Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus was the fourth Emperor of the 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, 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, his sons. Constantine VII is best known for his four books, De Administrando Imperio, De Ceremoniis, De Thematibus, Vita Basilii, his nickname alludes to the Purple Room of the imperial palace, decorated with porphyry, where legitimate children of reigning emperors were born. Constantine was born in this room, although his mother Zoe had not been married to Leo at that time; 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". 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 Mystikos, the two magistroi John Eladas and Stephen, the rhaiktor John Lazanes, the otherwise obscure Euthymius and Alexander's henchmen Basilitzes and Gabrielopoulos. Following Alexander's death, the new and shaky regime survived the attempted usurpation of Constantine Doukas, Patriarch Nicholas Mystikos assumed a dominant position among the regents. 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 to Constantine. Romanos used his position to advance to the ranks of basileopatōr in May 919, to kaisar in September 920, 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, his relegation to the third level of succession, behind Christopher Lekapenos, the eldest son of Romanos I Lekapenos, he was a intelligent young man with a large range of interests, 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 as a monk and died on June 15, 948. With the help of his wife, Constantine VII succeeded in removing his brothers-in-law, on January 27, 945, Constantine VII became sole emperor at the age of 39, after a life spent in the shadow. Several months Constantine VII crowned his own son Romanos II co-emperor. Having never exercised executive authority, Constantine remained 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 against the Arab corsairs hiding in Crete, but like his father's attempt to retake the island in 911, this attempt failed. On the Eastern frontier things went better if with alternate success. In 949 the Byzantines conquered Germanicea defeated the enemy armies, in 952 they crossed the upper Euphrates, but in 953 the Hamdanid amir Sayf al-Daula entered the imperial territory.
The land in the east was recovered by Nikephoros Phokas, who conquered Hadath, in northern Syria, in 958, by the general John Tzimiskes, who one year captured Samosata, in northern Mesopotamia. An Arab fleet was destroyed by Greek fire in 957. Constantine's efforts to retake themes lost to the Arabs were the first such efforts to have any real success. 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. According to legends, 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. Constantine VII died at 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 da
Irene of Athens
Irene of Athens known as Irene Sarantapechaina, was Byzantine empress consort by marriage to Leo IV from 775 to 780, Byzantine regent during the minority of her son Constantine VI from 780 until 790, sole empress regnant of the Byzantine Empire from 797 to 802. A member of the politically prominent Sarantapechos family, she was selected as Leo IV's bride for unknown reasons in 768. Though her husband was an iconoclast, she harbored iconophile sympathies. During her rule as regent, she called the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, which condemned iconoclasm as heretical and brought an end to the first iconoclast period; as Irene's son Constantine reached maturity, he began to move out from under the influence of his mother. In the early 790s, several attempted revolts tried to proclaim him as sole ruler. In 797, Irene gouged out her son's eyes, maiming him so that he died a few days later. With her son dead, Irene proclaimed herself sole ruler. Irene's unprecedented status as a female ruler of the Roman Empire led Pope Leo III to proclaim Charlemagne emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on Christmas Day, 800 under the pretext that a woman could not rule and so the throne of the Roman Empire was vacant.
A revolt in 802 overthrew Irene and exiled her to the island of Lesbos, supplanting her on the throne with Nikephoros I. Irene died in exile less than a year later. Irene was born in Athens sometime between 750 and 755, she was a member of the noble Greek Sarantapechos family, which had significant political influence in central mainland Greece. Although she was an orphan, her uncle or cousin Constantine Sarantapechos was a patrician and also a strategos of the theme of Hellas at the end of the eighth century. Constantine Sarantapechos's son Theophylact was a spatharios and is mentioned as having been involved in suppressing a revolt in 799. Irene was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine V on 1 November 768 and was married to his son Leo IV on 17 December, it is unclear why she was selected as the bride for the young Leo IV. Unusual is that, while Constantine V was a militant iconoclast, known for persecuting venerators of icons, Irene herself displayed iconophile predilections; this fact, combined with the limited information available about her family, has led some scholars to speculate that Irene may have been selected in a bride-show, in which eligible young women were paraded before the bridegroom until one was selected.
If this was the case she would have been the first imperial bride to be selected in this manner. However, there is no solid evidence to support this hypothesis other than the apparent bizarreness of Irene's selection as Leo IV's bride. On 14 January 771, Irene gave birth to a son, the future Constantine VI, named after his grandfather, Irene's father-in-law, Constantine V; when Constantine V died in September 775, Leo IV ascended to the throne at the age of twenty-five years, with Irene as his empress consort. An unnamed female relative of Irene was married to the Bulgar ruler Telerig in 776. Irene had a nephew. Leo IV, though an iconoclast like his father, pursued a policy of moderation towards iconophiles, he removed the penalties on monasteries, imposed by his father and began appointing monks as bishops. When Patriarch Niketas of Constantinople died in 780, Leo IV appointed Paul of Cyprus, who had iconophile sympathies, as his successor, although he did force him to swear oaths that he would uphold the official iconoclasm.
During Lent of 780, Leo IV's policies on iconophiles became much harsher. He ordered for a number of prominent courtiers to be arrested, scourged and tortured after they were caught venerating icons. According to the historian George Kedrenos, who wrote many centuries after Irene's death, this crackdown on iconophiles began after Leo IV discovered two icons hidden underneath Irene's pillow. Leo IV discovered the courtiers who had brought the icons, he had them tortured and scolded Irene for breaking with her faith. Irene insisted. After the incident, Leo refused to have marital relations with Irene again. Lynda Garland, a historian of the Byzantine Empire, states that this story too resembles a different story told about the empress Theodora, wife of Theophilos to be true. Nonetheless, she maintains that it is possible that Irene may have been trying to fill the palace with supporters of iconophilism, which may have triggered Leo IV's crackdown. Leo IV died on 8 September 780 and Irene became regent for their nine-year-old son Constantine VI.
Rumors were circulated claiming that Leo IV had died of a fever after putting on the jeweled crown, dedicated by either Maurice or Herakleios. Irene herself may have promoted this rumor in effort to smear her deceased husband's memory. In October, only six weeks after Leo IV's death, Irene was confronted with a conspiracy led by a group of prominent dignitaries that sought to raise Caesar Nikephoros, a half-brother of Leo IV, to the throne. Irene had Bardas and Konstantinos scourged and banished, she replaced all of them with dignitaries. She had Nikephoros and his four brothers ordained as priests, a status which disqualified them from ruling, forced them to serve communion at the Hagia Sophia on Christmas Day 780. On the same day, Irene returned the crown her husband had removed as part of a full imperial procession. Hoping to placate supporters of her husband's family, Irene is reported to have pro
The Byzantine Senate or Eastern Roman Senate was the continuation of the Roman Senate, established in the 4th century by Constantine I. It survived for centuries, but with its limited power that it theoretically possessed, the Senate became irrelevant until its eventual disappearance circa 14th century; the Senate of the Eastern Roman Empire consisted of Roman senators who happened to live in the East, or those who wanted to move to Constantinople, a few other bureaucrats who were appointed to the Senate. Constantine offered free grain to any Roman Senators who were willing to move to the East; when Constantine founded the Eastern Senate in Byzantium, it resembled the councils of important cities like Antioch rather than the Roman Senate. His son Constantius II raised it from the position of a municipal to that of an Imperial body but the Senate in Constantinople had the same limited powers as the Senate in Rome. Constantius II increased the number of Senators to 2,000 by including his friends and various provincial officials.
The traditional principles that Senatorial rank was hereditary and that the normal way of becoming a member of the Senate itself was by holding a magistracy still remained in full force. By the time of the permanent division of the Roman Empire in 395, Praetors' responsibilities had been reduced to a purely municipal role, their sole duty was to manage the spending of money on public works. However, with the decline of the other traditional Roman offices such as that of tribune the Praetorship remained an important portal through which aristocrats could gain access to either the Western or Eastern Senates; the Praetorship was a costly position to hold as Praetors were expected to possess a treasury from which they could draw funds for their municipal duties. There are known to have been eight Praetors in the Eastern Roman Empire who shared the financial burden between them; the late Eastern Roman Senate was different from the Republican Senate as the offices of aedile and tribune had long fallen into abeyance and by the end of the 4th century the quaestorship was on the point of disappearing, save as a provincial magistrate.
The Emperor or the Senate itself could issue a decree to grant a man not born into the Senatorial order a seat in the Senate. Exemption from the expensive position of praetor would often be conferred on such persons that had become Senators in this way; the Senate was composed of statesmen and officials, ranging from the most important statesmen in the Empire such as the Master of Offices and the Master of Soldiers to provincial governors and retired civil servants. The senatorial families in Constantinople tended to be less affluent and less distinguished than those in the West; some aristocrats attempted to become senators in order to escape the difficult conditions that were imposed on them by late Roman Emperors such as Diocletian. The curiales were forced to become decurions where they were charged with participating in local government at their own expense as well as having to collect taxes and pay any deficits from their own pockets; as it was recognised that many who sought seats in the Senate were doing so to escape the harsh duties of the decurion Theodosius I decreed that they must complete their public service if they became Senators.
The Senate was led by the Prefect of the City, who conducted all of its communications with the Emperor. It was composed of three orders, the illustres and clarissimi; the members of the illustres were those who held the highest offices in Eastern Rome, such as the Master of Soldiers and Praetorian Prefects. The spectabiles formed the middle class of the Senate and consisted of important statesmen such as proconsuls and military governors of the provinces; the clarissimi was the lower class of the senate and was attached to the governors of the provinces and to other lesser posts. Members of the lower two orders were permitted to live anywhere within the Empire and were inactive Senators; the majority of active members in the Senate were the illustres, whose important offices were based in Constantinople and so were able to attend the Senate frequently. By the end of the 5th century the two lower classes were excluded from sitting in the Senate. During the reign of Justinian I the numbers of clarissimi were increased which caused many officials to be promoted to the rank of spectabiles and this in turn caused there to be an increase of the numbers of illustres, the elite class of the Senate.
As a result, a new order, the gloriosi, was created to accommodate the highest ranking senators. It is important to note that being a Senator was a secondary career for most of the Senate's members, who possessed important positions within the administrative machinery of the Empire. Whilst the powers of the Senate were limited, it could pass resolutions which the Emperor might adopt and issue in the form of edicts, it could thus suggest Imperial legislation, it acted from time to time as a consultative body. Some Imperial laws took the form of'Orations to the Senate', were read aloud before the body; the Western Roman Emperor, Valentinian III, in 446, formulated a legislative procedure which granted to the Senate the right of co-operation, where any new law was to be discussed at a meeting between the Senate and the Council before being confirmed by the Emperor. This procedure was included in Justinian's code although it is unclear whether i
Flavius Belisarius was a general of the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental to Emperor Justinian I's ambitious project of reconquering much of the Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire, lost less than a century before. One of the defining features of Belisarius's career was his success despite varying levels of support from Justinian, his name is given as one of the so-called "Last of the Romans". Belisarius is considered a military genius who conquered the Vandal Kingdom of North Africa in the Vandalic War in nine months from July 533 to March 534, he defeated the Vandal armies at the battles of Ad Decimum and Tricamarum and compelled the Vandal king Gelimer to surrender. After the conquest of North Africa, Belisarius took over most of Italy from the Ostrogothic Kingdom in a series of sieges between 535 and 540 during the Gothic War. Belisarius was born in Germane or Germania, a fortified town of which some archaeological remains still exist, on the site of present-day Sapareva Banya in south-west Bulgaria, within the borders of Thrace and Paeonia, or in Germen, a town in Thrace near Adrianople, in present-day Turkey.
Born into an Illyrian or Thracian family that spoke Latin as a mother tongue, he became a Roman soldier as a young man, serving in the bodyguard of Emperor Justin I. He came to his nephew, Justinian, as a promising and innovative officer, he was given permission by the emperor to form a bodyguard regiment, of heavy cavalry, which he expanded into a personal household regiment, 1,500 strong. Belisarius's bucellarii were the nucleus around which all the armies he would command were organized. Armed with a lance, composite bow, spatha, they were armoured to the standard of heavy cavalry of the day. A multi-purpose unit, the bucellarii were capable of shooting at a distance with bow, like the Huns, or could act as heavy shock cavalry, charging an enemy with lance and sword. In essence, they combined the best and most dangerous aspects of both of Rome's greatest enemies, the Huns and the Goths. Following Justin's death in 527, the new emperor, Justinian I, appointed Belisarius to command the Roman army in the east to deal with incursions from the Sassanid Empire.
He proved himself an able and effective commander, defeating the larger Sassanid army through superior generalship. In June/July 530, during the Iberian War, he led the Romans to a stunning victory over the Sassanids in the Battle of Dara, followed by a tactical defeat at the Battle of Callinicum on the Euphrates in 531—this was a strategic victory in that the Persians retreated to their own borders; this led to the negotiation of an "Eternal Peace" with the Persians, Roman payment of heavy tributes for years in exchange for peace with Persia, freeing resources for redeployment elsewhere. In 532, he was the highest-ranking military officer in the Imperial capital of Constantinople when the Nika riots broke out in the city and nearly resulted in the overthrow of Justinian. Belisarius sought the help of Mundus, the magister militum of Illyricum, Narses, a eunuch and general, his friend John the Armenian. Together, they suppressed the rebellion, turning the rebels who had gathered in the Hippodrome against each other, by bribing one group to depart in peace and massacring the remainder, by some accounts as many as 30,000 people.
For his efforts, Belisarius was rewarded by Justinian with the command of a land and sea expedition against the Vandal Kingdom, mounted in 533–534. The Romans had political and strategic reasons for such a campaign; the pro-Roman Vandal king Hilderic had been deposed and murdered by the usurper Gelimer, giving Justinian a legal pretext. The Arian Vandals had periodically persecuted the Nicene Christians within their kingdom, many of whom made their way to Constantinople seeking redress; the Vandals had launched many pirate raids on Roman trade interests, hurting commerce in the western areas of the Empire. Justinian wanted control of the Vandal territory in north Africa, one of the wealthiest provinces and the breadbasket of the Western Roman Empire and was now vital for guaranteeing Roman access to the western Mediterranean. In the late summer of 533, Belisarius landed near Caput Vada, he ordered his fleet not to lose sight of the army marched along the coastal highway toward the Vandal capital of Carthage.
He did this to prevent supplies from being cut off and to avoid a great defeat such as occurred during the attempt by Basiliscus to retake northern Africa 65 years before, which had ended in the Roman disaster at the Battle of Cap Bon in 468. Gelimer had planned to ambush and encircle the Romans along with a force under his brother Ammatas and 2,000 men under his nephew Gibamund; the three attacks were not properly synchronized, however, so that Ammatas and Gibamund's forces were defeated before the forces of Gelimer met Belisarius ten miles from Carthage at the Battle of Ad Decimum on September 13, 533. Despite his bold plan, Gelimer's forces were outnumbered and surprised and disorganised for the positioning of Belisarius' main force, leading to Belisarius routing Gelimer and the remains of his army off the field. With this victory, Belisarius soon took Carthage. A second victory at the Battle of Tricamarum on December 15 resulted in Gelimer's surrender early in 534 at Mount Papua, restoring the lost Roman provinces of north Africa to the empire.
For this achievement, Belisarius was granted a triumph. According to Procopius, the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem, including many obj
Constantine IV, sometimes incorrectly called Pogonatos, "the Bearded", out of confusion with his father, was Byzantine Emperor from 668 to 685. His reign saw the first serious check to nearly 50 years of uninterrupted Islamic expansion, while his calling of the Sixth Ecumenical Council saw the end of the monothelitism controversy in the Byzantine Empire; the eldest son of Constans II, Constantine IV had been named a co-emperor with his father in 654. He had been given the responsibility of managing the affairs at Constantinople during his father’s extended absence in Italy and became senior Emperor when Constans was assassinated in 668, his mother was daughter of patrician Valentinus. The first task before the new Emperor was the suppression of the military revolt in Sicily under Mezezius which had led to his father's death. Within seven months of his accession, Constantine IV had dealt with the insurgency with the support of Pope Vitalian, but this success was overshadowed by troubles in the east.
As early as 668 the Caliph Muawiyah I received an invitation from Saborios, the commander of the troops in Armenia, to help overthrow the Emperor at Constantinople. He sent an army under his son Yazid against the Byzantine Empire. Yazid took the important Byzantine center Amorion. While the city was recovered, the Arabs next attacked Carthage and Sicily in 669. In 670 the Arabs captured Cyzicus and set up a base from which to launch further attacks into the heart of the Empire, their fleet captured Smyrna and other coastal cities in 672. In 672, the Arabs sent a large fleet to attack Constantinople by sea. While Constantine was distracted by this, the Slavs laid siege to Thessalonica. Commencing in 674, the Arabs launched the long-awaited siege of Constantinople; the great fleet, assembled set sail under the command of Abdu'l-Rahman ibn Abu Bakr before the end of the year. Additional squadrons reinforced the forces of Abd ar-Rahman before they proceeded to the Hellespont, into which they sailed in about April 674.
From April to September 674 the fleet lay moored from the promontory of Hebdomon, on the Propontis, as far as the promontory of Kyklobion, near the Golden Gate, throughout those months continued to engage with the Byzantine fleet which defended the harbour from morning to evening. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before Constantinople was under siege, Constantine had ensured that the city was well provisioned, he constructed a large number of fireships and fast-sailing boats provided with tubes or siphons for squirting fire. This is the first known use of Greek fire in combat, one of the key advantages that the Byzantines possessed. In September the Arabs, having failed in their attempts to take the city, sailed to Cyzicus, which they made their winter quarters. Over the following five years, the Arabs would return each spring to continue the siege of Constantinople, but with the same results; the city survived, in 678 the Arabs were forced to raise the siege. The Arabs withdrew and were simultaneously defeated on land in Lycia in Anatolia.
This unexpected reverse forced Muawiyah I to seek a truce with Constantine. The terms of the concluded truce required the Arabs to evacuate the islands they had seized in the Aegean, to pay an annual tribute to the Emperor consisting of fifty slaves, fifty horses, 3,000 pounds of gold; the raising of the siege allowed Constantine to go to the relief of Thessalonica, still under siege from the Slavs. With the temporary passing of the Arab threat, Constantine turned his attention to the Church, torn between Monothelitism and Orthodoxy. In November 680 Constantine convened the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Constantine presided in person during the formal aspects of the proceedings, surrounded by his court officials, but he took no active role in the theological discussions; the Council reaffirmed the Orthodox doctrines of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. This solved the controversy over monothelitism; the council closed in September 681. Due to the ongoing conflicts with the Arabs during the 670s, Constantine had been forced to conclude treaties in the west with the Lombards, who had captured Brindisi and Taranto.
In 680, the Bulgars under Khan Asparukh crossed the Danube into nominally Imperial territory and began to subjugate the local communities and Slavyanic tribes. In 680, Constantine IV led a combined land and sea operation against the invaders and besieged their fortified camp in Dobruja. Suffering from bad health, the Emperor had to leave the army, which panicked and was defeated by the Bulgars. In 681, Constantine was forced to acknowledge the Bulgar state in Moesia and to pay tribute/protection money to avoid further inroads into Byzantine Thrace. Constantine created the Theme of Thrace, his brothers Heraclius and Tiberius had been crowned with him as Augusti during the reign of their father, this was confirmed by the demand of the populace, but in 681 Constantine had them mutilated so they would be ineligible to rule. At the same time he associated on the throne his own young son Justinian II. Constantine died of dysentery in September 685. By his wife Anastasia, Constantine IV had at least two sons: Justinian II, who succeeded him as emperor Heraclius, known only from an episode in which his father sent locks of his and his brother's hair to Pope Benedict II.
Byzantine bureaucracy and aristocracy
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the hierarchy stood the emperor, yet "Byzantium was a republican absolute monarchy and not a monarchy by divine right". Beneath the emperor, a multitude of officials and court functionaries operated the complex administrative machinery, necessary to run the empire. In addition to those officials, a large number of honorific titles existed, which the emperor awarded to his subjects or to friendly foreign rulers. Over the more than thousand years of the empire's existence, different titles were adopted and discarded, many lost or gained prestige. At first the various titles of the empire were the same as those in the late Roman Empire. However, by the time that Heraclius was emperor, many of the titles had become obsolete. By the time of Alexios I reign, many of the positions were drastically changed. However, from that time on they remained the same until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.
In the early Byzantine period the system of government followed the model established in late Roman times under Diocletian and Constantine the Great, with a strict separation between civil and military offices and a scale of titles corresponding to office, where membership or not in the Senate was the major distinguishing characteristic. Following the transformation of the Byzantine state during the 7th century on account of massive territorial loss to the Muslim conquests, this system vanished, during the "classic" or middle period of the Byzantine state, a new, court-centered system emerged. In this, the new titles derived from older, now obsolete, public offices, dignities of a certain level were awarded with each office. A senatorial class remained in place, which incorporated a large part of the upper officialdom as every official from the rank of protospatharios was considered a member of it. During this period, many families remained important for several centuries, several Emperors rose from the aristocracy.
Two groups can be distinguished: a metropolitan civil nobility and a provincial military one, the latter remaining regionally based and having large land-holdings, but no military forces of their own, in contrast to contemporary Western Europe. The 10th and 11th centuries saw a rise in importance of the aristocracy, an increased number of new families entering it; the catastrophic losses in the latter 11th century again prompted a reorganization of the imperial administrative system, at the hands of the new Komnenos dynasty: the older offices and titles fell into disuse, while an array of new honorifics emerged, which signified the closeness of their recipient's familial relationship to the Emperor. The Komnenian-led Empire, their Palaiologan successors, were based on the landed aristocracy, keeping the governance of state controlled by a limited number of intermarrying aristocratic families. In the 11th and 12th century for instance, some 80 civil and 64 military noble families have been identified, a small number for so large a state.
In the Palaiologan system as reported by pseudo-Kodinos one can discern the accumulated nomenclature of centuries, with high ranks having been devalued and others taken their place, the old distinction between office and dignity had vanished. These were the highest titles limited to members of the imperial family or to a few select foreign rulers, whose friendship the Emperor desired. Basileus: the Greek word for "sovereign" which referred to any king in the Greek-speaking areas of the Roman Empire, it referred to the Shahs of Persia. Heraclius adopted it in 629, it became the Greek word for "emperor." Heraclius used the titles autokrator and kyrios. The Byzantines reserved the term "basileus" among Christian rulers for the emperor in Constantinople, referred to Western European kings as rēgas, a Hellenized form of the Latin word rex; the feminine form basilissa referred to an empress. Empresses were addressed as eusebestatē avgousta, were called kyria or despoina. Primogeniture, or indeed heredity itself, was never established in Byzantine imperial succession, because in principle the Roman Emperor was selected by common acclamation of the Senate, the People and the Army.
This was rooted in the Roman "republican" tradition, whereby hereditary kingship was rejected and the Emperor was nominally the convergence of several offices of the Republic onto one person. Many emperors, anxious to safeguard their firstborn son's right to the throne, had them crowned as co-emperors when they were still children, thus assuring that upon their own death the throne would not be momentarily vacant. In such a case the need for an imperial selection never arose. In several cases the new Emperor ascended the throne after marrying the previous Emperor's widow, or indeed after forcing the previous Emperor to abdicate and become a monk. Several emperors were deposed because of perceived inadequacy, e.g. after a military defeat, some were murdered. Porphyrogennētos – "born in the purple": Emperors wanting to emphasize the legitimacy of their ascent to the throne appended this title to their names, meaning they were born in the delivery room of the imperial palace, to a reigning emperor, were therefore legit
Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos Latinized as Andronicus II Palaeologus, reigned as Byzantine Emperor from 1282 to 1328. Andronikos' reign was marked by the beginning of the decline of the Byzantine Empire. During his reign, the Turks conquered most of the Western Anatolian territories of the Empire and, during the last years of his reign, he had to fight his grandson Andronikos in the First Palaiologan Civil War; the civil war ended in Andronikos II's forced abdication in 1328 after which he retired to a monastery. Andronikos II was born Andronikos Doukas Angelos Komnenos Palaiologos at Nicaea, he was the eldest surviving son of Michael VIII Palaiologos and Theodora Palaiologina, grandniece of John III Doukas Vatatzes. Andronikos was acclaimed co-emperor in 1261, after his father Michael VIII recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire, but he was not crowned until 1272. Sole emperor from 1282, Andronikos II repudiated his father's unpopular Church union with the Papacy, which he had been forced to support while his father was still alive, but he was unable to resolve the related schism within the Orthodox clergy until 1310.
Andronikos II was plagued by economic difficulties. During his reign the value of the Byzantine hyperpyron depreciated precipitously, while the state treasury accumulated less than one seventh the revenue that it had previously. Seeking to increase revenue and reduce expenses, Andronikos II raised taxes, reduced tax exemptions, dismantled the Byzantine fleet in 1285, thereby making the Empire dependent on the rival republics of Venice and Genoa. In 1291, he hired 50–60 Genoese ships, but the Byzantine weakness resulting from the lack of a navy became painfully apparent in the two wars with Venice in 1296–1302 and 1306–10. In 1320, he tried to resurrect the navy by constructing 20 galleys, but failed. Andronikos II Palaiologos sought to resolve some of the problems facing the Byzantine Empire through diplomacy. After the death of his first wife Anne of Hungary, he married Yolanda of Montferrat, putting an end to the Montferrat claim to the Kingdom of Thessalonica. Andronikos II attempted to marry off his son and co-emperor Michael IX Palaiologos to the Latin Empress Catherine I of Courtenay, thus seeking to eliminate Western agitation for a restoration of the Latin Empire.
Another marriage alliance attempted to resolve the potential conflict with Serbia in Macedonia, as Andronikos II married off his five-year-old daughter Simonis to King Stefan Milutin in 1298. In spite of the resolution of problems in Europe, Andronikos II was faced with the collapse of the Byzantine frontier in Asia Minor, despite the successful, but short, governorships of Alexios Philanthropenos and John Tarchaneiotes; the successful military victories in Asia Minor by Alexios Philanthropenos and John Tarchaneiotes against the Turks were dependent on a considerable military contingent of Cretan escapees, or exiles from Venetian-occupied Crete, headed by Hortatzis, whom Michael VIII had repatriated to Byzantium through a treaty agreement with the Venetians ratified in 1277. Andronikos II had resettled those Cretans in the region of Meander river, the southeastern Asia Minor frontier of Byzantium with the Turks. After the failure of the co-emperor Michael IX to stem the Turkish advance in Asia Minor in 1302 and the disastrous Battle of Bapheus, the Byzantine government hired the Catalan Company of Almogavars led by Roger de Flor to clear Byzantine Asia Minor of the enemy.
In spite of some successes, the Catalans were unable to secure lasting gains. Being more ruthless and savage than the enemy they intended to subdue they quarreled with Michael IX, openly turned on their Byzantine employers after the murder of Roger de Flor in 1305. There they conquered the Duchy of Thebes; the Turks continued to penetrate the Byzantine possessions, Prusa fell in 1326. By the end of Andronikos II's reign, much of Bithynia was in the hands of the Ottoman Turks of Osman I and his son and heir Orhan. Karasids conquered Mysia-region with Paleokastron after 1296, Germiyan conquered Simav in 1328, Saruhan captured Magnesia in 1313, Aydinids captured Smyrna in 1310; the Empire's problems were exploited by Theodore Svetoslav of Bulgaria, who defeated Michael IX and conquered much of northeastern Thrace in c. 1305–07. The conflict ended with yet another dynastic marriage, between Michael IX's daughter Theodora and the Bulgarian emperor; the dissolute behavior of Michael IX's son Andronikos III Palaiologos led to a rift in the family, after Michael IX's death in 1320, Andronikos II disowned his grandson, prompting a civil war that raged, with interruptions, until 1328.
The conflict precipitated Bulgarian involvement, Michael Asen III of Bulgaria attempted to capture Andronikos II under the guise of sending him military support. In 1328 Andronikos III entered Constantinople in triumph and Andronikos II was forced to abdicate. Andronikos II died as a monk at Constantinople in 1332. On 8 November 1273 Andronikos II married as his first wife Anna of Hungary, daughter of Stephen V of Hungary and Elizabeth the Cuman, with whom he had two sons: Michael IX Palaiologos. Constantine Palaiologos, despotes. Constantine was forced to become a monk by his nephew Andronikos III Palaiologos. Anna died in 1281, in 1284 Andronikos married Yolanda, a daughter of William VII of Montferrat, with whom he had: John Palaiologos (c. 1286–13