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Theophilos
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Emperor Theophilos Chronicle of John Skylitzes.jpg
Theophilus, in the Chronicle of John Skylitzes
Reign October 2, 829 – January 20, 842
Born 813
Died January 20, 842 (aged 28)
Predecessor Michael II
Successor Michael III
Consort Theodora
Offspring Constantine
Michael
Maria
Thekla
Anna
Anastasia
Pulcheria
Dynasty Phrygian Dynasty
Father Michael II
Mother Thekla

Theophilos or Theophilus or Theophilou (Greek: Θεόφιλος; 813 – 20 January 842) was Byzantine emperor of Armenian origin from 829 to 842. He was the second emperor of the Phrygian dynasty.

Contents

Life

Theophilos was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael II and his wife of Armenian descent Thekla, and the godson of Emperor Leo V the Armenian. Michael II crowned Theophilos co-emperor in 822, shortly after his own accession. Unlike his father, Theophilos received an extensive education, and showed interest in the arts. On October 2, 829, Theophilos succeeded his father as sole emperor.

Theophilos continued in his predecessors' iconoclast, though without his father's more conciliatory tone, issuing an edict in 832 forbidding the veneration of icons. He also saw himself as the champion of justice, which he served most ostentatiously by executing his father's co-conspirators against Leo V immediately after his accession. His reputation as a judge endured, and in the literary composition Timarion Theophilos is featured as one of the judges in the Netherworld.

Theophilos on a coin of his father, Michael II, founder of the Phrygian dynasty.

At the time of his accession, Theophilos was obliged to wage wars against the Arabs on two fronts. Sicily was once again invaded by the Arabs, who took Palermo after a year-long siege in 831, established the Emirate of Sicily and gradually continued to expand across the island. The invasion of Anatolia by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma'mun in 830 was faced by the emperor himself, but the Byzantines were defeated and lost several fortresses. In 831 Theophilos retaliated by leading a large army into Cilicia and capturing Tarsus. The emperor returned to Constantinople in triumph, but in the Autumn was defeated by the enemy in Cappadocia. Another defeat in the same province in 833 forced Theophilos to sue for peace (Theophilos offered 100,000 gold dinars and the return of 7,000 prisoners)[1], which he obtained the next year, after the death of Al-Ma'mun.

During the respite from the war against the Abbasids, Theophilos arranged for the abduction of the Byzantine captives settled north of the Danube by Krum of Bulgaria. The rescue operation was carried out with success in c. 836, and the peace between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire was quickly restored. However, it proved impossible to maintain peace in the East. Theophilos had given asylum to a number of refugees from the east in 834, including Nasr (who was Persian [2]), baptized Theophobos, who married the emperor's aunt Irene, and became one of his generals. With relations with the Abbasids deteriorating, Theophilos prepared for a new war.

In 837 Theophilos led a vast army of 70,000 men towards Mesopotamia, and captured Melitene and Samosata.[3] The emperor also took Zapetra (Zibatra, Sozopetra), the birthplace of the Caliph al-Mu'tasim, destroying it. Theophilos returned to Constantinople in triumph. Eager for revenge, Al-Mu'tasim assembled a vast army and launched a two prong invasion of Anatolia in 838. Theophilos decided to strike one division of the caliph's army before they could combine. On July 21, 838 at the Battle of Anzen in Dazimon, Theophilos personally led a Byzantine army of 25,000 men (possibly 40,000 men?) against the troops commanded by Afshin.[4][5] Afshin withstood the Byzantine attack after which he then counter attacked and won the battle. The Byzantine survivors fell back in disorder and did not interfere in the caliph's continuing campaign.

Caliph Al-Mu'tasim took Ancyra. Al-Afshin joined him there. The full Abbasid army advanced against Amorion, the cradle of the dynasty. Initially there was determined resistance. Then a Muslim captive escaped and informed the caliph where there was a section of the wall that had only a front facade. Al-Mu'tasim concentrated his bombardment on this section. The wall was breached. Having heroically held for fifty-five days, the city now fell to al-Mu'tasim on September 23, 838.

And in 838, in order to impress the Caliph of Baghdad, Theophilus had John the Grammarian distribute 36,000 nomismata to the citizens of Baghdad.[6] Around 841, the Republic of Venice sent a fleet of 60 galleys (each carrying 200 men) to assist the Byzantines in driving the Arabs from Crotone, but it failed.[7]

During this campaign some of Al-Mu'tasim's top generals were plotting against the caliph. He uncovered this. Many of these leading commanders were arrested, some executed, before he arrived home. Al-Afshin seems not to have been involved in this, but he was detected in other intrigues and died in prison in the spring of 841. Caliph al-Mu'tasim fell sick in October, 841 and died on January 5, 842.

The image of Theophilos on a contemporary coin.

Theophilos never recovered from the blow; his health gradually failed, and he died on January 20, 842. His character has been the subject of considerable discussion, some regarding him as one of the ablest of the Byzantine emperors, others as an ordinary and not a particularly significant ruler. There is no doubt that he did his best to check corruption and oppression on the part of his officials, and administered justice with strict impartiality. His personal leadership into battle with his troops indicates he was not afraid to command and put his life alongside that of his soldiers.

In spite of the drain of the war in Asia and the large sums spent by Theophilos on building, commerce, industry, the finances of the empire were in a most flourishing condition, the credit of which was in great measure due to the highly efficient administration of the department. Theophilos, who had received an excellent education from John Hylilas, the grammarian, was a great admirer of music and a lover of art, although his taste was not of the highest. He strengthened the Walls of Constantinople, and built a hospital, which continued in existence till the twilight of the Byzantine Empire.

Family

By his marriage with Theodora, Theophilos had seven children:

  • Constantine, co-emperor from c. 833 to c. 835.
  • Michael III, who succeeded as emperor.
  • Maria, who married the Caesar Alexios Mouseles.
  • Thekla, who was a mistress of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian.
  • Anna
  • Anastasia
  • Pulcheria

Citations

  1. ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, 47
  2. ^ I. Sevcenko, Review of New Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, Slavic Review, p. 111, 1968.
  3. ^ W. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, 440
  4. ^ J. Haldon, The Byzantine Wars, 83
  5. ^ W. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, 441
  6. ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, 43
  7. ^ J. Norwich, A History of Venice, 32

References

External links

Theophilos (emperor)
Born: 813 Died: 20 January 842
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Michael II
Byzantine Emperor
829–842
Succeeded by
Michael III
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Theophilos
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
File:Emperor Theophilos Chronicle of John
Theophilus, in the Chronicle of John Skylitzes
Reign October 2, 829 – January 20, 842
Born 813
Died January 20, 842 (aged 28)
Predecessor Michael II
Successor Michael III
Consort Theodora
Offspring Constantine
Michael
Maria
Thekla
Anna
Anastasia
Pulcheria
Dynasty Phrygian Dynasty
Father Michael II
Mother Thekla

Theophilos (or Theophilus) (Greek: Θεόφιλος) (813 – 20 January 842) was Byzantine emperor from 829 to 842. He was the second emperor of the Phrygian dynasty, and the last emperor supporting iconoclasm.

Contents

Life

Theophilos was the son of the Byzantine Emperor Michael II and his wife Thekla, and the godson of Emperor Leo V the Armenian. Michael II crowned Theophilos co-emperor in 822, shortly after his own accession. Unlike his father, Theophilos received an extensive education, and showed interest in the arts. On October 2, 829, Theophilos succeeded his father as sole emperor.

Theophilos continued in his predecessors' iconoclasm, though without his father's more conciliatory tone, issuing an edict in 832 forbidding the veneration of icons. He also saw himself as the champion of justice, which he served most ostentatiously by executing his father's co-conspirators against Leo V immediately after his accession. His reputation as a judge endured, and in the literary composition Timarion Theophilos is featured as one of the judges in the Netherworld.

File:Solidus-Michael II
Theophilos on a coin of his father, Michael II, founder of the Phrygian dynasty.
File:Theophilus
Follis of a new type, minted in large quantities in celebration of Theophilos' victories against the Arabs from ca. 835 on. On the obverse he is represented in triumphal attire, wearing the toupha, and on the reverse the traditional acclamation "Theophilos Augustus, you conquer".

At the time of his accession, Theophilos was obliged to wage wars against the Arabs on two fronts. Sicily was once again invaded by the Arabs, who took Palermo after a year-long siege in 831, established the Emirate of Sicily and gradually continued to expand across the island. The invasion of Anatolia by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma'mun in 830 was faced by the emperor himself, but the Byzantines were defeated and lost several fortresses. In 831 Theophilos retaliated by leading a large army into Cilicia and capturing Tarsus. The emperor returned to Constantinople in triumph, but in the Autumn was defeated by the enemy in Cappadocia. Another defeat in the same province in 833 forced Theophilos to sue for peace (Theophilos offered 100,000 gold dinars and the return of 7,000 prisoners)[1], which he obtained the next year, after the death of Al-Ma'mun.

During the respite from the war against the Abbasids, Theophilos arranged for the abduction of the Byzantine captives settled north of the Danube by Krum of Bulgaria. The rescue operation was carried out with success in c. 836, and the peace between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire was quickly restored. However, it proved impossible to maintain peace in the East. Theophilos had given asylum to a number of refugees from the east in 834, including Nasr (who was Persian [2]), baptized Theophobos, who married the emperor's aunt Irene, and became one of his generals. With relations with the Abbasids deteriorating, Theophilos prepared for a new war.

In 837 Theophilos led a vast army of 70,000 men towards Mesopotamia, and captured Melitene and Samosata.[3] The emperor also took Zapetra (Zibatra, Sozopetra), the birthplace of the Caliph al-Mu'tasim, destroying it. Theophilos returned to Constantinople in triumph. Eager for revenge, Al-Mu'tasim assembled a vast army and launched a two prong invasion of Anatolia in 838. Theophilos decided to strike one division of the caliph's army before they could combine. On July 21, 838 at the Battle of Anzen in Dazimon, Theophilos personally led a Byzantine army of 25,000 men (possibly 40,000 men?) against the troops commanded by Afshin.[4][5] Afshin withstood the Byzantine attack after which he then counter attacked and won the battle. The Byzantine survivors fell back in disorder and did not interfere in the caliph's continuing campaign.

Caliph Al-Mu'tasim took Ancyra. Al-Afshin joined him there. The full Abbasid army advanced against Amorium, the cradle of the dynasty. Initially there was determined resistance. Then a Muslim captive escaped and informed the caliph where there was a section of the wall that had only a front facade. Al-Mu'tasim concentrated his bombardment on this section. The wall was breached. Having heroically held for fifty-five days, the city now fell to al-Mu'tasim on 12 or 15 August 838.

And in 838, in order to impress the Caliph of Baghdad, Theophilus had John the Grammarian distribute 36,000 nomismata to the citizens of Baghdad.[6] Around 841, the Republic of Venice sent a fleet of 60 galleys (each carrying 200 men) to assist the Byzantines in driving the Arabs from Crotone, but it failed.[7]

During this campaign some of Al-Mu'tasim's top generals were plotting against the caliph. He uncovered this. Many of these leading commanders were arrested, some executed, before he arrived home. Al-Afshin seems not to have been involved in this, but he was detected in other intrigues and died in prison in the spring of 841. Caliph al-Mu'tasim fell sick in October, 841 and died on January 5, 842.

[[File:|thumb|220px|The image of Theophilos on a contemporary gold solidus.]]

Theophilos never recovered from the blow; his health gradually failed, and he died on January 20, 842. His character has been the subject of considerable discussion, some regarding him as one of the ablest of the Byzantine emperors, others as an ordinary and not a particularly significant ruler. There is no doubt that he did his best to check corruption and oppression on the part of his officials, and administered justice with strict impartiality. His personal leadership into battle with his troops indicates he was not afraid to command and put his life alongside that of his soldiers.

In spite of the drain of the war in Asia and the large sums spent by Theophilos on building, commerce, industry, the finances of the empire were in a most flourishing condition, the credit of which was in great measure due to the highly efficient administration of the department. Theophilos, who had received an excellent education from John Hylilas, the grammarian, was a great admirer of music and a lover of art, although his taste was not of the highest. He strengthened the Walls of Constantinople, and built a hospital, which continued in existence till the twilight of the Byzantine Empire.

Family

By his marriage with Theodora, Theophilos had seven children:

Citations

  1. ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, 47
  2. ^ I. Sevcenko, Review of New Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, Slavic Review, p. 111, 1968.
  3. ^ W. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, 440
  4. ^ J. Haldon, The Byzantine Wars, 83
  5. ^ W. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, 441
  6. ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, 43
  7. ^ J. Norwich, A History of Venice, 32

References

  • Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari History v. 33 "Storm and Stress along the Northern frontiers of the Abbasid Caliphate, transl. C. E. Bosworth, SUNY, Albany, 1991
  • John Bagot Glubb The Empire of the Arabs, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1963
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Haldon, John (2008). The Byzantine Wars. The History Press. 
  • Treadgold, Warren (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. The Stanford Press. 

External links

Theophilos (emperor)
Born: 813 Died: 20 January 842
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Michael II
Byzantine Emperor
829–842
Succeeded by
Michael III


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