Isaac the Armenian

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Sarcophagus of Isachius, in Ravenna.

No to be confused with the Armenian saint Isaac of Armenia.

Isaac the Armenian was an Exarch of Ravenna hailing from the Kamsarakan clan. The chronology of the Exarchate in this period is uncertain: either he succeeded Euselnus and served c. 625 - 644; he succeeded Eleutherius, and served 620 - 637.

The Chronicle of Fredegar records a story of how Isaac slew Tasso, duke of Tuscany by deceit for the benefit of the Lombard king Arioald.[1] However, according to Paul the Deacon, it was the patriarch Gregory who killed Tasso, and Tasso was instead the Duke of Friuli with his brother Kakko.[2]

In 638 the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius demanded that the new Pope Severinus sign his Ecthesis, a Monothelite profession of faith. Severinus refused; Heraclius denied recognition to the pope and sent an official named Maurice to negotiate with the papacy. Maurice, after arriving in Rome, seized the Lateran and encouraged Isaac to come to the city. Isaac did so; he then briefly resided in the Lateran and with Maurice plundered the palace. Some of the treasure was sent to Heraclius; much of the rest went to the exarch.[3] Some time later Maurice attempted to repeat the action, but in order to avoid sharing the wealth he denied recognition to the exarch. Isaac then captured Maurice and had him executed.[4]

The Lombard king Rothari conquered all of the imperial possessions in Liguria, as well as much Emilia, in around 643. A battle fought between the Lombards and troops of the Exarchate on the banks of the Panaro ended in defeat for the Byzantines, with several thousand soldiers killed.[5] Although Isaac himself probably met his death fighting the Lombards, the author of the life of Pope Theodore in the Liber Pontificalis writes that Isaac died of a stroke.[6] There is a sarcophagus of Isaac's located in the Sancta Sanctorum, which contains depictions of Daniel, the adoration of the Magi, and Lazarus.

References[edit]

  1. ^ J.M. Wallace-Hadrill, translator, The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1960), p. 58
  2. ^ Paul the Deacon (4.38) History of the Lombards, translated by William Dudley Foulke, 1907 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1974), pp. 187f
  3. ^ The Liber Pontificalis dates this to the period when Pope Severinus was "bishop-elect", in the first months of 640. Raymond Davis (translator), The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis), first edition (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 1989), pp. 65f
  4. ^ Davis, Liber Pontificalis, p. 67
  5. ^ J. B. Bury, A History of the Later Roman Empire (London: Macmillan, 1889), p. 148
  6. ^ Davis, Liber Pontificalis, p. 67
Preceded by
Eleutherius
Exarch of Ravenna
c. 625 – c.643
Succeeded by
Theodore I Calliopas