Michael VII Doukas (1071–1078)

Michael VII Doukas (1071–1078)

Placed on the throne by his uncle, the caesar John Doukas, after Romanos IV’s defeat and capture at Mantzikert, Michael suffered by comparison with the strong figures around him. A student of Michael Psellos, he appears favorably in his Chronographia, but the reign was one of economic and military disaster. Although the defeat at Mantzikert was not the military catastrophe that it was once thought to be, the resulting civil wars, accompanied by the government in Constantinople's complete inability to resist Turkish incursions, resulted in the progressive loss of Asia Minor. Economically, the reign saw a rapid and deep debasement of gold, and the reduction of the measure of wheat (modios) by a quarter (para pinakiou), which effectively raised the price of wheat by a third. These economic changes attest to the high level of inflation in the 1070s, and earned Michael the nickname “Parapinakion.” His logothetes tou dromou Nikephoritzes took over the administration of the government, and is noted in sources as being fiscally severe. Michael's unpopularity and incompetence led to a number of rebellions, most notably by Roussel de Bailleul, Nikephoros Bryennios, and the future emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates, which left Michael besieged in the capital. The elderly Botaneiates was ultimately successful, and Michael abdicated and entered a monastery.

Michael’s seals mark a return of the autokrator, in both their inscription as well as in their depiction of the emperor full-length and alone. Family did not return to imperial seals again during the empire; lineage instead would be indicated in increasingly complex family names. For the seals of Michael's family see the Doukas Dynasty in the Dynasties of Empire section.

 
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