Empire of Nicaea

The Empire of Nicaea or the Nicene Empire[1] was the largest of the three Byzantine Greek[2][3] rump states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade. Founded by the Laskaris family,[3] it lasted from 1204 to 1261, when the Nicaeans restored the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople.

Empire of Nicaea

Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων
The Latin Empire, Empire of Nicaea, Empire of Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus-the borders are very uncertain.
The Latin Empire, Empire of Nicaea, Empire of Trebizond, and the Despotate of Epirus-the borders are very uncertain.
StatusExiled court of the Byzantine Empire
CapitalNicaea (de jure)
Nymphaion (de facto)
Common languagesGreek
Eastern Orthodoxy
• 1204–1222
Theodore I Laskaris
• 1222–1254
John III Doukas Vatatzes
• 1254–1258
Theodore II Laskaris
• 1258–1261
John IV Laskaris
• 1259–1261
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Historical eraHigh Middle Ages
• Established
• Disestablished
July 1261
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Byzantine Empire (Angelos dynasty)
Byzantine Empire (Palaiologos dynasty)



In 1204, Byzantine emperor Alexios V Ducas Murtzouphlos fled Constantinople after crusaders invaded the city. Soon after, Theodore I Lascaris, the son-in-law of Emperor Alexios III Angelos, was proclaimed emperor but he too, realizing the situation in Constantinople was hopeless, fled to the city of Nicaea (today İznik) in Bithynia.

The Latin Empire, established by the Crusaders in Constantinople, had poor control over former Byzantine territory, and Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire sprang up in Epirus, Trebizond, and Nicaea. Trebizond had broken away as an independent state a few weeks before the fall of Constantinople.[4] Nicaea, however, was the closest to the Latin Empire and was in the best position to attempt to re-establish the Byzantine Empire.

Theodore Lascaris was not immediately successful, as Henry of Flanders defeated him at Poimanenon and Prusa (now Bursa) in 1204, but Theodore was able to capture much of northwestern Anatolia after the defeat of Latin Emperor Baldwin I in the Battle of Adrianople, Henry was recalled to Europe to defend against invasions from Kaloyan of Bulgaria.[5] Theodore also defeated an army from Trebizond, as well as other minor rivals, leaving him in charge of the most powerful of the successor states. In 1206, Theodore proclaimed himself emperor at Nicaea.

Numerous truces and alliances were formed and broken over the next few years, as the Byzantine successor states, the Latin Empire, the Bulgarians, and the Seljuks of Iconium (whose territory also bordered Nicaea) fought each other. In 1211, at Antioch on the Meander, Theodore defeated a major invasion by the Seljuks, who were backing a bid by Alexios III Angelos to return to power. The losses suffered at Antioch, however, led to a defeat at the hands of the Latin Empire at the Rhyndacus River and the loss of most of Mysia and the Marmara Sea coast in the subsequent Treaty of Nymphaeum. The Nicaeans were compensated for this territorial loss when, in 1212, the death of David Komnenos allowed their annexation of his lands in Paphlagonia.[6]

Theodore consolidated his claim to the imperial throne by naming a new Patriarch of Constantinople in Nicaea. In 1219, he married the daughter of Latin Empress Yolanda of Flanders, but he died in 1222 and was succeeded by his son-in-law John III Ducas Vatatzes.


Lefke Kapisi Iznik 932a
Nicaea city wall, Lefke gate; Iznik, Turkey

The accession of Vatatzes was initially challenged by the Laskarids, with the sebastokratores Isaac and Alexios, brothers of Theodore I, seeking the aid of the Latin Empire. Vatatzes prevailed over their combined forces, however, in the Battle of Poimanenon, securing his throne and regaining almost all of the Asian territories held by the Latin Empire in the process.

In 1224, the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica was captured by the Despot of Epirus Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who crowned himself emperor in rivalry to Vatatzes and established the Empire of Thessalonica. It proved short-lived, as it came under Bulgarian control after the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230. With Trebizond lacking any real power, Nicaea was the only Byzantine state left, and John III expanded his territory across the Aegean Sea. In 1235, he allied with Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria, allowing him to extend his influence over Thessalonica and Epirus.

In 1242, the Mongols invaded Seljuk territory to the east of Nicaea, and although John III was worried they might attack him next, they ended up eliminating the Seljuk threat to Nicaea. In 1245, John allied with the Holy Roman Empire by marrying Constance II of Hohenstaufen, daughter of Frederick II. In 1246, John attacked Bulgaria and recovered most of Thrace and Macedonia, and proceeded to incorporate Thessalonica into his realm. By 1248, John had defeated the Bulgarians and surrounded the Latin Empire. He continued to take land from the Latins until his death in 1254.

Theodore II Lascaris, John III's son, faced invasions from the Bulgarians in Thrace, but successfully defended the territory. A conflict between Nicaea and Epirus broke out in 1257. Epirus allied with Manfred of Sicily when Theodore II died in 1258. John IV Lascaris succeeded him, but as he was still a child he was under the regency of the general Michael Palaeologus. Michael proclaimed himself co-emperor (as Michael VIII) in 1259, and soon defeated a combined invasion by Manfred, the Despot of Epirus, and the Latin Prince of Achaea at the Battle of Pelagonia.

Recapture of Constantinople

Hyperpyron-Michael VIII Paleologus-sb2241
Coin issued by Michael VIII Palaeologus to celebrate the liberation of Constantinople from the Latin army, and the restoration of the Roman/Byzantine Empire.

In 1260, Michael began the assault on Constantinople itself, which his predecessors had been unable to do. He allied with Genoa, and his general Alexios Strategopoulos spent months observing Constantinople in order to plan his attack. In July 1261, as most of the Latin army was fighting elsewhere, Alexius was able to convince the guards to open the gates of the city. Once inside he burned the Venetian quarter (as Venice was an enemy of Genoa, and had been largely responsible for the capture of the city in 1204).

Michael was recognized as emperor a few weeks later, restoring the Byzantine Empire. Achaea was soon recaptured, but Trebizond and Epirus remained independent Byzantine Greek states. The restored empire also faced a new threat from the Ottomans, when they arose to replace the Seljuks.


After 1261, Constantinople once more became the capital of the Byzantine Empire.[7] The territories of the former Empire of Nicaea were stripped of their wealth, which was used to rebuild Constantinople and to fund numerous wars in Europe against the Latin states and Epirus. Soldiers were transferred from Asia Minor to Europe, leaving the old frontier relatively undefended. Raids by Turkish ghazis were left unchecked, and the frontier was increasingly overrun.

The usurpation of the legitimate Laskarid ruler John IV Laskaris by Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261 alienated much of the populace against the restored Byzantine Empire at Constantinople. John IV was left behind at Nicaea, and was later blinded on Michael's orders on his eleventh birthday, December 25, 1261. This made him ineligible for the throne, and he was exiled and imprisoned in a fortress in Bithynia. This action led to the excommunication of Michael VIII Palaiologos by the Patriarch Arsenius Autoreianus, and a later revolt led by a Pseudo-John IV near Nicaea.

The subsequent history of the former territory of the Empire of Nicaea is one of gradual conquest by the Turks. After the death of Michael VIII in 1282, Turkish raids turned into permanent settlement and the establishment of Turkish beyliks on former Byzantine territory. While the emperor Anronikos II made some efforts to retrieve the situation, these were unsuccessful. By c.1300, nearly the whole of the former Empire of Nicaea had been conquered by the Turks, with only a tiny strip of territory directly opposite Constantinople clinging on. The final end of Byzantine Asia Minor came with the fall of Bursa in 1326, Nicaea in 1331 and Nicomedia in 1337.


The Nicaean Empire consisted of Byzantium's most highly populated Greek region, with the exception of Thrace which was under Latin/Bulgar control. As such, the Empire was able to raise a reasonably numerous military force of around 20,000 soldiers at its height – numbers recorded as participating in its numerous wars against the Crusader states.

The Nicaeans continued some aspects of the Komnenian army, but without the resources available to the Komnenian emperors the Nicaean Byzantines could not match the numbers, nor the quality, of the armies that the emperor Manuel and his predecessors had fielded. Western Asia Minor had access to the sea, making it wealthier than most of the splinter states around and in time became the most powerful state in the region, if only for a short period.

Ideology and Hellenism

The court of the Nicaean state widely used the term "Hellenes" instead of the earlier "Romans" to describe its Greek population.[8] Contemporaries preferred the use of "Hellas" or the adjective "Hellenikon" for the Empire of Nicaea.[9][10] As such, Emperor Theodore Laskaris replaces the terms Romaioi (Romans) and Graikoi by Hellenes.[11] Emperor Theodore II describes his realm as the new Hellas.[12] Partiarch Germanos II used in official correspondence with the western world the term: "Graikoi" to describe the local population and "Empire of the Greeks" (Greek: Βασιλεία των Γραικών) as the name of the state. During that time there was a concerted ethnic Greek self-identification initiative.[13]

Some scholars see the Nicene empire period as an indication of rising ethnic Hellenic consciousness and Greek nationalism. However, these scholars caution that a rise in ethnic consciousness did not affect the official imperial ideology.[14] In the official ideology, the traditional view of Byzantium as the Roman Empire was not overturned, as the usage of the word Rhomaioi for subjects of the Nicene emperors demonstrates.[14] The official ideology of the Nicene Empire was one of reconquest and militarism, which was not to be seen in later 14th-century Palaiologan rhetoric.[15]

The ideology of 13th-century Nicaea was characterized by belief in the continued significance of Constantinople and the hope to recapture the city, drawing less on claims of political universalism or Hellenic nationalism than on Old Testament ideas of Jewish providence. The emperor in this period is frequently compared to Moses[16] or Zorobabel, or even as the “Pillar of Fire” that guides God’s people to the Promised Land, e.g. in a speech delivered by Theodore I Laskaris, written by Niketas Choniates.[17]

The rhetoric of this period also glorified war and the reconquest of Constantinople using images not drawn from the Old Testament. For example, in his panegyric of Theodore I Laskarsis, Choniates describes a battle with a Seljuk sultan as a battle between Christianity and Islam, rhetorically comparing the wounds of Theodore, who had himself slain an enemy commander, to those of Christ on the cross.[18] Dimiter Angelov suggests that western crusading ideology may have influenced the development of this view on reconquest, and during this period there is mention that Patriarch Michael IV Autoreianos offered full remission of sins to Nicene troops about to enter battle, a practice almost identical to a western plenary indulgence. However, the granting of such indulgences was short lived, and many of the possible crusader influences seem to have dropped off after 1211.[18]

The Byzantines of the 13th century also drew parallels between the situation of the empire after 1204 and that of Classical Greeks. This evidence has helped to strengthen the view of some scholars, such as A. E. Vacalopoulos, who see these references, combined with a re-evaluation of Byzantium's classical past, to be the genesis of Greek nationalism.[19] With the loss of Constantinople, this comparison played on the idea of "Hellenes" surrounded by barbarians; Choniates equated the Seljuk sultan killed by Theodore I with Xerxes, and patriarch Germanos II recalled the victory of John III Vatatzes as another battle of Marathon or Salamis.[20] In much the same way, Theodore II Laskaris compared his father's victories to those of Alexander the Great and proceeded to extol the martial values of contemporary "Hellenes".[21]

In addition, during this period there seems to have been a shift in how the word "Hellene" was used in Byzantine parlance. Up to this point, "Hellene" had borne a negative connotation and was in particular associated with the remnants of paganism. In this period, however, both the terms "Graikoi" and "Hellenes" appear to enter into the diplomatic usage of the empire as a form of religious and ethnic self-identification, spurred by a desire to differentiate the empire and its citizens from the Latins.[22] Patriarch Germanus II of Constantinople in particular exemplifies this new vision of ethnic and religious identity. His letters equate good birth with the purity of his Hellenistic ancestry, placing more value in his Hellenistic linguistic and ethnic background than in any association with Constantinople, and showing his contempt for the Latins who prided themselves on possessing the city. There is a debate among scholars regarding the exact timing of the shift in meaning of the word Hellene. Roderick Beaton, considering the evidence of the usage of the term "Hellenes" in the 12th century, sees the re-evaluation of the term as occurring before the loss of Constantinople in 1204. In addition, unlike Vacalopoulos,[23] Beaton sees not the birth of Greek nationalism, but rather an embryonic “ethnic” awareness, primarily based around language.[24]

Michael Angold notes that the ideology of the period displays the ability of the Byzantines to react and adapt to changing cultural and political circumstances, including exile, and that the ideological developments of this period were, for the most part, cut short and discarded by the restored empire of the Palaiologoi, as Michael VIII returned to the ideology of earlier periods.[25]


See also


  1. ^ Vasiliev, Alexander A. (1952). History of the Byzantine Empire, 324–1453. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 546.
  2. ^ The Columbia history of the world by John Arthur Garraty, Peter Gay (1972), p. 454: "The Greek empire in exile at Nicaea proved too strong to be driven out of Asia Minor, and in Epirus another Greek dynasty defied the intruders.”
  3. ^ a b A Short history of Greece from early times to 1964 by W. A. Heurtley, H. C. Darby, C. W. Crawley, C. M. Woodhouse (1967), page 55: "There in the prosperous city of Nicaea, Theodoros Laskaris, the son in law of a former Byzantine Emperor, establish a court that soon become the Small but reviving Greek empire."
  4. ^ Michael Panaretos, Chronicle, ch. 1. Greek text in Original-Fragmente, Chroniken, Inschiften und anderes Materiale zur Geschichte des Kaiserthums Trapezunt, part 2; in Abhandlungen der historischen Classe der königlich bayerischen Akademie 4 (1844), abth. 1, pp. 11; German translation, p. 41
  5. ^ Alice Gardiner, The Lascarids of Nicaea: The Story of an Empire in Exile, 1912, (Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert, 1964), pp. 75–78
  6. ^ Abulafia & McKitterick 1999, p. 547.
  7. ^ Geanakoplos 1989, p. 173.
  8. ^ Bialor, Perry (2008). "Chapter 2, Greek Ethnic Survival Under Ottoman Domination". ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst: 73.
  9. ^ Meyendorff, John (2010). Byzantium and the Rise of Russia: A Study of Byzantino-Russian Relations in the Fourteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780521135337. The Empire of Nicaea, in particular, was seen as the Hellenikon, or as Hellas
  10. ^ Stavridou-Zafraka, Alkmeni (2015). "Byzantine Culture in Late Mediaeval Greek States". Βυζαντιακά. 32: 211.
  11. ^ Maltezou, Chryssa; Schreine, Peter (2002). Bisanzio, Venezia e il mondo franco-greco (in French). Istituto ellenico di studi bizantini e postbizantini di Venezia. p. 33. ISBN 9789607743220. Theodoros Laskaris totally avoids the terms Latinoi in his letters and uses Italoi instead, he also replaces the terms Romaioi (Romans) and Greek by Hellenes.
  12. ^ Doumanis, Nicholas (2009). A History of Greece. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 140. ISBN 9781137013675.
  13. ^ Hilsdale, Cecily J. (2014). Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline. Cambridge University Press. p. 84. ISBN 9781107729384.
  14. ^ a b Angelov, Dimiter. Imperial ideology and political thought in Byzantium (1204–1330). Cambridge: University Press, 2007. p. 95 Also Kaldellis, Anthony. Hellenism in Byzantium : the transformations of Greek identity and the reception of the classical tradition. Cambridge: University Press, 2007.
  15. ^ Angelov, pp. 99–101
  16. ^ Angold, Michael. A Byzantine government in exile : government and society under the Laskarids of Nicaea, 1204–1261. London: Oxford University Press, 1975. p. 13
  17. ^ Angelov, p. 99
  18. ^ a b Angelov, p. 100
  19. ^ Angold, Michael. "Byzantine ‘Nationalism’ and the Nicaean Empire." Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1 (1975) pp. 51-52
  20. ^ Angold, p. 29
  21. ^ Angelov, p. 97
  22. ^ Angelov, pp. 96–97
  23. ^ A. E. Vacalopoulos, The Origins of the Greek Nation:the Byzantine Period (1204-1461) (New Brunswick, 1970).
  24. ^ Beaton, Roderick. "Antique Nation? 'Hellenes' on the Eve of Greek Independence and in Twelfth-Century Byzantium," Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 31 (2007), pp. 76–95
  25. ^ Angold, Michael. "Byzantine ‘Nationalism’ and the Nicaean Empire", Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1 (1975) p. 70


  • Geanakoplos, Deno John (1989). Constantinople and the West: Essays on the Late Byzantine (Palaeologan) and Italian Renaissances and the Byzantine and Roman Churches. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0299118846.
  • Abulafia, David; McKitterick, Rosamond (1999). The New Cambridge Medieval History V: c. 1198-c. 1300. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-36289-X.
Alexios Strategopoulos

Alexios Komnenos Strategopoulos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός Στρατηγόπουλος) was a Byzantine general during the reign of Michael VIII Palaiologos, rising to the rank of megas domestikos and Caesar. Of noble descent, he appears in the sources already at an advanced age in the early 1250s, leading armies for the Empire of Nicaea against Epirus. After falling out of favour and being imprisoned by Theodore II Laskaris, Strategopoulos sided with the aristocrats around Michael Palaiologos, and supported him in his rise to the throne after Theodore II's death in 1258. He participated in the Pelagonia campaign in 1259, going on to capture Epirus, but his successes were undone in the next year and he was captured by the Epirotes. Released after a few months, he led the unexpected reconquest of Constantinople from the Latin Empire in July 1261, restoring the Byzantine Empire. He was captured again by the Epirotes in the next year and spent several years in captivity in Italy, before being released. He retired from public affairs and died in the early 1270s.

Battle of Adrianople (1254)

The Battle of Adrianople was fought in 1254 between the Byzantine Greek Empire of Nicaea and the Bulgarians. Michael Asen I of Bulgaria tried to reconquer land taken by the Empire of Nicaea, but the swift advance of Theodore II Lascaris caught the Bulgarians unprepared. The Byzantines were victorious.

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 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.

Battle of Poimanenon

The Battle of Poimanenon or Poemanenum was fought in early 1224 (or possibly late 1223) between the forces of the two main successor states of the Byzantine Empire; the Latin Empire and the Byzantine Greek Empire of Nicaea. The opposing forces met at Poimanenon, south of Cyzicus in Mysia, near Lake Kuş.

Battle of the Rhyndacus (1211)

The Battle of the Rhyndacus was fought on 15 October 1211 between the forces of two of the main successor states of the Byzantine Empire, the Latin Empire and the Byzantine Greek Empire of Nicaea, established following the dissolution of the Byzantine state after the Fourth Crusade.

The Latin emperor, Henry of Flanders, desired to expand his territory in Asia Minor at the expense of the Nicaeans. He had already achieved a victory in 1205 at Adramyttium, but the need to counter the Bulgarians in Europe had forced him to conclude a truce and depart. By 1211, only a small exclave around Pegai remained in Latin hands. Taking advantage of the losses suffered by the Nicaean army against the Seljuks in the Battle of Antioch on the Meander, Henry landed with his army at Pegai and marched eastward to the Rhyndacus river. Henry had probably some 260 Frankish knights. Laskaris had a larger force overall, but only a handful of Frankish mercenaries of his own, as they had suffered especially heavily against the Seljuks. Laskaris prepared an ambush at the Rhyndacus, but Henry assaulted his positions and scattered the Nicaean troops in a day-long battle on 15 October. The Latin victory, won reportedly without casualties, was crushing: after the battle Henry marched unopposed through Nicaean lands, reaching south as far as Nymphaion.

Warfare lapsed thereafter, and both sides concluded the Treaty of Nymphaeum, which gave the Latin Empire control of most of Mysia up to the village of Kalamos (modern Gelembe), which was to be uninhabited and mark the boundary between the two states.

Constantine Laskaris

Constantine Laskaris (Greek Κωνσταντίνος Λάσκαρης) was Byzantine Emperor for a few months from 1204 to early 1205. He is sometimes called "Constantine XI", a numeral now usually reserved for Constantine Palaiologos.

Empire of Trebizond

The Empire of Trebizond or the Trapezuntine Empire was a monarchy and one of three successor rump states of the Byzantine Empire that flourished during the 13th through 15th centuries, consisting of the far northeastern corner of Anatolia (the Pontus) and the southern Crimea. The empire was formed in 1204 after the Georgian expedition in Chaldia, commanded by Alexios Komnenos a few weeks before the sack of Constantinople. Alexios later declared himself Emperor and established himself in Trebizond (modern day Trabzon, Turkey). Alexios and David Komnenos, grandsons and last male descendants of deposed Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, pressed their claims as "Roman Emperors" against Byzantine Emperor Alexios V Doukas. The later Byzantine emperors, as well as Byzantine authors, such as George Pachymeres, Nicephorus Gregoras and to some extent Trapezuntines such as John Lazaropoulos and Basilios Bessarion, regarded the emperors of Trebizond as the “princes of the Lazes”, while the possession of these "princes" was also called Lazica, in other words, their state was known as the Principality of the Lazes. Thus from the point of view of the Byzantine writers connected with the Laskaris and later with the Palaiologos dynasties, the rulers of Trebizond were not emperors.After the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade overthrew Alexios V and established the Latin Empire, the Empire of Trebizond became one of three Byzantine successor states to claim the imperial throne, alongside the Empire of Nicaea under the Laskaris family and the Despotate of Epirus under a branch of the Angelos family. The ensuing wars would see the Empire of Thessalonica, the imperial government that sprung from Epirus, collapse following conflicts with Nicaea and Bulgaria and the final recapture of Constantinople by the Empire of Nicaea in 1261. Despite the Nicaean reconquest of Constantinople, the Emperors of Trebizond would continue to style themselves as "Roman Emperors" for decades and continued to press their claim on the Imperial throne. Emperor John II of Trebizond officially gave up the Trapezuntine claim to the Roman imperial title and Constantinople itself 11 years after the Nicaeans recaptured the city, altering his imperial title from "Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans" to "Emperor and Autocrat of all the East, Iberia (i.e. Lazica) and Perateia".The Trapezuntine monarchy would survive the longest among the Byzantine successor states. The Despotate of Epirus had ceased to contest the Byzantine throne even before the Nicaean reconquest and was briefly occupied by the restored Byzantine Empire c. 1340, thereafter becoming a Serbian dependency later inherited by Italians, ultimately falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1479. Whilst the Empire of Nicaea had restored the Byzantine Empire through restoring control of the capital, it ended in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans. Trebizond would last until 1461 when the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II conquered it after a month-long siege and took its ruler and his family into captivity, marking the final end of the Roman imperial tradition initiated by Augustus 1,488 years previously. The Crimean Principality of Theodoro, an offshoot of Trebizond, lasted another 14 years, falling to the Ottomans in 1475.

Genoese occupation of Rhodes

The Genoese occupation of Rhodes refers to the period between 1248 and late 1249/early 1250 during which the city of Rhodes and parts of the island were under Genoese control. The Genoese took possession of the city and island, a dependency of the Empire of Nicaea, in a surprise attack in 1248, and held it, with aid from the Principality of Achaea, against Nicaean attacks until 1250.


The Laskaris or Lascaris (Greek: Λάσκαρις, later Λάσκαρης) family was a Byzantine Greek noble family whose members formed the ruling dynasty of the Empire of Nicaea from 1204 to 1261 and remained among the senior nobility up to the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire, whereupon many emigrated to Italy and then to Smyrna (much later). According to George Pachymeres, they were also called Tzamantouros (Tζαμάντουρος). The feminine form of the name is Laskarina (Λασκαρίνα).

Manuel II of Constantinople

Manuel II, (? – 3 November 1254) was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1244 to 1255.

Manuel I of Constantinople

Manuel I, surnamed Sarantenos or Charitopoulos (Greek: Μανουήλ Α΄ Σαραντηνός or Χαριτόπουλος), (? – May or June 1222) was Patriarch of Constantinople from December 1216 or January 1217 to 1222. He seems to have been called "the Philosopher": George Akropolites says he was "a philosopher, it seems, in deed, and so named by the people." Manuel was Patriarch-in-exile as at the time his titular seat was occupied by the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, and he resided in Nicaea. Before the sack of 1204, Manuel was a deacon and hypatos ton philosophon in Constantinople. This is likely the source of his epithet "the Philosopher".Under Manuel I, Saint Sava had become an archbishop and an autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church was formed in the territory of the Serbian Kingdom of Stefan Nemanjić.

Manuel is noted for his role in a diplomatic interplay between the Nicaean emperor Theodore I Laskaris and the Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Robert of Courtenay, in 1222. Robert had approached Theodore for a peace treaty and the latter offered his daughter Eudokia in marriage to cement the deal. But Theodore had married Maria of Courtenay, Robert's sister, in 1217. Manuel is thus reported by George Akropolites to have blocked the betrothal, twice negotiated, on religious-legal grounds: Robert, Theodore's brother-in-law, could not also become his son-in-law as this was an 'illegal union' and constituted incest as it was within the third degree of kinship.

Maximus II of Constantinople

Maximus II (? – December 1216) was Patriarch of Constantinople from June to December 1216. He had been abbot of the monastery of the Akoimetoi and was the confessor of the Nicaean emperor Theodore I Laskaris before he became patriarch. George Akropolites and Xanthopoulos are highly critical of Maximos, suggesting that he was "uneducated" and that the only reason he was made patriarch was his intrigue into the palace's women's quarters. Akropolites writes that he "paid court to the women's quarters and was in turn courted by it; for it was nothing else which raised him to such eminence." Maximus was Patriarch-in-exile as at the time his titular seat was occupied by the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople, and he resided in Nicaea. He died in office after only six months on the patriarchal throne.

Methodius II of Constantinople

Methodios II (Greek: Μεθόδιος Β΄), (? – 1240) served as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople (in exile due to the Fourth Crusade) for three months in 1240, when he died. He succeeded Germanus II.

Before he was elected Patriarch, he was abbot of the Hyacinth Monastery in Nicaea. His short patriarchy didn't let him to contribute importantly.

Michael IV of Constantinople

Michael IV Autoreianos (Greek: Μιχαήλ Ἀυτωρειανός), (? – 26 August 1212) was the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1206 to his death in 1212.

Michael was a well-educated man and a member of the literary circle around Eustathius of Thessalonica. In the ecclesiastic hierarchy, he had reached the post of megas sakellarios at the time of the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. According to a letter written by John Apokaukos in 1222, he was nominated bishop of Amastris, but David Komnenos rejected his nomination as an infringement of his sovereignty. In 1208 he was made patriarch by Theodore I Laskaris, in succession of John X who had died in 1206. Laskaris had established a Byzantine Greek successor state in Asia, the Empire of Nicaea, and had tried to persuade John X to join him, but he had refused because of old age and died shortly after.Shortly after his appointment, on 20 March 1206, Michael IV performed Theodore Laskaris' coronation as emperor (Laskaris had already been acclaimed emperor in 1205). He also took the highly unusual move, contrary to both Byzantine tradition and Orthodox doctrine, of promising remission of sins for Laskaris' soldiers who fell in battle. It appears however that this pledge was of short duration. He died at Nicaea on 26 August 1212.

Nicephorus II of Constantinople

Nikephoros II or Nicephorus II, (? – 25 July 1261) was a Byzantine cleric and Patriarch of Constantinople in exile at the Empire of Nicaea.

Originally serving as Metropolitan of Ephesus, he was elected to the patriarchate after the resignation of Arsenios Autoreianos in 1260. He died after a few months, in early 1261, and was buried at Nymphaion. A period of vacancy followed his death, but after the reconquest of Constantinople in July, Arsenios was recalled from his retirement and restored to the patriarchal throne.

Niketas Choniates

Niketas or Nicetas Choniates (Greek: Νικήτας Χωνιάτης; c. 1155 – 1217), whose actual surname was Akominatos (Ἀκομινάτος), was a Greek Byzantine government official and historian – like his brother Michael Akominatos, whom he accompanied to Constantinople from their birthplace Chonae (from which came his nickname, "Choniates" meaning "person from Chonae"). Nicetas wrote a history of the Eastern Roman Empire from 1118 to 1207.

Siege of Constantinople (1235)

The Siege of Constantinople (1235) was a joint Bulgarian-Nicaean siege on the capital of the Latin Empire. Latin emperor John of Brienne was besieged by the Nicaean emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes and Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria. The siege remained unsuccessful.

Theodore II of Constantinople

Theodore II Eirenikos (Greek: Θεόδωρος Β' Εἰρηνικός), (? – 31 January 1216), also known as Theodore Kopas or Koupas (Κωπάς/Κουπάς), was a high-ranking Byzantine official and chief minister during most of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos (r. 1195–1203). After the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade, he fled to the Empire of Nicaea, where he became a monk and served as Patriarch of Constantinople in exile in 1214–1216.

Treaty of Nymphaeum (1214)

The Treaty of Nymphaeum (Greek: Συνθήκη του Νυμφαίου) was a peace treaty signed in December 1214 between the Nicaean Empire, successor state of the Byzantine Empire, and the Latin Empire, which was established in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade of 1204.

Greek states
Latin states
Muslim states
Christian states


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