Nikephoros II Phokas, Emperor of Byzantium

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Emperor Nikephoros Phokas, II

Greek: Αυτοκράτωρ Νικηφόρος Φωκάς, Β'
Birthplace: Constantinople, Turkey
Death: December 10, 969 (52-61)
Constantinople, Turkey
Immediate Family:

Son of Bardas Phokas the Elder and ... Maleina
Husband of N Pleustana and Theophano Anastasia Argyropoulos
Father of NN Phokaina
Brother of Sophia Phokaina and Leo Phokas the Younger

Occupation: proclaimed emperor 2 july 963, crowned emperor 16 august - 969, Empereur, de Byzance
Managed by: Noah Tutak
Last Updated:

About Nikephoros II Phokas, Emperor of Byzantium



1. NIKEFOROS Fokas (-murdered 10/11 Dec 969). Zonaras records that Emperor Konstantinos VII appointed "Nicephorum filius eius, qui post [imperator]" as "prætorem Orientis" when he installed his father "Phocam Bardam magistrum"[1339]. Cedrenus records that, after his restoration (944), Emperor Konstantinos VII appointed "Bardum Phocam" to "magistri honore" and "domesticum scholarum Orientis", "Nicephorum et Leonem eius filios" as "Orientalium ducem" and "Cappadociæ…ducem" respectively, and "Constantinum tertium eius filium" as "Seleuciæ [pr%C3%A6fectus]"[1340]. Theophanes Continuatus records that "Nicephoro Niceta (Phoca nuncupato)" was created "magister et scholarum domesticus"[1341]. He succeeded his father end-954 as supreme commander of the Byzantine army, domestikos of the Eastern Scholai. Theophanes Continuatus records that "Nicephorum patricium ac ducem Asiaticorum eiusdem filium" succeeded "Bardas Phocas" as "domesticum"[1342]. Emperor Romanos II left the government entirely in the hands of Nikeforos Fokas, the latter capturing Crete in 961, and Anazarbus and Marash in Germanikaia in 962[1343]. He was acclaimed Emperor NIKEFOROS II by his troops in Cæsarea. He entered Constantinople 14 Aug 963, was crowned 16 Aug, and married his predecessor's widow. Runciman calls Emperor Nikeforos a "grim, unlovable man"[1344], he was an ardent admirer of Saint Athanasios whom he financed to build the monastery on Mount Athos[1345]. He legislated against the growth of ecclesiastical property in 964, bringing to an end the founding of new monasteries. Seeing the fight against Islam as a sacred mission, he pursued his campaigns in the east, conquering Cilicia in 965, Cyprus in 966, and large parts of Syria including Antioch 29 Oct 969[1346]. He refused to pay the annual tribute to Bulgaria, which he claimed was voided by the death of Maria Lekapene who had married Tsar Peter. Emperor Nikeforos attacked Bulgarian border fortresses, then summoned Sviatoslav Grand Prince of Kiev to attack Bulgaria. The Grand Prince exceeded the terms of his mission by conquering Bulgaria[1347]. Cedrenus records how his wife "Theophano Augusta" conspired with "Tzimiscam", dated to [968/69] from the context, and how Niekphoros was murdered "nocte 11 Decembris, indictione 13"[1348].

m firstly --- (-before 963). The name of Nikeforos's first wife is not known. Leo Diaconus records the death of "uxorisque ac filii Bardæ" (referring to Nikeforos) before he became emperor[1349].

m secondly (20 Sep 963) as her second husband, THEOFANO, widow of Emperor ROMANOS II, daughter of KRATEROS (the wine seller) & his wife --- (943-after 969). Leo Diaconus names "Theophano, obscuro loco nata" when recording that she was regent for "filii eius Basilius et Constantinus infantes" after the death of her first husband, recording her second marriage in a later passage[1350]. Cedrenus records that "Nicephorus imperator" married "Theophanonem" 20 Sep after becoming emperor (in 963)[1351]. Regent in 963 for her infant sons by her first marriage co-Emperors Basileios II and Konstantinos VII. They were set aside by Nikeforos Fokas who was crowned emperor and married Theofano. Zonaras records that Nikeforos took "Theophanonen…cum liberis eius" with him when he invaded Cilicia in the second year of his reign[1352]. She became the mistress of Ioannes Tzimiskes, and betrayed her husband. Cedrenus records how "Theophano Augusta" conspired with "Tzimiscam", dated to [968/69] from the context[1353]. 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"[1354]. Nikeforos & his first wife had one child:

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