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Monday, April 2, 2012

Enduring Palestine


Palestine has belonged to the Palestinians.

One of their sons, a faithful witness to God amongst many others.

Procopius, First of the Palestinian Martyrs during Diocletian's persecution of Christians

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July.
The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

July 8
St. Procopius, Martyr

HE was a native of Jerusalem, but lived at Bethsan, otherwise called Scythopolis, where he was reader in the church, and also performed the function of exorcist, in dispossessing demoniacs, and that of interpreter of the Greek tongue into the Syro-Chaldaic. 1 He was a divine man, say his acts, and had always lived in the practice of great austerity, and patience, and in perpetual chastity. He took no other sustenance than bread and water, and usually abstained from all food two or three days together. He was well skilled in the sciences of the Greeks, but much more in that of the holy scriptures; the assiduous meditation on which nourished his soul, and seemed also to give vigour and strength to his emaciated body. He was admirable in all virtues, particularly in a heavenly meekness and humility. Diocletian’s bloody edicts against the Christians reached Palestine in April, 303, and Procopius was the first person who received the crown of martyrdom in that country, in the aforesaid persecution. He was apprehended at Bethsan, and led, with several others, bound to Cæsarea, our city, say the acts, and was hurried straight before Paulinus, prefect of the province. 2 The judge commanded the martyr to sacrifice to the gods. The servant of Christ answered he never could do it; and this he declared with a firmness and resolution that seemed to wound the heart of the prefect as if it had been pierced with a dagger. The martyr added, there is no God but one, who is the author and preserver of the world. The prefect then bade him sacrifice to the four emperors, namely Diocletian, Herculius, Galerius, and Constantius. This the saint again refused to do, and had scarcely returned his answer than the judge passed sentence upon him, and he was immediately led to execution and beheaded. He is honoured by the Greeks with the title of The Great Martyr. See his original Chaldaic Acts, published by Steph. Assemani, t. 2, p. 166, and a less accurate old Latin translation, given by Ruinart, and by Henry Valois, Not. in Euseb. l. 8. The author of these acts was Eusebius of Cæsarea, an eye-witness. 1

Note 1. Grotius and others demonstrate the Greek language to have been, in the first ages of Christianity, common in Palestine; but this cannot be extended to all the country people, as this passage and other proofs clearly show. Hence Eusebius wrote his Acts of the Martyrs of Palestine in Syro-Chaldaic; but abridged the same in Greek, in the eighth book of his Church History.

Note 2. The old Latin Acts write his name Flavian, and some Fabian, by mistaking the Syriac name, which is written without vowels.



(extracts from the book “Encyclopaedia of the Palestine Problem” by Issa Nakhleh, (1915-2003), Senior Adviser UN Palestinian Delegation and represented the Higher Arab Committee for Palestine for some 40 years)

Palestine was known in ancient history as the Land of Canaan. When Abraham migrated to the Land of Canaan it was a well-developed country. [A recent theory holds that] The Philistines entered the Land of Canaan from Crete about 1250 B.C. and settled in the coastal areas. [but in fact the Canaanites had been there since shortly after the flood of Noah and are still there.] They established five kingdoms, Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath and Ekron. They were the people who gave Palestine its name, and the Land of Canaan since Roman times has been known as Palestine.

[Moses brought the Israelites to the edge of Canaan and Joshua brought them in 3,500 years ago, while a recent theory mistakenly holds that the first incursion was] About 1100 B.C. [when] Israelite tribes entered the Land of Canaan at Jericho. They conquered a part of the Land of Canaan and established a kingdom in Judea about 1000 B.C. About 935 B.C. the kingdom was divided into the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. About 725 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel was conquered and many Israelites were taken to Babylonia. About 600 B.C. the Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians. The Israelite tribes were either exiled to Babylonia or were absorbed by the Canaanites. This means that Israelite rule over a part of Palestine lasted only about 400 years, during which time the majority of the population were Canaanite and mixed Canaanite-Israelite. Many of the Israelite kings of the two kingdoms followed Canaanite religions.

The Greeks conquered and ruled the Land of Canaan from 330 B.C. until 70 B.C. The Romans conquered and ruled the country from 63 B.C. until 614 A.D. Jesus Christ was born and Christianity spread in the country. Many Jews in Palestine became Christians. Many of the apostles were Jews.

{As a result of strife between Jews and Christians many Jews left Palestine for neighboring countries. [Ed. note - the Jews rebelled against God and His Christ and the Roman authorities for which God used His rod of vengeance, the Roman general Titus and his legions to destroy and disperse the Jews expelling them forevermore as a nation from the Holy Land.]} The Arabs conquered Palestine in 638 A.D. and exercised a profound influence on the country. The indigenous population of Palestine at that time adopted the Arabic language and many became Muslims. Arab rule over Palestine lasted from 638 to 1517 A.D., except for a brief period of Crusader rule. The Ottoman Turks ruled Palestine from 1517 until 1918, during which time the indigenous population of Palestine remained Arabic in language and culture.

Jerusalem under the Ottomans 1516-1917

The Palestinians of today, who call themselves Palestinian Arabs, are Muslims and Christians. They are the descendants of all the races and nations which have lived in and conquered Palestine from the times of the Canaanites to the British occupation of Palestine in 1918. They are the cohesion of all of those races. The Christians among them are descendants of the first Christians, who adopted Christianity at the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Muslims are those who were either Christians or pagans and who adopted Islam after the Arab conquest of Palestine in the 7th century A.D.

Modem scholars have proved that it was in Babylonia that Judaism became that which it was and still is, maintaining that not only the Jewish religion, but all the traditions of Judaism, were developed in Babylonia during the exile. Professor H. Graetz states that “the Babylonian rather than the Jerusalem Talmud became the fundamental possession of the Jewish race, its life’s breath, its very soul.”

In recent centuries, the center of Talmudic studies, and thus of Judaism, was in Eastern Europe among the descendants of the Khazars. The Khazars are a people of Turkish origin who lived in the kingdom of Khazaristan in the south of Russia. They were converted to Judaism in the 9th century A.D. Approximately [40 to] 90% of the Jews of today are of Khazar origin and have no ethnic or historical relationship with Palestine.

Therefore the Zionist historical claim to Palestine is unfounded and cannot be justified on historical, ethnic, legal or religious grounds. Chapter 39 of Nakhleh’s book contains thorough documentation of these facts based on historical, archaeological, ethnographic and scriptural sources which prove the falsity of the Zionist claims to Palestine and that Palestine has never been “the land of Israel.”



Bethlehem in the 1930s

In order to create an alleged justification for the crime of genocide they have committed against the Palestinian Arabs, the Zionists have tried to convince the world that Palestine was practically uninhabited, “A Land Without People for a People without a Land.” They created and propagated the myths that the Palestinian Arabs were nomads or seminomads without a culture and civilization, that the Palestinians had neither a national identity nor existence, that the Palestinians lacked an economic structure and roots in the land.

The continuity of the Palestinian roots in the land in fact goes back to antiquity. Absorbing or outlasting various conquerors, Palestinians tenaciously tended their ancestral farmlands, whether as freeholders or as tenants and mortgagees, and by the end of World War 11, mostly as unfettered freeholders again. In his study of the history of landholdings in Palestine, Abraham Granott, formerly Managing Director of the Jewish National Fund, admits:

When the kingdom of Byzantium was subjugated by the Arabs, practically the whole of the land belonged to the big proprietors, the Emperor, the municipal authorities, and religious bodies, as churches and so on, while the soil was cultivated by the former owners who had remained on their plots as tenants after the land had passed into the hands of large owners.(1)

Thus the Palestinian farmers expelled by the Zionists in 1948 were the lineal descendants of the most ancient owners of the land. The Palestinian Arabs are the indigenous population of Palestine, the descendants of the Philistines and of all the Semitic peoples who have lived in Palestine since the time of the Canaanites. Successive waves of newcomers, such as Philistines from Crete, Semites from Iraq, Romans, Greeks and Arabs came and intermarried with the native stock.

The historical record disproves the Zionist lie that Palestine was undeveloped before the establishment of Jewish settlements in Palestine, Muqqadisi, a native of Jerusalem who died in 986 A.D., enumerated the principal products of Palestine in the tenth century:

..among which agricultural produce was particularly copious and prized: fruit of every kind (olives, figs, grapes, quinces, plums, apples, dates, walnuts, almonds, jujubes and bananas), some of which were exported, and crops for processing (sugarcane, indigo and sumac). But the mineral resources were equally important: chalk earth, marble from Bayt Djibrin, and sulphur mined in the Jordan Valley, not to mention the salt and bitumen of the Dead Sea. Stone, which was common in the country, was the most generally used building material for towns of any importance.(2)

The following description also provides evidence from the late tenth century: “Palestine is watered by the rains and the dew. Its trees and its ploughed lands do not need artificial irrigation. Palestine is the most fertile of the Syrian province.”(3)

In 1615 the English traveler George Sandys described Palestine as “a land that flows with milk and honey; in the midst as it were of the habitable world, and under a temperate clime; adorned with beautiful mountains and luxurious valleys; the rocks producing excellent waters; and no part empty of delight or profit.”(4)

A British missionary who lived in Beirut and visited Palestine in 1859 described the southern coastal area as “a very ocean of wheat,” and the British Consul in Jerusalem, James Finn, reported that “the fields would do credit to British farming.”(5)

The German geographer Alexander Scholch concluded that between 1856 and 1882 “Palestine produced a relatively large agricultural surplus which was marketed in neighboring countries, such as Egypt and Lebanon, and increasingly exported to Europe. These exports included wheat, barley, dura, maise, sesame, olive oil, soap, oranges, vegetables and cotton. Among the European importers of Palestinian produce were France, England, Turkey, Greece, Italy and Malta.”(6)

Lawrence Oliphant, who visited Palestine in 1887, wrote that Palestine’s Valley of Esdraelon was “a huge green lake of waving wheat, with its village-crowned mounds rising from it like islands; and it presents one of the most striking pictures of luxuriant fertility which it is possible to conceive.”(7) This Palestinian wheat had historically played an important part in international commerce. According to Paul Masson, a French economic historian, “wheat shipments from the Palestinian port of Acre had helped to save southern France from famine on numerous occasions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.”(8)

Agricultural techniques in Palestine, especially in citriculture, were among the most advanced in the world long before the first Zionist settlers came to its shores. In 1856, the American consul in Jerusalem, Henry Gillman, “outlined reasons why orange growers in Florida would find it advantageous to adopt Palestinian techniques of grafting directly onto lemon trees.”^ In 1893, the British Consul advised his government of the value of importing “young trees procured from Jaffa” to improve production in Australia and South Africa.(10)

All of this historical evidence from unimpeachable eyewitnesses destroys Israel’s contention that it developed Palestine through its colonization. The legend that the Zionists have created, that they made “the desert bloom with roses,” is totally without foundation. It is a ploy to gain donations from naive Jews throughout the world and to help extort economic aid from the American Congress. The economic achievements of Israel today are built totally on the capital base of lands, property and possessions usurped from the Palestinian Arabs.

Palestinian family home in Jerusalem
Palestinian family home in Jerusalem

The Zionists tell tourists, mainly Americans, that they “liberated this land when it was but a desolate desert.” They point to the Arab orchards and citrus groves which they usurped and claim that Israeli “pioneers” planted them. They point to the twelve cities which were either entirely Arab or of mixed Jewish and Arab population, in which the Palestinian Arabs owned more than 75% of the houses and apartment buildings, as well as commercial and industrial buildings, and claim that they were built by Zionist enterprise. They changed the names of Arab towns and villages, settling Jews in Arab homes and on usurped Arab lands, and deny that Palestinian Arabs ever lived in these places.

Zionist myth-makers may persuade the innocent of their alleged achievements, but they themselves know the truth. In the words of Moshe Dayan:

We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is, a Jewish State here. Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal arose in the place of Mahalul; Gevat in the place of Jibta; Sarid in the place of Haneifa and Kefar Yehoshua in the place of Tell Shaman. There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.(11)

General (Reserve) Rehav’am Zeevi, who as a member of the Palmach and Haganah in 1948 took part in expelling the Palestinians, and who was Chief of Staff, southern command and central command, from 1955 to 1964, when he took part in theexpulsion of more Palestinians, addressed a symposium on the 2nd of March, 1988, of 150 Zionist leaders in the Zionist organization (Jewish Agency) House in Jerusalem. He was propagating the idea of the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Joshua Brilliant, correspondent of theJerusalem Post, who attended the meeting, stated the following:

Zeevi argued that “transfer” would be humane because the Palestinians would no longer be in the battle zone between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the Arab armies. Seeking legitimacy for his views in Israeli history, he said that more than 400 Arab localities which were still in existence in the late ’40′s had been replaced by Jewish settlements, including some affiliated with Mapam’s Hashomer Hatzair. Moreover, Levi Eshkol, the prime minister during the Six Day War, had set up an intelligence unit to deal with the question of expulsions. However, he was vague as to how the expulsions should take place. When pressed by a former intelligence chief, Aluf (res.) Shlomo Gazit, he advocated making Israel unattractive for Arabs. If they face unemployment, and a shortage of land and water, then “in a legitimate way, and in accordance with the Geneva Convention, we can create the necessary conditions for separation.”(12)

These Arab towns and villages were not merely place names on a map. They were developed communities containing farms, factories, stores and schools, with an infrastructure of doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, merchants, mechanics, industrialists, workers and farmers which would be the envy of any developing country today. Yet the Zionists not only deny the developed state of the Palestine which they usurped or destroyed, but even deny the identity and existence of the Palestinians. They claim that the “British created the Palestinian identity .” This is easily belied by such evidence as the existence of a modem Arabic-language newspaper named Filastin, which addressed its readers as Palestinians in 1911, six years before the Balfour Declaration and well before the commencement of the British Mandate.(13)

But truth has never been important to the Zionists. What they destroyed or usurped has to be presented as nonexistent. Thus in 1969 Golda Myerson (alias Meir), a Russian-born U.S. citizen and Israeli Prime Minister, had the audacity to ask at a press conference in the United States, “Who are the Palestinians?”

The Palestinian Arabs are Christians and Muslims of great Arab cultural tradition and civilization, who had a well developed and prosperous economy before its destruction in 1948. Before 1948 they resided in twelve cities or major towns and 830 small towns and villages. Arab homes in the cities were either luxurious stone villas with beautiful gardens, or apartments with two to five bedrooms. These residences were well-furnished with modem furniture and household goods. No Arab home of the middle and upper classes contained less than eight valuable Persian carpets. All of these homes and their furnishing were usurped by Israel.

Even today, reduced to a refugee nation, the Palestinian Arabs have a high level of educational achievement. Palestinians hold many professional positions as doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers, and operate successful commercial enterprises not only in the Arab world, but in the United States, Latin America, Western Europe and the British Commonwealth as well.

The growth rate of the Jewish economy in Palestine was artificial. In Mandate days, as in Israel today, it was totally dependent on outside subsidies to cover perpetual operating losses.

Contrary to the Zionist-created mythology, statistically and historically:

1. A prosperous, dynamically growing Palestinian Arab economy was destroyed by the Zionists, reducing the Palestinians to the status of a refugee nation.

2. Most of the Palestinian Arabs’ lands, homes and possessions were usurped by the Zionists, and their owners were expelled.

3. These lands, homes and possessions rightfully and legally belong to the Palestinian Arabs and provide the underlying capital base of everything of value in Israel today.

The political advancement of the Palestinian Arabs

The Zionists’ claim that the Palestinian Arabs were without preparation for self-government is belied by the historical record.

The indigenous Palestine Arab population was recognized by Paragraph 4 of Article XXII of the League of Nations Covenant as “a provisionally independent nation.” Palestine was placed under a Class A mandate, the very status of which indicated that the indigenous population was well advanced toward self-determination. It was solely the Zionist desire to bring about a Jewish majority in Palestine through immigration, opposed by the Palestinian Arabs almost unanimously, that obstructed imminent Palestinian independence.

The Palestinian Arabs were recognized by the mandatory power as the majority of the inhabitants of Palestine to be fit for independence by the White Paper of May, 1939. It stated that the object of his Majesty’s Government is the “establishment of an independent Palestine state which should be one in which Arabs and Jews share in government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded.”

Comparison between Arab and Jewish economies in Palestine
Economically, the Palestinian Arabs had been developing at an extraordinary rate made possible by the high profitability accompanying their productivity. The Jewish settlements in Palestine were unable to compete in profitability with the Palestinian Arabs. The Jewish social and economic stmcture was dependent upon outside subsidies both for capital expenditures and for operating expenses.

Contrary to the myths created by the Zionists, the Jewish settlements in Palestine were never self-supporting. The only profitable sector was comprised of those private Jewish citrus growers who engaged Arab labor, and British Colonial Office records show that these farmers were often the victims of murder, arson and extortion perpetrated by Zionist terrorists because of their employment of Arab labor.

The Jewish National Fund (Keren Hayesod Ltd.) is illustrative of the unprofitability of the Jewish settlements in Palestine. At least 63% of the donations received by the Keren Hayesod Ltd. between its founding in 1921 and 1945 was utilized to subsidize annual operating expenses. “The bulk of these donations derived from the United States of America, which provided 60-65% of the total.”(54)

In contrast, the Palestinian Arab economy received no outside assistance, yet had extraordinary real growth based upon high profitability and reinvestment.

This is amply illustrated by the Palestinian Arab development of the Negev. By 1935 Palestinians were farming 2, 109,234 dunums in the Negev, while Jewish landholdings in the Negev in 1946 did not exceed 21,000 dunums.(55)

The desert did not bloom because of financial contributions to the Zionists by naive American Jews, but because of the industriousness and profitability of the Palestinian Arab economy.

Of all the Mandates of the League of Nations, the Palestinian Arabs were the most developed on a per capita basis. An advanced nation was destroyed by the Zionists, replacing a socially developed nation which was economically viable with an artificial colonial entity which is an economic disaster dependent upon outside assistance to survive.

The Palestine Arab Labor movement and trade unions

The Palestinian Arab labor movement was very advanced compared with other countries in the Middle East. It differed fundamentally from the Jewish labor movement in Palestine as follows:

1. The Palestinian Arab labor movement was primarily concerned with wages, working conditions and the health and well-being of its members, whereas the Jewish labor movement was largely motivated by political Zionist and Socialist ideology;

2. The Palestinian Arab labor movement endeavoured to reach equitable agreements with Arab employers, whereas the Jewish labor movement in Palestine endeavoured to replace private employers with businesses owned by the labor movement itself;

3. The Palestinian Arab labor movement was modeled on the American trade union concept of recognizing that the health and growth of the businesses where they were employed was important, whereas the Zionist labor movement was organized on the Marxist principle of eliminating employers in due course;

4. The Palestinian Arab labor movement was nationalist, but not racist, whereas the Jewish labor movement was, through the Zionist ideology, racist and colonialist in purpose and activity.

The Palestine Arab labor movement was a growing pool of skilled labor, whereas the Jewish labor movement stifled the growth of the economy by reducing even their labor owned enterprises to near bankruptcy, requiring subsidies from abroad to cover enormous annual deficits.

The Zionists destroyed the independent Palestinian Arab trade union movement.



Sassanid Persia and Byzantine Palestine - the Limes of Rome and the enduring conflict. East and West constantly try to divide God's Holy Land throughout history, even going so far as to try to give it to the claimants calling themselves Jews in spite of the fact that God expelled the Jews 2,000 years ago forever from Palestine.

Palestine Cry: God voided the covenant of the "Jews"

Constantine V - All Empires

Roman Emperors - DIR Constantine V Copronymus

Julian the Apostate - Christianity and Paganism in the 4th Century - all Empires

Sassanids vs Byzantines - All Empires

Cyrus the Great - All Empires

The Achaemenid Empire: Government and Institutions

Constantine V - All Empires

Constantine V - All Empires

Constantine V

By Constantine XI, 25 May 2007; Revised
Category: Byzantium
Contents »

Early Reign

Constantine V (b. 718 – d. 14 September, 775) was the first son of Emperor Leo III. Constantine V is often allotted the nickname Kopronymos, a derogatory term employed by later historians whose theological leanings on the issue of Iconoclasm have resulted in its use.

Constantine was born shortly after his father, Leo, had made himself Emperor of Byzantium and had decisively beaten the invading Arabs in the crucial Siege of Constantinople 717-718. Leo was the first of a new dynasty, known as the Isaurians, who restored the Empire to viability and stability after a century of decline, territorial contraction and chaos. Leo’s reign saw the consolidation of Byzantium’s provinces (known as themes) into units better suited to increasing agricultural yield and supporting an effective defence system. Leo’s reign also saw the introduction of Iconoclasm, a theological movement, which sought to denounce the awe in which holy relics, ikons, religious art and religious symbols were held. A return to abstract worship was sought by the Isaurian dynasty, which had substantial backing from the military in Anatolia.

After being elevated to the throne as co-Emperor in 720 at age 2, Constantine was married in adolescence in 732 to the Khazar princes Tzitzak, who was rechristened Irene. Constantine’s exposure and taste for military activity became evident early in life. He was present at the decisive battle of Akroinon in 740, where Leo III decisively ensured the security of Western Anatolia against Arab attacks. When Leo died, Constantine soon after organised an attack against the Arab Umayyad Caliphate to capitalize on the recent success of the Byzantine armies – with himself in command.

The Revolt of Artabasdus

Constantine’s plans were soon to be interrupted by the revolt of his brother-in-law, Artabasdus. Artabasdus was a seasoned and experienced strategos (general), whose grip on the Armeniac theme in the east of Anatolia served as a formidable powerbase. Married to Constantine’s elder sister, with the support of the Patriarch and in command of considerable military forces, the experienced general may have been expected to prevail over the young Emperor. Constantine was initially attacked by the forces of Artabasdus in Anatolia as he marched east against the Caliphate. Forced to flee, Constantine found refuge in the central and western Anatolian themes of Anatolikon and Thracesion.

The young Emperor soon proved his capacity for military genius which would be repeated over the course of his lifetime. On three separate occasions, Constantine defeated the forces of Artabasdus, retook Constantinople, and, ultimately, quashed the revolt in little more than a year.

The revolt produced a number of results which would affect the remainder of Constantine’s reign. Constantine’s success brought about the strengthening of his own personal autocracy. His victories, personally won, brought him the respect and continued support of his soldiers. Constantine pursued Iconoclastic policy with far greater zeal than his father, possibly a response to the Iconodule (icon loving) policy of Artabasdus. Constantine also humiliated Patriarch Anastasios publicly (subjecting him to jeers and insults of the populace in the hippodrome as he rode backwards on a donkey) for switching sides, an act, no doubt, designed to strengthen his own autocracy and leave the church in no doubt of where real mastery in the Byzantine world lay.


Iconoclasm means literally “smashing of icons”, a description of Constantine V’s reign cannot proceed without explaining it. The Iconoclastic movement was introduced by Leo III in 726 and sought to destroy idolatrous behaviour in the Empire. The awe in which many held holy pictures, mosaics, statues and symbols became a concern to the Isaurian dynasty as a deviation from the worship of God as something whose form could not be represented. Leo III had contented himself with symbolic displays of icon banishment and removal. Constantine’s policy was far more intolerant. The most vocal proponents of icon worship were persecuted, some were even killed. Constantine convened an ecumenical council in 754, not attended by any of the five Christian Patriarchs, to confirm imperial policy regarding the worship of icons.

There can be little doubt that the Emperors Leo and Constantine, both, had devout personal beliefs in the theological righteousness of their Iconoclastic beliefs. Yet, more pragmatic reasons may explain the execution of this imperial policy. The monastic class of the Empire had grown to be one of the most extensive in history, some sources putting the monastic population at 100,000. Such persons took up land, required food, were not required to serve in the military, were not liable for taxation and, typically, did not reproduce. To a Byzantine Empire stricken with military emergency, underpopulated due to raids and bubonic plague and in a difficult financial state due to piracy and lack of cultivators, such a vast liability was a luxury which could be ill afforded. Constantine’s policy of Iconoclasm persecuted those who defended icon worship, which included the monastic order. Some authors have argued that attacks on the monastic order had in mind the pragmatic aim of returning to productive citizenship thousands of much needed soldiers, workers and farmers. Quite telling is the incident in which the governor of Thracesion theme paired up monks and nuns, ordering them to marry and return to secular life or face deportation. This move was much lauded by Constantine, indicating the Emperor approved of such pragmatic actions as would restore to health the precarious position of the Byzantine state.

Military Activities

The issue of Iconoclasm plays a dominating role in the historiography of Constantine V to the extent that the Emperor’s notable military competencies received less than due credit. Constantine inherited an Italy which had been slipping away with the advance of the Lombards, this trend accelerated by the implementation of Iconoclasm, which was unpopular in the Empire’s European provinces. In the Balkans, the Slavs had already overrun virtually the whole of modern Greece, while the Bulgars on the lower Danube consolidated and grew. In the east, the Arabs continued to be formidable and powerful, raiding Anatolia at times and causing massive disruption to shipping through piracy. To complicate matters further, the bubonic plague hit in 745-747 and destroyed perhaps a third of the Empire’s population. Even after having overcome the revolt of Artabasdus, the position of the young emperor was hardly envious.

Constantine’s aborted advance against the Umayyad Caliphate is proof of the man’s natural tendencies to decisive military action. Having, once again, secured his throne, Constantine, again, set out east to capitalise on the progress made during his father’s reign. For the first time since the Arab invasions, the Byzantine Empire made permanent expansions to the east. Constantine captured a number of key fortresses in upper Mesopotamia and consolidated the Byzantine position in general. Greatly aiding this was the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate and its replacement by the Abbasid Caliphate.

In the far West the Exarchate of Ravenna fell to the Lombards, as did Rome. Constantine prioritised the Byzantine possessions in Anatolia and the Balkans over that of Italy, a key step in transforming Byzantine into a more oriental power and cutting it off from developments in the West.

Constantine turned his attention against the Bulgars in 756, fighting nearly a dozen campaigns in which he, personally, directed all except one. Constantine’s frightful effectiveness as a general can be seen in the catastrophic defeats inflicted on the Bulgars at such a battle as Anchialus, where Constantine V’s pincer movement destroyed the Bulgar army. Leadership of the Bulgars changed hands six times during Constantine’s offensives as the Bulgars deposed one unsuccessful answer to Byzantine might after another. Although Constantine made a tactical error in mistakenly revealing to the Bulgars the identities of Byzantine subversive agents in Bulgarian territory, his campaigns gave the Byzantines a decisive opportunity to further expand their power in the Balkans. That this did not occur owes more to the incapabilities of Constantine’s successors than any flaw in his conduct of military affairs.

Imperial Renewal and Later Reign

Constantine’s military record left the Empire with solid security in the parts of it which were most crucial for its economic and military revival: the Balkans and Anatolia. The stability and careful management of Constantine’s reign allowed a renewal in areas which mattered most to Byzantium’s survival: administration and agriculture. After the revolt of Artabasdus, Constantine broke the Opsikion theme into smaller units. This was the first subdivision of themes. It allowed the governors (strategoi) of the themes to be better controlled, because each strategos controlled a smaller area and their chances of rebelling were smaller. Subdivision of themes may also have enabled greater micro management of provincial affairs, though this is speculation.

The amount of arable land brought into cultivation also considerably increased. Constantine settled hundreds of thousands of Slavs in Anatolia, as well as many Syrians and Aramaeans in Thrace, on small land holdings which would increase agricultural yield and allow a greater number of soldiers to be equipped.

Constantine was also responsible for a little noticed but very important accomplishment in the field of military organisation: the creation of the tagmata. Ordinary Byzantine troops, known as themata, were farmers in the themes called up to military service during emergencies. Although economically very easily supported and very useful in defensive operations against raiders and invaders, these troops lacked the professional panache needed for a high performing field army. The tagmata were professional imperial troops who, at this point, held land in the old Opsikion theme, received extensive drill, were equipped in a manner superior to the themata, and a sizable portion were composed of heavy shock cavalry. The creation of the tagmata in Byzantium would serve in a role very similar to that of the medieval knight in Western Europe, a core of professional soldiers whose presence would keep discipline among semi-professional troops and who could act as a decisive shock force to be employed at crucial parts of battle to bring about victory.

As a result of Constantine’s domestic policy, the military was placed on a still firmer footing. The Empire was able to begin recovery after the bubonic plague of 745-747, and agricultural yield was geared to undergo enormous increases. Some estimates put Byzantine agricultural production at double or triple what it was at the end of the eighth century, compared to the beginning.

Constantine V and History

It is to Constantine’s eternal misfortune that, in the dispute over Iconoclasm, the icon supporting faction in Byzantium ultimately won in the middle of the ninth century. For his harsh treatment of the Iconodule faction, the somewhat scarce sources on Constantine V are unforgiving.

Yet, in examining Constantine as a human being and an Emperor, it is worth noting his reign resulted in a great consolidation of the power of the Empire. Militarily and economically, the Byzantine state had never been so viable. His military accomplishments rank amongst the finest in the Empire’s history, and there is little reason to think that Byzantium would have been propelled to magnificent heights had the Empire not been passed down to Constantine in such a feeble and embattled state. Constantine’s reign set the stage for a revival of the Byzantine Empire as a military and economic superpower. That this revival was delayed half a century and had to wait until the middle of the ninth century should be ascribed to the failures and inertia of the reigns of the last three Isaurian rulers.

As an individual, Constantine V was a patron of non-religious art and was personally an accomplished harpist. The Iconodules also note his love of sexual favourites of both genders, though the Emperor did marry three times and produced six sons and a daughter. Attempts to portray this Iconoclast as a culturally deficient puritan would be incorrect. Instead, at a period where war and plague had reduced Constantinople to a population as low as perhaps 30,000, the scant literary and cultural activity of the times was symptomatic of scarce resources and an overwhelmingly agrarian way of life.

A summary of Constantine must conclude the man to be an outstanding military leader, a thorough autocrat, a prudent economist and single minded in theological matters. Constantine provided the Empire with a healthy string of potential successors, a critical responsibility in Byzantine monarchy. Constantine V died on 14th September, 775, on his way to launch yet another campaign against the Bulgars. Succession passed smoothly to his son, Leo IV. Constantine, making the best of a situation in which resources were scarce, was a key leader in the rebirth of Byzantium as a viable state.


  1. Jenkins, R (1966), Byzantium the Imperial Centuries, AD 610-1071, The Garden City Press, Hertfordshire
  2. Norwich, J.J. (1998), A short history of Byzantium, Penguin Books, London
  3. Ostrogorsky G., History of the Byzantine State. trans. from the German by Joan Hussey. New Brusnwick: Rutgers University Press, 1969.
  4. Vasiliev, A.A., (1964), History of the Byzantine Empire 324-1453, Vol. 1, The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison

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Roman Emperors - DIR Constantine V Copronymus

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Constantine V Copronymus (A.D. 741-775)

Shaun Tougher

Cardiff University


Constantine V is one of the most notorious Byzantine emperors, but also one of the most intriguing. His notoriety stems from the fact that he was an Iconoclast and thus received hostile treatment in Iconophile sources composed after his death, such as the Chronicle of Theophanes, the Life of Stephen the Younger, and the Antirrhetici of the patriarch Nikephoros. From texts such as these he emerges as an archetypal wicked tyrant, branded with derogatory nicknames, and renowned especially for his brutal treatment of monks. Despite these biased sources it is clear that there was far more to Constantine: he reigned for a long period of time, achieved notable successes against the Arabs and the Bulgars, and could be thought to have presided over a Golden Age. Ironically Nikephoros's own Brief History conveys this more positive take on the emperor, even recording the view that Constantine was a 'new Midas'.[[1]] Undoubtedly the emperor is someone we would like to know much more about, but we are constrained by the limited and problematic evidence. The conflicting impressions of the emperor can leave us with a complex image of the man: he can be seen as 'highly strung' but also as an individual endowed with 'personal magnetism'.[[2]]
Early life
From his birth Constantine V was accustomed to imperial privilege. He was born in 718 to the emperor Leo III (717-741) and his wife Maria, and christened on Christmas Day of the same year in Hagia Sophia. On this occasion Constantine reputedly defecated in the font, which was taken as a sign of his future evil by the patriarch Germanus.[[3]]Whether Constantine did befoul the font is a moot point. It is possible that he did and that Germanus' prophecy was added with hindsight, or the whole story may be invention.[[4]] What seems more sure is that Leo III used the occasion of the baptism to enhance the position of the dynasty; Theophanes records also that Maria was crowned Augusta, Constantine was attached to elite sponsors and that largesse was distributed as mother and baby returned to the palace. Within a couple of years Leo further consolidated the position of his son, crowning him emperor on Easter Day 720.[[5]]We do not hear of Constantine again for over ten years, the occasion being his betrothal in 732 to the Khazar Chagan's daughter, who became a Christian and was renamed Irene (in 750 she provided Constantine with his son and heir Leo IV, who was thus half-Khazar). Beyond this political marriage Leo raised Constantine's profile in other ways: he involved him in his military campaigns (Constantine was present at the battle of Akroinos in 740: Theophanes AM 6231) and in his legal work (Constantine features in the title of the Ecloga, which has been dated to 741: Burgmann 1983). It is also likely that Constantine's equestrian passion developed in his youth.
Accession and Civil War
When Leo III died on 18 June 741 it was clear that Constantine was his intended heir. Despite this he was soon fighting for his right to rule as his brother-in-law Artabasdus, the commander of the Opsikion theme, seized power. Theophanes presents Artabasdus as the innocent party, and plays up the factor of icons, but both aspects of his account can be questioned. It seems more likely that this was a deliberate coup launched by a strong candidate (as Nikephoros 64 relates); Artabasdus had a distinguished career, military backing, and imperial credentials through his wife Anna (the daughter of Leo III and the sister of Constantine V), by whom he already had two sons, Niketas and Nikephoros. Artabasdus' usurpation (which lasted for over two years) was strengthened by his grip on Constantinople and his recognition by the patriarch Anastasios; Constantine had to seek refuge in Amorion, though he secured the support of the Anatolikon and Thrakesion armies, the latter being commanded by Sisinnios, his cousin (Theophanes AM 6235). In a series of campaigns Constantine came off better, and eventually reoccupied Constantinople in 743 after besieging the city.Artabasdus and his sons were blinded, but the patriarch Anastasios was allowed to retain his position after being humiliated. (Constantine had a tendency to keep compromised patriarchs in office, perhaps as a means of controlling them more easily.) The blinding of Constantine's ally Sisinnios seems to have been punishment for plotting against the emperor.[[6]]
The East
With his power firmly established, Constantine was able to refocus on the Arabs, whom he had been intending to engage with prior to the outbreak of civil war. In 746 he invaded Syria and captured the city of Germanikeia. In 747 a Byzantine fleet defeated an Arab one off Cyprus. In 752 Constantine ventured into Armenia and Mesopotamia, occupying Theodosioupolis and Melitene. It seems that Constantine's successes were assisted by the distractions faced by the Arabs themselves, such as the establishment of the Abbasid caliphate, which seems to have led to a truce with Byzantium.[[7]]
The more settled conditions on the eastern frontier are often proposed as a reason for why Constantine turned his attention to the issue of icons in the 750s; he simply had the opportunity now. It has also been suggested however that the recent plague (746-747) gave Constantine pause for thought and encouraged him to reinforce his father's policy of Iconoclasm.[[8]] Perhaps other factors could be the loss of Ravenna to the Lombards in 751 (a blot on Constantine's copy-book, and certainly a more current concern than the plague), and increased dynastic confidence with the birth of his son Leo in 750 and his coronation the following year. Whatever the motivations there is no doubt about Constantine's personal commitment to Iconoclasm. Around 752 the emperor began to espouse the cause in audiences in Constantinople, and also produced his own tracts on the subject, the Peuseis ('Inquiries'), of which some fragments survive.[[9]] But it is his summoning of a council in 754 and its development of the argument against icons to encompass Christology for which Constantine is most famous. The council is known as the Council of Hiereia (due to the location at which it largely sat from 10 February until 8 August), but as the 'Headless Synod' by those who opposed it, as it was not presided over by a patriarch of Constantinople (the see being vacant due to the death of Anastasios; his replacement Constantine was announced by the emperor in the final session of the council) and was not attended by any other patriarchs either. Despite this the 338 bishops who attended supported its Horos ('Definition'), which survives due to its preservation by the Iconophile Council of Nicaea of 787. The Council declared that it was impossible to depict Christ in art as to do so was heretical. It also went on to argue that images of the saints and the Theotokos were unnecessary. This concern with the cult of the saints preoccupied Constantine for the rest of his reign. It seems he went on to renounce relics of saints, but stories that he rejected Mary's title as Theotokos should be doubted though he was troubled by her cult.[[10]]
The Bulgars
Whilst for the first half of his reign Constantine was preoccupied with the Arabs and the eastern frontier, for the second half he had to concentrate mostly on the Bulgars and the northern frontier. Ironically it seems that it was Constantine's concern for the condition of Thrace that sparked trouble; his building of towns and transfer of population from Theodosioupolis and Melitene resulted in a tax demand from the Bulgarians, and his refusal to pay it led to conflict.[[11]] This was followed by a series of campaigns (often on land and sea) (Ostrogorsky (1968) 168 estimates that there were at least nine campaigns in Bulgarian territory) punctuated by peace, spanning the remainder of his reign and the rule of diverse Bulgarian leaders (including Teletz and Telerig). Theophanes is more negative about Constantine's record than Nikephoros, but it is still clear that the emperor scored major victories at Anchialos in 763 and Lithosoria in 774. It is true however that the situation was still ongoing at the time of Constantine's death.
The Monks
The 760s also witnessed one of the most debated aspects of the reign of Constantine V, his persecution of monks. The most famous victim was Stephen the Younger (a monk from Mt. Auxentios, tortured to death in Constantinople in 765), though it seems he was not the first or the last. For some the emperor's hostility to monks is an expression of his Iconoclastic policy; Brown has famously remarked 'Iconomachy in action is monachomachy'.[[12]] However others have not been so quick to swallow this simple equation, pointing to the complications provided by the evidence. Certainly not all monks were Iconophiles, so some suggest that Constantine was opposed to monasticism per se.[[13]] But this seems inadequate too, as not all monks were persecuted by Constantine, as the case of St Anthousa shows.[[14]] Auzépy thus suggests that some monks were approved of by the emperor whilst others were not, and identifies the distinguishing feature as the attitude of the individual to the empire.[[15]] Whittow however favours a more direct political motivation, pointing to the context of the major plot against Constantine that was exposed in 766, in which the patriarch himself was implicated.[[16]] This however seems to overlook the reports of other attacks on monks, such as those carried out by Michael Lachanodrakon the strategos of the Thrakesian theme.[[17]] One theory that Gero quickly rejected was the idea that Constantine was prompted by a concern about population size.[[18]] Perhaps this is worth considering again. The sources certainly stress the danger that monasticism could pose in attracting people away from the secular world (Theophanes AM 6257), and the punishment meted out to monks can emphasise the taking of partners.[[19]] Further, throughout his reign Constantine did take measures to strengthen the population as Nikephoros and Theophanes make clear; he transferred Syrians to Byzantium after his seizure of Germanikeia, he repopulated Constantinople with families from Greece and the islands following the plague, he transferred Syrians and Armenians to Thrace, he settled Slavs within the empire, and he repaired the aqueduct of Valens which had been broken since 626. It seems likely however that the debate about Constantine's treatment of monks will continue.
Dynasty and Death
Like his father Constantine was also mindful of the future of the dynasty. Towards the end of 769 he provided his son Leo with a wife, Irene, who hailed from Greece. By 771 she had provided her husband with a son, Constantine, whose grandfather and namesake was no doubt pleased that the next generation of the dynasty had already arrived before his death. However Constantine himself had not been content with a single branch of the family tree (or with sexual relationships with women: Theophanes AM 6259 mentions his attraction to Strategios, whilst the Life of Stephen the Younger hints at his homosexuality: Auzépy (1997) 232 n. 249 and 265 n. 413). When Irene the Khazar died he took another wife, Maria. When she also died, he took the step of marrying Eudokia, who seems to have been very fertile. With Constantine she had five sons (from eldest to youngest: Christopher, Nikephoros, Niketas, Anthimus, Eudocimus) but also at least one daughter, Anthousa, who was a twin of one of the brothers.[[20]] ThusLeo IV had a string of half-siblings, and they were not going to be consigned to the background. During Easter 769 Eudokia was crowned Augusta, Christopher and Nikephoros were made Caesars, and Niketas nobilissimus. It seems that Anthimus was also made nobilissimus before 775.[[21]]Thus by the time of his death from a fever on 14 September 775 whilst on campaign against Bulgaria Constantine had ensured that the imperial house was well-stocked.
The mixed reputation of Constantine V is well demonstrated by episodes subsequent to his death. He remained popular with some, such as the forces of the tagmata (which he had created) who broke up the Iconophile Council of 786, and those who in 813 broke into the imperial mausoleum at Holy Apostles and threw themselves before his tomb and beseeched him to return and save the empire from the Bulgarians. However with the outbreak of Second Iconoclasm his memory was intensely reviled, and after the restoration of icons in 843 Michael III broke up Constantine's sarcophagus and consigned his remains to fire.[[22]]


Nikephoros, Short History, ed. & tr. C. Mango, Washington DC: CFHB, 1990.
Theophanes, Chronicle, ed. C de Boor, Leipzig: CSHB, 1883-1885; English translation by C. Mango & R. Scott, with the assistance of G. Greatrex,The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.
Auzépy, M.-F. (1997), La Vie d'Étienne le Jeune par Étienne le Diacre, Aldershot: Variorum.
Brown, P. (1973), 'A Dark Age Crisis: Aspects of the Iconoclastic Controversy', English Historical Review, 88: 1-34.
Brubaker, L. and Haldon, J. (2001), Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era (ca 680-850): The Sources, Aldershot: Ashgate.
Burgmann, L. (1983), Ecloga. Das Gesetzbuch Leons III. und Konstantinos' V, Frankfurt am Main: Löwenklau-Gesellschaft.
Gero, S. (1977), Byzantine Iconoclasm during the Reign of Constantine V, Louvain: Corpus SCO.
Grierson, P. (1962), 'The Tombs and Obits of the Byzantine Emperors (337-1042)', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 16: 3-63.
Huxley, G. (1977), 'On the Vita of St Stephen the Younger', Greek Roman and Byzantine Studies, 18: 97-108.
Jenkins, R. (1966), Byzantium: The Imperial Centuries AD 610-1071,London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
Mango, C. (1982), 'St. Anthusa of Mantineon and the Family of Constantine V', Analecta Bollandiana, 100: 401-409.
Mango, C. and Ševèenko, I. (1972), 'Three Inscriptions of the Reigns of Anastasius I and Constantine V', Byzantinische Zeitschrift,65: 379-393.
Ostrogorsky, G. (1968), History of the Byzantine State, trans. J.M. Hussey, 2nd edn, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Treadgold, W. (1997), A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Turner, D. (1990), 'The Politics of Despair: The Plague of 746-747 and Iconoclasm in the Byzantine Empire', The Annual of the British School at Athens, 85: 419-434.
Whittow, M. (1996), The Making of Orthodox Byzantium, 600-1025, Basingstoke and London: Macmillan Press Ltd.
Zuckerman, C. (1988), 'The Reign of Constantine V in the Miracles of St. Theodore the Recruit (BHG 1764)', Revue des Études byzantines, 46: 191-210.

[[1]] Nikephoros 85.
[[2]] Jenkins (1966) 69 and 89.
[[3]] Theophanes AM 6211.
[[4]] Gero (1977) 173.
[[5]] Theophanes AM 6212.
[[6]] Nikephoros 66.
[[7]]Whittow (1996) 160; Treadgold (1997) 362.
[[8]] Turner (1990).
[[9]] Gero (1977) 37-52.
[[10]] Gero (1977) Chapters VI and VII.
[[11]] Nikephoros 73.
[[12]] Brown (1973) 30.
[[13]] Gero (1977) 141-142.
[[14]] Mango (1982).
[[15]] Auzépy (1997) 36-39.
[[16]] Whittow (1996) 147-148.
[[17]] Theophanes AM 6262 and 6263.
[[18]] Gero (1977) 142.
[[19]] Theophanes AM 6257 and 6262; Nikephoros 80.
[[20]] Mango (1982); Mango and Ševèenko (1972).
[[21]] Mango and Ševèenko (1972), 391.
[[ 22]] Grierson (1962) 53-54.
Copyright (C) 2004, Shaun Tougher. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.
Comments to: Shaun TougherUpdated:28 July 2004

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