John I “Tzimiskes” Eastern Roman Emperor

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John I Tzimiskēs Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn

Greek: Ιωάννης Α΄ Τζιμισκής, basileus Rhomaiôn, Greek, Ancient: Ἰωάννης Τζιμισκής, basileus Rhomaiôn
Birthplace: Armenia
Death: January 10, 976 (46-55)
Constantinople, Turkey
Place of Burial: Constantinopel, in de kerk van Christus Chalkites
Immediate Family:

Son of Theodoros Kourkouas and Sophia Phokaina
Husband of Maria Skleraina and Theodora Tzimiskes
Ex-partner of Theophano Anastasia Argyropoulos
Brother of Kourkouaina Kourkouas and NN. (b) Kourkouaina

Occupation: emperor 11 december 969 - 10 january 976
Managed by: Douglas John Nimmo
Last Updated:

About John I “Tzimiskes” Eastern Roman Emperor

John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn

  • b. 925, d. 10 January 976

John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn was a descendant of an aristocratic Armenian family, related through his mother to the general, and later emperor, Nicephorus II Phocas.2 "I acknowledge two powers in this life: the priesthood and the Empire; the Creator of the world has entrusted to the former the cure of souls, to the latter the care of bodies. If neither part is damaged, the well-being of the world is secure." - John I Tzimisces, as recorded by Leo the Deacon.3 He was so described: handsome, with dark-blond hair, a red beard and piercing blue eyes, though his surname refers to his short stature.3 He was born in 925.4,2 He was the son of Theodoras Kourkouas and N. N. Phocaina.1 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn married Maria Skleraina, daughter of Niketas Skleros and Gregoria Mamikonean, circa 945; His 1st.5 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn entered the imperial army and fought with his uncle Nicephorus against the Arabs in Cilicia and Syria, and then having helped Nicephorus gain the throne, rewarded with the supreme command of Byzantine forces in the East in 963.2 He was made Domestic of the Schools and Commander in Chief of the Armies in Anatolia by the emperor Nikophoros in 963.6 He associated with Theophano of Constantinople before 969; Theophano was the mistress of John. John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn mustered a mighty host of his people on the death of Peter, Emperor of the Bulgars, and conquered the whole of Bulgaria which he subjected to his imperial rule in 969.7 He succeeded his uncle to the imperial title in 969. He was crowned Emperor of the East in January 969. He was led into a conspiracy by Theophano, his mistress, that led to the assassination of her husband, his uncle, the Emperor Nicephorus, in December 969.4,2 He witnessed the death of Nikephoros II Phokas, basileus Rhomaiôn on 10 December 969 at the fortified palace of Boukoleion, Constantinople, Byzantine Empire; During a night in December 969, he was killed there by former friends, guided by John Tzimisces and advised by Theophano. He was stabbed and decapitated, and his head was put on public display. His life was summed up in the phrase inscribed on his sarcophagus: "You conquered all but a woman."4,8,9 Emperor at Byzantine Empire between 11 December 969 and 10 January 976.10,2 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn married Theodora of Byzantium, daughter of basileus Rhomaiôn Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus of Byzantium and Helena Lekapena, in 970; His 2nd.4,5,11 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn was forced to do penance, for his part in the killing of Nicephorus II, by Polyeuctus, patriarch of Constantinople, in order to receive the imperial crown, and he therefore banished Theophano to a convent and punished the actual murderers in January 970.4 He led a counterattack against the Bulgars, leading his forces against their capital, capturing their tsar, and forcing them to recognize Byzantine suzerainty in 971.2 He defeated the Russian prince Svyatoslav and ending threats to Byzantine rule in the north in July 971.2 He witnessed the marriage of Otto II "der Rote", imperator augustus and Theophano Skleraina, Römische Kaiserin on 14 April 972 at Rome, Italy; His 2nd. Blessed by Pope John XIII.4,12,13,5,14 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn reduced the Fatimid strength around Antioch by taking Antioch, Damascus, and other cities between 974 and 975 at Syria.2 He died on 10 January 976 at Constantinople, Byzantine Empire, at age 51 years. Before he could retake Jerusalem he died, probably of typhoid. Some say he was poisoned.4,8,15,3,2 He was the predecessor of Constantine VIII Porphyrogenitos, basileus Rhomaiôn; Co-Emperor.10 John I Tzimisces Kourkouas, basileus Rhomaiôn was the predecessor of Basil II Bulgaroctonos, basileus Rhomaiôn; Co-Emperor.16

  • Family 1 Maria Skleraina b. circa 917
  • Family 2 Theophano of Constantinople b. circa 943
  • Family 3 Theodora of Byzantium b. circa 931
  • Child ◦
  1. Theophano Kourkouas b. c 97111

Citations 1.[S204] Roderick W. Stuart, RfC, 370-35. 2.[S862] Various EB CD 2001, John I Tzimisces (Byz. emp.). 3.[S940] History and Numismatics, online, JOHN I TZIMISCES. 4.[S172] Various Encyclopaedea Britannica. 5.[S269] C. W. Previté-Orton sCMH I, pg. 256, genealogy table 8, the Macedonian Dynasty and Related Families.. 6.[S1170] John Julius Norwich, Norwich - Byzantium, pg. 190. 7.[S1174] Popa Dukljanina, Ljetopis', (Paul Stephenson, translator): XXX.. 8.[S295] Philip Sherrard, GAM: Byzantium, pg. 76. 9.[S862] Various EB CD 2001, Nicephorus II Phocas. 10.[S261] Regnal Chronologies, online 11.[S25] J. M. Hussey, Cambridge Medieval History, Vol 4, Part 1, pg. 792. 12.[S204] Roderick W. Stuart, RfC, 322-36. 13.[S269] C. W. Previté-Orton sCMH I, pg. 432-433, genealogy table 12, the Saxon and Franconian Dynasties. 14.[S1039] Manfred Höfer, Kaiser und Könige, pg. 38. 15.[S296] Chronographia, online The Chronographia composed by the most learned and right honourable monk Michael, in which are recounted the deeds of the following Emperors: Basil and Constantine, the Porphyrogeniti; their successor, Romanus Argyropulus; Michael the Paphlagonian; Michael, nephew of the last-named, who originally had the title of Caesar; the two sisters Zoe and Theodora, also Porphyrogenitiae and both princesses; Constantine Monomachus, who shared the throne with them; the princess Theodora, one of the aforementioned sisters, who ruled as Empress alone; Michael the Aged; Isaac Comnenus. The History ends with the proclamation of Constantine Ducas., Notes to Book 1. 16.[S76] Skoutariotes, online


i) IOANNES Tzimiskes (-10 Jan 976). Theophanes Continuatus refers to "Ioannem Tzimiscem nepotem" of "patricii ac Chaldiæ ducis Theophili"[1413]. Of Armenian origin. Cedrenus records that Emperor Nikeforos Fokas appointed "Joannem Tzimiscem" as "magistrum domesticum scholarum Orientis"[1414]. Empress Theofano became his mistress, betraying her husband who was murdered by supporters of Ioannes Tzimiskes. He succeeded in 969 as Emperor IOANNES I. The Patriarch Polyeuktes insisted on penance for the murder of the emperor's predecessor and that Ioannes expel his mistress from the palace before he would crown him emperor. He also required the new emperor to withdraw his predecessor's laws against ecclesiastical property. Faced with the continuing perceived threat of invasion by Grand Prince Sviatoslav, Emperor Ioannes marched into Bulgaria, fighting Sviatoslav at Arcadiopolis[1415]. The emperor pushed further into Bulgaria in 971, captured Preslav and defeated the Kievans at Silistria, before negotiating Sviatoslav's withdrawal[1416]. Emperor Ioannes at first recognised Boris II as Prince of Bulgaria, but then proceeded to annex the country converting it into a theme of the empire, abolished the Bulgarian patriarchy and took Boris back to Constantinople as a prisoner[1417]. Emperor Ioannes sealed an alliance with the Holy Roman Empire by the marriage of his relative Theofano to Emperor Otto II. After his successful Bulgarian campaign, Ioannes returned in 974 to the eastern front to fight the Arabs, captured Nisibin in eastern Mesopotamia and reduced Mosul to vassalage. In Spring 975, he captured Damascus, Tiberias, Nazareth, Acre, Cæsarea, Beirut and Sidon from the Fatimid dynasty[1418]. Returning to Constantinople, he died from [typhus] caught during the campaign. He promised the throne to his brother-in-law Bardas Skleros on his deathbed[1419].

m firstly MARIA Skleraina, daughter of PHOTEINOS Skleros & his wife Gregoria ---. Leo Diaconus records that "Bardam cognomento Sclerum…cuius sororem Mariam" was previously the wife of "Ioannes"[1420].

Mistress: THEOFANO née Anastaso, widow of Emperor ROMANOS II, wife of Emperor NIKEFOROS II Fokas, daughter of KRATEROS the wine seller & his wife --- (943-after 969). Cedrenus records how "Theophano Augusta" conspired with "Tzimiscam", dated to [968/69] from the context[1421]. Cedrenus records that Patriarch Polyeuktes required Emperor Ioannes to send "Theophanonem" in "Proconnesum", but that she was rescued by "Basilio cubiculario" and sent "in provinciam Armenicam…in Damidis monasterium", while "mater…Theophanonis" was exiled "in Mantineum"[1422].

m secondly (Nov 971) THEODORA, daughter of Emperor KONSTANTINOS VII & his wife Helene Lekapene. Leo Diaconus records the marriage of "Ioannes" and "Theodoram, Constantini Porphyrogeniti Imp. filiam" in Nov, in 971 from the context[1423].

John I Tzimiskes (Greek: Ἰωάννης Α΄ Τζιμισκής, Iōánnēs I Tzimiskēs; c. 925 – 10 January 976) was the senior Eastern Roman Emperor from 11 December 969 to 10 January 976. An intuitive and successful general, he strengthened the Empire and expanded its borders during his short reign.

John I Tzimiskes was born into the Kourkouas clan, a family of Armenian origin. Scholars have speculated that his nickname "Tzimiskes" was derived either from the Armenian Chmushkik (Չմշկիկ), meaning "red boot", or from an Armenian word for "short stature". A more favorable explanation is offered by the medieval Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa, who states that "Tzimiskes was from the region of Khozan, from the area which is now called Chmushkatzag." Khozan was located in the region of Paghnatun, in the Byzantine province of Fourth Armenia (Sophene).

Tzimiskes was born sometime around 925 to an unnamed member of the Kourkouas family and the sister of the future Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas. Both the Kourkouai and the Phokadai were distinguished Cappadocian families, and among the most prominent of the emerging military aristocracy of Asia Minor. Several of their members had served as prominent army generals, most notably the great John Kourkouas, who conquered Melitene and much of Armenia.

Contemporary sources describe Tzimiskes as a rather short but well-built man, with reddish blonde hair and beard and blue eyes who was attractive to women. He seems to have joined the army at an early age, originally under the command of his maternal uncle Nikephoros Phokas. The latter is also considered his instructor in the art of war. Partly because of his familial connections and partly because of his personal abilities, Tzimiskes quickly rose through the ranks. He was given the political and military command of the theme of Armenia before he turned twenty-five years old.

His marriage to Maria Skleraina, daughter of Pantherios Skleros and sister of Bardas Skleros, linked him to the influential family of the Skleroi. Little is known about her; she died before his rise to the throne, and the marriage was apparently childless. The contemporary historian Leo the Deacon remarks that she excelled in both beauty and wisdom.

The Byzantine Empire was at war with its eastern neighbors, the various autonomous and semi-autonomous emirates emerging from the break-up of the Abbasid Caliphate. The most prominent among them was the Hamdanid Emirate of Aleppo, under Sayf al-Dawla. Armenia served as the borderland between the two Empires, and Tzimiskes successfully defended his province. He and his troops joined the main part of the army, which was campaigning under the command of Nikephoros Phokas.

Nikephoros (meaning "bearer of victory") justified his name with a series of victories, moving the borders further east with the capture of about 60 border cities including Aleppo. By 962 the Hamdanids had sued for peace with favorable terms for the Byzantines, securing the eastern border of the Empire for some years. Tzimiskes distinguished himself during the war both at the side of his uncle and at leading parts of the army to battle under his personal command, as in the Battle of Raban in 958. He was rather popular with his troops and gained a reputation for taking the initiative during battles, turning their course.

On the death of Emperor Romanos II in 963, Tzimiskes urged his uncle to seize the throne. After helping Nikephoros to the throne and continuing to defend the Empire's eastern provinces, Tzimiskes was deprived of his command by an intrigue, for which he retaliated by conspiring with Nikephoros' wife Theophano and a number of disgruntled leading generals (Michael Bourtzes and Leo Balantes) to assassinate Nikephoros.

After his coronation in December 969, Tzimiskes dispatched his brother-in-law Bardas Skleros to subdue a rebellion by Bardas Phokas, a cousin of Tzimiskes who aspired to succeed their uncle as emperor. To solidify his position, Tzimiskes married Theodora, a daughter of Emperor Constantine VII. He proceeded to justify his usurpation by repelling the foreign invaders of the Empire. The tributary of Aleppo was soon assured under the Treaty of Safar. In a series of campaigns against the Kievan Rus' encroachment on the Lower Danube in 970–971, he drove the enemy out of Thrace in the Battle of Arcadiopolis, crossed Mt. Haemus, and besieged the fortress of Dorostolon (Silistra) on the Danube for sixty-five days, where after several hard-fought battles he defeated Great Prince Svyatoslav I of Rus'. Tzimiskes and Svyatoslav ended up negotiating a truce, in which weaponry, armor and provisions were exchanged for the famished Rus' departure. On his return to Constantinople, Tzimiskes celebrated a triumph, built the Church of Christ of the Chalkè as thanksgiving, divested the captive Bulgarian Emperor Boris II of the Imperial symbols, and proclaimed Bulgaria annexed. He further secured his northern frontier by transplanting to Thrace some colonies of the Paulicians, whom he suspected of sympathising with their Muslim neighbours in the east.

In 972 Tzimiskes turned against the Abbasid Empire and its vassals, beginning with an invasion of Upper Mesopotamia. A second campaign, in 975, was aimed at Syria, where his forces took Emesa (Homs), Baalbek, Damascus, Tiberias, Nazareth, Caesarea, Sidon, Beirut, Byblos, and Tripoli, but they failed to take Jerusalem. He died suddenly in 976 returning from his second campaign against the Abbasids and was buried in the Church of Christ Chalkites, which he had rebuilt. Several sources state that the Imperial chamberlain Basil Lekapenos poisoned the Emperor to prevent him from stripping Lekapenos of his ill-gotten lands and riches. Tzimiskes was succeeded by his ward and nephew, Basil II, who had been nominal co-emperor since 960.

Іоа́нн I Цимісхій (грец. Ιωάννης Α΄ Τζιμισκής, *925 — †10 січня 976) — візантійський імператор з 11 грудня 969 до 10 січня 976.

Походив із знатного вірменського роду Куркуас (прізвисько Цимісхій вірменською означає «низького зросту»), був племінником свого попередника Никифора II Фоки і брав діяльну участь в його загибелі, увійшовши до угоди з своєю коханкою Феофано, дружиною Никифора. На вимогу патріарха Полієвкта Іоанн покарав своїх прихильників, звинувативши винятково їх у вбивстві Никифора, і видалив від двору Феофано. Щоб укріпити свою владу Іоанн оженився на Феодорі, дочці імператора Констянтина VII Багрянородного.

У серії кампаній проти вторгнення війська князя Святослава I на нижчому Дунаї в (970—971) він вигнав ворогів з Фракії, перетнув Стару Планину і обложив фортецю Доростол (зараз Силистра) на Дунаї. У декількох важко проведених битвах Іоанн Цимісхій завдав поразки Святославу. В результаті Візантія отримала східну Болгарію і Добруджу.

У 972 Іоанн I Цимісхій виступив проти імперії Аббасидів та їхніх васалів, почавши з вторгнення до Верхньої Месопотамії. Друга кампанія, в 975, була націлена на Сирію, де сили Іоанна узяли Дамаск, Кесарію, і Триполі, але не змогли взяти Єрусалим. Цимісхій помер раптово в 976 після поверненні зі своєї другої кампанії проти Аббасидів. Іоанну Цимісхію наслідував його племінник, Василій ІІ, номінальний співімператор з 960 року.

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John I “Tzimiskes” Eastern Roman Emperor's Timeline

January 10, 976
Age 51
Constantinople, Turkey
Constantinopel, in de kerk van Christus Chalkites