Michael 11

Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire
FloruitM IX
Dates842 (taq) / 867 (ob.)
PmbZ No.4991
Variant NamesMichael III (emperor)
LocationsHoly Apostles (Church of the, Constantinople) (burialplace);
Chrysopolis (Monastery of) (burialplace);
Hagia Sophia (Constantinople);
TitlesAugustus (dignity);
Emperor (office)
Textual SourcesBar Hebraeus, Chronographia, tr. E. A. W. Budge, The Chronography of Abu 'l-Faraj (London, 1932; repr. Amsterdam, 1976) (history);
Chronicon Anonymi ad annum 1234 pertinens, ed. and tr. J.-B. Chabot, I = CSCO 81-82 (Paris, 1916-20), II = CSCO 109 (Louvain, 1937) (chronicle);
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, De Ceremoniis Aulae Byzantinae Libri II, ed. J. J. Reiske, CSHB (Bonn, 1829); also ed. (in part) A. Vogt (Paris, 1935, repr. 1967) (history);
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Three Treatises on Imperial Military Expeditions. Introduction, Edition, Translation and Commentary by J. F. Haldon (Vienna, 1990) (treatise);
Georgius Monachus Continuatus, in Theophanes Continuatus, ed I Bekker (Bonn, 1839), pp. 761-924 (history);
Leo Grammaticus, Chronographia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1842) (chronicle);
Photius, Epistulae, ed. B. Laourdas and L. G. Westerink, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1983-85) (letters);
Pseudo-Symeon, Chronographia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838), pp. 603-760 (history);
Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838) (history);
Vita Evaristi (BHG 2153), ed. C. Van de Vorst, "La Vie de S. Evariste higoumène à Constantinople", Anal. Boll. 41 (1923), pp. 295-325 (hagiography);
Vita Ignatii Patriarchae, by Nicetas (BHG 817), PG 105.488-574) (hagiography);
Vita Irenae Chrysobalanton, The Life of St Irene Abbess of Chrysobalanton, ed. with introd., tr., notes and indices, J. O. Rosenqvist, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis (hagiography);
Vita Methodii Confessoris et Patriarchae Constantinopolitani (BHG 1278), PG 100. 1244-1261 (hagiography);
Vita Michaelis Syncelli (BHG 1296), ed. M. Cunningham, The Life of Michael Synkellos , Belfast Byzantine Texts and Translations 1 (Belfast, 1991) (hagiography);
Vita Nicolai Studitae (BHG 1365), PG 105. 863-925 (hagiography);
Zonaras = Ioannis Zonarae Epitome Historiarum, libri XIII-XVIII, ed. Th. Büttner-Wobst, (Bonn, 1897) (history)
Seal SourcesZacos, G. and Veglery, A., Byzantine Lead Seals, vol. I (in 3 parts) (Basel, 1972).

Michael 11 was the emperor Michael III; he reigned from 842 to 867. Son of the emperor Theophilos 5 and Theodora 2: Theoph. Cont. III 18 (p. 108), IV 1 (p. 148), 27 (p. 185), V 27 (p. 253), Leo Gramm. 222, 228, Georg. Mon. Cont. 810-811, Ps.-Symeon 637 (born, allegedly, in the tenth year of Theophilos' reign), Zon. XV 27. 19, XVI 1. 1, Vita Method. 1253A, Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 500B-C (υἱὸς), Vita Nic. Stud. 900B, Chron. 1234, §225 (II, p. 35), Const. Porph., De Cer. II 42 (Reiske, 645), Const. Porph., Military Treatises (C), 639, Vita Mich. Sync. 25.

When he became emperor he was in his third year: Theoph. Cont. IV 1 (p. 148). He was therefore born in 839 or early 840. Rydén, Eranos 83 (1985), p. 182, n. 30, puts his birthday on 19 January 840. He had five sisters, Anastasia 2, Anna 2, Maria 4, Poulcheria 1 and Thekla 1, all older than him: Theoph. Cont. III 5 (pp. 89-90), Leo Gramm. 237, Georg. Mon. Cont. 823, Ps.-Symeon 628, 658. He was nephew of Bardas 5: Leo Gramm. 237, 238, Georg. Mon. Cont. 815, 824, Ps.-Symeon 658, 665, 671, Theoph. Cont. IV 19, 23, 26, V 14, 16, 17, Zon. XVI 2. 22, Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 504A (Θεοδώρας μὲν τῆς ἀγαθῆς βασιλίδος ἀδελφὸς ἦν, sc. Bardas) and 528A (τοῦ ἀνεψιοῦ). He was brother of Konstantinos 259, who is named on a seal with Michael 11 and their father Theophilos 5: see J. Jurukova, Neues byzantinisches Kaisersiegel aus Bulgarien, in Vekove 7, Hf 4 (1978), pp. 73-76. He was nephew also of Petronas 5: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 525A (τῆς τοῦ αὐτοκράτορος θεῖος πρὸς μητρὸς ὢν, sc. Petronas).

Michael 11 was crowned emperor by his father Theophilos 5 in Hagia Sophia: Leo Gramm. 227, Georg. Mon. Cont. 809, Ps.-Symeon 645. On his father's death (in 842) he succeeded to the throne; he ruled jointly with his mother Theodora 2 for fifteen years, as sole ruler for ten years, and jointly with Basilios 7 for one year four months: Leo Gramm. 228, Georg. Mon. Cont. 810-811, Ps.-Symeon 647 (fourteen years, twelve years and one year four months, totalling twenty seven years four months in all), Vita Nic. Stud. 900B-C. His tutor (παιδαγωγός) was Anonymus 203: Theoph. Cont. IV 19 (p. 169), Scyl., p. 94, Zon. XVI 2. 25-28. See also Manuel 6. Successor of his father: Theoph. Cont. IV 1 (p. 148), Zon. XVI 1. 1, Vita Method. 1253A (with his mother), Chron. 1234 §225 (II, p. 35) (his mother was in charge of the government; he is said to have reigned for eleven years), Vita Mich. Sync. 25 (he and his mother took over the empire).

He fell in love with Eudokia Ingerina (Eudokia 2); his mother Theodora 2 disapproved of her and so he was married to Eudokia Dekapolitissa (Eudokia 3) instead: Leo Gramm. 230, Georg. Mon. Cont. 816, Ps.-Symeon 655. Eudokia 2 became his mistress. Father of Leo 25 (the future emperor Leo VI) by Eudokia 2 Ingerina: Leo Gramm. 249, Georg. Mon. Cont. 835, Ps.-Symeon 681 (wrongly names the child as Konstantinos), Zon. XVI 7. 17 (the father of Leo was in fact Basil I, Basilios 7; see Leo 25).

About the time when he reached manhood his uncle Bardas 5 overthrew his mother and became the most powerful influence over him: Theoph. Cont. IV 23 (p. 176), Zon. XVI 2. 33, cf. Vita Nic. Stud. 905B-C (expelled his mother from the palace and took his uncle Bardas 5 as his chief adviser), Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 504A-505A (ὅλην τοῦ Μιχαὴλ, ἅτε δὴ θεῖος, τὴν ἀρχὴν ὑπεποιεῖτο), 528A. Michael made Basilios 7 his co-emperor following the murder of Bardas 5 in 866: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 537A-B (στέμματι κατακοσμήσας, ἀναγορεύει βασιλέα), Leo Gramm. 246-247, Georg. Mon. Cont. 831-833, Ps.-Symeon 679-680.

After the murder of Bardas 5 (21 April 866), Michael 11 adopted Basilios 7 as his son and gave him the title of magistros, but when his own inability to cope with the problems of government aroused discontent, he proclaimed Basilios 7 as co-emperor in Hagia Sophia, on Sunday, 26 May, which was Pentecost: Theoph. Cont. IV 43 (p. 207) (at Pentecost, 26 May, indiction fourteen), V 18 (pp. 238-240) (also giving the date). He soon regretted his choice of Basilios 7 as co-emperor and began to plot his death, but was assassinated himself first; the date was 24 September 867 (24 September, indiction one, year of the world 6376); he had reigned for fourteen years with his mother Theodora 2, eleven years on his own, and one year three months with Basilios 7: Theoph. Cont. IV 44 (pp. 208-210), cf. V 27 (p. 253) (in fourteen years of sole rule he spent almost the whole contents of the imperial treasury). He was assassinated by Basilios 7 in 867: Leo Gramm. 250-251, Georg. Mon. Cont. 836-837, Ps.-Symeon 684-685, Zon. XVI 7. 26-29, cf. Theoph. Cont. V 27 (pp. 254-255) (killed by the wise and good members of the senate because he was such a danger to the state and the people), Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 540A (murdered (δολοφονεῖται) and succeeded by Basilios 7). Cf. also Basiliskianos 1 and Rhendakios 1.

His body was conveyed by Paulos 24 to Chrysopolis and buried in the monastery there: Leo Gramm. 252, Georg. Mon. Cont. 838, Ps.-Symeon 686. See ODB II, p. 1364. He died and was succeeded by Basilios 7: Vita S. Evaristi 16 (p. 308), Chron. 1234, §229 (II, p. 40).

For his imperial seals, see Zacos and Veglery 54-56. See further references at Vita Irenae Chrys. (BHG 952) cap. 3, cap. 12; Vita Mich. Sync. 100-104, 116, 122; Theophanes presbyter, Logos on Patriarch Nikephoros (BHG 1336-1337) cap. 12; Vita Anton. Iun. Addit. (BHG 142 Addit.) cap. 14 (p. 218), cap. 15 (p. 219). See also ODB II, 1364.

Son of Theophilos 5 and Theodora 2, he succeeded his father on the throne in the year 1155 Sel. (843/844), when he was three years old; his mother administered the empire for him: Bar Hebr., p. 140. In the year 1176 Sel. (864/865) and AH 245 (April 859/March 860) he sent Atrophilos 1 as envoy to the caliph al-Mutawwakil 1 to make peace: Bar Hebr., p. 144. He died in the year 1174 Sel. (862/863) after a reign of twenty five years and, having no son, was succeeded by Basilios 7 (Basil I): Bar Hebr., p. 146.

He was the addressee of two letters from the patriarch Photius (Photios 1), written in April or May 866: Photius, Ep. 18 (I 68ff. Laourdas-Westerink) (addressed Μιχαὴλ τῷ θεοστέπτῳ βασιλεῖ), Ep. 19 (I 71 Laourdas-Westerink) addressed as τῷ αὐτῷ).

Michael 11 was subsequently buried by the emperor Leo VI (Leo 25) in the Mausoleum of Constantine I at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, in a tomb of green Thessalian marble previously occupied by the emperor Justinian I (in fact by Justin I, see Downey, "Tombs", pp. 48-51): Const. Porph., De Cer. II 42 (Reiske, 642-643).

(Publishable link for this person: )