Maurice (emperor)

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Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus or Maurice I (Greek Μαυρίκιος), (539 - November, 602) was the emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 582 to 602. A Cappadocian general, he was appointed as a successor by Tiberius II Constantine. He married Tiberus' daughter Constantina and become Emperor when his father-in-law died a week later.

Maurice is the traditional author of the military treatise Strategikon which is praised in military circles as the first and only sophisticated combined arms theory until World War II. However, some historians now believe the Strategikon is the work of his brother or another general in his court.

The reign of Maurice was marked by almost unending wars on all frontiers, and despite his excellent ruling qualities, he could only temporarily prevent the loss of the great gains of Justinian I.

Shortly after his accession, in 590 he interfered in a Persian war of succession, helping young Chosroes II to regain his throne. Chosroes also married a certain Maria, probably Maurice's daughter. In return, Armenia and eastern Mesopotamia returned to Byzantine Empire.

The Balkan provinces were thoroughly invaded by the Slavs in his days. The Slavs penetrated all the way into Peloponnesus and several successful but exhausting campaigns had to be directed against them. In the west, he organized the threatened Byzantine dominions in Italy and Africa into exarchates, ruled by military governors or exarchs.

In 597, the ill Maurice wrote down his last will where he desribed his ideas of governing the Empire. His eldest son, Theodosius, would be a ruler of the East from Constantinople, the second one, Tiberius, of the West with the capital in Rome.

In 602 Maurice, on account of a lack of money, decreed that his army should spend the winter beyond the Danube. The exhausted troops, led by General Phocas, mutinied against the Emperor and demanded that Maurice should abdicate. Riots broke out in Constantinople and the Emperor with his family left the city for Nicomedia.

Phocas entered Constantinople and was crowned Emperor while his troops captured Maurice and his family. It is said that deposed Emperor was forced to watch as his three sons were butchered before his eyes until he was beheaded. Empress Constantina and her three daughters were spared and sent to a monastery.