The Info List - Romanos I Lekapenos

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Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
or Lakapenos (Greek: Ρωμανός Α΄ Λακαπηνός, Rōmanos I Lakapēnos; c. 870 – June 15, 948), Latinized as Romanus I Lecapenus, was an Armenian who became a Byzantine
naval commander and reigned as Byzantine
Emperor from 920 until his deposition on December 16, 944.


1 Origin 2 Rise to power 3 War and peace with Bulgaria 4 Campaigns in the East 5 Internal policies 6 End of the reign 7 Family 8 See also 9 References 10 Sources 11 External links

Origin[edit] Romanos Lekapenos, born in Lakape (later Laqabin) between Melitene
and Samosata
(hence the name), was the son of an Armenian peasant[1][2][3] with the remarkable name of Theophylact the Unbearable (Theophylaktos Abastaktos). Theophylact, as a soldier, had rescued the Emperor Basil I from the enemy in battle at Tephrike
and had been rewarded by a place in the Imperial Guard.[4] Although he did not receive any refined education (for which he was later abused by his son-in-law Constantine VII), Romanos advanced through the ranks of the army during the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. In 911 he was general of the naval theme of Samos and later served as admiral of the fleet (droungarios tou ploimou). In this capacity he was supposed to participate in the Byzantine
operations against Bulgaria on the Danube
in 917, but he was unable to carry out his mission. In the aftermath of the disastrous Byzantine
defeat at the Battle of Acheloos
Battle of Acheloos
in 917 by the Bulgarians, Romanos sailed to Constantinople, where he gradually overcame the discredited regency of Empress Zoe Karvounopsina
Zoe Karvounopsina
and her supporter Leo Phokas. Rise to power[edit]

Gold solidus of Romanos I with his eldest son, Christopher Lekapenos

On 25 March 919, at the head of his fleet, Lekapenos seized the Boukoleon Palace
Boukoleon Palace
and the reins of government. Initially, he was named magistros and megas hetaireiarches, but he moved swiftly to consolidate his position: in April 919 his daughter Helena was married to Constantine VII, and Lekapenos assumed the new title basileopator; on 24 September, he was named Caesar; and on 17 December 919, Romanos Lekapenos was crowned senior emperor.[5] In subsequent years Romanos crowned his own sons co-emperors, Christopher in 921, Stephen and Constantine in 924, although, for the time being, Constantine VII
Constantine VII
was regarded as first in rank after Romanos himself. It is notable that, as he left Constantine untouched, he was called 'the gentle usurper'. Romanos strengthened his position by marrying his daughters to members of the powerful aristocratic families of Argyros and Mouseles, by recalling the deposed patriarch Nicholas Mystikos, and by putting an end to the conflict with the Papacy
over the four marriages of Emperor Leo VI. His early reign saw several conspiracies to topple him, which led to the successive dismissal of his first paradynasteuontes, John the Rhaiktor and John Mystikos. From 925 and until the end of his reign, the post was occupied by the chamberlain Theophanes. War and peace with Bulgaria[edit] Main article: Byzantine–Bulgarian war of 913–927 The first major challenge faced by the new emperor was the war with Bulgaria, which had been re-ignited by the regency of Zoe. The rise to power of Romanos had curtailed the plans of Simeon I of Bulgaria
Simeon I of Bulgaria
for a marital alliance with Constantine VII, and Romanos was determined to deny the unpopular concession of imperial recognition to Simeon, which had already toppled two imperial governments. Consequently, the first four years of Romanos' reign were spent in warfare against Bulgaria. Although Simeon generally had the upper hand, he was unable to gain a decisive advantage because of the impregnability of Constantinople's walls. In 924, when Simeon had once again blockaded the capital by land, Romanos succeeded in opening negotiations. Meeting Simeon in person at Kosmidion, Romanos criticized Simeon's disregard for tradition and Orthodox Christian
brotherhood and supposedly shamed him into coming to terms and lifting the siege. In reality, this was accomplished by Romanos' tacit recognition of Simeon as emperor of Bulgaria. Relations were subsequently marred by continued wrangling over titles (Simeon called himself emperor of the Romans as well), but peace had been effectively established. On the death of Simeon in May 927, Bulgaria's new emperor, Peter I, made a show of force by invading Byzantine
Thrace, but he showed himself ready to negotiate for a more permanent peace. Romanos seized the occasion and proposed a marriage alliance between the imperial houses of Byzantium and Bulgaria, at the same time renewing the Serbian- Byzantine
alliance with Časlav of Serbia, returning independence the same year. In September 927 Peter arrived before Constantinople
and married Maria (renamed Eirene, "Peace"), the daughter of his eldest son and co-emperor Christopher, and thus Romanos' granddaughter. On this occasion Christopher received precedence in rank over his brother-in-law Constantine VII, something which compounded the latter's resentment towards the Lekapenoi, the Bulgarians, and imperial marriages to outsiders (as documented in his composition De Administrando Imperio). From this point on, Romanos' government was free from direct military confrontation with Bulgaria. Although Byzantium would tacitly support a Serbian revolt against Bulgaria in 931, and the Bulgarians would allow Magyar raids across their territory into Byzantine
possessions, Byzantium and Bulgaria remained at peace for 40 years, until Sviatoslav's invasion of Bulgaria. Campaigns in the East[edit] Romanos appointed the brilliant general John Kourkouas
John Kourkouas
commander of the field armies (domestikos ton scholon) in the East. John Kourkouas subdued a rebellion in the theme of Chaldia
and intervened in Armenia in 924. From 926 Kourkouas campaigned across the eastern frontier against the Abbasids
and their vassals, and won an important victory at Melitene
in 934. The capture of this city is often considered the first major Byzantine
territorial recovery from the Muslims.

The Byzantine
fleet under Theophanes repels the Rus' in 941. Miniature from the Madrid Skylitzes.

In 941, while most of the army under Kourkouas was absent in the East, a fleet of 15 old ships under the protovestiarios Theophanes had to defend Constantinople
from a Kievan raid. The invaders were defeated at sea, through the use of Greek fire, and again at land, when they landed in Bithynia, by the returning army under Kourkouas. In 944 Romanos concluded a treaty with Prince Igor of Kiev. This crisis having passed, Kourkouas was free to return to the eastern frontier. In 943 Kourkouas invaded northern Mesopotamia
and besieged the important city of Edessa in 944. As the price for his withdrawal, Kourkouas obtained one of Byzantium's most prized relics, the mandylion, the holy towel allegedly sent by Jesus
to King Abgar V of Edessa. John Kourkouas, although considered by some of his contemporaries "a second Trajan
or Belisarius," was dismissed after the fall of the Lekapenoi
in 945. Nevertheless, his campaigns in the East paved the way for the even more dramatic reconquests in the middle and the second half of the 10th century. Internal policies[edit]

The palace church at Myrelaion, commissioned by Romanos I as a family shrine in 922.

Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
attempted to strengthen the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
by seeking peace everywhere that it was possible—his dealings with Bulgaria and Kievan Rus'
Kievan Rus'
have been described above. To protect Byzantine
from Magyar incursions (such as the ones in 934 and 943), Romanos paid them protection money and pursued diplomatic venues. The Khazars
were the allies of the Byzantines until the reign of Romanos, when he started persecuting the Jews of the empire. According to the Schechter Letter, the Khazar ruler Joseph responded to the persecution of Jews by "doing away with many Christians", and Romanos retaliated by inciting Oleg of Novgorod
Oleg of Novgorod
(called Helgu in the letter) against Khazaria.[6] Similarly, Romanos re-established peace within the church and overcame the new conflict between Rome and Constantinople
by promulgating the Tomos of Union in 920. In 933 Romanos took advantage of a vacancy on the patriarchal throne to name his young son Theophylaktos patriarch of Constantinople. The new patriarch did not achieve renown for his piety and spirituality, but he added theatrical elements to the Byzantine
liturgy and was an avid horse-breeder, allegedly leaving mass to tend to one of his favorite mares when she was giving birth. Romanos was active as a legislator, promulgating a series of laws to protect small landowners from being swallowed up by the estates of the land-owning nobility (dynatoi). The legislative reform may have been partly inspired by hardship caused by the famine of 927 and the subsequent semi-popular revolt of Basil the Copper Hand. The emperor also managed to increase the taxes levied on the aristocracy and established the state on a more secure financial footing. Romanos was also able to effectively subdue revolts in several provinces of the empire, most notably in Chaldia, the Peloponnese, and Southern Italy. In Constantinople, he built his palace in the place called Myrelaion, near the Sea of Marmara. Beside it he built a shrine which became the first example of a private burial church of a Byzantine
emperor. Moreover, he erected a chapel devoted to Christ
Chalkites near the Chalke
Gate, the monumental entrance to the Great Palace. End of the reign[edit] Romanos' later reign was marked by the old emperor's heightened interest in divine judgment and his increasing sense of guilt for his role in the usurpation of the throne from Constantine VII. On the death of Christopher, by far his most competent son, in 931, Romanos did not advance his younger sons in precedence over Constantine VII. Fearing that Romanos would allow Constantine VII
Constantine VII
to succeed him instead of them, his younger sons Stephen and Constantine arrested their father in December 944, carried him off to the Prince's Islands and compelled him to become a monk. When they threatened the position of Constantine VII, however, the people of Constantinople
revolted, and Stephen and Constantine were likewise stripped of their imperial rank and sent into exile to their father. Romanos died in June 948, and was buried as the other members of his family in the church of Myrelaion. Having lived long under constant threat of deposition -or worse- by the Lekapenoi
family, Constantine VII
Constantine VII
was extremely resentful of them. In his De Administrando Imperio
De Administrando Imperio
manual written for his son and successor, Romanus II, he minces no words about his late father-in-law: "the lord Romanus the Emperor was an idiot and an illiterate man, neither bred in the high imperial manner, nor following Roman custom from the beginning, nor of imperial or noble descent, and therefore the more rude and authoritarian in doing most things ... for his beliefs were uncouth, obstinate, ignorant of what is good, and unwilling to adhere to what is right and proper."[7] Family[edit] By his marriage to Theodora (who died in 922), Romanos had six children, including:

Christopher Lekapenos, co-emperor from 921 to 931, who was married to the Augusta Sophia and was the father of Maria (renamed Irene), who married Emperor Peter I of Bulgaria; Christopher's son Michael Lekapenos may have been associated as co-emperor by his grandfather. Stephen Lekapenos, co-emperor from 924 to 945, died 967. Constantine Lekapenos, co-emperor from 924 to 945, died 946. Theophylaktos Lekapenos, patriarch of Constantinople
from 933 to 956. Helena Lekapene, who married Emperor Constantine VII. Agatha Lekapene, who married Romanos Argyros; their grandson was Emperor Romanos III.

Romanos also had an illegitimate son, the eunuch Basil, who remained influential at court, particularly during the period 976–985. See also[edit]

Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire

List of Byzantine


^ http://isthmia.osu.edu/teg/hist60702/6.htm ^ John H. Rosser (2011). Historical Dictionary of Byzantium. Scarecrow Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-8108-7567-8.  External link in title= (help) ^ Hélène Ahrweiler, Angeliki E. Laiou (1998). Studies on the Internal Diaspora of the Byzantine
Empire. Dumbarton Oaks. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-88402-247-3.  External link in title= (help) ^ Runciman, p. 63 ^ Runciman 1988, pp. 59–62. ^ "Rus". Encyclopaedia of Islam ^ Jonathan Shepard (ed.). Cambridge History Byzantine
Empire. p. 39. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 


The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991. 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.   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Romanus". Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 583–584. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Romanus I at Wikimedia Commons Ancient History Encyclopedia - Romanos I

Romanos I Lekapenos Macedonian Dynasty Born: c. 870 Died: 15 June 948

Regnal titles

Preceded by Constantine VII Byzantine
Emperor 920–944 with Constantine VII
Constantine VII
(913–959) Christopher Lekapenos
Christopher Lekapenos
(921–931) Stephen Lekapenos
Stephen Lekapenos
(924–945) Constantine Lekapenos
Constantine Lekapenos
(924–945) Succeeded by Constantine VII

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Roman and Byzantine

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

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Marcus Aurelius
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Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
and Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
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Leo V the Armenian
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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
Romanos III
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Constantine IX Monomachos
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Michael VII Doukas
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John II Komnenos
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Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

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

Eastern/ Byzantine
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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.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 20476633 ISNI: 0000 0000 1350 4153 GND: 118791079 BNF: