Michael 7

Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire
FloruitL VIII-M IX
Dates793 (taq) / 844 (ob.)
PmbZ No.4989
Variant NamesMichael I (emperor)
LocationsPlate (Princes' Islands) (burialplace);
Satyros (Monastery of, Bithynia) (burialplace);
Plate (Princes' Islands) (deathplace);
Plate (Princes' Islands);
Pharos (Church of the, Constantinople);
Hagia Sophia (Constantinople);
Hippodrome (Constantinople);
Great Palace (Constantinople);
Plate (Prince's Islands) (residence);
Mangana (Constantinople) (residence);
Prote (Prince's Islands) (exileplace);
Mangana (Constantinople);
Prote (Princes' Islands)
TitlesKouropalates (dignity);
Augustus (office);
Emperor (office)
Textual SourcesAnnales Regni Francorum, ed. F. Kurze, MGH, Scr. Rer. Ger. 6 (1895; repr. 1950) (annals);
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);
Genesii, Josephi, Regum Libri Quattuor, eds. A. Lesmüller-Werner and I. Thurn, CFHB 14 (Berlin, 1978) (history);
Georgius Monachus Continuatus, in Theophanes Continuatus, ed I Bekker (Bonn, 1839), pp. 761-924 (history);
Leo Grammaticus, Chronographia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1842) (chronicle);
Pseudo-Symeon, Chronographia, ed. I. Bekker (Bonn, 1838), pp. 603-760 (history);
Scriptor Incertus de Leone Armenio, ed. I. Bekker, Leo Grammaticus (Bonn, 1842), pp. 335-362; app. crit., R. Browning, Byz 35 (1965), pp. 391-41; ed. with comm. and tr., Fr. Iadevaia (Messina, 1987) (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 A Theodori Studitae, Auctore Theodoro Daphnopate? (BHG 1755), PG 99. 113-232 (hagiography);
Vita B Theodori Studitae, Auctore Michaele Monacho Studita (BHG 1754), PG. 99. 233-328 (hagiography);
Vita Ignatii Patriarchae, by Nicetas (BHG 817), PG 105.488-574) (hagiography);
Vita Nicetae Hegoumeni Medicii, Auctore Theostericto (BHG 1341), AASS April I, Appendix, pp. xviii-xxviii (hagiography);
Vita Petri Atroensis, by Sabas the monk (BHG 2364), ed. V. Laurent, La Vie merveilleuse de Saint Pierre d'Atroa, Subsidia Hagiographica 29 (Brussels, 1956) (hagiography);
Vita Retractata Petri Atroensis, by Sabas the monk (BHG 2365), ed. V. Laurent, La Vita retractata et les miracles posthumes de Saint Pierre d'Atroa, Subsidia Hagiographica 31 (Brussels, 1958) (hagiography);
Vita Theophylacti Archiepiscopi Nicomediae, (BHG 2451), ed. A. Vogt, "S. Théophylacte de Nicomédie", Anal. Boll. 50 (1932), pp. 71-82 (hagiography);
Zonaras = Ioannis Zonarae Epitome Historiarum, libri XIII-XVIII, ed. Th. Büttner-Wobst, (Bonn, 1897) (history)

Michael 7's family name was Rhangabe: Theoph. Cont. I 4 (p. 12) (cited below), cf. Scyl., p. 5 (ᾡ Ῥαγγαβὲ ἦν ἡ προσηγορία), Zon. XV 16. 2 (ᾧ Ῥαγγαβὲ τὸ ἐπώνυμον), XVI 4. 30. After his overthrow (see below) he became a monk and adopted the name Athanasios: Theoph. Cont. I 10 (pp. 19-20). He lived on the family property at the Mangana in Constantinople: Theoph. Cont. I 4 (p. 12) (cited below). He was the son (υἱὸς) of Theophylaktos 7: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489C, cf. Winkelmann, Quellenstudien, p. 194. Husband of Prokopia 1: Theoph. AM 6303 (Προκοπίαν, τὴν ἰδίαν ἀδελφήν (speaking of Staurakios 2) and Μιχαήλ, τὸν γαμβρὸν αὐτοῦ), Theoph. AM 6304, Theoph. AM 6305 (Μιχαὴλ ... σὺν Προκοπίᾳ καὶ τοῖς αὐτῶν τέκνοις), Scriptor Incertus 335, 337, 341, Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489C (πατέρας δὲ Μιχαὴλ καὶ Προκοπίαν, τοὺς εὐγενεστάτους καὶ πιστοτάτους βασιλεῖς), Theoph. Cont. I 9 (p. 18), Scyl., p. 8, Genesius I 3, Zon. XV 16. 2, 17.2. He was son-in-law of the emperor Nikephoros I (Nikephoros 8): Scriptor Incertus 340, Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489C (γαμβρὸς ὢν ἐπὶ θυγάτρι τοῦ τετελευτηκότος Νικηφόρου), Theoph. Cont. I 4 (p. 12) (γαμβροῦ μὲν Νικηφόρου τελοῦντος, ἐκ γενεᾶς δὲ καταγομένου τοῦ Ῥαγγαβὲ καὶ κατὰ τὴν θέσιν τῶν Μαγγάνων σκηνοῦντος), Genesius I 1 (γαμβρός). Brother-in-law of Staurakios 2: Scyl., p. 5, Zon. XV 16. 2, Theoph. AM 6303 ((speaking of Staurakios 2) Μιχαήλ, τὸν γαμβρὸν αὐτοῦ), Vita B Theod. Stud. 272C (ὁ τούτου ἐπ'ἀδελφῇ γαμβρὸς ἀρχαγγελώνυμος), cf. Chron. 1234 §201 (II, p. 13) (wrongly called the son of Staurakios 2). Father of Theophylaktos 9 (Eustratios): Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 492AB (παῖδες οἱ πάντες, πέντε λέγουσι γενέσθαι ... Ἄρρενες δὲ τρεῖς, Θεοφύλακτος, Σταυράκιος, Νικήτας), Theoph. AM 6304 (Θεοφύλακτον, τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ), Scriptor Incertus 335, Theoph. Cont. I 10 (p. 20), Scyl., p. 8, Zon. XV 17. 9. Father of Staurakios 12: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 492AB (quoted above). Father also of Ignatios 1 (Niketas) (patriarch of Constantinople 847-858, 867-877): Leo Gramm. 231, 235, Georg. Mon. Cont. 817, 821, Ps.-Symeon 657, Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489C, 492AB, Theoph. Cont. I 20 (p. 20), IV 30 (p. 193), Genesius I 5, Zon. XVI. 30. He also had two daughters, Georgo 1 and Theophano 2: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 492A (παῖδες ... ὧν θήλειαι δύο, πρώτη μὲν ἡ καλουμένη Γεωργὼ, πάντων δὲ ὑστάτῳ Θεοφανώ). After his overthrow his sons were castrated: Scriptor Incertus 341 (τὰ τέκνα αὐτοῦ - they were castrated), Scyl., pp. 8-9 (only Theophylaktos 9), Theoph. Cont. I 10 (p. 20) (records the castration of Eustratios (Theophylaktos 9) only), Genesius I 5 (only Ignatios 9), Zon. XVI 4. 30, cf. Chron. 1234 §202 (II, p. 14) (his two sons were both castrated after his fall), Bar Hebr., p. 125 (his unnamed sons were castrated after his downfall). Since his son Eustratios (Theophylaktos 9) was aged twenty in 813, Michael 7 and Prokopia 1 presumably were already married in 793, and Michael 7 was perhaps born c. 770. At his overthrow (see below) he was in the prime of life; he is described as round-faced, with a fair complexion, dark and vigorous hair (is this the meaning of ἐπιάγουρον?) and a handsome dark beard; in character he was as mild (πρᾶος) and good as could be: Scriptor Incertus 341, cf. 335 (a mild person). Described as a man of peace (εἰρηνικός τις ἄνθρωπος ὢν) who preferred to surrender the throne rather than see civil war: Scyl., p. 8, cf. Genesius I 3 (γαλήνιος ὢν τῇ γνώμῃ καὶ οὐχ αἱμοχαρὴς τὴν προαίρεσιν; he yielded the throne without a struggle to avoid bloodshed), Theoph. Cont. I 9 (pp. 17-19) (he saved Constantinople from the horrors of civil war by accepting Leo 15's proclamation and refusing to allow armed resistance). Described as a good and upright man but without the capacity to handle public affairs and dependent on his advisers: Zon. XV 17. 23.

In 811 Michael 7 was kouropalates under Nikephoros I (Nikephoros 8) and then under Staurakios 2: Theoph. AM 6303 (Μιχαὴλ δὲ κουροπαλάτης), Theoph. AM 6304 (cited below), Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489C (τὰ πρῶτα τῶν ἐν τῷ παλατίῳ τιμωμένων ἀποφερόμενος - κουροπαλάτης γὰρ ἦν), Theoph. Cont. I 4 (pp. 11-12) (Μιχαὴλ τοῦ κουροπαλάτου), Scyl., p. 5 (ὁ κουροπαλάτης Μιχαὴλ ὁ τοῦ βασιλέως γαμβρός), Zon. XV 16. 3 (τῷ κουροπαλάτῃ Μιχαήλ). He was present at the great defeat of the Romans by the Bulgars on 26 July 811, when the emperor Nikephoros I (Nikephoros 8) was killed; he himself survived unharmed; in the aftermath of the defeat he was urged by friends to assume the throne himself in place of Staurakios 2 (who was thought likely to die of his wounds), but he put forward the oaths of loyalty taken by him to both Nikephoros 8 and Staurakios 2 as reasons for refusing; he cited also his marriage to Prokopia 1 (the daughter of Nikephoros 8 and sister of Staurakios 2); later, back in Constantinople, he, together with the magistros Theoktistos 2 and the domestikos of the Scholai Stephanos 11, angered by Staurakios 2's treatment of them and by his attempt to secure the succession for his wife Theophano 1 in the event of his death, conspired together with the patriarch Nikephoros 2, in spite of earlier differences, to have Michael 7 proclaimed emperor; following threats against Michael 7's life by Staurakios 2, a coup was organised by Stephanos 11; Michael 7 was proclaimed emperor by the senate in the palace with the support of the surviving troops of the tagmata and their officers; he gained the support of the patriarch Nikephoros 2 after signing a document concerning the faith and promising not to persecute Christians or to use violence against clergy or monks: Theoph. AM 6303, cf. Zon. XV 16. 2-3 (proclaimed emperor by senate and army after Staurakios 2's intention that Theophano 1 should reign became clear). He was proclaimed emperor of the Romans in the Hippodrome by the senate and the tagmata on the morning of 2 October 811 (indiction five) (at the first hour), and was crowned later the same day (at the fourth hour) by the patriarch Nikephoros 2 at the pulpit of Hagia Sophia: Theoph. AM 6304 (Μιχαὴλ ὁ εὐσεβέστατος κουροπαλάτης ἀνηγορεύθη βασιλεὺς Ῥωμαίων), Zon. XV 17. 1. He was proclaimed emperor by the people and the senate (γνότες δὲ τὴν τοῦ Σταυρακίου μελέτην οἱ τῆς συγκλήτου βουλῆς καὶ τοὺς περιλειφθέντας ἐκ τῶν ταγμάτων ἀθροίσαντες, κατ'ὄρθρον ἤδη τῆς νυκτὸς οὔσης ἀναγορεύουσι τὸν κουροπαλάτην Μιχαὴλ αὐτοκράτορα) after the resignation of Staurakios 2: Zon. XV 16.4. He first proposed Leo 15 instead but when Leo 15 promised to support him Michael 7 agreed to accept the crown: Scyl., p. 5. He became emperor after the death of Staurakios 2 (sic) on 2 October: Theoph. Cont. I 4 (p. 12). He became emperor after the deaths of Nikephoros 8 and Staurakios 2: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489CD (τὰ σκῆπτρα τῆς βασιλείας ἐγχειρίζεται), Chron. 1234, §201 (II, p. 13). Kouropalates; he obtained the throne on the death of Staurakios 2: Vita A Theod. Stud. 164D-165B (Μιχαὴλ ὁ τότε τὴν τοῦ Κουροπαλάτου περιέπων ἀξίαν, τῶν σκήπτρων ἐπιλαμβάνεται: ἀνὴρ τῷ ὄντι βασιλείας ἄξιος, καὶ πρὸς ἀρχὴν ἐννομώτατος), Vita B Theod. Stud. 272CD (ὁ τούτου ἐπ' ἀδελφῇ γαμβρὸς ἀρχαγγελώνυμος, τὴν τοῦ κουροπαλάτου ἀμφέπων ἀξίαν, τὸ βασίλειον διεδέξατο. Ὅστις Μιχαὴλ Χριστιανικώτατος ὑπάρχων καὶ πιστὸς ἐν Κυρίῳ). He crowned his wife, Prokopia 1, the sister of Staurakios 2, as Augusta on 12 October (ἐστέφθη Προκοπία αὐγούστα), and his son, Theophylaktos 9, as Augustus (Μιχαὴλ ὁ γαληνότατος ἔστεψε Θεοφύλακτον, τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, εἰς βασιλέα) on 25 December: Theoph. AM 6304, Scriptor Incertus 335, Zon. XV 17. 2. He crowned two of his sons, Theophylaktos 9 and Staurakios 12 (who died before his father's downfall), as co-emperors: Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 492B (ἀμφότεροι τῷ διαδήματι πρῶτον τῆς βασιλείας ἐστεφάνωται). Successor of Nikephoros 8 and Staurakios 2, he ruled jointly with Theophylaktos 9 before surrendering the throne to Leo 15: Vita Petr. Atr. 12, p. 97, Vita Petr. Atr. Retractata 19 (p. 97). Successor of Nikephoros 8: Vita Nicetae Medicii (AASS, April I) 31. Faced with the threat of attack by the Bulgars, he took advice, in November 812, on whether to make peace with them or risk war; he was advised to make peace by Nikephoros 2, Anonymus 23 and Anonymus 24, but the party of war, led by Theodoros 15, prevailed; following the great defeat by the Bulgars on 22 June 813, Michael 7 was replaced as emperor by Leo 15 (Leo V); he heard of the proclamation of Leo 15 on 11 July 813 (indiction six) (and cf. Ioannes 81) and promptly fled with his wife and children to the oratory of the Pharos, where they all received the tonsure and assumed monastic dress: Theoph. AM 6305 (Μιχαὴλ δὲ ἀκούσας τὴν τούτου ἀναγόρευσιν ἐν τῷ εὐκτηρίῳ τοῦ Φάρου προσδραμὼν σὺν Προκοπίᾳ καὶ τοῖς αὐτῶν τέκνοις, ἀποκειράμενοι τὰς τρίχας μοναχικὰ περιεβάλοντο), cf. Scriptor Incertus 340 (at the news of Leo 15's proclamation by the troops, he fled to the church and, after obtaining guarantees of his safety (λαβὼν λόγον), received the tonsure and became a monk), Theoph. Cont. I 10 (p. 20), Scyl., pp. 7-8 (with his wife and children he fled to the Church of the Theotokos known as Pharos; they were then separated and exiled), Genesius I 1-3, 5, Zon. XV 18. 18-19. He was exiled to a monastery on the island of Prote and lived there for the remainder of his days: Scyl., p. 8, Zon. XV 18. 20, 19. 1 (emperor for two years). Successor of Staurakios 2, he was driven from the throne by Leo 15 and became a monk: Vita S. Theophylacti 10. After two years he abdicated in favour of Leo 15, to avoid civil war and preserve peace: he and his family withdrew from Constantinople to the Princes' Islands, where he became a monk, together with his wife and children; he is described as living the life of a genuine monk (οὐ τῷ σχήματι μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῷ πράγματι): Nicetas, Vita Ignatii 489D-491A, 496C. When Leo 15 rebelled and was proclaimed emperor, Michael 7 abdicated to avoid bloodshed and assumed the monastic dress and life: Vita A Theod. Stud. 169CD (τοῦ εὐσεβοῦς Μιχαὴλ, μὴ μόνον τὴν βασιλείαν ῥᾷστα ἀποθεμένου, ὡς ἂν μηδένα ἴδῃ αἵματι ὁμοφύλων τὴν δεξιὰν μολύνοντα, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς πορφυρίδος τὸν τρίχινον ἀλλαξαμένου χιτῶνα, καὶ βίον τὸν μονάδα ἀμειψαμένου), cf. Vita B Theod. Stud. 276B (revolt of Leo 15). He was sent to live in a monastery and was given an annual pension by Leo 15: Genesius I 5. Sent to live in peace as a monk on the island of Plate with his two sons Eustratios (Theophylaktos 9) and Ignatios 1, he assumed the name Athanasios and lived on for another thirty-two years; he received an annual allowance; he died on 11 Jan. 844 and was at first buried in the church on the island; later his body was transferred by his son Ignatios 1 to the monastery of Satyros: Theoph. Cont. I 10 (p. 20) (giving the date as AM 6302), cf. Grierson, "Tombs and Obits", p. 56, n. 168 (correcting the date to AM 6352). Michael 7 is said to have suffered many tribulations (θλίψεις πολλὰς) through the cruelty of Leo 15, daily fearing death and struggling to eat his bread, but unexpectedly remained unharmed (ἀβλαβῆ): Scriptor Incertus 341-342. He was deposed and lived as a monk, and was still alive when Theosteriktos 1 wrote the Life of Niketas of Medikion (Niketas 43): Vita Nicetae Medicii (AASS, April I) 31 (νῦν ἔτι ἐν μοναδικῷ διαπρέπων ἀξιώματι). Overthrown by Leo 15, he was expelled from the palace, tonsured and confined to a monastery: Chron. 1234, §202 (II, p. 14). After his failure in the war against the Bulgars he resigned from the throne and became a monk: Annales Regni Francorum s.a. 813.

In later sources he is sometimes identified as ὁ κουροπαλάτης, to distinguish him from other emperors of the same name; cf. Leo Gramm. 235, Georg. Mon. Cont. 821, Ps.-Symeon 657. See also Vita Euthymii Sard. (BHG 2145) cap. 7, p. 21-31, lines 109-128; Vita Nicetae Medicii (BHG 1342) 43 (pious),44 (becomes monk).

Son-in-law of the emperor Nicephorus I (Nikephoros 8), brother-in-law of the emperor Staurakios 2 and husband of Prokopia 1; he succeeded Staurakios 2 as emperor in the year 1124 Sel. (812/813) and reigned for one year when he was overthrown by Leo 15; he was tonsured and he was placed in a monastery, and his sons were castrated: Bar Hebr., p. 125.

Husband of Prokopia 1 and son-in-law of the emperor Nikephoros 8; he succeeded Staurakios 2 as emperor and reigned for one year and seven months: Chron. 813, p. 259, 22-p. 260, 8 = p. 196.

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