Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Justinian II

Justinian II, known as Rhinotmetus (the Split-nosed) (669-711), Byzantine emperor from 685-695 and 704-711, succeeded his father Constantine IV, at the age of sixteen.

His reign was unhappy both at home and abroad. After a successful invasion he made a truce with the Arabs, which admitted them to the joint possession of Armenia, Iberia and Cyprus. While by removing 12,000 Christian Maronites from their native Lebanon, he gave the Arabs a command over Asia Minor of which they took advantage in 692 by conquering all Armenia.

In 688 Justinian decisively defeated the Bulgars. Meanwhile the bitter dissensions caused in the Church by the emperor, his bloody persecution of the Manichaeans, and the rapacity with which, through his creatures Stephanus and Theodatus, he extorted the means of gratifying his sumptuous tastes and his mania for erecting costly buildings, drove his subjects into rebellion.

In 695 they rose under Leontius and, after cutting off the emperor's nose (whence his surname), banished him to Cherson in the Crimea. Leontius, after a reign of three years, was in turn dethroned and imprisoned by Tiberius Absimarus, who next assumed the purple.

Justinian meanwhile had escaped from Cherson and married Theodora, sister of Busirus, khan of the Khazars. Compelled however, by the intrigues of Tiberius, to quit his new home, he fled to Terbelis, king of the Bulgars. With an army of 15,000 horsemen Justinian suddenly pounced upon Constantinople, slew his rivals Leontius and Tiberius, with thousands of their partisans, and once more ascended the throne in 704.

His second reign was marked by an unsuccessful war against Terbelis, by Arab victories in Asia Minor, by devastating expeditions sent against his own cities of Ravenna and Cherson where he inflicted horrible punishment upon the disaffected nobles and refugees, and by the same cruel rapacity toward his subjects. Conspiracies again broke out: Bardanes, surnamed Philippicus, assumed the purple, and Justinian, the last of the house of Heraclius, was assassinated in Asia Minor December 711.

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Preceded by:
Constantine IV
Byzantine emperors Followed by:
Leontius II (695)
Philippicus (711)