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date: 09 December 2019


  • Thomas E. Russo


( 575; reg 610–41; d Constantinople [now Istanbul], 11 Feb 641). Byzantine emperor and patron. Although it is sometimes claimed that Heraklios was of Armenian descent, contemporary sources record his family origins in Cappadocia. His father was the exarch of Carthage. In 610 Heraklios usurped the imperial throne from the tyrant Phokas (reg 602–10) and thus initiated the rule of the Heraklian dynasty which lasted until 711. He and his first wife Eudoxia (d 612) had two children, Epiphania and Heraklios, the latter of whom later became Constantine III (reg 641). After the death of Eudoxia, Heraklios married his niece Martina, who bore him ten children.

A competent military leader, Heraklios defeated the Persians at Nineveh in 627. He is often credited with the reorganization of the provinces into administrative units called themes, but whether or not this institution originated under Heraklios is debatable. References in contemporary sources to scientific treatises on chemistry and astrology by Heraklios suggest that he was well educated....

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