Romanos II

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Romanos II
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
Constantine VII and Romanos II solidus (cropped).png
Gold solidus with Romanos II and his father, Constantine VII
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign6 April 945 – 9 November 959 (as junior co-emperor)
9 November 959 – 15 March 963 (as senior emperor)
Coronation 6 April 945
Predecessor Constantine VII
Successor Nikephoros II
Co-emperorsConstantine VII (6 April 945 – 9 November 959)
Basil II (960 – 15 March 963)
Constantine VIII (962 – 15 March 963)
Bornc. 938
Died15 March 963
(aged 24−25)
SpouseBerta of Italy
IssueBasil II
Constantine VIII
Anna Porphyrogenita
Dynasty Macedonian
FatherConstantine VII
Mother Helena Lekapene

Romanos (or Romanus) II (Greek: Ρωμανός Β΄, Rōmanos II) (938 – 15 March 963) was a Byzantine Emperor. He succeeded his father Constantine VII in 959 at the age of twenty-one and died suddenly in 963.

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.

Constantine VII Byzantine emperor

Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus was the fourth Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 913 to 959. He was the son of the emperor Leo VI and his fourth wife, Zoe Karbonopsina, and the nephew of his predecessor, the emperor Alexander.



Known as the "Romanos Ivory", this carved ivory plaque is thought by some scholars to represent the marriage of Romanos II and the child bride, Bertha/Eudokia being blessed by Christ. Romanos et Eudoxie.JPG
Known as the "Romanos Ivory", this carved ivory plaque is thought by some scholars to represent the marriage of Romanos II and the child bride, Bertha/Eudokia being blessed by Christ.

Romanos II was a son of Emperor Constantine VII and Helena Lekapene, the daughter of Emperor Romanos I Lekapenos and his wife Theodora. [1] Named after his maternal grandfather, Romanos was married, as a child, to Bertha, the illegitimate daughter of Hugh of Arles, King of Italy to bond an alliance. She had changed her name to Eudokia after their marriage, but died an early death in 949 before producing an heir, thus never becoming a real marriage, and dissolving the alliance. [2] On January 27, 945, Constantine VII succeeded in removing his brothers-in-law, the sons of Romanos I, assuming the throne alone. On April 6, 945, Constantine crowned his son Romanos co-emperor. With Hugh out of power in Italy and dead by 947, Romanos secured the promise from his father that he would be allowed to select his own bride. Romanos chose an innkeeper's daughter named Anastaso, whom he married in 956 and renamed Theophano.

Helena Lekapene was the empress consort of Constantine VII, known to have acted as his political adviser and de facto co-regent. She was a daughter of Romanos I Lekapenos and Theodora.

Romanos I Lekapenos Byzantine emperor

Romanos I Lekapenos or Lakapenos, Latinized as Romanus I Lecapenus, was an Armenian who became a Byzantine naval commander and reigned as Byzantine Emperor from 920 until his deposition on December 16, 944.

Hugh of Italy Italian monarch

Hugh (c.880–947), known as Hugh of Arles or Hugh of Provence, was the King of Italy from 924 until his death. He belonged to the Bosonid family. During his reign, he empowered his relatives at the expense of the aristocracy and tried to establish a relationship with the Byzantine Empire. He had success in defending the realm from external enemies, but his domestic habits and policies created many internal foes and he was removed from power before his death.

In November 959, Romanos II succeeded his father on the throne amidst rumors that he or his wife had poisoned him. [3] Romanos purged his father's courtiers of his enemies and replaced them with friends. To appease his bespelling wife, he excused his mother, Empress Helena, from court and forced his five sisters into convents. Nevertheless, many of Romanos' appointees were able men, including his chief adviser, the eunuch Joseph Bringas.

Joseph Bringas was an important Byzantine eunuch official in the reigns of Emperor Constantine VII and Emperor Romanos II, serving as chief minister and effective regent during the latter. Having unsuccessfully opposed the rise of Nikephoros Phokas to the imperial throne in 963, he was exiled to a monastery, where he died in 965.

The pleasure-loving sovereign could also leave military matters in the adept hands of his generals, in particular the brothers Leo and Nikephoros Phokas. In 960 Nikephoros Phokas was sent with a fleet of 1,000 dromons, 2,000 chelandia, and 308 transports (the entire fleet was manned by 27,000 oarsmen and marines) carrying 50,000 men to recover Crete from the Muslims. [4] After a difficult campaign and nine-month Siege of Chandax, Nikephoros successfully re-established Byzantine control over the entire island in 961. Following a triumph celebrated at Constantinople, Nikephoros was sent to the eastern frontier, where the Emir of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawla was engaged in annual raids into Byzantine Anatolia. Nikephoros liberated Cilicia and even Aleppo in 962, sacking the palace of the Emir and taking possession of 390,000 silver dinars, 2,000 camels, and 1,400 mules. In the meantime Leo Phokas and Marianos Argyros had countered Magyar incursions into the Byzantine Balkans.

Nikephoros II Phokas Byzantine emperor

Nikephoros II Phokas was Byzantine Emperor from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century. His reign, however, included controversy. In the west, he inflamed conflict with the Bulgarians and saw Sicily completely turn over to the Muslims, while he failed to make any serious gains in Italy following the incursions of Otto I. Meanwhile, in the east, he completed the conquest of Cilicia and even retook the island of Cyprus, thus opening the path for subsequent Byzantine incursions reaching as far as the Jazira and the Levant. His administrative policy was less successful, as in order to finance these wars he increased taxes both on the people and on the church, while maintaining unpopular theological positions and alienating many of his most powerful allies. These included his nephew John Tzimiskes, who would take the throne after killing Nikephoros in his sleep.

Crete The largest and most populous of the Greek islands

Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica. It bounds the southern border of the Aegean sea. Crete lies approximately 160 km (99 mi) south of the Greek mainland. It has an area of 8,336 km2 (3,219 sq mi) and a coastline of 1,046 km (650 mi).

Siege of Chandax

The Siege of Chandax was the centerpiece of the Byzantine Empire's campaign to recover the island of Crete, which since the 820s had been ruled by Muslim Arabs. The campaign followed a series of failed attempts to reclaim the island from the Muslims stretching as far back as 827, only a few years after the initial conquest of the island by the Arabs, and was led by the general and future emperor Nikephoros Phokas. It lasted from autumn 960 until spring 961, when the main Muslim fortress and capital of the island, Chandax was captured. The reconquest of Crete was a major achievement for the Byzantines, as it restored Byzantine control over the Aegean littoral and diminished the threat of Saracen pirates, for which Crete had provided a base of operations.

Death of Romanos II Death of Romanos II.png
Death of Romanos II

After a lengthy hunting expedition Romanos II took ill and died on March 15, 963. Rumor attributed his death to poison administered by his wife Theophano, but there is no evidence of this, and Theophano would have been risking much by exchanging the secure status of a crowned Augusta with the precarious one of a widowed Regent of her very young children. Romanos II's reliance on his wife and on bureaucrats like Joseph Bringas had resulted in a relatively capable administration, but this built up resentment among the nobility, which was associated with the military. In the wake of Romanos' death, his Empress Dowager, now Regent to the two co-emperors, her underage sons, was quick to marry the general Nikephoros Phokas and to acquire another general, John Tzimiskes, as her lover, having them both elevated to the imperial throne in succession. The rights of her sons were safeguarded, however, and eventually, when Tzimiskes died at war, her eldest son Basil II became senior emperor.

John I Tzimiskes Byzantine emperor

John I Tzimiskes was the senior Byzantine Emperor from 11 December 969 to 10 January 976. An intuitive and successful general, he strengthened the Empire and expanded its borders during his short reign.

Basil II Byzantine Emperor from the Macedonian dynasty

Basil II, nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer, was senior Byzantine Emperor for almost 50 years, having been a junior colleague to other emperors since 960. He and his brother Constantine were named as co-rulers before their father Romanos II died in 963. The throne went to two generals, Nikephoros Phokas then John Tzimiskes, before Basil became senior emperor. His influential great-uncle Basil Lekapenos was the de facto ruler of the Byzantine Empire until 985. Basil II then held power for forty years.


Romanos married firstly on September 944 [5] with Bertha, illegitimate daughter of Hugh of Arles, King of Italy, who changed her name to Eudokia after her marriage. She died in 949, her marriage unconsummated. [6]

King of Italy ruler who ruled part or all of the Italian Peninsula after the fall of the Western Roman Empire

King of Italy was the title given to the ruler of the Kingdom of Italy after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The first to take the title was Odoacer, a barbarian military leader, in the late 5th century, followed by the Ostrogothic kings up to the mid-6th century. With the Frankish conquest of Italy in the 8th century, the Carolingians assumed the title, which was maintained by subsequent Holy Roman Emperors throughout the Middle Ages. The last Emperor to claim the title was Charles V in the 16th century. During this period, the holders of the title were crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy.

By his second wife Theophano he had at least three children:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Reuter & McKitterick 1999, p. 699.
  2. Ostrogorsky, George (1968). History of Byzantine . New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. p. 283. ISBN   0-8135-0599-2.
  3. Gibbon, Edward (1904). The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. V. According to Gibbon, "after a reign of four years, she mingled for her husband the same deadly draught which she had composed for his father.". London: Ballantyne, Hanson & CO. p. 247.
  4. The above numbers are disputed. Most historians accept 100 dromons, 200 chelandia, 308 transports and a total of 77,000 men. The Byzantine navy was the continuation of the Roman navy.
  5. Theophanes Continuatus records the marriage in September 944 of "Hugonem regem Franciæ...filiam" and "Romanus imperator...Romano Constantini generi sui filio", stating that she lived five years with her husband, although he confuses the identity of Berta's father. Theophanes Continuatus, VI, Romani imperium, 46, p. 431.
  6. Byzantine historian George Kedrenos recorded that that "filia Hugonis", married to "Romano", died a virgin. Liudprandi Antapodosis III.39, Monumenta Germaniæ Historica Scriptorum III, p. 312.

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Romanos II
Born: 938 Died: 963
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Constantine VII
Byzantine Emperor
6 April 945 – 15 March 963 (with Constantine VII, Basil II, and Constantine VIII)
Succeeded by
Nikephoros II Phokas