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Macedonian dynasty

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Basil I, as depicted in the 12th century Madrid Skylitzes.

The Macedonian dynasty (Greek: Μακεδονική Δυναστεία) ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest extent since the Early Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder, Basil I the Macedonian who came from the theme of Macedonia.



The dynasty's ethnic origin is unknown, and has been a subject of debate. During Basil's reign, an elaborate genealogy was produced that purported that his ancestors were not mere peasants, as everyone believed, but descendants of the Arsacid (Arshakuni) kings of Armenia, Alexander the Great and also of Constantine the Great.[1][2] Some Persian writers such as Hamza al-Isfahani[3] or Al-Tabari, called Basil a Saqlabi, an ethnogeographic term that usually denoted the Slavs, but it can be interpreted as a generic term encompassing the inhabitants of the region between Constantinople and Bulgaria.[4]

Thus, claims have been made for the dynasty's founder (Basil I) being of Armenian,[5][6] Slavonic,[7][8] or "Armeno-Slavonic"[9] descent from his paternal side.

The author of the only dedicated biography of Basil I in English has concluded that it is impossible to be certain what the ethnic origins of the emperor were, though Basil was definitely reliant on the support of Armenians in prominent positions within the Byzantine Empire.[10]

List of rulers

  • Basil I the Macedonian (Βασίλειος Α') (811–886, ruled 867–886) – married Eudokia Ingerina, mistress of Michael III; died in hunting accident
  • Leo VI the Wise (Λέων Ϛ') (866–912, ruled 886–912) – son of Eudokia Ingerina, legal son and heir of Basil I; possibly the natural son of Michael III; created church crisis with his fourth marriage—Zoe Karbonopsina, who took over as regent for their son, Constantine VII, in 914 and ruled the empire until 919
  • Alexander (Αλέξανδρος) (870–913, ruled 912–913) – son of Basil I, regent for nephew
  • Constantine VII the Purple-born (Κωνσταντῖνος Ζ') (905–959, ruled 913–920 and 945-959) – son of Leo VI and Zoe Karbonopsina; married Helena, daughter of Romanos Lekapenos
  • Romanos I Lekapenos (Ρωμανός A') (c. 870–948, ruled 920–944) – staged a successful coup in 919 and became senior emperor in 920;[11] deposed in 944 and exiled
  • Romanos II the Purple-born (Ρωμανός Β') (938–963, ruled 959–963) – son of Constantine VII
  • Nikephoros II Phokas (Νικηφόρος Β' Φωκᾶς) (912–969, ruled 963–969) – successful general, married Romanos II's widow, regent for Basil; assassinated (Origin: Cappadocian)
  • John I Tzimiskes (Ιωάννης Α')(925-976, ruled 969–976) – successful general, brother-in-law of Romanos II, lover of Nikephoros's wife but banned from marriage, regent for Basil II and Constantine VIII
  • Basil II (Βασίλειος Β') the Bulgar-slayer (958–1025, ruled 976–1025) – son of Romanos II
  • Constantine VIII (Κωνσταντῖνος Η') (960-1028, ruled 1025–1028) – son of Romanos II; silent co-emperor with Basil II, sole emperor after his brother's death
  • Zoe (Ζωή) (c. 978–1050, ruled 1028–1050) – daughter of Constantine VIII
  • Romanos III Argyros (Ρωμανός Γ') (968–1034, ruled 1028–1034) – eparch of Constantinople; Zoe's first husband, arranged by Constantine VIII; murdered
  • Michael IV the Paphlagonian (Μιχαήλ Δ') (1010–1041, ruled 1034–1041) – Zoe's second husband
  • Michael V the Caulker (Μιχαήλ Ε') (1015–1042, ruled 1041–1042) – Michael IV's nephew, Zoe's adopted son
  • Theodora (Θεοδώρα) (980–1056, ruled 1042) – daughter of Constantine VIII, co-empress with Zoe
  • Constantine IX Monomachos (Κωνσταντῖνος Θ') (1000–1055, ruled 1042–1055) – Zoe's third husband
  • Theodora (Θεοδώρα) (ruled 1055–1056) – restored


  • Michael VI (Μιχαήλ Ϛ') (ruled 1056–1057) – chosen by Theodora; deposed and entered monastery

Family tree



Michael III
emperor of the Romans
Eudokia Ingerina
Basil I
emperor of the Romans

Romanos I Lekapenos
emperor of the Romans
1. Theophano Martinakia
2. Zoe Zaoutzaina
3. Eudokia Baïana
4. Zoe Karbonopsina

Leo VI the Wise
emperor of the Romans
Stephen I
Patriarch of Constantinople

emperor of the Romans
Christopher Lekapenos
∞ Sophia
Romanos Argyros
Patriarch of Constantinople
Helena Lekapene

(4) Constantine VII
emperor of the Romans
(2) Anna
Louis III the Blind
king of Provence,
king of Lombardy
(Maria) Irene Lekapene
Peter I
king of Bulgaria
Nikephoros II Phokas
emperor of the Romans
(Anastasia) Theophano
from Laconia

Romanos II
emperor of the Romans
Theodora Porphyrogenita

John I Tzimiskes
emperor of the Romans
Charles Constantine
count of Vienne
Pothos (or Eustathios) Argyros

Basil II
emperor of the Romans

Constantine VIII
emperor of the Romans
Helena of Alypius
Anna Porphyrogenita
Vladimir I the Great
grand prince of Kiev
Rurik dynasty
Constance of Vienne
Boson II
count of Arles
Maria Argyre
Giovanni Orseolo
duke of Dalmatia
Basil Argyros
general of Samos

1.Romanos III Argyros
emperor of the Romans
Zoë Porphyrogenita
empress of the Romans

∞ 2.Michael IV the Paphlagonian
emperor of the Romans 1034–1041

3.Constantine IX Monomachos
emperor of the Romans
Helena SklerainaTheodora
empress of the Romans
Constantine Diogenes

Michael V Kalaphates
emperor of the Romans
Anastasia Monomachaina
Vsevolod I of Kiev
Romanos IV Diogenes
emperor of Romans
Eudokia Makrembolitissa
Constantine X Doukas
emperor of the Romans
Vladimir II Monomakh
grand prince of Kiev

See also



  1. ^ Treadgold, Warren T. (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-8047-2630-6.
  2. ^ Leo VI. Imperium Byzantinum, Imperator 865–912 (1932). Oraison funèbre de Basile I. Pont. Inst. Orientalium Stud. OCLC 1073789498.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Tobias, Norman (2007). Basil I, founder of the Macedonian Dynasty : a study of the political and military history of the Byzantine Empire in the Ninth century. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 978-0-7734-5405-7. OCLC 166873121.
  4. ^ "The Reign of Leo VI (886–912): Politics and People. Shaun Tougher". Speculum. 76 (1): 236–238. January 2001. doi:10.2307/2903773. ISSN 0038-7134. JSTOR 2903773.
  5. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 455
  6. ^ Peter Charanis.Studies on the demography of the Byzantine empire: collected studies Variorum Reprints, 1972 p. 223 [360]:"Thus, every emperor who sat on the Byzantine throne the accession of Basil I to the death of Basil II (867–1025) was of Armenian or partially Armenian origin. But besides the emperors there were many others among the military and political leaders of Byzantine during this period who were Armenians or of Armenian descent"
  7. ^ Tobias 2007, p. 20. Tobias is referring to the writings of Hamza al-Isfahani, a 10th-century Persian scholar.
  8. ^ Finlay 1853, p. 213.
  9. ^ Vasiliev 1928–1935, p. 301
  10. ^ Tobias 2007, p. 264
  11. ^ Chris Wickham, The Inheritance of Rome