Who is History’s Worst Political Adviser?
Four historians consider the harm caused by those who should have helped their political masters.
‘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.