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Year and place of birth unknown; died Apr. 13, 989. Byzantine military commander.
A member of a prominent Cappadocian family, Phocas was the nephew of Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas. He instigated a revolt against Emperor John I Tzimisces in 970 but was captured and exiled until 978.
Later, as commander in chief of the armies of the eastern half of the empire, Phocas enlisted the support of the landowning provincial aristocracy in an attempt on the throne and in 987 proclaimed himself emperor. At the same time, he came to an agreement with Bardas Sclerus, who was also leading a rebellion, on the division of power should their separate efforts succeed. Phocas, however, broke faith with Sclerus, imprisoned him, and took command of his armies. Phocas was thus able to capture almost all of Asia Minor. On Apr. 13, 989, his troops clashed with those of the emperor Basil II in the battle of Abydos on the Asian shore of the Dardanelles. With the aid of an army sent by Prince Vladimir Sviatoslavich of Kiev, Basil defeated Phocas’ troops. Phocas died in the battle.