Byzantine Emperor. Born into a military family of Jewish descent, he rose in the army to the rank of general and cultivated the friendship of the future emperor Leo V, who he helped seize the throne from Michael I in 813 AD. With his old companion now emperor, he was made second in command of the Imperial Army, but in 820 AD he was accused of conspiracy and sentenced to death. His popularity with the army ensured his release and he ordered Michael's murder during the Christmas mass in Haga Sophia, being declared emperor himself while still wearing prison chains. He was a supporter of iconoclasm, but halted the persecution of icon worshippers. Another military man, Thomas the Slav, established himself as a rival emperor in Thrace and besieged Constantinople in 821 AD. Thomas was forced to raise his siege following the intervention on Michael's behalf of Omurtag of Bulgaria in 823 AD, but Michael failed to prevent the invasion of Crete by the Arabs in 824 AD. By the time he died he had founded a dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire for the next two hundred years.
Bio by: js