Nikephoros II Phokas (Latinized: Nicephorus II Phocas; Νικηφόρος Β΄ Φωκᾶς) was Byzantine Emperor from 963 to 969. His brilliant military exploits contributed to the resurgence of the Byzantine Empire during the 10th century.
On 15 March 963, Emperor Romanos II died unexpectedly at the age of twenty-six of uncertain cause. Romanos had already crowned as co-emperors his two sons Basil II and Constantine VIII. At the time that Romanos died, however, Basil was five years old and Constantine only three years old, so Theophano was named regent.
Theophano was not allowed to rule alone. Joseph Bringas, the eunuch palace official who had become Romanos' chief councilor, maintained his position. According to contemporary sources he intended to keep authority in his own hands. He also tried to reduce the power of Nikephoros Phokas. The victorious general had been accepted as the actual commander of the army and maintained his strong connections to the aristocracy. Joseph was afraid that Nikephoros could claim the throne with the support of both the army and the aristocracy. Joseph's intrigues during the following months turned both Theophano and Nikephoros against him. Unknown to Joseph, Nikephoros was urged to seize the throne by his nephew John Tzimiskes, and he entered into negotiations with Theophano.
With the help of Theophano and the patriarch, Nikephoros Phokas received supreme command of the eastern forces and, after being proclaimed Emperor by them on 2 July 963, he marched upon the capital, where his partisans had overthrown his enemy Bringas. Thanks to his popularity with the army, Nikephoros II Phokas was crowned emperor by the side of Romanos's young sons on 16 August 963, and in spite of the opposition of the patriarch, he married their mother, the regent Theophano.