Heraclius: Wikis


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Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine stamped on a gold Roman coin
Heraclius and his son Heraclius Constantine on a Roman coin
Reign October 5, 610 – February 11, 641
Coronation October 5, 610
Full name Flavius Heraclius Augustus
Born c. 574
Birthplace Cappadocia, present-day Turkey
Died February 11, 641 (aged 66 or 67)
Predecessor Phocas
Successor Constantine III
Consort Eudokia
Offspring Constantine III
Dynasty Heraclian Dynasty
Father Heraclius the Elder

Flavius Heraclius Augustus (Greek: Φλάβιος Ἡράκλειος; known in English as Heraclius, or Herakleios; c. 575 - February 11, 641) was a Byzantine Emperor of Armenian origin, who ruled the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantine Empire.[A 1] He was in power for over thirty years, from October 5, 610 to February 11, 641 and was responsible for abandoning the use of Latin in favour of the Greek language in official documents, further Hellenising the Empire. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, also named Heraclius, the viceregal Exarch of Africa, successfully led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.

Heraclius' reign was marked by several military campaigns. The year Heraclius came to power, the Byzantine Empire was threatened on multiple fronts. Heraclius immediately had to fight the invasion of the Empire by the Sassanians who were ruled by the Persian king Khosrau Parvez. The first battles of the campaign ended in defeat for the Byzantines; and the Persian army fought their way to the gate of Constantinople, the capital. The Persian army attacked the city from the east while an army of Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars attacked it from the west and from the sea. However, because Constantinople was protected by a strong navy and impenetrable walls, Heraclius was able to avoid total defeat. Soon after this, he initiated a campaign to rebuild and reform the military. Following this success Heraclius moved into Persian territory in 627 and won a decisive battle at Nineveh defeating the Persian army. He was the first Emperor to engage the Muslims, and, in the Islamic world, he is seen as something of an ideal ruler who studied the Qur'an, was a true believer of Islam, and viewed Muhammad as the true prophet, the messenger of God.

After his victory over the Sassanid Empire, he faced a new threat with the rising power of Islam. The Persians were quickly defeated by the Islamic forces and in 634 the latter invaded Syria, defeating the emperor's brother Theodore. Heraclius eventually lost Syria in a string of battles. Within a short period of time the Arabs would conquer Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Egypt.

In religious matters, Heraclius is remembered as the driving force in converting the peoples migrating to the Balkan Peninsula. At his request Pope John IV (640-642) sent Christian teachers and missionaries to the Dalmatia, newly Croatian Provinces settled by Porga, and his clan who practiced Slavic paganism. He tried to repair the schism in the Christian church in regard to the Monophysites by promoting a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism; however, this philosophy was rejected as heretical by both sides of the dispute.


Early life



Heraclius was the eldest son of Heraclius the Elder and Epiphania, an Armenian family from Cappadocia.[A 2][4] Beyond that, there is little specific information known about his ancestry. His father was a key general during Emperor Maurice's war with Bahrām Chobin, usurper of the Sassanid Empire, during 590.[5] After the war, Maurice appointed Heraclius the Elder to the position of Exarch of Africa.[5]

Revolt against Phocas and accession to Emperor

In 608, Heraclius the Elder renounced his loyalty to the Emperor Phocas, who had overthrown Maurice six years earlier. The rebels issued coins showing both Heraclii dressed as consuls, though neither of them explicitly claimed the imperial title at this time.[6] Heraclius' younger cousin Nicetas launched an overland invasion of Egypt; by 609, he had defeated Phocas' general Bonosus and secured the province. Meanwhile, the younger Heraclius sailed eastward with another force via Sicily and Cyprus.[6]

As he approached Constantinople, he made contact with leading leaders and planned an attack to overthrow aristocrats in the city, and soon arranged a ceremony where he was crowned and acclaimed as emperor. When he reached the capital, the Excubitors, an elite Imperial Guard unit led by Phocas' son-in-law Priscus, deserted to Heraclius, and he entered the city without serious resistance. When Heraclius captured Phocas, he asked him, "Is this how you have ruled, wretch?" Phocas said in reply, "And will you rule better?" With that, Heraclius became so enraged that he beheaded Phocas on the spot.[7] He later had the genitalia removed from the body because Phocas had raped the wife of Photius, a powerful politician in the city.[8]

On October 5, 610, Heraclius was crowned for a second time, this time in the Chapel of St. Stephen within the Great Palace, and at the same time married Fabia, who took the name Eudokia. After her death in 612, he married his niece Martina in 613; this second marriage was considered incestuous and was very unpopular.[9] In the reign of Heraclius' two sons, the divisive Martina was to become the center of power and political intrigue. Despite widespread hatred for Martina in Constantinople, Heraclius took her on campaigns with him and refused attempts by Patriarch Sergius to prevent and later dissolve the marriage.[9]

War against Persia

Painting of the assassination of Khosrau II, in a Mughal manuscript of ca 1535, framed by Persian poems which are from Ferdowsi's Shahnameh
The assassination of Khosrau II, in a Mughal manuscript of ca 1535, Persian poems are from Ferdowsi's Shahnameh

To the brink of defeat

During his Balkan Campaigns, Emperor Maurice and his family were murdered by Phocas in November 602 after a mutiny.[10] Khosrau II (Chosroes) of the Sassanid Empire had been restored to his throne by Maurice and they had remained allies.[A 3] Thus, the Persian King Khosrau II seized the pretext to attack the Eastern Roman Empire, and reconquer the Roman province of Mesopotamia.[11] Khosrau had at his court a man who claimed to be Maurice's son Theodosius; and Khosrau demanded that the Romans accept this Theodosius as Emperor.

The war initially went the Persians' way, partly because of Phocas' brutal repression and the succession crisis that ensued as the general Heraclius sent his nephew Nicetas to attack Egypt, enabling his son Heraclius the younger to claim the throne in 610.[10] Phocas, an unpopular ruler who is invariably described in historical sources as a "tyrant", was eventually deposed by Heraclius, who sailed to Constantinople from Carthage with an icon affixed to the prow of his ship.[12][13]

By this time, the Persians had conquered Mesopotamia and the Caucasus, and in 611 they overran Syria and entered Anatolia. A major counter-attack led by Heraclius two years later was decisively defeated outside Antioch by Shahrbaraz and Shahin, and the Roman position collapsed; the Persians devastated parts of Asia Minor, and captured Chalcedon across from Constantinople on the Bosporus.[14] Over the following decade the Persians were able to conquer Palestine and Egypt (by mid-621 the whole province was in their hands[15]) and to devastate Anatolia,[A 4] while the Avars and Slavs took advantage of the situation to overrun the Balkans, bringing the Roman Empire to the brink of destruction. In 613, the Persian army took Damascus with the help of the Jews, seized Jerusalem in 614, damaging the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and capturing the True Cross and afterwards capturing Egypt in 616.[10]

With the Persians at the very gate of Constantinople, Heraclius thought of abandoning the city and moving the capital to Carthage, but was convinced to stay by the powerful church figure Patriarch Sergius. Safe behind the walls of Constantinople, Heraclius was able to sue for peace in exchange for an annual tribute of: a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins to the Persian King.[17] The peace allowed him to rebuild the Empire's army by slashing non-military expenditure, devaluing the currency, and melting down, with the backing of Patriarch Sergius, Church treasures to raise the necessary funds to continue the war.[18]

Byzantine Empire strikes back

On April 5, 622, Heraclius left Constantinople, entrusting the city to Sergius and general Bonus as regents of his son. He assembled his forces in Asia Minor, probably in Bithynia, and, after he revived their broken morale, he launched a new counter-offensive, which took on the character of a holy war; an acheiropoietos image of Christ was carried as a military standard.[18][19][20][21]

Medieval style portrait of Cherub and Heraclius receiving the submission of Khosrau II; plaque from a cross (Champlevé enamel over gilt copper
Cherub and Heraclius receiving the submission of Khosrau II; plaque from a cross (Champlevé enamel over gilt copper, 1160-1170, Paris, Louvre).

The Roman army proceeded to Armenia, inflicted a defeat on an army led by a Persian-allied Arab chief, and then won a victory over the Persians under Shahrbaraz.[22] He would stay on campaign for several years.[23][24] On March 25, 624 Heraclius left again Constantinople with his wife, Martina, and his two children; after he celebrated Easter in Nicomedia on April 15, he campaigned in the Caucasus, winning a series of victories in Azerbaijan and Armenia against Khosrau and his generals Shahrbaraz, Shahin and Shahraplakan.[25][26] In 626 the Avars and Slavs besieged Constantinople, supported by a Persian army commanded by Shahrbaraz, but the siege ended in failure (the victory was attributed to the icons of the Virgin which were led in procession by Sergius about the walls of the city[27]), while a second Persian army under Shahin suffered another crushing defeat at the hands of Heraclius' brother Theodore.

With the Persian war effort disintegrating, Heraclius was able to bring the Gokturks of the Western Turkic Khaganate, Ziebel, who invaded Persian Transcaucasia. Heraclius exploited divisions within the Persian Empire, keeping the Persian general Shahrbaraz neutral by convincing him that Khosrau had grown jealous of him and ordered his execution. Late in 627 he launched a winter offensive into Mesopotamia, where, despite the desertion of his Turkish allies, he defeated the Persians under Rhahzadh at the Battle of Nineveh.[28] Continuing south along the Tigris he sacked Khosrau's great palace at Dastagird and was only prevented from attacking Ctesiphon by the destruction of the bridges on the Nahrawan Canal. Discredited by this series of disasters, Khosrau was overthrown and killed in a coup led by his son Kavadh II, who at once sued for peace, agreeing to withdraw from all occupied territories.[29] In 629 Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in a majestic ceremony.[13][30][31]

Heraclius took for himself the ancient Persian title of "King of Kings" after his victory over Persia. Later on, starting in 629, he styled himself as Basileus, the Greek word for "sovereign", and that title was used by the Roman Emperors for the next 800 years. The reason Heraclius chose this title, over previous Roman terms such as Augustus, has been attributed by some scholars to having to do with Heraclius' Armenian origins.[32]

Heraclius' defeat of the Persians had been the end game in a war that had been on and off for almost 800 years. It was then that Alexander the Great had totally defeated the Persians. After Heraclius' victory over the Persian Empire left it in disarray which it never recovered. In 633 the new Islamic State slowly devoured the Persians until the Muslim conquest of Persia led to the end of the Sassanid Empire in 644, and the Sassanid dynasty in 651.[33]

War against the Arabs

A map with Muslim-Roman troop movements from September 365 to just before the event of the Battle of Yarmouk
Muslim-Roman troop movement from September 665 to just before the event of the Battle of Yarmouk


The Islamic Prophet Muhammad had recently succeeded in unifying all the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs, who had been too divided in the past to pose a military threat, now comprised one of the most powerful states in the region, and were animated by their new conversion to Islam.[34] Heraclius fell ill soon after his triumph over the Persians and never took the field again.

Islamic sources record that Heraclius dreamt of the coming Arab invasion. Historian Al-Tabari wrote that Heraclius dreamt of a new kingdom of the "circumcised man" that be victorious against all its enemies.[35] After telling his court his dream his patricians who did not know of the rise of Islam in Arabia, "advised him to send orders to behead every Jew in his dominion."[35] It was only when a Bedouin trader speaking of a man uniting the tribes of Arabia under a new religion was brought before the Emperor did the Heraclius and his court realize that the kingdom of the "circumcised man" was not the Jews but the new Islamic Empire.[35] When the Muslim Arabs attacked Syria and Palestine in 634, he was unable to oppose them personally in battle. Although he remained strategically in charge of operations, his generals failed him in battle. The Battle of Yarmouk in 636 resulted in a crushing defeat for the larger Roman army; within three years, the Levant had been lost again. By the time of Heraclius' death, on February 11, 641, most of Egypt had fallen as well.

Islamic view of the Emperor

In Islamic and Arab histories Heraclius is the only Roman Emperor who is discussed at any length.[36] Owing to his role as the Eastern Roman Emperor at the time Islam emerged, he was remembered in Arabic literature, such as the Islamic hadith and sira. They viewed him favourably, and early Muslims were never enemies of Heraclius, as evidenced in the Quranic verses about the Perso-Roman wars below:

002 - 005: The Romans have been defeated [From Persians]. In the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious. Within ten years — Allah's is the command in the former case and in the latter — and in that day believers will rejoice. In Allah's help to victory. He helpeth to victory whom He will. He is the Mighty, the Merciful.[37]

The Swahili "Utendi wa Tambuka", an epic poem composed in 1728 at Pate Island (off the shore of present-day Kenya) and depicting the wars between the Muslims and Byzantines from the former's point of view, is also known as Kyuo kya Hereḳali ("The book of Heraclius"). This reflects the considerable impression which this Emperor made on his Muslim foes, being still prominently remembered by Muslims more than a millennium after his death and at a considerable geographical and cultural distance.

In Arabic histories he is seen as a just ruler of great piety, who studied the Qur'an.[36] The 14th-century historian Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) went even further stating that "Heraclius was one of the wisest men and among the most resolute, shrewd, deep and opinionated of kings. He ruled the Romans with great leadership and splendor."[36] Islamic history even goes as far as claiming that Heraclius recognized Muhammad as the true prophet and proclaimed him the messenger of God.[38] According to Arab sources, he tried to convert the ruling class of the Empire, but they resisted so strongly that he reversed his course and claimed that he was just testing their faith in Christianity.[39] His status as a true believer in Islamic texts is seen as a way to legitimize Muhammad as the true prophet: if a foreign emperor, who is viewed as an almost perfect ruler, believes in Islam's message, then Muhammad must be the true prophet and voice of God.[40]


Idealized painting of a battle between Heraclius' army and Persians under Khosrau II c. 1452
Battle between Heraclius' army and Persians under Khosrau II. Fresco by Piero della Francesca, c. 1452

Looking back at the reign of Heraclius, scholars have credited him with many accomplishments. He enlarged the Empire and his reorganization of the government and military were great successes. His attempts at religious harmony failed, but he succeeded in returning the True Cross, one of the holiest Christian relics, to Jerusalem.


Although the territorial gains produced by his defeat of the Persians were lost to the advance of the Muslims, Heraclius still ranks among the great Roman emperors. His reforms of the government reduced the corruption which had taken hold in Phocas' reign, and he reorganized the military with great success. Ultimately, the reformed imperial army halted the Muslims in Asia Minor and held on to Carthage for another 60 years, saving a core from which the empire's strength could be rebuilt.[41]

The recovery of the eastern areas of the Roman Empire from the Persians once again raised the problem of religious unity centering around the understanding of the true nature of Christ. Most of the inhabitants of these provinces were Monophysites who rejected the Council of Chalcedon.[42] Heraclius tried to promote a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism; however, this philosophy was rejected as heretical by both sides of the dispute. For this reason, Heraclius was viewed as a heretic and bad ruler by some later religious writers. After the Monophysite provinces were finally lost to the Muslims, Monotheletism rather lost its raison d'être and was eventually abandoned.[42]

One of the most important legacies of Heraclius was changing the official language of the Eastern Roman Empire from Latin to Greek in 620.[43] Others include the conversation of the nomadic peoples settling in the Balkan region. At his request Pope John IV (640-642) sent Christian teachers and missionaries to the Dalmatia, newly Croatian Provinces settled by Porga, and his clan who practiced Slavic paganism.[44]

Up to the 20th century he was credited with establishing the Thematic system but modern scholarship now points more to the 660s, under Constans II.[45]

The modern day border of Turkey can be attributed to Heraclius. This border was Heraclius' line of defence in Eastern Anatolia which would permanently define the border between lands Islamised by Arabs in the first flush of Islamic conquest and those which would only be Islamised many centuries later — by Turks. It was this ethnic and cultural dividing line which, at the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, would in 1925 become the eastern border of the present Turkish Republic.

15th century, Spanish, medieval painting showing Heraclius on a horse returning the True Cross to Jerusalem, anachronistically accompanied by Saint Helena
Heraclius returns the True Cross to Jerusalem, anachronistically accompanied by Saint Helena. 15th century, Spain

Edward Gibbon in his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire wrote:

Of the characters conspicuous in history, that of Heraclius is one of the most extraordinary and inconsistent. In the first and last years of a long reign, the emperor appears to be the slave of sloth, of pleasure, or of superstition, the careless and impotent spectator of the public calamities. But the languid mists of the morning and evening are separated by the brightness of the meridian sun; the Arcadius of the palace arose the Caesar of the camp; and the honor of Rome and Heraclius was gloriously retrieved by the exploits and trophies of six adventurous campaigns. [...] Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire.[46]

Recovery of the True Cross

Despite his actual heterodox theology, Heraclius was long remembered favourably in the Western church for his reputed feat in recovering the True Cross, which had been captured by the Persians. As Heraclius approached the capital Khosrau fled from his favourite residence, Dastgerd (near Baghdad), without offering resistance. Meanwhile, some of the Persian grandees freed his eldest son Kavadh II, whom Khosrau II had imprisoned, and proclaimed him King on the night of 23–4 February , 628.[47] Kavadh however was mortally ill and was anxious that Heraclius should protect his infant son Ardeshir. So as a goodwill gesture, he sent the True Cross with a peace negotiator to sue for peace in 628.[29] After a tour of the Empire he returned the cross on March 21, 630.[29][48] The story was included in the Golden Legend the famous 13th century compendium of hagiography, and he is sometimes shown in art, as in The History of the True Cross sequence of frescoes painted by Piero della Francesca in Arezzo, or a similar sequence on a small altarpiece by Adam Elsheimer (Städel, Frankfurt). Both of these show scenes of Heraclius and Constantine I's mother Saint Helena, traditionally responsible for the excavation of the cross. The scene usually shown is Heraclius carrying the cross; according to the Golden Legend he insisted on doing this as he entered Jerusalem, against the advice of the Patriarch. At first (shown above), when he was on horseback, the burden was too heavy, but after he dismounted and removed his crown it became miraculously light, and the barred city gate opened of its own accord.

Probably because he was one of the few Eastern Roman emperors widely known in the West, the Late Antique Colossus of Barletta was considered to depict Heraclius.


Heraclius was married twice: first to Fabia Eudokia, a daughter of Rogatus, and then to his niece Martina. He had two children with Fabia and at least nine with Martina most of whom were sickly children.[A 5][51] Of Martina's children at least two were disabled, which was seen as punishment for the illegality of the marriage: Fabius (Flavius) had a paralyzed neck and Theodosios, who was a deaf-mute, married Nike, daughter of Persian general Shahrbaraz or daughter of Niketas, cousin of Heraclius.

Two of Heraclius' children would become Emperor: Martina's son Constantine Heraclius (Heraklonas), from 638 – 641, and Heraclius Constantine (Constantine III), his son from Eudokia, from February, 641 – May, 641.[51]

Heraclius had at least one illegitimate son, John Athalarichos, who conspired a plot against Heraclius with his cousin, the magister Theodorus, and the Armenian noble David Saharuni.[A 6] When Heraclius discovered the plot he had Atalarichos' nose and hands cut off and he was exiled to Prinkipo, one of the Princes' Islands.[55] Theodorus had the same treatment but was sent to Gaudomelete (possibly modern day Gozo Island) with additional instructions to cut off one leg.[55]

During the last years of Heraclius' life, it became evident that a struggle was taking place between Heraclius Constantine and Martina, who was trying to position her son Heraklonas in line for the throne. When Heraclius died, in his will he left the empire to both Heraclius Constantine and Heraklonas to rule jointly with Martina as Empress.[51]

Family tree

Fabia Eudokia
Unknown mother
John Athalarichos
Eudokia Epiphania
Heraclius Constantine (Constantine III)
Fabius (Flavius)
Constantine Heraclius (Heraklonas)
David (Tiberios)
Martinos (Marinos)
Augoustina (Augusta)
Anastasia and/or Martina, Augusta

See also


  1. ^ Byzantine Empire is a relatively modern term for what in Heraclius' time was referred to the Roman Empire or Eastern Roman Empire.[1] The earliest use of the term, "Byzantine" was 900 years after Heraclius' death. It first appeared in the 1557 when German historian Hieronymus Wolf coined the term when he published his work Corpus Historiæ By­zantinæ. Later French historians popularized the term.[1] Other civilizations of the time referred to Byzantine Empire as the Eastern Roman Empire or just Roman Empire. In the Persian, Islamic, and Slavic worlds, the Empire's Roman identity was generally accepted. In the Islamic world it was known primarily as روم (Rûm "Rome").[2][3] For more information see Nomenclature of the Byzantine Empire
  2. ^ His father referred to retrospectively as Heraclius the Elder
  3. ^ Also referred to as Khosrow II, Chosroes II, or Xosrov II in classical sources, sometimes called Parvez, "the Ever Victorious" – in Persian: خسرو پرویز)
  4. ^ The mint of Nicomedia ceased operating in 613, and Rhodes fell to the invaders in 622/623.[16]
  5. ^ The number and order of Heraclius' children by Martina is unsure. Some sources say nine children [49] and others saying ten.[50]
  6. ^ The illegitimate son is recorded by a number of different spellings including: Atalarichos[52], Athalaric[53], At'alarik[54], etc


  1. ^ a b Fox, Clifton R. (March 29, 1996). "What, if anything, is a Byzantine?". Lone Star College–Tomball. http://www.romanity.org/htm/fox.01.en.what_if_anything_is_a_byzantine.01.htm. Retrieved October 21, 2009. 
  2. ^ Tarasov 2004, p. 121.
  3. ^ El-Cheikh 2004, p. 22.
  4. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 287.
  5. ^ a b Kaegi 2003, pp. 24 - 25.
  6. ^ a b Mitchell 2007, p. 411.
  7. ^ Olster 1993, p. 133.
  8. ^ Charles 2007, p. 177
  9. ^ a b Kaegi 2003, p. 106.
  10. ^ a b c Gibbon 1998, p. 777
  11. ^ Foss 1975, p. 722.
  12. ^ Haldon 1997, p. 41.
  13. ^ a b Speck 1984, p. 178.
  14. ^ Greatrex-Lieu 2002, pp. II, 194-195.
  15. ^ Greatrex-Lieu 2002, p. II, 196.
  16. ^ Greatrex-Lieu 2002, p. II, 197.
  17. ^ Gibbon 1998, p. Chapter 46
  18. ^ a b Greatrex-Lieu 2002, p. II, 198.
  19. ^ Theophanes 1997, pp. 303.12-304.13.
  20. ^ Cameron 1979, p. 23.
  21. ^ Grabar 1984, p. 37.
  22. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 294.
  23. ^ Theophanes 1997, pp. 304.25-306.7.
  24. ^ Greatrex-Lieu 2002, p. II, 199.
  25. ^ Theophanes 1997, pp. 307.19-308.25.
  26. ^ Greatrex-Lieu 2002, pp. II, 202-205.
  27. ^ Cameron 1979, pp. 5-6, 20-22.
  28. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 298.
  29. ^ a b c Baynes 1912, p. 288
  30. ^ Baynes 1912, passim.
  31. ^ Haldon 1997, p. 46.
  32. ^ Kouymjian 1983, pp. 635-642.
  33. ^ Milani 2004, p. 15
  34. ^ Lewis 2002, pp. 43–44.
  35. ^ a b c El-Cheikh 1999, p. 10.
  36. ^ a b c El-Cheikh 1999, p. 7.
  37. ^ Qur'an (2009). "Translations of the Qur'an, Surah 30:". Qur'an. University of Southern California. http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/030.qmt.html. Retrieved October 20, 2009. 
  38. ^ El-Cheikh 1999, p. 12.
  39. ^ El-Cheikh 1999, p. 14.
  40. ^ El-Cheikh 1999, p. 18.
  41. ^ Collins 2004, p. 128.
  42. ^ a b Bury 2005, p. 251.
  43. ^ Davis 1990, p. 260.
  44. ^ Deanesly 1969, p. 491.
  45. ^ Haldon 1997, p. 208ff.
  46. ^ Milman-Guizot 1862, p. 398.
  47. ^ Thomson 1999, p. 221.
  48. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 206.
  49. ^ Alexander 1977, p. 230
  50. ^ Spatharakis 1976, p. 19
  51. ^ a b c Bellinger-Grierson 1992, p. 385.
  52. ^ Kaegi 2003, p. 120.
  53. ^ Charanis 1959, p. 34
  54. ^ Sebeos; Translated from Old Armenian by Robert Bedrosian. "Sebeos History:A History of Heraclius". History Workshop. http://rbedrosian.com/seb9.htm. Retrieved October 22, 2009. "Chapter 29" 
  55. ^ a b Nicephorus 1990, p.73.

Further reading

External links

Born: c. 575 Died: 11 February 641
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Byzantine Emperor
with Constantine III from 613
Succeeded by
Constantine III and Heraklonas
Political offices
Preceded by
Imp. Caesar Flavius Phocas Augustus, 603, then lapsed
Consul of the Roman Empire
with Heraclius the Elder
Succeeded by
Lapsed, then Imp. Caesar Constantinus Augustus in 642

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HERACLIUS (`HpaxXc os) (c. 575-642), East Roman emperor, was born in Cappadocia. His father held high military command under the emperor Maurice, and as governor of Africa maintained his independence against the usurper Phocas. When invited to head a rebellion against the latter, he sent his son with a fleet which reached Constantinople unopposed, and precipitated the dethronement of Phocas. Proclaimed emperor, Heraclius set himself to reorganize the utterly disordered administration. At first he found himself helpless before the Persian armies (see Persia: Ancient History; and CHOSROs II.) of Chosroes II., which conquered Syria and Egypt and since 616 had encamped opposite Constantinople; in 618 he even proposed in despair to abandon his capital and seek a refuge in Carthage, but at the entreaty of the patriarch he took courage. By securing a loan from the Church and suspending the corn-distribution at Constantinople, he raised sufficient funds for war, and after making a treaty with the Avars, who had nearly surprised the capital during an incursion in 619, he was at last able to take the field against Persia. During his first expedition (622) he failed to secure a footing in Armenia, whence he had hoped to take the Persians in flank, but by his unwearied energy he restored the discipline and efficiency of the army. In his second campaign (624-26) he penetrated into Armenia and Albania, and beat the enemy in the open field. After a short stay at Constantinople, which his son Constantine had successfully defended against renewed incursions by the Avars, Heraclius resumed his attacks upon the Persians (627). Though deserted by the Khazars, with whom he had made an alliance upon entering into Pontus, he gained a decisive advantage by a brilliant march across the Armenian highlands into the Tigris plain, and a hard-fought victory over Chosroes' general, Shahrbaraz, in which Heraclius distinguished himself by his personal bravery. A subsequent revolution at the Persian court led to the dethronement of Chosroes in favour of his son Kavadh II. (q.v.); the new king promptly made peace with the emperor, whose troops were already advancing upon the Persian capital Ctesiphon (628). Having thus secured his eastern frontier, Heraclius returned to Constantinople with ample spoils, including the true cross, which in 629 he brought back in person to Jerusalem. On the northern frontier of the empire he kept the Avars in check by inducing the Serbs to migrate from the Carpathians to the Balkan lands so as to divert the attention of the Avars.

The triumphs which Heraclius had won through his own energy and skill did not bring him lasting popularity. In his civil administration he followed out his own ideas without deferring to the nobles or the Church, and the opposition which he encountered from these quarters went far to paralyse his attempts at reform. Worn out by continuous fighting and weakened by dropsy, Heraclius failed to show sufficient energy against the new peril that menaced his eastern provinces towards the end of his reign. In 629 the Saracens made their first incursion into Syria (see Caliphate, section A, § I); in 636 they won a notable victory on the Yermuk (Hieromax), and in the following years conquered all Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Heraclius made no attempt to retrieve the misfortunes of his generals, but evacuated his possessions in sullen despair. The remaining years of his life he devoted to theological speculation and ecclesiastical reforms. His religious enthusiasm led him to oppress his Jewish subjects; on the other hand he sought to reconcile the Christian sects, and to this effect propounded in his Ecthesis a conciliatory doctrine of monothelism. Heraclius died of his disease in 642. He had been twice married; his second union, with his niece Martina, was frequently made a matter of reproach to him. In spite of his partial failures, Heraclius must be regarded as one of the greatest of Byzantine emperors, and his early campaigns were the means of saving the realm from almost certain destruction.

Authorities. - G. Finlay, History of Greece (Oxford, 1877) i. 311-358; J. B. Bury, The Later Roman Empire (London, 1889), u. 207-273; T. E. Evangelides, `HpaKA€Fos o auroeparcop Bv avriov (Odessa, 1903); A. Pernice, L' Imperatore Eraclio (Florence, 1905). On the Persian campaigns: the epic of George Pisides (ed. 1836, Bonn); F. Macler, Histoire d'Heraclius par l'eveque Sebeos (Paris, 1904); E. Gerland in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, iii. (1894) 33 0 -337; N. H. Baynes in the English Historical Review (1904), pp. 694-702. (M. O. B. C.)

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