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Mezezius (668-669 A.D.)

R. Scott Moore
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Revolt and Brief Reign

When Constans II traveled to Sicily, he was accompanied by a patrikios and komes of the Opsikion, Mezezius. Mezezius (Mzez) was an Armenian descended from the princely Gnuni house. The heavy financial burden imposed on Sicily to support the presence of the emperor caused an abrupt decline in local support for Constans. On September 15, 668 while bathing, Constanswas murdered by a cubicularius, and Mezezius was declared emperor. Unfortunately for Mezezius, he was unable to garner support from either the local population or the imperial troops. The revolt was to be short-lived and was over in a few short months. The end of Mezezius' revolt, though, is not without historical controversy. Many scholars accept the story recorded by Theophanes the Confessor (an eighth century historian) in his history. In Chronographia 352.4-7, Theophanes reported that Constantine IV, son and heir to Constans II, personally gathered together a military force and traveled to Sicily where he captured and executed Mezezius and those responsible for his father's murder. A smaller group of historians accept the version in the Liber pontificalis (a pontifical history from Peter to the ninth century). In 1.346, it states that troops from Italy and Africa arrived shortly after Constans' murder and quickly quelled the revolt. After executing Mezezius, they sent his head to Constantine IV in Constantinople to demonstrate their loyalty.

Primary Source Bibliography

Liber pontificalis.

Theophanes. Chronographia.


Brooks, E. W. Byzantinische Zeitschrift 17 (1908), 455-59.

Grierson, "A Semissis of Mezezius (668-669)." Numismatic Chronicle 146 (1986), 231-239.

Hahn, W. "Mezezius in peccato suo interit." Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 29 (1980), 61-70.

Haldon, J.F. Byzantium in the Seventh Century: the transformation of a culture. Cambridge, 1990.

Kaegi, Jr. Walter Emil. Byzantine Military Unrest, 471-843: an interpretation. Amsterdam, 1981.

Kazhdan, Alexander P. Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York, 1991. S.v. "Mezizios" by Paul A. Hollingsworth.

Ostrogorsky, George. Geschichte des byzantischen Staates. Munich, 1963.

Stratos, A.N. Byzantium in the Seventh Century. Amsterdam, 1968.

Treadgold, Warren. A History of Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, 1997.

Vasiliev, A.A. History of the Byzantine Empire. Madison, Wisconsin, 1952.

Copyright (C) 1999, R. Scott Moore. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: R. Scott Moore

Updated: 26 May 1999

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