John Komnenos (Domestic of the Schools)

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John Komnenos
Seal of John Komnenos, Domestic of the Schools.jpg
Lead seal of John Komnenos as kouropalates and Domestic of the Schools
Died12 July 1067
Spouse Anna Dalassene
House Komnenos
Father Manuel Erotikos Komnenos
Religion Eastern Orthodox

John Komnenos (Greek : Ἰωάννης Κομνηνός, Iōannēs Komnēnos; c.1015 – 12 July 1067) was a Byzantine aristocrat and military leader. The younger brother of Emperor Isaac I Komnenos, he served as Domestic of the Schools during Isaac's brief reign (1057–59). When Isaac I abdicated, Constantine X Doukas became emperor and John withdrew from public life until his death in 1067. Through his son Alexios I Komnenos, who became emperor in 1081, he was the progenitor of the Komnenian dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 until 1185, and the Empire of Trebizond from 1204 until 1461.

Greek language language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Isaac I Komnenos Byzantine Emperor

Isaac I Komnenos or Comnenus was Byzantine Emperor from 1057 to 1059, the first reigning member of the Komnenian dynasty.

Domestic of the Schools

The office of the Domestic of the Schools was a senior military post of the Byzantine Empire, extant from the 8th century until at least the early 14th century. Originally simply the commander of the Scholai, the senior of the elite tagmata regiments, the Domestic quickly rose in prominence: by the mid-9th century, its holders essentially occupied the position of commander-in-chief of the Byzantine army, next to the Emperor. The office was eclipsed in the 12th century by that of the Grand Domestic, and in the Palaiologan period, it was reduced to a purely honorary, mid-level court dignity.



John Komnenos was born c.1015 as the younger son of the patrikios Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, a senior military commander in the late reign of Basil II (r. 976–1025). [1] [2] He is first mentioned in 1057, the year his elder brother Isaac I Komnenos, at the head of a group of generals, rebelled against Michael VI (r. 1056–1057) and forced him off the throne. At the time of the revolt, John held the post of doux , but after his brother's victory, he was raised to the rank of kouropalates and appointed as Domestic of the Schools of the West. [3] Nothing is known of John's activities during his brother's reign, although Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger, who married John's granddaughter Anna Komnene, says that in his capacity as Domestic of the West he left his (unspecified) acts as an "immortal monument" to the people of the Balkan provinces. [4]

Manuel Erotikos Komnenos was a Byzantine military leader under Basil II, and the first fully documented ancestor of the Komnenos dynasty. His origin and parentage is obscure. He is only mentioned in the sources as leading the defence of Nicaea in 978 against the rebel Bardas Skleros, and as an imperial envoy to him 11 years later. He had three children, late in life. The eldest, Isaac, became emperor in 1057–1059, and the youngest, John, was the progenitor of the Komnenian dynasty as the father of Alexios I Komnenos.

Basil II Byzantine Emperor from the Macedonian dynasty

Basil II, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was a Byzantine Emperor from the Macedonian dynasty whose effective reign—the longest of any Byzantine monarch—lasted from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025. He had been associated with the throne since 960 as a junior colleague to a succession of senior emperors: his father Romanos II, his step-father Nikephoros II Phokas, and John I Tzimiskes. In addition to these emperors, Basil's influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos held power for several decades until he was overthrown in 985. From 962, Basil II's brother Constantine, who succeeded him as Constantine VIII, was nominal co-emperor.

<i>Dux</i> dux could refer to anyone who commanded troops

Dux is Latin for "leader" and later for duke and its variant forms.

Isaac's reign was cut short by his clash with the powerful Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Keroularios, who had been instrumental in securing Michael VI's abdication, and the powerful civil aristocracy of the capital. Keroularios and his supporters led the opposition against Isaac's stringent economizing policies, forcing him to resign on 22 November 1059, after which he withdrew to the Stoudios Monastery. [5] [6] The crown then passed to Constantine X Doukas (r. 1059–1067), although Bryennios asserts that it was first offered to John, who refused it, despite the pressure of his wife, Anna Dalassene, to accept. [7] According to the historian Konstantinos Varzos, however, this version is suspect, and may well be a post-fact attempt at legitimizing the eventual usurpation of the throne by John's son, Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118). [8]

Constantine X Doukas Byzantine emperor

Constantine X Doukas or Dukas, Latinised as Ducas was Byzantine Emperor from 1059 to 1067. He was the founder and first ruling member of the short-lived Doukid dynasty. During his reign, the Normans took over much of the remaining Byzantine territories in Italy while in the Balkans the Hungarians occupied Belgrade. He also suffered defeats against the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan.

Anna Dalassene was an important Byzantine noblewoman who played a significant role in the rise to power of the Komnenoi in the eleventh century. As Augusta, a title bestowed upon her by her son, Alexios I Komnenos, rather than his empress-consort she guided the empire during his many absences for long military campaigns against Turkish and other incursions into the Byzantine Empire. As empress-mother, she exerted more influence and power than the empress-consort, Irene Doukaina, a woman whom she hated because of past intrigues with the Doukas family.

Alexios I Komnenos 12th-century Byzantine emperor

Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized Alexius I Comnenus, was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118. Although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans, Alexios was able to curb the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration. The basis for this recovery were various reforms initiated by Alexios. His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that likely contributed to the convoking of the Crusades.

John is not mentioned in the sources during the reign of Constantine X, perhaps indicating, according to Konstantinos Varzos, that he was in imperial disfavour, despite Bryennios' assertion that both he and his brother remained much honoured by the new emperor. [4] The late 12th-century typikon of the Monastery of Christ Philanthropos, founded by Alexios I's wife Irene Doukaina, [9] is the only source to record that John Komnenos retired to a monastery, probably at the same time as his wife, Anna Dalassene. He died as a monk on 12 July 1067. [4] [10]


Typikon is a liturgical book which contains instructions about the order of the Byzantine Rite office and variable hymns of the Divine Liturgy.

Irene Doukaina Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire

Irene Doukaina or Ducaena was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos, and the mother of the emperor John II Komnenos and of the historian Anna Komnene.


Miniature portrait of Alexios I Komnenos Alexios I Komnenos.jpg
Miniature portrait of Alexios I Komnenos

John Komnenos married Anna Dalassene, the daughter of Alexios Charon, most likely in 1044. [11] Anna, born c.1028, long outlived her husband and after his death ran the family as its undisputed matriarch. Anna became involved in conspiracies against the Doukas family, whom she never forgave for taking the throne in 1059. Later she also played a major role in the successful overthrow of Nikephoros III Botaneiates (r. 1078–1081) and the rise of her son Alexios to the throne. [12] After that, and for about fifteen years, she served as the virtual co-ruler of the empire alongside her son. She then retired to a monastery, where she died in 1100 or 1102. [13] [14]

Alexios Charon was a Byzantine official in southern Italy and the maternal grandfather of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, the founder of the Komnenian dynasty.

Doukas, Latinized as Ducas, from the Latin title dux, is the name of a Byzantine Greek noble family, whose branches provided several notable generals and rulers to the Byzantine Empire in the 9th–11th centuries. A maternally-descended line, the Komnenodoukai, founded the Despotate of Epirus in the 13th century, with another branch ruling over Thessaly. After the 12th century, the name "Doukas" and other variants proliferated across the Byzantine world, and were sometimes presented as signifying a direct genealogical relationship with the original family or the later branch based in the Despotate of Epirus.

Nikephoros III Botaneiates Byzantine emperor

Nikephoros III Botaneiates, Latinized as Nicephorus III Botaniates, was Byzantine emperor from 1078 to 1081. He was born in c. 1002, and became a general during the reign of Constantine X. He backed Isaac I Komnenos in his successful attempt to seize the throne, serving a prominent role during the Battle of Petroe. In 1078, he revolted against Emperor Michael VII, claiming the throne for himself, with the support of the Seljuk Turks. Michael VII, faced also with the revolt of Nikephoros Bryennios, chose to abdicate to Nikephoros III.

With Anna, John had eight children, five boys and three girls: [15]

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Komnenos, Latinized Comnenus, plural Komnenoi or Comneni, is a noble family who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 to 1185, and later, as the Grand Komnenoi founded and ruled the Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461). Through intermarriages with other noble families, notably the Doukai, Angeloi, and Palaiologoi, the Komnenos name appears among most of the major noble houses of the late Byzantine world.

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Isaac Komnenos or Comnenus was the third son of Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Empress Irene Doukaina. He was raised to the high rank of sebastokrator by his older brother John II Komnenos in reward for his support, but they later fell out, as Isaac began to covet the throne. In 1130, Isaac and his sons fled to exile after becoming involved in a conspiracy against John. For several years, they wandered in Asia Minor and the Levant, trying to gain support from the local rulers, but ultimately in vain. John's military successes forced Isaac to seek a reconciliation with his brother in 1138, although he did not give up his designs on the throne. In 1139, after his oldest son defected to the Seljuk Turks, Isaac was exiled to Heraclea Pontica. During the struggle for John's succession in 1143, he supported the unsuccessful candidacy of his elder nephew, likewise named Isaac, over his younger nephew Manuel I Komnenos. In 1150, weakened by the onset of an illness, he was forced to retire from public life by Manuel. Isaac then devoted himself to the construction of the monastery of Theotokos Kosmosoteira at Bera in western Thrace, where he was to be buried. Isaac was noted for his erudition and his patronage of learning, and is considered the author of a number of scholarly and poetic works. He is also notable for rebuilding the Chora Church in Constantinople, where his mosaic donor portrait survives to this day. His younger son Andronikos I Komnenos eventually managed to realize Isaac's ambitions, becoming emperor in 1183–1185, the last of the Komnenian dynasty.

Maria of Bulgaria was the wife of protovestiarios and domestikos ton scholon Andronikos Doukas and mother of Empress Irene Doukaina.

Isaac Komnenos (brother of Alexios I) Byzantine general

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Nikephoros Melissenos, Latinized as Nicephorus Melissenus, was a Byzantine general and aristocrat. Of distinguished lineage, he served as a governor and general in the Balkans and Asia Minor in the 1060s. In the turbulent period after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, when several generals tried to seize the throne for themselves, Melissenos remained loyal to Michael VII Doukas and was exiled by his successor Nikephoros III Botaneiates. In 1080–1081, with Turkish aid, he seized control of what remained of Byzantine Asia Minor and proclaimed himself emperor against Botaneiates. After the revolt of his brother-in-law Alexios I Komnenos, however, which succeeded in taking Constantinople, he submitted to him, accepting the rank of Caesar and the governance of Thessalonica. He remained loyal to Alexios thereafter, participating in most Byzantine campaigns of the period 1081–1095 in the Balkans at the emperor's side. He died on 17 November 1104.

Maria Doukaina Komnene Petraliphaina was the wife of Theodore Komnenos Doukas, ruler of Epirus and in 1224–1230 self-proclaimed Emperor of Thessalonica. She is the earliest consort of the Epirote state known by name: the two wives of Michael I Komnenos Doukas, predecessor of her husband, were members of the Melissenos family but their first names are unknown.

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Konstantios Doukas, Latinized as Constantius Ducas, was a junior Byzantine Emperor from 1060–1078, and a senior Byzantine Emperor for a short time in 1078. Konstantios was the son of Emperor Constantine X Doukas and Empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa. Upon his birth, he was elevated to junior emperor, along with his brother Michael VII. He remained as junior emperor during the reigns of Constantine, Romanos IV Diogenes, and Michael VII, before he became senior emperor on 31 March 1078, due to the abdication of Michael VII. He was soon handed over to Nikephoros III, a usurper, due to his inability to rule. He was sent to live in a monastery, where he stayed until recalled by Alexios I Komnenos, who made him a general. He was killed on 18 October 1081, in the Battle of Dyrrhachium.

Theodora Komnene was a Byzantine noblewoman, being the fourth daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina. She married Constantine Angelos, by whom she had seven children. Byzantine emperors Alexios III Angelos and Isaac II Angelos were her grandsons, thereby making her an ancestor of the Angelos dynasty.

Michael Doukas was a member of the Doukas family, a relative of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and a senior military figure, with the rank of protostrator, during Alexios's reign. His life is only known through the Alexiad of Anna Komnene and the history of her husband, Nikephoros Bryennios.

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Manuel Komnenos (kouropalates) Byzantine aristocrat and military commander

Manuel Komnenos was a Byzantine aristocrat and military leader, the oldest son of John Komnenos and brother of emperor Alexios I Komnenos. A relative by marriage of emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, he was placed in charge of expeditions against Turkish raids in 1070–1071, until his sudden death by illness in April 1071.


  1. ODB, "Komnenos" (A. Kazhdan), pp. 1143–1144.
  2. Varzos 1984, p. 49.
  3. Varzos 1984, pp. 41–42, 49.
  4. 1 2 3 Varzos 1984, p. 50.
  5. ODB, "Isaac I Komnenos" (C. M. Brand, A. Cutler), pp. 1011–1012.
  6. Varzos 1984, pp. 42–43.
  7. Varzos 1984, pp. 49–50.
  8. Varzos 1984, pp. 49–50, esp. note 5.
  9. Kouroupou & Vannier 2005, pp. 41ff..
  10. Kouroupou & Vannier 2005, p. 65.
  11. Varzos 1984, p. 51.
  12. Varzos 1984, pp. 51–53.
  13. Varzos 1984, pp. 53–56.
  14. ODB, "Dalassene, Anna" (C. M. Brand), p. 578.
  15. Varzos 1984, p. 52.
  16. Varzos 1984, pp. 61–64.
  17. Varzos 1984, pp. 64–67.
  18. Varzos 1984, pp. 67–79.
  19. Varzos 1984, pp. 80–84.
  20. Varzos 1984, pp. 85–86.
  21. Varzos 1984, pp. 87–114.
  22. Varzos 1984, pp. 114–117.
  23. Varzos 1984, pp. 118–120.