Romanos II
Romanos II (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: Ρωμανός Β΄, Rōmanos II) (938 – 15 March 963) was a Byzantine emperor. He succeeded his father Constantine VII  in 959 at the age of twenty-one, and died suddenly in 963.


Romanos II was a son of Emperor Constantine VII and Helena Lekapene
Helena Lekapene
Helena Lekapene was the Empress consort of Constantine VII. She was a daughter of Romanos I and his wife Theodora.-Background:...

, the daughter of Emperor Romanos I and his wife Theodora
Theodora, wife of Romanos I
-Empress:Her origins and background are not known. She became the mother-in-law to Constantine VII in May or June, 919 with the marriage of the young Emperor to her daughter Helena Lekapene...

. Named after his maternal grandfather, Romanos was married, as a child, to Bertha, the illegitimate daughter of Hugh of Arles
Hugh of Italy
Hugh of Arles was King of Italy from 924 until his death. He was a Bosonid. During his reign, he empowered his relatives at the expense of the aristocracy and tried to establish a relationship with the Byzantine-Roman Empire...

, King of Italy
King of Italy
King of Italy is a title adopted by many rulers of the Italian peninsula after the fall of the Roman Empire...

, who changed her name to Eudokia after her marriage. On April 6, 945, after the fall of the Lekapenoi, Constantine VII crowned his son Romanos co-emperor. With Hugh out of power in Italy and dead by 947, and Bertha herself dying in 949, Romanos secured the promise from his father that he would be allowed to select his own bride. Romanos' choice fell on an innkeeper's daughter named Anastaso, whom he married in 956 and renamed Theophano.

In November 959 Romanos II succeeded his father on the throne, among rumors that he or his wife had contributed to the death of Constantine VII by poisoning him. Romanos purged his father's courtiers of his enemies and replaced them with his friends and those of his wife. Among the persons removed from court were the Empress Mother, Helena, and her daughters, all of them being sent to a nunnery. Nevertheless, many of Romanos' appointees were able men, including his chief adviser, the eunuch Joseph Bringas
Joseph Bringas
Joseph Bringas was an important Byzantine eunuch official in the reigns of Emperor Constantine VII and Emperor Romanos II , serving as chief minister and effective regent during the latter...


The pleasure-loving sovereign could also leave military matters in the adept hands of his generals, in particular the brothers Leo and Nikephoros Phokas. In 960 Nikephoros Phokas was sent with a fleet of 1,000 dromons, 2,000 chelandia, and 308 transports (entire fleet was manned by 27,000 oarsmen
Watercraft rowing
Watercraft rowing is the act of propelling a boat using the motion of oars in the water. The difference between paddling and rowing is that with rowing the oars have a mechanical connection with the boat whereas with paddling the paddles are hand-held with no mechanical connection.This article...

 and marines) carrying 50,000 men to recover Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 from the Muslims After a difficult campaign and the 9-month siege of Chandax
Heraklion, or Heraclion is the largest city and the administrative capital of the island of Crete, Greece. It is the 4th largest city in Greece....

, Nikephoros successfully re-established Byzantine control over the entire island in 961. Following a triumph celebrated at Constantinople, Nikephoros was sent to the eastern frontier, where the Emir of Aleppo Sayf al-Dawla was engaged in annual raids into Byzantine Anatolia. Nikephoros liberated Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 and even Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 in 962, sacking the palace of the Emir and taking possession of 390,000 silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

The dinar is the official currency of several countries.The history of the dinar dates to the gold dinar, an early Islamic coin corresponding to the Byzantine denarius auri...

s, 2,000 camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

s, and 1,400 mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

s. In the meantime Leo Phokas and Marianos Argyros had countered Magyar incursions into the Byzantine Balkans.

After a lengthy hunting expedition Romanos II took ill and died on March 15, 963. Rumor attributed his death to poison administered by his wife Theophano, but there is no evidence of this and Theophano would have been risking much by exchanging the secure status of a crowned Augusta with the precarious one of a widowed Regent of her very young children. Romanos II's reliance on his wife and on bureaucrats like Joseph Bringas had resulted in a relatively capable administration, but this built up resentment among the nobility, which was associated with the military. In the wake of Romanos' death, his Empress Dowager, now Regent to the two co-emperors, her underage sons, was quick to marry the general Nikephoros Phokas, and acquire another general, John Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes or Tzimisces, was Byzantine Emperor from December 11, 969 to January 10, 976. A brilliant and intuitive general, John's short reign saw the expansion of the empire's borders and the strengthening of Byzantium itself.- Background :...

, as her lover, having them both elevated to the imperial throne in succession. The rights of her sons were, however, safeguarded and eventually, when Tzimiskes died at war, Basil II (her elder son) became senior emperor.


Romanos II probably never consummated his first marriage to Bertha of Italy (daughter of Hugh of Italy
Hugh of Italy
Hugh of Arles was King of Italy from 924 until his death. He was a Bosonid. During his reign, he empowered his relatives at the expense of the aristocracy and tried to establish a relationship with the Byzantine-Roman Empire...

, King of Italy).
By his second wife Theophano
Theophano (Byzantine Empress)
Theophano was a Byzantine empress. She was the daughter-in-law of Constantine VII; wife of Romanos II; wife of Nikephoros II Phokas; lover of John I Tzimiskes; the mother of Basil II, Constantine VIII and the princess Anna Porphyrogenita, who later married Kievan prince Vladimir. Theophano played...

, he had at least three children:
  1. Basil II
  2. Constantine VIII
  3. Anna
    Anna Porphyrogeneta
    Anna Porphyrogeneta was a Grand Princess consort of Kiev; she was married to Grand Prince Vladimir the Great....

    , who married Vladimir I of Kiev.

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