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Theoktistos (Greek: Θεόκτιστος) (died November 20, 855) was an influential senior Byzantine official during the reigns of Michael II and his son Theophilos, and regent for the underage Michael III. He is noted for his administrative and political competence, for ending the Iconoclasm, and for promoting a major renaissance in education within the Empire.
Theoktistos was a eunuch, and was instrumental in the plot to assassinate the emperor Leo V the Armenian in 820, which brought Michael II and the Amorian dynasty to the throne. In return, Michael raised him to the rank of patrikios, and appointed him to the confidential court post of chartoularios tou kanikleiou ("secretary of the ink-pot"). Under Theophilos, he rose to the rank of magistros, and was appointed logothetēs tou dromou, effectively the Empire's foreign minister. Theophilos also appointed him regent to his two-year old son Michael III shortly before his death in 842. Following Theophilos' death, a regency consisting of the empress Theodora, Theoktistos, and the empress' brothers Bardas and Petronas was set up. For the next 14 years, Theoktistos effectively ruled the Empire.
In 843, Theoktistos prevailed upon Theodora to officially sanction the re-installation of icon worship, ending the second period of official iconoclasm. With the installation of a new patriarch, Methodios I, the way was opened. A synod was convened in Constantinople, and condemned iconoclasm; an event that is commemorated as the "Triumph of Orthodoxy". In the same year, Theoktistos invited his nephews, Cyril and Methodius, to the imperial capital to help with their studies and arrange the placement of Methodius as a commander of a Slavic administrative region. By continuing a sound economic policy, the regency also stocked up a considerable treasury surplus.
His foreign policies were less successful. A campaign to recover Crete, which had been conquered in the 820s by Andalusian exiles, failed, and in 844 he was defeated by the forces of the Abbasid Caliphate at the Battle of Mauropotamos in Cappadocia; a six-year truce was agreed soon after. Persecution of the Paulician sect began during Theodora's regency, and many were deported and re-settled in the Balkans. A revolt of local Slavic tribes in the Peloponnese was put down by the local governor, the protospatharios Theoktistos Vryennion.
Theoktistos, along with Photios and Bardas, initiated a far-reaching educational program and founded the University of Magnaura. It was during this regency that Leo the Mathematician, Photios who taught Greek Philosophy, and later Constantine-Cyril, taught at the university. Recognizing Photios' administrative abilities, Theoktistos named Photios protoasekretis around 851, with the rank of protospatharios, although some scholars believe that the appointment of Photios as protoasekretis was much earlier, probably around 843.
During the regency, the empress' brother, Bardas, was Theoktistos' primary antagonist. In 855, Michael came of age at 16, and turned the control of the government over to his uncle Bardas, raising him to the highest rank - that of caesar. It was then that Bardas and Michael decided to eliminate Theoktistos, who was arrested and killed.
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