Emperor Heraclius: The Rise Of The Byzantine Empire

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Heraclius Heraclius was an Eastern Roman emperor who reigned from 610 to 641. He was born in 575 in eastern Anatolia. During this time most of the people were farmers. The soldiers were mercenaries. The social structure of the Byzantine Greeks was supported by a rural, agricultural base that consisted of the peasants. They lived in villages, hamlets, and on estates. His father, was governor of the Roman province of Africa when an appeal came from Constantinople to save the Eastern Roman Empire from the terror and incompetence of the emperor Phocas. The empire was in a civil war. The Governor equipped a military force, with his son, Heraclius as commander. In October 610, Heraclius entered Constantinople, toppled Phocas, and was crowned emperor…show more content…
He spoke Greek, made Greek the official language of the Empire, and gave Greek titles to the nobility. Heraclius inherited an empire in poor economic shape. He struggled to pay for the mercenaries that made up a large portion of the Byzantine army. To solve this problem, he developed the “thematic” system which divided the Empire into regions, known as themes. This system united the civil and military areas of the Empire into a powerful force that could once again stand up to its enemies. This new system offered land to soldiers and facilitated the spread of military might across the Empire. Heraclius’s most impressive achievement was his military successes against the powerful Sassanid Persian Empire, which threatened the Byzantine territory. Thanks to a strong navy and Constantinople’s nearly impenetrable walls, he kept the Sassanids from taking Constantinople. This also kept the Persians from attempting another conquest of Greece, as Persian kings Darius and Xerxes had tried to do over a thousand years before. However, he could not protect Jerusalem from Persian attack, and the Persians captured the relic of the True Cross. He launch the first crusade against the Persians to recover the True Cross. To fund his the crusade, Heraclius instituted economic reforms by revaluing the currency and standardized weights and measures, which helped…show more content…
The weakened Persian Empire fell victim to an army of Muslims bent on global conquest. The Muslims quickly absorbed Persia into it’s rapidly expanding empire. Also, the Byzantine strongholds of Jerusalem, and Byzantine territory in Egypt and other parts of North Africa fell to the Muslims. The Muslim forces marched to the walls of Constantinople, but they were repelled by a Byzantine weapon known as “Greek fire,” an incendiary weapon that was developed in 672. They used it in naval battles. It could continue burning while floating on water. Heraclius’s defense of Constantinople and Carthage delayed Muslim entry into Europe. We can learn lessons from the history of Byzantium during Heraclius reign. The first lesson is about individualism and freedom. Byzantium flourished when it allowed its citizens, and particularly its soldiers, greater individual freedom and responsibility. The second lesson from Byzantium is on war strategies. Heraclius made the conscious decision not to fight at the borders. He focused less on territory and more on defeating the enemy in the most efficient

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