Alexios Mosele (general)

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Alexios Mosele (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Μωσηλέ) or Mousoulem/Mousele (Greek: Μουσουλέμ/Μουσελέ) was a late 8th-century Byzantine general of Armenian origin.


Gold coin of Byzantine emperor Constantine VI (r. 780–797), depicting him and his mother and co-regent, Irene. Mosele supported Constantine against Irene in 790, but was imprisoned and blinded when she returned to power in 792.

Alexios is the first known member of the Mosele/Mousele family of Armenian origin.[1] In 790, he was the droungarios of the Vigla guard regiment (the first known occupant of the office). In September of that year, he was sent by the Empress-regent Irene of Athens (r. 797–802) to deal with the soldiers of the Armeniac theme, who refused to swear an oath of loyalty which placed her before her son, Emperor Constantine VI (r. 780–797). The Armeniacs, however, imprisoned their general Nikephoros, declared Mosele their new commander, and acclaimed Constantine as the sole Byzantine emperor. At the news of this, the other themata of Asia Minor followed suit in deposing their commanders and affirming Constantine as sole emperor.[1][2][3]

The thematic troops then assembled in Bithynia, where they demanded from Empress Irene to release Emperor Constantine from his de facto house arrest. Bowing to the pressure from the troops, Irene released her son. Emperor Constantine shortly after assumed the reins of government, dismissing Irene's counselors and confining her to a palace in Constantinople.[4] Mosele was confirmed as the Armeniacs' commander by Emperor Constantine, and later summoned to Constantinople and raised to the rank of patrikios.[2] Constantine, however, soon proved incapable to rule the Byzantine Empire effectively, and the military successes, which the soldiers who supported him had hoped for, did not materialize. In January 792, however, he recalled his mother from her banishment, restored her to her titles and position of co-ruler, and demanded from the army to acclaim her along with him. The Armeniacs once again refused to comply, and demanded the return of Mosele from Constantinople. Despite having guaranteed his personal safety, Emperor Constantine, who suspected him of designs on the Byzantine throne, had him flogged, tonsured, and imprisoned.[2][5][6]

This was followed soon after by the disastrous defeat of the Byzantine army, led by the Byzantine emperor himself, at the Battle of Marcellae against the Bulgars. As the imperial army grumbled and even the usually loyal tagmata plotted to replace him, Emperor Constantine, on the advice of his mother and her eunuch advisor Staurakios, had Mosele blinded. Emperor Constantine's uncle, Nikephoros, whom the tagmatic soldiers had planned to make emperor of Byzantium, was also blinded, while four other uncles had their tongues cut.[2][6][7] At the news of this, the Armeniacs rose in open rebellion. They defeated a loyalist army in November, and were defeated only in May 793 by an expedition under Emperor Constantine VI himself.[2][8]


  1. ^ a b Kazhdan 1991, p. 1416.
  2. ^ a b c d e Winkelmann et al. 1999, p. 58.
  3. ^ Garland 1999, p. 82; Treadgold 1997, p. 421.
  4. ^ Garland 1999, pp. 82–83.
  5. ^ Treadgold 1997, pp. 421–422.
  6. ^ a b Garland 1999, p. 83.
  7. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 422.
  8. ^ Garland 1999, pp. 83–84.