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Artabasdus  (742-743 A.D.) and Anna (wife of Artabasdus)

Lynda Garland
University of New England, New South Wales

Anna, daughter of Leo III, was born prior to her father's accession and, according to Theophanes, it was in 715 that she was promised in marriage to the Armenian Artabasdus, general of the Armeniac theme, following Theodosius III's deposition of Anastasius II. The marriage took place some time after Leo became emperor, in March 717, and Artabasdus was given the rank of curopalates or major-domo of the palace, a high honorary title, and made count (comes) of the Opsikion theme.[[1]]  Artabasdus was to rebel against Constantine V, his brother-in-law, shortly after his accession in 741, relying on iconophile support for his following. The rebellion lasted two and a half years and during this period Artabasdus ruled with his eldest son Nicephorus as co-emperor. He may also have made his younger son, Nicetas, co-emperor and crowned his wife Anna as Augusta.[[2]]

Eventually Constantine captured Constantinople and Artabasdos and his two sons were blinded.[[3]] According to the (of course) anti-iconoclast Life of Michael the Syncellus, 'after blinding the husband of his sister Anna, the most orthodox ruler Artabasdus, Constantine banished him with his wife and his nine children to the aforesaid monastery (of Chora on the outskirts of Constantinople), after he had turned the monastery into a lodging house for laymen'.[[4]]

Theophanes reports that, thirty years after the suppression of the rebellion, still incensed presumably at Anna's support of the ambitions of her husband and sons, Constantine forced his elder sister to proceed to the monastery of Chora, where Artabasdus was buried, dig up his bones, place them in her cloak (pallium), and throw them into the so-called tombs of Pelagius, charnel pits, among the bodies of executed criminals.[[5]]


Theophanes, Chronographia, trans. C. Mango & R. Scott, with G. Greatrex, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople: Short History, ed. & tr. C. Mango, Washington DC, 1990.

The Life of Michael the Synkellos, ed. & tr. Mary B. Cunningham, Belfast, 1991.

P. Speck, Artabasdos, der rechtgläubige Vorkämpfer der göttlichen Lehren, Poikila Byzantina 2, Bonn, 1981.


[[1]] Theophanes AM 6207, cf. 6209 [AD 714/5, 716/17].

[[2]]Synopsis chronike, ed. K.M. Sathas, vol. 7, Athens, 1894; repr. Hildesheim, 1972, 124.

[[3]]Theophanes AM 6232, 6233 [AD 739/40, 740/41]; Nicephorus 64-66.

[[4]] Life of Michael the Syncellus, 28.

[[5]]Theophanes AM 6235 [AD 742/3].

Copyright (C) 2000, Lynda Garland. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.
Comments to: Lynda Garland.

Updated:15 July 2000

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