"Byzantine Empire" is a term created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire simply as the Roman Empire (Medieval Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, romanized: Basileía Rhōmaíōn) or Romania (Medieval Greek: Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as Romans (Medieval Greek: Ῥωμαῖοι, romanized: Rhōmaîoi) - a term which Greeks continued to use for themselves into Ottoman times. Although the Roman state continued and its traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from the previous Roman empire as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Eastern Orthodox Christianity. (Full article...)
Byzantine art comprises the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. Though the empire itself emerged from the decline of Rome and lasted until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the start date of the Byzantine period is rather clearer in art history than in political history, if still imprecise. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Islamic states of the eastern Mediterranean, preserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.
A number of contemporary states with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it without actually being part of it (the "Byzantine commonwealth"). These included the Rus, as well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice, which separated from the Byzantine empire in the 10th century, and the Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire and had also been a Byzantine territory until the 10th century with a large Greek-speaking population persisting into the 12th century. Other states having a Byzantine artistic tradition, had oscillated throughout the Middle Ages between being part of the Byzantine empire and having periods of independence, such as Serbia and Bulgaria. After the fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453, art produced by Eastern Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire was often called "post-Byzantine." Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day. (Full article...)
The Byzantine Empire was ruled by emperors of the Komnenos dynasty for a period of 104 years, from 1081 to about 1185. The Komnenian (also spelled Comnenian) period comprises the reigns of five emperors, Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I. It was a period of sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire.
Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. The Komnenian emperors, particularly John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about. (Full article...)
The Byzantine navy was the naval force of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire. Like the empire it served, it was a direct continuation from its Imperial Roman predecessor, but played a far greater role in the defence and survival of the state than its earlier iteration. While the fleets of the unified Roman Empire faced few great naval threats, operating as a policing force vastly inferior in power and prestige to the legions, the sea became vital to the very existence of the Byzantine state, which several historians have called a "maritime empire".
The first threat to Roman hegemony in the Mediterranean was posed by the Vandals in the 5th century, but their threat was ended by the wars of Justinian I in the 6th century. The re-establishment of a permanently maintained fleet and the introduction of the dromon galley in the same period also marks the point when the Byzantine navy began departing from its late Roman roots and developing its own characteristic identity. This process would be furthered with the onset of the Muslim conquests in the 7th century. Following the loss of the Levant and later Africa, the Mediterranean Sea was transformed from a "Roman lake" into a battleground between Byzantines and Arabs. In this struggle, the Byzantine fleets were critical, not only for the defence of the Empire's far-flung possessions around the Mediterranean basin, but also for repelling seaborne attacks against the imperial capital of Constantinople itself. Through the use of the newly invented "Greek fire", the Byzantine navy's best-known and feared secret weapon, Constantinople was saved from several sieges and numerous naval engagements were won for the Byzantines. (Full article...)
Founded by the Laskaris family, it lasted from 1204 to 1261, when the Nicaeans restored the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople. (Full article...)
Byzantine medicine encompasses the common medical practices of the Byzantine Empire from about 400 AD to 1453 AD. Byzantine medicine was notable for building upon the knowledge base developed by its Greco-Roman predecessors. In preserving medical practices from antiquity, Byzantine medicine influenced Islamic medicine as well as fostering the Western rebirth of medicine during the Renaissance.
Byzantine physicians often compiled and standardized medical knowledge into textbooks. Their records tended to include both diagnostic explanations and technical drawings. The Medical Compendium in Seven Books, written by the leading physician Paul of Aegina, survived as a particularly thorough source of medical knowledge. This compendium, written in the late seventh century, remained in use as a standard textbook for the following 800 years. This tradition of compilation continued from around the tenth century into the twentieth through the genre of medical writings known as iatrosophia. (Full article...)
Byzantine Iconoclasm (Greek: Εἰκονομαχία, romanized: Eikonomachía, literally, "image struggle" or "war on icons") refers to two periods in the history of the Byzantine Empire when the use of religious images or icons was opposed by religious and imperial authorities within the Orthodox Church and the temporal imperial hierarchy. The First Iconoclasm, as it is sometimes called, existed between about 726 and 787. The Second Iconoclasm was between 814 and 842. According to the traditional view, Byzantine Iconoclasm was started by a ban on religious images by Emperor Leo III and continued under his successors. It was accompanied by widespread destruction of images and persecution of supporters of the veneration of images. The pope remained firmly in support of the use of images throughout the period, and the whole episode widened the growing divergence between the Byzantine and Carolingian traditions in what was still a unified church, as well as facilitating the reduction or removal of Byzantine political control over parts of Italy.
Iconoclasm is the deliberate destruction within a culture of the culture's own religiousicons and other symbols or monuments, usually for religious or political motives. People who engage in or support iconoclasm are called iconoclasts, Greek for "breakers of icons" (εἰκονοκλάσται), a term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogmata or conventions. Conversely, people who revere or venerate religious images are derisively called "iconolaters" (εἰκονολάτρες). They are normally known as "iconodules" (εἰκονόδουλοι), or "iconophiles" (εἰκονόφιλοι). These terms were, however, not a part of the Byzantine debate over images. They have been brought into common usage by modern historians (from the seventeenth century) and their application to Byzantium increased considerably in the late twentieth century. The Byzantine term for the debate over religious imagery, "iconomachy," means "struggle over images" or "image struggle". (Full article...)
A group of Andalusian exiles led by Abu Hafs Umar al-Iqritishi conquered Crete sometime c. 824 or 827/828, and established an independent Islamic state. The Byzantines launched a campaign that took most of the island back in 842 and 843 under Theoktistos, but the reconquest was not completed and was soon reversed. Later attempts by the Byzantine Empire to recover the island failed, and for the approximately 135 years of its existence, the emirate was one of the major foes of Byzantium. Crete commanded the sea lanes of the Eastern Mediterranean and functioned as a forward base and haven for Muslim corsair fleets that ravaged the Byzantine-controlled shores of the Aegean Sea. The emirate's internal history is less well-known, but all accounts point to considerable prosperity deriving not only from piracy but also from extensive trade and agriculture. The emirate was brought to an end by Nikephoros Phokas, who launched a huge campaign against it in 960–961. (Full article...)
Although Sicily had been raided by the Muslims since the mid-7th century, these raids did not threaten Byzantine control over the island, which remained a largely peaceful backwater. The opportunity for the Aghlabid emirs of Ifriqiya came in 827, when the commander of the island's fleet, Euphemius, rose in revolt against the Byzantine Emperor Michael II. Defeated by loyalist forces and driven from the island, Euphemius sought the aid of the Aghlabids. The latter regarded this as an opportunity for expansion and for diverting the energies of their own fractious military establishment and alleviating the criticism of the Islamic scholars by championing jihad, and dispatched an army to aid him. Following the Arab landing on the island, Euphemius was quickly sidelined. An initial assault on the island's capital, Syracuse, failed, but the Muslims were able to weather the subsequent Byzantine counter-attack and hold on to a few fortresses. With the aid of reinforcements from Ifriqiya and al-Andalus, in 831 they took Palermo, which became the capital of the new Muslim province. (Full article...)
From the start, the regime faced numerous problems. The Turks of Asia Minor had since 1263 been raiding and expanding into Byzantine territory in Asia Minor. Anatolia, which had formed the very heart of the shrinking empire, was systematically lost to numerous Turkic ghazis, whose raids evolved into conquering expeditions inspired by Islamic zeal, the prospect of economic gain, and the desire to seek refuge from the Mongols after the disastrous Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243. With a decreasing source of food and manpower, the Palaiologoi were forced to fight on several fronts, most of them being Christian states: the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Empire, the remnants of the Latin Empire and even the Knights Hospitaller. (Full article...)
The East Roman or Byzantine Empire established and operated several mints throughout its history. Aside from the main metropolitan mint in the capital, Constantinople, a varying number of provincial mints were also established in other urban centres, especially during the 6th century. Most provincial mints except for Syracuse were closed or lost to invasions by the mid-7th century. After the loss of Syracuse in 878, Constantinople became the sole mint for gold and silver coinage until the late 11th century, when major provincial mints began to re-appear. Many mints, both imperial and, as the Byzantine world fragmented, belonging to autonomous local rulers, were operated in the 12th to 14th centuries. Constantinople and Trebizond, the seat of the independent Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461), survived until their conquest by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-15th century. (Full article...)
Thessalonica's ascendancy was brief, ending with the disastrous Battle of Klokotnitsa against Bulgaria in 1230, where Theodore Komnenos Doukas was captured. Reduced to a Bulgarian vassal, Theodore's brother and successor Manuel Komnenos Doukas was unable to prevent the loss of most of his brother's conquests in Macedonia and Thrace, while the original nucleus of the state, Epirus, broke free under Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Theodore recovered Thessalonica in 1237, installing his son John Komnenos Doukas, and after him Demetrios Angelos Doukas, as rulers of the city, while Manuel, with Nicaean support, seized Thessaly. The rulers of Thessalonica bore the imperial title from 1225/7 until 1242, when they were forced to renounce it and recognize the suzerainty of the rival Empire of Nicaea. The Komnenodoukai continued to rule as Despots of Thessalonica for four more years after that, but in 1246 the city was annexed by Nicaea. (Full article...)
Greek fire was an incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire beginning c. 672. Used to set light to enemy ships, it consisted of a combustible compound emitted by a flame-throwing weapon. Some historians believe it could be ignited on contact with water, and was probably based on naphtha and quicklime. The Byzantines typically used it in naval battles to great effect, as it could supposedly continue burning while floating on water. The technological advantage it provided was responsible for many key Byzantine military victories, most notably the salvation of Constantinople from the first and second Arab sieges, thus securing the Empire's survival.
The impression made by Greek fire on the western European Crusaders was such that the name was applied to any sort of incendiary weapon, including those used by Arabs, the Chinese, and the Mongols. However, these mixtures used formulas different from that of Byzantine Greek fire, which was a closely guarded state secret. Byzantines also used pressurized nozzles to project the liquid onto the enemy, in a manner resembling a modern flamethrower. (Full article...)
Following the Norman conquest of Byzantine Italy and Saracen Sicily, the Byzantine emperor, Michael VII Doukas (r. 1071–1078), betrothed his son to Robert Guiscard's daughter. When Michael was deposed, Robert took this as an excuse to invade the Byzantine Empire in 1081. His army laid siege to Dyrrhachium, but his fleet was defeated by the Venetians. On October 18, the Normans engaged a Byzantine army under Alexios I Komnenos outside Dyrrhachium. The battle began with the Byzantine right wing routing the Norman left wing, which broke and fled. Varangian mercenaries joined in the pursuit of the fleeing Normans, but became separated from the main force and were massacred. Norman knights in the centre attacked the Byzantine centre and routed it, causing the bulk of the Byzantine army to rout. (Full article...)
The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or the Rite of Constantinople, identifies the wide range of cultural, liturgical, and canonical practices that developed in the Eastern Orthodox Church of Constantinople.
The canonical hours are very long and complicated, lasting about eight hours (longer during Great Lent) but are abridged outside of large monasteries. An iconostasis, a partition covered with icons, separates the area around the altar from the nave. The sign of the cross, accompanied by bowing, is made very frequently, e.g., more than a hundred times during the divine liturgy, and there are prominent veneration of icons, a general acceptance of the congregants to freely move within the church and interact with each other, and distinctive traditions of liturgical chanting. (Full article...)
As the chief aide and closest friend of Emperor Andronikos III, Kantakouzenos became regent for the underage John V upon Andronikos's death in June 1341. While Kantakouzenos was absent from Constantinople in September the same year, a coup d'état led by Alexios Apokaukos and the Patriarch John XIV secured the support of Empress Anna and established a new regency. In response, Kantakouzenos' army and supporters proclaimed him co-emperor in October, cementing the rift between himself and the new regency. The split immediately escalated into armed conflict. (Full article...)
The Despotate of the Morea (Greek: Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μορέως) or Despotate of Mystras (Greek: Δεσποτᾶτον τοῦ Μυστρᾶ) was a province of the Byzantine Empire which existed between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries. Its territory varied in size during its existence but eventually grew to include almost all the southern Greek peninsula now known as the Peloponnese, which was known as the Morea during the medieval and early modern periods. The territory was usually ruled by one or more sons of the current Byzantine emperor, who were given the title of despotes (in this context it should not be confused with despotism). Its capital was the fortified city of Mystras, near ancient Sparta, which became an important centre of the Palaiologan Renaissance. (Full article...)
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. (Full article...)
John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors. In the course of the quarter-century of his reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians and Serbs in the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the Anatolian peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into MuslimSyria at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the evasiveness of his Crusader allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces. (Full article...)
Nikephoros Phokas (Greek: Νικηφόρος Φωκᾶς, romanized: Nikēphoros Phōkas; died 895/6 or c. 900), usually surnamed the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, was one of the most prominent Byzantine generals of the late 9th century, and the first important member of the Phokas family. As a youth he was taken into the personal retinue of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian, rising quickly to the posts of protostrator and then governor of Charsianon, whence he fought with success against the Arabs. In c. 886 he led a major expedition in southern Italy, where his victories laid the foundation for the Byzantine resurgence in the peninsula. After his return, he was raised to the post of Domestic of the Schools, in effect commander-in-chief of the army, which he led with success against the Arabs in the east and the Bulgarians of Tsar Simeon in the Balkans. He died either in 895/6 or, less likely, sometime c. 900. Contemporaries and later historians lauded him for his military ability and character. Both of his sons later succeeded him as Domestics of the Schools. His grandsons Nikephoros and Leo were likewise distinguished generals, while the former became emperor in 963–969, spearheading the recovery of several lost provinces from the Arabs. (Full article...)
Photios is widely regarded as the most powerful and influential church leader of Constantinople subsequent to John Chrysostom's archbishopric around the turn of the fifth century. He is also viewed as the most important intellectual of his time – "the leading light of the ninth-century renaissance". He was a central figure in both the conversion of the Slavs to Christianity and the Photian schism, and is considered "[t]he great systematic compiler of the Eastern Church, who occupies a similar position to that of Gratian in the West," and whose "collection in two parts...formed and still forms the classic source of ancient Church Law for the Greek Church." (Full article...)
When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced into exile to Kievan Rus' (the sagas' Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus' for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus' in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald's knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf's illegitimate son Magnus the Good. (Full article...)
Alexios III Megas Komnenos (Greek: Αλέξιος Γ΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, romanized: Alexios III Megas Komnēnos, 5 October 1338 – 20 March 1390), or Alexius III, was Emperor of Trebizond from December 1349 until his death. He is perhaps the best-documented ruler of that country, and his reign is distinguished by a number of religious grants and literary creations.
Constantine V (Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος, romanized: Kōnstantīnos; July, 718 AD – 14 September 775 AD) 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 civil war in the Muslim world to make limited offensives on the Arab frontier. With this eastern frontier secure, he undertook repeated campaigns against the Bulgars in the Balkans. His military activity, and policy of settling Christian populations from the Arab frontier in Thrace, made Byzantium's hold on its Balkan territories more secure.
Religious strife and controversy was a prominent feature of his reign. His fervent support of Iconoclasm and opposition to monasticism led to his vilification by later Byzantine historians and writers, who denigrated him as Kopronymos or Copronymus (Κοπρώνυμος), meaning the dung-named. (Full article...)
Solidus depicting Theodosius, marked: d n theodosius p f aug ("Our Lord Theodosius, pious, fortunate, august")
Theodosius I (Greek: Θεοδόσιος; 11 January 347 – 17 January 395), also called Theodosius the Great, was Roman emperor from 379 to 395. He is best known for making Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire and great architecture projects in Constantinople.
After a military career and a governorship under his father Theodosius the Elder – a comes rei militaris – he became magister equitum and was then elevated to the imperial rank of augustus by the emperor Gratian (r. 367–383). He replaced the latter's uncle and senior augustusValens (r. 364–378), who had been killed in the Battle of Adrianople. He was the first emperor of the Theodosian dynasty (r. 379–457), and married into the ruling Valentinianic dynasty (r. 364–455). On accepting his elevation, he campaigned with limited success against Goths and other barbarians who had invaded the Empire. He was not able to destroy them or drive them out, as had been Roman policy for centuries in dealing with invaders. The Gothic War ended with the Goths established as autonomous allies of the Empire, within the Empire's borders, south of the Danube. They were given lands and allowed to remain under their own leaders, not assimilated as had been normal Roman practice. (Full article...)
Anna Dalassene (Greek: Ἄννα Δαλασσηνή; ca. 1025/30 – 1 November 1100/02) was an important Byzantine noblewoman who played a significant role in the rise to power of the Komnenoi in the eleventh century. As Augusta, a title bestowed upon her by her son, Alexios I Komnenos, rather than his empress-consort she guided the empire during his many absences for long military campaigns against Turkish and other incursions into the Byzantine Empire. As empress-mother, she exerted more influence and power than the empress-consort, Irene Doukaina, a woman whom she hated because of past intrigues with the Doukas family. (Full article...)
Anastasius I "Dicorus" (Greek: Ἀναστάσιος, Anastásios; c. 431 – 9 July 518) was Byzantine emperor from 491 to 518. He made his career as a government administrator. He came to the throne at the age of 61 after being chosen by the wife of his predecessor, Zeno. His religious tendencies caused tensions throughout his reign. He is often recognized as the first Byzantine emperor.
His reign was characterised by improvements in the government, economy, and bureaucracy in the Eastern Roman empire. He is noted for leaving the imperial government with a sizeable budget surplus of 23,000,000 solidi due to minimisation of government corruption, reforms to the tax code, and the introduction of a new form of currency. He is venerated as a saint by the Syriac Orthodox Church on 29 July. (Full article...)
Alexios V, from an illuminated manuscript (c. 14th century) of Niketas Choniates' history
Alexios V Doukas (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Δούκας; c. 1140 – December 1204), in Latinised spelling Alexius V Ducas, was Byzantine emperor from 5 February to 12 April 1204, just prior to the sack of Constantinople by the participants of the Fourth Crusade. His family name was Doukas, but he was also known by the nickname Mourtzouphlos or Murtzuphlus (Μούρτζουφλος), referring to either bushy, overhanging eyebrows or a sullen, gloomy character. He achieved power through a palace coup, killing his predecessors in the process. Though he made vigorous attempts to defend Constantinople from the crusader army, his military efforts proved ineffective. His actions won the support of the mass of the populace, but he alienated the elite of the city. Following the fall, sack, and occupation of the city, Alexios V was blinded by another ex-emperor and later executed by the new Latin regime. He was the last Byzantine emperor to rule in Constantinople until the Byzantine recapture of Constantinople in 1261. (Full article...)
Justinian II (Greek: Ἰουστινιανός, romanized: Ioustinianos; Latin: Flavius Iustinianus Augustus; 668 – 11 December 711), surnamed Rhinotmetos or Rhinotmetus (ὁ Ῥινότμητος, "the slit-nosed"), was the last Byzantine emperor of the Heraclian dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711. Like Justinian I, Justinian II was an ambitious and passionate ruler who was keen to restore the Roman Empire to its former glories, but he responded brutally to any opposition to his will and lacked the finesse of his father, Constantine IV. Consequently, he generated enormous opposition to his reign, resulting in his deposition in 695 in a popular uprising, and he only returned to the throne in 705 with the help of a Bulgar and Slav army. His second reign was even more despotic than the first, and it too saw his eventual overthrow in 711, abandoned by his army who turned on him before killing him. (Full article...)
Mounting tensions resulted in a popular uprising against Alexios' regime on 2 May 1181, (modern scholars have proposed other dates as well), which ended in a mutual reconciliation. His power shaken, the prōtosebastos reacted by punishing Borradiotes for his role in the affair. Overwhelming opposition, both among the people and the aristocracy, forced him to recall Borradiotes soon after. These events left Alexios in poor shape to oppose the advance of the adventurer Andronikos I Komnenos, who moved against Constantinople from the east. The generals dispatched against Andronikos were defeated or defected, and the usurper entered the city in April 1182. The prōtosebastos Alexios was deposed, publicly humiliated, and mutilated. His fate thereafter is not known. (Full article...)
Peter the Patrician (Latin: Petrus Patricius, Greek: Πέτρος ὁ Πατρίκιος, Petros ho Patrikios; c. 500–565) was a senior Byzantine official, diplomat, and historian. A well-educated and successful lawyer, he was repeatedly sent as envoy to Ostrogothic Italy in the prelude to the Gothic War of 535–554. Despite his diplomatic skill, he was not able to avert war, and was imprisoned by the Goths in Ravenna for a few years. Upon his release, he was appointed to the post of magister officiorum, head of the imperial secretariat, which he held for an unparalleled 26 years. In this capacity, he was one of the leading ministers of Emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565), playing an important role in the Byzantine emperor's religious policies and the relations with Sassanid Persia; most notably he led the negotiations for the peace agreement of 562 that ended the 20-year-long Lazic War. His historical writings survive only in fragments, but provide unique source material on early Byzantine ceremonies and diplomatic issues between Byzantium and the Sassanids. (Full article...)
Staurakios (or Stauracius) (Greek: Σταυράκιος; died on 3 June 800) was a Byzantineeunuch official, who rose to be one of the most important and influential associates of Byzantine empressIrene of Athens (r. 797–802). He effectively acted as chief minister during her regency for her young son, Emperor Constantine VI (r. 780–797) in 780–790, until overthrown and exiled by a military revolt in favour of the young emperor in 790. Restored to power by Constantine along with Irene in 792, Staurakios aided her in the eventual removal, blinding, and possible murder of her son in 797. His own position thereafter was threatened by the rise of another powerful eunuch, Aetios. Their increasing rivalry, and Staurakios's own imperial ambitions, were only resolved by Staurakios's death. (Full article...)