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6 June 913 – 9 November 959, Junior co-emperor 908–913 and 920–945, sole emperor 913–920 (under regency) and 945–959

Predecessor Alexander

Successor Romanos I
Romanos I
Lekapenos Romanos II

Co-emperors Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
(920–944) Christopher Lekapenos
Christopher Lekapenos
(921–931) Stephen Lekapenos
Stephen Lekapenos
(924–945) Constantine Lekapenos
Constantine Lekapenos
(924–945)

Born 17 or 18 May 905[1] Constantinople

Died 9 November 959 (aged 54)[1] Constantinople

Spouse Helena Lekapene

Issue Romanos II Theodora

Full name

Constantine Porphyrogennetos ("the Purple-born")

Dynasty Macedonian dynasty

Father Leo VI

Mother Zoe Karbonopsina

Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos
Porphyrogennetos
or Porphyrogenitus ("the Purple-born", that is, born in the purple marble slab-paneled imperial bed chambers; Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος Ζ΄ Πορφυρογέννητος, translit. Kōnstantinos VII Porphyrogennētos; 17–18 May 905 – 9 November 959) was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty
Macedonian dynasty
of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959. He was the son of the emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, and the nephew of his predecessor, the emperor Alexander. Most of his reign was dominated by co-regents: from 913 until 919 he was under the regency of his mother, while from 920 until 945 he shared the throne with Romanos Lekapenos, whose daughter Helena he married, and his sons. Constantine VII
Constantine VII
is best known for his four books, De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio
(bearing in Greek the heading Πρὸς τὸν ἴδιον υἱόν Ῥωμανόν), De Ceremoniis (Περὶ τῆς Βασιλείου Τάξεως), De Thematibus (Περὶ θεμάτων Άνατολῆς καὶ Δύσεως), and Vita Basilii (Βίος Βασιλείου). His nickname alludes to the Purple Room of the imperial palace, decorated with porphyry, where legitimate children of reigning emperors were normally born. Constantine was also born in this room, although his mother Zoe had not been married to Leo at that time. Nevertheless, the epithet allowed him to underline his position as the legitimized son, as opposed to all others who claimed the throne during his lifetime. Sons born to a reigning Emperor held precedence in the Eastern Roman line of succession over elder sons not born "in the purple".

Contents

1 Reign 2 Literary and political activity 3 Family 4 See also 5 References 6 Sources 7 Further reading 8 External links

Reign[edit] Further information: Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927 Constantine was born at Constantinople, an illegitimate son born before an uncanonical fourth marriage. To help legitimize him, his mother gave birth to him in the Purple Room of the imperial palace, hence his nickname Porphyrogennetos. He was symbolically elevated to the throne as a two-year-old child by his father and uncle on May 15, 908. In June 913, as his uncle Alexander lay dying, he appointed a seven-man regency council for Constantine. It was headed by the Patriarch Nicholas I Mystikos, the two magistroi John Eladas
John Eladas
and Stephen, the rhaiktor John Lazanes, the otherwise obscure Euthymius and Alexander's henchmen Basilitzes and Gabrielopoulos.[2] Following Alexander's death, the new and shaky regime survived the attempted usurpation of Constantine Doukas,[3] and Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos quickly assumed a dominant position among the regents.[4]

Constantine and Simeon dining

Patriarch Nicholas was presently forced to make peace with Tsar Simeon of Bulgaria, whom he reluctantly recognized as Bulgarian emperor. Because of this unpopular concession, Patriarch Nicholas was driven out of the regency by Constantine's mother Zoe. She was no more successful with the Bulgarians, who defeated her main supporter, the general Leo Phokas, in 917. In 919 she was replaced as regent by the admiral Romanos Lekapenos, who married his daughter Helena Lekapene
Helena Lekapene
to Constantine. Romanos used his position to advance to the ranks of basileopatōr in May 919, to kaisar (Caesar) in September 920, and finally to co-emperor in December 920. Thus, just short of reaching nominal majority, Constantine was eclipsed by a senior emperor. Constantine's youth had been a sad one due to his unpleasant appearance, his taciturn nature, and his relegation to the third level of succession, behind Christopher Lekapenos, the eldest son of Romanos I Lekapenos. Nevertheless, he was a very intelligent young man with a large range of interests, and he dedicated those years to studying the court's ceremonial. Romanos kept and maintained power until 944, when he was deposed by his sons, the co-emperors Stephen and Constantine. Romanos spent the last years of his life in exile on the Island of Prote
Prote
as a monk and died on June 15, 948.[5] With the help of his wife, Constantine VII succeeded in removing his brothers-in-law, and on January 27, 945, Constantine VII became sole emperor at the age of 39, after a life spent in the shadow. Several months later, Constantine VII crowned his own son Romanos II co-emperor. Having never exercised executive authority, Constantine remained primarily devoted to his scholarly pursuits and relegated his authority to bureaucrats and generals, as well as to his energetic wife Helena Lekapene. In 949 Constantine launched a new fleet of 100 ships (20 dromons, 64 chelandia, and 10 galleys) against the Arab
Arab
corsairs hiding in Crete, but like his father's attempt to retake the island in 911, this attempt also failed. On the Eastern frontier things went better, even if with alternate success. In 949 the Byzantines conquered Germanicea, repeatedly defeated the enemy armies, and in 952 they crossed the upper Euphrates. But in 953 the Hamdanid amir Sayf al-Daula
Sayf al-Daula
retook Germanicea
Germanicea
and entered the imperial territory. The land in the east was eventually recovered by Nikephoros Phokas, who conquered Hadath, in northern Syria, in 958, and by the general John Tzimiskes, who one year later captured Samosata, in northern Mesopotamia. An Arab
Arab
fleet was also destroyed by Greek fire
Greek fire
in 957. Constantine's efforts to retake themes lost to the Arabs were the first such efforts to have any real success.

The Madrid Skylitzes' depiction of Constantine on his deathbed

Constantine had active diplomatic relationships with foreign courts, including those of the caliph of Cordoba Abd ar-Rahman III and of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. In the autumn of 957 Constantine was visited by Olga of Kiev, regent of the Kievan Rus'. The reasons for this voyage have never been clarified; but she was baptised a Christian with the name Helena, and sought Christian missionaries to encourage her people to adopt Christianity. According to legends, Constantine VII
Constantine VII
fell in love with Olga, however she found the way to refuse him by tricking him to become her godfather. When she was baptized, she said it was inappropriate for a godfather to marry his goddaughter.[6] Constantine VII died at Constantinople
Constantinople
in November 959 and was succeeded by his son Romanos II. It was rumored that Constantine had been poisoned by his son or his daughter-in-law Theophano. Literary and political activity[edit]

Gold solidus of Leo VI and Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, 908–912.

Constantine VII was renowned for his abilities as a writer and scholar. He wrote, or had commissioned, the works De Ceremoniis
De Ceremoniis
("On Ceremonies", in Greek, Περί τῆς Βασιλείου Τάξεως), describing the kinds of court ceremonies (also described later in a more negative light by Liutprand of Cremona); De Administrando Imperio ("On the Administration of the Empire", bearing in Greek the heading Προς τον ίδιον υιόν Ρωμανόν), giving advice on running the Empire internally and on fighting external enemies; a history of the Empire covering events following the death of the chronographer Theophanes the Confessor in 817; and Excerpta Historica ("Excerpts from the Histories"), a collection of excerpts from ancient historians (many of whose works are now lost) in four volumes (1. De legationibus. 2. De virtutibus et vitiis. 3. De insidiis. 4. De sententiis.) Also amongst his historical works is a history eulogizing the reign and achievements of his grandfather, Basil I (Vita Basilii, Βίος Βασιλείου). These books are insightful and of interest to the historian, sociologist, and anthropologist as a source of information about nations neighbouring the Empire. They also offer a fine insight into the Emperor himself.

Gold solidus of Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos, 913–959.

In his book, A Short History of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich refers to Constantine VII as "The Scholar Emperor".[7] Norwich describes Constantine:

He was, we are told, a passionate collector—not only of books and manuscripts but works of art of every kind; more remarkable still for a man of his class, he seems to have been an excellent painter. He was the most generous of patrons—to writers and scholars, artists and craftsmen. Finally, he was an excellent Emperor: a competent, conscientious and hard-working administrator and an inspired picker of men, whose appointments to military, naval, ecclesiastical, civil and academic posts were both imaginative and successful. He did much to develop higher education and took a special interest in the administration of justice.[8]

In 947, Constantine VII ordered the immediate restitution of all peasant lands, without compensation; by the end of his reign, the condition of the landed peasantry, which formed the foundation of the whole economic and military strength of the Empire, was better off than it had been for a century.[9] In The Manuscript Tradition of Polybius, John Michael Moore (CUP, 1965) provides a useful summary of the commission by Porphyrogenitus of the Constantine Excerpts:

He felt that the historical studies were being seriously neglected, mainly because of the bulk of the histories. He therefore decided that a selection under fifty-three titles should be made from all the important historians extant in Constantinople; thus he hoped to assemble in a more manageable compass the most valuable parts of each author. ... Of the fifty-three titles into which the excerpts were divided, only six have survived: de Virtutibus et Vitiis; de Sententiis; de Insidiis; de Strategematis; de Legationibus Gentium ad Romanos; de Legationibus Romanorum ad Gentes. The titles of only about half the remaining forty-seven sections are known.[10]

Family[edit] By his wife Helena Lekapene, the daughter of Emperor Romanos I, Constantine VII had several children, including:

Leo, who died young. Romanos II. Zoe. Sent to a convent. Theodora, who married Emperor John I Tzimiskes. Agatha. Sent to a convent. Theophano. Sent to a convent. Anna. Sent to a convent.

See also[edit]

Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
portal

List of Byzantine emperors

References[edit]

^ a b " Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos" in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, New York & Oxford, 1991, p. 502. ISBN 0195046528 ^ Runciman 1988, pp. 47–48. ^ Runciman 1988, pp. 49–50. ^ Runciman 1988, pp. 49ff.. ^ Ostrogorsky, George (1969). History of the Byzantine State. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 278. ISBN 0-8135-0599-2.  ^ S. H. Cross and O. P. Sherbowizt-Wetzor (trans.) (1953). The Russian Primary Chronicle: Laurentian Text. Cambridge, MA: Medieval Academy of America. pp. 82–83. ISBN 9780915651320.  ^ Norwich, John Julius. (1997) A Short History of Byzantium. London: Viking, p. 180. ISBN 0-679-45088-2 ^ Norwich, 181. ^ Norwich, 182-83. ^ Moore, 127.

Sources[edit]

Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press.  Runciman, Steven (1988) [1929]. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign: A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-35722-5.  Toynbee, Arnold (1973). Constantine Porphyrogenitus and his world. Oxford. ISBN 0-19-215253-X. 

Further reading[edit]

Constantine VII, De ceremoniis, ed. J. Reiske (2 vols., 1829, 1830). English translation 'The Book of Ceremonies' accompanying the Greek text in 2 volumes by Ann Moffatt and Maxene Tall, Canberra 2012 (Byzantina Australiensia 18). Moravcsik, Gyula; Jenkins, Romilly J. H., eds. (1967) [1949]. Constantine Porphyrogenitus: De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio
(2nd revised ed.). Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies.  Constantine VII, 'Story of the Image of Edessa', tr. B. Slater, J. Jackson, in I. Wilson, The Turin Shroud (1978), p. 235-51 Constantine VII, Three treatises on Imperial military expeditions, ed. tr. J.F. Haldon (1990).

External links[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original works written by or about: Constantine VII

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Konstantinos VII Porphyrogennetos.

Cawley, Charles, Listing of Constantine VII
Constantine VII
and his family in "Medieval Lands", Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy  Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Graeca with analytical indexes De administrando Imperio chapters 29–36 at the Internet Archive

Constantine VII Macedonian Dynasty Born: September 905 Died: 9 November 959

Regnal titles

Preceded by Alexander Byzantine Emperor 6 June 913 –9 November 959 with Romanos I
Romanos I
(920–944) Christopher Lekapenos
Christopher Lekapenos
(921–931) Stephen Lekapenos
Stephen Lekapenos
(924–945) Constantine Lekapenos
Constantine Lekapenos
(924–945) Succeeded by Romanos II

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Arab
with Philip II Decius
Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

Diocletian
Diocletian
(whole empire) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) Diocletian
Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
Maximian
(West) with Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
Galerius
(East) and Licinius
Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
Constans
I Magnentius
Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
Heraclius
and Tiberius
Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II
Nikephoros II
Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

v t e

Byzantine historians

5th century

Malchus Panodorus of Alexandria Priscus

6th century

Agathias Evagrius Scholasticus Hesychius of Miletus John of Ephesus John of Epiphania Jordanes John Malalas Liberatus of Carthage Marcellinus Comes Menander Protector Peter the Patrician Procopius Theodorus Lector Theophanes of Byzantium Zacharias Rhetor Zosimus

7th century

Trajan
Trajan
the Patrician Theophylact Simocatta John of Antioch

8th century

Hippolytus of Thebes

9th century

Theophanes the Confessor George Syncellus Nikephoros I
Nikephoros I
of Constantinople George Hamartolos

10th century

Constantine VII Joseph Genesius John Kaminiates Leo the Deacon Symeon the Metaphrast Theophanes Continuatus

11th century

Michael Attaleiates George Kedrenos Michael Psellos John Skylitzes John Xiphilinus Yahya of Antioch

12th century

Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger Niketas Choniates Eustathius of Thessalonica Michael Glycas Anna Komnene John Kinnamos Constantine Manasses Joannes
Joannes
Zonaras

13th century

George Akropolites

14th century

Nicephorus Gregoras Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos George Pachymeres Michael Panaretos

15th century

John Anagnostes John Cananus Laonikos Chalkokondyles Michael Critobulus Doukas George Sphrantzes

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 13108540 LCCN: n82154652 ISNI: 0000 0001 2099 2009 GND: 119022397 SELIBR: 192447 SUDOC: 032474482 BNF: cb12349759j (data) BIBSYS: 90640193 ULAN: 500373130 NKC: js2010592

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