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Ancient Greek Kingdoms


115 files, last one added on Nov 16, 2020

Roman Republic


13 files, last one added on Nov 29, 2020

Roman Triumvirate


2 files, last one added on Nov 08, 2018

Roman Provincial


44 files, last one added on Apr 01, 2019

Roman Imperial


162 files, last one added on Apr 01, 2019

Byzantine Empire


491 files, last one added on Nov 30, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Anastasius I (491-518)


Following the death of the Emperor Zeno, the choice of a successor devolved on the widowed Empress Ariadne. She selected a somewhat obscure court official, Anastasius, and despite his advanced age he ruled the Empire for twenty-seven years and outlived Ariadne herself.

Anastasius' main achievements were in the realms of finance, and it is with his radical changes in the monetary system that the Byzantine coinage is generally held to commence. By the time of his death he had increased the resources of !he state treasury by something like 320,000 pounds of gold. That his successors were able to embark on grandiose schemes of reconquest must have been very largely due to the financial skill of Anastasius in building up the economic strength of the Empire.

It was in religious matters that the emperor encountered his greatest difficulties. On his accession he had made a formal profession of orthodoxy, but in reality he favored the monophysite heresy, and as time went by he gradually ceased the pretense. Although this pleased his subjects in the eastern provinces (Syria and Egypt) where monophysitism was rife, it caused great consternalion among the orthodox Byzantines. and revolts began breaking out with increasing frequency. These culminated in the rebellion of Vilalian, commander-in-chief of Thrace, who three times advanced on Constantinople threatening to attack the city, before Anastasius finally agreed to change his policy.

He died in 518, without designating a successor.

16 files, last one added on Dec 06, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Justin I (518-527)


Of Macedonian peasant origin, Justin followed a career in the imperial army and eventually became commander of the excubitores in Constantinople. On the death of Anastasius he was chosen for the succession, but he was a rough soldier of little learning , and throughout most of his reign imperial policy was formulated by his brilliant nephew, Justinian. Religious orthodoxy was restored and Justinian thus laid the foundations for his reconquest of Italy by re-establishing good relations with the Roman Church.

Justin died in 527 and was succeeded by his nephew. His reign is generally considered to have been merely the prelude to the Age of Justinian.

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Byzantine Empire: Justin I and Justinian I (527)


Some months before his death Justin elevated his nephew, Justinian, to the rank of co-emperor, thus ensuring a smooth succession.

1 files, last one added on Jun 25, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Justinian I (527-565)


Already the formulator of imperial policy under his uncle, Just in I, Justinian embarked upon his own momentous reign in 527, and ruled the Byzantine Empire for almost four decades. During this time North Africa was recovered from the Vandals. Italy liberated from the rule of the Goths, and a footing gained in Spain; once more, and for the last time in history, the Mediterranean could justly be called a Roman lake. These successes were, to some extent, countered by the expansion of Persian power in the East under the vigorous Sassanid ruler Khusru I (531-79), and Justinian was obliged to pay large sums in tribute to maintain the uneasy peace on the eastern frontier.

At home, the emperor was equally active, and the most famous of' his architectural achievements was the great church o.f St. Sophia: this remarkable building, which is still one of' the prominent landmarks of modern Istanbul, exercised a powerful influence on all later Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture. In the realms of jurisprudence the reign of Justinian was also a great turning point, and by his codification of Roman law he bequeathed to his successors ,for generations to come, all that was best in the legal system which had evolved over so many centuries.

This tremendous activity had, however, taxed the Empire to the very limits of its resources. Quite
soon after Justinian's death it became clear that the Byzantines were not able to bear the burden of' the great emperor's achievements, and much of his work of' reconquest was quickly undone. In the dark days that followed, the reign of Justinian was looked back upon as a Golden Age.

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Byzantine Empire: Justin II (565-578)


The nephew of Justinian, Justin II was selected for the succession before his uncle's death. On his assumption of power he found himself beset by numerous problems resulting from his great predecessor's over-ambitious policies. Unfortunately, he was quite unequal to the formidable task. Within five years of his accession most of Italy had been lost to the Lombard invader, and in Spain the Visigoths mounted a successful counter-offensive. On the eastern frontier a long-drawn-out war was initiated when Just in refused to pay Khusru the customary tribute. The issue was still unresolved when the emperor became mentally ill and was obliged to appoint Tiberius, Count of the Excubitors, as Caesar (574).

Tiberius acted as regent for almost four years but at the end of September, 578, the emperor's condition worsened and Tiberius was raised to the rank of Augustus and co-emperor. Justin died shortly afterwards.

The Empress Sophia, who is prominent on the coinage, exercised considerable political influence throughout her husband's reign , including the regency of Tiberius.

29 files, last one added on Nov 30, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Heraclius (610-641)


One of the greatest of all Byzantine rulers, and the founder of a remarkable dynasty, Heraclius came to power when the Empire seemed close to disintegration. The Persians occupied much of Asia Minor, and soon added Syria and Egypt to their conquests. When they captured Jerusalem the Holy Cross was carried off to Ctesiphon: this was a particularly heavy blow for the Christian Empire. The Slavs and Avars continued to ravage the Balkans and Greece, and even penetrated to the Peloponnese and the Greek islands.

The emperor bided his time and took the first steps to recovery by reorganizing the administration of those areas still under his control. Large military zones, called "themes," were created and grants of land were made to the soldiers on condition of hereditary military service. This system of military government was gradually extended over the whole empire and formed the backbone of the Medieval Byzantine State.

Heraclius began his great counter-offensive in 622, and after six years of bitter fighting, the emperor often leading his troops in person, a miraculous change of fortune had occurred. The Avars were driven back from Constantinople and their fleet and army practically annihilated. The Persians were utterly defeated, and the Sassanian Empire, the great rival of the Romans and the Byzantines, lay in ruins. Khusru I/ was deposed and murdered. Amidst great rejoicings Heraclius restored the Holy Cross to Jerusalem, an act symbolic of the victorious conclusion of the war.

Unfortunately the emperor lived long enough to see the undoing of much of his achievement; for the closing years of the reign witnessed the first dynamic expansion of Muslim power. Persia succumbed almost without resistance and the Byzantines lost Syria and Palestine before Heraclius died early in 641, a broken man. Egypt fell to the Arabs soon afterwards, but despite these ultimate disasters the reign of Heraclius marked a turning point in Byzantine history, and his work laid the foundation of future greatness.

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Byzantine Empire: Constans II (641-668)


The son of Heraclius Constantine, Constans was born in 630 and was made co-emperor by Heraclonas in September 641. His official name was Constantine, but this was popularly abbreviated to Constans.

In the early part of the reign the Arabs continued their victorious advance and Egypt was subjugated by the autumn of 642. This was a great blow to the Byzantines as Egypt, which was now permanently lost, had been one of the richest provinces of the Empire. The Arab fleet was also built up at this time and constituted a real threat to Byzantine naval supremacy.

Revolts occurred in North Africa and in Italy, but they both ended in failure, and Constans further strengthened his position by proclaiming his son, Constantine, co-emperor in 654. Four years later he undertook a campaign against the Slavs in the Balkans, and achieved a considerable
measure of success. Large numbers of Slavs were transported to Asia Minor, where they served in the imperial army.

Towards the end of his reign Constans took the unprecedented step of removing his residence to the West. He left Constantinople, never to return, and made a slow progress through the western provinces. Syracuse was his final destination and this became his imperial capital, though the rest of his family remained in Constantinople. His despotic behavior ultimately led to his assassination in 668, and he was succeeded by his son.

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Byzantine Empire: Tiberius III Apsimar (698-705)


Following his successful rebellion against Leontius, Apsimar ascended the throne under the name of Tiberius. Although a capable ruler. he was quite unable to check the Arab advance in North Africa, and by the turn of the eighth century they had reached the Atlantic coast.

In the meantime the exiled Justinian II had been plotting his return to Constantinople. He had escaped from Cherson and had been received by the Khazars; but Tiberius brought diplomatic pressure to bear tu secure the arrest of the fugitive emperor. Once again Justinian escaped. this time finding refuge at the court of Tervel, the Khan of the Bulgars. In the autumn of 705 he approached the Byzantine capital at the head of an army of Slavs and Bulgars. and after gaining
entry to the City by crawling through an aqueduct pipe, he overthrew Tiberius and re-ascended the throne of his ancestors.

7 files, last one added on Oct 10, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Leo III the Isaurian (717-741)


One of the most powerful of the Byzantine rulers and, like Heraclius, the founder of a dynasty, Leo Ill was of peasant origin and came from North Syria. He first saw service during Justinian's second reign, and by the time of Theodosius Ill's elevation he had risen to be strategus of the important Anatolikon theme. He was proclaimed emperor in 717, allying himself with Artavasdus, strategus of the Armeniakon theme, and the feeble ruler at Constantinople was easily overthrown.

The great Arab attack on the Byzantine capital. which had been threatening for several years, began within six months of Leo's accession. Once again, as in the time of Constantine IV, the Muslims were driven back after fierce fighting on land and sea. and Europe was saved. The struggle with the Arabs continued, howe ver, throughout the reign, culminating in a great victory for Leo at Acroinon in 740. Alliances were fostered with the Bulgars and the Khazars, and Leo 's son and co-emperor Constantine was married to the daughter of the Khazar Khan in 733. A legal manual (the Ecloga) was published in 726, an important step in the development of Byzantine law.

However, the considerable benefits which the Empire derived from Leo's rule were, to a large extent, cancelled out by the great Iconoclast Controversy which was initiated by him , and which plagued the Byzantine World for generations to come. In simple terms the iconoclasts were violently opposed to the adoration of icons (statues and pictorial representations of religious subjects), whilst the iconodules supported the traditional veneration of these images. Bill er controversy raged over this subject, and both Church and people were deeply divided in their adherence to one cause or the other. Many irreplaceable works of art were destroyed whilst the iconoclasts were in power. Leo died in 741, his popularity considerably undermined by his ardent support of iconoclasm.

6 files, last one added on Nov 02, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Nicephorus I (802-811)


Formerly logothete of the treasury, Nicephorus came to power as a result of the palace revolution which removed the Empress lrene. The new emperor lost no time in attempting to remedy the deplorable condition of the State. By the introduction of a large number of reforms, particularly in the financial sphere, the situation quickly improved and the Empire was in a position again to take the offensive in foreign affairs.

Byzantine authority was restored in the Peloponnese after more than two centuries of Slav rule, and the Muslim threat receded following the death of the great caliph Harun al Raschid in 809. The real danger was on the Northern frontier where the Bulgarians were extending their power under the dynamic leadership of Krum. In the Spring of 811 Nicephorus attacked the Bulgarians with spectacular success, and Pliska their capital was destroyed: but unwisely he pursued Krum into the mountains where the Byzantine army was ambushed and destroyed. Nicephorus himself was killed, the first emperor to fall in battle against barbarians since Valens in 378. His son and co-emperor Stauracius was severely wounded, but managed to escape and make his way back to Constantinople. The dying emperor surrendered his throne to his brother-in-law, Michael Rhangabe, and retired to a monastery where he expired soon afterwards.

7 files, last one added on Dec 21, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Michael I Rhangabe (811-813)


Following the disaster of 811 the Empire found itself in a most difficult situation. and its new emperor, Michael l, was quite unequal to his formidable task . In contrast to the strong line taken by his predecessor he agreed to recognize the Western Empire of Charles the Great, and he also reversed many of Nicephorus' policies of economy. His regime was toppled after less than two years, following another defeat of a Byzantine army by the victorious Bulgar Khan.

4 files, last one added on Oct 15, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Leo V the Armenian (813- 820)


Strategus of the Anatolikon theme, Leo replaced the ineffectual Michael Rhangabe on the Byzantine throne and set about restoring the Empire's lost prestige. He achieved some success against Krum, but the Byzantines were finally delivered from their scourge when the Bulgar Khan died in 814. The eastern frontier was also quiet for the time being, so Leo took the opportunity to pursue his real ambition-the restoration of iconoclasm. There were, however, few supporters for this cause and the emperor had to resort to cruel persecution to enforce his will. This ultimately led to his assassination before the high altar of St. Sophia on Christmas Day 820.

9 files, last one added on May 07, 2019

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