Theodosius (son of Maurice)

Last updated

Maurice follis with Constantina and Theodosius, Cherson mint.jpg
Copper follis from the Cherson mint, showing Maurice, the empress Constantina, and Theodosius holding a staff surmounted with the Chi-Rho.
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
(With Maurice)
Predecessor Maurice
Successor Phocas
BornAugust 4, 583/585
Diedafter November 27, 602
Full name
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Theodosius Augustus
Dynasty Justinian Dynasty
Father Maurice
Mother Constantina

Theodosius (Greek : Θεοδόσιος; August 4, 583/585 – after November 27, 602) was the eldest son of Byzantine Emperor Maurice (r. 582–602) and was co-emperor from 590 until his deposition and execution during a military revolt in November 602. [1] [2] Along with his father-in-law Germanus, he was briefly proposed as successor to Maurice by the troops, but the army eventually favoured Phocas instead. Sent in an abortive mission to secure aid from Sassanid Persia by his father, Theodosius was captured and executed by Phocas's supporters a few days after Maurice. Nevertheless, rumours spread that he had survived the execution, and became popular to the extent that a man who purported to be Theodosius was entertained by the Persians as a pretext for launching a war against Byzantium.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Maurice (emperor) Byzantine Emperor and general

Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602. A prominent general, Maurice fought with success against the Sasanian Empire. After he became Emperor, he brought the war with Sasanian Persia to a victorious conclusion. Under him the Empire's eastern border in the South Caucasus was vastly expanded and, for the first time in nearly two centuries, the Romans were no longer obliged to pay the Persians thousands of pounds of gold annually for peace.

Germanus, called "patricius", was a leading member of the Byzantine Senate during the reign of Maurice.



Theodosius was the first child of Maurice and his wife, the Augusta Constantina. He was born on August 4, 583 (according to the contemporary John of Ephesus and other chroniclers) or 585 (according to the later histories of Theophanes the Confessor and Kedrenos). [2] [3] He was the first son to be born to a reigning emperor since Theodosius II in 401, and was accordingly named after the previous ruler. The papal envoy, or apocrisiarius , to Constantinople, the future Pope Gregory the Great, acted as his godfather. [2] [3] The scholar Evagrius Scholasticus composed a work celebrating Theodosius' birth, for which he was rewarded by Maurice with the rank of consul. [4]

Constantina (empress) Byzantine empress

Constantina was the Empress consort of Maurice of the Byzantine Empire. She was a daughter of Tiberius II Constantine and Ino Anastasia. Her parentage was recorded in the chronicles of Theophylact Simocatta, Paul the Deacon and John of Biclaro.

John of Ephesus was a leader of the early Syriac Orthodox Church in the sixth century and one of the earliest and the most important historians to write in Syriac.

Saint Theophanes the Confessor was a member of the Byzantine aristocracy who became a monk and chronicler. He served in the court of Emperor Leo IV the Khazar before taking up the religious life. Theophanes attended the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 and resisted the iconoclasm of Leo V the Armenian, for which he was imprisoned. He died shortly after his release.

A few years after his birth, possibly in 587, Theodosius was raised to the rank of Caesar and thus became his father's heir-apparent, while on March 26, 590, he was publicly proclaimed as co-emperor. [2]

Caesar (title) cognomen, later an imperial title of Roman empire

Caesar is a title of imperial character. It derives from the cognomen of Julius Caesar, the Roman dictator. The change from being a familial name to a title adopted by the Roman Emperors can be dated to about CE 68/69, the so-called "Year of the Four Emperors".

In November 601 or early February 602, Maurice married Theodosius to a daughter of the patrician Germanus, a leading member of the Byzantine Senate. a[] [5] The historian Theophylact Simocatta, the major chronicler of Maurice's reign, also records that on February 2, 602, Germanus saved Theodosius from harm during food riots in Constantinople. [6]

Byzantine Senate continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I

The Byzantine Senate or Eastern Roman Senate was the continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for centuries, but even with its already limited power that it theoretically possessed, the Senate became increasingly irrelevant until its eventual disappearance circa 14th century.

Theophylact Simocatta was an early seventh-century Byzantine historiographer, arguably ranking as the last historian of Late Antiquity, writing in the time of Heraclius about the late Emperor Maurice (582–602).

Later in the same year, during the revolt of the Danubian armies in autumn, Theodosius and his father-in-law were hunting in the outskirts of Constantinople. There they received a letter from the mutinous troops, in which they demanded Maurice's resignation, a redress of their grievances, and offered the crown to either of the two. [1] [7] They presented the letter to Maurice, who rejected the army's demands. The emperor however began suspecting Germanus of playing a part in the revolt. Theodosius promptly informed his father-in-law of this and advised him to hide, and on November 21, Germanus fled first to a local church and then to the Hagia Sophia, seeking sanctuary from the Byzantine emperor's emissaries. [8] [9]

Danube River in Central Europe

The Danube is Europe's second longest river, after the Volga. It is located in Central and Eastern Europe.

Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in AD 537 at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".

On the very next day however, Maurice and his family and closest associates fled the capital before the advancing rebel army under Phocas, and crossed over to Chalcedon. From there, Theodosius was dispatched along with the praetorian prefect Constantine Lardys to seek the aid of Khosrau II, the ruler of Sassanid Persia. Maurice, however, soon recalled him, and on his return Theodosius fell into the hands of Phocas' men and was executed at Chalcedon. His father and younger brothers had been executed a few days earlier on November 27. [9] [10]

Phocas emperor of Byzantine Empire

Phocas was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. The early life of Phocas is largely unknown, but he rose to prominence in 602, as a leader in the revolt against Emperor Maurice. Phocas captured Constantinople and overthrew Maurice on 23 November 602, and declared himself Byzantine Emperor on the same day. Phocas deeply distrusted the elite of Constantinople, and therefore installed his relatives in high military positions, and brutally purged his opponents. Phocas was an incompetent leader, both of the administration and army, and under him the Byzantine Empire was threatened by multiple enemies, with frequent raids in the Balkans from the Avars and Slavs, and a Sassanid invasion of the eastern provinces. Because of Phocas' incompetence and brutality, the Exarch of Carthage, Heraclius the Elder, rebelled against him. Heraclius the Elder's son, Heraclius, succeeded in taking Constantinople on 5 October 610, and executed Phocas on the same day, before declaring himself the Byzantine Emperor.

Chalcedon Town in Bithynia

Chalcedon was an ancient maritime town of Bithynia, in Asia Minor. It was located almost directly opposite Byzantium, south of Scutari and it is now a district of the city of Istanbul named Kadıköy. The name Chalcedon is a variant of Calchedon, found on all the coins of the town as well as in manuscripts of Herodotus's Histories, Xenophon's Hellenica, Arrian's Anabasis, and other works. Except for a tower, almost no above-ground vestiges of the ancient city survive in Kadıköy today; artifacts uncovered at Altıyol and other excavation sites are on display at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.

Constantine, surnamed Lardys, was one of the senior-most officials of the late reign of the Byzantine emperor Maurice.

Rumours of survival and pseudo-Theodosius

Subsequently, rumours of Theodosius's survival spread far and wide. It was alleged that his father-in-law Germanus had bribed his executioner, a leading Phocas supporter named Alexander, to spare his life. In this story, Theodosius then fled, eventually reaching Lazica, where he died. Theophylact Simocatta reports that he thoroughly investigated these rumours and found them false. [1] [11] Modern historian Paul Speck, however, argues that doubts about the genuineness of Theodosius only began to be expressed late in the reign of Heraclius. [12]

The general Narses, who rose against Phocas in Mesopotamia, exploited the rumours about Theodosius. He produced a man claiming to be Theodosius, and then presented him to Khosrau II. The Persian ruler in turn used him as a pretext for his own invasion of Byzantium, claiming that it was done in order to avenge the murder of Maurice and his family and place the "rightful" heir Theodosius on the throne. [1] [13] According to the Khuzistan Chroncile , he even had Theodosius re-crowned as Roman emperor by the Nestorian patriarch Sabrisho I. [12] [14] In the Armenian campaign of 606–7, the pretender accompanied the commander Ashtat Yeztayar. His presence convinced the garrison of Theodosiopolis to surrender. [15]


Theodosius does not appear on most of the regular coinage of Maurice's reign, with two exceptions: the copper nummi of the Cherson mint, which show him along with his father and mother, and a special silver siliqua issue (apparently cut in 591/592 to celebrate his proclamation as co-emperor) [13] from the Carthage mint. [16]


^  a: Germanus's identity is unclear. He has been sometimes identified with the son of the magister militum Germanus and Matasuntha , [17] but also with Germanus , a son-in-law of Tiberius II Constantine who became Caesar alongside Maurice but refused the throne. [18]

Related Research Articles

Germanus was an East Roman (Byzantine) general, one of the leading commanders of Emperor Justinian I. Germanus was Emperor Justinian's cousin, and a member of the ruling dynasty. He held commands in Thrace, North Africa, and the East against Persia, and was slated to command the final Byzantine expedition against the Ostrogoths. Having married into the Gothic Amal royal line through his second wife Matasuntha and a distinguished service record, at the time of his sudden death, he was considered the probable heir to Emperor Justinian.

The Battle of Solachon was fought in 586 CE in northern Mesopotamia between the East Roman (Byzantine) forces, led by Philippicus, and the Sassanid Persians under Kardarigan. The engagement was part of the long and inconclusive Byzantine–Sassanid War of 572–591. The Battle of Solachon ended in a major Byzantine victory which improved the Byzantine position in Mesopotamia, but it was not in the end decisive. The war dragged on until 591, when it ended with a negotiated settlement between Maurice and the Persian shah Khosrau II.

Heraclius the Elder Byzantine general

Heraclius the Elder was a Byzantine general and the father of Byzantine emperor Heraclius. Of possible Armenian origin, Heraclius the Elder distinguished himself in the war against the Sassanid Persians in the 580s. As a subordinate general, Heraclius served under the command of Philippicus during the Battle of Solachon and possibly served under Comentiolus during the Battle of Sisarbanon. In circa 595, Heraclius the Elder is mentioned as a magister militum per Armeniam sent by Emperor Maurice to quell an Armenian rebellion led by Samuel Vahewuni and Atat Khorkhoruni. In circa 600, he was appointed as the Exarch of Africa and in 608, Heraclius the Elder rebelled with his son against the usurper Phocas. Using North Africa as a base, the younger Heraclius managed to overthrow Phocas, beginning the Heraclian dynasty, which would rule Byzantium for a century. Heraclius the Elder died soon after receiving news of his son's accession to the Byzantine throne.

Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591

The Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591 was a war fought between the Sasanian Empire of Persia and the Eastern Roman Empire, termed by modern historians as the Byzantine Empire. It was triggered by pro-Byzantine revolts in areas of the Caucasus under Persian hegemony, although other events contributed to its outbreak. The fighting was largely confined to the southern Caucasus and Mesopotamia, although it also extended into eastern Anatolia, Syria, and northern Iran. It was part of an intense sequence of wars between these two empires which occupied the majority of the 6th and early 7th centuries. It was also the last of the many wars between them to follow a pattern in which fighting was largely confined to frontier provinces and neither side achieved any lasting occupation of enemy territory beyond this border zone. It preceded a much more wide-ranging and dramatic final conflict in the early 7th century.

Comentiolus was a prominent Eastern Roman (Byzantine) general at the close of the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Maurice. He played a major role in Maurice's Balkan campaigns, and fought also in the East against the Sassanid Persians. Comentiolus was ultimately executed in 602 after the Byzantine army rebelled against Maurice and Emperor Phocas usurped the throne.

Philippicus or Philippikos was an East Roman general, comes excubitorum, and brother-in-law of Emperor Maurice. His successful career as a general spanned three decades, chiefly against the Sassanid Persians.

Justin (consul 540) Byzantine aristocrat and general

Flavius Mar Petrus Theodorus Valentinus Rusticius Boraides Germanus Iustinus, simply and commonly known as Justin, was an East Roman (Byzantine) aristocrat and general. A member of the Justinian Dynasty and nephew of Emperor Justinian I, he was appointed as one of the last Roman consuls in 540, before going on to assume senior military commands in the Balkans and in Lazica. He fought against the Slavs, the Sassanid Persians and supervised the Byzantine Empire's first contacts with the Avars. At the time of Justinian's death, he was seen as a probable successor, but was beaten to the throne by his cousin, Justin II, who exiled him to Egypt, where he was murdered.

Justinian was an East Roman (Byzantine) aristocrat and general, and a member of the ruling Justinian dynasty. As a soldier, he had a distinguished career in the Balkans and in the East against Sassanid Persia. In his later years, he plotted unsuccessfully against regent and later emperor Tiberius II.

Priscus or Priskos was a leading East Roman (Byzantine) general during the reigns of the Byzantine emperors Maurice, Phocas and Heraclius. Priscus comes across as an effective and capable military leader, although the contemporary sources are markedly biased in his favour. Under Maurice, he distinguished himself in the campaigns against the Avars and their Slavic allies in the Balkans. Absent from the capital at the time of Maurice's overthrow and murder by Phocas, he was one of the few of Maurice's senior aides who were able to survive unharmed into the new regime, remaining in high office and even marrying the new emperor's daughter. Priscus, however, also negotiated with and assisted Heraclius in the overthrow of Phocas, and was entrusted with command against the Persians in 611–612. After the failure of this campaign, he was dismissed and tonsured. He died shortly after.

Matasuntha was a daughter of Eutharic and Amalasuntha. She was a sister of Athalaric, King of the Ostrogoths. Their maternal grandparents were Theodoric the Great and Audofleda.

Germanus was a Caesar of the Byzantine Empire. He married Charito, a daughter of Tiberius II Constantine and Ino Anastasia.

Germanus was a Byzantine general who served under Emperor Phocas in the early stages of the Byzantine-Sassanid War of 602–628.

Tiberius was a son of Maurice, Byzantine emperor and his wife Constantina. He was executed by new emperor Phocas.

Alexander was a Byzantine rebel against emperor Maurice and leading supporter of emperor Phocas. He is better known for executing the co-emperor Theodosius. The main source about him is Theophylact Simocatta.

Battle of Martyropolis (588)

The Battle of Martyropolis was fought in summer 588 near Martyropolis between an East Roman (Byzantine) and a Sassanid Persian army, and resulted in a Byzantine victory.

The Siege of Dara occurred in 573, during the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 572–591. The siege lasted 4 months and ended with the city's fall to the Sasanian Persians. The news of the fall of Dara, long a major Byzantine stronghold in Upper Mesopotamia, reportedly drove Emperor Justin II insane.



  1. 1 2 3 4 ODB , "Theodosios" (W. E. Kaegi, A. Kazhdan), p. 2050.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Martindale 1992 , p. 1293.
  3. 1 2 Whitby 1988 , p. 18.
  4. Whitby 1988 , p. 21.
  5. Martindale 1992 , pp. 531, 1293.
  6. Martindale 1992 , p. 531.
  7. Martindale 1992 , pp. 531, 1293; Whitby 1988 , p. 168.
  8. Martindale 1992 , pp. 531–532.
  9. 1 2 Whitby 1988 , p. 26.
  10. Martindale 1992 , pp. 1293–1294.
  11. Martindale 1992 , pp. 47, 532, 1294; Whitby 1988 , pp. 312, 316.
  12. 1 2 Greatrex & Lieu 2002, p. 297.
  13. 1 2 Martindale 1992 , p. 1294.
  14. Wilmshurst 2011, p. 46.
  15. Greatrex & Lieu 2002, p. 186.
  16. Grierson 1999 , pp. 44–45, 58.
  17. Martindale 1992, p. 528.
  18. Martindale 1992, p. 529; Whitby 1988, p. 25.


  • Greatrex, Geoffrey; Lieu, Samuel N. C. (2002). The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars (Part II, 363–630 AD). Routledge.
  • Grierson, Philip (1999). Byzantine Coins. Washington, District of Columbia: Dumbarton Oaks. ISBN   0-88402-274-9.
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium . Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-504652-8.
  • Martindale, John R., ed. (1992). The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire: Volume III, AD 527–641. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-20160-8.
  • Whitby, Michael (1988). The Emperor Maurice and his Historian: Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan Warfare. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN   0-19-822945-3.
  • Wilmshurst, David J. (2011). The Martyred Church: A History of the Church of the East. East and West Publishing.