Anastasius who was born in Dyrrachium (Albania), on the Adriatic coast,
ca. 430, was at the time of the death of Zeno (his predecessor), a sixty-one
year old usher at the imperial palace at Constantinople. Ariadne, Zeno's widow,
selected him to succeed to the throne. Only a few weeks later, she married him
but the marriage produced no children.
After Zeno's death, his brother Longinus (from Isauria) who has hoped
to become Emperor was exiled by Anastasius to Egypt and expelled other
Isaurians from Constantinople. Other non-Isaurian officials were also removed.
These actions provoked an Isaurian revolt. Although the main rebel army, led by
Longinus of Cardala, was rapidly defeated in 491 at Cotyaeum in Phrygia, it was
not until 498 that all the rebels were mopped up from their Isaurian strongholds.
The gold solidus was very popular throughout the Byzantine world and Western
Europe,but the small sized bronze coins were not very suitable as currency and were
easily lost. Therefor in 498, Anastasius reformed the money system. Anastasius
introduced a large copper coin which was valued at 40 nummia (a unit of money) and
smaller pieces of 20, 10, and 5 nummia were struck in this and later reigns. Before
these reforms, the bronze coins had no fixed value in relation to the gold.
Anastasius was a very good administrator and built up the treasury while bringing
tax relief to the people. He repealed the tax on professions which was bringing about
the ruin of many small businessmen. Any person, prostitutes included, who was engaged
in a business or profession had to pay this tax and it was universally dreaded. He also
reformed the tax on farm production, making it payable in gold instead of in agricultural
products (in kind). His careful fiscal policy left 520,000 pounds of gold in the treasury
at the time of his death.
Constantinople at that time was very intolerate regarding religions, even
amongst different sects of Christians. Anastasius did not hold true with every
element of orthodox dogma and there was frequent rioting in the streets because of this.
Anastasius died in 518 after a reign of twentyseven years.