John Mystacon

John Mystacon

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John, surnamed Mystacon, "the mustachioed", ' onMouseout='HidePop("44030")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Floruit">fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

580–590), was a prominent East Roman (Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

) general in the wars
Roman-Persian War of 572–591
This was a war fought between the Sassanid Empire of Persia and the Roman Empire, termed by modern historians as the Byzantine Empire. It was triggered by pro-Roman revolts in areas of the Caucasus under Persian hegemony, although other events contributed to its outbreak...

 with Sassanid Persia during the reigns of Byzantine emperors Tiberius II (r. 578–582) and Maurice
Maurice (emperor)
Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602.A prominent general in his youth, Maurice fought with success against the Sassanid Persians...

 (r. 582–602).

A native Thracian
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, John first appears in history as a general in Roman Armenia
Roman Armenia
From the end of the 1st century BC onwards, Armenia was, in part or whole, subject to the Roman Empire and its successor, the East Roman or Byzantine Empire...

 in 579, along with Cours
Cours (Byzantine general)
Cours or Curs was an East Roman general of the 6th century.He is recorded as being a "Scythian", which in effect implies most probably a Hunnic origin...

. If not already holding the post of magister militum
Magister militum
Magister militum was a top-level military command used in the later Roman Empire, dating from the reign of Constantine. Used alone, the term referred to the senior military officer of the Empire...

 per Armeniam
Roman Armenia
From the end of the 1st century BC onwards, Armenia was, in part or whole, subject to the Roman Empire and its successor, the East Roman or Byzantine Empire...

at that time, he had been elevated to it by 582, when he was named magister militum per Orientem
Diocese of the East
The Diocese of the East was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, incorporating the provinces of the western Middle East, between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia...

by the newly-crowned Maurice. Soon after this, possibly in autumn 582, he fought a major pitched battle with the Persians under Kardarigan
Kardarigan (6th century)
Kardarigan was a Sassanid Persian general of the late 6th century, who fought in the Byzantine–Persian War of 572–591. Since he is recorded as being old enough to have an adult nephew in 586, it is uncertain whether he is the same as the general of the same name who fought in the later wars of the...

 near the junction of the rivers Nymphius (mod. Batman
Batman River
The Batman River is a major tributary of the Tigris, joining it near the source of Tigris called Dicle River in southeast Turkey. It originates in the Anti-Taurus Mountains and flows approximately from north to south, passing near the city of Batman and forming a natural border between the Batman...

) and Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

. In this battle, John commanded the center, while his old colleague Cours commanded the right wing and general Ariulf the left wing. Initially the battle went well, the center and left pushing the Persians back, but Cours did not follow up, allegedly due to his jealousy of John, causing the East Roman army to retreat in defeat. After another defeat during an unsuccessful siege of the fort Acbas, he was replaced (in late 583) by Philippicus
Philippicus (general)
Philippicus or Philippikos was an East Roman general, comes excubitorum, and brother-in-law of Emperor Maurice. His successful career as a general spanned several decades, chiefly against the Persians.- Under Maurice :...

.

In 587, he was briefly entrusted with command in Thrace against the Avars
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

 after their defeat and capture of the local commander Castus. John successfully relieved the Avar siege of Adrianople after defeating them in battle, but refused to pursue them out of caution. By 589, he was back in command in Armenia as magister militum, a post he held until a few years after the 591 peace with Persia, until relieved by Heraclius the Elder
Heraclius the Elder
Heraclius the Elder was an East Roman general and the father of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius . Of Armenian origin, the elder Heraclius distinguished himself in the wars against the Sassanid Persians in the 580s. Ca. 600, he was appointed as the Exarch of Africa. In 608, he rebelled with his son...

. At about the same time, he was raised to the rank of patricius. In 589 he laid siege to the Armenian capital Dvin
Dvin
Dvin was a large commercial city and the capital of early medieval Armenia. It was situated north of the previous ancient capital of Armenia, the city of Artaxata, along the banks of the Metsamor River, 35 km to the south of modern Yerevan...

, but raised it when he heard of the rebellion of general Bahram Chobin
Bahram Chobin
General Bahrām Chobin was a famous Eran spahbod during the late 6th century in Persia, usurping the Sassanid throne for a year as Bahram VI .- Life :...

 against Hormizd IV
Hormizd IV
Hormizd IV, son of Khosrau I, reigned as the twenty-first King of Persia from 579 to 590.He seems to have been imperious and violent, but not without some kindness of heart. Some very characteristic stories are told of him by Tabari. His father's sympathies had been with the nobles and the priests...

. Taking advantage of the Persian infighting, he raided into Persian-held Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, carrying off much booty and many captives. In 591 he took part in the joint Roman–Persian campaign under Narses
Narses (general under Maurice)
Narses was a Byzantine general of Armenian ancestry active during the reigns of the emperors Maurice and Phocas in the late sixth and early seventh centuries. He commanded the army in Mesopotamia under Maurice; when Phocas overthrew Maurice and seized the throne, Narses refused to recognize the...

 to restore Khosrau II
Khosrau II
250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II 250px|thumb|Khosrau II (Khosrow II, Chosroes II, or Xosrov II in classical sources, sometimes called Parvez, "the Ever Victorious" – (in Persian: خسرو پرویز), was the twenty-second Sassanid King of Persia, reigning from 590 to 628...

, the rightful Persian ruler, to his throne. At the head of his Armenian troops he fought in the decisive Battle of Blarathon
Battle of Blarathon
The Battle of Blarathon was fought in 592 near Ganzak between a combined Eastern Roman -Persian force and a Persian army led by the usurper Bahram Chobin. The combined army was led by John Mystacon, Narses, and the Persian prince Khosrau II. The Roman-Persian force was victorious, ousting Bahram...

, which signalled the final defeat of the usurper Bahram.

Sources