Byzantine Empire under the Theodosian dynasty
The Eastern Roman Empire was ruled by the Theodosian dynasty from 379, the accession of Theodosius I, to 457, the death of Marcian. The rule of the Theodosian dynasty saw the final East-West division of the Roman Empire, between Arcadius and Honorius in 395. Whilst divisions of the Roman Empire had occurred before, the Empire would never again be reunited; the reign of the sons of Theodosius I contributed to the crisis that under the fifth century resulted in the complete collapse of Roman control in the West. The Eastern Empire was spared the difficulties faced by the West in the third and fourth centuries, due in part to a more established urban culture and greater financial resources, which allowed it to placate invaders with tribute and pay foreign mercenaries. Throughout the fifth century, various invading armies overran the Western Empire but spared the east; the Theodosian dynasty ruled the Western Roman Empire from 392 to 455 AD. Theodosius I was granted rule of the Eastern Roman provinces by the previous Emperor, Gratian of the Valentinian dynasty, due to Gratian having inherited the entire Empire from his predecessor Valens in 378.
Gratian would continue to rule the Western Roman Empire until 383. After the deaths of Gratian and his successor Valentinian II, Theodosius became the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire 392-395. Theodosius is remembered from making a series of decrees that codified Nicene Christianity as the official state church of the Roman Empire. Theodosius dissolved the order of the Vestal Virgins in Rome, banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in Ancient Greece and did nor punish nor prevent the destruction of antique Hellenistic temples, such as the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. With the death of Theodosius in 395, the Roman Empire was divided once more between his two sons. Arcadius, the older son, inherited the East and the imperial capital of Constantinople and Honorius inherited the West; the Empire would never be reunited again, though Eastern Roman emperors, beginning with Zeno, would claim the united title after Julius Nepos' death in 480 AD. Arcadius was a weak ruler, dominated by a series of advisors as he was more concerned with appearing to be a pious Christian than he was with political and military matters.
The first such advisor, engendered intense competition with the advisor of Western Emperor Honorius, the romanized vandal magister militum Flavius Stilicho, who might have had him assassinated in 395 AD. Advisors would include his wife Aelia Eudoxia, the Patriarch John Chrysostom and Praetorian Prefect Anthemius. Theodosius II, sometimes nicknamed "the Younger", became Eastern Roman Emperor at the age of seven following the death of his father Arcadius in 408. Praetorian Prefect Anthemius continued to act as advisor and the de facto ruler and the Theodosian land walls of Constantinople was completed during his rule; the older sister of Theodosius, was proclaimed Augusta and became regent in 414 AD. Though the regency ended in 416 and Theodosius became Augustus himself, Pulcheria remained a strong influence within the government. Influenced by Pulcheria and fuelled by an increasing interest in Christianity, Theodosius went to war against the Sassanid Empire in the early 420s as they were persecuting Christians.
He was forced to allow a stalemate however. The wars with the huns were composed by hunnic raids being followed by significant payments by the Eastern Empire so that the Huns would remain at peace with the Romans; the death of Honorius of the West in 423 led Theodosius to support and install Valentinian III as Western Emperor in 425. To strengthen ties between East and West, Licinia Eudoxia, daughter of Theodosius, was betrothed to Valentinian. Theodosius died in 450 as the result of a riding accident and was succeeded by Marcian, husband of his sister Pulcheria, as Eastern Emperor. Marcian would reverse many of the actions taken by Theodosius II in terms of treaties with the Huns and in religious affairs. All Eastern Roman tributary payments to Attila ceased under Marcian while Attila was busy invading Italy. Marcian personally launched expeditions across the Danube into the hunnic heartland, winning significant victories against them; the actions of Marcian, combined with famine in Italy, forced Attila to retreat back to the Hungarian plains where he would die in 453.
After the death of Attila, Marcian would settle many hunnic vassal tribese within Eastern Roman lands as foederati, taking advantage of the fall of the Hunnic empire. He would be succeeded by the first Emperor of the Leonid dynasty. Family trees of the Byzantine imperial dynasties
Constantine V, denigrated by his enemies as Kopronymos or Copronymus, meaning the dung-named, was Byzantine emperor from 741 to 775. His reign saw a consolidation of Byzantine security from external threats; as an able military leader, Constantine took advantage of Muslim disunity to make limited offensives on the Arab frontier. With his eastern frontier secure, he undertook repeated campaigns against the Bulgars in the Balkans, his military activity, policy of settling Christian populations from the Arab frontier in Thrace, made Byzantium's hold on its Balkan territories more secure. His fervent support of Iconoclasm led to his vilification by Byzantine historians and writers. Constantine was born in the son and successor of Emperor Leo III and Maria. In August 720 he was associated on the throne by his father, appointed co-emperor. In 726 his father issued the Ecloga, a revised legal code, it was attributed to both Leo and Constantine jointly. Constantine married daughter of the Khazar khagan Bihar, an important Byzantine ally.
His new bride was baptized Irene in 732. Constantine V succeeded his father as sole emperor on 18 June 741. In June 742, while Constantine was crossing Asia Minor to campaign on the eastern frontier against the Umayyad Caliphate under Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, his brother-in-law Artabasdos, husband of his older sister, rebelled. Artabasdos was the stratēgos of the Armeniac theme. Having been defeated in battle, Constantine sought refuge in Amorion, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by the local soldiers, commanded by Leo III before he became emperor. Meanwhile, Artabasdos advanced on Constantinople and, with the support of Theophanes Monutes and Patriarch Anastasius, was accepted and crowned emperor. Constantine received the support of the Thracesian themes; the rival emperors bided their time making military preparations. Artabasdos was defeated. Three months Constantine defeated Artabasdos' son Niketas at Modrina and headed for Constantinople. In early November Constantine was admitted into the capital, following a siege, turned on his opponents, having them blinded or executed.
Patriarch Anastasius was paraded on the back of an ass around the hippodrome to the jeers of the Constantinopolitan mob, though he was subsequently allowed to stay in office. The usurpation of Artabasdos was connected with restoring the veneration of images, leading Constantine to become an more fervent iconoclast than his father. Constantine's avowed enemies over this bitterly contested religious issue, the iconodules, applied to him the derogatory epithet Kopronymos. Using this obscene name, they spread the rumour that as an infant he had defecated in his baptismal font, or on the imperial purple cloth with which he was swaddled. Constantine was assiduous in courting popularity with the populace of Constantinople, he consciously employed the circus factions and the hippodrome, scene of the ever-popular chariot races, to mobilise and influence the people. The hippodrome became the setting of rituals of humiliation for war captives and political enemies, in which the mob took active delight.
Constantine's sources of support were the people and the army, he used them against his iconodule opponents in the monasteries and in the bureaucracy of the capital. Iconoclasm was not purely an imperial heresy, it had considerable popular support, some of Constantine's actions against the iconodules may have been motivated by a desire to retain the approval of the people. Bureaucrats and monks were the writers of history, the triumph of the iconodule party ensured the vilification of Constantine V's memory. Constantine V carried forward the administrative and fiscal reforms instigated by his father Leo III; the military governors were powerful figures, whose access to the resources of their extensive provinces provided the means of rebellion. Constantine reduced the size of the theme situated nearest to the capital within Asia Minor, the Opsikion theme, dividing from it the Bucellarian and the Optimaton themes. Constantine was responsible for the creation of a small central army of professional soldiers, the imperial tagmata.
He achieved this by training for serious warfare what had been ornamental, palatine parade units and expanding their numbers. This force was designed to form the core of field armies and was composed of better drilled and equipped soldiers than were found in the provincial themata units, whose troops were part-time soldier-farmers. Being based at the capital, the tagmata were under the immediate control of the emperor and were free of the regional loyalties, behind so many military rebellions; the fiscal administration of Constantine V was competent. This drew from his enemies accusations of being a merciless and rapacious extractor of taxes and oppressor of the rural population. However, the empire was prosperous and Constantine left a full treasury for his successor; the area of cultivated land within the Empire was extended and food became cheaper, between 718 and c.800 the corn production of Thrace trebled. Constantine's court was opulent, with splendid buildings and he consciously promoted the patronage of secular art to replace the religious art that he removed.
With the impetus of having fathered numerous offspring, Constantine codified the court titles
Charlemagne or Charles the Great, numbered Charles I, was King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, Holy Roman Emperor from 800. He united much of central Europe during the Early Middle Ages, he was the first recognised emperor to rule from western Europe since the fall of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state that Charlemagne founded is called the Carolingian Empire, he was canonized by Antipope Paschal III. Charlemagne was the eldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, born before their canonical marriage, he became king in 768 following his father's death as co-ruler with his brother Carloman I. Carloman's sudden death in December 771 under unexplained circumstances left Charlemagne as the sole ruler of the Frankish Kingdom, he continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death and leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden.
He reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned "Emperor of the Romans" by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Rome's Old St. Peter's Basilica. Charlemagne has been called the "Father of Europe", as he united most of Western Europe for the first time since the classical era of the Roman Empire and united parts of Europe that had never been under Frankish or Roman rule, his rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of energetic cultural and intellectual activity within the Western Church. All Holy Roman Emperors considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne's empire, as did the French and German monarchies. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church views Charlemagne more controversially, labelling as heterodox his support of the filioque and the Pope's recognition of him as legitimate Roman Emperor rather than Irene of Athens of the Byzantine Empire; these and other machinations led to the eventual split of Rome and Constantinople in the Great Schism of 1054. Charlemagne died in 814, having ruled as emperor for 14 years and as king for 46 years.
He was laid to rest in his imperial capital city of Aachen. He married at least four times and had three legitimate sons, but only his son Louis the Pious survived to succeed him. By the 6th century, the western Germanic tribe of the Franks had been Christianised, due in considerable measure to the Catholic conversion of Clovis I. Francia, ruled by the Merovingians, was the most powerful of the kingdoms that succeeded the Western Roman Empire. Following the Battle of Tertry, the Merovingians declined into powerlessness, for which they have been dubbed the rois fainéants. All government powers were exercised by their chief officer, the mayor of the palace. In 687, Pepin of Herstal, mayor of the palace of Austrasia, ended the strife between various kings and their mayors with his victory at Tertry, he became the sole governor of the entire Frankish kingdom. Pepin was the grandson of two important figures of the Austrasian Kingdom: Saint Arnulf of Metz and Pepin of Landen. Pepin of Herstal was succeeded by his son Charles known as Charles Martel.
After 737, Charles declined to call himself king. Charles was succeeded in 741 by his sons Pepin the Short, the father of Charlemagne. In 743, the brothers placed Childeric III on the throne to curb separatism in the periphery, he was the last Merovingian king. Carloman resigned office in 746. Pepin brought the question of the kingship before Pope Zachary, asking whether it was logical for a king to have no royal power; the pope handed down his decision in 749, decreeing that it was better for Pepin to be called king, as he had the powers of high office as Mayor, so as not to confuse the hierarchy. He, ordered him to become the true king. In 750, Pepin was elected by an assembly of the Franks, anointed by the archbishop, raised to the office of king; the Pope ordered him into a monastery. The Merovingian dynasty was thereby replaced by the Carolingian dynasty, named after Charles Martel. In 753, Pope Stephen II fled from Italy to Francia, appealing to Pepin for assistance for the rights of St. Peter.
He was supported in this appeal by Charles' brother. In return, the pope could provide only legitimacy, he did this by again anointing and confirming Pepin, this time adding his young sons Carolus and Carloman to the royal patrimony. They thereby became heirs to the realm that covered most of western Europe. In 754, Pepin accepted the Pope's invitation to visit Italy on behalf of St. Peter's rights, dealing with the Lombards. Under the Carolingians, the Frankish kingdom spread to encompass an area including most of Western Europe. Orman portrays the Treaty of Verdun between the warring grandsons of Charlemagne as the foundation event of an independent France under its first king Charles the Bald; the middle kingdom had broken up by 890 and absorbed into the Western kingdom and the Eastern kingdom and the rest developing into smaller "buffer" nations that exist between Fr
Bardanes, nicknamed Tourkos, "the Turk", was a Byzantine general of Armenian origin who launched an unsuccessful rebellion against Emperor Nikephoros I in 803. Although a major supporter of Byzantine empress Irene of Athens, soon after her overthrow he was appointed by Nikephoros as commander-in-chief of the Anatolian armies. From this position, he launched a revolt in July 803 in opposition to Nikephoros's economic and religious policies, his troops failed to win popular support. At this point, some of his major supporters deserted him and, reluctant to engage the loyalist forces in battle, Bardanes gave up and chose to surrender himself, he retired as a monk to a monastery he had founded. There he was blinded on Nikephoros's orders. Nothing is known of the early life of Bardanes, he is regarded by modern scholars as an Armenian on account of his first name, whilst his sobriquet "Tourkos", bestowed upon him disparagingly, only after his revolt, could suggest a Khazar origin. Bardanes is identical with the patrikios Bardanios who appears in the Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor in the mid-790s.
In 795, he was Domestic of the Schools, was dispatched to arrest the monk Plato of Sakkoudion for his public opposition to the second marriage of Emperor Constantine VI to Plato's niece Theodote. In 797, as strategos of the Thracesian Theme, this same Bardanios supported the Empress-mother Irene of Athens when she usurped the throne from her son. On Easter Monday, 1 April 799, he is recorded as one of the four patrikioi who led the horses of the Empress's carriage on a unique triumphal procession from the palace to the Church of the Holy Apostles. Irene herself was overthrown and exiled by the logothetes tou genikou Nikephoros on 31 October 802. At the time, Bardanes was still patrikios and strategos of the Thracesians, but was soon transferred to command the powerful Anatolic Theme. In the next year in preparation for a campaign against the Arabs following Nikephoros's refusal to continue the annual payment of tribute to the Abbasid Caliphate, the Emperor appointed Bardanes to the post of monostrategos of the Empire's five Anatolian land themes, only conferred in exceptional cases.
However, this appointment is by no means certain. It is possible that sources misinterpreted his title to mean "general of all the East". In July 803, an Abbasid army under al-Qasim, a son of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, began advancing towards the Byzantine frontier; as Nikephoros had broken his foot in early May, it fell to Bardanes to lead the Byzantine army against the Arabs. He therefore ordered the thematic armies of Anatolia assembled in the Anatolic Theme. In mid-July 803, Bardanes was proclaimed emperor by the assembled troops of the Anatolic, Opsician and Bucellarian themes. Crucially, the Armeniac Theme, either because of its traditional rivalry with the Anatolics, or because it had not yet joined up with the rest of the army, did not join the uprising, it has been hypothesized that Bardanes may have participated in the suppression of the Armeniacs' revolt in 793, leaving a memory of hostility towards him amongst its troops. Among the Byzantine chronicles that report on Bardanes's revolt, the 10th-century Theophanes Continuatus and the 13th-century Synopsis Chronike indicate that the troops were motivated chiefly by economic concerns.
Nikephoros had initiated a strict budgetary policy to shore up the Empire's finances. The Emperor had revoked the exemption on inheritance tax for the soldiers, had left them unpaid for some time as well. Bardanes, on the other hand, had a good reputation in this regard dividing the booty won from the campaigns against the Arabs amongst the soldiers. For the motives of Bardanes himself, the situation is less clear. According to the Byzantine chroniclers, he accepted the acclamation only reluctantly, after vainly entreating the soldiers to allow him to leave. According to another story however, before his revolt, accompanied by his three principal associates, Thomas the Slav, Leo the Armenian and Michael the Amorian visited a holy man at Philomelion to learn of the prospects for the uprising; the monk prophesied that his rebellion would fail, that Thomas too would begin a revolt, that Leo and Michael would reign as emperors. Although a invention, this story may suggest that Bardanes planned his revolt beforehand.
Aside from any personal ambition, Bardanes was a member of the landed aristocracy and a devoted iconophile who supported Empress Irene's regime. He has therefore been seen as the representative of the opposition by the traditional elites to Nikephoros's policies, both in the confessional area, where the Emperor maintained a neutral stance towards both iconoclasts and iconophiles, in the socio-financial sphere, where new taxes on landed property and the expropriation of ecclesiastical estates hurt their interests. Historian Warren Treadgold further suggested that the revolt was a reaction against Nikephoros's usurpation and aimed, at least ostensibly, at the restoration of Irene, her death, however, at Lesbos on 8 August deprived the rebels of any claim to legitimacy. The revolt probab
Medieval Greek known as Byzantine Greek, is the stage of the Greek language between the end of Classical antiquity in the 5th–6th centuries and the end of the Middle Ages, conventionally dated to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. From the 7th century onwards, Greek was the only language of administration and government in the Byzantine Empire; this stage of language is thus described as Byzantine Greek. The study of the Medieval Greek language and literature is a branch of Byzantine studies, the study of the history and culture of the Byzantine Empire; the beginning of Medieval Greek is dated back to as early as the 4th century, either to 330 AD, when the political centre of the Roman Empire was moved to Constantinople, or to 395 AD, the division of the Empire. However, this approach is rather arbitrary as it is more an assumption of political, as opposed to cultural and linguistic, developments. Indeed, by this time the spoken language pronunciation, had shifted towards modern forms.
The conquests of Alexander the Great, the ensuing Hellenistic period, had caused Greek to spread to peoples throughout Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean, altering the spoken language's pronunciation and structure. Medieval Greek is the link between this vernacular, known as Koine Greek, Modern Greek. Though Byzantine Greek literature was still influenced by Attic Greek, it was influenced by vernacular Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament and the liturgical language of the Greek Orthodox Church. Constantine moved to Byzantium in 330; the city, though a major imperial residence like other cities such as Trier and Sirmium, was not a capital until 359. Nonetheless the imperial court resided there and the city was the political centre of the eastern parts of the Roman Empire where Greek was the dominant language. At first, Latin remained the language of the army, it was used for official documents. From the beginning of the 6th century, amendments to the law were written in Greek. Furthermore, parts of the Roman Corpus Iuris Civilis were translated into Greek.
Under the rule of Emperor Heraclius, who assumed the Greek title Basileus in 629, Greek became the official language of the Eastern Roman Empire. This was in spite of the fact that the inhabitants of the empire still considered themselves Rhomaioi until its end in 1453, as they saw their State as the perpetuation of Roman rule. Despite the absence of reliable demographic figures, it has been estimated that less than one third of the inhabitants of the Eastern Roman Empire, around eight million people, were native speakers of Greek; the number of those who were able to communicate in Greek may have been far higher. The native Greek speakers consisted of many of the inhabitants of the southern Balkan Peninsula, south of the Jireček Line, all of the inhabitants of Asia Minor, where the native tongues, except Armenian in the east, had become extinct, replaced by Greek, by the 5th century. In any case, all cities of the Eastern Roman Empire were influenced by the Greek language. In the period between 603 and 619, the southern and eastern parts of the empire were occupied by Persian Sassanids and, after being recaptured by Heraclius in the years 622 to 628, they were conquered by the Arabs in the course of the Muslim conquests a few years later.
Alexandria, a center of Greek culture and language, fell to the Arabs in 642. During the seventh and eighth centuries, Greek was replaced by Arabic as an official language in conquered territories such as Egypt; as more people gained a knowledge of Arabic. Thus, the use of Greek declined early on in Egypt; the invasion of the Slavs into the Balkan peninsula reduced the area where Greek was spoken and Latin. Sicily and parts of Magna Graecia, Asia Minor and more Anatolia, parts of the Crimean Peninsula remained Greek-speaking; the southern Balkans which would henceforth be contested between Byzantium and various Slavic kingdoms or empires. The Greek language spoken by one-third of the population of Sicily at the time of the Norman conquest 1060-90 remained vibrant for more than a century, but died out to a deliberate policy of Latinization in language and religion from the mid-1160s. From the late 11th century onwards, the interior of Anatolia was invaded by Seljuq Turks, who advanced westwards.
With the Ottoman conquests of Constantinople in 1453, the Peloponnese in 1459/1460, the Empire of Trebizond in 1461, Athens in 1465, two centuries the Duchy of Candia in 1669, the Greek language lost its status as a national language until the emergence of modern Greece in the year 1821. Language varieties after 1453 are referred to as Modern Greek; as early as in the Hellenistic period, there was a tendency towards a state of diglossia between the Attic literary language and the developing vernacular Koiné. By late antiquity, the gap had become impossible to ignore. In the Byzantine era, written Greek manifested itself in a whole spectrum of divergent registers, all of which were consciously archaic in comparison with the contemporary spoken vernacular, but in different degrees, they ranged from a moderately archaic style employed for most every-day writing and based on the written Koiné of the Bible and early Christian literature, to a artificial learned style, employed by authors with higher literary ambitions and imitating the model of classical Attic, in continuation of the movement of Atticism
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
Battle of Pliska
The Battle of Pliska or Battle of Vărbitsa Pass was a series of battles between troops, gathered from all parts of the Byzantine Empire, led by the Emperor Nicephorus I Genik, Bulgaria, governed by Khan Krum. The Byzantines plundered and burned the Bulgar capital Pliska which gave time for the Bulgarians to block passes in the Balkan Mountains that served as exits out of Bulgaria; the final battle took place on 26 July 811, in some of the passes in the eastern part of the Balkans, most the Vărbitsa Pass. There, the Bulgarians used the tactics of ambush and surprise night attacks to trap and immobilize the Byzantine forces, thus annihilating the whole army, including the Emperor. After the battle, Krum encased Nicephorus's skull in silver, used it as a cup for wine-drinking; this is one of the best documented instances of the custom of the skull cup. The Battle of Pliska was one of the worst defeats in Byzantine history, it deterred Byzantine rulers from sending their troops north of the Balkans for more than 150 years afterwards, which increased the influence and spread of the Bulgarians to the west and south of the Balkan Peninsula, resulting in a great territorial enlargement of the First Bulgarian Empire.
When Nicephorus I became emperor in 802, he planned to reincorporate Bulgar-held territory back into the empire. In 807 he launched a campaign but only reached Odrin and achieved nothing because of a conspiracy in his capital; that attempted attack, gave reason for the Bulgar Khan Krum to undertake military operations against the Byzantine Empire. The main objective was an extension to the south-west. In the next year a Bulgar army defeated the Byzantines; the Bulgar troops captured 1,100 litres of gold and killed many enemy soldiers including all strategoi and most of the commanders. In 809 the Khan besieged the strong fortress of Serdica and seized the city, killing the whole garrison of 6,000. In 811, the Byzantine Emperor organised a large campaign to conquer Bulgaria once and for all, he gathered an enormous army from the Anatolian and European themata, the imperial bodyguard. The conquest was supposed to be easy, most of the high-ranking officials and aristocrats accompanied him, including his son Stauracius and his brother-in-law Michael I Rangabe.
The whole army consisted of around 80,000 soldiers. The army gathered in May, by 10 July had set up camp at the fortress of Marcelae near the Bulgarian frontier. Nicephorus intended to confuse them and over the next ten days launched several supposed attacks, which were called back. Krum assessed the situation and estimated that he could not repulse the enemy and offered peace, which Nicephorus haughtily rejected. Theophanes wrote that the Emperor, "was deterred from his own ill thoughts and the suggestions of his advisors who were thinking like him"; some of his military chiefs considered the invasion of Bulgaria to be imprudent and too risky, but Nicephorus was convinced of his ultimate success. In June he invaded the Bulgarian lands and marched through the Balkan passes towards the capital of Pliska. On 20 July Nicephorus divided the army into three columns, each marching by a different route towards Pliska, he met little resistance and after three days he reached the capital where the Byzantines met an army of 12,000 elite soldiers who guarded the stronghold.
The Bulgarians were defeated and most of them perished. Another hastily assembled army of 50,000 soldiers had a similar fate. On 23 July the Byzantines captured the defenseless capital; the city was sacked and the countryside destroyed. Khan Krum attempted once more to negotiate for peace. According to the historian Theophanes, Krum's proclamation stated, "you have won. So take what you please and go with peace." Nicephorus, overconfident from his success, ignored him. He believed that Bulgaria was conquered. Michael the Syrian, patriarch of the Syrian Jacobites in the twelfth century, described in his Chronicle the brutalities and atrocities of Nicephorus's troops: "Nicephorus, emperor of the Romans, walked in Bulgarians land: he was victorious and killed a great number of them, he took it over and devastated it. His savagery went to such a point that he ordered to bring their small children, got them tied down on earth and made thresh grain stones to smash them." The Byzantine soldiers plundered.
The Emperor locked it and did not allow his troops to reach it. While Nicephorus and his army were busy plundering the Bulgarian capital, Krum mobilized his people to set traps and ambushes in the mountain passes. Nicephorus intended to march through Moesia and reach Serdica before returning to Constantinople but the news of these preparations for a battle changed his decision and he chose the shortest way to his capital; the overconfident Emperor neglected to scout ahead. On 25 July his army entered the Varbica Pass but his cavalry told him the road was barred with thick wooden walls and Krum's detachments watched from the heights around; the Emperor became panicked by the situation and stated to his companions "Even if we have had wings we could not have escaped from peril." Before they could retreat, the Bulgars blocked the valley entrance too. Nicephorus, unable to face attacking one of the palisades set up camp, despite his generals' misgivings. By the third night Byzantine morale was shattered, while Bulgar troops banged their shields and taunted