As the emperor Justin II deteriorated into dementia in 574 it became obvious that a colleague would have to be appointed to fulfil the duties of government. The empress, Sophia, was consulted, and her choice fell on Tiberius, leader of the excubitors (an elite corps of palace guards). Tiberius was accordingly adopted by Justin and given the title Caesar on 7 December 574.
Tiberius had long been married to Ino, a lady already well into middle-age, for she had been a widow, and had had a daugher of marriageable age, prior to her marriage to Tiberius. Tiberius had initially been betrothed to this daughter by this first marriage, but on his fiancée’s death Tiberius instead married Ino herself, now a widow, and they had had three children, (two daughters) Charito and Constantina,[] as well as a third child who had presumably died.[]
Ino’s four years as Caesarissa, the second-ranking lady in the empire after the empress, were frustrating. Sophia refused to let her enter the imperial palace, even ignoring her own husband Justin’s request that Tiberius’s wife should be allowed to live with him, and Ino and her daughters were forced to live in the neighbouring palace of Hormisdas, with Tiberius visiting them only in the evenings, and returning to the palace early in the morning.[] According to John of Ephesos, a good friend of Tiberius’ and hence an invaluable inside source,[] Sophia even refused to let the ladies of the court visit Ino to pay her their respects and scolded them when they suggested it. Neglected, and unable to play her proper part in imperial ceremonial, Ino also feared for her life, and she left Constantinople for Daphnudium, where she had lived with her previous husband. Tiberius even had to commute from Constantinople to see her when she fell ill.[] According to Theophanes, perhaps not the most reliable source on this period, Sophia when choosing Tiberius as her husband’s colleague, had been unaware of Ino’s existence, and her refusal to grant Ino any recognition was due to chagrin.[]
When, however, Justin died in October 578, proposals were made to Tiberius, who had been crowned co-emperor nine days previously, ‘both through another person’ and through the patriarch Eutychius,[] that he should divorce Ino and marry Sophia or her daughter Arabia, now a widow.[] To his credit, Tiberius refused to comply: “Will it please God, as well as you,” he was said to have replied, “for me to leave my wife, by whom I have had three children, and who took me to share all she had when I had nothing? and now that God has raised me to power, am I to leave her and take another?”[] Sophia reluctantly allowed Ino to return to Constantinople as empress, but that her good-will was doubted is shown by the fact that Ino avoided the official escort that was sent to meet her, consisting of the commander of the praetorian guard, a large number of men of senatorial rank, and a great retinue. She informed them that they would start in the morning, but left at midnight to slip into Constantinople with only her children and one boatman. On her arrival, Tiberius arranged for her to be met by the senate and patriarch in the palace and she was invested immediately with the royal insignia, after which she proceeded in a covered litter to St Sophia, and was acclaimed by the factions of Blues and Greens. After a contest as to the most desirable name for her to adopt (the Greens wanted her to be called Helena) the Blues won the day and she was saluted as empress by the suitable imperial name of Anastasia.[]
Perhaps due to Sophia’s opposition, Tiberius made sure that Ino, now Anastasia, was given the same public recognition as her predecessor. Like Sophia and Justin, Ino appeared with Tiberius on the coinage as early as 578/9, with Ino enthroned beside Tiberius, carrying a sceptre and depicted with a nimbus, in the manner which Sophia herself had inaugurated.[] But this coinage was minted at Thessalonica, and that from the capital features Tiberius alone. Ino’s life can not have been easy: Sophia refused to move to more suitable quarters in the imperial palace, and Tiberius had to remodel the entire northern side for his own use, his extensions including a bath, necessary offices, and stabling for his horses.[]
We know little of Ino’s religious convictions, though she was presumably not a monophysite. A chapter heading from a part of John of Ephesus’s Ecclesiastical History now lost describes her hostility to the “orthodox”, due to her lack of knowledge of the true nature of their beliefs.[]
While it was Sophia who was consulted prior to the death of Tiberius (supposedly due to eating mulberries which had spoiled) and was responsible for the choice of the general Maurice as his successor, Tiberius saw to it that Maurice married not Sophia but his own daughter Constantina. At the same time, according to Theophanes, his other daughter Charito was married to the general Germanus, and both Maurice and Germanus were given the rank of Caesar.[] Tiberius’ wife and daughters were thus provided for and there were now three empresses in the palace, for Ino continued in the imperial palace with Sophia and with her daughter Constantina. She died in 594 and was buried beside her husband.[]
Bellinger, A.R.Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. I: Anastasius to Maurice 491-602 Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1966.
P. Grierson, “The Tombs and Obits of the Byzantine Emperors (337-1042),” DOP 16 (1962) 3-60.
[] Their names are given by Theophanes, Chronographia, AM 6071 [AD 578/9].
[] John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, 3.8.
[]John Eph. EH, 3.7; cf. Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, 10.17 (tr. J.-B. Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d’Antioche 1166-1199, Paris: Leroux, 1899-1924, vol. 2, p. 343).
[]John Eph., EH, 3.22 (tr. Payne Smith (1860) 202): ‘when the king Tiberius was but a youth… we both of us, together with the rest of the court, were constantly in one another’s company, in attendance upon his late majesty Justin’; cf. 3.5 (AD 574), ‘for a long time he [Tiberius] had been Justin’s keeper’.
[]John Eph., EH, 3.8.
[] Theophanes AM 6071.
[]John Eph., EH, 3.7; cf. Mich. Syr. 10.17 (Chabot 2.343) who states that when Tiberios refused the patriarch’s request Sophia allowed Ino to come to the palace with full honours. Michael misnames Ino as Helena (not Anastasia), and his account is suspect.
[]Badouarios had died in the tenth year of the reign in Italy fighting the Lombards: John of Biclaro, Chronicle, s.a. 576.
[]John. Eph. EH, 3.7.
[]John Eph., EH, 3.9; according to Theophanes AM 6071 [AD 578/9], the name Anastasia was suggested by Tiberius.
[]A.R. Bellinger, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. I: Anastasius to Maurice 491-602 (Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1966), 277.
[]John Eph., EH, 3.23-24.
[]Payne Smith (1860) p. 243.
[]Greg. Tur. HF 6.30; John Eph., EH, 5.13; Theophanes AM 6074 [AD 581/2].
[]Theophanes AM 6085 [AD 592/3]; P. Grierson, “The Tombs and Obits of the Byzantine Emperors (337-1042),” DOP 16 (1962) 47; Payne Smith (1860) p. 243.