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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance


c. 575-641

Military Leader



Heraclius, Emperor of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, reorganized the Byzantine imperial administration and the imperial armies and strengthened the Empire in the process. During his reign, pivotal changes took place in the Balkans and the Middle East.

At about the age of 35, Heraclius was sent to Constantinople by his father, the governor of the Roman province of Africa, to deal with the crisis precipitated by the incompetent emperor Phocas. Upon his arrival he deposed Phocas, thus inheriting an Empire in shambles.

Over the next two decades, Heraclius succeeded in driving out the Slavs, Persians, and Turkic Avars that had occupied Byzantine territory. His brilliance on the battlefield was matched by political shrewdness. Although his notable personal devotion to Christianity helped his reputation, his attempts to heal the divisions among Christian sects failed.

In 634, Muslim Arabs swept into Syria, and Heraclius, too weary from years of fighting, did not take personal command of the military. The Byzantines were defeated, and both Syria and Egypt fell to Arab forces. Heraclius died a few years later, possibly from prostate troubles.

Important Dates

Died: Feb. 11, 641

On the Web

Informative, well-hyperlinked bio at Wikipedia.

Brief bio of the "Carthaginian Emperor" by Roberto Naranjo at eHistory.

Heraclius (October 5, 610 - February 641 A.D.)
Substantive bio by R. Scott Moore at De Imperatoribus Romanis.

In Print

The links below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.


Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium
by Walter E. Kaegi

The Reign of Heraclius (610-641: Crisis and Confrontation
(Groningen Studies in Cultural Change)
edited by G. J. Reinink and Bernard H. Stolte

General Historical Background

A Short History of Byzantium
by John Julius Norwich; also available in paperback

Related Resources

Byzantine Studies
A multilevel index of useful and interesting sites related to general Byzantine studies, Art and Architecture, Music, and more about the Eastern Roman Empire.


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