Byzantine Emperor. He was born into a military family and rose through the ranks to become general of the naval theme of Samos and then admiral of the fleet under the Emperor Leo VI. Following the defeat of Byzantium by the Bulgarians at the Battle of Acheloos in 917 AD he was able to supplant the regent Empress Zoe Karvounopsina and increase his own influence over the child Emperor Constantine VII. He married his daughter Helena to the Emperor in 919 AD and was declared co-emperor in 920 AD. He further increased his hold on the throne by crowning his three sons as co-emperors, although, because he made no attempt to actually depose Constantine, he became known as "the gentle usurper". The early years of his reign were spent fighting the Bulgarians, but he was eventually forced to recognise Simeon I as Emperor of Bulgaria. He later secured a lasting peace by negotiating a marriage between his granddaughter, Maria, and the new Bulgarian Emperor Peter I. He ordered military campaigns against the Abbasids in the East, resulting in the retaking of the city of Melitene in 934 AD. In 944 AD he negotiated a treaty with Prince Igor of Kiev after defeating an attempted naval attack by the use of Greek fire. He also attempted to secure the Empire by paying protection money to the Magyars, but lost the support of the Khazars when he began a persecution of the Jews. He restored peace within the church and forged good relations with Rome, and in 933 AD made his son, Theophylaktos Laktos, patriarch of Constantinople. In 927 AD he alleviated a famine by passing laws to protect the rights of small landowners and increasing taxes on the aristocracy. In later life he became increasingly obsessed with feelings of guilt for his usurpation of Constantine VII, and in 944 AD, his two remaining sons had him arrested and sent to the Prince's Islands as a monk. When he died his body was returned to Constantinople and buried in the private church, now the Bodrum Mosque, he had built next to his imperial palace at Myrelaion.
Bio by: js