title =Emperor of the
reign =695 – 698
date of death =705|
Leontios or Leontius ( _el. Λεόντιος, _la. LEONTIVS), (d. 705), was
Byzantine emperorfrom 695 to 698. His actual and official name was Leo (Λέων, "Leōn"), but he is known by the name used for him in Byzantine chronicles.
Leontios (αλλιώς Πρισμένος) was born in
Isauria.cite web| title=Leontius (695-98 A.D.)| publisher=De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and Their Families| month=May| year=1999| url=http://www.roman-emperors.org/leonti2.htm| accessdate=2007-10-12] A professional soldier from an early age, he rose swiftly through the ranks and was appointed strategos(military governor) of the Anatolic theme during the reign of Emperor Constantine IV.
In 686 Leontios was chosen by
Justinian IIto lead the Byzantine army against the Arabsin Georgia and Armenia. Ruthless even by the standards of the day, Leontios carried the war further into Azerbaijanand Albania. His successes eventually forced the negotiation of a treaty between Byzantium and the Arabic Caliph Abd al-Malikwith substantial Arabic concessions and tributes to the Byzantine Emperor.
Leontios was less successful when war against the Arabs was renewed in 692. Leading a substantial Byzantine army, he was defeated at the Battle of Sebastopolis when a large Slavic contingent deserted and left his remaining forces exposed.cite book| title=The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium| first=Cyril| last=Mango| year=2002| publisher=Oxford University Press| url=http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/Ancient/General/~~/dmlldz11c2EmY2k9OTc4MDE5ODE0MDk4Ng=| isbn=9780198140986] Furious at the loss of the army, the Emperor Justinian imprisoned Leontius for two years.
The Emperor freed Leontios in 695 and appointed him stategos of the
Helladictheme with specific responsibility for recovering land lost to the Arabs. Instead he organized a revolt against the emperor, led largely by his former prison comrades. With the help of the Blue charioteers faction, the Patriarch Kallinikos, and his own military prowess, Leontios soon deposed Justinian and seized the throne himself. Justinian's nose and tongue were slit and he was exiled to Chersonin the Crimea.cite book| title=A Short History of Byzantium| first=John Julius| last=Norwich| year=1998| publisher=Penguin Books| url=http://books.google.com.au/books?id=3IVZAAAACAAJ&dq=A+short+history+of+Byzantium| isbn=9780140259605]
During his unpopular reign, Leontios (formally "Leo") refrained from most military operations, attempting to consolidate the empire. This inactivity and defensive posture led to Abd al-Malik dispatching an expedition to take
Carthagewhich fell in 697. Leontios had sent a fleet to retake the city but failed at the Battle of Carthage (698).
Rather than return to report their failure the Byzantine army rebelled, overthrowing their admiral and naming a German sailor named Tiberius Apsimarus as their leader. Tiberius Apsimarus hastily changed his name to
Tiberios IIIand the fleet returned to Constantinoplewhere with the support of the Green charioteers faction, they overthrew Leontius in 698.
Imprisonment and death
In what had by now become a tradition for deposed emperors, Leontios had his nose and tongue slit and was imprisoned in the monastery of Psamathion in Constantinople. When the previous Emperor Justinian returned to the throne in 705, both Tiberios and Leontios were paraded through the streets while the citizenry pelted them with ordure. They were then led to the Hippodrome where they were sentenced to death and executed.
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