The Byzantine theme system (7th – 9th cents. AD)
(1,435 words)

Heraclius (610-641), who acceded on the death of Phocas, would be another emperor who tightened the structures of the Empire and its society anew. And he it was (probably more so than his grandson Constans II (641–668)) who undertook a drastic administrative reorganization: the division of the Empire into military provinces, so-called themata or ‘themes’.

The actual meaning of the word thema is disputed. It may have meant a ‘sphere of operations’ for particular army divisions that were transferred to Asia Mi…

Cite this page
Winkle, C. and Olshausen, E., “The Byzantine theme system (7th – 9th cents. AD)”, in: Brill’s New Pauly Supplements I - Volume 3 : Historical Atlas of the Ancient World, Edited by: Anne-Maria Wittke, Eckart Olshausen, Richard Szydlak, in collaboration with: Vera Sauer and other specialists. Consulted online on 21 March 2018 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: 9789004167834, 20091241

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