Michael VII Doukas

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Michael VII Doukas or Ducas (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ζ΄ Δούκας, Mikhaēl VII Doukas), nicknamed Parapinakēs (Παραπινάκης), was Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078.

Contents

Life

Michael VII was the eldest son of Constantine X Doukas and Eudokia Makrembolitissa, and was born c. 1050, in Constantinople.[1] He had been associated with his father on the throne late in 1059, together with or shortly before his newly born brother Konstantios Doukas.[2] When Constantine X died in 1067, Michael VII was 17 years old and should have been able to rule by himself. He exhibited little interest in politics, and his mother Eudokia and uncle John Doukas governed the empire as effective regents.[3]

On January 1, 1068, Eudokia married the general Romanos Diogenes, who now became senior co-emperor alongside Michael VII, Konstantios, and another brother, Andronikos.[4] When Romanos IV was defeated and captured by Alp Arslan of the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert in August 1071,[5] Michael VII remained in the background, while the initiative was taken by his uncle John Doukas and his tutor Michael Psellos.[6] They conspired to keep Romanos from regaining power after his release from captivity, while he himself felt under no obligation to honor the agreement that Romanus struck with the Sultan.[1] After the dispatch of Eudokia to a monastery, Michael VII was crowned again on October 24, 1071 as senior emperor.

Although still advised by Michael Psellos and John Doukas, Michael VII became increasingly reliant on his finance minister Nikephoritzes.[7] The emperor's chief interests, shaped by Psellos, were in academic pursuits, and he allowed Nikephoritzes to increase both taxation and luxury spending without properly financing the army. As an emperor he was incompetent, and surrounded by synchophantic court officials, he was blind to the empire collapsing around him.[1] In dire straits, imperial officials resorted to property confiscations and even expropriated some of the wealth of the church. The underpaid army tended to mutiny, and the Byzantines lost Bari, their last possession in Italy, to the Normans of Robert Guiscard in 1071.[6] Simultaneously, they faced a serious revolt in the Balkans, where they faced an attempt for the restoration of the Bulgarian state in the same year.[7] Although this revolt was suppressed by the general Nikephoros Bryennios,[7] the Byzantine Empire was unable to recover its losses in Asia Minor.

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