Opportunism, ambition, intrigues – these had been facets that had been at all times current on the courts of nice empires. Rulers rose to energy following these guidelines of the sport, they usually had been usually the explanations for his or her undoing too. Romanos IV Diogenes was the Byzantine emperor from 1068 to 1071 AD. He strove to be a revered and succesful chief. Nevertheless, his life and his reign had been continuously hampered by exterior forces, inflicting his temporary rule to come back to a tragic conclusion. His destiny, and his unfair deposition, would come to stain the Byzantine status and would hang-out it for generations to observe. What follows is the story of Romanos IV Diogenes, who gave his finest shot at main an unlimited empire. However was it sufficient?

Destined for Greatness: The Early Life Of Romanos IV Diogenes

Even from his beginning, Romanos IV Diogenes was destined for greatness. He was born across the yr 1030 AD, as a son of the distinguished Byzantine normal, Constantine Diogenes. This man was a serious strategos (normal) in service of the then Emperor Basil II Porphyrogenitus, the Bulgar Slayer .

When Basil II reconquered the Balkan provinces , Constantine Diogenes was positioned because the governor of the theme of Syrmia, a spot of energy and prominence. The household of Diogenes was a robust Byzantine Greek lineage originating from Cappadocia, and one of many main households of the “army the Aristocracy,” which was a central participant within the quite a few conflicts that shook the Byzantine Empire throughout the eleventh century when the civil and army the Aristocracy clashed in opposition to each other.

In his early years Romanos IV Diogenes was the duke of Serdica (modern-day Sophia, Bulgaria) and he probably visited this well-known church, Boyana Church, greater than as soon as. (Work together-Bulgaria / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Romanos IV Diogenes rose via the ranks and gained prominence very early on in his youth. He was usually described as very brave and impressive, if not a bit rash and impetuous at occasions. As was widespread for the members of his household, Romanos served within the army with prominence, largely within the Balkans, on the Danubian frontier. By 1067, he was put in because the doux, or duke, of Serdica, the place a brand new province was reorganized and wanted a succesful chief.

However all that may quickly change, when the younger and impressive Romanos was simply dragged into an affair on the Byzantine royal court docket. When Emperor Constantine X Doukas died in 1067, his sons had been nonetheless minors. The throne thus handed into the palms of Constantine’s widow, Eudokia Makrembolitissa, who may reign because the de-facto empress till her sons got here of age. She additionally swore that she would by no means marry once more.

On the time Romanos IV Diogenes conspired with Princess Theodora and tried to hunt the help of Hungary to usurp the throne from the minor sons of late emperor Constantine. His makes an attempt failed, and he was quickly imprisoned by Romanos III Argyros, and sentenced to demise for this conspiracy. Nevertheless, the empress Eudokia acknowledged the potential that Romanos had.

On the time Byzantine Empire was underneath a whole lot of stress. The Seljuk Turks continuously raided the empire’s edges, and the Byzantine military couldn’t successfully reply, because of the lack of improvement within the years prior. Eudokia knew that she alone couldn’t treatment the scenario, and {that a} new emperor was wanted, and it needed to be a seasoned army veteran.

Empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa and Romanos IV Diogenes are suddenly married and he goes from prison to the imperial throne of the Byzantine Empire, almost overnight! Note: Until 1926 the pair pictured were as indicated here, but this has since been revised. (Photographe: Clio20 / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa and Romanos IV Diogenes are all of the sudden married and he goes from jail to the imperial throne of the Byzantine Empire, nearly in a single day! Observe: Till 1926 the pair pictured had been as indicated right here, however this has since been revised. (Photographe: Clio20 / CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Romanos IV Diogenes: From Jail To The Byzantine Throne

Romanos additionally loved immense recognition. One may say that he was a type of celeb on the time, and a few sources describe him as significantly good-looking and charming. Furthermore, he had a whole lot of army expertise as a normal and was the perfect selection for emperor in additional methods than one.

Empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa and her closest advisors noticed this instantly and selected Romanos IV Diogenes to be their new chief. Some sources say that the empress noticed much more than that and that she turned infatuated by Romanos and desired him. Thus, the demise sentence in opposition to Romanos was by no means handed.

In an odd flip of occasions, this younger and energetic noble narrowly averted demise and instantly jumped to the place of emperor of the Byzantine Empire. The vows that Eudokia gave to not marry had been promptly annulled by the Patriarch of Constantinople , and the 2 had been married on January 1st, 1068 AD.

It turned clear in modern sources that Romanos IV Diogenes was shortly accepted by nearly everybody on the court docket. He was instructed on his obligations as emperor, and he understood the explanations for his pardon. He additionally accepted this place with the zeal and ambition that’s so iconic for younger noblemen. It was his energetic strategy that Eudokia knew was essential for the Byzantine throne.

And whereas Romanos was accepted by most, he nonetheless confronted enemies. This was significantly true of the brother of the late Emperor Constantine, John Doukas , who noticed the arrival of Romanos as a fantastic risk to the highly effective Doukas dynasty, and the minor sons of Eudokia. He held an enormous grudge in opposition to Romanos and continuously plotted to deliver his rule to an finish.

One of many in the beginning obligations that Romanos had as the brand new emperor was to deal with the disastrous state of the Byzantine jap frontiers. For nearly a decade it was left unattended because of the negligence of Emperor Constantine X, and now the Seljuk Turks turned a serious risk, continuously raiding the territory.

Without delay, Romanos proved his shrewdness and an sincere need to fight this risk. The many years of civil conflict within the empire and the dominance of the civil aristocracy had devastated the defensive capabilities of the Byzantines. What Romanos IV Diogenes now had at his disposal was a meager mercenary drive of Slavs, Franks, and Bulgars, who had been poorly disciplined and cussed, although they had been fierce warriors.

That’s when Romanos made a daring and shrewd choice: he ordered the renewal of the nice tagmata (τάγματα) military that was fully uncared for in generations previous. Tagmas had been elite heavy cavalry models, cellular and extremely expert, and maintained on a everlasting foundation. These models had been at all times thought of as a political energy: whoever managed them held all the ability. That’s the reason this transfer by Romanos IV Diogenes was misunderstood by his opponents. They didn’t see it as an sincere try and defend the empire’s borders, however as his try to make use of army energy to restrict their affect and their energy.

Romanos IV Diogenes's biggest enemy beyond his internal foes were the Seljuk Turks and this is their leader, Alp Arslan (1029-1072 AD), ascending the throne in Herat, Afghanistan. (Hafiz-i Abru / Public domain)

Romanos IV Diogenes’s greatest enemy past his inner foes had been the Seljuk Turks and that is their chief, Alp Arslan (1029-1072 AD), ascending the throne in Herat, Afghanistan. (Hafiz-i Abru / Public area )

Romanos IV Diogenes’s Best Enemies Have been The Seljuks

Throughout his comparatively brief reign, Romanos IV Diogenes undertook 4 campaigns in opposition to the Seljuk Turks. The primary was made in 1068 AD. After simply three months he managed to assemble a drive of roughly 35,000 males and marched them in opposition to the Seljuks and their Arab allies from Syrian Aleppo. These two forces had been raiding and devastating Armenia, Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Georgia.

Romanos marched south along with his military and ultimately managed to inflict two main defeats in opposition to the Turks within the battles of Sebaste and Ieropolis. Nevertheless, neither of those victories had been sufficient to finish the Seljuk risk, as they quickly fled and averted a head on collision with the Byzantines. The Turkish cavalry moved so quickly throughout the nation that Romanos couldn’t presumably react in time. Thus, the Seljuks raided Neocaesarea and Amorium earlier than shifting on. With the onset of winter, Romanos IV Diogenes returned to Alexandretta, and ultimately to Constantinople.

In April 1069 AD, Romanos launched one other marketing campaign. His new try noticed him marching in direction of Caesarea the place the primary conflict with the Seljuks occurred. Because the Byzantine military was elevating their camp, they had been shocked by an assault from the Turks. Nevertheless, Romanos’ expert command helped them to realize a victory in opposition to all odds.

Nonetheless, their speedy actions didn’t give Romanos the possibility to strike a decisive victory he yearned for, leaving him to waste his efforts in frustration. Ultimately he caught up with the Seljuks at Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, the place his armies received decisively. The Seljuks had been pressured to flee to Aleppo, and Romanos made a peace with the Turkish sultan Alp Arslan. Nonetheless, he didn’t handle to defeat the Seljuks, and this prompted some discontent in Constantinople. Despite the fact that peace was made, a serious victory was not.

Romanos wasted most of his marketing campaign chasing the fast-moving Seljuks. A up to date account of one in every of his opponents on the time who was current on the marketing campaign completely sums it up: “ Romanos didn’t know the place he was marching to, or what was he to do.”

The third marketing campaign, in 1070 AD, was not led by Romanos. The growing political intrigues on the court docket pressured him to stay put in Constantinople. He needed to face the occasions in different elements of the empire, and to deal with bringing new reforms that may additional contribute to the stabilization of the empire. A number of the reforms he introduced had been particularly disliked by his political opponents and the members of the the Aristocracy, and ultimately the widespread people.

All of the reforms he made had been for the nice of the empire. First he decreased pointless court docket bills, lavish ceremonies, and ornament of the capital. These funds needed to be shifted to extra necessary bills. Public salaries of court docket nobles had been additionally decreased, together with the general income of distinguished merchants in Constantinople. Romanos targeted a lot of his power and finances on enhancing the Byzantine military. This made him unpopular with provincial governors, whose energy turned more and more much less impartial.

The Battle of Manzikert, fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Empire on 26 August 1071 near Manzikert, was a decisive defeat for the Byzantine army and ended in the capture of Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. (O.Mustafin / CC0 1.0)

The Battle of Manzikert, fought between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Empire on 26 August 1071 close to Manzikert, was a decisive defeat for the Byzantine military and ended within the seize of Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes. (O.Mustafin / CC0 1.0 )

Romanos: Disliked By His Mercenary Troops And The Peasants

Furthermore, Romanos was disliked by his mercenary troops, as he required strict self-discipline. Lastly, Romanos was, fairly unjustly, disliked by the widespread people. He couldn’t ease the problems of peasantry within the provinces and didn’t present the residents with the annual hippodrome video games. Thus, though he made reforms that may tremendously profit the empire, he gained the animosity of everybody within the course of. After all, this might be utilized by his greatest opponent, John Doukas.

The next yr, 1071, would show to be decisive in some ways for each Romanos and the Byzantine Empire. Within the spring he as soon as extra marched his armies in opposition to the Seljuk Turks. On the head of a powerful military, he marched throughout Theodosiopolis and reached Manzikert, retaking it with ease. Nevertheless, the principle physique of the Seljuk military was quick approaching the city, and a brand new conflict quickly emerged, identified immediately because the Battle of Manzikert.

This battle was outlined by the betrayal of Andronikos Doukas, the son of Romanos’ primary opponent, John Doukas. In a decisive second Andronikos exploited the confusion in Byzantine ranks and fled with 30,000 reserve troops, leaving Romanos’ retreat unprotected.

The battle was a serious Seljuk victory, and the downfall of Romanos IV Diogenes. The latter was wounded and captured within the battle and introduced as a captive earlier than the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan. A legendary assembly then ensued: Alp Arslan carried out a ritual of submission in opposition to Romanos, by inserting his foot on the latter’s neck. Nevertheless, he instantly helped him up and handled him with utmost respect and courtesy, caring for him for eight days. The legend describes their dialog as such:

[Alp Arslan]: “What would you have got accomplished if I used to be introduced earlier than you as captive?”
[Romanos IV Diogenes]: “Maybe I’d kill you, or parade you thru the streets of Constantinople.”

[Alp Arslan]: “But my punishment for you can be a lot crueler: I shall forgive you and set you free.”

The 2 leaders as soon as extra got here to a peace settlement, though Romanos was captured in battle. The Byzantines needed to pay a hefty ransom and an annual tribute, and Romanos was let out.

Nevertheless, it was of no use to him. In the course of the occasions at Manzikert, instantly after Romanos’ seize, the the Aristocracy on the court docket of Constantinople, headed by John Doukas, determined to use the continued scenario and arranged a coup d’état that positioned a brand new emperor on the throne, the son of late Constantine X, younger Michael VII Doukas.

Alp Arslan, leader of the Seljuk Turks, with his foot on Romanos IV Diogenes' throat. (Boccace, De Casibus / Public domain)

Alp Arslan, chief of the Seljuk Turks, along with his foot on Romanos IV Diogenes’ throat. (Boccace, De Casibus / Public area )

Romanos: A Brave And Upright Man In All Methods!

Romanos IV Diogenes was not about to exit undefeated although and assembled a small drive to retake his throne. He was, nevertheless, defeated earlier than he reached the capital, however was assured security and a secure return to the capital.

This assure was promptly ignored by the members of the Doukas household, and Romanos was betrayed as soon as once more, when he was captured on his approach again to Constantinople, blinded with pink scorching iron, and exiled to a monastery on the distant island of Prote within the Sea of Marmara. He died there quickly after from the injuries of the blinding, in the summertime of 1072, when he was simply 42 years outdated.

This ended probably the most promising Byzantine imperial reigns of this era. Romanos was an formidable and energetic chief who knew what was necessary for the survival of the empire. Nevertheless, justice, cause, and affordable expenditure aren’t in style with the corrupt the Aristocracy and grasping officers.

Each reform and each step that Romanos IV Diogenes took in his reign was logical and sound but despised by the court docket. His betrayal at Manzikert was a cowardly transfer by the Doukas household, and instantly contributed to the Turkification of Anatolia and the irrecoverable lack of Byzantine energy within the area.

Furthermore, the deposing and blinding of Romanos was one of many greatest tragedies in Byzantine historical past. The famed English historian John Norwich summed it up completely, saying that the grasping enemies of Romanos IV Diogenes “martyred a brave and upright man.”

High picture: Romanos IV Diogenes dominated in direction of the tip of the Byzantine Empire. Right here a Byzantine mosaic.         Supply: Xavier Allard / Adobe Inventory

By Aleksa Vučković


Basan, O. 2010. The Nice Seljuqs: A Historical past. Routledge.
Goodyear, M. 2018. Romanos IV Diogenes. World Historical past Encyclopedia. [Online] Accessible at:
McGeer, E. and Nesbitt, J. 2019. Byzantium within the Time of Troubles: The Continuation of the Chronicle of John Skylitzes (1057-1079). BRILL.

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