no edit summary
The Prophet Muhammad unified the disparate and feuding Arab tribes and transformed them into a formidable fighting force. In 629 the Prophet called for a Jihad against the Byzantine and Persian Empires. The Emperor Heraclius had not been able to consolidate Byzantine power in the areas that had been occupied by Khorsau II. At the battle of Yarmouk, the army of the Christian Empire was decisively defeated by the Muslims. This led to the loss of Palestine, including the Holy City of Jerusalem and Syria. By 642 AD, Egypt was also conquered by the Arab armies, who by 660 had captured North Africa. The collapse of Byzantine power in these areas was remarkably swift. This was a result of the brutal conflict between the Persians and the Byzantines that had broken out after the fall of Maurice. The Arab conquests had been greatly facilitated by the usurpation of Phocas and his disastrous reign. If Maurice had lived the Byzantine’s would have been in a better position to withstand the Arab onslaught <ref> Kennedy, H., The Prophet and the age of the Caliphates: the Islamic Near East from the sixth to the eleventh century (London, Routledge, 2015), p 178</ref>. This could have ensured that Syria, the Palestine and North Africa would have remained part of the Empire and part of the Christian World. Instead these areas came under Arab control and eventually became .largely Muslim.
==The Slavs in the Balkans==
The army in the Balkans had to be moved to the east to counter the growing Persian threat after Maurice’s brutal execution. The Persian invasions forced Emperor Heraclius to concentrate all his forces in Anatolia. This led to the collapse of the Byzantine Balkan frontier and the Avars raided to the walls of Byzantium and even took part in the Persian siege of the city in 626 AD. The Slavic tribes who had been largely pushed back beyond the Danube by Maurice were once again able to enter the Balkans, the Avars remained by and large beyond the Danube. These tribes settled in agricultural areas and formed petty kingdoms<ref> Curta, Florin Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p 134</ref>. They regularly raided or besieged the remaining Byzantine settlements. The result was that many Greek and Latin speakers left the area and moved to southern Italy or Asia Minor. Heraclius and subsequent emperors were so concerned with the Arab threat that they could not launch any meaningful
counter-attack against the Slavs. The result was that over a period of time, the Slavs occupied much of the Balkans and the area was only nominally under Byzantine control. This not only denied the Christian Empire, resources and manpower it also permanently changed the character of the area and the region. The Balkans had been largely Greek or Latin in character but after the 7th century it became increasingly Slavic<ref> Curta, p 201</ref>. This may not have occurred if Maurice had not been deposed. He was on the verge of defeating the Slavs and their allies and close to subjugating them in 602 AD. If the army had not mutinied and acclaimed Phocas as Emperor, the Slavs could have been kept out of the Balkans. Instead by 680 AD they had occupied nearly all of the region and changed its ethnic character, permanently <ref> Curta, 202</ref>.
Maurice is rightly seen as a great general and administrator, but he was uncompromising and did not attend to the interests of his soldiers and the general population. Maurice removed the Persian threat and secured the eastern flank of his Empire. He was on the verge of a complete victory in the Balkans. Maurice inflexibility provoked a mutiny this led to his deposition and death. There was a dramatic shift in the fortunes of the Empire. It led to a 26-year war with Persia that grievously weakened the Empire, even though it survived. The Christian Empire went into a protracted period of decline that has been called the ‘Byzantine Dark Ages’. At this time the Slavs occupied the Balkans and the Muslims permanently seized Syria, Palestine and North Africa. This led to enduring cultural and religious changes in these regions. The decline of Byzantium could have been avoided if Phocas had not treacherously deposed and killed Maurice. The fate of the successor of the Roman Empire shows that individual events, such as a usurpation can change the fate of even great states.