Tiberius Constantinus (540 - 582 AD)
Emperor: 574 - 582 AD
Flavius Tiberius Constantinus was born in 540 AD in the province of Thrace. Not much is known for his early life except that he was a close friend of the emperor Justin II. He was given the position of Count of the Excubitors and assumed control of the government after Justin befall to a mental breakdown in 573 AD.
When Tiberius became co-emperor he quickly created a truce with the Persians and began to spend money to revamp the military after its defeat at Daras. Tiberius was extremely popular with the people after he abolished Justinians taxes on the staple food bread and wine. And his many gifts to his supporters. He also paid the Avars a hefty annual tribute on the agreement that they would not cross the Danubian frontier therefore allowing Tiberius to transfer troops from the west into the east to be used against the Persians. Not long after his succession Tiberius had quickly drained the imperial treasury which if it had not been for Justin II, was overflowing at the beginning of his reign.
In Roman Italy the future began to look brighter after a number of lombard kings had been assassinated in successive years. Tiberius hoping to take advantage of the political strife and the chaos of the absence of a Lombard king decided to invade Lombard territory and commit troops to the campaign. Under the command of Baduarius, son in law to Justin II, the army was soundly defeated with Baduarius also falling in the battle. The situation in the east was faring no better after the Persians invaded Armenia and captured the cities of Sebastea and Miletene. Although the Persians were eventually forced to retreat they returned the following year and defeated the Byzantine army. Maurice Count of the Excubitors was sent against the Persians with the remnants of the defeated Byzantine army and reinforcements. In 578 AD the Persians broke the truce between the two great empires and invaded Byzantine Mesopotamia. Maurice in turn invaded Persian territory and captured the cities of Aphumon and Singara. Further drains on the Imperial treasury were caused by Tiberius bribing the Lombard Dukes to not appoint a king.
In 578 AD Tiberius Constantine became sole ruler after the death of Justin II. After Justin's mental breakdown Tiberius took control of the government and basically ruled in his name. Tiberius to further his popularity remitted 25% of the taxes throughout the empire for the next 4 years. Sophia the widow of the late Justin II tried to force Tiberius to divorce his wife in favor of her, as his popularity grew he was able to avoid the marriage and consequently Sophia disappears in history.
After the Eastern frontier was secured by Maurices victories Tiberius was able to reinforce his Western dominions once more and also turn his attention to the Lombards. But as usual in the history of the Byzantine empire it had to fight on two fronts. The Persians began to raid occasionally and in 580 AD the Avars on the Danube invaded and demanded the important city of Sirmium to be ceded to them at once. Tiberius refused this request but eventually gave into the Avars demands after the Slavs invaded the Balkans and the Persian king Hormizd II refused to a peace treaty.
Although Maurice once again had success in the east, in the Balkans Tiberius was forced to pay the Avars 240,000 solidi which was cut off during the three years of the invasion. Late in 582 AD Tiberius grew suddenly ill, he appointed his successful general Maurice and Germanus who was engaged to one of the emperors daughters to the rank of Caesar. On the 13 of August Tiberius crowned Maurice as Augustus. The following day on the 14 of August Tiberius died and Maurice became sole emperor of the Empire.
Although Tiberius enjoyed great popularity throughout the Empire and fortified the eastern frontier his abuse of the imperial treasury and the grand sums of gold he exerted to his followers and enemies would leave the treasury at the brink of collapse on Maurice's succession. Tiberius also lost the important Balkan city of Sirmium to the Avars giving them a bridgehead for future campaigns.
Did you know...
The historian C.W. Previte-Orton states that Tiberius "was really the first of the Greek Emperors, and with him Byzantine becomes the fittest name for the Eastern Empire, which was still Roman in tradition."