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Byzantine Empire /
Nicephorus 1


(?-811) Byzantine emperor 802-811.
Nicephorus introduced several reforms, created new themes in the Balkans and resettled Anatolian populations there.
His reforms to strengthen the military made him introduce very unpopular fiscal politics, with heavy taxation and frequent confiscations of property. This alienated both the population and the clergy.
Nicephorus line in the big matter of his days, the question of use of icons, was close to the middle between extremes, and he permitted the veneration of icons. He exercised strong control of the church, and forced it to declare that the emperor was free from the laws of the church.

Biography
750-770: Born in Seleucia, of Arab descent.
Late 790's: Becomes the Minister of Finance of the court of Empress Irene.
802: Becomes new emperor, after the coup against Irene.
803: Crushes a rebellion by Bardanes Turcus, who claimed the throne. Bardanes was backed by many central commanders, including two future emperors, Leo 5 and Michael 2. Bardanes becomes exiled to a monastery.
803: Crowns his son, Stauracius, co-emperor.
803: Concludes a peace treaty with Charlemagne, but without recognizing the latter's imperial dignity.
805: Refuses to pay tribute to the Abbasid caliph, Harun ar-Rashid, who launches an attack on the Byzantine Empire. Nicephorus is defeated at Crasus, Phrygia.
806: New attack by Harun ar-Rashid, and wide areas across central Asia Minor are conquered. Nicephorus is forced to agree to pay a high yearly tribute.
806: War with Charlemagne over Venice, Istria and strongholds along the Dalmatian coast in the Adriatic Sea.
807-809: Campaigns against the Bulgarians; the main purpose was to secure the existing borders, more than conquering new territory.
808: Revolt inside the empire, led by Arsaber, is crushed.
809: Abbasid pressure on the Byzantines disappear, due to a succession struggle among the Abbasids after the death of Harun ar-Rashid. Nicephorus uses this to focus on Bulgaria.
810: Agreement with Charlemagne, where the Byzantines keep their strongholds in the Adriatic Sea, in exchange for recognizing Charlemagne as emperor.
811 July 26: After a successful campaign into Bulgaria, Nicephorus is trapped in the mountains on his way back to Constantinople. In the Battle of Pliska he is killed, and the Bulgar khan, Krum, took his skull, lined it with silver and used it as a drinking cup. Nicephorus is succeeded by his son, Stauracius, but he so injured in the same battle, that he died 2 months later. Micheal 1 would then seize the throne.




By Tore Kjeilen