Justinia'nus Ii. or Justinia'nus Rhinotme'tus
surnamed RHINOTME'TUS (he whose nose is cut off), emperor of the East (A. D. 685-695 and 704-711), succeeded his father Constantine IV. Pogonatus, in the month of September, A. D. 685, at the age of sixteen. Soon after his accession he made a truce of ten years with the khalif 'Abdu-l-málek, which is very remarkable in the history of the Eastern empire.
The civil wars by which the empire of the Arabs was shaken compelling the khalif to cease making war without his realm, in order to obtain peace within, he bound himself to pay a daily " tribute of 1000 pieces of gold, one slave, and one horse of noble breed."
The emperor in his turn ceded to the khalif one moiety of the income of Armenia, Iberia (in the Caucasus), and Cyprus, which were henceforth held in joint occupancy by the two monarchs, and he promised to employ his forces and authority in compelling the Mardaites or Maronites, in Mount Lebanon, to refrain from molesting the Arabs.
This promise was a great political blunder, the consequences of which are still felt by the inhabitants of the Lebanon and Syria. Leontius, one of the most distinguished generals of the Greeks, and afterwards emperor, having been charged with executing the treaty in the case of the Maronites, assassinated their chief Joannes, compelled the people to take the oath of allegiance, and persuaded 10,000 Maronites to leave their native mountains with their wives and children, and to settle in Thrace and Armenia. Until then the Christian Maronites had been a barrier against the progress of the Arabs in these quarters, and no sooner were they thus dispersed than the Mohammedans obtained a firm footing in the Taurus and Anti-Taurus, and found themselves enabled to invade Asia Minor at their leisure.
It is true the Maronites never lost their independence entirely, but other tribes, hostile to them, settled in Lebanon; and they continued to be what they still are, an outpost surrounded by the enemies of Christianity, scarcely able to maintain themselves on their native rocks, and unable to make a step beyond them.
It was expected that the energy which young Justinian had shown on many occasions would lead him to perform great and good actions; but his bad character soon became manifest, and caused a universal and deep disappointment throughout his dominions. Instead of establishing peace in the church, he caused new dissensions through his intolerance : the Manichaeans were cruelly persecuted ; many thousands were put to death by the sword or by fire; and the remainder were driven into merciless exile. In 688 he broke the peace with the Bulgarians, and obtained a splendid victory over them; but having allowed himself to be surprised by another army, he was totally routed, lost half of his troops, and fled in confusion to Constantinople. About the same time the Arabs set out for their fourth invasion of Africa. Justinian exerted himself with great activity in opposing their designs; a numerous fleet carrying a strong body of troops, left Constantinople, and, being reinforced by the garrisons of Sicily, compelled the Arabs to retreat in haste to their native country. Instead of availing himself of his success, Justinian foolishly gave up his joint occupancy of Cyprus, which was forthwith seized by the Arabs, who, encouraged by the strange conduct of the emperor, invaded Asia Minor and Mesopotamia in 692, and in the following year conquered all Armenia. Justinian consoled himself with pleasures, and found relief in torturing his subjects. His luxury, especially his love of erecting magnificent buildings, in which he rivalled his great namesake Justinian I., involved him in extraordinary expenses, and the art of inventing new taxes soon became his favourite occupation.
He was ably assisted by two monsters whose names are branded in the history of civilisation. Stephanus, the minister of finances, so pleased his master by his skill in plundering, that he continued to enjoy his favours, although he threatened the emperor's mother, Anastasia, with the punishment inflicted upon naughty children; and the monk Theodatus, who rose to the dignity of Logotheta, was unsurpassed in the art of realising the rapacious measures of his colleague.
Those who could not pay the taxes were driven out of their homes, tortured, or hanged by hundreds; and those who refused paying them were stifled with the smoke of damp burning straw, till they gave up either their property or their lives.
The people of Constantinople, exasperated by rapacity and cruelty, showed symptoms of rebellion, and, in a moment of fury, Justinian ordered his guards to rush into the streets and to massacre all whom they might find abroad.
The order became known before it was executed, and a general rebellion ensued, to which chance gave an able and successful leader. Leontius, the commander against the Maronites, having become suspected by Justinian, soon after his return from that campaign was arrested and confined in a prison, where he remained about three years, till the emperor, who neither dared to put him to death, nor liked to have him alive in his capital, suddenly restored him to liberty, and gave him the government of Greece, with an order to set out immediately.
As he was in the act of stepping on board a galley in the Golden Horn, he was stopped by an exasperated and trembling crowd, who implored him to save them from the fury of Justinian. Without hesitation he put himself at the head of the people. To St. Sophia! they shouted. Thousands of well-armed men soon surrounded the cathedral, and in a few hours the revolution was achieved, and Leontius was seated on the imperial throne. Justinian, a prisoner loaded with chains, was dragged before him; the mob demanded his head; but Leontius remembering the kindness of the father of Justinian, saved the life of his rival, and banished him to Cherson in the present Crimea. Previous to his departure, however, Justinian had his nose cut off: hence his name Ῥινότμητος
. (A. D. 695.)
After a reign of three years Leontius was dethroned and confined in a prison, in 698, by Tiberius Absimarus, who reigned till 704, when the exiled Justinian regained possession of his throne under the following circumstances:
In his exile Justinian thought of nothing but revenge, and his misfortunes, far from smoothing his violent temper, increased the fury of his passions.
He ill treated the inhabitants of Cherson, where he seems to have exercised some power, or enjoyed at least too much liberty, so unmercifully that they formed a plan to put him to death.
He escaped their just resentment by a sudden flight to Busirus, the khan of the Khazars, who received him well, gave him his sister Theodora in marriage, and assigned him the town of Phanagoria, in the present island of Taman- on the Cimmerian Bosporus, as a residence. When Tiberius became informed of this, he bribed Busirus, who sent out messengers with an order to kill the imperial refugee. But Theodora discovered their designs, and having communicated them to her husband, he killed two of the messengers, sent his faithful wife back to her brother, and escaped to Terbelis, the king of the Bulgarians. Terbelis was soon persuaded to undertake one of those sudden inroads for which the Bulgarians were so much dreaded in those times, and before Tiberius knew that his rival had fled from Phanagoria, he saw him with fifteen thousand Bulgarian horse under the walls of Constantinople. Some adherents of Justinian led the barbarians secretly into the city, and flight was now the only safety for Tiberius. Overtaken at Apollonia, he was carried back to Constantinople, and together with his brother Heraclius, and the deposed and still captive emperor Leontius, dragged before Justinian, who was just amusing himself in the Hippodrome. While they lay prostrate before him the tyrant placed his feet on the necks of his two rivals, and continued to look at the performances and to listen to the savage demonstration of joy of the people, who were shouting the verses of the psalmist: "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under thy feet." Having at last satisfied his revenge he ordered them to be put to death.
A system of persecution was now carried on against the adherents of Leontius and Tiberius, of which few examples are found in Byzantine history: the capital and the provinces swarmed with informers and executioners, who committed unheard of cruelties, while the confiscated property of the unhappy victims was employed in satisfying the demands of Terbelis.
As early as 708 the friendship between the khan and the emperor was at an end. Terbelis treated and was justified in treating Justinian as a madman. War was declared, and Justinian having suffered a total defeat at Anchialus, returned to Constantinople to commit fresh cruelties. About this time the Arabs took Tyana and made great progress in Asia Minor, and the inhabitants of Ravenna having shown their discontent with the rapacity of the exarch, an expedition was sent against them, and after the town had been taken, it was treated worse than if it had belonged to the Persians or Bulgarians: the rich spoil of that ruined city was carried to Constantinople. In 710 Pope Constantine was summoned to appear at Nicomedeia before the emperor, who had some ecclesiastical reform in view, and he went thithertrembling, but against his expectation was treated with great honours, and returned in the following year. From Nicomedeia, where he had resided for some time, Justinian was compelled to fly suddenly to his capital, as a body of Arabs had penetrated as far as Chalcedon. Unable to obtain any advantage over them, Justinian resolved to cool his fury in the blood of the Chersonites, and the savage Stephanus was sent against them with a fleet and the order to destroy the whole population. They found, however, time to fly into the country, and Stephanus returned in anger, after having hanged, drowned, or roasted alive, only a few hundreds where he hoped to massacre thousands. Neither he nor his fleet reached the capital: a storm destroyed the ships, and the Euxine swallowed up the crew.
He had no sooner left Cherson than the inhabitants returned to their city, a general insurrection arose, and Bardanes was proclaimed emperor, and assumed the purple under the name of Philippicus (Philepicus). Infuriated at the loss of his fleet, and the escape of the Chersonites, Justinian fitted out a second expedition, under the command of Maurus, who, however, found Cherson well fortified and still better defended. Trembling to appear before their master without having executed his bloody orders, Maurus with his whole army joined Philippicus, who, with them and his own forces, forthwith sailed for Constantinople. Meanwhile, Justinian was gone to Sinope, on the Euxine, opposite the Crimea, in order to be as near as possible to the theatre of the war, and he was delighted when he discovered his fleet on the main in the direction of the Bosporus.
He was soon informed of the rebellion, and hastened to his capital, in order to prepare a vigorous defence, but on his way thither he received the terrible news that Constantinople had surrendered to Philippicus, and that his son, the youthful Tiberius, had been assassinated on the altar of the Church of the Holy Virgin.
He hastened back to Sinope, but while he was hesitating what to do, he was overtaken by Elias, once his friend, but whom he had cruelly persecuted, and who put him to death (December, 711). Elias struck off the tyrant's head and sent it to Constantinople, where it arrived in January, 712. Philippicus now reigned without opposition. Justinian was the last emperor of the family of the great Heraclius; and he was the first who caused the image of Christ to be put on his coins. (Theophan. p. 303, &c.; Niceph. Call. p. 24; Cedren. p. 440, &c.; Zonaras, vol. ii. p. 91, &c.; Glycas, p. 279; Const. Manasses, p. 79; Const. Porphyr. De Adm. Imp.
100.22, 27, in the Paris edit.; Suidas, s. v. Ἰουστινιανός
; Paulus Diacon. De Gest. Longob.
6.11, 12, 31, 32.)