Scion of the aristocratic family of the Tarchaneiotai, Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes had been twice married. His first marriage, unknown when, was with the daughter of the protostrator Andronikos Doukas Aprenos;1 they had a daughter, the nun Nostongissa Tarchaneiotissa. Around 1237 he married Maria Palaiologonina, daughter of the megas domestikos Andronikos Palaiologos and older sister of the later Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1259-1282); together they had three sons, Andronikos, Michael and John, and a daughter, Theodora. His actions and career take place during the reign of John III Vatatzes (1222-1254).
Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes was a supporter of the policy of John III Vatatzes (1222-1254) and played a very important role to the defence of the Empire of Nicaea, against its external dangers. In 1237, while he held the title of epi tes trapezes, he was also commander of the Byzantine guard in Tzouroulon, one of the most crucial Nicaean fortresses in Thrace. During that time, he was attacked from the united forces of the Latins, Bulgars and Cumans, an attack which at first he managed to deflect successfully. The siege of Tzouroulon by the Bulgar tsar John II Asan, with the support of the Latin government of Constantinople was soon abandoned, due to external factors; it was sealed with the signing of a peace treaty between the two parts.2
In 1243, Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes appears to be thought among the officials, who followed the Byzantine emperor of Nicaea to his first military campaign against the ruler of Thessaloniki, John Angelos (the other officials were: Demetrios Tornikes, Andronikos Palaiologos, Alexios Raoul and John Petraleiphas).3 Shortly afterwards, in 1247, after the death of his father-in-law, Andronikos Palaiologos, Nikephoros received the office of the megas domestikos. Under this capacity, he participated, for the period 1251-52, to the military expeditions against the despotes of Epiros Michael II Doukas (1231-1267).4
Not much evidence exists on his further activities. He died some time before 1258.
1. According to D. Polemis the daughter of Andronikos Doukas Aprenos married the megas domestikos Michael Tarchaneiotes. See Polemis, D., The Doukai: A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography (London 1968), p. 103.
2. On the alliance between the tsar of the Bulgars John II Asan and the Latin government of Constantinople see Nicol, D. M., "Από την άλωση ως την ανάκτηση της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως", in D. Zakythinos et al. (eds.), Ιστορία του Ελληνικού Έθνους Θ΄ (Athens 1980), pp. 76-96, esp. 84-87.
3. This expedition was prematurely stopped because of the invasion of the Mongols to Asia Minor; however, its outcome was important. The ruler of Thessalonike surrendered his imperial insignia and recognised the dominion of the emperor of Nicaea, who in turn gave him the title of despotes. See Ostrogorsky, G., Geschichte des Byzantinischen Staates (Munich 1963) [Ιστορία του Βυζαντινού κράτους 3 , Greek trans. Ι. Παναγόπουλος, ed. Ευ. Χρυσός (Αθήνα 1997), p. 126].
4. For the military expeditions of the Byzantine Emperor John III Vatatzes against the Despot of Epiros Michael II Doukas, see Nicol, D. M., The Despotate of Epiros (Oxford 1957), pp. 151-153.