Origins and rise to prominence
The family's name derives from their ancestral home, the city of Dalassa, modern Talas in eastern Turkey. The ethnic origin of the family is unknown; Nicholas Adontz identified them as Armenians, but their names are not Armenian, and most scholars hesitate to accept Adontz's suggestion.
The first prominent member of the family was the magistros Damian Dalassenos, who held the important post of doux of Antioch in 995/996–998. His sons also reached senior offices: two of them, Constantine and Theophylaktos, also occupied the post of doux of Antioch, while Romanos Dalassenos was katepano of Iberia. The East, and Antioch in particular, seem to have been the preserve and main power-base of the family during the first decades of the 11th century.
Constantine in particular was a favourite of Emperor Constantine VIII (r. 1025–1028), who reportedly considered naming him his heir shortly before his death. Under Romanos III Argyros (r. 1028–1034) the family remained loyal, at least outwardly. Constantine, however, is accused in some sources of having played a role in the failure of Romanos's campaign against Aleppo in 1030. Constantine then emerged as the leader of the aristocratic opposition during the reigns of Michael IV the Paphlagonian (r. 1034–1041) and Michael V (r. 1041–1042). This led to repressive measures and the imprisonment and exile of most of the family by Michael IV's minister John the Orphanotrophos. After the overthrow of Michael V in 1042, Constantine was again considered as a potential emperor by the Empress Zoe (r. 1028–1050); the Empress, however, saw Constantine as a man of austere principles and ultimately chose Constantine IX Monomachos (r. 1042–1055).
In the 1060s and 1070s, members of the family, whose relation to the magistros Damian and his sons is unclear, served primarily as senior generals in the Balkans, like the doux of Skopje Damian in 1073 or the doux of Thessalonica Theodore in circa 1062. The family became most notable, however, through the marriage of the ambitious and capable Anna Dalassene (the great-granddaughter, on her mother's side, of the magistros Damian), to John Komnenos, the younger brother of the general and emperor Isaac I Komnenos (r. 1057–1059). Anna resolutely advanced her children's careers, until her son Alexios I Komnenos ascended the throne in 1081. During Alexios's frequent absences from Constantinople on campaign, she functioned as the de facto regent of the Byzantine Empire.
The admiral Constantine Dalassenos played a significant role in the early reign of Alexios I Komnenos, but most members of the family known thereafter are civil officials. The most prominent of the 12th-century Dalassenoi was John Dalassenos Rogerios, who was named Caesar circa 1138 and led an unsuccessful conspiracy against Manuel I Komnenos (r. 1143–1180).
- Kazhdan 1991, p. 578.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 2.
- Cheynet & Vannier 1986, pp. 76–78; Kazhdan & Epstein 1985, p. 63.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 3.
- Kazhdan & Epstein 1985, pp. 63–64.
- Kazhdan & Epstein 1985, p. 64.
- Cheynet & Vannier 1986, p. 80.
- Cheynet & Vannier 1986, pp. 80–81.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 4.
- Cheynet & Vannier 1986, p. 81.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 5.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 6.
- Krsmanović 2003, Chapter 7.
- Cheynet, Jean-Claude; Vannier, Jean-François (1986). Études Prosopographiques (in French). Paris, France: Publications de la Sorbonne. ISBN 978-2-85944-110-4.
- Kazhdan, Aleksandr Petrovich; Epstein, Ann Wharton (1985). Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-05129-7.
- Kazhdan, Alexander Petrovich, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York, New York and Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
- Krsmanović, Bojana (11 September 2003). "Dalassenoi". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor. Athens, Greece: Foundation of the Hellenic World. Retrieved 24 April 2011.