Nikephoros I

Nikephoros I
   1) Emperor (q.v.) from 802-811. A former chief finance minister (logothetes tou genikou) of Irene (q.v.), he took prudent steps to remedy deficiencies in tax collection and low state revenues. The tax rolls were reassessed and land taxes raised. The hearth tax (kapnikon [q.v.]) was applied to peasant tenants (paroikoi [q.v.]) working on church and monastic lands (apparently exempted from payment by Irene). He made villages collectively liable for financing the military equipment of their poorer inhabitants by requiring them to pay the latter's allelengyon (q.v.). He taxed slaves purchased beyond the customs border at Abydos (q.v.) and enforced inheritance taxation. Theophanes the Confessor (q.v.) condemned these and other taxes as horrid misdeeds. No doubt other ecclesiastics and monks felt the same hatred for the emperor, enforced partly by the emperor's support of the patriarch Nikephoros I (qq.v) and the revival of the Moechian controversy (q.v.). However, with increased revenues Nikephoros replenished the army and navy (qq.v.), and he inaugurated a program of refortification. He repopulated and rehellenized Greece (q.v.) with villagers from Asia Minor (qq.v.), and he reorganized Greece's defenses with the establishment of new themes (q.v.), including the theme of Thessalonike (q.v.). However, the success of his internal administration was not matched by military success. A revolt by Bardanes Tourkos (q.v.) in 803 weakened the defenses of Asia Minor allowing Harun al-Rashid to capture Tyana (qq.v.) in 806. Nikephoros sued for peace, which was achieved in 807 only at the expense of a humiliating tribute. Nikephoros himself was killed in battle against the Bulgar khan Krum (qq.v.) in July 811, the first emperor to be killed in battle by barbarians since the battle of Adrianople (q.v.) in 378.
   2) Patriarch of Constantinople (qq.v.) from 806-815, appointed after the death of Tarasios (q.v.). He was a respected scholar and theologian, also an historian, but still a layman when he was made patriarch. This infuriated the supporters of Theodore of Studion (q.v.), as did the emperor Nikephoros I's (q.v.) reopening of the Moechian controversy (q.v.). Ironically, in 815, Nikephoros found himself aligned with his old opponent Theodore of Studion against the Iconoclasm of Leo V (qq.v.), who deposed the patriarch. His legacy to modern historians is his Historia Syntomos (Brief History), covering the years 602-769, an important historical source for a period nearly destitute of historical sources except for the chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor (qq.v.).

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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