Konstantinos 8

Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire
FloruitL VIII
Dates771 (n.) / 797 (ob.)
PmbZ No.3704
Variant NamesConstantinus;
Constantine VI
LocationsGreat Palace (Porphyry chamber of, Constantinople);
St Mamas (Palace of);
Constantinople (officeplace);
Euphrosyne (Monastery of, Constantinople) (burialplace);
Constantinople (residence);
Pylai (Bithynia);
Great Palace (Porphyry chamber of, Constantinople) (birthplace)
TitlesAugustus (office);
Emperor (office)
Textual SourcesAnastasius Bibliothecarius, Chronographia Tripartita (Latin translation of the Chronographia of Theophanes), ed. C. de Boor, Theophanes, Chronographia II (Leipzig, 1885), pp. 31-346 (chronicle);
Bar 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);
Chronicon anonymi ad annum 813 pertinens, Fragmenta, ed. E. W. Brooks, CSCO 6, Scriptores Syri 6 (Louvain, 1907; repr 1960), pp. 183-196 (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);
Genesii, Josephi, Regum Libri Quattuor, eds. A. Lesmüller-Werner and I. Thurn, CFHB 14 (Berlin, 1978) (history);
Theophanes Confessor, Chronographia, ed. C. de Boor, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1883-85, repr. Hildesheim/NewYork, 1980); tr. and comm. C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, Oxford 1997 (chronicle);
Theophanes Continuatus, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838) (history);
Vita B Theodori Studitae, Auctore Michaele Monacho Studita (BHG 1754), PG. 99. 233-328 (hagiography);
Vita Sancti Philareti, by Nicetas of Amnia (BHG 1511z), ed. M.-H. Fourmy and M. Leroy, "La Vie de S. Philarhte", Byz 9 (1934), pp. 113-167 (hagiography);
Vita Tarasii by Ignatius the Deacon, ed. I. A. Heikel, Acta Societatis Scientiarum Fennicae 17 (1891), pp. 395-423; new ed. S. Efthymiadis, The Life of the Patriarch Tarasios by Ignatios the Deacon, (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).

Konstantinos 8 was son of the emperor Leo IV (Leo 4) and Eirene 1, grandson of the emperor Constantine V (Konstantinos 7), he was born on 14 January 771: Theoph. AM 6262 (ἐτέχθη Λέοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ καὶ Εἰρήνῃ υἱός, καὶ ὠνομάσθη Κωνσταντῖνος, ζῶντος ἔτι Κωνσταντίνου τοῦ πάππου αὐτοῦ), Zon. XV 8. 3. Son of Leo IV (Leo 4) and Eirene 1, grandson of Constantine V (Konstantinos 7): Chron. 1234, §188 (II, p. 4).

He was born in the Purple Room in the palace at Constantinople: Theoph. AM 6289 (καὶ ἀπέκλεισαν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ πορφυρᾷ, ἔνθα καὶ ἐγεννήθη). The only son of Leo 4, in 776 there was pressure for Konstantinos 8 to be made co-emperor with his father; Leo 4 gave way and Konstantinos 8 was crowned emperor by his father on Easter Sunday (14 April) 776: Theoph. AM 6268 (indiction 14; the date 24 April in Theophanes is taken from Anastasius Bibliothecarius and is wrong; cf. Grumel, Chronologie, p. 310), Zon. XV 9. 4-7. On Konstantinos 8's coronation as co-emperor, see Ostrogorsky, History, pp. 176-177. Son of Leo IV (Leo 4) and Eirene 1, Konstantinos 8 succeeded his father in 780. He became ruler jointly with his mother on 8 September, indiction 4 (780); he was then ten years old: Theoph. AM 6273(δεκαετοῦς ὑπάρχοντος), Zon. XV 10.1, cf. Chron. 1234, §188 (II, p. 4) (because of his youth, his mother took control of the government).

In 782 Konstantinos 8 was betrothed by his mother to Erythro 1, daughter of the Frankish king Charlemagne (Karoulos 1): Theoph. AM 6274, Zon. XV 10. 11. In 788 he married Maria of Amnia (Maria 2), granddaughter of St Philaretos (Philaretos 1); his mother had cancelled the arrangement with the Franks and selected his new bride for him at a bride show: Theoph. AM 6281 (τοὺς γάμους αὐτοῦ), Nicetas, Vita Philareti, p. 135, line 25, p. 143, line 17, Zon. XV 10. 12. He had two daughters, one being Euphrosyne 1: Ps.-Symeon 620, Theoph. Cont. II 24 (p. 79). The other was Eirene 13: Const. Porph., Cer. II 42 (Reiske, 647).

He was in his twentieth year (γεγονότος εἰκοσαετοῦς) in 790 when he tried but failed to assert himself against his mother and the eunuch Staurakios 1 with the aid of a close group of allies (see Damianos 1, Petros 8 and Theodoros 14): Theoph. AM 6282, Zon. XV 11. 17ff. At the end of 790 he was able to assert his authority after the themata of Asia Minor supported him against Eirene 1; he was still in his twentieth year (εἰκοστὸν ἄγοντα ἔτος): Theoph. AM 6283. He apparently disliked his wife Maria 2 and compelled her to become a nun; she was tonsured in January 795 (indiction 3); he was allegedly prompted to this action by his mother in order to make him unpopular; in August 795 he crowned Theodote 1 as Augusta and was betrothed to her, illegally (παρανόμως) according to Theophanes: Theoph. AM 6287, Zon. XV 12. 19-21, cf. Vita B Theod. Stud. 252B-D (ὁ τῆς φιλοχρίστου Εἰρήνης υἱὸς, ὅστις τὸ τῆς νεότητος ἀνειμένον τε καὶ ἀπαιδαγώγητον ἔχων, καὶ τοῖς τῆς σαρκὸς διαπύροις ἡττηθεὶς σκιρτήμασιν) (alluding to his divorce of Maria 2 and marriage to Theodote 1). He was said to have accused his wife of plotting his murder, in order to secure a divorce from her and enable him to marry his mistress: Vita Tarasii 39. He married his mistress in September 795 (indiction 4) in the palace of St Mamas (ἐποίησε τὸν γάμον ὁ βασιλεὺς μετὰ Θεοδότης ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ τοῦ ἁγίου Μάμαντος): Theoph. AM 6288. A son, Leo 10, was born to him and Theodote 1 on 7 October 796, but died on 1 May 797; in 797 a conspiracy engineered by his mother with the support of the tagmata resulted in his overthrow; the troops moved against him after the games on 17 July and he fled to Pylai (in Bithynia) but was brought back to Constantinople by supporters of his mother on 15 August and imprisoned in the Purple Room of the palace, where he had been born (καὶ ἀπέκλεισαν αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ πορφυρᾷ, ἔνθα καὶ ἐγεννήθη); on the same day he was blinded so brutally that he died of the effects; his mother then became sole ruler: Theoph. AM 6289, Zon. XV 13. 4-6, cf. Vita B Theod. Stud. 256C (his blinding and overthrow). Son of Leo 4 and Eirene 1, he was blinded and deposed and died soon afterwards, being buried in a tomb in one of the monasteries in Constantinople; his identity was allegedly later adopted by Thomas the Slav (Thomas 7): Genesius II 4.

His marriage with Theodote 1 was a source of controversy in later years: Theoph. AM 6301 (διὰ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν οἰκονόμον ὡς παρανόμως στεφανώσαντα Κωνσταντῖνον καὶ Θεοδότην). His downfall was attributed in some sources to his licentious conduct: Chron. 1234, §188 (II, p. 4) ("now this man took a second wife, illegally, for he had a first wife, and he pursued wantonness and licentiousness, and he took daughters of nobles by force. Then he went to live in Thrace in wantonness and drunkenness and corruption, and the Romans were irritated. So when he came to the capital, his mother gouged out his eyes and he was blinded.") Said to have revealed to the emperor Nikephoros 8 the location of secret treasures: Zon. XV 14. 10-11 (he was however dead when Nikephoros 8 became emperor as Nikephoros I).

Konstantinos 8 was king of the Romans; his lascivious conduct was reported to his mother, Eirene 1, by the nobles, and she had him blinded and removed from the throne: Chron. 813, p. 251, 9-15 = p. 190.

Konstantinos 8 was son of the emperor Leo IV (Leo 4), whom he succeeded as emperor; he was a minor and his mother Eirene 1 governed for him: Bar Hebr., p. 117. He accused his mother of involvement in an affair with Alpidi (Elpidios 2); he tried to blind Elpidios 2, who fled, and he deprived his mother of her imperial title: Bar Hebr., p. 119. Later he was reconciled with his mother and restored her imperial title: Bar Hebr., p. 119. He married a second time while his first wife was still alive, and he was alleged to be debauching the daughters of the nobility and indulging in drunken and riotous behaviour; he was then overthrown by his mother, with the consent of the nobles, and was blinded: Bar Hebr., p. 120. According to the Chron. 1234, in 792 the emperor Constantine VI (Konstantinos 8) "was angry with Elpidios (Elpidios 1) ('lpydy) the patrikios of Sicily, because he committed adultery with Eirene (Eirene 1) his mother, and when he decided to put out his eyes, he fled to the Arabs": Chron. 1234, §188 (II, p. 4).

For his imperial seals, cf. Zacos and Veglery 37-39, Szemioth and Wasilewski, "Sceaux byzantins" 2, and on Zacos and Veglery 35 bis, see Seibt, ByzSlav, 36 (1975), p. 209. He was buried in the monastery of Euphrosyne at Constantinople, in the same sarcophagus as his wife Maria 2 and his daughters Eirene 13 and Euphrosyne 1: Const. Porph., Cer. II 42 (Reiske, 647) (and cf. Anna 2).

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