Genuine 24 Kt Gold Byzantine Coin silver pendant depicting Emperor Phocas
Flavius Phocas ( 547 – 5 October 610) was an Eastern Roman emperor from 602 to 610. The early life of Phocas is largely unknown, but he rose to prominence in 602, as a leader in the revolt against Emperor Maurice. Phocas captured Constantinople and overthrew Maurice on 23 November 602, and declared himself emperor on the same day. Phocas deeply mistrusted the elite of Constantinople, and therefore installed his relatives in high military positions, and brutally purged his opponents. Under his reign, the Byzantine Empire was threatened by multiple enemies, with frequent raids in the Balkans from the Avars and Slavs, and a Sassanid invasion of the eastern provinces.
In the cultural sphere, the reign of Phocas is marked by the change of Imperial fashion set by Constantine the Great. Constantine and all his successors, except Julian the Apostate, were beardless. Phocas again introduced the wearing of the beard. This fashion lasted until the end of the Byzantine Empire.
In calling the Pope the "head of all churches", Phocas' decree has been important in discussions about papal primacy and papal supremacy. Some Protestant historicist commentators have seen the decree of Phocas (usually taken to be in 606) as having eschatological significance.