Leo I (emperor)

Imperator Caesar Flavius Valerius Leo Augustus or Leo I of the Byzantine Empire (401 - 474, reigned 457 - 474), sometimes known as Leo the Thracian, was the last of a series of emperors placed on the throne by Aspar, the Alan serving as commander-in-chief of the army. His coronation as emperor on February 7, 457, was the first known to involve the Patriarch of Constantinople. Leo I made an alliance with the Isaurians and was thus able to eliminate Aspar. The price of the alliance was the marriage of Leo's daughter to Tarasicodissa, leader of the Isaurians who, as Zeno, became emperor in 474.

During Leo's reign, the Balkans were ravaged time and again by the West Goths and the Huns. However, these attackers were unable to take Constantinople thanks to the walls which had been rebuilt and reinforced in the reign of Theodosius II and against which they possessed no suitable technology. His reign was also noteworthy for his influence in the Western Roman Empire, marked by his appointment of Anthemius as Western Roman Emperor in 467. He attempted to build on this political achievement with an expedition against the Vandals in 468, which was defeated due to the treachery and incompetence of Leo's brother-in-law Basiliscus. This disaster drained the Empire of men and money.

Whilst Leo's empire was well known for its military technology, it also managed important advances in other fields, most notably a primitive form of paperclip for binding official documents.

Leo died of dysentery at the age of 73 on January 18, 474.

Preceded by: Marcian

Byzantine Emperor

Succeeded by: Leo II

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