History is full of many love stories despite the fact that love is often not the most important thing when it comes to marriage. Historical couples such as John and Abigail Adams (according to Britannica) and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (according to History) were known for their devotion to each other. -0:09 Even fictional characters like Romeo and Juliet or King Arthur and Guinevere have inspired people to pursue true love. Unfortunately, not all marriages were made with love in mind and sometimes they ended tragically. The Unhappiest Royal First Wedding Nights in History One historic marriage that didn’t go so well dates back to the Byzantine Empire. It’s about a man not born heir to the imperial throne and the fall of the Western Roman Empire (according to Vintage News). Emperor Zeno’s reign was tumultuous and ended due to a strange combination of natural causes and a lack of compassion on the part of his wife.
Who is Emperor Zeno?
According to the Britannica, Zeno was born in the modern region of Anatolia (Turkey), although the date of his birth is unknown. His birth name was Tarasikodisa and he went by that name for most of his life. Tarasikodisa became the head of a tribe in the region of Isauria (Northern Syria) and attracted the attention of Emperor Leo I by revealing a plot against him. Zeno rose through the ranks and became a military commander as well as the emperor’s consul.
After gaining the emperor’s trust, Zeno married Leo I’s daughter, Ariadne. This union is somewhat unusual for the time in that emperors generally did not marry their children to foreigners unless they received something in return (according to World History). Although the marriage was for strategic purposes, Leo I had an heir – Zeno and Ariadne had a son, also named Leo. Unfortunately, the young Leo inherited the title of emperor long before he came of age when Leo I suddenly died. As a result, the young Leo’s father, Zeno, became the child’s co-emperor. However, the child died under unclear circumstances after only nine months of joint rule, and Zeno was proclaimed Byzantine emperor despite widespread discontent. The Strange Death of Zeno Emperor Zeno technically had two different reigns, but neither of them went well for him. His first reign was short, and his second was longer, but very stormy. Zeno’s reign as emperor saw religious conflict, internal rebellion, and the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (according to Ancient Origins). His unstable reign came to an abrupt end when he fell ill and died on April 9, 491.
Zeno’s illness is not entirely clear, but according to Ancient Origins the possibilities range from dysentery to epilepsy or drunkenness. Whatever the reason, he was taken for dead and buried. Three days later, screams are heard from the sarcophagus. It turns out that the emperor is not dead, but was unconscious. Unfortunately for him, he was doomed to die anyway – as legend has it, his wife Ariadne refused to open the tomb despite her husband’s desperate pleas. If this was indeed the case, then Ariadne left her husband to die buried alive.
Photo: Semis issued during the second reign of Zeno / Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. / CC BY-SA 2.5