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A solidus of Maurice's reign, Image http://www.cngcoins.com

Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus or Maurice (Μαυρίκιος) (539 - November, 602) was the emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 582 to 602. A Cappadocian general was appointed as a successor by Tiberius II Constantine. He married Tiberus' daughter Constantina and when his father-in-law died a week later, become an Emperor.

Maurice is the traditional author of the military treatise Strategikon which is praised in military circles as the first and only sophisticated combined arms theory until World War II. However, some historians now believe the Strategikon is the work of his brother or another general in his court.

The reign of Maurice was troubled by almost unending wars on all frontiers, and despite his excellent ruling qualities he could only temporarily prevent the disintegration of the great empire of Justinian I.

Shortly after his accession, in 590 he luckily interfered in a Persian war of succession, helping young Chosroes II to regain his throne. He also married a certain Maria, probably Maurice's daughter. In return, Armenia and eastern Mesopotamia returned to Byzantine Empire.

Maurice Tiberius, Æ Half Follis, Side 1 , Side 2, 600-601

The Balkan provinces were thoroughly devastated by the Slavs in his days, not to recover for several hundred years. The Slavs penetrated all the way into Peloponnesus, and several successful but exhausting campaigns had to be directed against them. In the west, he organized the threatened Byzantine dominions in Italy and Africa into exarchates, ruled by military governors or exarchs.

In 597, sick Maurice wrote down his last will where he desribed his ideas of governing the Empire. His eldest son, Theodosius, would be a ruler of the East from Constantinople, the second one, Tiberius, of the West with the capital in Rome. Some historians believe that two youngest sons were supposed to gain Illiricum and North Africa.

In 602 Maurice, always dealing with the lack of money, decreed that army should stay for winter beyond the Danube, which would prove to be a serious mistake. The exhausted troops mutinied against the Emperor, proclaimed certain Phocas their leader and demanded Maurice to abdicate and proclaim the succesor either his son either general Germanus, Theodosius' father-in-law.

Both men were accused of treason, but the riots broke out in Constantinople and Emperor with his family left the city for Nicomedia. Theodosius headed east to Persia, not sure whether sent there by his father or if he fled there himself. Phocas entered Constantinople and was crowned Emperor while his troops captured Maurice and his family. It is said that deposed Emperor was forced to watch as his three sons were butchered before his eyes until he was beheaded. Empress Constantina and her three daughters were spared and sent to a monastery. In Orthodox Church, Maurice is venerated as a saint.

Byzantine Emperor with Tiberius II Constantine (582)

Preceded by: Tiberius II Constantine

Succeeded by: Phocas

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