33 Facts About Heraclius


Heraclius's rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.


The year Heraclius came to power, the empire was threatened on multiple frontiers.


The first battles of the campaign ended in defeat for the Byzantines; the Persian army fought their way to the Bosphorus but Constantinople was protected by impenetrable walls and a strong navy, and Heraclius was able to avoid total defeat.


Heraclius drove the Persians out of Asia Minor and pushed deep into their territory, defeating them decisively in 627 at the Battle of Nineveh.


However, Heraclius soon lost many of his newly regained lands to the Rashidun Caliphate.


Heraclius responded with reforms which allowed his successors to combat the Arabs and avoid total destruction.


Heraclius entered diplomatic relations with the Croats and Serbs in the Balkans.


Heraclius tried to repair the schism in the Christian church in regard to the Monophysites, by promoting a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism.


Heraclius was the eldest son of Heraclius the Elder and Epiphania.


However, Anthony Kaldellis argues that there is not a single primary source that says that Heraclius [the Elder] was an Armenian and that the assertion is based on an erroneous reading of Theophylact Simocatta.


Heraclius's father was a key general during Emperor Maurice's war with Shah Bahram Chobin, usurper of the Sasanian Empire, during 590.


Meanwhile, the younger Heraclius sailed eastward with another force via Sicily and Cyprus.


Safe behind the walls of Constantinople, Heraclius was able to sue for peace in exchange for an annual tribute of a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins to the Persian King.


Heraclius assembled his forces in Asia Minor, probably in Bithynia, and, after he revived their broken morale, he launched a new counter-offensive, which took on the character of a holy war; an acheiropoietos image of Christ was carried as a military standard.


Heraclius exploited divisions within the Persian Empire, keeping Shahrbaraz neutral by convincing him that Khosrow had grown jealous of him and had ordered his execution.


In 629 Heraclius restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in a majestic ceremony.


Heraclius took for himself the ancient Persian title of "King of Kings" after his victory.


Heraclius enlarged the Empire, and his reorganization of the government and military were great successes.


Heraclius tried to promote a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism but this philosophy was rejected as heretical by both sides of the dispute.


Heraclius created the office of sakellarios, a comptroller of the treasury.


Heraclius was long remembered favourably by the Western church for his reputed recovery of the True Cross from the Persians.


Kavad was mortally ill and was anxious that Heraclius should protect his infant son Ardeshir.


For Christians of Western Medieval Europe, Heraclius was the "first crusader".


The scene usually shown is Heraclius carrying the cross; according to the Golden Legend, he insisted on doing this as he entered Jerusalem, against the advice of the Patriarch.


Some scholars disagree with this narrative, Professor Constantin Zuckerman going as far as to suggest that the True Cross was actually lost, and that the wood contained in the allegedly-still-sealed reliquary brought to Jerusalem by Heraclius in 629 was a fake.


In early Islamic and Arab histories, Heraclius is the most popular Roman emperor, who is discussed at length.


In that work, Heraclius is portrayed as declining the Prophet's request to renounce his belief in Christianity: he is therefore defeated by the Muslim forces.


El-Cheikh notes that these accounts of Heraclius add "little to our historical knowledge" of the emperor; rather, they are an important part of "Islamic kerygma," attempting to legitimize Muhammad's status as a prophet.


Heraclius was married twice: first to Fabia Eudokia, a daughter of Rogatus, and then to his niece Martina.


Heraclius had two children with Fabia and at least nine with Martina, many of whom were sickly children.


Heraclius had at least one illegitimate son, John Athalarichos, who conspired against Heraclius with his cousin, the magister Theodorus, and the Armenian noble David Saharuni.


When Heraclius discovered the plot, he had Athalarichos's nose and hands cut off, and he was exiled to Prinkipo, one of the Princes' Islands.


When Heraclius died, he devised the empire to both Heraclius Constantine and Heraclonas to rule jointly with Martina as empress.