Constantine VIII (1025–1028)
Constantine, the younger brother of Basil II, yielded supreme rule to his brother at the death of John I Tzimiskes, one of his only actions to meet with the approval of the late eleventh-century historian Michael Psellos. The pleasure-seeking and capricious life that he led prior to ascending to the throne in 1025 continued during his three-year reign, and was compounded by a tendency to blind innocents. The only strength that he showed as emperor was in his unwillingness to rescind Basil's unpopular decisions. However, he was not afraid to reverse Basil's more popular policies. Basil’s financial success, which had prompted him to allow two years of tax obligations to accrue, led to Constantine’s severe fiscal policy of collecting five years in three. As his death neared, he hastily married his daughter Zoe to Romanos Argyros.
The seal presented here is a double portrait of Basil and Constantine from the former’s reign. Constantine, at right, and Basil hold a patriarchal cross between them. A seal of Constantine alone, preserved in the Hermitage (M-11160, I. Sokolova, Byzantine Imperial Seals, no. 101), depicts a bust of Christ on the obverse and, on the reverse, a bust of Constantine holding a labarum and wearing crown and modified loros.
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