Peter Phokas (Greek: Πέτρος Φωκᾶς, circa 940–977fl. circa 940–977) was a Byzantine eunuch general. Originally a slave of the powerful Cappadocian Phokas family, he was raised to high military office (stratopedarches of the East) and the rank of patrikios by the Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963–969).
According to Georgios Kedrenos, he was originally a slave and a member of Nikephoros II Phokas's personal retinue. Peter proved himself a strong warrior, and his abilities as a general are uniformly praised in contemporary accounts. The historian Leo the Deacon writes that he "abounded in bodily strength" and records that he once defeated in single combat the leader of a large "Scythian" (Rus' or Magyar) raid into Thrace. In 967, following the dismissal of John Tzimiskes from the high command of the Byzantine Empire's eastern forces, Nikephoros appointed Peter to the new post of stratopedarches, and gave him overall command of the eastern army. This new post is most likely explained by the fact that, being a eunuch, Peter could not occupy the traditional office of Domestic of the Schools which designated the Byzantine commanders-in-chief. In this capacity, he participated in Nikephoros's 968 invasion of Hamdanid-ruled Syria and the subsequent prolonged siege of Antioch, which culminated in the fall of the city in late autumn 969. In this operation, the strategos Michael Bourtzes had the initiative, seizing one of the city's main towers in a coup de main on October 28 and holding out for three days until Phokas, who was marching with his forces towards Aleppo, could come to his relief. Subsequently, Phokas resumed his advance against Aleppo, forcing its commander, Qarquya, to capitulate and sign a document making him and the city an imperial vassal.
After Nikephoros's assassination by John Tzimiskes in December 969, Peter, despite his close association with the murdered Byzantine emperor, continued in active service during Tzimiskes's reign (r. 969–976), when he participated in the war against the Rus' in Bulgaria as leader of the tagmata of Macedonia and Thrace. In 976, Tzimiskes died, and the throne reverted to the legitimate emperors of the Macedonian dynasty, the young brothers Basil II and Constantine VIII, under the tutelage of the parakoimomenos Basil Lekapenos. At that point, one of Tzimiskes's leading supporters, Bardas Skleros, rose in revolt to claim the imperial throne for himself. Peter Phokas was sent out, together with the patrikios Eustathios Maleinos, against the rebel's stronghold, the region around Melitene. During the siege of the rebel fortress of Lapara, however, sometime in the summer of 976, Skleros's army attacked unexpectedly, routing the loyalist army. Withdrawing to Kotyaion in western Anatolia, the remains of this army were joined by new forces and Peter managed to score a success against Skleros's subordinates, Michael Bourtzes and Romanos Taronites in autumn 977. Subsequently, however, in a pitched battle at Rageai near Iconium, they were decisively defeated by Skleros himself. Among many others, Peter Phokas too fell on the battlefield.
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