Zeno was a very unpopular emperor because he was an Isaurian and not descended form an old senatorial family of Rome or Constantinople. He changed his name from Tarascicodissa to the Greek name Zeno in order to seem more acceptable to the anti - barbarian factions in Constantinople. He had married Ariadne, the daughter of the emperor Leo and was Leo's master general.
When the emperor Leo was close to death, he appointed his young grandson Emperor Leo II. Shortly after Leo's death, Leo II crowned his father Zeno co-augustus. Later, the boy died, leaving Zeno solely in control of the empire.
The major event of Zeno's reign was the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The boy emperor Romulus Augustulus was sent into retirement and the Germanic master General sent the imperial regalia of the West to Constantinople, declaring that the West had no longer any need of an emperor.
The seventeen years of Zeno's reign were ones of civil unrest, rebellions, and raids by the Ostrogoths. The usurper Basiliscus rebelled in 475 and held the throne for twenty months. This was the same Basiliscus whose incompetence as a general caused Leo's invasion of Africa to fail. He wasnt any better an emperor than he was a commander of troops, and Zeno was eventually restored. When Zeno died in 491, his widow Ariadne chose Anastasius to succeed him.
Go to next article on Anastasius
Go back to previous article on Leo I