Constans II (Greek: Κώνστας Β', Kōnstas II), also called Constantine the Bearded (7 November 630 - 15 September 668), was Byzantine emperor from 641 to 668. In 642, he became the last Roman Consul in history.
Constans attempted to steer a middle line in the church dispute between Orthodoxy and Monothelitism, by refusing to persecute either and prohibiting further discussion of the natures of Jesus Christ by decree in 648. Naturally, this live-and-let-live compromise satisfied few passionate participants in the dispute.
Pope Martin I had condemned both Monothelitism and Constans' attempt to halt debates over it (the Type of Constans) in the Lateran Council of 649. Now the emperor ordered his Exarch of Ravenna to arrest the Pope. One Exarch excused himself from this task, but his successor carried it out in 653. The Pope was brought to Constantinople and condemned as a criminal, ultimately being exiled to Kherson, where he died in 655.
In 661, Constans launched an assault against the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, which then occupied most of Southern Italy. Taking advantage of the fact that Lombard king Grimoald I of Benevento was engaged against Frankish forces from Neustria, Constans II disembarked at Taranto and besieged Lucera and Benevento. However, the latter resisted and Constans withdrew to Naples. During the travel from Benevento to Naples, Constans II was defeated by Mitolas, Count of Capua, near Pugna. Constans ordered Saburrus, the commander of his army, to attack again the Lombards but he was defeated by the Beneventani at Forino, between Avellino and Salerno. He was subsequently assassinated, allegedly by his chamberlain who forced Constans' head into a bucket of water while the Emperor was in his bath.
Constans II in Justinian
Constans II was long dead by the time his grandson, Justinian II, was born. Nonetheless, in his memoir, Justinian wrote reverently of his grandfather, often harkening back to the great deeds Constans had achieved for the Byzantine Empire. When recounting Constans seizure and exile of Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor, Justinian (who'd known exile before beginning his memoir) concluded Constans was truly a hard man.
Constans II in Agent of Byzantium
In the mid 7th century, Constans II succeeded in regaining Italia from the Lombards. He installed his own Bishop of Rome since he disapproved of the doctrines of the incumbent. The deposed Pope fled to the Franco-Saxon kingdoms and they, along with the Anglelanders, continued to follow that shadowy line of popes.
- Justinian, pg. 34.
Herakleios in 610
|Consul of the Roman Empire
Justinian II in 686