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Michael II
Michael II
(Greek: Μιχαήλ Β', Mikhaēl II), (770- 829), surnamed the Amorian (ὁ ἐξ Ἀμορίου) or the Stammerer (ὁ Τραυλός or ὁ Ψελλός), reigned as Byzantine Emperor
Byzantine Emperor
from 25 December 820 to his death on 2 October 829, the first ruler of the Phrygian or Amorian dynasty. Born in Amorium, Michael was a soldier, rising to high rank along with his colleague Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
(r. 813–820). He helped Leo overthrow and take the place of Emperor Michael I Rangabe. However, after they fell out Leo sentenced Michael to death. Michael then masterminded a conspiracy which resulted in Leo's assassination at Christmas in 820. Immediately he faced the long revolt of Thomas the Slav, which almost cost him his throne and was not completely quelled until Spring 824. The later years of his reign were marked by two major military disasters that had long-term effects: the beginning of the Muslim conquest of Sicily, and the loss of Crete
Crete
to the Saracens. Domestically, he supported and strengthened the resumption of official iconoclasm, which had begun again under Leo V.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Reign 3 See also 4 Footnotes 5 References

Early life[edit] Michael was born in 770 in Amorium, in Phrygia, into a family of professional peasant-soldiers who received land from the government for their military service. His family belonged to the Judeo-Christian sect of the Athinganoi, whose members were Cappadocians and had adopted the Jewish faith and rituals. The Athinganoi
Athinganoi
were numerous in Anatolia
Anatolia
and together with the Greeks
Greeks
and Armenians
Armenians
formed the backbone of the Byzantine army
Byzantine army
of that era. Michael first rose to prominence as a close aide (spatharios) to the general Bardanes Tourkos, alongside his future antagonists Leo the Armenian and Thomas the Slav. He married Bardanes' daughter Thekla, while Leo married another daughter. Michael and Leo abandoned Bardanes shortly after he rebelled against Emperor Nikephoros I
Nikephoros I
in 803, and they were rewarded with higher military commands: Michael was named the Emperor's Count of the Tent. Michael was instrumental in Leo's overthrow of Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
in 813, after Rangabe’s repeated military defeats against the Bulgarians. Under Leo V, Michael was appointed to command the elite tagma of the Excubitors. He became disgruntled with Leo V, however, when the Emperor divorced Michael's sister-in-law. On Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve
820, Leo V accused him of conspiracy, jailed him, and sentenced him to death, although he postponed the execution until after Christmas. Michael sent messages to his co-conspirators threatening to reveal their identity, whereupon his partisans freed him and murdered Leo V during the Christmas mass in the palace chapel of St. Stephen. Reign[edit] Michael was immediately proclaimed Emperor, while still wearing prison chains on his legs. Later the same day, he was crowned by Patriarch Theodotos I of Constantinople. In his internal policy, Michael II supported iconoclasm, but he tacitly encouraged reconciliation with the iconodules, whom he generally stopped persecuting and allowed to return from exile. These included the former Patriarch Nikephoros and Theodore of Stoudios, who failed, however, to persuade the emperor to abandon iconoclasm. One of the few victims of the Emperor's policy was the future patriarch Methodios I. Michael's accession whetted the appetite of his former comrade-in-arms Thomas the Slav, who set himself up as rival emperor in Anatolia
Anatolia
and successfully transferred his forces into Thrace, effectively besieging the capital in December 821. Although Thomas did not win over all the Anatolian themes, he secured the support of the naval theme and their ships, allowing him to tighten his grip on Constantinople. In his quest for support, Thomas presented himself as a champion of the poor, reduced taxation, and concluded an alliance with Al-Ma'mun
Al-Ma'mun
of the Abbasid
Abbasid
Caliphate, having himself crowned Emperor by the Patriarch of Antioch Job. With the support of Omurtag of Bulgaria, Michael II
Michael II
forced Thomas to lift his siege of Constantinople
Constantinople
in the spring of 823. Michael besieged Thomas in Arkadiopolis (Lüleburgaz) and forced his surrender in October. Michael inherited a seriously weakened military and was unable to prevent the conquest of Crete
Crete
in 824 by 10,000 Arabs (who had 40 ships),[1] or to recover the island with an expedition in 826. In 827 the Arabs also invaded Sicily, taking advantage of local infighting, and besieged Syracuse. Thekla and Michael had only one known son, the Emperor Theophilos (813 – 20 January 842). The existence of a daughter called Helena is possible but there is a contradiction between different sources. Helena is known as the wife of Theophobos, a patrician executed in 842 for conspiring to gain the throne for himself. George Hamartolus
George Hamartolus
and Theophanes report him marrying the sister of the Empress Theodora. Joseph Genesius records Theophobos
Theophobos
marrying the sister of the Emperor Theophilos. Whether Helena was sister or sister-in-law to Theophilos is thus unclear. After the death of Thekla, in c. 823, Michael II
Michael II
married Euphrosyne, a daughter of Constantine VI
Constantine VI
and Maria of Amnia. This marriage was probably intended to strengthen Michael's position as Emperor, but it incurred the opposition of the clergy, as Euphrosyne had previously become a nun. Michael II
Michael II
died on October 2, 829. Because of his Judeo-Christian origin and iconoclasm, Michael II
Michael II
was not popular among Orthodox clergy, who depicted him as an ignorant and poorly educated peasant, but Michael II
Michael II
was a competent statesman and administrator. He brought stability to most of the Byzantine Empire for the first time in many generations and began restoration of the Byzantine military. The system of government and military built by Michael II
Michael II
enabled the Empire under his grandson Michael III
Michael III
to gain the ascendency in their struggles with the Abbasids and to withstand all the vicissitudes of Byzantine palace life. Michael II's direct descendants, the Amorian dynasty
Amorian dynasty
followed by the so-called Macedonian dynasty, ruled the Empire for more than two centuries, inaugurating the Byzantine Renaissance of the 9th and 10th centuries. See also[edit]

Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
portal

List of Byzantine emperors

Footnotes[edit]

^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Apogee, 37

References[edit]

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Michael (emperors)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 359–360. 

Michael II Phrygian Dynasty Born: 770 Died: 2 October 829

Regnal titles

Preceded by Leo V Byzantine Emperor 25 December 820 – 2 October 829 Succeeded by Theophilos

Political offices

Preceded by Leo V Consul of the Roman Empire 820–829 Succeeded by Theophilos

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 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 ind

.