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European Kingdoms

Eastern Mediterranean


Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire
Isaurian (Syrian / Iconoclastic) Dynasty (AD 717-802)

In AD 395, the Roman empire finally split permanently, creating formal Eastern Roman and Western Roman empires, acknowledging what had existed in practise for many years.

Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II in iconography

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), from The Bulgarians: from pagan times to the Ottoman conquest, David Marshall Lang (Westview Press, 1976), and from External Link: History of the Byzantine Empire (Live Science).)

717 - 741

Leo III the Isaurian

First successor to Non-Dynastic rulers.

717 - 718

During the reign of the Islamic empire's Caliph Sulayman, Constantinople is placed under a protracted siege. Leo calls to the Danubian Bulgars for help based on established ties of cooperation, and they send a large army. Together the allies inflict several crushing defeats on the Arab army, forcing it to lift the siege and leave. This marks the end of any serious Islamic ambitions to conquer the Eastern Roman empire.


Corsica is conquered by the Lombards, ending almost two centuries of insecure and very poorly recorded Eastern Roman governance there. Lombard rule is brief, but this is just a taste of defeats to come for Constantinople.

726 - 728

Eastern Roman control of the exarchate of Ravenna is briefly lost as the Lombards take control.


The accession of Khan Kormesios sees the end of the Dulo clan on the throne of the Danubian Bulgars and the rise of the Ukil (or Vokil) clan. The circumstances surrounding this change of clan are unknown, but it coincides with a sudden worsening in relations with the Eastern Romans regarding their shared frontier after what would seem to be thirty years of peace and cooperation. Constantine V Capronymus eventually organises some sort of peace between them.

741 - 775

Constantine V Capronymus

 Constantly battled the Bulgarians.


The Eastern Romans permanently lose control of the exarchate of Ravenna to the Lombards. With that they also lose Rome and the power to select each new Pope. This defeat marks the end of any effective control and influence that Constantinople is able to exert over Western Europe.


Khan Teletz belongs to a different faction of Danubian Bulgarian leaders. He leads a well-trained army in a series of devastating raids across the frontier zone, and challenges Constantine to a contest of strength. Unfortunately for him, he is defeated in battle at Anchialus when his Slav auxiliaries switch sides.

The emperor does not press his victory, instead returning home in triumph. His dealings with several successive Bulgarian khans usually seem him coming off better, and them being expelled and/or murdered by their subjects for being weak or foolish.


Details of Antiochus, strategos of Sicily, are very sparse save for his involvement in a conspiracy in this year against Emperor Constantine. Theophanes the Confessor records that Antiochos and eighteen other military governors (strategoi) and senior officials are led by brothers Strategios and Constantine Podopagouros in a plot against the emperor.

Once it is uncovered, the conspirators are paraded and humiliated at Constantinople's Hippodrome on 25 August 766. Strategios and Constantine are subsequently beheaded at the Kynegion and the others are blinded and exiled.


Georgian Abasgia rises in revolt and throws off Eastern Roman rule.

775 - 780

Leo IV the Khazar

780 - 797

Constantine VI

Blinded & murdered by his mother, Irene.

780 - 790

Empress Irene

Regent and mother.

781 - 782

Elpidius is appointed strategos of Sicily by Empress Irene in February 781. Theophanes the Confessor records that he has already served as the governor of Sicily in the past, although a precise date is not known. Almost immediately he is suspected of being involved in a plot to remove her from the throne, replacing her with Nicephorus (later Nicephorus I). He is ordered to return to Constantinople but refuses with the support of the Eastern Roman military and people on Sicily. The result is that his wife and children are publicly flogged and then imprisoned.

Either towards the end of the year, or early in 782, Irene sends a large fleet which defeats Elpidius' own weak military forces in several battles. Elpidius, along with Dux Nikephoros (his second-in-command, who probably governs Calabria), flees to North Africa with the remnants of the island's treasury. The Abbasids welcome him and quietly support his self-proclamation as emperor.

796 - 797

The reign of Kardam of the Danubian Bulgarians has seen proper order restored in Bulgarian lands, with the khan's authority being respected as he grinds out a peace agreement with Constantine VI regarding payments of annual tribute. That agreement is reached in 796, but this seems to trigger crisis in the imperial court. Unlike his wily grandfather, Constantine V, this Constantine is seen as a relative failure, so he is dethroned by his mother, Irene.

797 - 802

Empress Irene

Former regent. Deposed.


Empress Irene is deposed by the eldest surviving son of Constantine V, Nicephorus I, whose reign heralds the end of the Isaurian (Syrian) dynasty but who is also known as the founder of the Nicophoran dynasty.

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