Philippikos (711–713)

Philippikos (711–713)

In 711 the Armenian Bardanes was sent at the head of an army to Cherson, either to take vengeance on the city or to check Khazar advances in the Crimea. Instead of fulfilling his mission Bardanes was declared emperor, adopted the name Philippikos, seized the capital, and killed Justinian II and his son, thereby ending the dynastic line descended from Herakleios. He had a brief reign, during which the empire was beset by disasters on two fronts: the Arabs advanced in Asia Minor, and the Bulgars devastated Thrace up to the walls of Constantinople. A Monothelete, he tried to reverse its condemnation (issued by the sixth ecumenical council [Constantinople III] in 680/1 and confirmed by Trullo in 691/2). He was deposed and blinded by a conspiracy, organized by the officers of the Opsikion theme, likely in response to his ineffective military policies. The conspirators, in turn, were blinded and exiled by Philippikos’s protasekretis and successor, Anastasios II.

Notable on the seals and coins of Philippikos is the device held in the emperor’s left hand: a scepter surmounted by an eagle. Philippikos wears the loros, as had Justinian, and in many ways this resembles the consular seal of Tiberios II, who is the only other emperor to be shown holding the eagle scepter. In fact this ancient symbol of the Roman consulship would not appear in Byzantine art again. These seals also mark the end of the trend, initiated by Phokas in 602, of portraiture on seals, which would not resurface until the reign of Romanos I Lekapenos.

 
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