Admin moved page How did the fall of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice change history? to How did the fall of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice change history
The Byzantine Empire in the 6th century controlled roughly the eastern half of the old Roman Empire. The Western Roman territories had been
largely partitioned between Germanic kingdoms. Justinian II sought to restore the Roman Empire, and he reconquered North Africa, Italy, and parts of Spain. However, Justinian had fatally overstretched the resources of the Empire , this and a terrible plague weakened his realms. His successor Justin II was faced with a series of daunting challenges.
The Lombard’s invaded Italy and began to conquer the territory
that was secured at a great cost only recently by Justinian. In the east, the situation had reached a crisis point. To concentrate on the conquest of the west, Justinian had paid a hefty tribute to the Persians<ref>Treadgold, Warren T. A History of the Byzantine State and Society (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), p 198</ref>.
When his successor
, refused to pay, they invaded and overran many provinces; such was the scale of the defeat that Justin II became mentally unbalanced. His successor Tiberius II stabilized the situation, and he managed to halt the Persians. While he was diverted in the east an alliance of Avars and Slavs tribes began to infiltrate the Balkan provinces, especially after the fall of the key fortress of Smirnium. Tiberius IIs armies were overstretched and could not contain the Slavs and Avars and the Empire who began to slowly annex Imperial territory<ref> Treadgold, p 201</ref> .
==The reign of Maurice ====[[File:Maurice Two.jpg| 200px| thumb|left| Reconstruction of a Slavic Fort]]Maurice was born in Cappadocia (modern Turkey) and came from a Greek-speaking family. He was connected to Tiberius II and went to Constantinople to serve in the army <ref>Chisholm, Hugh, ed. ("Maurice, East Roman emperor" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. 1911), p. 1</ref>. When Tiberius ascended the throne, he was appointed as head of the Imperial Bodyguard. The new Emperor recognized the potential of the young man. In the east the situation was disastrous, and the Persians were seizing land and cities.
Maurice was given
command of the east, despite having only limited military experience and soon proved himself to be a talented general <ref>Chisholm, p 2</ref>. In 582 Maurice was able to secure a resounding victory over a massive Persian invasion army. Soon after Tiberius sickened and as he lay on his bed, he appointed Maurice as his heir. He later married the daughter of Tiberius II and was crowned Emperor. He was faced with a series of crises , that threatened the Empire.<ref>Norwich, John. Byzantium: The Early Centuries (London: Viking, 1988), 145</ref>
The new general in the east was incompetent, and the Persians quickly defeated him. In the Balkans, the Avars and Slavs continued to advance, and in Italy, the
Lombard’s pushed the Byzantines into the heel and toe of Italy. Maurice proved himself an energetic ruler. He created two administrations (Exchartes) in North Africa and Italy, under governors with a great deal of autonomy and this stabilized the situation in these provinces. Maurice then fought the Persians in the east for several years and inflicted a number of devastating victories on the Sassanians. These defeats led to the overthrow of the Persian ‘’King of Kings’’ and his son and heir was forced to flee to the Byzantine court for protection.<ref>Norwich, p 141</ref>
Maurice protected the young man, who would later become Khosrau II. He used Byzantine forces to restore the young Persian to his father’s throne. Maurice had transformed the situation in the east
, a grateful Khosrau II conceded territories and fortresses to the Byzantines and even was adopted by Maurice. Many Persian nobles were unhappy at this and believed that their Empire was merely a dependency of the hated Christians. Maurice then turned his attention to the Balkans and confronted the Avars and the Slavs who had stealthily occupied large swathes of Imperial territory. He began to campaign in the Balkans and recaptured key cities and fortresses. He inflicted several defeats on the Slavs and the Avars by using cavalry and ambushes to great effect.<ref>Treagold, p 217</ref>
The Emperor was very cautious, and this reduced the effectiveness of the Slavs guerrilla tactics. Maurice also raided deep into Avar and Slav territory, and this kept these groups on the defensive. He even campaigned beyond the Danube, the first Emperor to do so in a century. By 595 Maurice had neutralized the Avar and the Slav threat and also defeated the Gepids. Despite his many victories, the Emperor was neither popular with his soldiers nor his subjects.<ref>Norwich, p 134 </ref> The Emperor was very much concerned with the finances
of the Empire, and he refused to ‘buy’ the support of his soldiers and the general population. He was perceived as being mean-spirited and hated for his oppressive taxes. These taxes were necessary given the precarious state of the Imperial finances.
Moreover, Maurice neglected the internal affairs of the cities. The ‘Blues’ and the ‘Greens’ factions were divided by their loyalty to rival chariot teams in the Hippodrome.<ref> Norwich, p 89</ref> They had been powerful street gangs, and in the past had even defied the great Justinian.
The absence of Maurice, on campaigns , meant that the Blues and the Greens began to renew their old conflict and many cities became lawless. The Emperor drove his soldiers hard and did not spare them, in peace or war. In 602 AD, the army was driven to mutiny.
Maurice had refused to pay a ransom for some Byzantine troops
that had been captured by the Avars, who subsequently killed them. In the bitterly cold winter of 602, he ordered his army to camp beyond the Danube and would not let them retire to their winter quarters. The military mutinied and proclaimed a general, Phocas as Emperor because they had not been paid. Maurice was forced to abdicate, and he was later beheaded after being forced to watch the torture and death of his sons.<ref>Norwich, p 137</ref>
== The Persian-Byzantine War ====[[File:Maurice Three.jpg| 200px| thumb|left|Modern portrait of Emperor Phocas based on his portrait on coins]] The death of Maurice was to change the dynamic of Persian-Byzantine relations, Maurice had adopted Khosrau II, and his deposition meant that he could legitimately wage a war of revenge against Phocas. The new Byzantine Emperor was incompetent and brutal, and the elite despised him. The Persians invaded the eastern provinces of the Empire, relatively unopposed .
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>