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Ancient Greek Kingdoms


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111 files, last one added on Dec 27, 2019

Roman Republic


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11 files, last one added on Jan 03, 2019

Roman Triumvirate


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2 files, last one added on Nov 08, 2018

Roman Provincial


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44 files, last one added on Apr 01, 2019

Roman Imperial


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162 files, last one added on Apr 01, 2019

Byzantine Empire


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571 files, last one added on Jan 13, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Anastasius I (491-518)


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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.

14 files, last one added on Apr 21, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Justin I (518-527)


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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.

2 files, last one added on Jun 25, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Justin I and Justinian I (527)


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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)


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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.

22 files, last one added on Jun 25, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Justin II (565-578)


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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.

1 files, last one added on Mar 18, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Tiberius Ill Apsimar (698-705)


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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.

4 files, last one added on Jan 12, 2020

Byzantine Empire: Nicephorus I (802-811)


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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.

4 files, last one added on Mar 26, 2018

Byzantine Empire: Michael I Rhangabe (811-813)


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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.

3 files, last one added on May 07, 2019

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


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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

Restored Byzantine Empire: Michael VIII Palaeologus (1261-1282)


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The founder of the last great Byzantine dynasty, Michael Palaeologus commenced his imperial career as regent for the young Nicaean Emperor John IV (August 1258). At the end of the year he was crowned eo-emperor and thereafter devoted himself to the restoration of the Byzantine Empire.

On 25th July 1261 Constantinople was re-captured and the Emperor Baldwin II fled from the city. Three weeks later Michael VIII entered his capital in triumph and was re-crowned in the ancient church of St. Sophia. Once again Byzantium became a Mediterranean power and as such a target for attack by its enemies in the West, the North and the East. Like so many of his predecessors Michael was obliged to grant extensive trading privileges to the powerful maritime republic of Venice, but he attempted to lessen the danger by coming to terms with the Genoese also. Meanwhile the Kingdom of Sicily and Naples had passed into the hands of Michael's bitterest opponent, Charles of Anjou, who lost no time in organizing a coalition of powers hostile to Byzantium. Luckily Michael VIII was an exceedingly astute diplomat, but he needed all his guile to counter the threat from the Sicilian King. In order to obtain vital papal support the Emperor, in the face of enormous opposition from his subjects, agreed to the Union of the Churches, with the recognition of papal primacy (1274). This achieved the desired result and Charles of Anjou was constrained by Pope Gregory X from attacking Constantinople. Ultimately, Michael triumphed over his arch-adversary Charles: smouldering discontent with Angevin rule in Sicily was brought to a head by cunning diplomacy and the King was overthrown in a bloody revolution (April1282). Later the same year Michael Vlll died, having achieved all his goals, and the Byzantine throne passed to his son Andronicus Palaeologus.

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Restored Byzantine Empire: Michael VIII and Andronicus II (1272-1282)



Andronicus II became co-emperor in 1272.

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Restored Byzantine Empire: Andronicus II Palaeologus (1282-1295)


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Under the rule of Andronicus lithe Empire went into the decline from which it was destined never to fully recover. The vigorous policies of Michael VIII had sapped the strength of the newly restored State , and its actual weakness had been disguised by the diplomatic genius of its ruler.

Andronicus did not possess his father's great gifts for statesmanship but he was a highly cultured man and Constantinople remained an intellectual center throughout his long reign. In religious matters he pursued a strictly orthodox policy and the Union of the Churches, proclaimed under his father, was repudiated immediately after his accession. However, as the feudalization of the Empire gathered pace the central government soon found itself in dire financial straits, and Andronicus was obliged to make drastic cuts in the armed forces thus placing the State at the mercy of its powerful enemies. Almost the whole of Asia Minor was overrun by fresh hordes of Turkish tribes as early as 1300.

In 1295 Andronicus' son was crowned co-emperor as Michael IX and the joint reign lasted a quarter of a century until Michael's premature death on 12th October 1320. The young Andronicus Palaeologus, son of the late co-emperor, then advanced his claim to imperial rank but his grandfather had a low opinion of the headstrong youth and rejected the demand. A period of civil war ensued which weakened the State still further. Andronicus III was ultimately triumphant and the aged Andronicus II was forced to abdicate (24th May 1328). He retired to a monastery where he died four years later as the monk Anthony.

9 files, last one added on Mar 17, 2018

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