Romanos I Lekapenos

Romanos I Lekapenos
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
Romanos I with co-emperors, miliaresion, 931-944 AD.jpg
Miliaresion from 931–944, showing Romanos' bust on a cross on the obverse and listing the names of Romanos and his co-emperors, Constantine VII, Stephen Lekapenos and Constantine Lekapenos, on the reverse
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign920–944 (senior emperor)
PredecessorConstantine VII (under regent rule)
SuccessorRomanos II
Co-emperorsConstantine VII (920–944)
Christopher Lekapenos (921–931)
Stephen Lekapenos (924–944)
Constantine Lekapenos (924–944)
Bornc. 870
DiedJune 15, 948 (aged 77–78)
DynastyMacedonian Dynasty/Lekapenoi
FatherTheophylaktos Abastaktos

Romanos I Lekapenos or Lakapenos (Greek: Ρωμανός Α΄ Λακαπηνός, Rōmanos I Lakapēnos; c. 870 – June 15, 948), Latinized as Romanus I Lecapenus, was an Armenian who became a Byzantine naval commander and reigned as Byzantine Emperor from 920 until his deposition on December 16, 944.


Romanos Lekapenos, born in Lakape (later Laqabin) between Melitene and Samosata (hence the name), was the son of an Armenian peasant[1][2][3] with the remarkable name of Theophylact the Unbearable (Theophylaktos Abastaktos). Theophylact, as a soldier, had rescued the Emperor Basil I from the enemy in battle at Tephrike and had been rewarded by a place in the Imperial Guard.[4]

Although he did not receive any refined education (for which he was later abused by his son-in-law Constantine VII), Romanos advanced through the ranks of the army during the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. In 911 he was general of the naval theme of Samos and later served as admiral of the fleet (droungarios tou ploimou). In this capacity he was supposed to participate in the Byzantine operations against Bulgaria on the Danube in 917, but he was unable to carry out his mission. In the aftermath of the disastrous Byzantine defeat at the Battle of Acheloos in 917 by the Bulgarians, Romanos sailed to Constantinople, where he gradually overcame the discredited regency of Empress Zoe Karvounopsina and her supporter Leo Phokas.