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Bardas ( , died 21 April 866) was a Byzantine noble and high-ranking minister the regent (856-866) of Byzantine Emperor Michael III.


He was born to the droungarios Marinos and Theoktiste, and was the elder brother of empress Theodora, the wife of emperor Theophilos and of Petronas. Three other sisters, Kalomaria, Sophia and Irene, are recorded by the historian Theophanes Continuatus. The family was of Armenian origin.

In 837, Theophilos raised him to the rank of patrikios and sent him together with the general Theophobos in a campaign into Abkhaziamarker, where he suffered defeat against the Muslims. With the death of Theophilos, the young Michael III (r. 842-867) ascended the throne. As he was still three years old, a regency was set up headed by Empress Theodora and the logothete Theoktistos. Bardas and his brother, Petronas the Patrician, although uncles to the emperor, were largely sidelined by Theoktistos. The empress also neglected the proper education of her son, who grew dissolute. In 849, Bardas, together with Theoktistos, initiated a far-reaching educational program and founded the University of Magnaura.

In 856, as Michael came of age, the young emperor began to resent his exclusion from state affairs by his mother and Theoktistos. Bardas was able to use that resentment: Theoktistos was killed, and the empress confined to a monastery. Michael immediately promoted his uncle to the highest state offices (chartoularios tou kanikleiou, magistros, domestikos of the Scholai). For the next ten years, Bardas would be the effective ruler of the Empire, a position further solidified in 862, when he was raised to the rank of Caesar.

His capabilities as an administrator led to one of the brightest periods in Byzantine history. Bardas secured the election of the learned Photios to the patriarchate in 858, beginning a revival of ecclesiastic learning, while his patronage of secular learning was also pronounced, through his support of the Magnaura school and scholars like Leo the Mathematician. He also supported the missionary activities of Cyril and Methodius to Greater Moravia, scored a number of successes against the Arabs, culminating in the Battle of Lalakaon in 863, restored the fortifications of several cities in Asia Minormarker and enforced the Christianization of Bulgaria by Byzantine missionaries. By that time however, his influence with the emperor was declining: Michael's new favourite was the young Basil the Macedonian, who had risen to the position of parakoimomenos to the emperor. Tiring of his uncle's control, in 866, as the army was assembling for a campaign against the Saracen stronghold of Crete, Basil assassinated Bardas. A month later, Basil was raised to the rank of Caesar, and in September 867, he had Michael III assassinated as well. The Amorian Dynasty had ended, and the Macedonian period begun.


Bardas was married twice. From his unknown first wife, he had two sons and a daughter. Little is known about them, except that they were appointed to high positions in the army, the one becoming domestikos of the Scholai, the other a strategos. His elder son died ca. 857. In ca. 855, Bardas married for a second time, but divorced this wife, by the name of Theododia, in 862. He was also accused by patriarch Ignatios of maintaining a relationship with Eudokia Ingerina, the mistress of Michael III, who lived in his house.


  1. Winkelmann (1998), p. 564
  2. Kazhdan (1991), p. 255
  3. Jenkins (1987), p. 160
  4. Jenkins (1987), pp. 160-164
  5. Jenkins (1987), p. 166
  6. Kazhfan (1991), pp. 255-256


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