Nikephoros (Nikephoritzes), sebastophoros, doux of Antioch and man of the emperor, 1062-1063 or 1067. Seal (Lead, 35 mm, 24.11 g, 12 h). NIKHΦO/POC CЄRA/CTOΦOPOC S / [Δ]OVΞ THC MЄ/ΓAΛHC ΘЄ૪/ΠOΛЄωC ("Nikephoros, sebastophoros and doux of the Great City of God") in six lines, decorations above and below. Rev. ANTIOX, / S ANΘPωΠO, / T૪ KPATAI૪ KAI AΓI૪ H/MωN RACI/ΛЄωC ("Antioch, and man of our powerful and holy emperor") in six lines, decorations above and below. DO Seals V 9.7b. An impressive seal of great historical importance. Slightly rough, otherwise, very fine.
Nikephoros came to court as a youthful eunuch, which earned him the nickname Nikephoritzes (“little Nikephoros”) that stuck with him throughout his career. He established a personal relationship with Constantine X Doukas (1059-1067), but after he slandered the empress he was forced away from court to serve as governor of Antioch, which is when our seal was produced. When Michael VII (1071-1078) assumed power, John Doukas, “the Kaisar” and uncle of the young emperor (see above, lot 1572), awarded Nikephoritzes an important governmental position. The eunuch’s power grew steadily and he proceeded to force out all influential people from the court, including the famous intellectual Michael Psellos and, eventually, even John “the Kaisar” himself. As the de facto ruler of the empire, Nikephoritzes quickly became very unpopular. His taxations were harsh and he mismanaged the grain supply of the capital, which resulted in price inflation and supply shortages. The Pechenegs revolted after their subsidies were suspended and neglect of foreign policy caused further encroachment of the Turks into Asia Minor. The usurpation of Nikephoros Botaneiates in 1077 lead to the end of Nikephoritzes. When a group of bishops gathered in Hagia Sophia and proclaimed their support for Botaneiates, Nikephoritzes had them removed by force. This lead to his excommunication by the patriarch and further weakened the position of Michael VII, who eventually abdicated in favor of Botaneiates in 1078. Nikephoros, on the other hand, was exiled to an island on the coast of Constantinopolis and eventually tortured to death.