Vardanes Sphrantzes
Fictional Character
Videssos Cycle
Videssos Series
Appearance(s): The Misplaced Legion;
An Emperor for the Legion
Type of Appearance: Direct
Nationality: Empire of Videssos
Religion: Phos worship
Cause of Death: Head broken against a wall
Spouse: Deceased wife
Relatives: Sphrantzes family
Political Office(s): Sevastos of Videssos

Vardanes Sphrantzes was a member of the Sphrantzes political family and faction. He was Sevastos to his political rival, the Avtokrator Mavrikios Gavras.

Mavrikios gained the throne by overthrowing Sphrantzes' uncle Strobilos. As a condition of support from a faction of the bureaucracy, Mavrikios was forced to appoint Vardanes as his Sevastos. In addition, Vardanes refused to serve unless Strobilos' life was spared. Mavrikios, realizing that he did need Vardanes, agreed to that as well, exiling the older man to a remote monastery. However, Mavrikios refused a further demand that Vardanes be allowed to marry Mavrikios' daughter Alypia.[1]

With the coming of the "Ronams", Vardanes accompanied Mavrikios and the Avtokrator's brother, Thorisin Gavras, to inspect them as they entered the Empire's service. Both were shocked when the Ronams refused to make the proskynesis before the Avtokrator but Mavrikios accepted this since they were clearly soldiers to be reckoned with. Thorisin immediately accepted Mavrikios's decision but Vardanes viewed their leader, Marcus Scaurus, with ill-concealed resentment for being shown up.[2]

Nevertheless, Vardanes carefully sounded out Scaurus and his loyalties. In the guise of a social call, he invited Scaurus to a meeting in his offices and through polite conversation sought to see if Scaurus was loyal to the Empire, to Mavrikios personally or to whoever might be his paymaster. However, Scaurus proved to be discrete in his answers and so the meeting ended with neither party revealing their positions. Vardanes also introduced his nephew Ortaias, a student of military history and eager to meet the leader of troops that had recently defeated the Namdaleni in a mock training battle. He was less discrete than his uncle showing contempt for the Gavras family as uncouth climbers. Vardanes tried to smooth this over but Scaurus found it revealing.[3]

Vardanes took over the rule of the Empire after the death of Mavrikios in battle gave him an opportunity. He arranged for his nephew, Ortaias, to be elevated to the throne, intending him to be a mere puppet while Vardanes himself held real power. Vardanes also had Alypia Gavra married to Ortaias to cement the latter's claim to the throne, but used Alypia as a sexual plaything, raping and abusing her throughout his tenure.

When Thorisin Gavras's forces arrived to beseige the city he was responsible for using Outis Rhavas and his force of bandits to maintain order inside the walls, and appeared to be in a secure position until the unrest caused by Rhavas' behavior boiled over into open riot. With Ortaias captured by troops under Mertikes Zigabenos, Vardanes quickly found that no one would obey orders issued in his name, and retreated into the private area of the palace quarter. He was the last one to stand with Avshar as the Romans arrived in the palace quarter, holding Alypia Gavra hostage in an abortive attempt to bargain his way out of the situation. At the last moment he attempted to redeem himself by stabbing Avshar. He failed to kill the sorcerer thanks to a potion that warded those who dipped their clothes into it from harm by blades (though not from blunt trauma), and Avshar picked him up by the neck and threw his head against the wall, shattering his skull.


  1. Videssos Cycle: Volume One, pg. 87.
  2. Ibid. pgs. 56-57.
  3. Ibid. pgs. 153-158.
Political offices
Preceded by
Unknown, last known is Iakovitzes
Sevastos of Videssos Succeeded by