Constantine VI

   Emperor (q.v.) from 780 to 797, mostly in name only. The son of Leo IV and Irene (qq.v.), he was only 10 when Leo IV died suddenly in 780. Irene and her chief advisor Staurakios (q.v.) ran the affairs of state; her chief goal was to restore the veneration of icons (q.v.). She did this, after much preparation, at the Seventh Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (qq.v.) in 787. Thereafter, the history of his reign was dominated by the conflict with Irene. The conflict came to a head in 790 when, with the aid of Michael Lachanodrakon (q.v.), Constantine forced Irene to leave the palace. However, once in power he became unpopular. His defeats by the Bulgars and Arabs (qq.v.) inspired conspiracies and rebellion in the army. He blinded his uncle, the caesar (q.v.) Nikephoros, who was at the center of one conspiracy. The blinding of Alexios Mousele, the droungrios tes viglas (q.v.), provoked another rebellion in the Armeniakon (q.v.). Constantine's position was further eroded by the so-called Moechian Controversy (q.v.), engendered by his marriage to his mistress Theodote after he divorced his wife Maria. By 797, Constantine was so unpopular that Irene was able to depose him, blinding him in the very purple room (the Porphyra) where he was born.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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