Leo came to the throne by way of exemplary military service under Nicephorus I and then Michael I. When the latter abandoned his post and title Leo was hailed as the new emperor. He then went on to ease tensions with the Bulgars with whom he was suspected of collaborating in an effort to depose Michael.
Leo was a great military leader and might have been a great political and civic one as well had he not sided with the iconoclasts who had by this time lost most of their support among the upper religious echelons as well as the public. His protege and friend Michael II sensed that the popularity polls were slipping and decided to distance himself from the emperor. As relations soured between the two a plot was revealed and Michael was imprisoned to be executed for treason. However, with a stroke of luck he managed to not only escape but arrange for an alternate plot to kill Leo and have it carried out the next day. As Leo went to church on Christmas day he was ambushed by Michael's gang who had disguised themselves as monks and was slain at the altar.
SB 1627, DOC III 2 AU Solidus Obv: •LEOnbASILEU' - Crowned facing bust of Leo, holding cross potent and akakia.
Rev: COnSTAnT'dESP'(XE) - Crowned facing bust of Constantine, holding globus cruciger and akakia. (Constantinople). $900 5/21/03.
SB 1632, DOC III 9 AU Semissis Obv: LEOnbASILEO - Crowned facing bust of Leo, holding globus cruciger and akakia; Λ to right.
Rev: COnSTAnTI - Crowned facing bust of Constantine, holding globus cruciger and akakia; K to right. (Syracuse).
SB 1628, DOC III 4 AR Miliaresion Obv: IhSUSXRISTUSnICA - Cross potent on three steps.
Rev: +LEOn/SCONSTAn/TInEECθEU/bASILISRO/MAIOn - Legend in five lines. (Constantinople). $300 5/21/03.
SB 1629, DOC III 6 AE Follis Obv: LEONbASIL - Crowned and draped bust facing, holding cross potent and akakia.
Rev: Large M; cross above, XXX left, NNN right; A. 813 (Constantinople).