Emperor of the Romans
Solidus of Artabasdos.png
Solidus of Artabasdos
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
ReignJune 741 – 2 November 743
PredecessorConstantine V
SuccessorConstantine V
DynastyIsaurian dynasty
Isaurian or Syrian dynasty
Leo III 717–741
with Constantine V as co-emperor, 720–741
Constantine V 741–775
with Leo IV as co-emperor, 751–775
Artabasdos' usurpation 741–743
Leo IV 775–780
with Constantine VI as co-emperor, 776–780
Constantine VI 780–797
under Irene rule as regent, 780–790, and rule with her as co-emperor, 792–797
Irene as empress regnant (sole emperor) 797–802
Preceded by
Twenty Years' Anarchy
Followed by
Nikephorian dynasty

Artavasdos or Artabasdos (Greek: Ἀρταύασδος or Ἀρτάβασδος, from Armenian: Արտավազդ, Artavazd, Ardavazt), Latinized as Artabasdus, was a Byzantine general of Armenian[1] descent who seized the throne from June 741 or 742 until November 743, in usurpation of the reign of Constantine V.

Rise to power

In about 713, Emperor Anastasius II appointed Artabasdos as governor (stratēgos) of the Armeniac theme (Θέμα Άρμενιάκων, Thema Armeniakōn), the successor of the Army of Armenia, which occupied the old areas of the Pontus, Armenia Minor, and northern Cappadocia, with its capital at Amasea. After Anastasius' fall, Artabasdos made an agreement with his colleague Leo, the governor of the Anatolic theme, to overthrow the new Emperor Theodosius III. This agreement was sealed with the engagement of Leo's daughter Anna to Artabasdos, and the marriage took place after Leo III ascended the throne in March 717.

Artabasdos was awarded the rank of kouropalates ("master of the palace") and became commander (count, komēs) of the Opsikion theme, while retaining control of his original command. In June 741 or 742, after the accession of Leo's son Constantine V to the throne, Artabasdos resolved to seize the throne and attacked his brother-in-law while the latter was traversing Asia Minor to fight the Arabs on the eastern frontier. While Constantine fled to Amorion, Artabasdus seized Constantinople amid popular support and was crowned emperor.

Reign and downfall

While it seems Artabasdos abandoned his predecessor's religious policy of Iconoclasm and restored Orthodoxy with some support, there is actually little support from contemporary sources.[2] Soon after his accession, Artabasdus crowned his wife Anna as augusta and his son Nikephoros as co-emperor, while putting his other son Niketas in charge of the Armeniac theme. But while Artabasdus could rely also on the support of the themes of Thrace and Opsikion, Constantine secured for himself the support of the Anatolic and Thracesian themes.

The inevitable clash came in May 743, when Artabasdus led the offensive against Constantine but was defeated. Later the same year Constantine defeated Niketas, and on 2 November 743 Artabasdus' reign came to an end as Constantine V entered Constantinople. Artabasdus, accompanied by his close associate Baktangios fled to the castle of Pouzanes in Opsikion (Asia Minor), where they were apprehended and brought to Constantinople. Artabasdos and his sons were publicly blinded and relegated to the monastery of Chora on the outskirts of Constantinople.[3] The date of his death is unknown.


By his wife Anna, the daughter of Emperor Leo III, Artabasdos had nine children, including:

See also


  1. ^ Beckwith, Christopher I. (2009). Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Princeton University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-691-13589-2. ...the Armenian general Artavasdos. [...] Because Artavasdos was Armenian..
  2. ^ Brubaker, Haldon, Leslie, John (2011). Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 159. ISBN 1-107-62629-3.
  3. ^ Garland 2006, p. 9

Further reading

Artabasdos Isaurian DynastyBorn: unknown Died: 743 Regnal titles Preceded byConstantine V Byzantine Emperor 741/2–743 Succeeded byConstantine V