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CONSTANTINE VI

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Originally appearing in Volume V06, Page 991 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CONSTANTINE VI., grandson of Constantine V., was emperor, 780—797. At ten years of age he succeeded his father, Leo IV., under the guardianship of his mother Irene (q.v.), who held the reins of government for ten years. In 782 the Arabs under Harun al-Rashid penetrated as far as the Bosporus, and exacted an annual tribute as the price of an inglorious peace (see CALIPHATE, § C, 3 ad fin.). Even when Constantine came of age, Irene practically retained the supreme power. At length Constantine had her arrested, but foolishly pardoned her shortly afterwards. Disastrous campaigns against the Bulgarians and' Arabs afforded her an opportunity of rousing the contempt and hatred of the people against their ruler. On his return to Constantinople, Constantine managed to escape to the Asiatic coast, but being brought back practically by force he was seized and blinded. According to some, he died on the same day; according to others, he survived for several years. With Constantine VI. the Syrian (Isaurian) dynasty became extinct. See Theophanes, and the biographies of the patriarch Tarasius and Theodore of Studium; also F. C. Schlosser, Geschithte der bildersturmenden Kaiser des ostromischen Reichs (Frankfurt am Main, 1812) ; other works s.v. IRENE.
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