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Medieval and Byzantine History Medieval and Byzantine History Forum - Period of History between classical antiquity and modern times, roughly the 5th through 16th Centuries


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Old December 5th, 2013, 01:39 AM   #1

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Constantine XI or Constantine XII


Awhile ago I was reading a book called Triumph and Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Immortal Emperors by Alexander Canduci. In the book it named titled the emperor Constantine XII even though he is traditionally called Constantine XI. This is because he names another Constantine a Byzantine Emperor. Acccroding to the book Constantine XI Laskaris was a Byzantine emperor who reigned in the years 1204-1205 after the deposition of Alexios V. He was according to the book the first ruler of Nicaea before his brother Theodore Laskaris however he was killed by the Latin Empire. The book labels this person Constantine XI and the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XII do you agree with this?
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Old December 5th, 2013, 05:03 AM   #2

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I'm currently reading a book where the brief reign of Laskaris is mentioned("City of Fortune" by Roger Crowley), where it says that the newly-elected Emperor refused to put on the regal insignia without having first established a common front against the Latins but he soon realised that resistance was by then futile and abandon Constantinople a couple of hours after his election.
I'm by no means an expert of this area of history, but maybe the fact that his appointment was never "officialized"(he never put on the Imperial insignia) could discard him in the official line of the Byzantine Emperors(I've never read of Constantine XI as Constantine XII before).
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Old December 5th, 2013, 08:09 AM   #3

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Note also that the emperor we call Constans II (r. 641-668) had the official regnal name of Constantine, thus adding to the confusion.
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Old August 31st, 2016, 08:56 PM   #4
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Note also that the emperor we call Constans II (r. 641-668) had the official regnal name of Constantine, thus adding to the confusion.
The regnal numbers of Roman, "Byzantine" and Holy Roman Emperors are sometimes all messed up.

Marcus Julius Philippus Augustus (or Philip the Arab) was emperor from 244-249 AD. His young son Marcus Julius Phlippus Severus (or Philip the Younger) was his co emperor.

According to the modern convention of listing rulers by their personal names followed by a Latin numeral they should be listed as Marcus XIV and Marcus XV if I remember correctly. But instead they are sometimes listed as Philip I and Philip II.

Philippikos Bardanes was eastern Roman or "Byzantine" emperor from 711 to 713. Since he as the first with the personal name of Philip he could be listed as Philip I. If he is listed as a successor of Philip the Arab and/or Philip the Younger he could be listed as Philip II or Philip III.

The Holy Roman Emperors after Otto I the Great claimed to be the successors of the Carolingian Emperors in succession to Charlemagne. When Charlemagne was crowned emperor in 800 he claimed to be the rightful successor of Constantine VI who had been deposed by his mother Irene in 797.

So the Holy Roman Emperors claimed to be the rightful successors of the Roman emperors and the eastern Roman or "Byzantine" emperors from 395 to 797 AD.

Philip, King of the Romans (romanorum rex et semper Augustus) from 1198 to 1208 could thus be listed as Philip I, Philip II. Philip III, or Philip IV, and is usually listed as Philip I when given a regnal number.

But he has been described as Philip II in a document from his own time:

Philippus secundus divina favente clementia Romanorum rex et semper augustus

Empire and Germany. Titles of European hereditary rulers

And I wonder which previous Philip as counted to give him that number.
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Old September 3rd, 2016, 03:51 AM   #5

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It depends. Constantine Laskaris reigned shortly and some even dispute the fact that he was crowned Emperor and argue that it was Theodore who was crowned instead. So he is not usually counted among Byzantine Emperors. As such, XI is usually reserved for the last Emperor although one could argue that he was XII.
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Old September 4th, 2016, 02:20 PM   #6
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It can get quite confusing especially in the Constans II case plus potential usurpers taking the throne and taking a name. For example Constantine III could have been the usurper to the Western Roman throne who established himself in Gaul in the 5th century, or he could have been a Byzantine Emperor who ruled for 4 months in the 7th century, although his regal name was Heraclius Novus Constantinus and he wasn't referred to as Constantine until in later texts.

This also leads to another question, did the Byzantines have a numeric system for distinguishing between the different Constantines, Johns, Michaels, Leos...etc. Or where distinguished by other ways such as nicknames, e.g. Porphyrogenitus, Slit-Nosed etc?
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Old September 6th, 2016, 07:28 PM   #7
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It can get quite confusing especially in the Constans II case plus potential usurpers taking the throne and taking a name. For example Constantine III could have been the usurper to the Western Roman throne who established himself in Gaul in the 5th century, or he could have been a Byzantine Emperor who ruled for 4 months in the 7th century, although his regal name was Heraclius Novus Constantinus and he wasn't referred to as Constantine until in later texts.

This also leads to another question, did the Byzantines have a numeric system for distinguishing between the different Constantines, Johns, Michaels, Leos...etc. Or where distinguished by other ways such as nicknames, e.g. Porphyrogenitus, Slit-Nosed etc?
That depends. The custom of using roman numerals is probably much later than the custom of spelling out the number. Very few lowly kings used numbers in medieval times. The popes started using numbers sometime in the middle ages, probably after the Holy Roman Emperors started using numbers in the reign of Henry III or IV (reigned 1056-1105).

For example, among the earliest kings to use a number was Frederick II of Sicily (reigned 1295-1337) who called himself Frederick III in honor of King Fredrick I best known as Emperor Frederick II. English King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) was the first English king to consistently use a number. There is a scene in Becket or The Lion in Winter when king Henry II asks one of his sons who he is and the boy answers "Henry the Third!" and Henry II says something like "Not Yet!" that is totally anachronistic.

Using numbers became more common after about 1500 so by about 1700 or 1800 European rulers would all use numbers.

Since the practice seems to have started in western Europe it is likely that none of the "Byzantine" emperors ever used numbers. But of course it is possible that it was a Byzantine custom copied in western Europe.

Last edited by MAGolding; September 6th, 2016 at 07:58 PM.
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Old January 9th, 2017, 09:32 AM   #8

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It depends. Constantine Laskaris reigned shortly and some even dispute the fact that he was crowned Emperor and argue that it was Theodore who was crowned instead. So he is not usually counted among Byzantine Emperors. As such, XI is usually reserved for the last Emperor although one could argue that he was XII.
Neither was Constantine XI. I remember that in my old religion textbook, he was called Constantine XII.
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