Leo the Thracian

Leo The Thracian (also the Great), or FLAVIUS LEO I, emperor of Constantinople, was born in Thrace of obscure parents, entered the military service, and rose to high rank. At the death of the emperor Marcian in A.D. 457, he commanded a body of troops near Selymbria, and was proclaimed emperor by the soldiers, at the instigation of Aspar, a Gothic chief, who commanded the auxiliaries. The senate of Constantinople confirmed the choice, and the patriarch Anatolius crowned him. This is said to have been the first instance of an emperor receiving the crown from the hands of a bishop, a ceremony which was afterwards adopted by all other Christian princes, and from which the clergy, as Gibbon justly observes, have deduced the most formidable consequences. SEE INVESTITURE. Leo followed the measures of Marcian against the Eutychians, who had been condemned as heretics, and who had recently excited a tumult at Alexandria, had killed the bishop, and placed one AElurus in his stead. Aspar for a time screened AElurus; but Leo at last had him exiled, and an orthodox bishop put in his place. The Huns, having entered the province of Dacia, were defeated by the imperial troops, and a son of Attila was killed in the battle. Soon after, Leo, in concert with Anthemius, emperor of the West, prepared a numerous fleet, with a large body of troops on board, for the recovery of Africa, which was occupied by the Vandals. Part of the expedition attacked and took the island of Sardinia; the rest landed in Libya, and took Tripolis and other towns; but the delay and mismanagement of the commander, who was Leo's brother-in-law, gave time to Genseric to make his preparations. Coming out of the harbor of Carthage by night, with fire-ships impelled by a fair wind, he set fire to many of the imperial ships, dispersed the rest, and obliged the expedition to leave the coast of Africa. Leo died in January, 474. — English Cyclopcedia, s.v.; Smith, Dict. of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 2:734.

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