Home Ancient Byzantine Non-Dynastic Emperor Phocas 602- 610 AD BC001297
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Phocas 602 to 610
Solidus c 609-610 AD
Phocas (Φωκᾶς,) was Byzantine Emperor from 602 to 610. After he overthrew the Emperor Maurice Tiberius. Phocas was eventually overthrown himself by the Exarch of Africa and his son, (both named Heraclius) when they initiated a revolt in 608. Phocas may have been a native of Thrace and was elevated to the a subaltern officer in the Byzantine army in the Balkan campaigns. He was a member of a delegation sent by the army to Constantinople in 600 AD to submit grievances rekated to the Avars who had defeated the Byzantines in 598. Maurice refusde to pay tribute to them so the Avars executed many prisoners upsetuing the army. Adding insult to injury Phocas was physically slapped and humiliated by prominent court officials. Eventually the army revolted and marched on the capital under Phocas’ leadership and disbanded Maurice’s government. The "Green" faction in Constantinople acclaimed Phocas as emperor. Phocas's lowered taxes and initiated social reforms. He funded hospitals, maternities, orphanages but was met with opposition along the way due to his “populist" tendencies. With autocratic cruelty he killed thousands of his opponents to keep control of the government. During the Heraclius revolt Phocas responded with executions including the death of the ex-Empress Constantina and her three daughters. Most of the military loyal to Phocas had gone down in defeat or defected. When the younger Heraclius had reached Constantinople in 610 Byzantine aristocrats arranged Heraclius to be crowned Emperor. Phocas was captured Heraclius captured Phocas and asked him "Is this how you have ruled, wretch?”. Phocas replied, "And will you rule better?" Enarged by this response Heraclius personally killed and Phocas beheaded, desecrated and then burned his body. Obverse the emperor wearing a crown and holding globus cruciger DNFOCAS PERFAVG, Recerse a standing Angel holding a long staff surmounted by rho and globus cruciger VICTORIA AVCCI and CONOB in exergue
Mint: Constantinople
Provenance: Ex Gemini III, 9 January 2007, lot 681 (part of group lot) Private acquisition *

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