Ortaias Sphrantzes
Fictional Character
Videssos Cycle
Videssos Series
Appearance(s): The Misplaced Legion;
An Emperor for the Legion
Type of Appearance: Direct, briefly POV
Nationality: Empire of Videssos
Religion: Phos-worship
Occupation: General, monk
Spouse: Alypia Gavra (divorced)
Relatives: Sphrantzes family
Political Office(s): Avtokrator of Videssos (usurper)

Ortaias Sphrantzes was a member of the Sphrantzes political family in the Empire of Videssos some 1200 years after the empire's founding. A young man in his early twenties, he was gangling and unimposing. He had been appointed by his uncle Vardanes to be his spatharios which, while sounding impressive, had little more meaning than "aide".[1]

Ortaias was a student of military history, constantly carrying a copy of Mindes Kalokyres' Art of Generalship wherever he went so he might refer to it at need. He was keen to meet the leader of the "Ronams", Marcus Scaurus, after their victory over the Namdaleni in a mock training battle. When Vardanes met with Scaurus for his own purposes, he obliged Ortaias by allowing him to attend. Ortaias was enthusiastic and peppered Scaurus with questions over the bout, citing Kalokyres' recommendation to ply the Namdaleni with arrows from a distance and that they were invincible at close quarters. Scaurus was non-committal only agreeing that it would be interesting to hear what Kalokyres would have to say over the Ronam victory.[2]

When the Avtokrator Mavrikios Gavras finally was ready to move against the Yezd, he called a council of war and Scaurus was surprised to see Ortaias seated at the head table with him. However, the Avtokrator put him in his place, having him do little more than hold up a map while Mavrikios pointed out the line of march for the officers present.[3] Never the less, Mavrikios needed support from the Sphrantzes faction and so gave Ortaias nominal command of the army's left wing[4] with actual command resting with Nephon Khoumnos.[5] As Mavrikios explained privately to Scaurus, he did so at Vardanes' request since he knew the Sevastos would want an eye in the army and if he refused then Vardanes would get a less obvious one instead.[6]

During a large engagement against the Yezda, Khoumnos was killed by the Yezda priest Avshar, and de facto command fell to Ortaias. Avshar sent a spell that panicked Ortaias, and the young man fled the battlefield as quickly as he could, taking almost the entire left wing with him. The battle turned out to be a massive disaster for the Videssians, and Mavrikios Gavras was killed.

Ortaias Sphrantzes took the throne, but was firmly under his uncle Vardanes' thumb. He held it only long enough to be overthrown by Thorisin Gavras. Recognizing his role as a puppet, and urged by Alypia Gavra who had been forced to marry Ortaias and raped by his uncle, Thorisin exiled the young Sphrantzes to a distant monastery.


  1. Videssos Cycle: Volume One, pg. 155.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid. pgs. 209, 213.
  4. Ibid. pg. 224.
  5. Ibid. pg. 232.
  6. Ibid. pg. 243.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Mavrikios Gavras
Avtokrator of Videssos Succeeded by
Thorisin Gavras