Heraclius (Latin: Flavius Heraclius Augustus, Greek: Φλάβιος Ἡράκλειος) was the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 610 to 641.
He was responsible for introducing Greek as the Eastern Roman Empire's official language. His rise to power began in 608, when he and his father, Heraclius the Elder, the exarch of Africa, led a revolt against the unpopular usurper Phocas.
Heraclius's reign was marked by several military campaigns. The year Heraclius came to power, the empire was threatened on multiple frontiers. Heraclius immediately took charge of the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628. The first battles of the campaign ended in defeat for the Byzantines; the Persian army fought their way to the Bosphorus but Constantinople was protected by impenetrable walls and a strong navy and Heraclius was able to avoid total defeat. Soon after, he initiated reforms to rebuild and strengthen the military. Heraclius drove the Persians out of Asia Minor and pushed deep into their territory, defeating them decisively in 627 at the Battle of Nineveh. The Persian king Khosrau II was overthrown and executed by his son Kavadh II, who soon sued for a peace treaty, agreeing to withdraw from all occupied territory. This way peaceful relations were restored to the two deeply strained empires.
Heraclius soon experienced a new event, the Muslim conquests. Emerging from the Arabian Peninsula, the Muslims quickly conquered the Sassanid empire. In 634 the Muslims marched into Roman Syria, defeating Heraclius' brother Theodore. Within a short period of time, the Arabs conquered Mesopotamia, Armenia and Egypt.
Heraclius entered diplomatic relations with the Croats and Serbs in the Balkans. He tried to repair the schism in the Christian church in regard to the Monophysites, by promoting a compromise doctrine called Monothelitism. The Church of the East (commonly called Nestorian) was also involved in the process. Eventually, however, this project of unity was rejected by all sides of the dispute.
Heraclius was sole ruler until 22 January 613, when he crowned his son Constantine III as co-emperor.
Towards the end of his reign, Heraclius also named his young son Constantine Heraclius (commonly known by the diminutive Heraklonas) as Augustus on 4 July 638.