Leo I the Thracian

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Leo I the Thracian
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{{short description|Byzantine Emperor}}

(aged 73)| death_place =| place of burial =title=Augustus (honorific) of the Eastern Roman Empire>reg-type={{nowrapregent=Majorian {{smallWestern Roman Empire>Western Emperor, 457-461)}}Libius Severus {{smallWestern Roman Empire>Western Emperor, 461-465)}}Anthemius {{smallWestern Roman Empire>Western Emperor, 467-472)}}Olybrius {{smallWestern Roman Empire>Western Emperor, 472)}}Glycerius {{smallWestern Roman Empire>Western Emperor, 473-474)}}|regnal name=Imperator Caesar Flavius Valerius Leo Augustus}}Leo I (; 401 – 18 January 474) was Eastern Roman Emperor from 457 to 474. A native of Dacia Aureliana near historic Thrace,{{sfn|Bury|1958}} he was known as Leo the Thracian (Greek: Leōn ho Thrax).Ruling the Eastern Empire for nearly 20 years, Leo proved to be a capable ruler. He oversaw many ambitious political and military plans, aimed mostly at aiding the faltering Western Roman Empire and recovering its former territories. He is notable for being the first Eastern Emperor to legislate in Koine Greek rather than Late Latin.The Inheritance of Rome, Chris Wickham, Penguin Books Ltd. 2009, {{ISBN|978-0-670-02098-0}} (page 90)He is commemorated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church, with his feast day on January 20.Great Synaxaristes {{gr icon}}: Ὁ Ἅγιος Λέων Μακέλλης ὁ Μέγας. 20 Ιανουαρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.Mother of God of the "Life-Giving Spring". Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. Retrieved: 27 October 2012.


{{more citations needed|section|date=February 2018}}(File:Roman Empire 460 AD.png|thumb|right|300px|The Roman Empire in 460 during the reign of Leo)He was born Leo Marcellus in Thracia or in Dacia Aureliana province in the year 401 to a Thraco-Roman family.{{sfn|Friell|1998|pp=170, 261}} His Dacian origin{{sfn|Friell|1998|pp=170}} is mentioned by Candidus Isaurus,{{sfn|Bury|1958|p=315}}Candidus, F.H.G. IV, p.135 while John Malalas believes that he was of Bessian stock.{{sfn|Bury|1958|p=315}}John Malalas, XIV, p.369 He served in the Roman army, rising to the rank of comes. Leo was the last of a series of emperors placed on the throne by Aspar, the Alan serving as commander-in-chief of the army, who thought Leo would be an easy puppet ruler. Instead, Leo became more and more independent from Aspar, causing tension that would culminate in the assassination of the latter.Leo's coronation as emperor on 7 February 457,Edward A. Thompson, "Leo I", Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 13 (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1973), p. 959. Bibl. J. B. Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire, vol. i, ch. 10 (1923).{{sfn|Bury|1958}} was the first known to involve the Patriarch of Constantinople.Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, Chap. XXXVI (Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1952), p. 582. Bibl. Theophanes, p. 95 [ed. Par.; tom. i p. 170, ed. Bonn]. Leo I made an alliance with the Isaurians and was thus able to eliminate Aspar. The price of the alliance was the marriage of Leo's daughter to Tarasicodissa, leader of the Isaurians, who, as Zeno, became emperor in 474. In 469, Aspar attempted to assassinate ZenoNorwich, John Julius, 'Byzantium: The Early Centuries', pg 167 and very nearly succeeded. Finally, in 471, Aspar's son Ardabur was implicated in a plot against Leo and Ardabur was killed by palace eunuchs acting on Leo's orders.Wace, Henry. Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D., with an Account of the Principal Sects and HeresieLeo overestimated his capacities and he made some errors that menaced the internal order of the Empire. The Balkans were ravaged by the Ostrogoths, after a disagreement between the Emperor and the young chief Theodoric the Great who had been raised at Leo's court in Constantinople, where he was steeped in Roman government and military tactics. There were also some raids by the Huns. However, these attackers were unable to take Constantinople thanks to the walls, which had been rebuilt and reinforced in the reign of Theodosius II and against which they possessed no suitable siege engines.File:Solidus-Leo I-RIC 0605.7.jpg|thumb|left|300px|Gold solidus of Leo I, struck 462–473 AD at Constantinople.]]Leo's reign was also noteworthy for his influence in the Western Roman Empire, marked by his appointment of Anthemius as Western Roman Emperor in 467. He attempted to build on this political achievement with an expedition against the Vandals in 468, which was defeated due to the arrogance of Leo's brother-in-law Basiliscus. This disaster drained the Empire of men and money. Procopius estimated the costs of the expedition to be 130,000 pounds of gold; John the Lydian estimated the costs to be 65,000 pounds of gold and 750,000 pounds of silver.Bury, John Bagnell (1958). History of the Later Roman Empire: from the death of Theodosius I to the death of Justinian. Dover books. 1. Dover Publications. {{ISBN|978-0-486-20398-0}}. p. 337 The expedition consisted of 1,113 ships carrying 100,000 men; 600 of these ships were lost during the expedition. After this defeat, the Vandals raided Greek coasts until a costly peace agreement was signed between Leo and Genseric.Leo became very unpopular in his last days as Emperor for abolishing any non-religious celebration or event on Sundays.{{citation needed|date=February 2013}}Leo died of dysentery at the age of 73 on 18 January 474.

Marriage and children

Leo and Verina had three children. Their eldest daughter Ariadne was born prior to the death of Marcian (reigned 450 – 457).Hugh Elton, "Leo I (457–474 A.D.)" Ariadne had a younger sister, Leontia. Leontia was first betrothed to Patricius, a son of Aspar, but their engagement was probably annulled when Aspar and another of his sons, Ardabur, were assassinated in 471.{{citation needed|date=August 2012}} Leontia then married Marcian, a son of Emperor Anthemius and Marcia Euphemia. The couple led a failed revolt against Zeno in 478–479. They were exiled to Isauria following their defeat.Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, vol. 2An unknown son was born in 463. He died five months following his birth. The only sources about him are a horoscope by Rhetorius and a hagiography of Daniel the Stylite.The Georgian Chronicle, a 13th-century compilation drawing from earlier sources, reports a marriage of Vakhtang I of Iberia to Princess Helena of Byzantium, identifying her as a daughter of the predecessor of Zeno.Chronicle", Chapters 13–14. Translation by Robert Bedrosian (1991) This predecessor was probably Leo I, the tale attributing a third daughter to Leo. Cyril Toumanoff identified two children of this marriage: Mithridates of Iberia; and Leo of Iberia. This younger Leo was father of Guaram I of Iberia. The accuracy of the descent is unknown.

See also




  • BOOK, harv, Ostrogorsky, George, 1956, History of the Byzantine State,weblink Basil Blackwell, Oxford,
  • BOOK, harv, Bury, John Bagnell, John Bagnell Bury, History of the Later Roman Empire: from the death of Theodosius I to the death of Justinian, 1,weblink Dover Publications, 1958, Dover books, 978-0-486-20398-0
  • BOOK, harv, Friell, Gerard, The Rome That Did Not Fall: The Survival of the East in the Fifth Century,weblink Taylor & Francis, London, 1998, Ancient history, 978-0-415-15403-1
  • BOOK, harv, Meyendorff, John, John Meyendorff, 1989, Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A.D., The Church in history, 2, Crestwood, NY, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 978-0-88-141056-3,weblink
  • VIDEO, Thomas F. Madden (Presenter), 2006, Empire of Gold: A History of the Byzantine Empire; Lecture 2: Justinian and the Reconquest of the West, 457–565, Audio book, Recorded Books, Prince Frederick, 978-1-4281-3267-2,
  • Profile of Leo in The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire
  • Stephen Williams, Gerard Friell, The Rome that Did Not Fall The Survival of the East in the Fifth Century, Routledge Press, 1999, {{ISBN|0-415-15403-0}}

External links

  • {{Commons-inline|Flavius Valerius Leo}}
  • Leo I Timeline
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