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Rebellion of Elpidios Brachamios, 1034

Author(s) : Nikolia Dimitra (4/28/2003)
Translation : Koutras Nikolaos

For citation: Nikolia Dimitra, "Rebellion of Elpidios Brachamios, 1034",
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9982>

Στάση Ελπιδίου Βραχαμίου, 1034 (2/15/2010 v.1) Rebellion of Elpidios Brachamios, 1034 (2/2/2009 v.1) 

1. Historical context

The full abandonment of Basil II’s (976-1025) fiscal policy had already been completed during the reign of Romanos III Argyros (1028-1034), predecessor of Michael IV the Paphlagonian. This change signalled the cancellation of the burdensome taxes that had been imposed on the dynatoi (= the powerful) and the concomitant increase of the taxes owed by small landowners. Romanos III, an eminent member of the political aristocracy of Constantinople, wished to please his compeers and mitigate their differences with the countryside nobility, abolishing laws that protected small landownership. The conditions were compounded for the general population during the reign of Michael IV, who increased demands for the paying on taxes in currency and the provision of forced labour. A result of this financial policy was the creation of a climate of general discontent which led to numerous local uprisings in the mid-11th century, one of which was the rebellion of Elpidios Brachamios1 in 1034 at Antioch.

To understand the climate that prevailed in the city during that period we should take into consideration, apart from the general feeling of disgruntlement for the burdensome taxation, the popularity of Constantine Dalassenos, who in the period of 1024-1025 held the title of katepano of Antioch2 and was vocal against the ascension of a man of low birth, such as Michael IV the Paphlagonian, to the imperial throne. This made him also very popular in Constantinople, while in the eyes of the emperor’s associates it instantly made him the most likely avenger of the former emperor. John Orphanotrophos, Michael IV’s brother and the real administrator of the state’s affairs, called Dalassenos to leave his estates in the theme of Armeniakon (where he would not be able to control him in case he planned to overturn Michael) and come to Constantinople, where he was placed in confinement. The population of Antioch, displeased over the emperor’s policies, recognized in the face of their former governor a worthy contender to the throne.

2. The rebellion of Elpidios Brachamios

Following the coronation of Michael IV (April 11, 1034), John Orphanotrophos appointed his brother Niketas to the post of doukas of Antioch. Niketas arrived at Antioch only to face the dogged refusal of its inhabitants to allow him into the city, because the Antiochenes were wary of the punishment awaiting them for recently (late in the winter or early in the spring of 1034) they had rebelled and killed a tax-collector named Salibas. Niketas negotiated with the rebels and managed to convince them to admit him into the city by giving an oath that no punishment was to be inflicted for this murder. Following the restoration of law and order in Antioch (summer of 1034), Niketas broke his promise and had one hundred citizens executed, while he apprehended the protagonists of the rebellion, eleven members of the city's aristocracy, its leader, the patrikios Elpidios, among them. He then sent the persons arrested to Constantinople, informing John Orphanotrophos that the people of Antioch did not allow him into their city not because of their fear of punishment over the murder of the tax-collector, but because they were loyal to Constantine Dalassenos.

3. Consequences

The consequences of the rebellion were mainly limited to the persons that participated in it, the citizens of Antioch that were executed and the nobles that were arrested. Whatever the goals of the rebels (removal of the financial demands of Constantinople or a support offer to Constantine Dalassenos), they were not met. Furthermore, the rebellion brought about the immediate banishment of Dalassenos, for following the suppression of the rebellion, suspicions that he intended to claim the throne arose. On August 11, 1034 Constantine Dalassenos was banished to the monastery of the Forty Martyrs of Sebasteia on the island Plate of the Princes' Islands.

1. John Skylitzes, Σύνοψις Ιστοριών, Thurn, I. (ed.), Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis Historiarum (CFHB 5, Berlin-New York 1973), p. 395, speaks of a certain patrikios Elpidios, without providing any further details on his identity. Cheynet, J.-C. - Vannier, J. R, Etudes prosopographiques (Byzantina Sorbonensia 5, Paris 1986), pp. 59-60, tentatively identify him with Elpidios Brachamios, who was a taxiarchos (commander of a large infantry unit) during the reign of Basil II.

2. The patrikios Constantine Dalassenos originated from a noble family of Asia Minor which had links with Antioch: his father Damianos Dalassenos was doukas of Antioch (996-998). In 1028 Constantine was one of the candidates to succeed Constantine VIII and when the rebellion broke out he had retreated to his estates in the Armeniakon theme. See Cheynet, J.-C.—Vannier, J. F., Etudes prosopographiques (Byzantina Sorbonensia 5, Paris 1986), pp. 80-81.


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