Miliaresion from 931–944, showing Romanos I's bust on a cross on the obverse and listing the names of Romanos and his co-emperors, Constantine VII, Stephen Lekapenos and Constantine Lekapenos on the reverse

Lekapenos (Greek: Λεκαπηνός) or Lakapenos (Λακαπηνός), usually Latinized as Lecapenus, feminine form Lekapene (Λεκαπηνή), was the name of a Byzantine family of humble, ethnic Armenian background, which intermarried with and almost managed to usurp the throne from the Macedonian dynasty in the first half of the 10th century.

The family was founded by Theophylact, surnamed Abaktistos or Abastaktos, an Armenian peasant who saved the life of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian in 872 and received estates as a reward. The family surname derives from the locality of Lakape; possibly these estates were located there.[1] Theophylact's son Romanos became commander-in-chief of the Imperial Fleet and eventually senior emperor in 920 after marrying his daughter Helena to the legitimate emperor Constantine VII, grandson of Basil I. He raised three of his sons, Christopher, Stephen, and Constantine, as co-emperors alongside Constantine VII. Another son, Theophylact, was made Patriarch of Constantinople, and Christopher's daughter Maria-Irene was married to the Tsar Peter I of Bulgaria.[1] Romanos was deposed by Stephen and Constantine in December 944, but they too were in turn soon deposed and Constantine VII was restored as sole emperor.[1] Their descendants continued to occupy senior palace offices in the next decades, but the most notable member of the family was Romanos' illegitimate son Basil Lekapenos, who as the imperial parakoimomenos was the virtual ruler of the empire until the 980s.[1]

The family is barely attested thereafter; only a certain Constantine Lekapenos is known through his seal for the entirety of the 11th century, and the last important member was George Lakapenos, a 14th-century official and writer.[1]

List of rulersEdit

  • Romanos I Lekapenos (Ρωμανός A') (870–948, ruled 919–944) – father-in-law of Constantine VII; co-emperor, attempted to found his own dynasty. Deposed by his sons and entered monastery.
  • Romanos II the Purple-born (Ρωμανός Β') (938–963, ruled 959–963) – son of Constantine VII and Helena Lekapene
  • Basil II (Βασίλειος Β') the Bulgar-slayer (958–1025, ruled 976–1025) – son of Romanos II
  • Constantine VIII (Κωνσταντῖνος Η') (960-1028, ruled 1025–1028) – son of Romanos II; silent co-emperor with Basil II, sole emperor after his brother's death

Family treeEdit

After Steven Runciman, The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign: A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium, Appendix IV:

Theophylact Abaktistos
Romanos I Lekapenos (870–948),
senior emperor 920–944
Theodora (died 922),
Christopher Lekapenos (died 931),
junior co-emperor 921–931
Sophia, daughter of NiketasStephen Lekapenos (910–963),
junior co-emperor 924–945
Anna Gabalaina,
N. LekapeneRomanos SaronitesTheophylact Lekapenos (917–956),
Patriarch of Constantinople 933–956
Helena Lekapene (died 961),
Constantine VII (905–959),
sole emperor 913–920 & 944–959,
junior co-emperor 920–944
Agathe LekapeneRomanos ArgyrosHelena, daughter of AdrianConstantine Lekapenos (912–946),
junior co-emperor 924–945
Theophano MamasN. LekapeneMousele
Peter I,
Tsar of Bulgaria 927–969
Maria-Irene Lekapene (died ca. 966)Romanos LekapenosMichael Lekapenos,
magistros and rhaiktor
Romanos Lekapenos,
Romanos Lekapenos,
patrikios and eparchos

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Kazhdan 1991, pp. 1203–1204.


  • Kazhdan, Alexander (1991). "Lekapenos". In Kazhdan, Alexander (ed.). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1203–1204. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Runciman, Steven (1988) [1929]. The Emperor Romanus Lecapenus and His Reign: A Study of Tenth-Century Byzantium. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-35722-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)