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Tiberius (son of Justinian II)

Tiberius (Greek: Τιβέριος, Tiberios; 705–711 AD) was the son of Emperor Justinian II and Theodora of Khazaria. He served as Co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire with his father Justinian II, from 706–711 AD. He was killed in 711 AD, when Bardanes led a rebellion, which marched on Constantinople, killing Justinian as well as Tiberius. After his death, two different individuals impersonated him, with one, named Bashir, going on to be hosted by Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Caliph, before his lie was discovered and he was crucified.

Co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire with Justinian II
A picture of a gold coin, bearing an image of Tiberius IV and his father Justinian II on its reverse side.
Solidus with Tiberius IV and his father Justinian II on its reverse side.
Co-emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign 706–711 AD (alongside Justinian II)
Coronation 706 AD
Predecessor Justinian II
Successor Philippikos Bardanes
Born 705 AD
Died 711 AD
St. Mary's Church in Blachernae, Constantinople
Regnal name
Tiberius Augustus
Dynasty Heraclian Dynasty
Father Justinian II
Mother Theodora of Khazaria
Heraclian dynasty
Heraclius 610–641
with Constantine III as co-emperor, 613–641
Constantine III 641
with Heraklonas as co-emperor
Heraklonas 641
Constans II 641–668
with Constantine IV (654–668), Heraclius and Tiberius (659–668) as co-emperors
Constantine IV 668–685
with Heraclius and Tiberius (668–681), and Justinian II (681–685) as co-emperors
Justinian II 685–695, 705–711
with Tiberius as co-emperor, 706–711
Preceded by
Justinian dynasty and Phocas
Followed by
Twenty Years' Anarchy



In 705 AD, Justinian II, who had previously been emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 685–695, but had been usurped by Leontios, used a vast army of Khazars, Bulgars, and Slavs to retake the throne from Tiberios III, who had in term overthrown Leontios.[1] While Justinian lead troops into the Byzantine Empire, he left his wife, Theodora of Khazaria, behind in Bulgaria. While there, she gave birth to Tiberius. Once Justininian had consolidated his hold on the throne, he sent for his wife and his newly born son.[2] After this, in 706 AD, Tiberius, his only son, was made co-emperor.[3][4][5] In 710 AD, when Pope Constantine visited Constantinople, he was welcomed by the Byzantine Senate and the young co-emperor Tiberius, before Constantine went on to meet Justinian II.[5][6]

In 711 AD, the Theme of Cherson rebelled against Justinian II, led by an exiled general by the name of Bardanes. The rebels resisted a counter-attack, before the forces sent to attack the rebels themselves joined the rebellion.[7] The rebels marched on the capital, Constantinople, and proclaimed Bardanes as Emperor Philippicus.[8] During this time, Justinian II had been travelling to Armenia, and thus did not arrive in Constantinople in time to defend it, but only after it had fallen.[9] He was arrested, and then executed outside the city in December 711. His head was kept by Bardanes as a trophy.[10] Upon hearing the news of his death, Anastasia, his mother, took Tiberius, at this time six years old, to St. Mary's Church in Blachernae, for sanctuary. He was pursued by men sent by Bardanes, who dragged him from the altar, and murdered him outside of the church.[3]

Two separate individuals later arose claiming to be Tiberius, one in 715 AD, during the Siege of Constantinople by the Arabs, and another in 737 AD.[11] The second impostor, a man by the name of Bashir, plotted with a blind man named Theophantus. They arranged that Theophantus would go to Sulayman ibn Hisham, an Arab general, and son of the Ummayad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, and inform him that he knew the location of Tiberius, who was actually Bashir himself. Sulayman believed Theophantus, and instructed him to bring Bashir to him, which Theophantus agreed to do in exchange for money. Theophantus then delivered Bashir to Sulayman, whereupon Bashir denied being Tiberius profusely, so as to make Sulayman certain that he really was Tiberius. After many promises of safety and reward were given, he "confessed" that he was Tiberius. Sulayman immediately wrote to his father, Hisham, who instructed him to dress the false Tiberius in royal clothes, and to have him pass through all major cities in procession. Bashir then went first to Edessa, and then the other major cities. After this he went to Hisham, who received him with honor. Bashir stayed with Hisham, sending ambassadors to Constantinople to proclaim that Tiberius was still alive, and allied with the Umayyad. This news frightened the Byzantines, especially Emperor Leo III. However, Bashir was eventually revealed, and crucified in Edessa.[12]


Tiberius can be found on coins issued during the second reign of Justinian II (705–711 AD). During Justinian II's first reign (686–695 AD), the first coins to bear a depiction of Jesus Christ on the obverse were minted. During his second reign, Tiberius was featured on the reverse of the coins, alongside Justinian II. On the reverse, Tiberius and Justinian II both wear crowns, loros, and chlamys, and hold cross potents in their hands. The legend of the reverse reads: "Domini Nostri Iustinianus et Tiberius Perpetui Augusti", meaning "Our Lords Justinian and Tiberius, the Eternal Emperors".[13]


Primary sourcesEdit


  1. ^ Crawford 2013, p. 201.
  2. ^ Oaks & Grierson 1968, p. 644.
  3. ^ a b Bury 2005, pp. 365–366.
  4. ^ Venning & Harris 2006, p. 190.
  5. ^ a b Haldon 2016, p. 50.
  6. ^ Venning & Harris 2006, p. 192.
  7. ^ De Imperatoribus Romanis.
  8. ^ Norwich 1990, p. 343.
  9. ^ Bury 2005, p. 365.
  10. ^ Canduci 2010, p. 199.
  11. ^ a b Motzki 2016, p. 224.
  12. ^ Hoyland 2011, p. 234.
  13. ^ Curta & Holt 2016, p. 388.
  14. ^ Hoyland 2011, p. 12.
  15. ^ Cook 2004, p. 43.
  16. ^ Green 1992, p. 92.


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  • Norwich, John Julius (1990). Byzantium: The Early Centuries. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-011447-5. 
  • Oaks, Dumbarton; Grierson, Philip (1968). Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. ISBN 9780884020240. 
  • Venning, Timothy; Harris, Jonathan (2006). A Chronology of the Byzantine Empire. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230505865.