39 Facts About Constantine V


Constantine V's reign saw a consolidation of Byzantine security from external threats.


Constantine V was responsible for important military and administrative innovations and reforms.


Constantine V was born in Constantinople, the son and successor of Emperor Leo III and his wife Maria.


In 726, Constantine V's father issued the Ecloga; a revised legal code, it was attributed to both father and son jointly.


Constantine V married Tzitzak, daughter of the Khazars's khagan Bihar, an important Byzantine ally.


Constantine V escaped and sought refuge in Amorion, where he was welcomed by the local soldiers, who had been commanded by Leo III before he became emperor.


Constantine V received the support of the Anatolic and Thracesian themes; Artabasdos secured the support of the theme of Thrace in addition to his own Opsikion and Armeniac soldiers.


Three months later Constantine V defeated Artabasdos' son Niketas and his Armeniac troops at Modrina and headed for Constantinople.


Constantine V immediately targeted his opponents, having many blinded or executed.


Constantine V's avowed enemies in what was a bitter and long-lived religious dispute were the iconodules, who defended the veneration of images.


Constantine V questioned the legitimacy of any representation of God or Christ.


Constantine V presented his religious views at meetings organised throughout the empire, sending representatives to argue his case.


Since monasteries tended to be strongholds of iconophile sentiment and contributed little or nothing towards the secular needs of the state, Constantine V specifically targeted these communities.


Constantine V expropriated monastic property for the benefit of the state or the army.


On becoming aware of an iconodule influenced conspiracy directed at himself, Constantine V reacted uncompromisingly; in 765, eighteen high dignitaries charged with treason were paraded in the hippodrome, then variously executed, blinded or exiled.


Constantine V carried forward the administrative and fiscal reforms initiated by his father Leo III.


Constantine V reduced the size of this theme, dividing from it the Bucellarian and, perhaps, the Optimaton themes.


Constantine V was responsible for the creation of a small central army of fully professional soldiers, the imperial tagmata.


Constantine V achieved this by training for serious warfare a corps of largely ceremonial guards units that were attached to the imperial palace, and expanding their numbers.


However, the empire was prosperous and Constantine V left a very well-stocked treasury for his successor.


Constantine V's court was opulent, with splendid buildings, and he consciously promoted the patronage of secular art to replace the religious art that he removed.


Constantine V constructed a number of notable buildings in the Great Palace of Constantinople, including the Church of the Virgin of the Pharos and the porphyra.


Constantine V rebuilt the prominent church of Hagia Eirene in Constantinople, which had been badly damaged by the earthquake that hit Constantinople in 740.


Constantine V associated only his eldest son, Leo, with the throne as co-emperor, but gave his younger sons the titles of caesar for the more senior in age and nobelissimos for the more junior.


Constantine V organised the resettlement of part of the local Christian population to imperial territory in Thrace, strengthening the empire's control of this region.


Constantine V retired to Bithynia to avoid the disease and, after it had run its course, resettled people from mainland Greece and the Aegean islands in Constantinople to replace those who had perished.


Constantine V captured Theodosiopolis and Melitene, which he demolished, and again resettled some of the population in the Balkans.


The lack of interest Constantine V showed in Italian affairs had profound and lasting consequences.


Constantine V sent a number of unsuccessful embassies to the Lombards, Franks and the papacy to demand the restoration of Ravenna, but never attempted a military reconquest or intervention.


Constantine V aimed to enhance the prosperity and defence of Thrace by the resettlement there of Christian populations transplanted from the east.


Kormisosh of Bulgaria raided as far as the Anastasian Wall but was defeated in battle by Constantine V, who inaugurated a series of nine successful campaigns against the Bulgarians in the next year, scoring a victory over Kormisosh's successor Vinekh at Marcellae.


In 759, Constantine V was defeated in the Battle of the Rishki Pass, but the Bulgarians were not able exploit their success.


Constantine V campaigned against the Slav tribes of Thrace and Macedonia in 762, deporting some tribes to the Opsician theme in Anatolia, though some voluntarily requested relocation away from the troubled Bulgarian border region.


In 775, the Bulgarian ruler Telerig contacted Constantine V to ask for sanctuary, saying that he feared that he would have to flee Bulgaria.


Telerig enquired as to whom he could trust within Bulgaria, and Constantine V foolishly revealed the identities of his agents in the country.


Constantine V was a successful general, not only consolidating the empire's borders, but actively campaigning beyond those borders, both east and west.


The life and actions of Constantine V, if freed from the distortion caused by the adulation of his soldiers and the demonisation of iconodule writers, show that he was an effective administrator and gifted general, but he was autocratic, uncompromising and sometimes needlessly harsh.


All surviving contemporary and later Byzantine histories covering the reign of Constantine V were written by iconodules.


In particular, a manuscript written in north-eastern Anatolia concerning miracles attributed to St Theodore is one of few probably written during or just after the reign of Constantine V to survive in its original form; it contains little of the extreme invective common to later iconodule writings.