Do dynasties really exist these days?
Other than the Royal Family in some European countries (including England, which has existed from the start of the United Kingdom), there is talk of what constitutes a dynasty.
The word is mentioned a lot in sports – we’re I the idle of the Patriots dynasty in the NFL, where a team wins a number of championships in a small amount of time; there was the Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls dynasty with six NBA titles in eight years; the North Dakota State dynasty, with five consecutive college-football national championships.
There are some in politics that is claimed, such as the Bush dynasty, where George H.W. and George W. Bush served as president and vice president of the United States for 20 of 28 years. But can there be a dynasty within an Empire?
In Byzantium, there certainly was – called the Macedonian Dynasty.
The Macedonian Dynasty was a period of rule within the Byzantine Empire leadership, when a non-Roman, no-Greek ruler started a bloodline of rulers that lasted nearly 200 years, from the 9th century A.D. into the 11th century. The patriarch of the dynasty was the emperor known as Basil I the Macedonian and carried through 16 emperors and empresses, with one coming to rule and two different times. Basil I’s ethnic origin couldn’t be definitively determined, but it was believed he was either Armenian or Slavic. What was known was that he has Armenians in many key positions within his leadership.
The dynasty was strictly within Basil’s family bloodline, with children and grandchildren rising to power upon deaths or assassination (Nikephoros II in 969; Romanos III in 1034). Basil I ruled the Empire for 19 years before dying in a hunting accident, when the dynastic throne was handed down to his son, Leo VI the Wise in 886 when the boy was 20 years of age. He ruled for 26 years, but he was not the longest-tenured ruler in the dynasty.
Two rulers had reigns of more than 40 years: Constantine VII, son of Leo VI, ruled for 46 years, from 913 to 959 (taking the throne just a year after his father’s death, after Alexander III), then Basil II ruled for 49 years, from 976 to 1025, taking over at age 18 for father Romanos II. The one who served two “terms” was empress Theodora, who spent one year as co-empress with sister Zoe in 1042, then was restored to empress on her own in 1055 following the death of Zoe’s third husband, Constantine IX, and she ruled until her death in 1056.
The dynasty ended with Theodora, as she had no heirs, and picked Michael VI to rule after her. He reigned for one year before being deposed in 1057 and entering the monastery. Theodora was one of two empresses during the Dynasty, as Zoe (daughter of Constantine VIII) ruled for 22 years until her death in 1050.
The Macedonian Dynasty was considered the time of the Byzantine Empire’s greatest expanse, and thus arguably a peak period in the history of the Empire. Nearly two centuries of rule made an impact on Byzantium and moved it forward, but it was the bridge toward the fall of the Empire four centuries later.