Anastasius I (emperor)
Anastasius I was Byzantine Emperor from 491 to 518. During his reign the Roman eastern frontier underwent extensive re-fortification, including the construction of Dara
Dara (Mesopotamia)
Dara or Daras was an important East Roman fortress city in northern Mesopotamia on the border with the Sassanid Empire. Because of its great strategic importance, it featured prominently in the Roman-Persian conflicts of the 6th century, with the famous Battle of Dara taking place before its walls...

, a stronghold intended to counter the Persian fortress of Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...


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
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

 family, the son of Pompeius (born c. 410), nobleman of Dyrrachium, and wife Anastasia Constantina (born c. 410). His mother was an Arian
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

, 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
Constantius Gallus
Flavius Claudius Constantius Gallus , commonly known as Constantius Gallus, was a member of the Constantinian dynasty and Caesar of the Roman Empire . Gallus was consul three years, from 352 to 354.- Family :...

 and wife and cousin Constantina
Constantina , and later known as Saint Constance, was the eldest daughter of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great and his second wife Fausta, daughter of Emperor Maximian...


Anastasius had one eye black and one eye blue (heterochromia
In anatomy, heterochromia refers to a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin...

), and for that reason he was nicknamed Dicorus (Greek: Δίκορος, "two-pupil
The pupil is a hole located in the center of the iris of the eye that allows light to enter the retina. It appears black because most of the light entering the pupil is absorbed by the tissues inside the eye. In humans the pupil is round, but other species, such as some cats, have slit pupils. In...



At the time of the death of Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (491), Anastasius, a palace official (silentiarius
Silentiarius, Hellenized to silentiarios and Anglicized to silentiary, was the Latin title given to a class of courtiers in the Byzantine imperial court, responsible for order and silence in the Great Palace of Constantinople...

), held a very high character, and was raised to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire by Ariadne
Ariadne (empress)
Aelia Ariadne was the Empress consort of Zeno and Anastasius I of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Ariadne was a daughter of Leo I and Verina. Her mother was a sister of Basiliscus....

, Zeno's widow, who preferred him to Zeno's brother, Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...


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

The principal wars in which Anastasius was engaged were the Isaurian War
Isaurian War
The Isaurian War was a conflict that lasted from 492 to 497 and that was fought between the army of the Eastern Roman Empire and the rebels of Isauria. At the end of the war, Eastern Emperor Anastasius I regained the control of the Isauria region and the leaders of the revolt were killed.-...

 and the War with Persia
Anastasian War
The Anastasian War was fought from 502 to 506 between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire. It was the first major conflict between the two powers since 440, and would be the prelude to a long series of destructive conflicts between the two empires over the next century.-Prelude:Several...


The former, which lasted from 492 to 497, was stirred up by the supporters of Longinus
Longinus (consul 486)
Flavius Longinus was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire, brother of Emperor Zeno and twice consul .- Biography :Longinus came from the region of Isauria, in Asia Minor...

, the brother of Zeno who had been candidate to his succession against Anastasius. The battle of Cotyaeum
Battle of Cotyaeum
The Battle of Cotyaeum of 492 was fought in Phrygia Epictetus between the rebel Isaurian army led by Longinus of Cardala and the Eastern Roman army of Emperor Anastasius led by John the Scythian and John the Hunchback .The rebel forces were...

 in 492 "broke the back" of the revolt, but guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 continued in the Isauria
Isauria , in ancient geography, is a rugged isolated district in the interior of South Asia Minor, of very different extent at different periods, but generally covering what is now the district of Bozkır and its surroundings in the Konya province of Turkey, or the core of the Taurus Mountains. In...

n mountains for some years longer.

In the war with Sassanid Persia
Anastasian War
The Anastasian War was fought from 502 to 506 between the Eastern Roman Empire and the Sassanid Empire. It was the first major conflict between the two powers since 440, and would be the prelude to a long series of destructive conflicts between the two empires over the next century.-Prelude:Several...

 (502–505), Theodosiopolis and Amida
Amida (Roman city)
Amida was an ancient city located where modern Diyarbakır, Turkey. The Roman writers Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius consider it a city of Mesopotamia, but it may be more properly viewed as belonging to Armenia Major....

 were captured by the enemy, but the Persian provinces also suffered severely and the Byzantines recovered Amida. Both adversaries were exhausted when peace was made (506) on the basis of the status quo. Anastasius afterwards built the strong fortress of Daras to hold in check the Persians in Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

. The Balkan
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 provinces however were left denuded of troops and were devastated by invasions of Slavs and Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

; to protect Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 and its vicinity against them the emperor built the Anastasian Wall
Anastasian Wall
The Anastasian Wall or the Long Walls of Thrace is an ancient, stone and turf fortification located west of Istanbul, Turkey built by the Byzantines during the late 5th century...

, extending from the Propontis to the Euxine
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...


Domestic and ecclesiastical policies

The Emperor was a convinced Miaphysite, following the teachings of Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

 and Severus of Antioch
Severus of Antioch
Severus, Patriarch of Antioch , born approximately 465 in Sozopolis in Pisidia, was by birth and education a pagan, who was baptized in the "precinct of the divine martyr Leontius" at Tripoli, Lebanon.- Life :...

 who taught "One Incarnate Nature of Christ" in an undivided union of the Divine and human natures, but his ecclesiastical policy was moderate; he endeavoured to maintain the principle of the Henotikon
The Henotikon was issued by Byzantine emperor Zeno in 482, in an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile the differences between the supporters of the Council of Chalcedon and the miaphysites...

 of Zeno and the peace of the church. It was rebellious demonstrations of the Byzantine populace, that drove him in 512 to abandon this policy and adopt Miaphysitic programme. His consequent unpopularity in the European provinces was utilized by an ambitious man, named Vitalian
Vitalian (general)
Vitalian was an East Roman general. Rebelling in 513 against Emperor Anastasius I, he won over large parts of the army and people of Thrace. Successive rapprochements with Anastasius failed, and the revolt continued until it was finally defeated in 515. Vitalian then went into hiding until...

, to organize a dangerous rebellion, in which he was assisted by a horde of "Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

" (514–515); it was finally suppressed by a naval victory won by the general Marinus.


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.

Then, after putting the matter to God in prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, he determined that the first person to enter his room the next morning should be the next Emperor, and that person was Justin
Justin I
Justin I was Byzantine Emperor from 518 to 527. He rose through the ranks of the army and ultimately became its Emperor, in spite of the fact he was illiterate and almost 70 years old at the time of accession...

, the chief of his guards. In fact, Anastasius probably never thought of Justin as a successor, but the issue was decided for him after his death. At the end of his reign, he left the Imperial treasury richer by 23,000,000 solidi or 320,000 pounds of gold.

Anastasius died childless in Constantinople on 9 July 518 (some sources say 8 or 10 July) and was buried at the Church of the Holy Apostles
Church of the Holy Apostles
The Church of the Holy Apostles , also known as the Imperial Polyandreion, was a Christian church built in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, in 550. It was second only to the Church of the Holy Wisdom among the great churches of the capital...



Anastasius is known to have had a brother named Flavius Paulus, who served as Roman consul in 496. A sister-in-law, known as Magna, was mother to Irene and mother-in-law to Olybrius. This Olybrius was son of Anicia Juliana
Anicia Juliana
Anicia Juliana was a Roman imperial princess, the daughter of the Western Roman Emperor Olybrius, of the Anicii, by Placidia the younger, daughter of Emperor Valentinian III and Licinia Eudoxia....

 and Areobindus Dagalaiphus Areobindus. The daughter of Olybrius and Irene was named Proba. She married Probus and was mother to a younger Juliana. This younger Juliana married another Anastasius and was mother of Areobindus, Placidia, and a younger Proba. Another nephew of Anastasius was Flavius Probus, Roman consul in 502. Caesaria, sister of Anastasius, married Secundinus. They were parents to Hypatius and Pompeius
Pompeius (consul 501)
Pompeius was a politician of the Eastern Roman Empire and relative of the Emperor Anastasius I .- Family :He was a son of Secundinus and Caesaria. His mother was a sister of Anastasius I. His father served as Eparch of Constantinople and Roman consul in 511. Secundinus also held the rank of...

. Flavius Anastasius Paulus Probus Moschianus Probus Magnus, Roman Consul in 518 also was a great-nephew of Anastasius. His daughter Juliana later married Marcellus
Marcellus (brother of Justin II)
Marcellus was a brother of Byzantine emperor Justin II and general under his uncle, Justinian I .Marcellus was the son of Vigilantia, the sister of Justinian, and Dulcidio , and thus the brother of Justin II and Praejecta...

, a brother of Justin II
Justin II
Justin II was Byzantine Emperor from 565 to 578. He was the husband of Sophia, nephew of Justinian I and the late Empress Theodora, and was therefore a member of the Justinian Dynasty. His reign is marked by war with Persia and the loss of the greater part of Italy...

. The extensive family may well have included viable candidates for the throne.

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
Obverse and reverse
Obverse and its opposite, reverse, refer to the two flat faces of coins and some other two-sided objects, including paper money, flags , seals, medals, drawings, old master prints and other works of art, and printed fabrics. In this usage, obverse means the front face of the object and reverse...

 of the Macedonian
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 50 denars
Macedonian denar
The denar is the currency of the Republic of Macedonia. It is subdivided into 100 deni . The name denar comes from the name of the ancient Roman monetary unit, the denarius...

 banknote, issued in 1996.

External links

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