Strobilos Sphrantzes
Fictional Character
Videssos Cycle
Videssos Series
Type of Appearance: Posthumous references
Nationality: Empire of Videssos
Religion: Phos-worship
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Relatives: Sphrantzes family
Political Office(s): Avtokrator of Videssos

Strobilos Sphrantzes was the Avtokrator of Videssos until four years before the arrival of the "Ronam" legion of Marcus Scaurus.[1] He was a member of the powerful Sphrantzes family. During his reign, he continued a political and economic policy that heavily taxed nobility in the provinces to make up for the revenue lost to serfdom. Five years before the Romans came, several nobles launched an unsuccessful uprising with their tenants serving as militia.[2] After the uprising was defeated, Strobilios oversaw a policy proposed by the bureaucracy that first divided up the estates of the rebellious nobles and returned the land to their various tenants, but then instituted taxes so heavy as to insure they could never rise up again. This prompted former militia men to defect to other kingdoms in some places.[3]

About a year later, with the support of Patriarch Balsamon and about half of the bureaucracy, Mavrikios Gavras successfully overthrew Strobilos. However, those bureaucrats required that Mavrikios make Vardanes Sphrantzes, the nephew of Strobilos, the Sevastos of Videssos. Mavrikios agreed. Vardanes went a step further, refusing to serve Mavrikios unless Strobilos was allowed to live. Mavrikios, realizing that he did need Vardanes, agreed to that as well.[4]

Strobilos was banished to a monastery north of Imbros, where he died a couple of years before the Romans arrived.[5]

Some five years after his overthrow, Scaurus came across a portrait of Strobilos above the doorway to the stairs leading to the sub-basement of the imperial archives. Even the imperial artist had had trouble portraying him as anything but a dullard.[6]


  1. See, e.g., Videssos Cycle: Volume One, pg. 75.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid. pg. 86.
  4. Ibid., pgs. 86-87.
  5. Ibid, pg. 88.
  6. Ibid., pg. 575.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ioannakis III
Avtokrator of Videssos Succeeded by
Mavrikios Gavras