Michael I Rangabe

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Michael I Rangabe
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
Michael I Rangabe.jpg
Michael I Rangabe, from the Madrid Skylitzes
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign 2 October 811 – 22 June 813
Coronation 2 October 811
Hagia Sophia
Predecessor Staurakios
Successor Leo V
Co-emperor Theophylact (811-813)
Born c. 770
Died 11 January 844
Prote Island
Church on Prote Island, transferred to Monastery of Satyros
Spouse Prokopia
Issue Theophylaktos
Full name
Michael Rangabe
Dynasty Nikephorian
Father Theophylact Rhangabe

Michael I Rhangabe (Greek: Μιχαῆλ Ῥαγκαβές, Michaēl Rhangabe; c. 770 – 11 January 844) was Byzantine Emperor from 811 to 813.

Michael was the son of the patrician Theophylact Rhangabe, the admiral of the Aegean fleet.[1] He married Prokopia, the daughter of the future Emperor Nikephoros I,[2] and received the high court dignity of kouropalatēs after his father-in-law's accession in 802.


Coronation by the Patriarch, as depicted in the Madrid Skylitzes.
Nikephorian dynasty
Nikephoros I 802–811
with Staurakios as co-emperor, 803–811
Staurakios 811
Michael I 811–813
with Theophylact as co-emperor, 811–813
Preceded by
Isaurian dynasty
Followed by
Leo V and the Amorian dynasty

Michael survived Nikephoros' disastrous campaign against Krum of Bulgaria, and was considered a more appropriate candidate for the throne than his severely injured brother-in-law Staurakios.[2] When Michael's wife Prokopia failed to persuade her brother to name Michael as his successor, a group of senior officials (the magistros Theoktistos, the Domestic of the Schools Stephen, and Patriarch Nikephoros) forced Staurakios to abdicate in his favor on 2 October 811.

Michael I attempted to carry out a policy of reconciliation, abandoning the exacting taxation instituted by Nikephoros I. While reducing imperial income, Michael generously distributed money to the army, the bureaucracy, and the Church.[3] Elected with the support of the Orthodox party in the Church, Michael diligently persecuted the iconoclasts and forced the Patriarch Nikephoros to back down in his dispute with Theodore of Stoudios, the influential abbot of the monastery of Stoudios. Michael's piety won him a very positive estimation in the work of the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor.

In 812 Michael I reopened negotiations with the Franks, and recognized Charlemagne as imperator and basileus (Emperor), but not Emperor of the Romans.[4][5][6] In exchange for that recognition, Venice was returned to the Empire. However, under the influence of Theodore, Michael rejected the peace terms offered by Krum and provoked the capture of Mesembria (Nesebar) by the Bulgarians. After an initial success in spring 813, Michael's army prepared for a major engagement at Versinikia near Adrianople in June.[2] The imperial army was defeated, while Leo the Armenian fled from the battle.[2] With conspiracy in the air, Michael preempted events by abdicating on 11 July 813 in favor of the general Leo the Armenian and becoming a monk (under the name Athanasios).[7][2] His sons were castrated and relegated into monasteries,[7] one of them, Niketas (renamed Ignatios), eventually becoming Patriarch of Constantinople.[8] Michael died 11 January 844.[9]


By his wife Prokopia, Michael I had at least five children:


  1. ^ Venning 2006, p. 218.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bradbury 2004, p. 64.
  3. ^ Ostrogorsky 1986, p. 197.
  4. ^ eum imperatorem et basileum appellantes, cf. Royal Frankish Annals, a. 812.
  5. ^ Eichmann, Eduard (1942). Die Kaiserkrönung im Abendland: ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des kirchlichen Rechte, der Liturgie und der Kirchenpolitik. Echter-Verlag. p. 33.
  6. ^ Canning 1996, p. 70.
  7. ^ a b Luttwak 2009, p. 182.
  8. ^ a b Bury 1912, p. 14.
  9. ^ Anthony 2017, p. 8.


  • Genesios on the Reigns of the Emperors: Translation and Commentary. Translated by Anthony, Kaldellis. BRILL. 2017.
  • Bradbury, Jim (2004). The Routledge Companion to Medieval Warfare. Routledge.
  • Bury, John Bagnell (1912). A History of the Eastern Roman Empire from the Fall of Irene to the Accession of Basil I, (802-867). Macmillan and Co.
  • Canning, Joseph (1996). A History of Medieval Political Thought: 300-1450. Routledge.
  • Luttwak, Edward N. (2009). The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Harvard University Press.
  • Ostrogorsky, George (1986). History of the Byzantine State. Rutgers University Press.
  • Venning, T., ed. (2006). A Chronology of the Byzantine Empire. Palgrave Macmillan.

Further reading

  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
  • Treadgold, W. A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Stanford University Press; 1 edition (1 November 1997)
  • Gregory, T., A History of Byzantium (Blackwell History of the Ancient World), Wiley-Blackwell (11 March 2005)

See also

External links

Michael I Rangabe
Born: c. 770 Died: 11 January 844
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Byzantine Emperor
2 October 811 – 22 June 813
with Theophylact (811–813)
Succeeded by
Leo V
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