disastrous Roman invasion of Vandal Africa, in one of the largest military operations of Late Antiquity. Basiliscus succeeded in seizing power in 475, exploiting the unpopularity of Emperor Zeno, the "barbarian" successor to Leo, a plot organised by Verina that had caused Zeno to flee Constantinople. However, during his short rule, Basiliscus alienated the fundamental support of the Church and the people of Constantinople, promoting the Miaphysite christological position in opposition to the Chalcedonian faith, his policy of securing his power through the appointment of loyal men to key roles antagonised many important figures in the imperial court, including his sister Verina.
So, when Zeno tried to regain his empire, he found no opposition, triumphantly entering Constantinople, capturing and killing Basiliscus and his family. The struggle between Basiliscus and Zeno impeded the Eastern Roman Empire's ability to intervene in the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which happened in early September 476; when the chieftain of the Heruli, deposed Western Emperor Romulus Augustus, sending the imperial regalia to Constantinople, Zeno had just regained his throne, was in no position to take any action but appoint Odoacer dux of Italy, thereby ending the Western Roman Empire. Of Balkan origin, Basiliscus was the brother of Aelia Verina, wife of Leo I, it has been argued that Basiliscus was uncle to the chieftain of the Odoacer. This link is based on the interpretation of a fragment by John of Antioch, which states that Odoacer and Armatus, Basiliscus' nephew, were brothers. However, not all scholars accept this interpretation, since sources do not say anything about the foreign origin of Basiliscus.
It is known that Basiliscus had a wife, at least one son, Marcus. Basiliscus' military career started under Leo I; the Emperor conferred upon his brother-in-law the dignities of dux, or commander-in-chief, in Thrace. In this country Basiliscus led a successful military campaign against the Bulgars in 463, he succeeded Rusticius as magister militum per Thracias, had several successes against the Goths and Huns. Basiliscus's value rose in Leo's consideration. Verina's intercession in favour of her brother helped Basiliscus' military and political career, with the conferral of the consulship in 465 and of the rank of patricius. However, his rise was soon to meet a serious reversal. In 468, Leo chose Basiliscus as leader of the famous military expedition against Carthage. All accounts agree that the invasion of the kingdom of the Vandals was one of the largest military undertakings recorded, although estimates of its exact size vary. According to Priscus and Nicephorus Gregoras, 100,000 ships were assembled.
Modern scholars consider Cedrenus's figure of each carrying 100 men, more likely. Peter Heather estimates a strength of 30,000 soldiers for the expedition and 50,000 total, when including sailors and the additional forces of Marcellinus and Heraclius of Edessa; the most conservative estimation for expedition expenses is of 64,000 pounds of gold, a sum that exceeded a whole year's revenue. The purpose of the operation was to punish the Vandal king Geiseric for the sacking of Rome in 455, in which the former capital of the Western Roman Empire was overwhelmed, the Empress Licinia Eudoxia and her daughters were taken as hostages; the plan was concerted between Eastern Emperor Leo, Western Emperor Anthemius, General Marcellinus, who enjoyed independence in Illyricum. Basiliscus was ordered to sail directly to Carthage, while Marcellinus attacked and took Sardinia, a third army, commanded by Heraclius, landed on the Libyan coast east of Carthage, making rapid progress, it appears that the combined forces met in Sicily, whence the three fleets moved at different periods.
Sardinia and Libya were conquered by Marcellinus and Heraclius, when Basiliscus cast anchor off the Promontorium Mercurii, now Cap Bon, opposite Sicily, about forty miles from Carthage. Geiseric requested Basiliscus to allow him five days to draw up the conditions of a peace. During the negotiations, Geiseric gathered his ships and attacked the Roman fleet; the Vandals had filled many vessels with combustible materials. During the night, these fire ships were propelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting Roman fleet; the Roman commanders tried to rescue some ships from destruction, but these manoeuvres were blocked by the attack of other Vandal vessels. Basiliscus fled in the heat of the battle. One half of the Roman fleet was burned, sunk, or captured, the other half followed the fugitive Basiliscus; the whole expedition had failed. Heraclius effected his retreat through the desert into Tripolitania, holding the position for two years until recalled. After returning to Constantinople, Basiliscus hid in the church of Hagia Sophia to escape the wrath of the people and the revenge of the Emperor.
By the mediation of Verina, Basiliscus obtained the Imperial pardon, was p
Empire of Thessalonica
Empire of Thessalonica is a historiographic term used by some modern scholars to refer to the short-lived Byzantine Greek state centred on the city of Thessalonica between 1224 and 1246 and ruled by the Komnenodoukas dynasty of Epirus. At the time of its establishment, the Empire of Thessalonica, under the capable Theodore Komnenos Doukas, rivaled the Empire of Nicaea and the Second Bulgarian Empire as the strongest state in the region, aspired to capturing Constantinople, putting an end to the Latin Empire, restoring the Byzantine Empire, extinguished in 1204. Thessalonica's ascendancy was brief, ending with the disastrous Battle of Klokotnitsa against Bulgaria in 1230, where Theodore Komnenos Doukas was captured. Reduced to a Bulgarian vassal, Theodore's brother and successor Manuel Komnenos Doukas was unable to prevent the loss of most of his brother's conquests in Macedonia and Thrace, while the original nucleus of the state, broke free under Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Theodore recovered Thessalonica in 1237, installing his son John Komnenos Doukas, after him Demetrios Angelos Doukas, as rulers of the city, while Manuel, with Nicaean support, seized Thessaly.
The rulers of Thessalonica bore the imperial title from 1225/7 until 1242, when they were forced to renounce it and recognize the suzerainty of the rival Empire of Nicaea. The Komnenodoukai continued to rule as Despots of Thessalonica for four more years after that, but in 1246 the city was annexed by Nicaea. After the Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople in April 1204, the Byzantine Empire dissolved and was divided between the Crusader leaders and the Republic of Venice; the Latin Empire was set up in Constantinople itself, while most of northern and eastern mainland Greece went to the Kingdom of Thessalonica under Boniface of Montferrat. At the same time, two major native Byzantine Greek states emerged to challenge the Latins and claim the Byzantine inheritance, the so-called Empire of Nicaea under Theodore I Laskaris in Asia Minor, the so-called Despotate of Epirus in western Greece under Michael I Komnenos Doukas, while a third state, the so-called Empire of Trebizond, established a separate existence on the remote shores of the Pontus.
Michael I Komnenos Doukas soon extended his state into Thessaly, his successor Theodore Komnenos Doukas captured Thessalonica in 1224. The capture of Thessalonica, traditionally the second city of the Byzantine Empire after Constantinople, allowed Theodore to challenge the Nicaean claims on the Byzantine imperial title. With the support of the bishops of his domains, he was crowned emperor at Thessalonica by the Archbishop of Ohrid, Demetrios Chomatenos; the date is unknown, but has been placed either in 1225 or in 1227/8. Having declared his imperial ambitions, Theodore turned his gaze onto Constantinople. Only the Nicaean emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes, the Bulgarian emperor Ivan II Asen were strong enough to challenge him. In a bid to preempt Theodore, the Nicaeans seized Adrianople from the Latins in 1225, but Theodore marched into Thrace and forced the Nicaeans to leave their European possessions to him. Theodore was free to assault Constantinople, but for unknown reasons delayed this attack.
In the meantime, the Nicaeans and Latins had settled their differences, although formally allied with Theodore, Ivan II Asen entered talks for a dynastic alliance between the Latin Empire and Bulgaria. In 1230, Theodore marched against Constantinople, but unexpectedly turned his army north into Bulgaria instead. In the ensuing Battle of Klokotnitsa, Theodore's army was destroyed and he himself taken captive and blinded; this defeat abruptly diminished the power of Thessalonica. A state built upon rapid military expansion and relying on the ability of its ruler, its administration was unable to cope with defeat, its territories in Thrace, as well as most of Macedonia and Albania fell to the Bulgarians, who emerged as the strongest Balkan power. Theodore was succeeded by his brother Manuel Komnenos Doukas, he still controlled the environs of Thessalonica as well as the dynasty's lands in Thessaly and Epirus, but was forced to acknowledge himself Asen's vassal. In order to preserve some freedom of manoeuvre, Manuel turned to his brother's erstwhile rivals in Nicaea, offering to acknowledge the superiority of Vatatzes and the Patriarch of Constantinople, who resided in Nicaea.
Manuel was unable to prevent Michael II Komnenos Doukas, the bastard son of his older half-brother, Michael I, from returning from exile in the aftermath of Klokotnitsa and seizing control of Epirus, where he enjoyed considerable support. In the end Manuel was forced to accept the fait accompli, recognized Michael II as ruler of Epirus under his own suzerainty; as sign of this, he conferred on Michael the title of Despot. From the start, Manuel's suzerainty was rather theoretical, by 1236–37 Michael was acting as an independent ruler, seizing Corfu, issuing charters and concluding treaties in his own name. Manuel's rule lasted until 1237; the latter had been released from captivity and secretly returned to Thessalonica after John II Asen fell in love with and married his daughter Irene. Having been blinded, Theodore could not claim the throne for himself and crowned his son John Komnenos Doukas, but remained the actual power behind the throne and virtual regent. Manuel soon fled to Nicaea, where he pledged loyalty to Vatatzes.
Thus in 1239 Manuel was allowed to sail to Thessaly, where he began assembling an army to march on Thessalonica. After he captured Larissa, Theodore offered him a settlement, whereby he and his son would keep Thessalonica, Manuel would keep Thessaly, while another brother, Constant
Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian dynasty
The medieval Byzantine Empire underwent a revival during the reign of the Macedonian emperors of the late 9th, 10th, early 11th centuries, when it gained control over the Adriatic Sea, Southern Italy, all of the territory of the Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria. The cities of the empire expanded, affluence spread across the provinces because of the newfound security; the population rose, production increased, stimulating new demand while helping to encourage trade. Culturally, there was considerable growth in learning. Ancient texts were patiently recopied. Byzantine art flourished, brilliant mosaics graced the interiors of the many new churches. Though the empire was smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it was stronger, as the remaining territories were both less geographically dispersed and more politically and culturally integrated. Although tradition attributed the "Byzantine Renaissance" to Basil I, initiator of the Macedonian dynasty, some scholars have credited the reforms of Basil's predecessor, Michael III and of the erudite Theoktistos.
The latter in particular favoured culture at the court, with a careful financial policy increased the gold reserves of the Empire. The rise of the Macedonian dynasty coincided with internal developments which strengthened the religious unity of the empire; the iconoclast movement experienced a steep decline: this favoured its soft suppression by the emperors and the reconciliation of the religious strife that had drained the imperial resources in the previous centuries. Despite occasional tactical defeats, the administrative, legislative and economic situation continued to improve under Basil's successors with Romanos I Lekapenos; the theme system reached its definitive form in this period. The Eastern Orthodox Church establishment began to loyally support the imperial cause, the state limited the power of the landowning class in favour of agricultural small-holders, who made up an important part of the military force of the Empire; these favourable conditions contributed to the increasing ability of the emperors to wage war against the Arabs.
By 867, the empire had stabilised its position in both the east and the west, while the success of its defensive military structure had enabled the emperors to begin planning wars of reconquest in the east. The process of reconquest began with variable fortunes; the temporary reconquest of Crete was followed by a crushing Byzantine defeat on the Bosporus, while the emperors were unable to prevent the ongoing Muslim conquest of Sicily. Using present day Tunisia as their launching pad, the Muslims conquered Palermo in 831, Messina in 842, Enna in 859, Syracuse in 878, Catania in 900 and the final Greek stronghold, the fortress of Taormina, in 902; these drawbacks were counterbalanced by a victorious expedition against Damietta in Egypt, the defeat of the Emir of Melitene, the confirmation of the imperial authority over Dalmatia and Basil I's offensives towards the Euphrates. The threat from the Arab Muslims was meanwhile reduced by inner struggles and by the rise of the Turks in the east. Muslims received assistance however from the Paulician sect, which had found a large following in the eastern provinces of the Empire and, facing persecution under the Byzantines fought under the Arab flag.
It took several campaigns to subdue the Paulicians, who were defeated by Basil I. In 904, disaster struck the empire when its second city, was sacked by an Arab fleet led by a Byzantine renegade; the Byzantines responded by destroying an Arab fleet in 908, sacking the city of Laodicea in Syria two years later. Despite this revenge, the Byzantines were still unable to strike a decisive blow against the Muslims, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the imperial forces when they attempted to regain Crete in 911; the situation on the border with the Arab territories remained fluid, with the Byzantines alternatively on the offensive or defensive. Kievan Rus', who appeared near Constantinople for the first time in 860, constituted another new challenge. In 941 they appeared on the Asian shore of the Bosporus, but this time they were crushed, showing the improvements in the Byzantine military position after 907, when only diplomacy had been able to push back the invaders; the vanquisher of the Rus' was the famous general John Kourkouas, who continued the offensive with other noteworthy victories in Mesopotamia: these culminated in the reconquest of Edessa, celebrated for the return to Constantinople of the venerated Mandylion.
The soldier emperors Nikephoros II Phokas and John I Tzimiskes expanded the empire well into Syria, defeating the emirs of north-west Iraq and reconquering Crete and Cyprus. At one point under John, the empire's armies threatened Jerusalem, far to the south; the emirate of Aleppo and its neighbours became vassals of the empire in the east, where the greatest threat to the empire was the Egyptian Fatimid kingdom. The traditional struggle with the See of Rome continued, spurred by the question of religious supremacy over the newly Christianized Bulgaria; this prompted an invasion by the powerful Tsar Simeon I in 894, but this was pushed back by the Byzantine diplomacy, which called on the help of the Hungarians. The Byzantines were in turn defeated, however, at the Battle of Bulgarophygon, obliged to pay annual subsidies to the Bulgarians. Simeon had the Byzantines grant him the crown of basileus of Bulgaria and had the young emperor Constantine VII marry one of his daughters; when a revolt in Constantinople halted his dynastic project, he again invaded
Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty
The Eastern Roman Empire known as the Byzantine Empire or Byzantium in historiography, are terms conventionally used by historians to describe the Greek ethnic and speaking Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople. Having survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire during the 400s, the Eastern Roman Empire continued to function until its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. In the context of Byzantine history, the period from about 1081 to about 1185 is known as the Komnenian or Comnenian period, after the Komnenos dynasty. Together, the five Komnenian emperors ruled for 104 years, presiding over a sustained, though incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial and political position of the Byzantine Empire; as a human institution, Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, the lands around the Mediterranean Sea.
The Komnenian emperors John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about. Moreover, it was during the Komnenian period that contact between Byzantium and the'Latin' Christian West, including the Crusader states, was at its most crucial stage. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers, their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel in particular helped to spread Byzantine technology, art and culture throughout the Roman Catholic west. Above all, the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west at this period was enormous and of long lasting significance; the Komnenoi made a significant contribution to the history of Asia Minor. By reconquering much of the region, the Komnenoi set back the advance of the Turks in Anatolia by more than two centuries. In the process, they planted the foundations of the Byzantine successor states of Nicaea and Trebizond.
Meanwhile, their extensive programme of fortifications has left an enduring mark upon the Anatolian landscape, which can still be appreciated today. The Komnenian era was born out of a period of great strife for the Byzantine Empire. Following a period of relative success and expansion under the Macedonian dynasty, Byzantium experienced several decades of stagnation and decline, which culminated in a vast deterioration in the military, territorial and political situation of the Byzantine Empire by the accession of Alexios I Komnenos in 1081; the problems the empire faced were caused by the growing influence and power of the aristocracy, which weakened the empire's military structure by undermining the theme system that trained and administered its armies. Beginning with the death of the successful soldier-emperor Basil II in 1025, a long series of weak rulers had disbanded the large armies, defending the eastern provinces from attack. In fact, most of the money was given away in the form of gifts to favourites of the emperor, extravagant court banquets, expensive luxuries for the imperial family.
Meanwhile, the remnants of the once-formidable armed forces were allowed to decay, to the point where they were no longer capable of functioning as an army. Elderly men with ill-maintained equipment mixed with new recruits who had never participated in a training exercise; the simultaneous arrival of aggressive new enemies – Turks in the east and Normans in the west – was another contributory factor. In 1040, the Normans landless mercenaries from northern parts of Europe in search of plunder, began attacking Byzantine strongholds in southern Italy. In order to deal with them, a mixed force of mercenaries and conscripts under the formidable George Maniakes was sent to Italy in 1042. Maniakes and his army conducted a brutally successful campaign, but before it could be concluded he was recalled to Constantinople. Angered by a series of outrages against his wife and property by one of his rivals, he was proclaimed emperor by his troops, led them across the Adriatic to victory against a loyalist army.
However, a mortal wound led to his death shortly afterwards. With opposition thus absent in the Balkans, the Normans were able to complete the expulsion of the Byzantines from Italy by 1071. Despite the seriousness of this loss, it was in Asia Minor that the empire's greatest disaster would take place; the Seljuk Turks, although concerned with defeating Egypt under the Fatimids conducted a series of damaging raids into Armenia and eastern Anatolia – the main recruiting ground for Byzantine armies. With imperial armies weakened by years of insufficient funding and civil warfare, Emperor Romanos Diogenes realised that a time of re-structuring and re-equipment was necessary, he attempted to lead a defensive campaign in the east until his forces had recovered enough to defeat the Seljuks. However, he suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Alp Arslan at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. Romanos was captured, although the Sultan's peace terms were lenient, the battle in the long term resulted in the total loss of Byzantine Anatolia.
On his release, Romanos found that his enemies had conspired against him to place their own candidate on the throne in his absence. After two defeats in battle against the rebels, Romanos surrendered and suffered a horrific death by torture; the new ruler, Michael Douka
Anastasius I Dicorus
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. He made his career as a government administrator, he came to the throne in his sixties after being chosen by the wife of Zeno. His religious tendencies caused tensions throughout his reign, his reign was characterised by improvements in the government and bureaucracy in the Eastern Roman empire. He is noted for leaving the imperial government with a sizeable budget surplus due to minimisation of government corruption, reforms to the tax code, the introduction of a new form of currency. Anastasius was born at Dyrrachium, he was born into an Illyrian family, the son of Pompeius, a nobleman of Dyrrachium, Anastasia Constantina. His mother was a believer in Arianism. Anastasius had one eye black and one eye blue, for that reason he was nicknamed Dicorus. Before becoming emperor, Anastasius was a successful administrator in the department of finance. Following the death of Zeno, there is strong evidence that many Roman citizens wanted an emperor, both a Roman and an Orthodox Christian.
In the weeks following Zeno's death, crowds gathered in Constantinople chanting "Give the Empire an Orthodox Emperor!" Under such pressure, Zeno's widow, turned to Anastasius. Anastasius was in his sixties at the time of his ascension to the throne, it is noteworthy that Ariadne chose Anastasius over Zeno's brother Longinus, arguably the more logical choice. It was not appreciated by the circus factions, the Blues and the Greens; these groups combined aspects of street gangs and political parties and had been patronised by Longinus. The Blues and Greens subsequently rioted, causing serious loss of life and damage. Religiously, Anastasius' sympathies were with the Monophysites; as a condition of his rule, the Patriarch of Constantinople required that he pledge not to repudiate the Council of Chalcedon. Ariadne married Anastasius on 20 May 491, shortly after his accession, he gained popular favour by a judicious remission of taxation, in particular by abolishing the hated tax on receipts, paid by the poor.
He displayed great energy in administering the affairs of the Empire. Under Anastasius the Eastern Roman Empire engaged in the Isaurian War against the usurper Longinus and the Anastasian War against Sassanid Persia; the Isaurian War was stirred up by the Isaurian supporters of Longinus, the brother of Zeno, passed over for the throne in favour of Anastasius. The battle of Cotyaeum in 492 broke the back of the revolt, but guerrilla warfare continued in the Isaurian mountains for several years; the resistance in the mountains hinged upon the Isaurians' retention of Papirius Castle. The war lasted five years, but Anastasius passed legislation related to the economy in the mid-490s, suggesting that the Isaurian War did not absorb all of the energy and resources of the government. After five years, the Isaurian resistance was broken. During the Anastasian War of 502–505 with the Sassanid Persians, the Sassanids captured the cities of Theodosiopolis and Amida, although the Romans received Amida in exchange for gold.
The Persian provinces suffered and a peace was concluded in 506. Anastasius afterward built the strong fortress of Daras, named Anastasiopolis, to hold the Persians at Nisibis in check; the Balkan provinces were denuded of troops and were devastated by invasions of Slavs and Bulgars. He converted his home city, into one of the most fortified cities on the Adriatic with the construction of Durrës Castle; the Emperor was a convinced Miaphysite, following the teachings of Cyril of Alexandria and Severus of Antioch who taught "One Incarnate Nature of Christ" in an undivided union of the Divine and human natures. However, his ecclesiastical policy was moderate, he endeavoured to maintain the principle of the peace of the church. Yet, in 512 emboldened after his military success against the Persians, Anastasius I deposed the Patriarch of Chalcedon and replaced him with a Monophysite; this violated his agreement with the Patriarch of Constantinople and precipitated riots in Chalcedon. The following year the general Vitalian started a rebellion defeating an imperial army and marching on Constantinople.
With the army closing in, Anastasius gave Vitalian the title of Commander of the Army of Thrace and began communicating with the Pope regarding a potential end to the Acacian schism. Two years General Marinus attacked Vitalian and forced him and his troops to the northern part of Thrace. Following the conclusion of this conflict, Anastasius had undisputed control of the Empire until his death in 518; the Anonymous Valesianus gives an account of Anastasius attempting to predict his successor: Anastasius did not know which of his three nephews would succeed him, so he put a message under one of three couches and had his nephews take seats in the room. He believed. However, two of his nephews sat on the same couch, the one with the concealed message remained empty. After putting the matter to God in prayer, he de
Byzantine Empire under the Isaurian dynasty
The Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 717 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna, lost influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks; the Isaurian dynasty is chiefly associated with Byzantine Iconoclasm, an attempt to restore divine favour by purifying the Christian faith from excessive adoration of icons, which resulted in considerable internal turmoil. By the end of the Isaurian dynasty in 802, the Byzantines were continuing to fight the Arabs and the Bulgars for their existence, with matters made more complicated when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne Imperator Romanorum, seen as an attempt at making the Carolingian Empire the successor to the Roman Empire; the Heraclian dynasty faced some of the greatest challenges in history.
After overcoming the Sassanid Persians, the Emperor Heraclius and his exhausted realm were faced with the sudden onset of the Muslim expansion from Arabia into the Levant. Following the Muslim conquest of Syria, the rich province of Egypt, the Empire's chief source of grain and tax revenue, had fallen to the Arabs; the Byzantines faced Arab attacks through Libya against the Exarchate of Africa, against Cilicia, which controlled the southern passes into Asia Minor, now the Empire's last major contiguous territory, against the Armenian Highland, the Empire's chief source of manpower and a vital buffer between the now Arab-dominated Syrian Desert region and the northeastern passage into Asia Minor. These three areas would be the main fields of Byzantine-Arab contention during the next half-century; the Arabs continued to make headway, most notably constructing a navy that challenged Byzantine supremacy in the Mediterranean. The outbreak of the Muslim civil war in 656 bought the Byzantines time, emperor Constans II reinforced his position in the Balkans and Italy.
His successor, Constantine IV, was able to beat off the First Arab Siege of Constantinople, in its aftermath move into the counteroffensive, securing Asia Minor, recovering Cilicia and forcing the Caliphate to pay tribute. At the same time however, he was defeated by the Bulgar khan Asparukh, was forced to accept his people's settlement in Byzantine lands south of the Danube. With the first deposition of Constantine IV's son and heir Justinian II in 695 began a period of troubles that lasted a quarter-century and brought a succession of disasters that nearly brought about the downfall of the Byzantine state. Carthage fell in 697 and a Byzantine recovery attempt defeated next year. Cilicia was conquered by the Arabs and turned into a base for raiding expeditions that penetrated deep into Asia Minor, sacking its forts and cities, while the Caucasus brought under firm Muslim control; the Umayyad caliph Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik began preparing another huge expedition to conquer Constantinople.
At the same time, the disasters of the 7th century saw major changes in the society and nature of what remained of the Empire: the urbanized, cosmopolitan civilization of Late Antiquity came to an end, the Medieval era began. With the decline of most cities to a small, fortified urban cores that functioned as administrative centres, society became agrarian, while education and intellectual life vanished; the loss of the Empire's richest provinces, coupled with successive invasions, reduced the imperial economy to a impoverished state, compared to the resources available to the Caliphate. The monetary economy persisted. Administrative practice changed: alongside the continued existence of the late Roman provincial system, the surviving field armies were reorganised into the theme system as a means to preserve the remaining imperial territory, although the extensive power concentrated in the hands of the thematic commanders, the strategoi, made them prone to rebel. At the same time, the central bureaucracy in Constantinople rose in importance.
In the religious field, the loss of the Monophysite eastern provinces ended the need for the unsuccessful compromise doctrine of Monotheletism, abandoned at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680, while the Quinisext Council in 692 saw the promotion of the interests and views of the Patriarchate of Constantinople against the See of Rome. After Justinian II's second overthrow, the Byzantine Empire spiralled into another era of chaos matched only by Phocas' mishandling of the last Persian War. Philippikos Bardanes, the Crimean rebel who seized the throne proved to be incompetent for rule. Rather than face the looming threat of the Bulgars or the Arabs, he intended to reignite the religious controversies by imposing the much hated Heraclian Monothelitism; when King Tervel of Bulgaria invaded Thrace, Bardanes had no choice but to summon the troops of the Opsician Theme to combat the Bulgars. For the Emperor, the troops had no loyalty whatsoever to him and after the ritual blinding he was replaced in June 713 by the chief secretary of the Emperor, Artemios.
Artemios was crowned as Anastasios II. Anastasios gave the Empire a brief taste of good leadership, improving the walls of the capital and filling the granaries of the capital to bursting point, in order that the newly reported Arab invasion be dealt with; every citizen was told to gather enough food for three years for if the Arabs were to reach the straits it would undoub