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Nikephoros I

Nikephoros I

Nikephoros I ruled as emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 802 to 811 CE. A former finance minister who did much to improve the state economy, Nikephoros was not particularly popular with the empire's overtaxed peasants and overregulated merchants. Initially successful in his foreign affairs when he won victories in the Balkans, he then faced a rebellion in Asia Minor in 806 CE and subsequent losses to the Abbasid Caliphate. The emperor was killed on the battlefield fighting in Bulgaria, and his skull was infamously made into a silver-lined drinking cup by his nemesis the Bulgar Khan Krum.

Succession

Irene the Athenian (r. 797-802 CE) had been the first-ever woman to rule as Byzantine emperor in her own right. The wife of Leo IV (r. 775-780 CE) and regent for her young son Constantine VI from 780-790 CE, Irene took sole power in 797 CE after enduring the ignominy of exile following her insistence she should rule above her son no matter what age he reached. However, her proposed marriage alliance with Charlemagne, king of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans in the west, was a step too far for the Byzantine establishment and she was deposed and exiled for the second time in October 802 CE. Nikephoros, the chief finance minister (logothetes tou genikou) under Irene, was selected as the new emperor.

Domestic Policies

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given his former ministerial role, Nikephoros quickly set about putting the Byzantine economy on a sounder footing after the chaotic years of Irene's reign. For some time the state coffers had been less full than they ought to have been because of inefficiencies in tax collection and Irene giving out too many tax privileges to all and sundry. Accordingly, the tax rolls were reassessed and new land taxes imposed. There was a new tax, the hearth tax (kapnikon), which was payable by all peasant tenants who worked on land owned by churches and monasteries. Another burden was the obligation of all villages to finance the military arms and equipment of those community members who could not afford to do so themselves. The village was also expected to pay the tax arrears of its poorer inhabitants, too.

the emperor's tax reforms did achieve their aim & the state was in a much healthier financial situation than under his predecessors.

Other taxes included duties on imported goods, notably on slaves bought from outside the empire. The duties were relatively easy to collect as the state controlled most of the access points open to merchants. Traders were also hit by a ban on private loans, and shipowners could only raise money through the state, which charged 17% interest (the usual being below 6%). Finally, a tax on inheritance was introduced. It seemed that having an accountant as an emperor had its consequences.

As one might expect, Nikephoros' taxes were not very popular, especially with the Church who not only suffering under them itself also saw them as an unnecessary burden on an already impoverished peasantry. Monasteries were targeted, especially, and their property was often confiscated or they were compelled to host army units unpaid. One of the chief voices in the protests was Theophanes the Confessor (d. c. 818 CE) who wrote his Chronographia history on the period, which predictably, contains an unflattering section on Nikephoros' reign.

The Church was not pleased with the emperor's choice for the important position of Patriarch (bishop) of Constantinople either. Confusingly selecting his namesake, the scholarly layman Nikephoros I (r. 806-815 CE), the new bishop's support of the second marriage of Constantine VI (r. 780-797 CE) in 795 CE, which had created the Moechian controversy over whether an emperor should remarry, set off yet another round of heated debate and conflict between elements of the Church and the emperor. Nikephoros the bishop had called a synod of clerics and laymen in 806 CE, which recognised the marriage and pardoned Joseph, the priest who had performed the ceremony. Especially unhappy were the monks and followers of Theodore of Stoudios, who had been persecuted for opposing the marriage at the time. The issue would only be resolved when emperor Michael I (r. 811-813 CE) exiled Joseph and recalled Theodore and his followers from exile in 811 CE.

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Still, despite these controversies, the emperor's tax reforms did achieve their aim and the state was in a much healthier financial situation than under his predecessors. The army and navy could be paid for and expanded, and the fortifications of Constantinople could be improved too. The empire was further bolstered by the movement of loyal settlers from Asia Minor to Greece, improved defences in Greece and the creation of new military provinces (themes) across the Balkans. These provinces were Thrace, Macedonia, Kephalonia, Dyrrachium, and Thessalonike, with Thessalonica as its capital.

Foreign Policy

Having improved the military muscle at his disposal, Nikephoros set about using it to good effect. Victories came against the Slavs in the Peloponnese and Serdica region of Bulgaria. A minor skirmish with Charlemagne and the Franks over Venice was settled by a peace treaty in 807 CE, although another naval encounter occurred in 810 CE when the doge Oblerius proved disloyal to Byzantine rule.

The Bulgars, unified and led by their charismatic Khan Krum (r. 802-814 CE) were now proving particularly troublesome. In 808 CE Krum wiped out a Byzantine army near the river Strymon, and in 809 CE he did the same to the Byzantine garrison at Sofia. He also managed to seize the treasure chest of the army containing 80,000 gold coins. Nikephoros responded admirably to these blows by assembling a large revenge force and sacking the Bulgar capital at Pliska in 810 CE, and again in 811 CE when men, women, and children were mercilessly butchered. The fortress at Sofia was also rebuilt.

A consequence of the Tourkos revolt was that it weakened Byzantine control of Asia Minor.

Elsewhere was a different story, though. In 803 CE a serious revolt was led by Bardanes Tourkos, a military commander of five provinces in Asia Minor. The revolt only lasted a month and ended when some commanders switched their support back to the emperor and Bardanes Tourkos retired to a monastery.

A consequence of the Tourkos revolt was that it weakened Byzantine control of Asia Minor, a situation fully exploited by Harun al-Rashid (r. 789-809 CE), leader of the Abbasid Caliphate based in Baghdad, who seized Tyana and Herakleia at the Cilician Gates in 806 CE. A peace between the two states was only achieved in 807 CE and that at the cost of a hefty tribute from Nikephoros to his rival: 30,000 gold nomisma coins per annum.

Even more disastrous was the ongoing campaign against the Bulgars. After the resounding successes mentioned above the fortunes of the Byzantines nose-dived spectacularly. Nikephoros and his army were ambushed near Pliska on 25 July 811 CE. The Bulgars had waited until dark and then, using wooden palisades, blocked both the entrance and exit to a narrow mountain pass in which the Byzantines had camped for the night. The next morning the Byzantine army was trapped and all but wiped out by sword, fire and landslides set off by the Bulgars. Many of the top Byzantine generals were killed in the disaster, and even those few cavalry that managed to escape the debacle were pursued until they fell into a ravine and drowned in the river below.

Most calamitous of all, Nikephoros was killed in the battle, the first Byzantine ruler to suffer such a fate at the hands of foreigners for over 400 years. His body was identified by its purple boots and brought before Krum who had the head cut off and placed on a spike for a few days. Infamously, Krum then had Nikephoros' skull inlaid with silver and converted into a drinking cup which he and his allies used to toast their victory. The Bulgar leader was even said to have kept his souvenir and to have forced visiting ambassadors from Constantinople to drink from it whenever the opportunity arose.

Successors

In 811 CE Nikephoros was succeeded by his son and heir Staurakios (aka Stavrakios). Unfortunately for the empire, Staurakios had been seriously wounded in the very same battle in which his father had been killed. The young emperor succumbed to his wounds only two months after inheriting his title. Next to step up was Michael I Rangabe, husband of Staurakios' sister Prokopia and who was backed by the Patriarch Nikephoros, but he would only last two years. In that brief time, the emperor did manage a peace with Charlemagne in the west and a return of Byzantine possessions on the Adriatic coast. Once more, though, the troublesome Bulgars were responsible for an imperial change when they defeated Michael's army in 813 CE. Obliged to abdicate after the debacle, Leo V the Armenian, a prominent general, then took the throne in the same year. He would bring a measure of much-needed stability and reign until 820 CE.


Both Syriac sources such as Michael the Syrian and Arabic ones like al-Tabari and Mas'udi hold that the emperor was of a Ghassanid Arab origin. [1] [2] [3] Byzantine chronicles, however, although generally hostile to him, make no explicit mention about his ethnic background. [1] On the other hand, al-Tabari claims that he learned of Nikephoros' Arab origins from Byzantine sources. [4] Some scholars, like Paul Julius Alexander, accept al-Tabari's account, citing a Byzantine apocalyptic text in which the emperor is said to be "from the race of Gopsin". [5] The word "Gopsin" could be a Greek rendering of the name "Ghassan", or the name "Gafna", the eponym of the Ghassanids. [6]

A patrician from Seleucia Sidera, Nikephoros was appointed finance minister (logothetēs tou genikou) by the Empress Irene. With the help of the patricians and eunuchs he contrived to dethrone and exile Irene, and to be chosen as Emperor in her stead on 31 October 802. He crowned his son Staurakios co-emperor in 803.

His rule was endangered by Bardanes Tourkos, one of his ablest generals, who revolted and received support from other commanders, notably the later emperors Leo V the Armenian and Michael II the Amorian in 803.

But Nikephoros gained over the latter two, and by inducing the rebel army to disperse achieved the submission of Bardanes, who was blinded and relegated to a monastery. A conspiracy headed by the patrician Arsaber had a similar result.

Nikephoros embarked on a general reorganization of the Roman Empire, creating new themes in the Balkans (where he initiated the re-Hellenization by resettling Greeks from Anatolia) and strengthening the frontiers. Needing large sums to increase his military forces, he set himself with great energy to increase the Empire's revenue. By his rigorous tax imposts he alienated his subjects, especially the clergy, whom he otherwise sought to control firmly. Although he appointed an iconodule, Nikephoros, as patriarch, Emperor Nikephoros was portrayed as a villain by ecclesiastical historians like Theophanes the Confessor.

In 803, Nikephoros concluded a treaty, called the "Pax Nicephori", with Charlemagne, but refused to recognize the latter's imperial dignity. Relations deteriorated and led to a war over Venice in 806–810. In the process, Nikephoros had quelled a Venetian rebellion in 807, but suffered extensive losses to the Franks. The conflict was resolved only after Nikephoros' death, and Venice, Istria, the Dalmatian coast and South Italy were assigned to the East, while Rome, Ravenna and the Pentapolis were included in the Western realm.

By withholding the tribute which Irene had agreed to pay to the caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, Nikephoros committed himself to a war against the Arabs. [7] Compelled by Bardanes' disloyalty to take the field himself, he sustained a severe defeat at the Battle of Krasos in Phrygia (805). [7] In 806 a Muslim army of 135,000 men invaded the Empire. Unable to counter the Muslim numbers, Nikephoros agreed to make peace on condition of paying 50,000 nomismata immediately and a yearly tribute of 30,000 nomismata. With a succession struggle enveloping the caliphate on the death of Hārūn al-Rashīd in 809, Nikephoros was free to deal with Krum, Khan of Bulgaria, who was harassing his northern frontiers and had just conquered Serdica (Sofia).

In 811, Nikephoros invaded Bulgaria, defeated Krum twice, and sacked the Bulgarian capital Pliska. The Chronicle of the 12th-century patriarch of the Syrian Jacobites, Michael the Syrian, describes the brutalities and atrocities of Nikephoros: "Nikephoros, emperor of the Byzantine empire, walked into the Bulgarians' land: he was victorious and killed great number of them. He reached their capital, seized it and devastated it. His savagery went to the point that he ordered to bring their small children, got them tied down on earth and made thresh grain stones to smash them." During Nikephoros' retreat, the imperial army was ambushed and destroyed in Varbishki mountain passes on 26 July by Krum. Nikephoros was captured during the battle and sent to Pliska, where Krum ordered his decapitation. Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nikephoros' skull.


Nikephoros I Logothetes, Byzantine Emperor

Nikephoros I or Nicephorus I, Logothetes or Genikos (Greek: Νικηφόρος Α΄, Nikēphoros I, "Bringer of Victory"), (died July 26, 811) was Byzantine emperor from 802 to 811, when he was killed in the disastrous Battle of Pliska.

A patrician from Seleucia Sidera, Nikephoros was appointed finance minister (logothetēs tou genikou) by the Empress Irene. With the help of the patricians and eunuchs he contrived to dethrone and exile Irene, and to be chosen emperor in her stead on October 31, 802. He crowned his son Staurakios co-emperor in 803.

His rule was endangered by Bardanes Tourkos, one of his ablest generals, who revolted and received support from other commanders, notably the later emperors Leo V the Armenian and Michael II the Amorian in 803.

But Nikephoros gained over the latter two, and by inducing the rebel army to disperse achieved the submission of Bardanes, who was blinded and relegated to a monastery. A conspiracy headed by the patrician Arsaber had a similar issue.

Nikephoros embarked on a general reorganization of the empire, creating new themes in the Balkans (where he initiated the re-Hellenization by resettling Greeks from Anatolia) and strengthening the frontiers. Needing large sums to increase his military forces, he set himself with great energy to increase the empire's revenue. By his rigorous tax imposts he alienated the favour of his subjects, and especially of the clergy, whom he otherwise sought to control firmly. Although he appointed an iconodule, Nikephoros as patriarch, Emperor Nikephoros was portrayed as a villain by ecclesiastical historians like Theophanes the Confessor.

In 803 Nikephoros concluded a treaty, called the Pax Nicephori, with Charlemagne, but refused to recognize the latter's imperial dignity. Relations deteriorated and led to a war over Venice in 806�. In the process Nikephoros had quelled a Venetian rebellion in 807, but suffered extensive losses to the Franks. The conflict was resolved only after Nikephoros' death, and Venice, Istria, the Dalmatian coast and South Italy were assigned to the East, while Rome, Ravenna and the Pentapolis were included in the Western realm.

By withholding the tribute which Irene had agreed to pay to the caliph Hārūn al-Rashኽ, Nikephoros committed himself to a war against the Arabs. Compelled by Bardanes' disloyalty to take the field himself, he sustained a severe defeat at the Battle of Krasos in Phrygia (805), and the subsequent inroads (in 806 a Muslim army of 135,000 men invaded the empire) of the enemy into Asia Minor induced him to make peace on condition of paying 50,000 nomismata immediately and a yearly tribute of 30,000 nomismata. With a succession struggle enveloping the caliphate on the death of Hārūn al-Rashኽ in 809, Nikephoros was free to deal with Krum, Khan of Bulgaria, who was harassing his northern frontiers and had just conquered Serdica (Sofia).

In 811 Nikephoros invaded Bulgaria, defeated Krum twice, and sacked the Bulgarian capital Pliska. However, during Nikephoros' retreat, the Byzantine army was ambushed and destroyed in the mountain passes on July 26 by Krum. Nikephoros was killed in the battle, the second Roman emperor to suffer this fate since Valens in the Battle of Adrianople (August 9, 378). Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nikephoros' skull. [edit] Family


Who is History’s Worst Political Adviser?

Four historians consider the harm caused by those who should have helped their political masters.

‘Many bristled at Nikephoros’ tactless behaviour’

Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at the University of Oxford

History, as we know, does not repeat itself. It is simply a coincidence that in the Byzantine Empire in the second half of the 11th century an adviser who was too clever and cunning for his own good polarised polite society, compromised the leader and helped wreck the economy.

Byzantine emperors, like British prime ministers, often relied heavily on a trusted adviser. In the 1070s, Michael VII turned to a man named Nikephoros, a high-flyer who had enjoyed several brushes with scandal in the past, mainly for rubbing people up the wrong way.

Nevertheless, he had his admirers, such as Kekaumenos Katakalon, who thought he was ‘generous and very clever’, ‘an extremely reasonable man’ – just what the stuffy civil service needed at a time of change and rising pressure from Byzantium’s neighbours.

Few others saw it that way. Many bristled at Nikephoros’ tactless and aggressive behaviour, at the way he locked others out of important decisions and limited access to the ruler. He was accused, too, of giving his friends a leg up and showing them favours they had not earned and did not deserve. He was arrogant, clumsy and scorned those who criticised him.

The changes he introduced were supposed to allow the empire to take back control and regain momentum. They sounded good on paper, but were a disaster in practice. A tax hike to boost public spending went wrong from the start, while the plan to stabilise grain supply and prices, centred on the introduction of a system of centralised distribution, had the effect of causing shortages, inflation – and chaos.

Although he was a highly divisive figure, nicknamed ‘Nikephoritzes’ (‘little Nikephoros’) as a term of contempt, some turned their ire on the emperor. Michael VII ‘lacked steady judgement’, wrote one contemporary, ‘and showed no lack of childish immaturity’. Too lazy to do the job properly or to make decisions, he simply handed control over to his adviser.

It did not end well. The emperor was deposed Nikephoros was exiled and abused and the empire slumped to its knees. Nikephoros would have blamed the elites in glitzy Constantinople for many of the problems facing Byzantium, and perhaps not without reason. None of it, of course, was his fault. That’s the thing with advisers: it never is.

‘The accolade for worst adviser must surely go to Sejanus’

Catharine Edwards, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London

Advisers to Roman emperors often get a bad press. The emperor Claudius, bookish and absent-minded, was at the mercy of self-serving ex-slaves – Narcissus, Pallas and Polybius – or so snobbish Roman aristocrats, their noses out of joint, insistently claimed. Poor old Seneca did his best to guide his wayward pupil Nero and probably doesn’t deserve some of the accusations against him, but it’s hard to defend the letter he ghost-wrote explaining away Nero’s murder of his own mother.

The accolade for worst adviser, though, must surely go to Sejanus, prefect of the praetorian guard for much of the reign of the emperor Tiberius. The emperor himself was wily enough, but Sejanus seems to have played on his paranoia, persuading him to concentrate the praetorians in barracks on the edge of Rome, where their menacing presence made clear the military underpinnings of imperial rule. Sejanus was rumoured to have seduced the emperor’s daughter-in-law Livilla and, with her, to have plotted the poisoning of the emperor’s son, Drusus, who died in AD 23. Encouraged by Sejanus (historians claim), Tiberius eventually retreated to the island of Capri in AD 26 – leaving Sejanus in control in Rome. Prominent figures who challenged Sejanus were picked off in a series of treason trials. And Tiberius was induced to cut a swathe through his own family.

His widowed daughter-in-law, Agrippina, the emperor Augustus’ granddaughter, had long been a thorn in Tiberius’ side. Accused of treason and declared a public enemy, she was sent into exile. Badly beaten (she lost an eye), Agrippina died in suspicious circumstances, as did her oldest son. Another son was imprisoned in AD 30 – and later starved to death.

But Sejanus overreached. A letter, from his sister-in-law Antonia, finally got through to Tiberius on his island retreat and the emperor moved against Sejanus. Condemned by the Senate, he was summarily executed. Public loathing for this political adviser was such that his body was torn to pieces by the mob and thrown into the river Tiber, his statues were torn down – and even his children were executed.

‘Eadric Streona bears much of the responsibility for this disastrous turn of events’

Levi Roach, Associate Professor of History at the University of Exeter

Few political advisers have received such justified opprobrium as Eadric Streona (‘the Grasper’). Eadric rose to prominence following the turn of the first millennium and was the grey eminence of the later years of King Æthelred ‘the Unready’. This was a period of political turmoil, which saw successive conquests of England by the Danish rulers Swein Forkbeard and Cnut. Eadric bears much of the responsibility for this disastrous turn of events.

Eadric hailed from the Midlands and his star rose in the wake of the ‘palace revolution’ of 1005-6. This was a dramatic changing of the guard at court, which saw Ealdorman (i.e. Earl) Ælfhelm of Northumbria executed and his two sons blinded. Later sources implicate Eadric in these events and there can be little doubt that they are correct. Ælfhelm came from the Midlands himself and it was Eadric and his kin who benefited from the family’s eclipse.

As befits his moniker, Eadric’s later career was marked by self-interest. His fortunes rose swiftly after 1006 – and with them, those of his brothers. Yet their loyalties were to each other, not to king and country. Already in 1008, fighting between one of Eadric’s brothers and a Sussex magnate led to the loss of a large part of the English fleet. Then, at an assembly at Oxford in 1015, Eadric tricked Morcar and Sigeferth, two other leading figures at court, into his quarters. There he had them ‘basely killed’, as a contemporary observer has it. This act of intrigue was another move against a rival faction and it is no coincidence that Sigeferth was married to a relative of Ælfhelm.

But it is above all Eadric’s actions during Cnut’s invasion which have earned him censure. He initially defected to the Danish king in the summer of 1015. Then, following Æthelred’s death and the accession of Edmund Ironside (in the spring of 1016), he returned to the English side, only to defect once more, at the decisive battle of Assandun, sealing Cnut’s conquest. The wily Danish monarch, however, saw through the English quisling and Eadric was soon executed alongside Cnut’s English opponents.

‘The worst has got to be Johann Friedrich Struensee’

Kate Maltby, critic, columnist and final-year PhD student in the English Department at University College London

When there are bold new ideas in the air, it’s easy to fall for intellectual conmen. The world has never been short of men who bulldoze their readers with million-word screeds – whether blogposts or pamphlets – or of easily impressed rulers who mistake verbosity for cerebral supremacy. In the changing winds of the early 18th century, plenty of chancers with half an understanding of Enlightenment principles found their way to the centre of European courts.

Two of the most dangerous were Scottish economists. John Law, as France’s Controller General of Finances, convinced that nation to back his Mississippi Company, the collapse of which began the economic turmoil that would lead 60 years later to the French Revolution. William Paterson, after travelling the world making money from the slave trade, managed to cripple the governments of both Scotland and, after Union, Great Britain. The former through the ‘Darién Scheme’, a half-baked idea to set up a Scottish empire in Panama, and the later through the South Sea Bubble, whose failure he did not live to see.

But if there’s one way to screw over a king, it’s to undermine the legitimacy of his heirs. So of all the disastrous royal advisers of the Enlightenment, the worst has got to be Johann Friedrich Struensee, a German doctor who took charge of Denmark in 1770 while Christian VII descended into mental decline. He didn’t do a bad job by liberal norms: he abolished torture, slavery, censorship of the press and many hereditary privileges. Unlike Law and Paterson, he had a healthy sense of fiscal prudence. But he got too close to Christian’s wife, the British princess Caroline Mathilde it was widely understood that her daughter, Princess Louise Auguste, was Struensee’s child. In 1772, it all got too much for the courtiers of Copenhagen and a traditionalist coup seized power, arranging the execution of Struensee and reasserting control over the ineffectual Christian. Struensee was said to have kept the king locked in a cell and beaten regularly, while he himself cavorted with the prisoner’s wife. In the end, the worst advisers – and those who meet sticky ends – aren’t those who propose disastrous policies, but those who seek to usurp the office of a king.


Nikephoros I

Nikephoros I or Nicephorus I, also Logothetes or Genikos (Greek: Νικηφόρος Α΄ , Nikēphoros I, "Bringer of Victory" died July 26, 811), was Byzantine Emperor from 802 to 811 AD, when he was killed in the Battle of Pliska.

A patrician from Seleucia Sidera, Nikephoros was appointed finance minister (logothetēs tou genikou) by the Empress Irene. With the help of the patricians and eunuchs he contrived to dethrone and exile Irene, and to be chosen as Emperor in her stead on October 31, 802. He crowned his son Staurakios co-emperor in 803.

His rule was endangered by Bardanes Tourkos, one of his ablest generals, who revolted and received support from other commanders, notably the later emperors Leo V the Armenian and Michael II the Amorian in 803.

But Nikephoros gained over the latter two, and by inducing the rebel army to disperse achieved the submission of Bardanes, who was blinded and relegated to a monastery. A conspiracy headed by the patrician Arsaber had a similar issue.

Nikephoros embarked on a general reorganization of the Empire, creating new themes in the Balkans (where he initiated the re-Hellenization by resettling Greeks from Anatolia) and strengthening the frontiers. Needing large sums to increase his military forces, he set himself with great energy to increase the Empire's revenue. By his rigorous tax imposts he alienated the favour of his subjects, and especially of the clergy, whom he otherwise sought to control firmly. Although he appointed an iconodule, Nikephoros as patriarch, Emperor Nikephoros was portrayed as a villain by ecclesiastical historians like Theophanes the Confessor.

In 803 Nikephoros concluded a treaty, called the "Pax Nicephori", with Charlemagne, but refused to recognize the latter's imperial dignity. Relations deteriorated and led to a war over Venice in 806–810. In the process Nikephoros had quelled a Venetian rebellion in 807, but suffered extensive losses to the Franks. The conflict was resolved only after Nikephoros' death, and Venice, Istria, the Dalmatian coast and South Italy were assigned to the East, while Rome, Ravenna and the Pentapolis were included in the Western realm.

By withholding the tribute which Irene had agreed to pay to the caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, Nikephoros committed himself to a war against the Arabs. Compelled by Bardanes' disloyalty to take the field himself, he sustained a severe defeat at the Battle of Krasos in Phrygia (805). In 806 a Muslim army of 135,000 men invaded the Empire. Unable to counter the Muslim numbers, Nikephoros agreed to make peace on condition of paying 50,000 nomismata immediately and a yearly tribute of 30,000 nomismata. With a succession struggle enveloping the caliphate on the death of Hārūn al-Rashīd in 809, Nikephoros was free to deal with Krum, Khan of Bulgaria, who was harassing his northern frontiers and had just conquered Serdica (Sofia).

In 811 Nikephoros invaded Bulgaria, defeated Krum twice, and sacked the Bulgarian capital Pliska however, during Nikephoros' retreat, the Byzantine army was ambushed and destroyed in the mountain passes on July 26 by Krum. Nikephoros was killed in the battle, the second Eastern Emperor to suffer this fate since Valens in the Battle of Adrianople (August 9, 378). Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nikephoros' skull.


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1 Komnene , Anna , ‘ Alexiad ,’ in Annae Comnenae Alexias , ed. Reinsch , D. R. and Kambylis , A. ( New York 2001 )Google Scholar prologue: I. 3.1-4 (pp. 7-8).

2 This manuscript, ‘Tolosanus,’ has been lost since the middle of the eighteenth century. All published editions are based on a transcription made by Pierre Poussines and published in the Paris Corpus in 1661. Poussines and his colleagues only had access to the manuscript for a brief time and were unable to make the corrections to the transcription which Poussines believed were necessary. Nicèpbore Bryennios Histoire , ed. Gautier , P. ( Brussels 1975 ) 33 – 40 Google Scholar . A new fragment of Nikephoros’ history, book 1 chapters 7-11, has recently come to light in a fifteenth-century manuscript containing works by Pachymeres: Marcianus Gr. 509. This section of Nikephoros’ history is mostly taken from Skylitzes’ description of the origins of the Turks. The conclusion of the editor’s comparison of Marcianus Gr. 509 with Skylitzes and the Tolosanus is that the Tolosanus (or rather Poussines’ transcription of it) contained many more errors than the Marcianus. See Failler , A. , ‘ Le texte de l’histoire de Nicéphore Bryennios à la lumière d’un nouveau fragment ,’ REB 47 ( 1989 ) 239 -50Google Scholar .

3 Bryennios, ed. Gautier, prologue: 10 (p. 71).

4 Howard-Johnston , J. , ‘ Anna Komnene and the Alexiad ,’ in Alexias I Komnenos , ed. Mullett , M. and Smythe , D. ( Belfast 1996 ) 232 – 302 Google Scholar Macrides , R. , ‘ The pen and the sword: who wrote the Alexiad? ,’ in Anna Komnene and her times , ed. Gouma-Peterson , T. ( New York 2000 ) 63 – 81 Google Scholar . Stanković calls attention to differences in Anna’s and Nikephoros’ portrayal of the same character: Stanković , V. , ‘ Nikephoros Bryennios, Anna Komnene and Konstantinos Doukas: a story about different perspectives ,’ BZ 100 ( 2007 ) 169 -75Google Scholar . Reinsch emphasizes Nikephoros’ work as an apologist for his grandfather’s political career: Reinsch , D. , ‘ O Νικηφόρος Βρυέννιος — ενας Μακεδόνας συγγραφέας ’, in В’ Αιεθνές Συμπόσιο βυζαντινής Μακεδονίας ( Thessalonike 2003 ) 169 -78Google Scholar .

5 Jeffreys , E. , ‘ Nikephoros Bryennios Reconsidered ,’ in The Empire in Crisis (?) Byzantium in the Eleventh Century ( Athens 2003 ) 211 -13Google Scholar .

6 Bourbouhakis points out some of the dangers in allowing our interpretations of Byzantine texts to be driven by what we think we know about authorial contexts. Bourbouhakis , E. C. , ‘ “Political” personae: the poem from prison of Michael Glykas: Byzantine literature between fact and fiction ,’ BMGS 31 / 1 ( 2007 ) 53 – 75 Google Scholar .

7 Seger , J. , Byzantinische Historiker des zehnten und elften Jahrhunderts. I. Nikephoros Bryennios. Eine philologisch-historische Untersuchung ( Munich 1888 ) 32 -3Google Scholar .

8 For the political situation see Angold , M. , The Byzantine Empire, 1025-1204: A Political History , 2nd edn. ( London 1997 ) 124 -90Google Scholar . On twelfth-century court culture and politics in general see Maguire , H. , ed., Byzantine Court Culture from 829-1204 ( Washington, DC 1997 )Google Scholar , Cheynet , J.-C. , Pouvoir et contestations à Byzance (963-1210) ( Paris 1990 )Google Scholar , Kazhdan , A. and Wharton , A. J. , Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries ( Berkeley 1985 )Google Scholar , Magdalino , P. , ‘ Constantinople and the outside world ,’ in Strangers to Themselves: the Byzantine Outsider , ed. Smythe , D. ( Aldershot 2000 )Google Scholar .

9 Carile , A. , ‘ La “Τλη ίστορίας del cesare Niceforo Briennio ,’ Aevum 43 ( 1969 ) 56 – 87 Google Scholar Seger, Nikephoros Bryennios, 40-57.

10 On the ‘intense recycling of sources’ as one of the ‘creative and political principles’ of Byzantine history writing see Nilsson , I. , ‘ To narrate the events of the past: on Byzantine historians and historians on Byzantium ,’ in Byzantine Narrative , ed. Burke , J. ( Melbourne 2006 ) 51 Google Scholar .

11 Zonaras , John , in Ioannis Zonarae epitomae historiarum libri xviii , ed. Büttner-Wobst , T. , III ( Bonn 1897 ) 682 Google Scholar , 704, 708-11, 733 Attaleiates , Michael , in Michaelis Attaliotae Historia , ed. Bekker , I. ( Bonn 1853 ) 184 – 93 Google Scholar Skylitzes continuatus, in H συνεχεια τής χρονογροίφίας τοΰ Ίωάννου Σκυλίτση , ed. Tsolakes , E. ( Thessalonike 1968 ) 124 Google Scholar , 152-61.

12 In the encomium to Michael VII Doukas which ends his history, Psellos included a paragraph praising John. Psellos especially praised John for his intense study—but not practice—of warfare and tactics. Psellos’ description of John is particularly difficult to evaluate because of the real possibility that the entire last book of the Chronographia, in which Psellos lavishly praises the Doukai, should be read as ironic. Krallis , D. , ‘ Attaliates as a reader of Psellos ,’ in Reading Michael Psellos , ed. Barber , C. and Jenkins , D. ( Leiden 2006 ) 189 -90Google Scholar , Krallis , D. , ‘ History as Politics in Eleventh-Century Byzantium ’ (Ph.D., University of Michigan 2006 ) 154 – 206 Google Scholar .

13 Polemis , D. I. , The Doukai: a Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography ( London 1968 ) 35 Google Scholar .

14 Carile, ‘La “Τλη ίστορίας’, 67-8.

15 Bryennios, 1.18.12-14, 1.18.24-25 (p. 119).

17 Psellos , Michael , Chronographie , ed. Renauld , É. , 2 vols. ( Paris 1926-1928 ) 7 .36Google Scholar (II, p. 168).

19 Bryennios, 1.25.27-32 (p. 137).

20 Holmes , C. , Basil II and the Governance of Empire (976-1025) ( Oxford 2005 ) 99 – 119 CrossRefGoogle Scholar , 125-52 eadem, ‘ The rhetorical structures of Skylitzes’ Synopsis Historion,’’ in Rhetoric in Byzantium , ed. Jeffreys , E. ( Aldershot 2003 ) 187 – 200 Google Scholar . Shepard has suggested the existence of a pamphlet lauding Maniakes and denouncing his enemies and a laudatory biography of Katakalon Kekaumenos: Shepard , J. , ‘ Byzantium’s last Sicilian expedition: Scylitzes’ testimony ,’ Rivista di studi bizantini e neoellenici 14 — 16 ( 1977 -9) 156 Google Scholar idem, ‘A suspected source of Scylitzes’ Synopsis Historiom the great Catacalon Cecaumenus,’ BMGS 16 (1992) 178. Work of Sjuzjumov and Kazhdan on identifying an anti-Phokas source and a pro-Phokas family chronicle used by Skylitzes and Leo the Deacon has become generally accepted: Ljubarskij , J. , ‘ Nikephoros Phokas in Byzantine historical writings. Trace of the secular biography in Byzantium ,’ BS 54 / 2 ( 1993 ) 252 -3Google Scholar Tinnefeid , F. H. , Kategorien der Kaiserkritik in der byzantinischen Historiographie ( Munich 1971 ) 108 – 110 Google Scholar Leo the Deacon , The History of Leo the Deacon , trans. Talbot , A.-M. and Sullivan , D. ( Washington, D.C. 2005 ) 14 – 15 Google Scholar Skylitzès , Jean , Empereurs de Constantinople ,trans. Flusin , B. and annotated Cheynet , J.-C. ( Paris 2003 ) XIII – XVI Google Scholar .

21 Sections 1.7-1.10 follow John Skylitzes: Ioannis Skylitzae Synopsis historiarum , ed. Thurn , I. ( Berlin-New York 1973 ) 442 —47Google Scholar Bryennios, 1.7-1.10 (pp.89-99). Carile points out improvements that Bryennios made to Skylitzes’ style: Carile, ‘La ‘Ύλη ίστορίας’, 57-9.

22 Bryennios 1.5 (pp. 83-85) follows Psellos 7.3 (II p. 164). A few lines of Bryennios (pp. 105-111) follow Psellos 7.18-19 (II, p. 161). Substantial portions of Bryennios 1.17-25 (pp. 115-141) follow Psellos 7.22-43 (II, pp. 162-68). The first chapter of Bryennios, book 2 contains a line from Skylitzes continuatus, ed. Tsolakes, 155.

23 He occasionally adds biblical references to Psellos’ text: Carile, ‘La “Υλη ίστορίας’, 57.

24 I suspect parts of book 1.23 about Andronikos Doukas 1.25 lines 27-33 on Andronikos’s efforts to prevent the blinding of Romanos also possibly parts of book 2 chapters 1-3 on John Doukas: Bryennios, 131-33, 139, 143-17.


Nikephoros I

Nikephoros I or Nicephorus I, Logothetes or Genikos (Greek: Νικηφόρος Α΄, Nikēphoros I, "Bringer of Victory"), (died July 26, 811) was Byzantine emperor from 802 to 811, when he was killed in the disastrous Battle of Pliska.

A patrician from Seleucia Sidera, Nikephoros was appointed finance minister (logothetēs tou genikou) by the Empress Irene. With the help of the patricians and eunuchs he contrived to dethrone and exile Irene, and to be chosen emperor in her stead on October 31, 802. He crowned his son Staurakios co-emperor in 803.

His rule was endangered by Bardanes Tourkos, one of his ablest generals, who revolted and received support from other commanders, notably the later emperors Leo V the Armenian and Michael II the Amorian in 803.

But Nikephoros gained over the latter two, and by inducing the rebel army to disperse achieved the submission of Bardanes, who was relegated to a monastery. A conspiracy headed by the patrician Arsaber had a similar issue.

Nikephoros embarked on a general reorganization of the empire, creating new themes in the Balkans (where he initiated the re-Hellenization by resettling Anatolian populations) and strengthening the frontiers. Needing large sums to increase his military forces, set himself with great energy to increase the empire's revenue. By his rigorous tax imposts he alienated the favour of his subjects, and especially of the clergy, whom he otherwise sought to control firmly. Although he appointed an iconodule, Nikephoros as patriarch, Emperor Nikephoros was portrayed as a villain by ecclesiastical historians like Theophanes the Confessor.

In 803 Nikephoros concluded a treaty, called the Pax Nicephori, with Charlemagne, but refused to recognize the latter's imperial dignity. Relations deteriorated and led to a war over Venice in 806–810. In the process Nikephoros had quelled a Venetian rebellion in 807, but suffered extensive losses to the Franks. The conflict was resolved only after Nikephoros' death, and Venice, Istria, the Dalmatian coast and South Italy were assigned to the East, while Rome, Ravenna and the Pentapolis were included in the Western realm.

By withholding the tribute which Irene had agreed to pay to the caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, Nikephoros committed himself to a war against the Arabs. Compelled by Bardanes' disloyalty to take the field himself, he sustained a severe defeat at Krasos in Phrygia (805), and the subsequent inroads of the enemy into Asia Minor induced him to make peace on condition of paying a yearly tribute of 30,000 gold pieces. With a succession struggle enveloping the caliphate on the death of Hārūn al-Rashīd in 809, Nikephoros was free to deal with Krum of Bulgaria, who was harassing his northern frontiers and had just conquered Serdica (Sofia).

In 811 Nikephoros invaded Bulgaria, defeated Krum twice, and sacked the Bulgarian capital Pliska. However, during Nikephoros' retreat, the Byzantine army was ambushed and destroyed in the mountain passes on July 26. Nikephoros was killed in the battle, the second Roman emperor to suffer this fate since Valens in the Battle of Adrianople (August 9, 378). Krum is said to have made a drinking-cup of Nikephoros' skull.


Saint Nikephoros the Leper

Father Nikephoros (Nicholas Tzanakakis in the world) was born in 1890 in a mountainous village in Khania, in Sikari, Kastanohori to the west of the prefecture with a healthy climate, with beautiful forests, rich waters, gorges and caves. This village has a peculiarity that we do not often encounter: it is divided into eleven neighborhoods, which have also been named after the families who first settled there. So Saint Nikephoros was born in the neighborhood of Kostoyianides.

His parents were simple and pious villagers, who died when he was still a young child, leaving him as an orphan. So, at the age of thirteen, he left his home. His grandfather, who had undertaken to raise him, went to Khania to work there in a barber shop in order to learn the job. Then he showed the first signs of Hansen&rsquos disease, i.e. leprosy. The lepers were isolated on the island of Spinalonga because leprosy was a contagious disease and it was treated with fear and dismay.

Nicholas was sixteen years old when signs of the disease began to become more conspicuous, so he left on a boat to Egypt in order to avoid being confined to Spinalonga. He remained in Alexandria, working in a barber shop again, but the signs of the disease became more and more apparent, especially on his hands and face. That is why, through the intervention of a cleric, he went to Chios, where there was a church for lepers at that time, and the priest was Father Anthimos Vagianos, later Saint Anthimos (February 15).

Nicholas arrived in Chios in 1914 at the age of twenty-four. In the leper hospital of Chios, which was a complex with many homesteads, there was a chapel of Saint Lazarus, where the wonderworking icon of Panagia Ypakoe 1 (Feb. 2) was kept. In this space, the course of virtues was opened for Nicholas. Within two years Saint Anthimos considered him ready for the angelic Schema and tonsured him with the name Nikephoros. The disease progressed and evolved in the absence of suitable drugs, causing many large lesions (a drug was found in 1947).

Father Nikephoros lived with unquestioning, genuine obedience to his Spiritual Father, and with austere fasting, working in the gardens. He also recorded the miracles of Saint Anthimos, which he had witnessed with his own eyes (many of these were related to the deliverance of those possessed by demons).

There was a special spiritual relationship between Saint Anthimos and the monk Nikephoros, who always remained close to him, as Father Theoklitos Dionysiatis writes in his book Saint Anthimos of Chios. Father Nikephoros prayed at night for hours on end making countless metanias, he did not quarrel with anyone, nor injure anyone's heart, and he was the master chanter of the temple. Because of his illness, however, he slowly lost his sight, and so he chanted the troparia and the Epistles from memory.

The Chios leprosarium was closed in 1957 and the remaining patients, together with Father Nikephoros, were sent to Saint Barbara&rsquos home for lepers in Athens, in Aigaleo. At that time, Father Nikephoros was about 67 years old. His members and his eyes were completely altered and distorted by the disease.

There, Father Eumenios also lived there at the home for lepers. He also suffered from Hansen&rsquos disease, but with the medication he received, he was completely cured. However, he decided to remain in the home for lepers for the rest of his life near his fellow sufferers, caring for them with much love. Thus he submitted to Father Nikephoros, to whom the Lord had given many gifts as a reward for his patience. A crowd of people gathered in the humble cell of the leper Nikephoros, in Saint Barbara in Aigaleo to obtain his prayers. Here are some testimonies of those who met him:

&ldquoWhile he was prostrate with wounds and pains, he did not complain, but he showed great patience.&rdquo

&ldquoHe had the charisma of consoling those who were sad. His eyes were permanently irritated, and he had limited sight. He also had stiffness in his hands and paralysis in his lower limbs. Nonetheless, he endured all of this in the sweetest, meek, smiling, delightful way, and he was also pleasant and lovable.&rdquo

&ldquoHis face, which was eaten away by the marks of his illness, and his wounds, shone. It was a joy for those who saw this destitute and seemingly feeble man saying, May His holy name be glorified.&rdquo

Father Nikephoros reposed on January 4, 1964 at the age of 74. After three years, his holy relics were exhumed and found to be fragrant. Father Eumenios and other believers reported many cases where miracles occurred by calling on Saint Nikephoros to intercede with God.

The life of Saint Nikephoros was a brilliant example and model for everyone. He was pleasing to God because he had endured so much. For this reason, we have many testimonies that our saint received from the Holy Spirit the gift of discernment as and a host of other charisms. We should note that most of the miracles are recorded, and today the saint gives generous help to anyone in need. Surely there will be many more miracles which not have not yet been made manifest.

1 The name of the icon honors the obedience of the Theotokos to God&rsquos will for her to give birth to His Son, so by her obedience people would also obey His will. The Greek word Υπακοή means &ldquoobedience.&ldquo


Nikephoros is known to have been the founder of the Palaiologos dynasty/family which was the last dynasty to rule the Byzantine Empire. It ruled from 1259 to 1453. Nikephoros' two children were named George and Nicholas. George became a general and was a support of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos who ruled from 1081 to 1118. George and his great-great-grandson Andronikos Palaiologos drew the descent from the dynasty Ώ]

Nikephoros is seen during the short reign of Romanos IV Diogenes who ruled from 1068 to 1071. He was a Doukas partisan and was hostile to Romanos and opposed John Doukas and Michael Psellos ΐ] When the fall of Romanos came, it followed the Battl eof Manzikert in 1071 where Nikephoros was dispatched to the east against Georgian mercenaries, then he confronted Roussel and Georgian troops defected and he was eventually defeated. ΐ] Later in 1077, Nikephoros is recorded as the doux of Mesopotamia. Nikephoros was loyal to the Doukas dynasty and to Emperor Michael VII Doukas who ruled from 1071 to 1078. His son, George, was permitted to join the rebellion of Nikephoros Botaneiates, he was then known as Emperor Nikephoros III and ruled from 1078 to 1081 ΐ] Α]

In 1081, he was loyal to Botaneiates and the Komnenoi under Alexios Komnenos rose, even though George and the Doukai supported Komnenian cause. According to Anna Komnene's Alexiad, the father and the son met during Komnenian forces' entry into Constantinople on April 1st, 1081 this is what Basile Skoulatos describes as a very passionate scene of work Β] Even then, Nikephoros tried to induce Botaneiates to resist, urging him to give him command of the Varangian Guard and try to defend the imperial palace, but in vain. He then tried to mediate and proposed that Alexios be adopted by Botaneiates and assume de facto control over the Empire, while the latter would retain the honorary position of emperor, but at the insistence of Caesar John Doukas, the Komnenoi rejected this proposal. Eventually, Botaneiates abdicated. Γ]

Nikephoros accepted Alexios as his new emperor, and accompanied him in his campaign in the same year against the Normans under Robert Guiscard. He fought and died at the Battle of Dyrrhachium against Guiscard's forces on 18 October 1081. Γ]


Nikephoros I Angelos Komnenos Doukas

Nikephoros was the eldest son of Michael II Komnenos Doukas and Theodora Petraliphaina. In 1249 Nikephoros was betrothed to Maria, the granddaughter of Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea, who conferred on him the dignity of despotes. The marriage took place in Thessalonica in 1256, but Maria died in 1258.

In the following years Nikephoros was engaged in his father's struggle against Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and together with his father retreated before the Battle of Pelagonia. After the Nicaeans overran most of Epirus in 1259, Nikephoros left for the Italian Peninsula, where he received reinforcements from his brother-in-law King Manfred of Sicily. With this support Nikephoros helped his father reconquer Epirus, but in 1264 they suffered another defeat, and were forced to come to terms with Michael VIII. As part of the peace agreement, Nikephoros was married to Anna Kantakouzene, a niece of Michael VIII.

In 1267/8 Nikephoros I succeeded his father as ruler of Epirus and had to deal with Charles I of Sicily, who had eliminated Manfred and followed in his footsteps by capturing Dyrrhachium in 1272. When the Byzantine infringed on Nikephoros' interests in their retaliatory campaign against Charles in 1274, Nikephoros opened negotiations with Charles and concluded an alliance with him in 1276. The coalition of Charles of Anjou, Nikephoros, and the latter's half-brother John I Doukas of Thessaly gained several cities, including Butrinto in 1278. Ironically, while being allied with a Catholic monarch, Nikephoros and John acted as supporters of the anti-Unionist faction in Byzantium, whom they sheltered from Michael VIII's persecutions. In 1279 Nikephoros acknowledged himself Charles' vassal and surrendered Butrinto to his overlord. With Charles' defeat soon after, Nikephoros lost his holdings in Albania to the Byzantines. The coalition received a major blow with outbreak of the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, which were partly fomented by Michael VIII's diplomacy and distracted Charles I in the West, where he lost Sicily and retained only the Kingdom of Naples.

After the restoration of Orthodoxy under Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1282, Nikephoros renewed the alliance with the Byzantine Empire through his wife Anna, who traveled to Constantinople to arrange the treaty. In fact Nikephoros became a willing tool in the hands of his wife Anna, who served the interests of the Byzantine court. In 1284 they lured Michael, the son of John Doukas of Thessaly, to Epirus with the promise of a dynastic alliance, and had him arrested and sent off to Constantinople. This drew Nikephoros into a war against his half-brother, who ravaged the environs of Arta in retaliation in 1285. Anna embarked on an ambitious project of uniting the houses of Epirus and Constantinople by marrying her daughter Thamar to Michael IX Palaiologos, Andronikos II's son and co-emperor. Although this project failed, in 1290 her young son Thomas was conferred the dignity of despotes by the emperor.

The anti-Byzantine aristocracy now persuaded Nikephoros to open negotiations with King Charles II of Naples in 1291, which provoked a Byzantine invasion. This sealed the alliance with Naples, and Charles II's intervention through his vassals Count Riccardo Orsini of Cephalonia and Prince Florent of Achaea helped contain the Byzantine advance. Nikephoros now married his daughter Maria to the heir to Cephalonia and his other daughter Thamar to Charles II's son Philip I of Taranto. Thamar was given the right to inherit Epirus instead of her brother, and Charles II promised that she would be allowed to remain in the Orthodox faith. The wedding took place in 1294 and involved the transfer of several coastal fortresses to Philip as Thamar's dowry. Philip simultaneously received his father's rights and claims in Greece.

The inevitable tension between local Greek landlords and their Angevin overlord created an opportunity for the Nikephoros' nephew, the ruler of Thessaly, to intervene and to seize mostly the fortresses that had been turned over to Philip. Eventually most of these were recovered by the Angevins and peace was restored in 1296. Nikephoros died shortly after the conclusion of the peace, between September 1296 and July 1298. His widow Anna ensured the succession of their underage son Thomas.

By his first wife Maria, the daughter of Emperor Theodore II Doukas Laskaris, Nikephoros I had one daughter:

Maria, who married Count John I Orsini of Cephalonia (1304�) their sons Nicholas Orsini and John II Orsini became despots in Epirus.

By his second wife Anna Kantakouzene, the niece of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, Nikephoros I had two children:

Thamar, who married Philip I of Taranto, a son of King Charles II of Naples.

Thomas I Komnenos Doukas, who succeeded as ruler of Epirus. Epirus ura (Lord)


Watch the video: Nicephoros Phokas: Pale Death of the Saracens 950-969. Byzantium Documentary (December 2021).