Despotate of Epirus

The Despotate of Epirus (Greek: Δεσποτάτο της Ηπείρου) was one of the Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire established in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 by a branch of the Angelos dynasty. It claimed to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Empire of Nicaea and the Empire of Trebizond, its rulers briefly proclaiming themselves as Emperors in 1225/1227–1242 (during which it is most often called the Empire of Thessalonica). The term "Despotate of Epirus" is, like "Byzantine Empire" itself, a modern historiographic convention and not a name in use at the time.

The Despotate was centred on the region of Epirus, encompassing also Albania and the western portion of Greek Macedonia and also included Thessaly and western Greece as far south as Nafpaktos. Through a policy of aggressive expansion under Theodore Komnenos Doukas the Despotate of Epirus also briefly came to incorporate central Macedonia, with the establishment of the Empire of Thessalonica in 1224, and Thrace as far east as Didymoteicho and Adrianopolis, and was on the verge of recapturing Constantinople and restoring the Byzantine Empire before the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230 where he was defeated by the Bulgarian Empire. After that, the Epirote state contracted to its core in Epirus and Thessaly, and was forced into vassalage to other regional powers. It nevertheless managed to retain its autonomy until conquered by the restored Palaiologan Byzantine Empire in ca. 1337. In the 1410s, the Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos Carlo I Tocco managed to reunite the core of the Epirote state, but his successors gradually lost it to the advancing Ottoman Empire, with the last stronghold, Vonitsa, falling to the Ottomans in 1479.

Despotate of Epirus

ca. 1205–1337/40a
Coat of arms of the Tocco dynasty (last ruling dynasty) of Epirus
Coat of arms of the Tocco dynasty
(last ruling dynasty)
The Latin Empire, Empire of Nicaea, Empire of Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus, c. 1204
The Latin Empire, Empire of Nicaea, Empire of Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus, c. 1204
StatusVariously vassal of the Latin Empire, the Empire of Nicaea and the Palaiologan Byzantine Empire, the Angevins, and the Ottoman Empire
CapitalArta (1205–1337/40, 1430–49),
Ioannina (1356–1430), Angelokastron (1449–60)
Common languagesGreek[1]
Greek Orthodox Church
GovernmentDespotic monarchy
Despot of Epirus 
• 1205–1214
Michael I Komnenos Doukas
• 1448–1479
Leonardo III Tocco
Historical eraHigh Medieval
• Established
• Byzantine conquest
• Re-establishment by Nikephoros II Orsini
• Ottoman conquest of Vonitsa
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Simple Labarum.svg Byzantium under the Angeloi
Byzantium under the Palaiologoi
Ottoman Empire
Today part ofAlbania
  1. ^ Subsumed into the Empire of Thessalonica, 1224–30; temporary Nicaean conquest, 1259–60
  2. ^ In union with the County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos after 1416


In traditional and modern historiography, the Epirote state is usually termed the "Despotate of Epirus" and its rulers are summarily attributed the title of "Despot" from its inception, but this use is not strictly accurate.[2] First of all, the title of "Despot" was not borne by all Epirote rulers: the state's founder, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, never used it, and is only anachronistically referred to as "Despot of Epirus" in 14th-century Western European sources. His successor Theodore Komnenos Doukas did not use it either, and actually crowned himself emperor (basileus) at Thessalonica c. 1225. The first ruler of Epirus to receive the title of Despot was Michael II, from his uncle Manuel of Thessalonica in the 1230s, and then again, as a sign of submission and vassalage, from the Nicaean emperor John III Vatatzes.[3][4] Earlier historians assumed that Michael I was indeed named "Despot" by the deposed emperor Alexios III Angelos after ransoming him from Latin captivity in c. 1206/7 or c. 1210; this has been disproven by more recent research.[5]

Furthermore, even after Michael II, speaking of the Epirote rulers as "Despots of Epirus" is technically incorrect.[6] The title of Despot did not imply any specific territorial jurisdiction, nor was it hereditary; it was merely the highest rank in the Byzantine court hierarchy, awarded by a reigning emperor to close relatives, usually his sons. Consequently, it was often borne by the princes sent to govern semi-autonomous appanages and came to be associated later with these territories (aside from Epirus, the Despotate of the Morea is the most notable case). The territorial term "despotate" itself (in Greek δεσποτᾶτον, despotaton) was not used in contemporary sources for Epirus until the 14th century, e.g. in the Chronicle of the Morea, in the history of John Kantakouzenos, the hagiography of St. Niphon, or the Chronicle of the Tocco, where the inhabitants of the Despotate are referred to as the Despotatoi.[7][8][9] The term "Despotate of Epirus" is thus sometimes replaced by "(Independent) State of Epirus" in more recent historiography.[10]

The Epirote realm itself did not have an official name. Contemporaries, particularly in Western Europe, used the term Rhōmania (Ῥωμανία), which generally referred to the whole Byzantine Empire, to refer specifically to Epirus, as seen in the Latin title of Despotus Romanie claimed by Philip I of Taranto and his son Philip of Apulia, Nicholas Orsini, and later Carlo I Tocco.[10][11] In the Byzantine world, the term Dysis (Δύσις), meaning "West", which historically referred to Dalmatia, Macedonia and Sicily, or even the entire European part of the Empire, also came into use already in the 13th century when juxtaposing Epirus to its eastern rival, the Empire of Nicaea, which was then called Anatolē (Ἀνατολή), "East".[10][12] Moreover, the term "Hellenes" was widely used instead of the earlier "Romans" by the 13th century court of the Despotate to describe its population.[13]


Epirus 1205-1230-en
The despotate of Epirus from 1205 to 1230

The Epirote state was founded in 1205 by Michael Komnenos Doukas, a cousin of the Byzantine emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos. At first, Michael allied with Boniface of Montferrat, but having lost the Morea (Peloponnese) to the Franks at the battle of the Olive Grove of Koundouros, he went to Epirus, where he considered himself the Byzantine governor of the old province of Nicopolis and revolted against Boniface. Epirus soon became the new home of many refugees from Constantinople, Thessaly, and the Peloponnese, and Michael was described as a second Noah, rescuing men from the Latin flood. John X Kamateros, the Patriarch of Constantinople, did not consider him a legitimate successor and instead joined Theodore I Laskaris in Nicaea; Michael instead recognized the authority of Pope Innocent III over Epirus, cutting ties to the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Henry of Flanders demanded that Michael submit to the Latin Empire, which he did, at least nominally, by allowing his daughter to marry Henry's brother Eustace in 1209. Michael did not honour this alliance, assuming that mountainous Epirus would be mostly impenetrable by any Latins with whom he made and broke alliances. Meanwhile, Boniface's relatives from Montferrat made claims to Epirus as well, and in 1210 Michael allied with the Venetians and attacked Boniface's Kingdom of Thessalonica. Michael was excessively cruel to his prisoners, in some cases crucifying Latin priests. Pope Innocent III excommunicated him in response. Henry forced Michael into a renewed nominal alliance later that year.

Michael turned his attention to capturing other strategically important Latin-held towns, including Larissa and Dyrrhachium. He also took control of the ports on the Gulf of Corinth. In 1214 he captured Corcyra from Venice, but he was assassinated later that year and was succeeded by his half-brother Theodore.

Conflict with Nicaea and Bulgaria

Theodore Komnenos Doukas immediately set out to attack Thessalonica, and he fought with the Bulgarians along the way. Henry of Flanders died on the way to counterattack, and in 1217 Theodore captured his successor Peter of Courtenay, most likely executing him. The Latin Empire, however, became distracted by the growing power of Nicaea and could not stop Theodore from capturing Thessalonica in 1224. Theodore now challenged Nicaea for the imperial title and crowned himself emperor, founding the short-lived Empire of Thessalonica. In 1225, after John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea had taken Adrianople, Theodore arrived and took it back from him. Theodore also allied with the Bulgarians and drove the Latins out of Thrace. In 1227 Theodore crowned himself Byzantine emperor, although this was not recognized by most Greeks, especially not the Patriarch in Nicaea.

In 1230 Theodore broke the truce with Bulgaria, hoping to remove Ivan Asen II, who had held him back from attacking Constantinople. In the battle of Klokotnitsa (near Haskovo in Bulgaria) the Bulgarian emperor defeated Theodore, capturing and later blinding him. His brother Manuel Komnenos Doukas took power in Thessalonica, but Epirus itself soon broke away under Michael I's bastard son, Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Manuel awarded Michael the title of Despot—making Michael the first Epirote ruler to bear the title—as a sign of his nominal dependency on Thessalonica, but Michael was de facto independent, which he demonstrated by seizing Corfu in ca. 1236. In the rump Empire of Thessalonica, after Theodore was released in 1237, he overthrew his brother Manuel, and set up his son John Komnenos Doukas as ruler of Thessalonica.

Nicaean and Byzantine suzerainty

The despotate of Epirus from 1230 to 1251
The despotate of Epirus from 1252 to 1315

Thessalonica never regained its power after the battle of Klokotnitsa. Theodore's younger son Demetrios Angelos Doukas lost Thessalonica to Nicaea in 1246 and Michael II of Epirus allied with the Latins against the Nicaeans. In 1248 John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea forced Michael to recognize him as emperor, and officially recognized him in turn as despotēs in Epirus. Vatatzes' granddaughter Maria later (in 1256) married Michael's son Nikephoros, although she died in 1258. Also in 1248 Michael's daughter Anna married William II, Prince of Achaea, and Michael decided to honour this alliance over his obligations to Vatatzes. The allies were defeated in the ensuing conflict at the Battle of Pelagonia in 1259.

Emperor Theodore II Laskaris allied with Michael II, and their children, betrothed by John years before, finally married in 1256, with Theodore receiving Dyrrhachium in return. Michael did not accept this transfer of land, and in 1257 he revolted, defeating a Nicaean army led by George Acropolites. As Michael marched on Thessalonica, he was attacked by King Manfred of Sicily, who conquered Albania and Corcyra. However, Michael immediately allied with him by marrying his daughter Helena to him. After Theodore II died, Michael, Manuel, and William II fought the new Nicaean emperor, Michael VIII Palaiologos. The alliance was very unstable and in 1259 William was captured at the disastrous Battle of Pelagonia. Michael VIII went on to capture Michael II's capital of Arta, leaving Epirus with only Ioannina and Vonitsa. Arta was recovered by 1260 while Michael VIII was occupied against Constantinople.

Italian invasions

After Michael VIII restored the empire in Constantinople in 1261 he frequently harassed Epirus, and forced Michael's son Nikephoros to marry his niece Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene in 1265. Michael considered Epirus a vassal state, although Michael II and Nikephoros continued to ally with the Princes of Achaea and the Dukes of Athens. In 1267 Corcyra and much of Epirus were taken by Charles of Anjou, and in 1267/68 Michael II died. Michael VIII did not attempt to annex Epirus directly, and allowed Nikephoros I to succeed his father and deal with Charles, who captured Dyrrhachium in 1271. In 1279 Nikephoros allied with Charles against Michael VIII, agreeing to become Charles' vassal. With Charles' defeat soon after Nikephoros lost Albania to the Byzantines.

Under Andronikos II Palaiologos, son of Michael VIII, Nikephoros renewed the alliance with Constantinople. Nikephoros, however, was persuaded to ally with Charles II of Naples in 1292, although Charles was defeated by Andronikos's fleet. Nikephoros married his daughter to Charles's son Philip I of Taranto and sold much of his territory to him. After Nikephoros's death in c. 1297 Byzantine influence grew under his widow Anna, Andronikos's cousin, who ruled as regent for her young son Thomas I Komnenos Doukas. In 1306 she revolted against Philip in favour of Andronikos; the Latin inhabitants were expelled but she was forced to return some territory to Philip. In 1312 Philip abandoned his claim to Epirus and claimed the defunct Latin Empire of Constantinople instead as the inheritance of his wife Catherine II of Valois, Princess of Achaea.

Collapse of the despotate

The despotate of Epirus from 1315 to 1358

Anna succeeded in marrying off Thomas to a daughter of Michael IX, but Thomas was assassinated in 1318 by his cousin Nicholas Orsini, who married his widow and claimed to rule not only Epirus, but all of Greece; his rule was limited only to Akamania, or the southern part of Epirus. He was overthrown by his brother John in 1323, who attempted to balance submission to Constantinople with cooperation with the Angevins of Naples, who also claimed Greece as part of their domains. John was poisoned around 1335 by his wife Anna, who became regent for their son Nikephoros II. In 1337 the new Emperor, Andronikos III Palaiologos, arrived in northern Epirus with an army partly composed of 2,000 Turks contributed by his ally Umur of Aydın. Andronikos first dealt with unrest due to attacks by Albanians and then turned his interest to the Despotate. Anna tried to negotiate and obtain the Despotate for her son when he came of age, but Andronikos demanded the complete surrender of the Despotate to which she finally agreed. Thus Epirus came peacefully under imperial rule, with Theodore Synadenos as governor.[14]

The imperials had insisted that Nikephoros would be engaged to one of the daughters of the emperor's right-hand man, John Kantakouzenos. When the time of the engagement came, Nikephoros had vanished. Andronikos learned that Nikephoros had fled to Italy, with the help of members of the Epirote aristocracy who supported an independent Epirus. He stayed in Taranto, Italy, in the court of Catherine II of Valois (Philip of Taranto's widow), the titular empress of Constantinople.[15]

Arta 122
The Paregoretissa Church, the new cathedral of the Despotate's capital, Arta, built in the 13th century during the reign of Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas.

In 1339 a revolt began, supported by Catherine of Valois, who had previously moved to the Peloponnese, and by Nikephoros who had returned to Epirus, based in Thomokastron. By the end of the year the imperial army returned to the area, and in the following year, 1340, Andronikos III himself arrived together with John Kantakouzenos. Nikephoros was persuaded through diplomacy to recognize the authority of the emperor. He surrendered Thomokastron, married Maria Kantakouzene, the daughter of John Kantakouzenos, and received the title of panhypersebastos.[15]

The Empire soon fell into a civil war between John V Palaiologos and John VI Kantakouzenos, and Epirus was conquered by the Serbian tsar Stefan Dušan in 1348, who appointed his brother, despot Simeon Nemanjić-Palailogos as governor of the province.[16] Nikephoros II took advantage of the Byzantine civil war and the death of Dušan (1355) to escape and to reestablish himself in Epirus in 1356, to which he also added Thessaly. Nikephoros was killed in battle putting down an Albanian revolt in 1359, and the territory of the former despotate became a component part of the personal Empire of Dušan's brother Simeon Nemanjić-Palailogos. Simeon was also governing Thessaly at the time, and, as the Chronicle of Ioannina shows, he left much of the territory under the control of Albanian clans establishing short-lived entities: the clan of Peter Liosha held Arta, and the clan of Muriq Shpata held Aetoloacarnania, with Angelokastron as its capital.

In 1367 a part of the Epirotan Despotate was resurrected under local Serbian nobleman Thomas II Preljubović, who kept Ioannina. After Thomas' death in 1384, his widow remarried in 1385 and transferred the Despotate to homage of Italian nobility. The state tradition was carried on by the Serbian and Italian rulers of Ioannina, who solicited aid from the Ottoman Turks against the Albanians. In 1399 the Albanian leader of Principality of Gjirokastër, Gjon Zenebishi captured the Despot Esau de' Buondelmonti and released him after 15 months, when his relatives in Italy offered a huge amount of money as a ransom. By 1416 the Tocco family of Cephalonia succeeded in reuniting Epirus, or at least in asserting their control over its towns. But internal dissension eased the Ottoman conquest, which proceeded with the capture of Ioannina in 1430, Arta in 1449, Angelokastron in 1460, and finally Vonitsa in 1479. With the exception of several coastal Venetian possessions, this was the end of Frankish rule in mainland Greece.


Blason Orsini-Epirus

Coat of arms of the Orsini dynasty of Epirus

Coat of arms of the Nemanic Dynasty

Coat of arms of the Nemanjić dynasty


Coat of arms of the Buondelmonti dynasty

Tocco stemma

Coat of arms of the Tocco dynasty

Komnenos Doukas dynasty

Orsini dynasty

Nemanjić dynasty

Buondelmonti dynasty

Tocco dynasty


  1. ^ Dana Facaros, Linda Theodorou. Greece. New Holland Publishers, May 1, 2003, p. 412.
  2. ^ Fine 1994, p. 68.
  3. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 68–69.
  4. ^ Kazhdan 1991, p. 716.
  5. ^ Nicol 1984, p. 2.
  6. ^ Fine 1994, p. 69.
  7. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, pp. 38–39.
  8. ^ Kazhdan 1991, pp. 614, 716.
  9. ^ Stiernon 1959, pp. 122–126.
  10. ^ a b c Veikou 2012, pp. 20–21.
  11. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, p. 38.
  12. ^ Soustal & Koder 1981, pp. 39–40.
  13. ^ Bialor, Perry (2008). "Chapter 2, Greek Ethnic Survival Under Ottoman Domination". ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst: 73.
  14. ^ Nicol 1993, p. 179-181.
  15. ^ a b Nicol 1993, p. 181.
  16. ^ Soulis 1984.


Albania under Serbia in the Middle Ages

After the weakening of the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire in the middle and late 13th century, most of the territory of modern-day Albania became part of Serbia. Firstly, as part of Serbian Grand Principality and later as part of Serbian Empire. The southern part was governed by the semi-independent, Serbian-ruled Despotate of Epirus. Between 1272 and 1368, some areas of the modern-day state were also ruled by the Angevins as the Kingdom of Albania. In the late 14th century, Albanian Principalities were created throughout Albania.

Anna Angelina Komnene Doukaina

Anna Angelina Komnene Doukaina (Greek: Ἄννα Ἀγγελίνα Κομνηνή Δούκαινα, Serbian Cyrillic: Ана) was a daughter of Theodore Doukas Komnenos Angelos and Queen-consort of Serbia (1228–1234) as wife of King Stefan Radoslav Nemanjić.

In 1216, Radoslav's father attempted to organize a marriage between his son and Theodora, daughter of Theodore's half-brother Michael Doukas Komnenos Angelos. However, the Church prohibited this marriage because it would have been between cousins of the seventh degree. Instead, Radoslav married Anna shortly after.

She was disliked by the Church and the nobility, and considered a corrupting influence on Radoslav - who was already too Greek-influenced in their eyes, as he unconditionally allied himself with Epirus and identified with his mother's Greek dynasty as much as with the Nemanjić.Theodore Doukas Komnenos Angelos was defeated and captured in the Battle of Klokotnitsa with Bulgaria in the spring of 1230. Dissent among the Serbian nobility grew as Radoslav's inflexible pro-Greek orientation now became a problem. Thus, a coalition of Serbian aristocrats led by Radoslav's half-brother Vladislav ousted him in early 1234.

Radoslav and Anna first went to Ragusa and attempted to organize a counter-coup against Vladislav, but achieved little. Later, the monk Theodosius would claim Radoslav and Anna went to Dyrrhachium instead and separated there, but this claim has been proven to be false.During their exile, Radoslav and Anna are believed to have had a son, Dragoslav Jovan, but his parentage has not been fully confirmed. After some time, they returned to Serbia with the help of Archbishop Sava and took monastic vows. Radoslav's monastic name was Jovan. Dragoslav eventually became a Grand Kaznac in the Kingdom of Serbia.

Battle of Achelous (1359)

The Battle of Achelous (Albanian: Beteja e Akelout) took place in 1359 near the river Achelous, in Aetolia, modern Greece fought between Albanian troops, under Peter Losha and John Spata, and forces of the Despotate of Epirus, under Nikephoros II Orsini. The Albanians defeated Orsini's army, which suffered massive casualties during the battle. The battle established two despotates from regions previously part of the Despotate of Epirus: the Despotate of Arta and the Despotate of Angelokastron and Lepanto.

Battle of Pelagonia

The Battle of Pelagonia took place in September 1259, between the Empire of Nicaea and the Despotate of Epirus, Sicily and the Principality of Achaea. It was a decisive event in the history of the Eastern Mediterranean, ensuring the Byzantine reconquest of Constantinople and the end of the Latin Empire in 1261, and marks the beginning of the Byzantine recovery of Greece. This battle is also notable for being the last appearance of the famous Varangian Guard.The exact location of the battle remains unclear. It has been called the Battle of Kastoria, after the region in western Greek Macedonia, because three Byzantine sources (i.e. Pachymeres, George Akropolites and Nikephoros Gregoras) inform us that the Epirote camp was first attacked there in a location called Boril's Wood (Βορίλλα λόγγος). However, since the conflict also includes a siege of Prilep, it is justifiably called the Battle of Pelagonia.

Chronicle of the Tocco

The Chronicle of the Tocco is a chronicle in fifteen-syllable blank verse written in medieval Greek. It covers the period of 1375-1425 and focuses on the ascent of the Tocco family, and especially Carlo I Tocco, Count palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos, to the rule over the Despotate of Epirus, as well as Carlo's conquest of territories in the Morea.

The author, who remains unknown, described events that occurred during his own lifetime and must have been present in some of them. He possibly belonged to the court of Carlo I Tocco and came from Ioannina. From the text we can deduce that he was not particularly educated since he was using simple language.

The author describes the Toccos as fair governors, who care for the rights of their people. It is remarkable, that he does not mention the Latin descent of the noble family. He appears to cultivate a sense of early Greek nationalism and to hate the Albanians.

The Chronicle was published for the first time in 1975 by Giuseppe Schirò (Cronaca dei Tocco di Cefalonia; prolegomeni, testo critico e traduzione, Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae 10. Rome: Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, 1975). It comprises 3923 verses and was found in the codex Vaticanus Graecus 1831. The beginning and the end of the text is missing. This codex was written before June 1429, possibly from the author, as G. Schirò believed. There is also a 16th-century copy of it, codex Vatic. gr. 2214. Elisabeth Zachariadou proved that the first pages of the codex were placed in a wrong order and suggested a different order for the first 1,000 verses, which makes the text more coherent and easier to understand.The Chronicle, despite its unimportant literary quality, has significant value as an historical source, as well as a linguistic source for the language of that era.

Constantine Komnenos Doukas

Constantine Komnenos Doukas (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Κομνηνός Δούκας; ca. 1172 – after 1242), usually named simply Constantine Doukas, was a son of the sebastokrator John Doukas and brother of the founders of the Despotate of Epirus, Michael and Theodore. He was named governor of Acarnania and Aetolia and given the rank of Despot, which he held until his death.

Despotate of Arta

Not to be confused with the Despotate of Epirus.The Despotate of Arta was a despotate established by Albanian rulers during the 14th century, after the defeat of the local Despot of Epirus, Nikephoros II Orsini, by Albania tribesmen in the Battle of Achelous in 1359 and ceased to exist in 1416, when it passed to Carlo I Tocco.

Empire of Thessalonica

Empire of Thessalonica (Greek: Αυτοκρατορία της Θεσσαλονίκης) is a historiographic term used by some modern scholars to refer to the short-lived Byzantine Greek state centred on the city of Thessalonica between 1224 and 1246 and ruled by the Komnenodoukas dynasty of Epirus. At the time of its establishment, the Empire of Thessalonica, under the capable Theodore Komnenos Doukas, rivaled the Empire of Nicaea and the Second Bulgarian Empire as the strongest state in the region, and aspired to capturing Constantinople, putting an end to the Latin Empire, and restoring the Byzantine Empire that had been extinguished in 1204.

Thessalonica's ascendancy was brief, ending with the disastrous Battle of Klokotnitsa against Bulgaria in 1230, where Theodore Komnenos Doukas was captured. Reduced to a Bulgarian vassal, Theodore's brother and successor Manuel Komnenos Doukas was unable to prevent the loss of most of his brother's conquests in Macedonia and Thrace, while the original nucleus of the state, Epirus, broke free under Michael II Komnenos Doukas. Theodore recovered Thessalonica in 1237, installing his son John Komnenos Doukas, and after him Demetrios Angelos Doukas, as rulers of the city, while Manuel, with Nicaean support, seized Thessaly. The rulers of Thessalonica bore the imperial title from 1225/7 until 1242, when they were forced to renounce it and recognize the suzerainty of the rival Empire of Nicaea. The Komnenodoukai continued to rule as Despots of Thessalonica for four more years after that, but in 1246 the city was annexed by Nicaea.

Epirote–Nicaean conflict (1257–59)

In the period between 1257 and 1259 the Despotate of Epirus and Empire of Nicaea fought each other for Byzantine territories. Nicaea had by 1253 occupied Macedonia and Albania, and forced Despot Michael II of Epirus to submission. Michael II, fearing an Nicaean attack after Theodore II Laskaris' defeat of the Bulgarians (1255–56), allied himself with Serbian king Stefan Uroš I. The Epirotes involved chieftains in Albania in the springtime of 1257, and the Epirote and Serbian armies then coordinated their attacks. Michael regained most of Albania, then sent forces into Macedonia.

Gardiki Castle, Corfu

Gardiki Castle (Greek: Κάστρο Γαρδικίου) is a 13th-century Byzantine castle on the southwestern coast of Corfu and the only surviving medieval fortress on the southern part of the island. It was built by a ruler of the Despotate of Epirus, and was one of three castles which defended the island before the Venetian era (1401–1797). The three castles formed a defensive triangle, with Gardiki guarding the island's south, Kassiopi Castle the northeast and Angelokastro the northwest

Giovanni Colonna (died 1245)

Giovanni Colonna (ca. 1170 – 28 January 1245) was a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church from the Roman noble family of Colonna. He is occasionally named "the Younger" to distinguish him from his near-contemporary cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo, who is frequently considered as related to the Colonna family. As papal legate, he accompanied the Latin Emperor Peter II of Courtenay to Greece, where he was taken captive by Theodore Komnenos Doukas. Released from captivity, Colonna served in 1220–21 as regent of the Latin Empire before returning to Italy in 1223. Colonna participated in the conclaves of 1216 (election of Pope Honorius III), 1227 (Pope Gregory IX), and 1241–43 (Pope Innocent IV).

Hermoniakos' Iliad

The Hermoniakos' Iliad (Greek: Ἰλιάς Κωνσταντίνου Ἑρμονιακοῦ) is a 14th-century Byzantine paraphrase of the Iliad composed by Constantine Hermoniakos. The poem was commissioned by the Despot of Epirus, who asked Hermoniakos to write a new version of this epic in the Greek vernacular language.

John Apokaukos

John Apokaukos (Greek: Ἱωάννης Ἀπόκαυκος, ca. 1155 – 1233) was a Byzantine churchman and theologian. Having studied at Constantinople, he became bishop of Naupaktos and played a major role in the rivalry between the Epirote Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, exiled in the Empire of Nicaea.

John Plytos

John Plytos (Greek: Ἰωάννης Πλύτος) was a senior official and provincial governor of the Despotate of Epirus and the Empire of Thessalonica under Theodore Komnenos Doukas.

The sebastos John Plytos served as governor (doux) of Krujë (where his friend, Gregory Kamonas, had ruled in c. 1215), of Ohrid, and of Veroia. He was later raised to the rank of panhypersebastos and appointed as mesazon (chief minister) of Theodore Komnenos Doukas.

Leonardo II Tocco

Leonardo II Tocco (1375/76 – 1418/19) was a scion of the Tocco family and lord of Zakynthos, who played an important role as a military leader for his brother, Carlo I Tocco, in early 15th-century western Greece.

Medieval Greece

Medieval Greece refers to geographic components of the area historically and modernly known as Greece, during the Middle Ages.

These include:

Byzantine Greece (Early to High Middle Ages)

Northern Greece under the First Bulgarian Empire

various High Medieval Crusader states ("Frankish Greece") and Byzantine splinter states:

Latin Empire

Kingdom of Thessalonica

Principality of Achaea

Duchy of Athens

Despotate of Epirus

Despotate of the Morea

Northern Greece under the Second Bulgarian Empire (Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria)

Ottoman Greece (Late Middle Ages)

Peter II of Courtenay

Peter, also Peter II of Courtenay (French: Pierre de Courtenay; died 1219), was emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople from 1216 to 1217.

Principality of Arbanon

Arbanon (Albanian: Arbër or Arbëria, Gheg Albanian: Arban or Arbania, Greek: Ἄρβανον, Árbanon; Latin: Arbanum) or Albanon (Greek: Ἄλβανον, Álbanon), was an autonomous principality, the first Albanian entity during the Middle Ages, initially part of the Byzantine Empire and later of the Despotate of Epirus. The state was established by archon Progon in the region of Kruja, in c. 1190. Progon was succeeded by his sons Gjin and then Demetrius, who attained the height of the realm. After the death of Demetrius, the last of the Progon family, the principality came under Gregory Kamonas, and later Golem, until its dissolution in 1255.Throughout its existence, the principality was an autonomous dependency of its neighbouring powers, first Byzantium and, after the Fourth Crusade, Epirus, while it also maintained close relations with Serbia.

Tocco family

The family of Tocco (plural in Italian: Tocci/Tocchi; plural in Greek: Τόκκοι) was a noble house from Benevento of Longobard origins, which in the late 14th and 15th centuries came to prominence in western Greece as rulers of the Ionian Islands, County palatine of Cephalonia and Zakynthos and the Despotate of Epirus.

Provinces and regions
Major centres
Greek states after 1204
Greek states
Latin states
Rulers of the Despotate of Epirus
Komnenos-Doukas dynasty
Orsini dynasty
Nemanjić dynasty
Buondelmonti dynasty
Tocco dynasty

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