Byzantine Empire /
Nickname: Leo the Isaurian
(Around 680-741) Byzantine emperor 717-741.
Leo was a vary able leader, bringing stability back to the empire. Before his reign, years of near anarchy had dominated. He made sure the administration was reformed, that the system of prepaid taxes was changed, and let serfs become free tenants.
The defense was reorganized, huge army divisions were divided into smaller units. He personally led the army in battle, but he neglected the navy. All in all, he secured that the central regions of the empire were not attacked, he even managed to win back territory. But on one front he lost; southern Italy would fall, not to foreign invaders, but to local rebels, protesting against hard taxation and unpopular rulings.
Leo allowed immigration of Slavs into depopulated territories, in exchange for army service. This proved to be most effective.
Leo leaned on Artabasdus as his closest ally, controlling large parts of the military. Leo married his daughter Anna married to him.
There is no information on economic growth in this period; that may be because of several earthquakes that destroyed many towns and villages, forcing funds to be used on rebuilding.
Leo is remembered for his controversial ban on icon worship (see Christian iconoclasm), which by then was a central part of Christian worship. The background for his decision is unclear, but it has often been suggested that he had been influenced by Muslim ideas (see Muslim iconoclasm). He was harsh in the execution of this prohibition, when not receiving support from the Pope in Rome, he cut off the church's financial sources. He would became excommunicated by the church for this. More popular was his decision to force Jews and the Christian group of Montanists to baptize.
Leo published a new law code, the Ecloga, a revision of the law code of Justinian 1 from almost 200 years before. Central with the Ecloga was to allow more Christian influence on the law. Several cases which had been punished with death, would now instead be punished with amputation and mutilation.
As was the case with the economy, there is little indicating many cultural achievements. Rather, Leo ordered some important academies closed.
Around 680: Born, either in Isauria or Germanica (modern Kahramanmaras, Turkey). His original name was Konon.
Makes a military career, serving largely in Asia Minor.
705: Appointed to a high position in the army, as a reward for his support getting Justinian 2 back on the throne. Leo is sent on a difficult diplomatic mission to Lazica, which he carries through successfully.
713: Under new emperor, Anastasius 2, he is appointed commander of the largest military district (theme) in Asia Minor.
715: Thedosius 3 makes himself new emperor. Leo and Artabasdus refuse to recognize the new emperor.
717: Together with Artabasdus, he leads a rebellion against Theodosius.
March 25: Theodosius resigns as emperor after Leo captures his son in Nicomedia. Leo becomes new emperor.
August: Constantinople comes under Umayyad siege, but the siege would become as hard on the aggressors as on Constantinople.
718 August: The siege on Constantinople is lifted, leaving Leo as the victor. Among the most effective weapons had been Greek fire.
Late year: Anastasius 2 leads a revolt against Leo 3, but is captured and executed.
720: Crowns his 2-year old son, Constantine.
722: Orders that Jews and Christian Montanists be baptized by force if necessary.
726: Speaks out against the veneration of icons among Christians.
Issues a new law code, the Ecloga.
Umayyad invasion into Byzantine territory.
727: Unsuccessful rebellion against him in the Cyclades Islands (modern Greece).
730: Prohibits Christian icons, and orders the destruction of sacred imagery in churches.
731: Is excommunicated by the Pope in Rome, as a result of his ban on icon worship.
732: Leo makes a revenge on the Pope in Rome, by transferring southern Italy and Greece from his diocese to that of the Patriarch of Constantinople. An ongoing rebellion is strengthened by this, leading to Exarchate of Ravenna breaking lout from the empire.
733: Marries Constantine to Tzitzak, daughter of the Khagan of the Khazars (Crimea) as a way of securing an important alliance.
739: New Umayyad invasion into Byzantine territory.
740: Wins a decisive victory over the Umayyads at Acroenus (modern Afyon, Turkey) freeing most of Asia Minor from the Muslim threat. From this strong position he launches campaigns to win back lost territory from the Umayyads.
741 April 19: Dies, and is succeeded by his son, Constantine 5.