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Anastasius I Dicorus : biography

430 - 518

Anastasius I ( ; c. 430 – July 518) was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis. During his reign was built one of the most fortified castle cities on the Adriatic Durrës Castle in Durrës.

Accession

At the time of the death of Zeno (491), Anastasius, a palace official (silentiarius), held a very high character, and was raised to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire by Ariadne, Zeno's widow, who preferred him to Zeno's brother, Longinus.

Ariadne married him shortly after his accession on 20 May 491. His reign, though afterwards disturbed by foreign and internecine wars and religious distractions, commenced auspiciously. He gained the popular favour by a judicious remission of taxation, and displayed great vigour and energy in administering the affairs of the Empire.

Foreign policy and wars

Anastasius engaged in the Isaurian War against the usurper Longinus and the Anastasian War against Sassanid Persia.

The Isaurian War (492-497) was stirred up by the Isaurian supporters of Longinus, the brother of Zeno who was passed over in his succession in favor of Anastasius. The battle of Cotyaeum in 492 "broke the back" of the revolt, but guerrilla warfare continued in the Isaurian mountains for some years longer.

In the Anastasian War (502–505), Theodosiopolis and Amida were captured by the Sassanids, but Persian provinces also suffered severely and the Byzantines recovered Amida. Both adversaries were exhausted when peace was made in 506 on the basis of the status quo. Anastasius afterwards built the strong fortress of Daras to hold the Persians in check in Nisibis. The Balkan provinces were left denuded of troops, however, and were devastated by invasions of Slavs and Bulgars; to protect Constantinople and its vicinity against them, the emperor built the Anastasian Wall, extending from the Propontis to the Euxine.

Background and personal characteristics

Anastasius was born at Dyrrhachium; the date is unknown, but he is thought to have been born no later than 430 or 431. He was born into an Illyrian family, the son of Pompeius (born c. 410), nobleman of Dyrrachium, and wife Anastasia Constantina (born c. 410). His mother was an Arian, sister of Clearchus, also an Arian, and a paternal granddaughter of Gallus (born c. 370), son of Anastasia (born c. 352) and husband, in turn daughter of Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus and wife and cousin Constantina.Settipani, Christian, Continuite Gentilice et Continuite Familiale Dans Les Familles Senatoriales Romaines, A L'Epoque Imperiale, Mythe et Realite. Linacre, UK: Prosopographica et Genealogica, 2000. ILL. NYPL ASY (Rome) 03-983.

Anastasius had one eye black and one eye blue (heterochromia), Hugh Elton – Florida International University – An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors and for that reason he was nicknamed Dicorus (Greek: Δίκορος, "two-pupiled").

Byzantine Empire coinage reform

The main elements of the complex monetary system of the early Byzantine Empire, which suffered a partial collapse in the 5th century, were revived by Emperor Anastasius I (491–518) in 498. The new system involved three denominations of gold (the solidus and its half and third) and five of copper (the follis, worth 40 nummi and its fractions down to a nummus).

A 40 nummi coin of Anastasius is depicted on the obverse of the Macedonian 50 denars banknote, issued in 1996.. Macedonian currency. Banknotes in circulation: . – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.

Successor

The Anonymous Valesianus tells an account about his choosing of a successor: Anastasius could not decide which of his three nephews should succeed him, so he put a message under a couch and had his nephews take seats in the room, which also had two other seats; he believed that the nephew to sit on the special couch would be his proper heir. However, two of his nephews sat on the same couch, and the one with the concealed message remained empty.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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