Manuel Erotikos Komnenos (Greek: Μανουήλ Ἐρωτικός
Κομνηνός, Manouēl Erōtikos Komnēnos; 955/960 – c. 1020)
Byzantine military leader under Basil II, and the first fully
documented ancestor of the Komnenos dynasty. His origin and parentage
is obscure. He is only mentioned in the sources as leading the defence
Nicaea in 978 against the rebel Bardas Skleros, and as an imperial
envoy to him 11 years later. He had three children, late in life. The
eldest, Isaac, became emperor in 1057–1059, and the youngest, John,
was the progenitor of the Komnenian dynasty as the father of Alexios I
Nothing is known of Manuel's early life. From the fact that he was
militarily active in 978, and given that he was able to have children
as late as c. 1015, a date of birth of c. 955/960 has been
suggested and generally accepted by modern scholars. His
parents' identity is obscure: as Manuel's own firstborn son was named
Isaac (Isaakios), the Greek scholar Konstantinos Varzos considered it
likely that his father had the same name, since according to Greek
custom the eldest male child is named after its paternal grandfather.
Nothing is known otherwise about his life and career. According to
Varzos, Manuel inherited his surname of "Komnenos" from his father,
while his equally obscure mother was an unnamed lady of the Erotikos
family, possibly related to the 11th-century rebel Theophilos
Erotikos. The French scholar Jean-Claude Cheynet, on the other
hand, proposed that Manuel was a member of the Erotikos family, and
that he was the first to have changed the surname to Komnenos.
Modern scholarship commonly accepts Michael Psellos' comment that the
family originated from the village of Komne in Thrace. Varzos
also considers Manuel a brother of the protospatharios Nikephoros
Komnenos, who was named governor of the Armenian region of Vaspurakan
soon after its annexation in 1021, but although possible, such a
relationship cannot be proven.
Manuel is mentioned for the first time in 978, when he led the defence
Nicaea against the rebel general Bardas Skleros, who had risen up
Basil II (r. 976–1025). Although his
great-granddaughter, the princess Anna Komnene, claims in her Alexiad
that he had been named strategos autokrator (commander-in-chief) of
the East and sent with full powers to deal with the revolt, it is far
more likely that he was merely a local commander. Manuel maintained
the city's defence with some success, even though the besiegers
managed to undermine and collapse one of its towers, until the lack of
food became acute. At that point Manuel was able to fool Skleros, by
pretending that he had mountains of wheat and was considering joining
him, into allowing him and the inhabitants to depart freely for
Constantinople. Manuel re-appears in 989, when he was sent as an
envoy to Skleros, who had once more risen in revolt against Basil II,
to persuade him to surrender. Manuel was successful in his task, and
the elderly rebel ended his revolt and gave himself up on 11
October. The titles by which he is recorded were patrikios,
anthypatos, and vestes.
Manuel owned lands in the region of modern
Kastamonu in Paphlagonia,
inherited after his death by his eldest son, and which became the
stronghold of the family in the 11th century. Manuel Erotikos
Komnenos died probably around 1020. At that time, his children were
still young, so he entrusted them to the care of Emperor Basil
Manuel's wife is virtually unknown. She was likely named Maria, as
were two of her granddaughters, and probably died c. 1015. They
had two sons and one daughter:
Isaac I Komnenos
Isaac I Komnenos (c. 1007 – 1061), married Catherine of Bulgaria,
daughter of the last Bulgarian Tsar, and a distinguished general. He
became emperor in 1057 at the head of a cabal of Anatolian generals,
but resigned in 1059 and retired to a monastery.
an unnamed daughter (born c. 1012), married Michael Dokeianos, who
Catepan of Italy
Catepan of Italy and was killed by the
John Komnenos (c. 1015 – 12 July 1067), married Anna Dalassene,
and served during his brother's reign as Domestic of the Schools. He
fathered several children who also became senior military leaders. His
third son, Alexios I Komnenos, became emperor in 1081, founding the
^ Varzos 1984, p. 38.
^ a b c d e f g h PmbZ, Manuel Erotikos bzw. Komnenos (#24885).
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 37–38.
^ a b c d ODB, "Komnenos" (A. Kazhdan), pp. 1143–1144.
^ Varzos 1984, p. 25.
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 39–40.
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 25–26.
^ a b c Varzos 1984, p. 39.
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 41–47.
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 47–49.
^ Varzos 1984, pp. 49–57.
Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium.
Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Lilie, Ralph-Johannes; Ludwig, Claudia; Pratsch, Thomas; Zielke, Beate
(2013). Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit Online.
Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Nach Vorarbeiten
F. Winkelmanns erstellt (in German). Berlin and Boston: De
Varzos, Konstantinos (1984). Η Γενεαλογία των
Κομνηνών [The Genealogy of the Komnenoi] (PDF) (in Greek). A.
Thessaloniki: Centre for
Byzantine Studies, University of