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
200px| thumb|left| coins with the portrait of Emperor Maurice]]
The importance of the Byzantine Empire, the successor of Rome, is increasingly being recognized by historians. One of the most important turning points in the Byzantine Empire's history was Emperor Maurice's fall (539-602 AD). He is not a well—known emperor or one that has entered into the popular consciousness. His reign, which was at first very successful, ended in a catastrophe for the emperor and his realm.
When his successor refused to pay, they invaded and overran many provinces; such was the defeat's scale 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 slowly began to 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.
== The Persian-Byzantine War ====[[File:Maurice Three.jpg| 200px| thumb|left|Modern portrait of Emperor Phocas based on his portrait on coins]]
Maurice's death 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.
This signaled the start of a 26-year war between the Empires. The Byzantine army was demoralized and leaderless, and they were soon defeated.
Phocas rule was tyrannical, and law and order collapsed in many areas. The troops of Khosrau II occupied Syria, Palestine, Armenia and entered Egypt by 608 AD. Phocas was eventually deposed by Heraculus, who was to save the Empire ultimately. He defeated a siege of Byzantium and later launched a counter-attack that led to Khosrau II's defeat and the recapture of all the lost Byzantine provinces. However, the Orthodox Christian Empire was severely weakened and was only a shadow of what it had been in 600 AD, and this was important repercussions for the future of Europe and the Middle East. If Maurice had lived and passed the throne to one of his sons, the mutually ruinous conflict between Byzantine and Sassanian could have been avoided.
==The Arab Invasions====
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. Emperor Heraclius had not been able to consolidate Byzantine power in the areas that Khorsau II had occupied. 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 resulted from the brutal conflict between the Persians and the Byzantines that had broken out after the fall of Maurice.
The Arab conquests were 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, 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 Balkans army 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 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>
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 occupied nearly all of the region and permanently changed its ethnic character.<ref> Curta, 202</ref>