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Anastasius (491 - 518)

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 He repealed the tax on professions which was bringing about the ruin of many small businessmen.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.

Ancient Roman Emperors - Anastasius
Emperor Index



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Roman Emperor Anastasius - Related Topic: Roman Coins


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