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Nikephoros III Botaneiates
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Meister der Predigtsammlung des Heiligen Johannes Chrysostomus 001.jpg
Emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates
Reign 7 January, 1078– 4 April, 1081
Coronation 24 March, 1078
Born around 1020
Died 10 December 1081 (1081-12-11)
Predecessor Michael VII Doukas
Successor Alexios I Komnenos
Wife Bebdene
Maria of Alania
Dynasty Doukid dynasty

Nikephoros III Botaneiates or Nicephorus III Botaniates (died 10 December 1081, Constantinople) (Greek: Νικηφόρος Γ΄ Βοτανειάτης, Nikēphoros III Botaneiatēs), Byzantine emperor from 1078 to 1081, belonged to a family which claimed descent from the Roman Fabii and the Byzantine Phokas family.

Nikephoros Botaneiates had served as general under Constantine IX and Romanos IV Diogenes. In 1064, he, together with Basil Apocapes, doux of Paradounavon, defended the Balkan frontiers against the invading Oghuz Turks, but was defeated and taken captive. However, the outbreak of epidemic soon began decimating the Turks and the prisoners were recovered, while the survivors were quickly recruited in the Byzantine army.[1]

Under Michael VII Doukas he became governor of the Anatolic theme and commander of the troops in Asia Minor. In 1078 he revolted against Michael VII and his finance minister Nikephoritzes, and with the connivance of the Seljuk Turks marched upon Nicaea, where he proclaimed himself emperor. In the face of another rebellious general, Nikephoros Bryennios (the father or grandfather of the Caesar Nikephoros Bryennios), his election was ratified by the aristocracy and clergy, while Michael VII abdicated and became a monk. In March or June of 1078, Nikephoros III Botaneiates entered Constantinople in triumph and was crowned by Patriarch Kosmas I of Constantinople. With the help of his general Alexios Komnenos, he drove Bryennios and other rivals out of the field, but failed to clear the invading Turks out of Asia Minor.

To solidify his position, Nikephoros III sought to marry Eudokia Makrembolitissa, the mother of Michael VII and the widow of Constantine X and Romanos IV. This plan was undermined by the Caesar John Doukas, and Nikephoros instead married Maria of Alania. They married in contravention of church canons, as Maria was still at that time, the wife of Michael VII who had entered the monastery of Stoudios. Nevertheless, Nikephoros did not recognize the succession rights of Maria's son Constantine Doukas, which exposed him to the suspicion and plots of the surviving portions of the Doukas faction at court. Nikephoros' administration did not win him much support, as his favored courtiers alienated much of the older court bureaucracy and failed to recover stop the devaluation of the Byzantine currency.

Nikephoros became increasingly dependent on the support of Alexios Komnenos, who successfully defeated the rebellion of Nikephoros Basilakes in the Balkans (1079) and was charged with containing that of Nikephoros Melissenos in Anatolia (1080). The Byzantine Empire also faced foreign invasion, as the Norman Duke Robert Guiscard of Apulia declared war under the pretext of defending the rights of young Constantine Doukas, who had been engaged to Robert's daughter Helena. As Alexios was entrusted with substantial armed forces to combat the impending Norman invasion, the Doukas faction, led by the Caesar John, conspired to overthrow Nikephoros and replace him with Alexios. Failing to secure the support of either the Seljuk Turks or Nikephoros Melissenos (both parties being his traditional enemies), Nikephoros III was forced to abdicate in favour of Komnenos dynasty to which he is connected with engagement of his grandson to daughter of Alexios older brother Manuel [2] . The deposed emperor retired into a monastery that he had endowed, and died later the same year.

Nikephoros III in fiction

Nicephorus III is also a fictional Byzantine Emperor ruling in the beginning of the 14th century in Harry Turtledove's alternate history novel Agent of Byzantium.


  1. ^ Florin Curta (2006), Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250, p. 298. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521815398.
  2. ^ Anna Comnena:The Alexiad: Book II
Nikephoros III Botaneiates
Born: unknown Died: 10 December 1081
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Michael VII
Byzantine Emperor
Succeeded by
Alexios I


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