What Was Byzantine Life Like Under The Doukas Dynasty?

The Doukas Dynasty enjoyed a short rule between the years 1059 and 1081 AD. Somehow, they squeezed six emperors into this 22-year period, so you might say they didn’t do a bang-up job. Emperor Constantine X Doukas reigned between 1059 and 1067. After him, there was his brother John Doukas (Caesar Romanos IV Diogenes) from 1068 to 1071, his son Michael VII Doukas from 1071-1078 (whose own son co-ruled with him), and lastly Nikephoros III Botaneiates. 

Although the last of the bunch was a Doukas, he decided to rule under the Botaneiates name and claimed the Phokas family as his own.

The decline of the Byzantine Empire was quite apparent during Doukas rule, as the Seljuk Turks were successfully battling back Byzantine forces. Much of the empire’s territory in Asia Minor disappeared after the decimation of Byzantine forces at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 AD. Territory also evaporated in the Balkans — and even back in Italy after an incursion by the Normans. How embarrassing is that?

Subsequent to Doukas rule, the empire continued to be pared away by outside forces — especially the Ottoman Empire.

Alexios Komnenos ascended to emperorship in 1077, when his marriage to Irene Doukaina and fame as a Byzantine general allowed him to take over without shedding a drop of blood. He didn’t warm the seat for long, though, because the following year both Nikephoros Bryennios and Nikephoros Botaneiates — generals — revolted and marched on Nicea and Constantinople. 

The “election” of this man (who had proclaimed himself emperor, as so many emperors are wont to do), was “ratified” by members of the clergy and aristocracy. A great many conspiracies, violent uprisings, and foreign incursions followed, and soon enough a man named Alexios Komnenos bribed the Constantinople garrison to crown himself king, which resulted in the establishment of the Komnenos dynasty. The previous emperor was out of time at the time. Whoops.