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European Kingdoms

Eastern Mediterranean


Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire
Dynasty of Leo (AD 457-518)

From the start, the capital of the newly-created Eastern Roman empire was based at Constantinople, dedicated by the emperor Constantine the Great in 330.

Succeeding the preceding dynasty of Theodosius, Emperor Anastasius enacted vast reforms which restored Constantinople's economic and military strength. These paved the way for Justinian's later invasion of Italy.

Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II in iconography

(Information by Peter Kessler, and from External Link: History of the Byzantine Empire (Live Science).)

457 - 474

Leo I

First successor to the Theodosius dynasty.

459 - 462

Unchallenged by the now-dissipated power of the Huns, the Ostrogoths under Valamir are themselves powerful. A dispute with Leo I causes Valamir to lead the his Ostrogoths against him. With the barbarians at the gates, Leo agrees to pay an annual subsidy of gold.

Map of Eastern Europe AD 450-500
Soon after the middle of the fifth century AD the Hunnic empire crashed into extinction, starting with the death of Attila in 453. His son and successor, Ellac, was killed in battle in 454, and the Huns were defeated by the Ostrogoths in 456, ending Hunnic unity (click or tap on map to view full sized)


As a result of the sack of Rome and piracy in the Mediterranean, both Western Roman and Eastern Roman empires send a fleet against the Vandali. The western fleet is captured, and the eastern one is destroyed through the use of fire ships. The Vandali invade the Peloponnese in retaliation but are driven back with heavy losses by the Maniots at Kenipolis. Rome soon abandons its policy of warfare against the Vandali.


The Vandali-occupied island of Sardinia is liberated by Marcellin, newly arrived from Constantinople. He frees Sardinia and then Sicily before joining up with the forces of Flavius Basilisk, later Eastern Roman emperor. Thanks to the latter's ineptitude the expedition ultimately fails and Marcellin is assassinated by one of his captains. Upon his death, Sardinia is retaken by the Vandali.


With battles by the Kutrigurs and Utigurs against the Ostrogoths and Eastern Romans seemingly ongoing for the past decade, Dengisich son of Atilla the Hun is now killed by Anagastes, the Roman general in Thrace, and his head is taken to Constantinople to be paraded through the city. His brother, Ernakh, is probably now the dominant Hunnic ruler on the Pontic-Caspian steppe via the Utigurs and Altyn Ola.


Leo sends his own candidate to rule the remains of the Western Roman empire. Upon the arrival of Julius Nepos, Glycerius immediately surrenders.


Leo II

474 - 491

Zeno the Isaurian (Tarasikodissa)

Sent the Ostrogoths to regain Italy for the East.


The last Western Roman emperor is removed from office and Odoacer, the Gothic commander of the army, rules Italy directly. Zeno still regards Julius Nepos as rightful emperor of the west until the latter's death in 480, and Odoacer is persuaded to accept this (in name, at least).

A similar situation obtains in the Roman domain of Soissons in northern Gaul where the Roman general Syagrius mints coins in Nepos' name until his own defeat in 486. By a collusion of convenience the western empire continues to exist after 476, but only as a legal formality.

Christians flock to Palestine and the Eastern Roman empire in general in the hope of avoiding the chaos in the west. The Jewish population in Palestine becomes even more heavily outnumbered.

475 - 476

[Basiliscus / Flavius Basilisk]


The Ostrogoths, settled in Pannonia and nominally Eastern Roman allies, are problematic at best (the Romans have already used the Bulgars to help subdue them in 480). Their restlessness is creating increasing problems in their management for Emperor Zeno. Working with Theodoric to find a solution, the emperor invites him to invade Italy and overthrow the troublesome Gothic viceroy there, Odoacer. The Ostrogoths immediately win the Battle of Isonzo on 28 August 489, close to Aquileia, and Odoacer is forced to withdraw. A second battle is fought at Verona in the same year.

490 - 493

A further battle is fought on the River Adda in 490, and in 493 Theodoric takes Ravenna. On 2 February the same year, Theodoric and Odoacer sign a treaty that divides Italy between them, but at a banquet to celebrate the terms, Theodoric murders Odoacer with his own hands. Now unopposed, he is able to found an Ostrogothic kingdom based in Rome.

491 - 518

Anastasius I


Anastasius returns the Western Roman imperial regalia which Constantinople had received in 476, confirming acceptance of Theodoric's Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy.


Some Heruli do not join the migration of the rest of their people to Scandinavia. After seeking refuge with the Gepids, some of them are now allowed to resettle depopulated land in Singidunum (modern Belgrade) by the emperor.


Anastasius is succeeded by Justin I, father of the Justinian dynasty's namesake.

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