Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus
( ; ; 539 –
November 27, 602), known in English as Maurice
was a soldier
and Byzantine Emperor
who ruled from 582-602.
He was one of the most important rulers of the early 'Byzantine'
era, whose reign was troubled by almost unending wars on all
was a son of Paulus, born ca 515 in Arabissus, a Cappadocian of Armenian origin.
legend in Armenia suggests
that Maurice might have been born in the town of Oshakan in central
Just to the north of Oshakan is Saint Sion
church dating from the 7th century, which is believed to mark the
grave of Maurice, or his mother.
Persian War and accession to the throne
originated from Arabissus in Cappadocia and was a successful commander-in-chief.
He was adopted
by his predecessor Tiberius II
succeeded him after the latter’s death. His reign is an accurately
documented era of the late classical antiquity (most important
source is the historian Theophylact Simocatta
). During a war
with the Sassanid Empire
under way in 572 under Justin II
was in service as commander-in-chief from 579 on. He scored a
crushing victory against the Persians in 581. A year later, he
Emperor’s daughter. On August 13, he succeeded his father-in-law.
At that time, he ruled a bankrupt Empire, paying extremely high
tribute to the Avars
, its Balkan
provinces thoroughly devastated by the Slavs
and at war with Persia.
A coin with Maurice in consular
Maurice had to continue the war against Persia. In 586, his troops
defeated the Persians at Dara
. Despite serious
mutiny in 588, they managed to stand up to the Persians for two
more years, until Prince Khosrau II
Persian commander-in-chief Bahram
in 590 overthrew King Hormizd
. Bahram Chobin pretended to the throne and defeated Khosrau
II, who subsequently fled to the Byzantine court. Although the
Senate advised against it with one voice, Maurice lent an army of
35,000 men for Khosrau II to regain his throne, and in 591 the
combined Roman-Persian army under generals Narses and John Mystacon
defeated Bahram Chobin's forces near Ganzak
Maurice finally brought the war to a successful conclusion by means
of a new accession of Khosrau II and the defeat of Bahram Chobin.
As agreed upon, Khosrau II, probably adopted by Maurice, married
Maurice's eldest daughter Miriam and had issue. Khosrau II further
rewarded Maurice by ceding north eastern Mesopotamia and Armenia up to the
capital Dvin and the
Van and Iberia (eastern
Georgia) up to the capital Tbilisi.
Maurice's treaty with his new brother-in-law brought a new
status-quo to the east territorially, enlarged to an extent never
before achieved by the empire in its six century history, and much
cheaper to defend during this new perpetual peace - millions of
solidi were saved by the remission of tribute to the Persians
alone. Afterwards, Maurice imposed a Union between
the Armenian Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
After his victory on the eastern frontier, Maurice was free to
focus on the Balkans
. The Slavs, having
pillaged the Byzantine Balkan provinces for decades, probably began
settling the land from the 580’s on. The Avars took the
strategically important fort of Sirmium in 582,
using it as a base of operations against several poorly defended
forts alongside the Danube. In 584 the Slavs threatened the capital
and in 586 Avars besieged Thessalonica, while Slavs went as far as the Peloponnese.
In 591 Maurice launched several campaigns
against Slavs and Avars - with good prospect of turning the
In 592 his
troops retook Singidunum from the Avars.
Priscus defeated Slavs, Avars and Gepids
south of the Danube in 593. The same year he crossed the Danube
into modern-day Wallachia
to continue his
series of victories. In 594 Maurice replaced Priscus with his
rather inexperienced brother Peter
, who despite initial failures,
nonetheless scored another victory in Wallachia. Priscus, now in
command of another army further upstream, defeated the Avars again
in 595. The latter only dared to attack again peripherally in
two years later. In 598 a treaty
was signed with the Avar leader Bayan I
only to be broken for retaliation campaigns inside Avar homeland.
In 599 and 601, the Byzantine forces wreaked havoc amongst the
Avars and Gepids. In 602 the Slavs suffered a crushing defeat in
Wallachia. The Byzantine troops were now able to hold the Danube
line again. Meanwhile, Maurice was making plans for resettling
devastated areas in the Balkans by using Armenian settlers.
Measures of domestic policy
west, he organized the threatened Byzantine dominions in Italy and Africa into exarchates, ruled by
military governors or exarchs, being
mentioned in 584 and 591 respectively.
Map of the Roman Empire in 600
The exarchs had more
or less complete military and civilian competences. This was
remarkable due to the usual separation of civilian and military
competences in that era. By founding the exarchate of Ravenna,
Maurice managed to slow down the Lombard advance in Italy, if not
to halt it.In 597, an ailing Maurice wrote his last will, in which
he described his ideas of governing the Empire. His eldest son,
Theodosius, would be a ruler of the East from Constantinople, the second one, Tiberius, of the West with the
capital in Rome.
historians believe that two youngest sons were supposed to gain
and North Africa
. But as he intended to
maintain unity of the Empire, this idea bears a strong similarity
with the Tetrarchy
of Diocletian, given
the fact that Maurice also maintained claims on the former western
provinces now ruled by Germanic tribes. Maurice's violent death
thwarted these plans however.
In religious matters, he was very tolerant towards Monophysitism
, although he was a supporter of
the Council of Chalcedon
clashed with Pope Gregory I over the
latter's defence of Rome against the
Summed up, his attempts to consolidate the Empire slowly but
steadily met with success, last but not least thanks to the peace
with Persia. His initial popularity apparently decreased during his
reign, mostly because of his fiscal politics. In 588, his
announcement to cut military wages by 25% led to serious mutiny of
troops on the Persian front.He is said to have refused to pay a
very little ransom in 599 or 600 to deliver 12,000 Byzantine
soldiers taken prisoners by the Avars. It is said that the
prisoners were killed and a military delegation, headed by an
officer named Phocas was humiliated and rejected in
In 602, Maurice, always dealing with the lack of money, decreed
that the army should stay for winter beyond the Danube
, which would prove to be a serious mistake.
The exhausted troops mutinied against the emperor. Probably
misjudging the situation, Maurice repeatedly ordered his troops to
start a new offensive rather than returning to winter quarters.
After a while, his troops gained the impression that Maurice no
longer mastered the situation, they proclaimed Phocas
their leader and demanded Maurice to abdicate
and proclaim the successor either his son Theodosius or General
Germanus. Both men were accused of treason, but the
riots broke out in Constantinople and the emperor with his family
left the city for Nicomedia.
Theodosius headed east to Persia, but
historians are not sure whether he had been sent there by his
father or if he had fled there. Phocas entered Constantinople in
November, where he was crowned emperor, while his troops captured
Maurice and his family.
Maurice was murdered on November 27 (some say November 23), 602. It
is said that the deposed emperor was forced to watch his six sons
executed before his eyes, before he was beheaded himself. Empress
Constantina and her three daughters were spared and sent to a
monastery. The Persian King Chosroes II used this coup and the
murder of his Patron as an excuse for a renewed war against the
Maurice, whose court still used Latin
same way as the army and administration did, was in total an able
emperor and commander-in-chief, even though Theophylact’s
description may be a bit too glorifying. He possessed insight,
public spirit and courage. He proved his expertise on military and
foreign affairs during his campaigns against Persians and
Avars/Slavs in the same way as during peace negotiations with
Khosrau II. His administrative reforms portray him as a statesman
with farsightedness, the more so since they outlasted his death by
far and were the basis for the introduction of the themes as
He also promoted science and arts; Maurice is also the traditional
author of the military treatise Strategikon
which is praised in
military circles as the only sophisticated combined arms
theory until World War II
. However, some historians now
believe the Strategikon
is the work of his brother or
another general in his court.
His greatest weakness was his inability to judge how unpopular his
decisions were. Or to cite the historian Previte-Orton, listing a
number of character flaws in the emperor's personality:
It was this flaw that cost him throne and life and thwarted most of
his efforts to prevent the disintegration of the great empire of
. It seems, as if Maurice
attempted to have his way on behalf of Imperial pretension with
respect to the old Imperium Romanum
, but as his end shows,
he met strong resistance.
His demise is a turning point in history, given the fact that the
new war against Persia weakened both empires in a way enabling the
Slavs to permanently settle the Balkans and paving the way for
Arab/Muslim expansion. The English historian A.H.M. Jones
concludes the final era of
classical antiquity with Maurice’s death, as the turmoil which
shattered the Byzantine Empire in the next four decades permanently
and thoroughly changed society and politics.
Maurice's marriage was fertile and produced ten known
- Miriam/Maria (b. ca 582), married to Khosrau II and had issue.
- Theodosius (4 August 583 - 27 November 602). According to John
of Ephesus, he was the first heir born to a reigning emperor since
the reign of Theodosius II (408 -
450). He was appointed Caesar in 587 and co-emperor on 26 March
- Tiberius (d. 27 November 602).
- Petrus (d. 27 November 602).
- Paulus (d. 27 November 602).
- Justin (d. 27 November 602).
- Justinian (d. 27 November 602).
- Anastasia (d. circa 605).
- Theoctista (d. circa 605).
- Cleopatra (d. circa 605).
His brother Petrus
(ca 550 - 602) became the Curopalates
and was killed at the same time of
his brother. He married Anastasia Aerobinda (b. ca 570), daughter
of Areobindus (b. ca 550) and wife, and had female issue.
His sister Theoktista (ca 540 - aft. 582) married a husband who
died before 582 and had a daughter Gordia (ca 560 - aft. 597), who
married Marinos (ca 555 - aft. 597), son of Nerses (ca 530 - aft.
595) and wife Hesychia (b. ca 535), by whom she had a daughter
Theoktista (ca 575/ca 580 - aft. 597), married to Christodoros (b.
ca 570) and had issue.
His sister Gordia (ca 550 - aft. 602) married Philippikos (ca 550 -
Chrysopolis, 614), General, Comes Excubitorum and mag. mil.
in 582, by whom she had a daughter, who married Artabastos
Mamikonian (b. ca 565), and had issue.
- Charles, R. H. (1916) The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from
Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text,
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; also available free online 
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University Press (July 1986)
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Stanford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 1997)
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Ancient World), Wiley-Blackwell (March 11, 2005)
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The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius: A History of the Church
from AD 431 to AD 594, Reprinted 2008. Evolution Publishing,
ISBN 978-1-889758-88-6. 
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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
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Continuité gentilice et continuité familiale dans les familles
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