1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Phocas
PHOCAS, East Roman emperor (602-610), was a Cappadocian of humble origin. He was still but a centurion when chosen by the army of the Danube to lead it against Constantinople, A revolt within the city soon afterwards resulted in the abdication of the reigning emperor Maurice, and in the elevation of Phocas to the throne, which seems to have been accomplished by one of the circus factions against the wish of the troops. Phocas proved entirely incapable of governing the empire. He consented to pay an increased tribute to the Avars and allowed the Persians, who had declared war in 604 under Chosroes II., to overrun the Asiatic provinces and to penetrate to the Bosporus. When the African governor Heraclius declared against him, Phocas was deserted by the starving population of Constantinople, and deposed with scarcely a struggle (610). He died in the same year on the scaffold.