When Byzantine emperor Justinian II was usurped, his nose was cut off to prevent him from seeking the throne and sent to Crimea in exile. He returned to Constantinople 10 years later with a Bulgar army and a golden nose to retake his throne
“While in exile, Justinian began to plot and gather supporters for an attempt to retake the throne. Justinian became a liability to Cherson and the authorities decided to return him to Constantinople in 702 or 703. He escaped from Cherson and received help from Ibusirus Gliabanus (Busir Glavan), the khagan of the Khazars, who received him enthusiastically and gave him his sister as a bride. Justinian renamed her Theodora, after the wife of Justinian I. They were given a home in the town of Phanagoria, at the entrance to the sea of Azov. Busir was offered a bribe by Tiberios to kill his brother-in-law, and dispatched two Khazar officials, Papatzys and Balgitzin, to do the deed. Warned by his wife, Justinian strangled Papatzys and Balgatzin with his own hands. He sailed in a fishing-boat to Cherson, summoned his supporters, and they all sailed westwards across the Black Sea.
As the ship bearing Justinian sailed along the northern coast of the Black Sea, he and his crew became caught up in a storm somewhere between the mouths of the Dniester and the Dnieper Rivers. While it was raging, one of his companions reached out to Justinian saying that if he promised God that he would be magnanimous, and not seek revenge on his enemies when he was returned to the throne, they would all be spared. Justinian retorted, “If I spare a single one of them, may God drown me here”.
Having survived the storm, Justinian next approached Tervel of Bulgaria. Tervel agreed to provide all the military assistance necessary for Justinian to regain his throne in exchange for financial considerations, the award of a Caesar’s crown, and the hand of Justinian’s daughter, Anastasia, in marriage. In spring 705, with an army of 15,000 Bulgar and Slav horsemen Justinian appeared before the walls of Constantinople. For three days, Justinian tried to convince the citizens of Constantinople to open the gates, but to no avail. Unable to take the city by force, he and some companions entered through an unused water conduit under the walls of the city, roused their supporters, and seized control of the city in a midnight coup d’état. Justinian once more ascended the throne, breaking the tradition preventing the mutilated from Imperial rule. After tracking down his predecessors, he had his rivals Leontius and Tiberios brought in chains before Justinian in the Hippodrome, now wearing a golden nasal prosthesis. There, before a jeering populace, Justinian placed his feet on the necks of Tiberios and Leontios in a symbolic gesture of subjugation before ordering their execution by beheading, followed by many of their partisans, as well as deposing, blinding and exiling Patriarch Kallinikos I of Constantinople to Rome.
Justinian’s reign saw the continued slow and ongoing process of transformation of the Byzantine Empire, as the traditions inherited from the ancient Latin Roman state were gradually being eroded. This is most clearly seen in the coinage of Justinian’s reign, which saw the reintroduction of the Loros, the traditional consular costume that had not been seen on Imperial coinage for a century, while the office itself had not been celebrated for nearly half a century. This was linked to Justinian’s decision to unify the office of consul with that of emperor thus making the Emperor the head of state not only de facto but also de jure. Although the office of the consulate would continue to exist until Emperor Leo VI the Wise formally abolished it with Novel 94, it was Justinian who effectively brought the consulate as a separate political entity to an end. He was formally appointed as Consul in 686, and from that point, Justinian II adopted the title of consul for all the Julian years of his reign, consecutively numbered.
Though at times done in by his own despotic tendencies, Justinian was a talented and perceptive ruler who succeeded in improving the standing of the Byzantine Empire. A pious ruler, Justinian was the first emperor to include the image of Christ on coinage issued in his name and attempted to outlaw various pagan festivals and practices that persisted in the Empire. He may have self-consciously modelled himself on his namesake, Justinian I, as seen in his enthusiasm for large-scale construction projects and the renaming of his Khazar wife with the name of Theodora. Among the building projects he undertook was the creation of the triklinos, an extension to the imperial palace, a decorative cascade fountain located at the Augusteum, and a new Church of the Virgin at Petrion”