Theodora (wife of Romanos I)

Theodora (Medieval Greek: Θεοδώρα, pronounced [θjoˈðora]; died 20 February 922) was a humble Greek woman who became Byzantine Empress consort by marriage to Romanos I Lekapenos.[1]


Nothing is known of her background except for the fact that she was born into a family of Greek peasants.[1] She became the mother-in-law to Constantine VII in May or June, 919 with the marriage of the young Emperor to her daughter Helena Lekapene. Her husband Romanos was originally the Droungarios of the Fleet, before rising to become the de facto regent of the Empire after the marriage, when he was proclaimed basileopatōr. In September, 920, Romanos was invested as kaisar (Caesar). On 17 December 920, Romanos was crowned co-emperor and in effect became the senior of the two associate emperors. Theodora was crowned as Augusta in January 921. She remained in the position until her death a year later.

Status as wifeEdit

She is the only wife of Romanos I mentioned in primary sources and is traditionally considered the mother of all his legitimate children. However, there has been some question if she was only his second wife.

Symeon the Metaphrast identifies a certain magister Niketas as father-in-law of Romanos I. This would presumably make him father to Theodora. However, Niketas is known from other chronicles to be the father of Sophia, wife of Christopher Lekapenos. Christopher was the eldest son of Romanos. The reference is typically ignored as a probable mistake by Symeon. However, "Familles Byzantines" (1975) by Jean-François Vannier interprets the comment to be correct and that both father and son had married daughters of Niketas, which would mean Theodora could not be the mother of Christopher. Her son could not marry her sister. The argument concludes that Christopher is the product of an earlier marriage and Theodora a second wife of Romanos.


Her children with Romanos are:


  1. ^ a b Adelbert Davids (2002). The Empress Theophano: Byzantium and the West at the Turn of the First Millennium. Cambridge University Press. P. 73.
Royal titles
Preceded by Byzantine Empress consort
with Helena Lekapene (920–922)
Succeeded by
Preceded by Empress-Mother of the Byzantine Empire
January 921 – February 20, 922
Titled as the Empress’ Mother, as she was mother to Helena Lekapene, and an Empress in her own right.