Modern historiography has become accustomed to portraying the emperor Theophilos of Byzantium (829-842) in a favourable light, taking at face value the legendary account that makes of him a righteous and learned ruler, and excusing as ill fortune his apparent military failures against the Muslims. The present book considers events of the period that are crucial to our understanding of the reign and argues for a more balanced assessment of it. The focus lies on the impact of Oriental politics on the reign of Theophilos, the last iconoclast emperor. After introductory chapters, setting out the context in which he came to power, separate sections are devoted to the influence of Armenians at the court, the enrolment of Persian rebels against the caliphate in the Byzantine army, the continuous warfare with the Arabs and the cultural exchange with Baghdad, the Khazar problem, and the attitude of the Christian Melkites towards the iconoclast emperor. The final chapter reassesses the image of the emperor as a good ruler, building on the conclusions of the previous sections. The book reinterprets major events of the period and their chronology, and sets in a new light the role played by figures like Thomas the Slav, Manuel the Armenian or the Persian Theophobos, whose identity is established from a better understanding of the sources.

chapter |10 pages


part |2 pages

Section I: Prolegomena to a Reign: Internal Conflict in the Empire under Leo V and Michael II

chapter 1|20 pages

Back to Iconoclasm!

chapter 2|28 pages

Unrest at the Eastern Border

part |2 pages

Section II: The Armenian Court

chapter 5|20 pages

The Elusive Manuel the Armenian

chapter 7|14 pages

The Armenian Family Network

chapter 8|12 pages

Opposition to the Emperor

part |2 pages

Section III: Supporting the Persian Uprising against the Abbasids

chapter 9|6 pages

Some Remarks on the Khurramite Movement

chapter 10|8 pages

Naṣr the Khurramite

chapter 11|20 pages

Theophobos and his Father

chapter 12|8 pages

A Persian Basileus?

part |2 pages

Section IV: Warfare Against the Arabs

part |2 pages

Section V: The Khazar Flank

part |2 pages

Section VI: The Melkites

part |2 pages

Section VII: Cultural Exchange with the Arabs

chapter 23|6 pages

Some Preliminary Matters

chapter 24|20 pages

A Bidirectional Exchange?