Tiberios I.

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Solidus of Tiberius Constantinus. The front shows the inscription CONSTANT (inus) AVG (ustus) VIV (at) FELIX, so the Emperor Constantinus live happily! The reverse reads VICTOR (ia) TIBERI (i) AVG (usti), i.e. victory of the emperor Tiberius , and CON (stantinopolis) OB (ryzum aurum).

Tiberios I. (II.) Konstantinos ( Middle Greek Τιβέριος Α ′ Κωνσταντίνος , Latin Tiberius Constantinus ; † August 13, 582 ) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 578 to 582. He always bore the name Tiberius Constantinus on his coins and in official documents . He is sometimes referred to as Tiberios II , when the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14–37 AD) is counted as Tiberios I in the sense of the idea of ​​continuity .

Life and domination

Rise to sole rule

Flavius ​​Tiberius Constantinus apparently came from the Latin-speaking part of Thrace and made a career in the military under Emperor Justinian . He was a confidante of Justin II , the successor of Justinian, under whom he was appointed comes excubitorum (commander of the most important guards ) and at the end of 565 was sent on a campaign against the Lombards .

In December 574, at the instigation of Empress Sophia, Justin raised Tiberios to the rank of Caesar and thus co-regent. According to the sources, Justin was already suffering from a mental illness at this point and was allegedly barely capable of governing himself; in any case, he was effectively disempowered and Tiberios took power. After the death of Justin II in 578, Tiberios prevailed against Sophia, who wanted to marry Tiberios and thus secure her influence, and now ascended the Eastern Roman throne under the name of Emperor Caesar Flavius ​​Tiberius Constantinus Augustus as sole ruler ( Augustus ).

It is noteworthy that a turning point is associated with him in Syrian tradition, such as is palpable in Bar Hebräus or Michael the Syrian : While the emperors from Augustus to Justin II were "Latins", Tiberios had the series of Greek emperor started.

Foreign policy

During the reign of Tiberios as Caesar , at least the situation on the Orient Front was stabilized, where the Romans were able to inflict a severe defeat on the Persian Sassanids in 575 (or 576) in the Battle of Melitene (see also Roman-Persian Wars ). The Caesar , who like his predecessors no longer went into battle as emperor himself, presented the rich booty along with 24 war elephants at a great victory celebration (“triumph”) in the capital, but the Persian war was not decided. In connection with the conflict with Persia, the Eastern Romans also tried to renew an alliance that Justin II had concluded with the Kök Turkish ruler Sizabulos in Central Asia. An Eastern Roman embassy reached the Turkish court in 576, but Sizabulos had recently died and his successor Turxanthos refused a new alliance because of the contacts between the Eastern Romans and the Avars, who were enemies with the Turks (see also Tardu ).

In North Africa in 578 or 579 the imperial magister militum per Africam Gennadius recorded an important victory over the Moors under their rex Garmules; possibly the downfall of the small kingdom of Altava is connected with it. When he took office, the emperor had agreed to pay the Avars 80,000 solidi annually. In 578 the praefectus praetorio per Illyricum Johannes had a large Avar army crossed the Danube in Roman boats, which Tiberios ordered to chase away Slavs who had invaded the empire. But in 580 the Avars began to besiege the strategically important Sirmium themselves after Tiberios had refused to hand over the city to them. At the same time, the raids of Slavic groups continued south of the Danube . In 582 the isolated Sirmium had to capitulate; this was a hard blow, and the already seriously ill Tiberios now of necessity agreed to the payment of even higher annual payments to the Avarenkhagan. In the east, the empire also had to continue to defend itself against the threat of the Sassanids, whose new great king Hormizd IV. (579-590) broke off ongoing peace talks. While the war against the Avars was to the detriment of Eastern Europe, the border with Persia could at least be held, albeit with high losses. Only a few years after the death of Tiberios was a peace treaty concluded in 591, which lasted until 602/03.

Strictly speaking, foreign policy did not include relations with the Latin West , which Tiberios continued to see as part of the Roman Empire . In addition to North Africa, parts of Italy and Spain were also still under direct imperial rule. In view of the threat to the Danube and Euphrates, however, the emperor left Italy, which had been ravaged by the Lombards since 568 , largely to itself: in 578, according to Menander Protector, the western Roman senator and Patricius Pamphronius congratulated the new emperor on his accession to the throne and brought him 3000 pounds of gold in Name of the Senate. But his urgent request for military aid against the Lombards was ineffective; Tiberios only allowed Pamphronius to take the gold back with him and to try to recruit Longobard warriors as foederati . A second Senate delegation in 580 also had no notable success, even if the emperor actually sent soldiers to Italy this time, but they were unable to achieve much. In 581/2 the emperor also seems to have tried to intervene diplomatically in the Merovingian Empire (see Gundowald ) in order to induce the Franks to attack the Lombards.

Domestic Policy and Succession

While Justin II had cracked down on the Miaphysites , the new emperor was tolerant of Christian deviants. He showed harshness towards non-Christians. In 579 there was an uprising in Roman Syria: followers of the old sun cult (cf. Sol invictus ), who were still numerous especially in the area around the city of Baalbek ( Heliopolis ), rose up against the imperial Christianization policy. Tiberios had the uprising suppressed in a bloody way, the leaders executed and persecutions of the heathen carried out throughout Syria, some of which also killed high-ranking officials - including Anatolius, the governor of the Osrhoene province .

Stronger than his relatively thrifty predecessor Justin, Tiberios began to empty the state treasury and arm the Eastern Roman army . He was evidently quite popular with the people, because at the beginning of his sole rule he paid back a quarter of the taxes levied in the empire and gave away immense sums for various purposes. He abolished the suffragio , a kind of "processing fee" for administrative processes. However, this may also be an indication that his position was actually comparatively weak and that he was trying to buy support.

This "extravagance" ended, however, at the end of his fourth year in office, when his health suddenly deteriorated rapidly. He fell ill and finally died on August 13, 582. Shortly before, he had adopted his successful generals Maurikios and Germanus , raised them to the rank of lower emperors ( Caesars ) and married his daughters Constantina and Charito. One day before Tiberios' death Maurikios was elevated to Augustus and took over power in the empire without any problems (Germanus seems to have renounced).


  • Hugh Elton: The Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. A Political and Military History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2018, ISBN 978-1108456319 , pp. 287ff.
  • Andrew Louth: The Eastern Empire in the sixth century . In: Paul Fouracre (Ed.): The New Cambridge Medieval History . Volume 1. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2005, pp. 93-117.
  • John Robert Martindale: The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire (PLRE). Volume 3. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1992, ISBN 0-521-20160-8 , pp. 1323-1326.
  • Ernst Stein : Studies on the history of the Byzantine empire mainly under the emperors Justinus II. And Tiberius Constantinus . Metzler, Stuttgart 1919. [outdated state of research, but partly still fundamental]
  • Michael Whitby : The successors of Justinian . In: The Cambridge Ancient History . Volume 14, edited by Averil Cameron and others. 2nd revised edition, Cambridge 2000, pp. 86ff.
  • Michael Whitby: The Emperor Maurice and his Historian. Theophylact Simocatta on Persian and Balkan warfare (= Oxford historical monographs. ). Clarendon Press, Oxford 1988, ISBN 0-19-822945-3 (Oxford, Phil. Diss., 1981).

Web links

Commons : Tiberios I. Konstantinos  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. David R. Sear: Byzantine Coins and Their Values. 1987, see there No. 421
  2. With full title Imperator Caesar Flavius ​​Tiberius (novus) Constantinus fidelis in Christo mansuetus maximus beneficus pacificus Alamannicus Gothicus Francicus Germanicus Anticus Alanicus Vandalicus Africanus pius felix inclitus victor ac triumphator semper Augustus ; see. Gerhard Rösch : Onoma Basileias. Studies on the official use of imperial titles in late antique and early Byzantine times. Vienna 1978, p. 169.
  3. Menander Protector, fragment 49.
  4. John of Ephesus , Church history 3:27–30.
predecessor Office successor
Justin II Eastern Roman Emperor