Constantine VIII was the Byzantine Emperor from 15 December 1025 until his death in 1028. He was the son of Emperor Romanos Empress Theophano, he was nominal co-emperor for 63 years from 962, successively with his father, his stepfather Nikephoros II Phokas, his uncle John I Tzimiskes, his elder brother Basil II. Basil II died childless in 1025 and thus left the rule of the Byzantine Empire in Constantine's hands. Constantine had no interest in statecraft or the military, his brief reign is said to have been "an unmitigated disaster", sparking "a collapse of the military power of the Empire". Constantine's father, Romanos II, was the sixth Byzantine emperor of the Macedonian dynasty. After the death of his first wife, daughter of Hugh of Arles, he fell in love with and married an innkeeper's daughter from the Peloponnese, Theophano. Contemporaries called Theophano the most beautiful woman in Christendom as well as ambitious, an inveterate schemer and utterly amoral, she bore Romanos four children, including Constantine, born in 960, his elder brother Basil, born in 958.
His sister Anna's hand was considered such a prize that Vladimir I of Kiev converted to Christianity in order to marry her. Aged eight, Constantine was engaged to a daughter of Emperor Boris II of Bulgaria but in the end he married a Byzantine aristocrat named Helena, daughter of Alypius. By Helena he had three daughters: Eudokia. Romanos died in amidst rumours that Theophano had poisoned him. Constantine and his brother had been crowned co-emperors by their father in March 962; the widowed Theophano installed herself as regent for her sons and promptly purged the imperial government, appointing her own men. Passing over a bevy of suitors among Constantinople's courtiers, she made an alliance with Nikephoros Phokas. Nikephoros, a physically repulsive ascetic twice her age, was the greatest military hero of the Empire. In return for her hand, the childless Nikephoros gave his sacred pledge to protect her children and their interests. Nikephoros entered Constantinople three months after Romanos' death, breaking the resistance of Joseph Bringas, a eunuch palace official, Romanos' chief counsellor, in street fighting.
Nikephoros was crowned emperor in the presence of his nominal co-emperors and Basil. A month he married their mother. Six years Nikephoros was murdered at Theophano's instigation and her lover and co-conspirator John Tzimiskes was acclaimed emperor. Tzimiskes proposed to marry Theophano but the Empress had by been too damaged by gossip and rumours, many of them accurate. Patriarch Polyeuktos refused to perform the coronation unless Tzimiskes removed the "scarlet empress" from the court. Tzimiskes calculated that his legitimacy would be better enhanced by church approval than betrothal to the unpopular empress and acceded to the Patriarch's demands. Theophano was sent into exile and Tzimiskes was crowned, again with Constantine and Basil as co-emperors, he married Constantine's aunt. Following the death of Tzimiskes in January 976, Basil and Constantine took power. Although the sixteen year old Constantine was nominally co-emperor it was clear that Basil was senior emperor as Basileus Basil II. Constantine as a young man was tall and graceful, he was a superb horseman and trained his own horses.
He competed in athletic and wrestling competitions. He had a good grasp of rhetoric, he was a gourmand. He never developed any. Constantine led troops alongside his brother in 989. Basil II had an illustrious reign, earning the sobriquet "Bulgar-slayer", he died childless on 15 December 1025 and Constantine, a sixty-five-year-old widower, became sole emperor as Constantine VIII. He had been a co-emperor for sixty-three years but had always been content to enjoy the privileges of imperial status, without concerning himself with state affairs, he spent his life in the search of pleasure and entertainment, or amusing himself with riding and hunting. He was "of frivolous disposition, he desired nothing more than to pass his life wallowing in extravagant pleasures." Constantine as emperor carried on as he always had – hunting and enjoying life – and avoided state business as much as possible. By the time he became emperor he could hardly walk, he met challenges with persecuting the nobility and ordering an orgy of torture.
He filled the senior state positions with nonentities. Within months the land laws of Basil II were dropped, under pressure from the Anatolian aristocracy. "Devoid of any semblance of moral fibre" he would grant any concession. Favouritism failed to win him friends and he persecuted the nobility when he felt threatened by conspiracy; the start of the decline of the Byzantine Empire has been linked to Constantine's accession to the throne. His reign has been described as "an unmitigated disaster", "a break up of the system" and causing "a collapse of the military power of the Empire", he ruled for less than three years before his death on 11 November 1028. On his deathbed, without a male heir, Constantine recalled the senior aristocrat Constantine Dalessenos, Duke of Antioch, to the capital in order to marry his oldest daughter Zoë; the Dalassenus were one of the few powerful patrician
Vladimir the Great
Vladimir the Great. Vladimir's father was prince Sviatoslav of the Rurik dynasty. After the death of his father in 972, prince of Novgorod, was forced to flee to Scandinavia in 976 after his brother Yaropolk had murdered his other brother Oleg and conquered Rus'. In Sweden, with the help from his relative Ladejarl Håkon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, he assembled a Varangian army and reconquered Novgorod from Yaropolk. By 980, Vladimir had consolidated the Kievan realm from modern-day Belarus and Ukraine to the Baltic Sea and had solidified the frontiers against incursions of Bulgarian, Baltic tribes and Eastern nomads. A follower of Slavic paganism, Vladimir converted to Christianity in 988 and Christianized the Kievan Rus'. Born in 958, Vladimir was the natural son and youngest son of Sviatoslav I of Kiev by his housekeeper Malusha. Malusha is described in the Norse sagas as a prophetess who lived to the age of 100 and was brought from her cave to the palace to predict the future. Malusha's brother Dobrynya was most trusted advisor.
Hagiographic tradition of dubious authenticity connects his childhood with the name of his grandmother, Olga of Kiev, Christian and governed the capital during Sviatoslav's frequent military campaigns. His place of birth is identified as Budyatychi or Budnik. Transferring his capital to Pereyaslavets in 969, Sviatoslav designated Vladimir ruler of Novgorod the Great but gave Kiev to his legitimate son Yaropolk. After Sviatoslav's death at the hands of the Pechenegs in 972, a fratricidal war erupted in 976 between Yaropolk and his younger brother Oleg, ruler of the Drevlians. In 977, Vladimir fled to his kinsman Haakon Sigurdsson, ruler of Norway, collecting as many Norse warriors as he could to assist him to recover Novgorod. On his return the next year, he marched against Yaropolk. On his way to Kiev he sent ambassadors to Rogvolod, prince of Polotsk, to sue for the hand of his daughter Rogneda; the high-born princess refused to affiance herself to the son of a bondswoman, so Vladimir attacked Polotsk, slew Rogvolod, took Ragnhild by force.
Polotsk was a key fortress on the way to Kiev, capturing Polotsk and Smolensk facilitated the taking of Kiev in 978, where he slew Yaropolk by treachery and was proclaimed knyaz of all Kievan Rus. Vladimir continued to expand his territories beyond his father's extensive domain. In 981, he seized the Cherven towns from the Poles. Although Christianity spread in the region under Oleg's rule, Vladimir had remained a thoroughgoing pagan, taking eight hundred concubines and erecting pagan statues and shrines to gods, he may have attempted to reform Slavic paganism in an attempt to identify himself with the various gods worshipped by his subjects. He built a pagan temple on the a hill in Kiev dedicated to six gods: Perun - the god of thunder and war "a Norse god favored by members of the prince’s druzhina". Slav gods Dazhd ` bog. A mob killed his son Ioann. After the murder of Fyodor and Ioann, early medieval Rus' saw persecutions against Christians, many of whom escaped or concealed their belief. However, Prince Vladimir mused over the incident long after, not least for political considerations.
According to the early Slavic chronicle called Tale of Bygone Years, which describes life in Kievan Rus' up to the year 1110, he sent his envoys throughout the civilized world to judge first hand the major religions of the time, Roman Catholicism and Byzantine Orthodoxy. They were most impressed with their visit to Constantinople, saying, "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth… We only know that God dwells there among the people, their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations." The Primary Chronicle reports that in the year 987, after consultation with his boyars, Vladimir the Great sent envoys to study the religions of the various neighboring nations whose representatives had been urging him to embrace their respective faiths. The result is described by the chronicler Nestor. Of the Muslim Bulgarians of the Volga the envoys reported there is no gladness among them, only sorrow and a great stench, he reported that Islam was undesirable due to its taboo against alcoholic beverages and pork.
Vladimir remarked on the occasion: "Drinking is the joy of all Rus'. We cannot exist without that pleasure." Ukrainian and Russian sources describe Vladimir consulting with Jewish envoys and questioning them about their religion, but rejecting it as well, saying that their loss of Jerusalem was evidence that they had been abandoned by God. His emissaries visited pre-schism Latin Rite Christian and Eastern Rite Ch
Early Muslim conquests
The early Muslim conquests referred to as the Arab conquests and early Islamic conquests began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion; the resulting empire stretched from the borders of China and the Indian subcontinent, across Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, parts of Europe. Edward Gibbon writes in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Under the last of the Umayyads, the Arabian empire extended two hundred days journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean... We should vainly seek the indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded the government of Augustus and the Antonines; the language and laws of the Quran were studied with equal devotion at Samarcand and Seville: the Moor and the Indian embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca.
The Muslim conquests brought about the collapse of the Sassanid Empire and a great territorial loss for the Byzantine Empire. The reasons for the Muslim success are hard to reconstruct in hindsight because only fragmentary sources from the period have survived. Fred McGraw Donner suggests that formation of a state in the Arabian peninsula and ideological coherence and mobilization was a primary reason why the Muslim armies in the space of a hundred years were able to establish the largest pre-modern empire until that time; the estimates for the size of the Islamic Caliphate suggest it was more than thirteen million square kilometers. Most historians agree as well that the Sassanid Persian and Byzantine Roman empires were militarily and economically exhausted from decades of fighting one another, it has been suggested that some Jews and Christians in the Sassanid Empire and Jews and Monophysites in Syria were dissatisfied and welcomed the Muslim forces because of religious conflict in both empires.
It has been suggested that Syriac Christians reinterpreted the events of the conquest to serve a political or religious interest. At other times, such as in the Battle of Firaz, Arab Christians allied themselves with the Persians and Byzantines against the invaders. In the case of Byzantine Egypt and Syria, these lands had been reclaimed from the Persians only a few years before. Arabia was a region that hosted a number of different cultures, some urban and others nomadic Bedouin. Arabian society was divided along tribal and clan lines with the most important divisions being between the "southern" and "northern" tribal associations. Both the Roman and Persian empires competed for influence in Arabia by sponsoring clients, in turn Arabian tribes sought the patronage of the two rival empires to bolster their own ambitions; the Lakhmid kingdom which covered parts of what is now southern Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia was a client of Persia, in 602 the Persians deposed the Lakhmids to take over the defense of the southern frontier themselves.
This left the Persians exposed and over-extended, helping to set the stage for the collapse of Persia that century. Southern Arabia what is now Yemen, had for thousands of years been a wealthy region, a center of the spice trade. Yemen had been at the center of an international trading network linking Eurasia to Africa and Yemen had been visited by merchants from East Africa, the Middle East and from as far away as China. In turn, the Yemeni were great sailors, travelling up the Red Sea to Egypt and across the Indian Ocean to India and down the east African coast. Inland, the valleys of Yemen had been cultivated by a system of irrigation, set back when the Marib Dam was destroyed by an earthquake in about 450 AD. Frankincense and myrrh had been valued in the Mediterranean region, being used in religious ceremonies. However, the conversion of the Mediterranean world to Christianity had reduced the demand for these commodities, causing a major economic slump in southern Arabia which helped to create the impression that Arabia was a backward region.
Little is known of the pre-Islamic religions of Arabia, but it is known that the Arabs worshiped a number of gods such as al-Lat, Manat, al-Uzza and Hubal, with the most important being Allah. There were Jewish and Christian communities in Arabia and aspects of Arab religion reflected their influence. Pilgrimage was a major part of Arabian paganism, one of the most important pilgrimage sites was Mecca, which housed the Kaaba, considered an holy place to visit. Mohammad, a merchant of Mecca, started to have visions in which he claimed that the Archangel Gabriel had told him that he was the last of the prophets continuing the work of Jesus Christ and the prophets of Tanakh. After coming into conflict with the elite of Mecca, Mohammad fled to the city of Yathrib, renamed Medina. At Yathrib, Mohammad by 630 conquered Mecca; the prolonged and escalating Byzantine–Sassanid wars of the 6th and 7th centuries and the recurring outbreaks of bubonic plague left both empires exhausted and weakened in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Arabs.
The last of these wars ended with victory for the Byzantines: Emperor Heraclius regained all lost territories, restored the True Cross to Jerusalem in 629. The war agai
Theophano (10th century)
Theophano was Byzantine Empress by marriage to Romanos II and Nikephoros II. In 963, between her first husband Romanos' death and her second marriage, she was regent for her sons Basil II and Constantine VIII. Theophano has been depicted as infamous. Theophano was born of Laconian Greek origin in the Peloponnesian region of Lakonia in the city of Sparta, in 941. Theophano was named Anastasia, or more familiarly Anastaso and was the daughter of a poor tavern-keeper called Craterus. Theophano was renowned for her great beauty and heir apparent Romanos fell in love with her around the year 956 and married her against the wishes of his father, Emperor Constantine VII. Theophano's humble origins made her unpopular among Byzantine elites and when her father-in-law Constantine VII died, rumors were spread alleging that she had poisoned him. Constantine died in 959 of a fever. Astute and intelligent, Theophano had influence with her husband, Romanos, an influence resented and exaggerated by her rivals in the court.
On March 15, 963, Emperor Romanos II died unexpectedly at the age of twenty-six. Again, Theophano was rumored to have poisoned him, although she had nothing to gain and everything to lose from this action and, was still in bed only 48 hours after giving birth to Anna Porphyrogenita when the Emperor died, their sons Basil II and Constantine VIII, five and three years old were the heirs and Theophano was named regent. However, hereditary ascension was a matter of tradition, not law in the Empire and she realized that to protect her sons and secure her position she would need a protector. Passing over a bevy of would be suitors among Constantinople's courtiers, she made an alliance with Nikephoros Phokas. Nikephoros, a physically repulsive ascetic twice her age, was the greatest military hero of the Empire at the time, having reconquered Crete, Cyprus and Aleppo. In return for her hand, the childless Nikephoros gave his sacred pledge to protect her children and their interests; as the army had proclaimed Nikephoros an Emperor in Caesarea, Nikephoros entered Constantinople on August 14, broke the resistance of Joseph Bringas in bloody street fighting.
On the 16th of August in the Hagia Sophia, he was crowned Emperor and followed soon after in the marriage of Theophano, bolstering his legitimacy. The marriage provoked some clerical opposition as Nikephoros had been god-father to one or more of Theophano's children, which placed them within a prohibited spiritual relationship, it should be noted that the Orthodox Church only begrudgingly recognized second marriages. The situation was aggravated by the tremendous enmity the arch-conservative Patriarch Polyeuctus felt towards the young upstart empress, thus before the issue of his having been the god-father of at least one of Theophano's children surfaced banned Nikephoros from kissing the holy altar on the grounds that he must first perform the penance for contracting a second marriage. In the issue of his role as godfather, Nikephoros organised a council at which it was declared that since the relevant rules had been pronounced by the iconoclast Constatine V Copronymus, it was of no effect.
Polyeuctus did not accept the council as legitimate, proceeded to excommunicate Nikephoros and insist that he would not relent until Nikephoros put away Theophano. In response, Bardas Phokas and another person testified Nikephoros was not in fact godfather to any of Theophano's children, at which Polyeuctus relented and allowed Nikephoros to return to full-fellowship in the church and keep Theophano as his wife. Nikephoros' gruff military style proved counterproductive at court. Soon the Empire was at war on multiple fronts, the heavy taxes needed to support the wars were unpopular as they coincided with a few years of poor harvests which brought famine; when the Emperor tried to relieve the suffering by limiting the wealth of the monasteries, he alienated the church. A widespread conspiracy developed to remove the Emperor. On the night of 10 and 11 December 969, his nephew John I Tzimiskes crossed the Bosphorus in a storm, was smuggled into the palace and lowed into the Imperial chambers where he woke and killed his uncle.
Tzimiskes was good looking and irrepressibly charming and the legend is that he and Theophano were lovers. Whatever the case, the conspiracy against Nikophoros was widespread and it seems clear that his wife and nephew had come to an understanding. On the night of the assassination Theophano suspiciously left the Imperial bedchamber, leaving the doors unbolted. Tzimiskes now proposed to marry Theophano. However, the Empress had by now been too damaged by gossip and rumors. Patriarch Polyeuktos refused to perform the coronation unless Tzimiskes punished those who had assisted him in the assassination, removed the "scarlet empress" from the court, repealed all his predecessor's decrees that ran contrary to the interests of the church. Tzimiskes calculated that his legitimacy would be better enhanced by church approval than betrothal to the unpopular empress and acceded to the Patriarch's demands. Theophano was sent into exile to the island of Prinkipo. Following the death of Tzimiskes in January 976, Theophano's teenage sons Basil and Constantine took sole power.
One of the emperors' first acts was to recall their mother from exile. She is last attested in the year 978, appealing to the retired Georgian general T'or'nik of Tao to broker an alliance with his former overlord Davit III of Tao to support her sons against the first revolt of the general Bardas Skleros; this seems to be the
Byzantine Empire under the Macedonian dynasty
The medieval Byzantine Empire underwent a revival during the reign of the Macedonian emperors of the late 9th, 10th, early 11th centuries, when it gained control over the Adriatic Sea, Southern Italy, all of the territory of the Tsar Samuil of Bulgaria. The cities of the empire expanded, affluence spread across the provinces because of the newfound security; the population rose, production increased, stimulating new demand while helping to encourage trade. Culturally, there was considerable growth in learning. Ancient texts were patiently recopied. Byzantine art flourished, brilliant mosaics graced the interiors of the many new churches. Though the empire was smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it was stronger, as the remaining territories were both less geographically dispersed and more politically and culturally integrated. Although tradition attributed the "Byzantine Renaissance" to Basil I, initiator of the Macedonian dynasty, some scholars have credited the reforms of Basil's predecessor, Michael III and of the erudite Theoktistos.
The latter in particular favoured culture at the court, with a careful financial policy increased the gold reserves of the Empire. The rise of the Macedonian dynasty coincided with internal developments which strengthened the religious unity of the empire; the iconoclast movement experienced a steep decline: this favoured its soft suppression by the emperors and the reconciliation of the religious strife that had drained the imperial resources in the previous centuries. Despite occasional tactical defeats, the administrative, legislative and economic situation continued to improve under Basil's successors with Romanos I Lekapenos; the theme system reached its definitive form in this period. The Eastern Orthodox Church establishment began to loyally support the imperial cause, the state limited the power of the landowning class in favour of agricultural small-holders, who made up an important part of the military force of the Empire; these favourable conditions contributed to the increasing ability of the emperors to wage war against the Arabs.
By 867, the empire had stabilised its position in both the east and the west, while the success of its defensive military structure had enabled the emperors to begin planning wars of reconquest in the east. The process of reconquest began with variable fortunes; the temporary reconquest of Crete was followed by a crushing Byzantine defeat on the Bosporus, while the emperors were unable to prevent the ongoing Muslim conquest of Sicily. Using present day Tunisia as their launching pad, the Muslims conquered Palermo in 831, Messina in 842, Enna in 859, Syracuse in 878, Catania in 900 and the final Greek stronghold, the fortress of Taormina, in 902; these drawbacks were counterbalanced by a victorious expedition against Damietta in Egypt, the defeat of the Emir of Melitene, the confirmation of the imperial authority over Dalmatia and Basil I's offensives towards the Euphrates. The threat from the Arab Muslims was meanwhile reduced by inner struggles and by the rise of the Turks in the east. Muslims received assistance however from the Paulician sect, which had found a large following in the eastern provinces of the Empire and, facing persecution under the Byzantines fought under the Arab flag.
It took several campaigns to subdue the Paulicians, who were defeated by Basil I. In 904, disaster struck the empire when its second city, was sacked by an Arab fleet led by a Byzantine renegade; the Byzantines responded by destroying an Arab fleet in 908, sacking the city of Laodicea in Syria two years later. Despite this revenge, the Byzantines were still unable to strike a decisive blow against the Muslims, who inflicted a crushing defeat on the imperial forces when they attempted to regain Crete in 911; the situation on the border with the Arab territories remained fluid, with the Byzantines alternatively on the offensive or defensive. Kievan Rus', who appeared near Constantinople for the first time in 860, constituted another new challenge. In 941 they appeared on the Asian shore of the Bosporus, but this time they were crushed, showing the improvements in the Byzantine military position after 907, when only diplomacy had been able to push back the invaders; the vanquisher of the Rus' was the famous general John Kourkouas, who continued the offensive with other noteworthy victories in Mesopotamia: these culminated in the reconquest of Edessa, celebrated for the return to Constantinople of the venerated Mandylion.
The soldier emperors Nikephoros II Phokas and John I Tzimiskes expanded the empire well into Syria, defeating the emirs of north-west Iraq and reconquering Crete and Cyprus. At one point under John, the empire's armies threatened Jerusalem, far to the south; the emirate of Aleppo and its neighbours became vassals of the empire in the east, where the greatest threat to the empire was the Egyptian Fatimid kingdom. The traditional struggle with the See of Rome continued, spurred by the question of religious supremacy over the newly Christianized Bulgaria; this prompted an invasion by the powerful Tsar Simeon I in 894, but this was pushed back by the Byzantine diplomacy, which called on the help of the Hungarians. The Byzantines were in turn defeated, however, at the Battle of Bulgarophygon, obliged to pay annual subsidies to the Bulgarians. Simeon had the Byzantines grant him the crown of basileus of Bulgaria and had the young emperor Constantine VII marry one of his daughters; when a revolt in Constantinople halted his dynastic project, he again invaded
Theodora Porphyrogenita (11th century)
Theodora Porphyrogenita was a Byzantine Empress born into the Macedonian dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire for two hundred years. She was co-empress with her sister Zoë for two months in 1042. After the deaths of her sister in 1050 and her brother-in-law Constantine IX in 1055, she ruled as sole empress regnant from 11 January 1055 to 31 August 1056. Theodora spent most of her life in the imperial gynaeceum before becoming empress, her life was entwined with that of her older sister Zoë. In 1028 their father Constantine VIII attempted to extend the dynasty by marrying Theodora to the urban prefect of Constantinople, Romanos Argyros. Theodora refused, Zoë was married to him instead. Zoë persuaded Romanos to keep her sister watched. After two foiled plots, Theodora was exiled to an island monastery in the Sea of Marmara. Twelve years the people of Constantinople rose against Michael V, Zoë's adopted son, insisted that Theodora return to rule alongside her sister. After 65 days Zoë married again to Constantine IX.
Theodora retired to a convent after the death of Zoë. When Constantine IX died, the seventy-four-year-old Theodora returned to the throne, in the teeth of fierce opposition from court officials and military claimants. For eighteen months she was a strong empress before being struck down by a sudden illness and dying on 31 August 1056 aged seventy-six, she was the last ruler of the Macedonian line. Theodora was the third and youngest daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII and Helena, daughter of Alypius, she was Porphyrogenita, "born into the purple". Her father became co-emperor in 962 and sole emperor upon the death of his brother Basil II in 1025, his reign as sole emperor lasted less than three years, from 15 December 1025 to 15 November 1028. As an eligible imperial princess, Theodora was considered as a possible bride for the Holy Roman Emperor in the west, Otto III in 996. However, she was overlooked in favour of her sister Zoë. Otto III died. Basil II prevented his nieces from marrying any of the Byzantine nobility, calculating that such a marriage would have given their husbands a claim on the imperial throne.
As women, Theodora and Zoë were unable to exercise any state authority. Theodora lived a life of virtual obscurity in the imperial gynaeceum. Intelligent and possessing a strong and austere character, Theodora defied by sole emperor Constantine by refusing to marry the man her father had chosen to succeed him, Romanos Argyros, stating that Romanos was married – his wife having become a nun to allow Romanos to marry into the imperial family. Theodora further claimed that since Romanos and she were third cousins, it was too close a blood relationship for marriage to occur. Constantine VIII chose Theodora's sister. Zoë married Romanos three days. With the accession of Romanos, Theodora prudently retreated back into the gynaeceum, with its daily religious routines. Still, Zoë persuaded her husband to appoint one of his own men as the chief of Theodora's household, with orders to spy on her. Shortly afterwards, Theodora was accused of plotting to marry Presian of Bulgaria and usurp the throne with him.
Presian was sent to a monastery. In 1031 she was implicated in a similar conspiracy, this time with Constantine Diogenes, the Archon of Sirmium. Theodora was forcibly confined in the monastery of Petrion. During a visit, Zoë compelled her sister to take Holy Orders. Theodora remained there for the next eleven years, as Zoë managed the empire with her husbands Romanos III and, after his death, Michael IV. With Michael IV's death in December 1041, Zoë adopted Michael's nephew, crowned as Michael V. Although he promised to respect Zoë, he promptly banished her to a monastery on the Princes' Islands on charges of attempted regicide; this treatment of the legitimate heir to the Macedonian Dynasty caused a popular uprising in Constantinople, on 19 April 1042, the people dethroned Michael V in support of not only Zoë, but Theodora as well. Michael V, desperate to keep his throne brought Zoë back from Princes' Island and displayed her to the people, but the population rejected his proposal that he continue to rule alongside Zoë.
Key members of the court decided that flighty Zoë needed a co-ruler, backed the people's demand that it should be Theodora. A delegation, headed by the patrician Constantine Cabasilas, went to the monastery at Petrion to convince Theodora to become co-empress. Theodora, accustomed to a life of religious contemplation, rejected their pleas out of hand, fled to the convent chapel to seek sanctuary. Constantine and his retinue pursued her, forcibly dragged her out and exchanged her monastic clothes for imperial ones. At an assembly at Hagia Sophia, the people escorted the now furious Theodora and proclaimed her empress with Zoë. After crowning Theodora, the mob stormed the palace. Zoë assumed power and tried to force Theodora back to her monastery, but the Senate and the people demanded that the two sisters should jointly reign; as her first act Theodora was called upon to deal with Michael V. Zoë, weak and manipulated, wanted to pardon and free Michael, but Theodora was far more strict, she guaranteed Michael's safety before ordering that he be blinded and spend the rest of his life as a monk.
Armenians are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia. Armenians constitute the de facto independent Artsakh. There is a wide-ranging diaspora of around 5 million people of full or partial Armenian ancestry living outside modern Armenia; the largest Armenian populations today exist in Russia, the United States, Georgia, Germany, Lebanon and Syria. With the exceptions of Iran and the former Soviet states, the present-day Armenian diaspora was formed as a result of the Armenian Genocide. Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a non-Chalcedonian church, the world's oldest national church. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Jesus' death, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. In the early 4th century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as a state religion. Armenian is an Indo-European language, it has two mutually intelligible and written forms: Eastern Armenian, today spoken in Armenia, Artsakh and the former Soviet republics.
The unique Armenian alphabet was invented in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots. The name Armenian has come to internationally designate this group of people, it was first used by neighbouring countries of ancient Armenia. The earliest attestations of the exonym Armenia date around the 6th century BC. In his trilingual Behistun Inscription dated to 517 BC, Darius I the Great of Persia refers to Urashtu as Armina (in Old Persian. In Greek, Αρμένιοι "Armenians" is attested from about the same time the earliest reference being a fragment attributed to Hecataeus of Miletus. Xenophon, a Greek general serving in some of the Persian expeditions, describes many aspects of Armenian village life and hospitality in around 401 BC, he relates that the people spoke a language that to his ear sounded like the language of the Persians. Armenians call themselves Hay; the name has traditionally been derived from Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, according to Moses of Chorene, defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC and established his nation in the Ararat region.
It is further postulated that the name Hay comes from one of the two confederated, Hittite vassal states—the Ḫayaša-Azzi. Movses Khorenatsi, the important early medieval Armenian historian, wrote that the word Armenian originated from the name Armenak or Aram; the Armenian Highland is the area surrounding the highest peak of the region. A controversial hypothesis put forward by some scholars, such as T. Gamkrelidze and V. Ivanov, has proposed that the Indo-European homeland was around the Armenian Highland; the modern Armenian language is grouped with Greek and Ancient Macedonian in the Pontic Indo-European subgroup of Indo-European languages by Eric P. Hamp in his 2012 Indo-European family tree, groups. There are two possible explanations, not mutually exclusive, for a common origin of the Armenian and Greek languages. Ancient Greek scholars, such as Herodotus, suggest that the Phrygians of western Anatolia, who spoke an Indo-European language, had made a contribution to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians: "the Armenians were equipped like Phrygians, being Phrygian colonists".
This appears to imply that some Phrygians migrated eastward to Armenia following the destruction of Phrygia by a Cimmerian invasion in the late 7th century BC. Greek scholars believed that the Phrygians had originated in the Balkans, in an area adjoining Macedonia, from where they had emigrated to Anatolia many centuries earlier. In Hamp's view the homeland of the proposed Greco-Armenian subgroup is the northeast coast of the Black Sea and its hinterlands, he assumes that they migrated from there southeast through the Caucasus with the Armenians remaining after Batumi while the pre-Greeks proceeded westwards along the southern coast of the Black Sea. Some genetics studies explain Armenian diversity by several mixtures of Eurasian populations that occurred between ~3,000 and ~2,000 BC, but genetic signals of population mixture cease after ~1,200 BC when Bronze Age civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean world and violently collapsed. Armenians have since remained isolated and genetic structure within the population developed ~500 years ago when Armenia was divided between the Ottomans and the Safavid Empire in Iran.
In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire and Hayasa-Azzi. Soon after Hayasa-Azzi came Arme-Shupria, the Nairi and the Kingdom of Urartu, who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland; each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Under Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire reached the Caucasus Mountains. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, was founded in 782 BC by king Argishti I; the first geographical entity, called Armenia by neighboring peoples was established in the late 6th century BC u