Leo 4

Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire
FloruitM/L VIII
Dates750 (n.) / 780 (ob.)
PmbZ No.4243
Variant NamesLeo IV (emperor)
LocationsConstantinople (burialplace);
Constantinople (officeplace);
Constantinople (residence);
Constantinople (birthplace)
TitlesAugustus (office);
Emperor (office)
Textual SourcesBar Hebraeus, Chronographia, tr. E. A. W. Budge, The Chronography of Abu 'l-Faraj (London, 1932; repr. Amsterdam, 1976) (history);
Chronicon Anonymi ad annum 1234 pertinens, ed. and tr. J.-B. Chabot, I = CSCO 81-82 (Paris, 1916-20), II = CSCO 109 (Louvain, 1937) (chronicle);
Chronicon anonymi ad annum 813 pertinens, Fragmenta, ed. E. W. Brooks, CSCO 6, Scriptores Syri 6 (Louvain, 1907; repr 1960), pp. 183-196 (chronicle);
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Administrando Imperio, ed. G. Moravcsik, trans. R. J. H. Jenkins (Washington, D.C., 1967) (history);
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Ceremoniis Aulae Byzantinae Libri II, ed. J. J. Reiske, CSHB (Bonn, 1829); also ed. (in part) A. Vogt (Paris, 1935, repr. 1967) (history);
Elias Barshinaya, Chronicle (Eliae metropolitae Nisibeni, Opus chronologicum, pars prior, ed. and tr. E. W. Brooks, CSCO 62 and CSCO 63 (1910) (chronicle);
Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, ed. and tr. J.-B. Chabot, La chronique de Michel le Syrien (Paris, 1899-1904) (chronicle);
Nicephorus, Breviarium Historiae, ed. C. Mango, Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople: Short History; prev. ed. C. de Boor Nicephori ArchiepiscopiConstantinopolitani Opuscula Historica Leipzig 1880 (history);
Theophanes Confessor, Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1883-85, repr. Hildesheim/NewYork, 1980); tr. and comm. C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, Oxford 1997 (chronicle);
Vita A Theodori Studitae, Auctore Theodoro Daphnopate? (BHG 1755), PG 99. 113-232 (hagiography);
Vita B Theodori Studitae, Auctore Michaele Monacho Studita (BHG 1754), PG. 99. 233-328 (hagiography);
Vita C Theodori Studitae, Auctore Incerto (BHG 1755d), ed. B. Latyshev, "Vita S. Theodori Studitae in codice Mosquensi musei Rumianzoviani no 520", VV 21 (1914), pp. 258-304 (hagiography);
Vita Nicetae Hegoumeni Medicii, Auctore Theostericto (BHG 1341), AASS April I, Appendix, pp. xviii-xxviii (hagiography);
Zonaras = Ioannis Zonarae Epitome Historiarum, libri XIII-XVIII, ed. Th. Büttner-Wobst, (Bonn, 1897) (history)
Seal SourcesZacos, G. and Veglery, A., Byzantine Lead Seals, vol. I (in 3 parts) (Basel, 1972).

Leo 4 was a son of the emperor Constantine V (Konstantinos 7) (and of Eirene 3), born in 750: Nic. Brev. de Boor 64, Mango 69. Son of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7) by the daughter of the khagan of the Khazars (Eirene 3), he was born on 25 January 750: Theoph. AM 6241 (ἐτέχθη τῷ βασιλεῖ Κωνσταντίνῳ υἱός, ὃν ἐπωνόμασε Λέοντα, ἐκ τῆς τοῦ Χαγάνου τῆς Χαζαρίας θυγατρός), Zon. XV 6. 5, 8. 2, 9. 1, Chron. 1234, §177 (p. 325). Son of Konstantinos 7 and the Khazar princess (Eirene 3): Mich. Syr. II 506. Son of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7), Leo 4 was known as the Khazar because of his mother's origin (Λέων ὁ τούτου υἱὸς, ὁ καὶ προσονομασθεὶς ἀπὸ τῆς γεννησαμένης Χάζαρος): Vita A Theod. Stud. 120C, cf. Vita C Theod. Stud. §7, p. 261 (ὁ τούτου υἱὸς Λέων ὁ ἐπίκλην Χάζαρος). Leo 4 was the son of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7): Theoph. AM 6261 (σὺν τῷ τοῦ Κωνσταντίνου ὑῷ Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ), Theoph. AM 6268 (βασιλεὺς Λέων ... ὑπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς), Theoph. AM 6272 (Λέων, ὁ τοῦ διώκτου υἱός), Vita B Theod. Stud. 240A, 265A (τοῦ νεωτέρου Λέοντος καὶ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐκ προγόνων διαδοχῆς). Leo 4 was grandson of the emperor Leo III (Leo 3) and half-brother of Anthimos 1, Christophoros 1, Eudokimos 1, Nikephoros 5 and Niketas 5. Leo 4 was crowned as emperor by his father Konstantinos 7 at Pentecost, 751 (6 June): Nic. Brev. de Boor 65, Mango 70 (ἔστεψε Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ δυσσεβὴς βασιλεὺς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ υἱὸν Λέοντα εἰς βασιλέα), Theoph. AM 6241, Zon. XV 6. 5 (στεφθεντα δι' Ἀναστασιου ... πατριαρχου), 8. 2-3, cf. Chron. 1234, §183 (p. 336) ("his son was proclaimed king and named Leo"). On 17 December 769 (indiction 8) he was married to Eirene 1 by his father: Nic. Brev. de Boor 77, Mango 88 (ἐγένετο τὰ πρὸς τὴν αὐτὴν Εἰρήνην τοῦ βασιλέως Λέοντος σπόνζα: ... ἡ βασίλισσα Εἰρήνη ... ἔλαβε τὰ τοῦ γάμου στέφανα σὺν τῷ τοῦ Κωνσταντίνου υἱῷ Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ), Theoph. AM 6261, Zon. XV 8. 3. Leo 4 was the husband of Eirene 1: Theoph. AM 6262 (ἐτέχθη Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ Εἰρήνῃ υἱός), Vita A Theod. Stud. 120C (Εἰρήνη ἡ τούτου ὁμόζυγος). Leo 4 was the father of Konstantinos 8 (Constantine VI) (born 14 January 771): Theoph. AM 6262 (ἐτέχθη Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ Εἰρήνῃ υἱός), Theoph. AM 6268 (Κωνσταντῖνον τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ εἰς βασιλέα), Zon. XV 8. 3, Vita A Theod. Stud. 120C (τοῦ παιδὸς Κωνσταντίνου). Leo 4 became emperor in succession to his father (Konstantinos 7) in 775: Theoph. AM 6267 (ἐβασίλευσε δὲ αὐτοκράτωρ μετὰ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ τελευτὴν ἔτη λδ'), Zon. XV 9. 1, cf. Vita A Theod. Stud. 120C (succeeded his father - ἐπὶ τῶν σκήπτρων καθίσταται), Vita B Theod. Stud. 240A (succeeded his father - τῇ βασιλείᾳ διαρκέσαντος), Vita C Theod. Stud. §7, p. 261 (succeeded his father - διεδέξατο δὲ τὴν ἀρχὴν ὁ τούτου υἱὸς Λέων ὁ ἐπίκλην Χάζαρος).

In later iconophile tradition Leo 4's reign was the time when the Church began to recover, since he was less wicked (ἀπονώτερος) and did not continue the persecution begun by his predecessors: Vita Nicetae Medicii (BHG 1341) 30.

Leo 4 was an iconoclast; he began his reign mildly but later persecuted iconophiles at court: Zon. XV 9. 1, 9. 9. He continued his father's policy of persecuting iconophiles: Vita A. Theod. Stud. 120C (τὰ πάντα καὶ οὗτος πατρώζων, καὶ μηδὲν καθυφεὶς τοῦ γεννήτοπος), Vita B Theod.Stud. 240A, 265A, Vita C Theod. Stud. §7, p. 261. He died on 8 September 780 (8 September of indiction four), supposedly of head boils and a violent fever which afflicted him after he removed a jewelled crown from Hagia Sophia: Theoph. AM 6272 (καὶ ἐξῆλθον ἄνθρακες ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ληφθεὶς σφοδρῷ πυρετῷ τέθνηκε), Zon. XV 9. 10-11 (his reign lasted five years). His own successor was his young son Constantine VI (Konstantinos 8): Zon. XV 10. 1. He died after a short reign and was succeeded by his wife Eirene 1 and his young son Constantine VI (Konstantinos 8): Vita A Theod. Stud. 120C, Vita C Theod. Stud. §7, p. 261. For his imperial seals, see Zacos and Veglery 36-37.

Known as "the Khazar", Leo 4 was the son of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7); he was buried, as his father Constantine V (Konstantinos 7) was originally, and as his mother Eirene 3, his wife Eirene 1, and his paternal aunts Kosmo 1 and Eirene 12 were, in the Mausoleum of Justinian at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople: Const. Porph., Cer. II 42 (Reiske, 645).

The emperor Leo 4 allegedly married a daughter of the khagan of the Khazars: Const. Porph., DAI 13, 61; 13, 126. He was an iconoclast (εἰκονομάχος): Const. Porph., DAI 13, 126.

In AH 58 (Nov. 774/Oct. 775) = 1086 Sel. (774/775) the emperor Konstantinos 7 died and was succeeded by his son Leo 4: Elias, Chron., p. 182, 9-13 = p. 86. Son of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7); Leo 4 succeeded to the throne on the death of his father: Chron. ad a. 813, p. 248, 22-25 = p. 188.

Leo 4 was the son of the emperor Constantine V (Konstantinos 7) and a daughter of the khagan of the Khazars (Eirene 3): Bar Hebr., p. 112, Mich. Syr. II 506. He was crowned co-emperor by his father after the death of his mother: Bar Hebr., p. 113. Leo 4 succeeded to the throne on the death of his father (Konstantinos 7) and reigned for five years: Bar Hebr., p. 115. Leo 4 sent to the caliph Mahdi (al-Mahdi 1), who was a collector of such works, a book describing the magic and sorcery of the Egyptians, the Book of Iannes and Iambres, and he also released all his Arab prisoners: Bar Hebr., p. 116. In the year 1092 Sel. (780/781) he sent an army which captured a number of "orthodox Syrians" and he had them baptised; he was like his father an opponent of icons and a strong supporter of "the orthodox"; in this same year he died and was succeeded by his son by Eirene 1, Konstantinos 8 (Constantine VI): Bar Hebr., p. 117.

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