Who is History’s Worst Political Adviser?

Four historians consider the harm caused by those who should have helped their political masters.

Claudius is proclaimed emperor, by Charles Lebayle, 1886. École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts / Wiki Commons.

‘Many bristled at Nikephoros’ tactless behaviour’

Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at the University of Oxford

History, as we know, does not repeat itself. It is simply a coincidence that in the Byzantine Empire in the second half of the 11th century an adviser who was too clever and cunning for his own good polarised polite society, compromised the leader and helped wreck the economy.

Byzantine emperors, like British prime ministers, often relied heavily on a trusted adviser. In the 1070s, Michael VII turned to a man named Nikephoros, a high-flyer who had enjoyed several brushes with scandal in the past, mainly for rubbing people up the wrong way.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.