Mzhezh – Armenian Military Leader and Ruler of Sicily

Mzhezh - Armenian Military LeaderMzhezh (Greek: Μιζίζιος; Armenian: Մժէժ, Mzhezh) was an Armenian general in the Byzantine army who would become the Emperor of Sicily in the late 660s AD.

Mzhezh was born in 622. It is unknown where he was born precisely. According to historians, he was an Armenian by origin. Presumably, he was a representative of the Armenian noble Gnuni family.

Mzhezh became the ruler of Sicily after the death of Byzantine Emperor Constans II in 668. According to Byzantine sources, Constans was killed in Syracuse in a bathhouse on September 15, 668.

It is generally considered that Mzhezh usurped the Byzantine throne. However, it is also thought that Mzhezh was proclaimed an Emperor under the duress of the conspirators who organized the assassination of Constans II.

According to a Byzantine monk and chronicler Theophanes the Confessor, Mzhezh didn’t receive any support in the west. Constans’ son Constantine IV personally led a campaign against him with a large fleet from Constantinople.

The resistance of Mzezh was crushed in 669. The Emperor himself and his comrades were executed and their severed heads were sent to Constantinople.

The murder of Constans and the rebellion of Mzhezh had dire consequences. The Arabs took advantage of the situation to invade Byzantine Africa and to raid Sicily.

Read also: Bahram al-Armani – Armenian Egyptian Warlord

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