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Theodosius III (715-717)

Bronwen Neil

Australian Catholic University

Coin portrait of Theodosius III (c)2000 Chris Connell(c) 2000 Chris Connell

A tax-collector at Adramyttium, Theodosius was taken up as imperial candidate by the Opsician troops stationed at Rhodes who revolted against Anastasius II. Acclaimed unwillingly (according to Theophanes) as Emperor Theodosius III at Adramyttium circa May 715, he entered Constantinople circa November 715, after a six-month siege of the city. One of his first acts as emperor was to replace the image of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod which had been taken down by Philippicus Bardanes, thus earning for himself the epithet of "orthodox" in the Liber Pontificalis..

In 716 he concluded a treaty with the Bulgarian khan Tervel, probably seeking support against an imminent Arab attack on Constantinople. Under this treaty the Byzantine-Bulgarian border was fixed in Thrace, in favour of the Bulgarians who gained the Zagoria region; tribute was granted to the Bulgars, fugitives were returned and some trade agreements were established.

After Leo's capture of his son in Nicomedia, Theodosius took the advice of Patriarch Germanus and the senate and abdicated in favour of Leo III on 25 March 717. Along with his son, he subsequently entered the clergy and became bishop of Ephesus. Sumner maintains that the emperor Theodosius can probably be identified with Theodosius, son of Apsimarus i.e. the former emperor Tiberius III (692-705). This figure was bishop of Ephesus by circa 729, which position he held until his death (after 24 July, 754), having been a leading figure at the iconoclast Council of Hieria (754). Mango and Scott consider this identification unlikely, given that Theodosius would have in that case had to have survived more than thirty years after his abdication. It is possible that it was rather his son Theodosius who became bishop of Ephesus and took part in the Council of Hieria. Theodosius III's reign had lasted just under two years. Either he or his son was buried in the church of St Philip in Ephesus.


P. Grierson 'The Tombs and Obits of the Byzantine Emperors (337-1042)', Dumbarton Oaks Papers 16 (1962). Appendix: Analysis of Sections II and III of the Necrologium, 52-53.

C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor (Oxford, 1997).

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium: s.v. "Theodosios III", "Tervel" (Paul Hollingsworth).

A. Stratos, Byzantium in the Seventh Century: Justinian II, Leontius and Tiberius 685-711 5 (Amsterdam, 1980), 157-178.

G. Sumner, 'Philippicus, Anastasius II and Theodosius III', Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies17 (1976), 287-294; esp. 91-94.

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

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