Basil I on horseback

The Macedonian dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest expanse since the Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder, Basil I the Macedonian who came from the Theme of Macedonia which at the time was part of Thrace.


Claims have been made for the dynasty's founder being of Armenian,[1][2] Slavic,[3][4] or indeed "Armeno-Slavonic"[5] descent. Hence, the dynasty is also referred to by as the Armenian Dynasty by several scholars, such as George Bournoutian[6] and Mack Chahin.[7] Zachary Chitwood suggests it is the term Macedonian dynasty is "something of a misnomer" because of Basil I's Armenian origin.[8]

The author of the only dedicated biography of Basil I in English has concluded that it is impossible to be certain what the ethnic origins of the emperor were, though Basil was definitely reliant on the support of Armenians in prominent positions within the Byzantine Empire.[9]

List of rulersEdit

  • Basil I the Macedonian (Βασίλειος Α') (811–886, ruled 867–886) – married the Varangian Eudokia Ingerina, mistress of Michael III; died in hunting accident
  • Leo VI the Wise (Λέων ΣΤ') (866–912, ruled 886–912) – son of Eudokia Ingerina, legal son and heir of Basil I; possibly the natural son of Michael III
  • Alexander III (Αλέξανδρος) (870–913, ruled 912–913) – son of Basil I, regent for nephew
  • Constantine VII the Purple-born (Κωνσταντῖνος Ζ') (905–959, ruled 913–959) – son of Leo VI
  • Romanos I Lekapenos (Ρωμανός A') (870–948, ruled 919–944) – father-in-law of Constantine VII; co-emperor, attempted to found his own dynasty. Deposed by his sons and entered monastery
  • Romanos II the Purple-born (Ρωμανός Β') (938–963, ruled 959–963) – son of Constantine VII
  • Nikephoros II Phokas (Νικηφόρος Β' Φωκᾶς) (912–969, ruled 963–969) – successful general, married Romanos II's widow, regent for Basil; assassinated (Origin: Cappadocian)
  • John I Tzimiskes (Ιωάννης Α')(925-976, ruled 969–976) – successful general, brother-in-law of Romanos II, lover of Nikephoros's wife but banned from marriage, regent for Basil II and Constantine VIII
  • Basil II (Βασίλειος Β') the Bulgar-slayer (958–1025, ruled 976–1025) – son of Romanos II
  • Constantine VIII (Κωνσταντῖνος Η') (960-1028, ruled 1025–1028) – son of Romanos II; silent co-emperor with Basil II, sole emperor after his brother's death
  • Zoe (Ζωή) (c. 978–1050, ruled 1028–1050) – daughter of Constantine VIII
  • Romanos III Argyros (Ρωμανός Γ')(968–1034, ruled 1028–1034) – eparch of Constantinople; Zoe's first husband, arranged by Constantine VIII; murdered
  • Michael IV the Paphlagonian (Μιχαήλ Δ') (1010–1041, ruled 1034–1041) – Zoe's second husband
  • Michael V the Caulker (Μιχαήλ Ε') (1015–1042, ruled 1041–1042) – Michael IV's nephew, Zoe's adopted son
  • Theodora (Θεοδώρα) (980–1056, ruled 1042) – daughter of Constantine VIII, co-empress with Zoe
  • Constantine IX Monomachos (Κωνσταντῖνος Θ') (1000–1055, ruled 1042–1055) – Zoe's third husband
  • Theodora (Θεοδώρα) (ruled 1055–1056) – restored


  • Michael VI (Μιχαήλ ΣΤ') (ruled 1056–1057) – chosen by Theodora; deposed and entered monastery

Family treeEdit


Michael III
emperor of the Romans
Eudokia Ingerina
Basil I
emperor of the Romans
Romanos I Lekapenos
emperor of the Romans
1.Theophano Martinakia
2.Zoe Zaoutzaina
3.Eudokia Baïana
4.Zoe Karbonopsina
Leo VI the Wise
emperor of the Romans
Stephen I
Patriarch of Constantinople
emperor of the Romans
Christopher Lekapenos
∞ Sophia
Romanos Argyros
Patriarch of Constantinople
Helena Lekapene
(4) Constantine VII
emperor of the Romans
(2) Anna
Louis III the Blind
king of Provence,
king of Lombardy
(Maria) Irene Lekapene
Peter I
king of Bulgaria
Nikephoros II Phokas
emperor of the Romans
(Anastasia) Theophano
from Laconia
Romanos II
emperor of the Romans
Theodora Porphyrogenita
John I Tzimiskes
emperor of the Romans
Charles Constantine
count of Vienne
Pothos (or Eustathios) Argyros
Basil II
emperor of the Romans
Constantine VIII
emperor of the Romans
Helena of Alypius
Anna Porphyrogenita
Vladimir I the Great
grand prince of Kiev
Rurik dynasty
Constance of Vienne
Boson II
count of Arles
Maria Argyropoulou
Giovanni Orseolo
duke of Dalmatia
Basil Argyros
general of Samos
1.Romanos III Argyros
emperor of the Romans
Zoë Porphyrogenita
empress of the Romans
∞ 2.Michael IV the Paphlagonian
emperor of the Romans 1034-1041
3.Constantine IX Monomachos
emperor of the Romans
Eleni Sklerou
empress of the Romans
Constantine Diogenes
Michael V Kalaphates
emperor of the Romans
Anastasia Monomachou
Vsevolod I of Kiev
Romanos IV Diogenes
emperor of Romans
Eudokia Makrembolitissa
Constantine X Doukas
emperor of the Romans
Vladimir II Monomakh
grand prince of Kiev

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Treadgold 1997, p. 455
  2. ^ Peter Charanis.Studies on the demography of the Byzantine empire: collected studies Variorum Reprints, 1972 p223(360):"Thus, every emperor who sat on the Byzantine throne the accession of Basil I to the death of Basil II (867—1025) was of Armenian or partially Armenian origin. But besides the emperors there were many others among the military and political leaders of Byzantine during this period who were Armenians or of Armenian descent"
  3. ^ Tobias 2007, p. 20. Tobias is referring to the writings of Hamza al-Isfahani, a 10th-century Persian scholar.
  4. ^ Finlay 1853, p. 213.
  5. ^ Vasiliev 1928–1935, p. 301
  6. ^ Bournoutian, George (2002). A Concise History of the Armenian People. Mazda Publishers. p. 89. ISBN 9781568591414. ....the later Macedonian dynasty, according to most Byzantinists, was of Armenian origin as well. The tenure of that dynasty (9th to the 1 ll centuries) is considered the apex of Armenian dominance in the political and military structure of the empire. Armenian emperors, generals, and military contingents had their greatest military successes against the Arabs, the Slavs, and Bulgars. Ironically, it was this same Armenian dynasty which was chiefly responsible for the breakup of the Bagratuni kingdom.
  7. ^ Chahin, Mack. The Kingdom of Armenia: A History. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2001, p. 232 ISBN 0-7007-1452-9
  8. ^ Chitwood, Zachary (2017). Byzantine Legal Culture and the Roman Legal Tradition, 867-1056. Cambridge University Press. p. 18. ISBN 9781107182561.
  9. ^ Tobias 2007, p. 264