Thomas the Slav

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thomas the Slav


Born circa 760; died 823. Leader of a popular uprising in Byzantium circa 820.

Of Slavic origin, Thomas was a military commander in one of the themes of Asia Minor. Taking advantage of the popular masses’ discontent with feudalization and the icon worshippers’ opposition to the repressive policies of the Iconoclastic emperors, he organized an uprising. Armenians, Georgians, and other peoples of the eastern themes also took part in the revolt, and he obtained the support of the Arabian Caliphate. The rebellion affected nearly all of Asia Minor and parts of Thrace and Macedonia.

Thomas attacked Constantinople in December 821. He besieged the city for a year but was finally forced to retreat as a result of his lack of a strong navy, dissension among the socially heterogeneous rebels, and an attack by the Bulgarian khan Omurtag, whose assistance had been requested by Emperor Michael. In 823, Thomas was besieged in Arcadiopolis; after a prolonged resistance he was handed over to the emperor and executed. In several regions the rebels held out until 825.


Lipshits, E. E. Ocherki istorii vizantiiskogo obshchestva i kul’tury. Moscow-Leningrad, 1961. Pages 212–28.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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