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Michael I Rangabe
Emperor of the Romans
Michael I, as depicted in the 12th century Madrid Skylitzes.
Byzantine emperor
Reign2 October 811 – 11 July 813
Coronation2 October 811
Hagia Sophia
SuccessorLeo V
Co-emperorsTheophylact (811–813)
Staurakios (II) (811–?)
Bornc. 770
Died11 January 844 (aged 73)
Prote Island
(now Kınalıada, Turkey)
Church on Prote Island, transferred to the Monastery of Satyros[1]
Michael Rangabe
FatherTheophylact Rhangabe

Michael I Rangabé (also spelled Rangabe or Rhangabe; Greek: Μιχαὴλ Ῥαγγαβέ, romanizedMikhaḗl Rangabé; c. 770 – 11 January 844) was Byzantine emperor from 811 to 813.

Michael was the son of the patrician Theophylact Rhangabe, the admiral of the Aegean fleet.[2] He married Prokopia, the daughter of the former Emperor Nikephoros I,[3] and received the high court dignity of kouropalatēs after his father-in-law's accession in 802.


Michael was the son of the patrician Theophylact Rhangabe, the admiral of the Aegean fleet.[2] The Rangabé family was of Greek origin.[4]

Michael survived Nikephoros' disastrous campaign against Krum of Bulgaria, and was considered a more appropriate candidate for the throne than his severely injured brother-in-law Staurakios.[3] When Michael's wife Prokopia failed to persuade her brother to name Michael as his successor, a group of senior officials (the magistros Theoktistos, the Domestic of the Schools Stephen, and Patriarch Nikephoros) forced Staurakios to abdicate in his favor on 2 October 811.

Michael I attempted to carry out a policy of reconciliation, abandoning the exacting taxation instituted by Nikephoros I. While reducing imperial income, Michael generously distributed money to the army, the bureaucracy, and the Church.[5] Elected with the support of the Orthodox party in the Church, Michael diligently persecuted the iconoclasts and forced the Patriarch Nikephoros to back down in his dispute with Theodore of Stoudios, the influential abbot of the monastery of Stoudios. Michael's piety won him a very positive estimation in the work of the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor.

In 812 Michael I reopened negotiations with the Franks, and recognized Charlemagne as imperator and basileus (Emperor), but not Emperor of the Romans.[6][7][8] In exchange for that recognition, Venice was returned to the Empire. However, under the influence of Theodore, Michael rejected the peace terms offered by Krum and provoked the capture of Mesembria (Nesebar) by the Bulgarians. After initial success in spring 813, Michael's army prepared for a major engagement at Versinikia near Adrianople in June.[3] The imperial army was defeated, while Leo the Armenian fled from the battle.[3] With conspiracy in the air, Michael preempted events by abdicating on 11 July 813 in favor of the general Leo the Armenian and becoming a monk (under the name Athanasios).[9][3] His sons were castrated to end the dynasty and were relegated to monasteries,[9] one of them, Niketas (renamed Ignatios), eventually becoming Patriarch of Constantinople.[10] Michael died on 11 January 844.[11]


By his wife Prokopia, Michael I had at least five children:



  1. ^ PBW, Michael 7.
  2. ^ a b Venning 2006, p. 218.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bradbury 2004, p. 64.
  4. ^ Vasiliev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich (1958). History of the Byzantine Empire, 324–1453. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 271. ...Michael I, a member of the Greek family of Rangabé, married to Procopia, a sister of the unfortunate Strauracius and a daughter of Nicephorus I.
  5. ^ Ostrogorsky 1986, p. 197.
  6. ^ eum imperatorem et basileum appellantes, cf. Royal Frankish Annals, a. 812.
  7. ^ Eichmann, Eduard (1942). Die Kaiserkrönung im Abendland: ein Beitrag zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des kirchlichen Rechte, der Liturgie und der Kirchenpolitik. Echter-Verlag. p. 33.
  8. ^ Canning 1996, p. 70.
  9. ^ a b Luttwak 2009, p. 182.
  10. ^ a b Bury 1912, p. 14.
  11. ^ Anthony 2017, p. 8.
  12. ^ PBW, Georgo 1.
  13. ^ PBW, Theophylaktos 9.
  14. ^ PBW, Staurakios 12.
  15. ^ PBW, Theophano 2.
  16. ^ Tsamakda, Vasiliki (2002). The Illustrated Chronicle of Ioannes Skylitzes in Madrid. Leiden: Alexandros. pp. 43–47. ISBN 978-9080647626.


Further reading

See also

Michael I Rangabe Nikephorian dynastyBorn: c. 770 Died: 11 January 844 Regnal titles Preceded byStaurakios Byzantine emperor 2 October 811 – 11 July 813with Theophylaktos and Staurakios (II) Succeeded byLeo V Political offices Preceded byNikephoros I in 803,then lapsed Roman consul 803 Succeeded byLapsed,Leo V in 814