Nicephorus(redirected from Nikephoros)
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the name of three Byzantine emperors.
Nicephorus I. Died July 26, 811. Emperor from 802.
Under the empress Irene, Nicephorus was logothete of the genikon (manager of the main treasury). After a palace revolution, he was proclaimed emperor by the influential aristocracy of the capital. To improve the financial position of Byzantium, Nicephorus I imposed new taxes and revived collective responsibility in rural communities for the payment of state taxes. He strengthened the navy and attempted to expand trade by offering state credits to merchants. A supporter of iconolatry, he showed tolerance toward heresies, which aroused the dissatisfaction of the monks. He conducted a war against the Arabs, which ended on unfavorable terms for Byzantium with the peace of 806. He sought to subjugate the Slavs of the Balkan Peninsula and resettled Greeks from Asia Minor to the Balkans. During the war of 809–811 with Bulgaria he suffered defeat and was killed in the battle at Vyrbish Gorge.
M. IA. SIUZIUMOV
Nicephorus II Phocas. Born circa 912; died Dec. 11, 969, in Constantinople. Emperor from 963.
The descendant of an aristocratic family of Asia Minor, Nicephorus became commander in chief in 954. He recaptured the island of Crete from the Arabs in 961. Elevated to the throne by the mutineering military aristocracy of Asia Minor, Nicephorus II Phocas pursued policies that were hostile to the high-ranking aristocracy of the capital. He promoted the growth of large-scale secular landownership by abolishing in 967 the preferential right of peasants to purchase land sold by the dinati (large feudal landowners). By a decree of 964 he prohibited the establishment of new monasteries and curtailed the growth of monastic land-ownership.
Nicephorus attempted to create an economic base for a new type of army, whose key element would be a heavily armed cavalry. To achieve this, he trebled the miniumum size of the land allotment that a peasant was required to own before he could become one of the stratiotai (free peasants who made up the army); in this way the stratiotai were conclusively separated from the peasantry.
In 965, Nicephorus gained Cilicia and Cyprus from the Arabs and in 969 recovered northern Syria, with Antioch. In 966 he initiated hostilities with Bulgaria, appealing to the Russian prince Sviatoslav for assistance in 968. He was slain as a result of a plot by John Tzimisces.
Nicephorus III Botaniates. Born circa 1010; died after 1081 in Constantinople (?). Emperor from 1078 to 1081.
A descendant of the landed aristocracry of Asia Minor, Nicephorus served from the mid-11th century as commander and governor of a number of themes (military provinces), including Antioch and Anatolikoi. He led a rebellion of the aristocracy of Asia Minor against the emperor Michael VII Ducas (Parapinaces). Proclaimed emperor in January 1078, Nicephorus III entered Constantinople in March. He was unable to stop an invasion by the Seljuk Turks, who founded the Sultanate of Konya in 1080. Feudal rebellions frequently flared up against Nicephorus III Botaniates, including those of Constantine Ducas and Nicephorus Melissenus. He was overthrown by supporters of the Comneni and entered a monastery.
G. G. LITAVRIN