This is one of several translated excerpts from Byzantine sources prepared and mounted by Paul Stephenson.


The Accession of Constantine VII and the "Coronation" of Symeon of Bulgaria, AD 913

Theophanes Continuatus, ed. Bekker, pp. 381-5

The Reign of Constantine, Son of Leo

[p. 381] 1. After the death of his father Leo, Constantine, who was still just a seven-year-old child, was left imperial authority by [the death of] his uncle Alexander, and was placed in the care of regents. He ruled for seven years under the regency with his mother, and then for another twenty-six years with his father-in-law Romanos [I Lekapenos], to whom he was subordinated, and then for fifteen years as sole emperor. Altogether his reign lasted fifty-five years. After taking control of the palace, the Patriarch Nicholas [I Mystikos], and his fellow regents the magistros Stephen, and John Eladas, also a magistros, took charge of public affairs and handled everyday business which was brought before the emperor.

[pp. 381-5] 2.-4. These chapters are concerned with the attempted usurpation by the Domestic of the Schools, Constantine Doukas. (Symeon Logothete includes extra material here, being chapters 2.-7.)

[p. 385] 5. In the month of August, Symeon the ruler (archon) of the Bulgarians marched against the Romans with a vast and mighty host. He reached Constantinople, pitched camp and encircled it with an entrenchment from Blachernai [Palace, in the northwest] to the so-called Golden Gate [to the southwest, modern Yedikule]; he was confident that he would capture it without difficulty. But when he realized how strong were the walls, and how stalwart were the defenders with their stone-throwing and arrow-firing machines, his hopes faded and he withdrew to the so-called Hebdomon and sued for peace. The regents accepted his offer of peace most eagerly, and Symeon despatched Theodore the magistros to discuss terms for peace. The Patriarch Nicholas and Stephen and the magistros John took the emperor and made for Blachernai, where they welcomed Symeon's two sons who dined with the emperor in the palace. Then the Patriarch Nicholas went out to Symeon, and Symeon bowed his head to him. After he had prayed the Patriarch placed his own mitre (epirrhiptarion) instead of the crown (stemma) --so they say (hos phasi) -- on Symeon's head. Then, when they had been given measureless and great gifts, Symeon and his sons returned to their own land, departing without an agreement about the aforementioned peace.

This excerpt can be compared with the rather more obscure account of the 'coronation' contained in an oration also by Theodore Daphnopates, given to celebrate the marriage of Symeon's son Peter to Maria Lekapena. Daphnopates, imperial secretary to Romanos I, wrote in praise of the restoration of correct order, with the Bulgarian ruler once again the spiritual son of the emperor.

Basic Bibliography

I. Bozhilov, “L'idéologie politique du Tsar Syméon: Pax Symeonica,” Byzantinobulgarica 8 (Sofia, 1986), 73-88
J. Shepard, “ Symeon of Bulgaria – Peacemaker,” Annuaire de l'Université de Sofia 'St. Kliment Ohridski' 83 (1989) [1994], 9-48
J. Shepard, “Bulgaria: the other Balkan ‘empire'”, in T. Reuter, ed., The New Cambridge Medieval History III, (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 567-85

Paul Stephenson, October 1998

Revised January 2012