Byzantine Empire

Justin II, new Byzantine emperor. November 15, 565.

In his deathbed, and with Callinicus (the praepositus sacri cubiculi) as the only witness to his last words, Justinian I designated “Justin, Vigilantia´s son” as his heir. Modern historians suspect Callinicus may have made up this last words to secure the succession for his political ally, as there was another nephew, and candidate  for the throne: Justin, son of Germanus. Callinicus, together with other members of the Byzantine Senate also interested in this succession, informed Justin and Vigilantia and offered the throne, wich Justin accepted. Only after the Patriarch of Constantinople crowned the new Augustus early the next morning, was the death of Justinian and the succession of Justin officially announced in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. In the first few days of his reign Justin...

Heraclius, emperor. October 4, 610.

In 608, Heraclius the Elder, Heraclius´ father, renounced his loyalty to the Emperor Phocas. The rebels even issued coins showing both Heraclii dressed as consuls, though neither of them had claimed the imperial title. Phocas responded with executions, among them of the ex-Empress Constantina and her three daughters. Heraclius’ younger cousin Nicetas launched a successful overland invasion of Egypt, where he defeated Phocas´ army. While this invasion was taking place, the younger Heraclius sailed eastward through Sicily and Cyprus, planning to enter Constantinople. Some prominent Byzantine aristocrats came to meet Heraclius, and he arranged to be crowned and acclaimed as Emperor before even entering Constantinople. As he approached the city, and planned the attack, the Excubitors, th...

The Sixth Crusade – October 17, 1244 AD

The Crusades were Catholic Church sanctioned military campaigns during the Middle Ages, beginning with pleas from the Byzantine Empire, under Alexius I, to the Pope to help with the Turkish threat in Constantinople, in 1095 AD. The last Crusade was undertaken in the 15th Century and meant to counter the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The First Crusade resulted in the creation of four Crusader States – County of Edessa, Principality of Antioch, County of Tripoli and Kingdom of Jerusalem. Frederick II was ambitious and many modern historians call him “the first modern ruler” because of the efficient centralized government system he established in Sicily and southern Italy. When he was three, he was crowned King of Sicily and co-ruled with his mother. He was King of Germany, Burgundy and It...

Thessalonica Sacked – July 31, 904 AD

Leo of Tripoli was born in or near Attaleia, in modern-day Turkey. He was captured in a raid by Arabs and brought to Tripoli. While in captivity, he converted to Islam and began serving his captors in the capacity of a seaman. His name was changed to Arabic as Rashīq al-Wardāmī or Lāwī Abū’l-Hārit and given the title ghulām Zurāfa, meaning servant of Zurafa. Zurafa may have been his first Muslim master, but it is unknown. Leo’s early life and career are unknown, but he apparently rose quickly through the ranks on the sea. The historian Mas’udi met him and described him as one of the best navigators of the time. Arabic sources list Leo as commander or admiral, as well as the governor of Tripoli and deputy-governor of Tarsus. Both Tripoli and Tarsus were important Muslim strategic cent...

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