Michael III

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Michael III (Greek: Μιχαήλ Γ΄, Mikhaēl III ), (January 19, 840 – September 23–24, 867), Byzantine Emperor from 842 to 867. Michael III was the third and traditionally last member of the Phrygian Dynasty. He was given the disparaging moniker the Drunkard (ὀ Μέθυσος) by the hostile historians of the succeeding Macedonian dynasty, but modern historical research[who?] has largely rehabilitated[citation needed] him, demonstrating the vital role his reign played in the resurgence of Byzantine power in the 9th century.

Contents

Life

Michael was the youngest child of Emperor Theophilos and Theodora. Already crowned co-ruler by his father in 840, Michael III had just turned two years old when he succeeded as sole emperor on January 20, 842.

During his minority, the empire was governed by his mother Theodora, her uncle Sergios, and the minister Theoktistos. The empress had iconodule sympathies and deposed Patriarch John VII of Constantinople and replaced him with the iconodule Methodios in 843. This put an end to the second spell of Iconoclasm. The internal stabilization of the state was not matched on the frontiers. The Byzantine forces were defeated in Pamphylia, Crete, and on the border with Syria by the Abbasids, but a Byzantine fleet of 85 ships did score a victory over the Arabs in 853, also there were many operations around the Aegean and off the Syrian coast by at least three more fleets, numbering 300 ships total. The imperial government undertook the resettlement of Paulicians from the eastern frontier into Thrace (thus cutting them off from their coreligionists and populating another border region) and launched an expedition against the Slavs in the Peloponnese.

As the emperor was growing up, the courtiers around him fought for influence. Increasingly fond of his uncle Bardas, Michael invested him as kaisar (Caesar) and allowed him to murder Theoktistos in November 855. With Bardas' support, Michael III overthrew the regency on March 15, 856, and relegated his mother and sisters to a monastery in 857.

A conflict between the Byzantines and Bulgarians started in 855–856. The Empire wanted to regain its control over some areas of Thrace, including Philippopolis (Plovdiv) and the ports around the Gulf of Burgas on the Black Sea. The Byzantine forces, led by the emperor and the caesar Bardas, were successful in the conflict and reconquered a number of cities, Philippopolis, Develtus, Anchialus and Mesembria being among them, and the region of Zagora was recovered.[1][2] At the time of this campaign the Bulgarians were distracted by a war with the Franks under Louis the German and the Croatians.

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