Open main menu

OrthodoxWiki β

Theophylactus (Lecapenus) of Constantinople

Theophylactus (Lecapenus) of Constantinople was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 933 to 956. At the direction of his father, emperor Romanus I Lecapenus, Theophylactus was consecrated patriarch at the age sixteen.


Theophylactus was the youngest son of emperor Romanus I Lecapenus by his wife Theodora. He was born in 917. Romanus I planned to make his son, who was a minor, patriarch as soon as Patr. Nicholas Mysticus died. As Theophylactus was still very young child when Nicholas died in 925, he was not consecrated. At some time before he ascended to the patriarchal throne Theophylactus was castrated to help his career in the church. In the meantime, Stephanus II of Amasea and, then in succession after a two year vacancy, Tryphon were installed as patriarchs.

When Theophylactus reached the age when emperor Romanus considered his son ready for the patriarchal see, Patr. Tryphon would not resign regardless of his promise to do so when he was appointed patriarch. He did not consider it proper to hand over the throne to such an inexperienced youth and refused to do so. After the emperor deftly got Tryphon to sign a blank paper that was then turned into a resignation, Theophylactus was installed as patriarch on February 2, 933. Additionally, his father had secured the support of Pope John XI for his son's elevation to the patriarchate.

Theophylactus was the third patriarch of Constantinople to be the son of an emperor and the only one to have become patriarch during the reign of his father. His patriarchate of just over twenty-three years was unusually long.

Apart from the bastard eunuch Basil Lecapenus, who was appointed parakoimomenos (Greek: παρακοιμώμενος, lit. "the one who sleeps beside [the emperor's chamber]"), Theophylactus was the only son of Romanus I to retain his high office after the family fell from power in 945.

During his time as patriarch, Theophylactus supported his father's policies, pursued ecclesiastical ecumenicism, and kept in close contact with the patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch. He sent missionaries to the Magyars in the late 940s in an attempt to help imperial diplomacy. Theophylactus advised his nephew-in-law emperor Peter I of Bulgaria on the new Bogomil heresy. Theophylactus also introduced theatrical elements to the liturgy, something that was not universally supported by the clergy around him.

Theophylactus' detractors have described him as an irreverent man who was mainly interested in his huge stable of horses and was ready to abandon the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia so that he could be present at the foaling of his favorite mare. Ironically, Theophylactus died after falling from a horse on February 27, 956.

Succession box:
Theophylactus (Lecapenus) of Constantinople
Preceded by:
Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by:
Help with box


  • The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Warren Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford University Press, 1997.