THEOPHANO: A BYZANTINE TALE
In Constantinople the balance of power hangs on a thread as the empire's ambitious generals and eunuchs aspire to acquire more power.
The appearance of a young woman will create an unprecedented power vacuum that will lead her to a point where her decisions will affect, not only her own and her children's destiny, but a whole Empire's.
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The main characters of the graphic novel
The Domestic of the Scholae
(commander-in-chief of the Roman army)
A Tavern owner
father of Anastasia
Nephew of Nicephorus Phocas
The Praepositus of the Palace
The Imperial Chamberlain
(Brother of Helena Lekapene)
The Heir to the Throne
Son of Helena and Constantine
The Augusta (Empress)
The Emperor(Basileus) of the Romans
Born in the purple
WELCOME TO THE 10TH CENTURY ROMAN Empire
ROME FELL IN 476 A.D
BUT THE ROMAN EMPIRE SURVIVED IN THE EAST
THE ROMAN EMPERORS RESIDE IN CONSTANTINOPLE
THE CITY WHICH WAS CHOSEN TO BECOME THE NEW ROMAN CAPITAL
The capital city and administrative center of the Eastern Empire was founded as a New Rome by Emperor Constantine I. Much of the initial plan of the city was based on that of Rome. A central avenue was created in order to connect each marketplace(forums/fora). This avenue was called Messe. It started from the Golden gate which was the ceremonial gate of the Theodosian walls.
The Emperors organized triumphs after military victories that ended at the Augustaion, the great public square where Hagia Sophia and the Bronze gate of the palace were located. In addition to that, Constantine built a gigantic hippodrome similar to the Circus Maximus in Rome.
By the 10th century, the city had withstood many sieges by formidable enemies such as the Huns, the Avars, the Bolghars, and the Arabs. The triple line Theodosian walls and the geographic location of the City were the most crucial factors for this feat. The city was surrounded by sea from three sides, and the addition of the Theodosian land walls made it almost impregnable. The existence of numerous underground cisterns meant that it could contain enough water reserves to sustain its big population in times of need.
The rise of the Arab Empire in the 7th century rendered the Roman state from a Mediterranean superpower to a regional power struggling to avoid annihilation by the Arab giant. Up until the mid 10th century, the Eastern front has been a one-sided zone of warfare. The Arabs are on the offensive and the Romans defend Anatolia. However, the rise of some great generals such as John Kourkouas and Bardas Phocas the elder turned the tide and brought the empire to the doorstep of Cilicia and Syria.
On the other hand in the west, things haven’t been going so well for the Romans. Sicily and Crete are lost. These islands serve as bases for pirate raids that disrupt trade and devastate the coastal settlements of the Eastern Mediterranean. With the exception of the south, the rest of the Balkan peninsula is dominated by the Bulgarian Empire. On top of that, a new enemy has emerged in the north. The descendants of Vikings, the Rus have already tried to breach the walls of Constantinople twice.
The Roman army is based on the Theme system. Soldiers serve the Empire and are rewarded with land. They form the thematic armies under a general who is also the governor of the region. Apart from the themes, the emperor has also got a standing professional army named Tagmata. They are based near Constantinople.
Fountains with perfumed water, elegant gardens, golden mosaics, Mechanical birds, unique Christian relics, and golden thrones. These are some of the most impressive features of the Sacred Palace of Constantinople. The Imperial headquarters combined glamour and mystery which expressed the idea of the Emperor’s divine right.
Based on this divine right, any Roman citizen could become an emperor as long as they were favored by God. Throughout the history of the Empire, there had been several emperors of humble descent.
Numerous Palace officials surround the Imperial family. Many of them are eunuchs who don’t pose a danger to the crown. The palace guards are mostly mercenaries from other countries in order to ensure their loyalty to the emperor.
All the palace ceremonies are carried out according to the palace etiquette. Each ceremony involves different choreography by its participants and different outfitting. There is no single crown that symbolizes the rule of the Emperor. There are many crowns that he can wear according to the occasion.
The majority of the inhabitants of the Empire speak Medieval Greek and adhere to the Constantinopolitan church doctrine. These are the two main pillars of the medieval Roman identity. Unless someone possessed any of these two, they couldn’t call themselves a Roman. Apart from the Romans, there were many groups dwelling within the territory of the Empire. Arabs and Armenians in Anatolia, Slavs and Bulgarians in the Balkans, Lombards, Dalmatians, and other Latin speaking ethnic groups in Southern Italy and the Adriatic coast.