Komnenos

Komnenos (Greek: Κομνηνός), Latinized Comnenus, plural Komnenoi or Comneni (Κομνηνοί [komniˈni]), is a noble family who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 to 1185,[1] and later, as the Grand Komnenoi (Μεγαλοκομνηνοί, Megalokomnenoi) founded and ruled the Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461). Through intermarriages with other noble families, notably the Doukai, Angeloi, and Palaiologoi, the Komnenos name appears among most of the major noble houses of the late Byzantine world.

Komnenos
CountryByzantine Empire, Empire of Trebizond
FounderManuel Erotikos Komnenos
TitlesByzantine Emperor, Emperor of Trebizond, Queen consort of Jerusalem*, Princess of Antioch*, Duchess of Athens*, Despot of Epirus¹ (*By marriage)
Dissolution1185 (Byzantine rule), 1461 (Trapezuntine rule)
Cadet branchesKomnenos Doukas¹

Origins

Michael Psellos reports that the family originated from the village of Komne in Thrace—usually identified with the "Fields of Komnene" (Κομνηνῆς λειμῶνας) mentioned in the 14th century by John Kantakouzenos—a view commonly accepted by modern scholarship.[2][3] The first known member of the family, Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, acquired extensive estates at Kastamon in Paphlagonia, which became the stronghold of the family in the 11th century.[2][4] The family thereby quickly became associated with the powerful and prestigious military aristocracy (dynatoi) of Asia Minor, so that despite its Thracian origins it came to be considered "eastern".[5]

The 17th-century scholar Du Cange suggested that the family descended from a Roman noble family that followed Constantine the Great to Constantinople, but although such mythical genealogies were common—and are indeed attested for the closely related Doukas clan—the complete absence of any such assertion in the Byzantine sources argues against Du Cange's view.[6] The Romanian historian George Murnu suggested in 1924 that the Komnenoi were of Aromanian descent, but this view too is now rejected.[6] Modern scholars consider the family to have been entirely of Greek origin.[6]

Manuel Erotikos Komnenos was the father of Isaac I Komnenos (reigned 1057-1059) and grandfather, through Isaac's younger brother John Komnenos, of Alexios I Komnenos (reigned 1081-1118).

Founding the dynasty

Isaac I Komnenos, a Stratopedarch of the East under Michael VI, founded the Komnenos dynasty of Byzantine emperors. In 1057 Isaac led a coup against Michael and was proclaimed emperor. Although his reign lasted only till 1059, when his courtiers pressured him to abdicate and become a monk, Isaac initiated many useful reforms. The dynasty returned to the throne with the accession of Alexios I Komnenos, Isaac I's nephew, in 1081. By this time, descendants of all the previous dynasties of Byzantium seem to have disappeared from the realm, such as the important Scleros and Argyros families. Descendants of those emperors lived abroad, having married into the royal families of Georgia, Russia, France, Persia, Italy, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia; this made it easier for the Komnenos family to ascend to the throne.

Upon their rise to the throne, the Komnenoi became intermarried with the previous Doukas dynasty: Alexios I married Irene Doukaina, the grandniece of Constantine X Doukas, who had succeeded Isaac I in 1059. Thereafter the combined clan often was referred as "Komnenodoukai" (Latinized "Comnenoducae") and several individuals used both surnames together.[7] Several families descended from the Komnenodoukai, such as Palaiologos, Angelos, Vatatzes and Laskaris. Alexios and Irene's youngest daughter Theodora ensured the future success of the Angelos family by marrying into it: Theodora's grandsons became the emperors Isaac II Angelos (reigned 1185–1195 and 1203–1204) and Alexios III Angelos (reigned 1195-1203).

Komnenoi as emperors

Alexius I
Alexios I Komnenos.

Under Alexios I and his successors the Empire was fairly prosperous and stable. Alexios moved the imperial palace to the Blachernae section of Constantinople. Much of Anatolia was recovered from the Seljuk Turks, who had captured it just prior to Alexios' reign. Alexios also saw the First Crusade pass through Byzantine territory, leading to the establishment of the Crusader states in the east. The Komnenos dynasty was very much involved in crusader affairs, and also intermarried with the reigning families of the Principality of Antioch and the Kingdom of Jerusalem - Theodora Komnene, niece of Manuel I Komnenos, married Baldwin III of Jerusalem, and Maria, grandniece of Manuel, married Amalric I of Jerusalem.

Remarkably, Alexios ruled for 37 years, and his son John II ruled for 25, after uncovering a conspiracy against him by his sister, the chronicler Anna Komnene. John's son Manuel ruled for another 37 years.

The Komnenos dynasty produced a number of branches. As imperial succession was not in a determined order but rather depended on personal power and the wishes of one's predecessor, within a few generations several relatives were able to present themselves as claimants. After Manuel I's reign the Komnenos dynasty fell into conspiracies and plots like many of its predecessors (and the various contenders within the family sought power and often succeeded in overthrowing the preceding kinsman); Alexios II, the first Komnenos to ascend as a minor, ruled for three years and his conqueror and successor Andronikos I ruled for two, overthrown by the Angelos family under Isaac II who was dethroned and blinded by his own brother Alexios III. The Angeloi were overthrown during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, by Alexios Doukas, a relative from the Doukas family.

Later family

Several weeks before the occupation of Constantinople by crusaders in 1204, one branch of the Komnenoi fled back to their homelands in Paphlagonia, along the eastern Black Sea and its hinterland in the Pontic Alps, where they established the Empire of Trebizond. Their first 'emperor', named Alexios I, was the grandson of Emperor Andronikos I.[8] These emperors – the "Grand Komnenoi" (Megaloi Komnenoi or Megalokomnenoi) as they were known – ruled in Trebizond for over 250 years, until 1461, when David Komnenos was defeated and executed by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II.[9] Mehmed himself claimed descent from the Komnenos family via John Tzelepes Komnenos. The Trapezutine branch of the Komnenos dynasty also held the name of Axouchos as descendants of John Axouch, a Byzantine nobleman and minister to the Byzantine Komnenian Dynasty. A princess of the Trebizond branch is said to have been the mother of prince Yahya (born 1585), who reportedly became a Christian yet spent much of his life attempting to gain the Ottoman throne.

Another branch of the family founded the Despotate of Epirus in 1204, under Michael I Komnenos Doukas, great-grandson of Emperor Alexios I. Helena Doukaina Komnene, a child of that branch of the family, married Guy I de la Roche thereby uniting the Komnenos and the de la Roche houses, with Komnenos family members eventually becoming Dukes of Athens.

One renegade member of the family, also named Isaac, established a separate "empire" on Cyprus in 1184, which lasted until 1191, when the island was taken from him by Richard I of England during the Third Crusade.

When the eastern Empire was restored in 1261 at Constantinople, it was ruled by a family closely related to the Komnenoi, the Palaiologos family. The Palaiologoi ruled until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

The last descendant of the dynasty is often considered to have been John Komnenos Molyvdos,[10] a distinguished Ottoman Greek scholar and physician, who became metropolitan bishop of Side and Dristra, and died in 1719. His claims to descent from the imperial dynasty of Trebizond, however, are most likely a fabrication.

In 1782, the Corsican Greek notable Demetrio Stefanopoli obtained letters patent from Louis XVI recognizing him as the descendant and heir of the Emperors of Trebizond.

Komnenian ancestry in Western Europe

Irene Angelina, daughter of Isaac II Angelos and a thus a descendant of Alexios I Komnenos, married Philip of Swabia, the King of Germany. From this union many of the royal and aristocratic families of Western Europe can trace a line of descent.[11]

Family tree of the House of Komnenos

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Constantine X Doukas
Byzantine emperor (1059-1067)
 
Sofia Doukaina
HOUSE OF DOUKAS
 
Manuel Erotikos Komnenos
general
HOUSE OF KOMNENOS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Isaac I
Byzantine emperor (1057-1059)
Catherine of Bulgaria
 
John
domestikos ton scholon
Anna Dalassene Charontos
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Manuel
kouropalates
 
Maria
Michael Taronites
panhypersebastos
 
Isaac protoproedros
domestikos ton scholon of the East
∞ Irene of Alania
 
Eudokia
Nikephoros Melissenos
general
 
Theodora
Constantine Diogenes
kouropalates
 
Alexios I
Byzantine emperor
(1081-1118)
Irene Doukaina
 
Adrianos protosebastos
domestikos ton scholon of the West
∞ Zoe Doukaina
(daughter of Constantine X Doukas)
 
Nikephoros sebastos
droungarios of the fleet
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John
doux of Dyrrhachium
∞ Maria Doukaina
(daughter of Michael)
 
Anna Komnene
historian
Nikephoros Bryennios Younger
general, historian
 
Maria
Nikephoros Katakalon
panhypersebastos
 
John II
Byzantine emperor
(1118-1143)
Irene of Hungary
 
Andronikos
sebastokrator
 
Isaac
sebastokrator
 
Theodora
∞ 2.Constantine Angelos
 
Eudokia
∞ Constantine Iasites
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alexios
co-emperor
∞ 1.Dobrodeia of Kiev
2.Kata of Georgia
 
Maria
John Rogerios Dalassenos
caesar
 
 
 
 
 
Andronikos
sebastokrator
 
Anna
Stephen Kontostephanos
megas doux (admiral)
 
 
 
 
 
Isaac
sebastokrator
∞ 1.Theodora
2.Irene Diplosynadene
 
Theodora
Manuel Anemas
general
 
 
 
 
 
Eudokia
Theodore Vatatzes
general
 
Manuel I
Byzantine emperor
(1143-1180)
∞ 1.Bertha of Sulzbach
2.Bertha of Sulzbach
 
John Tzelepes
∞ 1.(daughter of Leo I, Prince of Armenia)
2.(daughter of Mesud I sultan of Iconium)
 
Andronikos I
Byzantine emperor
(1183-1185)
∞ 2.Agnes
(daughter of Louis VII of France)
 
Andronikos
general

HOUSE OF ANGELOS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maria
Alexios Axouch
sebastos, protostrator,
doux of Cilicia
 
Maria
∞ 1.John Dasiotes
2.John Kantakouzenos
sebastos
 
John
dukas of Cyprus
∞ Maria Taronitissa
 
Theodora
Henry II, Duke of Austria
 
Eudokia
∞ 2.John Gabras
 
Alexios
protosebastos
∞ Maria Doukaina
 
(1) Irene
∞ Doukas Kamateros
 
(1) Maria
Stephen IV of Hungary
 
(2) Theodora
Baldwin III of Jerusalem
 
(2) Eudokia
William VIII of Montpellier
 
(1) Maria
Renier of Montferrat
caesar
 
(2) Alexios II Komnenos
Byzantine emperor
(1180-1183)
Agnes of France
 
(1) Μανουήλ
Rusudan of Georgia
 
(1) John
(?)sebastos
 
(illeg.) Alexios
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
John Komnenos Axouch Fat
usurper
 
 
 
 
 
Maria
∞ 1.Amalric of Jerusalem
2.Balian of Ibelin
 
Theodora
Bohemond III of Antioch
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Isaac Komnenos Kamateros
usurper ruler of Cyprus
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Maria of Montpellier
∞ 3.Peter II of Aragon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Alexios I
emperor of Trebizond
BRANCH OF THE GRAND KOMNENOI
(Empire of Trebizond)
∞ (?)Theodora Axouchina
 
David
ruler of Herakleia & Paphlagonia
co-emperor

References

  1. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Comnenus" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 793.
  2. ^ a b ODB, "Komnenos" (A. Kazhdan), pp. 1143–1144.
  3. ^ Varzos 1984, Vol. A, p. 25.
  4. ^ Varzos 1984, Vol. A, pp. 25–26.
  5. ^ Varzos 1984, Vol. A, p. 26 (note 8).
  6. ^ a b c Varzos 1984, Vol. A, p. 26.
  7. ^ Varzos 1984, Vol. A, p. 27.
  8. ^ A. A. Vasiliev, "The Foundation of the Empire of Trebizond (1204-1222)", Speculum, 11 (1936), pp. 3-37
  9. ^ Discussed by Ruth Macrides, "What's in the name 'Megas Komnenos'?" Archeion Pontou, 35 (1979), pp. 236-245
  10. ^ Varzos 1984, Vol. A, p. 32.
  11. ^ Bruno W. Häuptli: IRENE (Angelou) von Byzanz, in: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL), vol. 28, Bautz, Nordhausen 2007, ISBN 978-3-88309-413-7, pp. 858–862

Sources

Alexios II Komnenos

Alexios II Komnenos or Alexius II Comnenus (Medieval Greek: Αλέξιος Β′ Κομνηνός, translit. Alexios II Komnēnos) (10 September 1169 – October 1183) was Byzantine emperor from 1180 to 1183. He was the son of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and Maria, daughter of Raymond of Poitiers, prince of Antioch. He was the long-awaited male heir and was named Alexius as a fulfilment of the AIMA prophecy.

Alexios I Komnenos

Alexios I Komnenos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός, c. 1048 – 15 August 1118), Latinized Alexius I Comnenus, was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118. Although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. Inheriting a collapsing empire and faced with constant warfare during his reign against both the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in the western Balkans, Alexios was able to curb the Byzantine decline and begin the military, financial, and territorial recovery known as the Komnenian restoration. The basis for this recovery were various reforms initiated by Alexios. His appeals to Western Europe for help against the Turks were also the catalyst that likely contributed to the convoking of the Crusades.

Alexios I of Trebizond

Alexios I Megas Komnenos or Alexius I Megas Comnenus (Greek: Αλέξιος Α΄ Μέγας Κομνηνός, translit. Alexios I Megas Komnēnos; c. 1182 – 1 February 1222) was, with his brother David, the founder of the Empire of Trebizond, which he ruled from 1204 until his death in 1222. The two brothers were the only male descendants of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos I, who had been dethroned and killed in 1185, and thus claimed to represent the legitimate government of the Empire following the conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Although his rivals governing the Nicaean Empire succeeded in becoming the de facto successors, and rendered his dynastic claims to the imperial throne moot, Alexios' descendants continued to emphasize both their heritage and connection to the Komnenian dynasty by referring to themselves as Megas Komnenos or Grand Komnenos.While his brother David conquered a number of Byzantine provinces in northwestern Anatolia, Alexios defended his capital Trebizond from an unsuccessful siege by the Seljuk Turks around the year 1205. Further details of his reign are sparse. Muslim chroniclers record how, in 1214, Alexios was captured by the Turks in the field while defending Sinope; despite sending an envoy to seek their surrender the city refused to capitulate to Sultan Kaykaus I, and Alexios was tortured in sight of the Sinopians. The city submitted to Kaykaus and Alexios was freed after becoming Kaykaus' vassal. Alexios died at the age of forty.

Alexios Komnenos (co-emperor)

Alexios Komnenos, latinised as Alexius Comnenus (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Κομνηνός), was the eldest son of the Byzantine emperor John II Komnenos and his wife Eirene of Hungary. He was born in February 1106 at Balabista in Macedonia, was made co-emperor with his father at 16 or 17 years of age and died on 2 August 1142 at Attalia, Pamphylia. He was an elder brother of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos, and had a twin sister, Maria Komnene (plus other siblings).

Andronikos I Komnenos

Andronikos I Komnenos (Greek: Ανδρόνικος Αʹ Κομνηνός, Andrónikos I Komnēnós; c. 1118 – 12 September 1185), usually Latinized as Andronicus I Comnenus, was Byzantine Emperor from 1183 to 1185. He was the son of Isaac Komnenos and the grandson of the emperor Alexios I.

Angelos

The Angelos family (; Greek: Ἄγγελος), feminine form Angelina (Άγγελίνα), plural Angeloi (Ἄγγελοι), was a Byzantine Greek noble lineage which gave rise to three Byzantine emperors who ruled between 1185 and 1204. From the 13th to the 14th century, a branch of the family ruled Epiros, Thessaly and Thessaloniki under the name of Komnenos Doukas.

Anna Komnene

Anna Komnene (Greek: Ἄννα Κομνηνή, Ánna Komnēnḗ; 1 December 1083 – 1153), commonly latinized as Anna Comnena, was a Byzantine princess, scholar, physician, hospital administrator, and historian. She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and his wife Irene Doukaina. She is best known for her attempt to usurp her brother, John II Komnenos, and for her work The Alexiad, an account of her father's reign.At birth, Anna was betrothed to Constantine Doukas, and she grew up in his mother's household. She was well-educated in "Greek literature and history, philosophy, theology, mathematics, and medicine." Anna and Constantine were next in the line to throne until Anna's younger brother, John II Komnenos, became the heir in 1092. Constantine died around 1094, and Anna married Nikephoros Bryennios in 1097. The two had several children before Nikephoros' death around 1136.Following her father’s death in 1118, Anna and her mother attempted to usurp John II Komnenos. Her husband refused to cooperate with them, and the usurpation failed. As a result, John exiled Anna to the Kecharitomene monastery, where she spent the rest of her life.

In confinement there, she wrote the Alexiad.She died sometime in the 1150s; the exact date is unknown.

Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty

The Byzantine Empire or Byzantium is a term conventionally used by historians to describe the Greek ethnic and speaking Roman Empire of the Middle Ages, centered on its capital of Constantinople. Having survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire during Late Antiquity, the Byzantine Empire continued to function until its conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

In the context of Byzantine history, the period from about 1081 to about 1185 is often known as the Komnenian or Comnenian period, after the Komnenos dynasty. Together, the five Komnenian emperors (Alexios I, John II, Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I) ruled for 104 years, presiding over a sustained, though ultimately incomplete, restoration of the military, territorial, economic and political position of the Byzantine Empire.

As a human institution, Byzantium under the Komnenoi played a key role in the history of the Crusades in the Holy Land, while also exerting enormous cultural and political influence in Europe, the Near East, and the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. The Komnenian emperors, particularly John and Manuel, exerted great influence over the Crusader states of Outremer, whilst Alexios I played a key role in the course of the First Crusade, which he helped bring about.

Moreover, it was during the Komnenian period that contact between Byzantium and the 'Latin' Christian West, including the Crusader states, was at its most crucial stage. Venetian and other Italian traders became resident in Constantinople and the empire in large numbers (60–80,000 'Latins' in Constantinople alone), and their presence together with the numerous Latin mercenaries who were employed by Manuel in particular helped to spread Byzantine technology, art, literature and culture throughout the Roman Catholic west. Above all, the cultural impact of Byzantine art on the west at this period was enormous and of long lasting significance.

The Komnenoi also made a significant contribution to the history of Asia Minor. By reconquering much of the region, the Komnenoi set back the advance of the Turks in Anatolia by more than two centuries. In the process, they planted the foundations of the Byzantine successor states of Nicaea, Epirus and Trebizond. Meanwhile, their extensive programme of fortifications has left an enduring mark upon the Anatolian landscape, which can still be appreciated today.

Constantine Doukas (co-emperor)

Constantine Doukas or Ducas (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Δούκας, Kōnstantinos Doukas), (late 1074 – c. 1095) was Byzantine junior emperor from 1074–1078, and again from 1081–1087. He was born to Emperor Michael VII and Empress Maria of Alania in late 1074, and elevated to junior emperor in the same year. He was junior emperor until 1078, when Michael VII was replaced by Nikephoros III Botaneiates. Because Constantine was not made junior emperor under Nikephoros III, his betrothal to Olympias, the daughter of Robert Guiscard, was broken, which Robert Guiscard used as a pretext to invade the Byzantine Empire. John Doukas forced Nikephoros to abdicate to Alexios I Komnenos in 1081, and shortly after Alexios elevated Constantine to junior emperor under himself. Constantine remained junior emperor until 1087, when Alexios had a son, John II Komnenos. Constantine died in c. 1095.

David Komnenos

David Komnenos (Greek: Δαβίδ Κομνηνός) (c. 1184 – 1212) was one of the founders of the Empire of Trebizond and its joint ruler together with his brother Alexios until his death. At least two lead seals and an inscription found on a tower in Heraclea Pontica attest that he was the first of his family to use the style Megas Komnenos. Ηe was the son of Manuel Komnenos and grandson of the Emperor Andronikos I.

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.

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 Komnenos 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.

Isaac I Komnenos

Isaac I Komnenos or Comnenus (Greek: Ἰσαάϰιος ὁ Κομνη­νός, Isaakios ho Komnēnos; c. 1007 – 1060) was Byzantine Emperor from 1057 to 1059, the first reigning member of the Komnenian dynasty.

The son of the general Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, he was orphaned at an early age, and was raised under the care of Emperor Basil II. He made his name as a successful military commander, serving as commander-in-chief of the eastern armies between c. 1042 and 1054. In 1057 he became the head of a conspiracy of the dissatisfied eastern generals against the newly crowned Michael VI Bringas. Proclaimed emperor by his followers on 8 June 1057, he rallied sufficient military forces to defeat the loyalist army at the Battle of Hades. While Isaac was willing to accept a compromise solution by being appointed Michael's heir, a powerful faction in Constantinople, led by the ambitious Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Keroularios, pressured Michael to abdicate. After Michael abdicated on 30 August 1057, Isaac was crowned emperor in the Hagia Sophia on 1 September.

As emperor, he rewarded his supporters, but also embarked on a series of fiscal measures designed to shore up revenue and eliminate the excesses allowed to flourish under his predecessors. His aim was to fill the treasury and restore the Byzantine army's effectiveness to preserve the empire. The reduction of salaries, harsh tax measures and confiscation of Church properties aroused much opposition, particularly from Keroularios, who had come to think of himself as a king-maker.

In November 1058, Keroularios was arrested and exiled, and died before a synod to depose him could be convened. The eastern frontier held firm during his reign, Hungarian raids were resolved by a treaty in 1059, while the restive Pechenegs were subdued by Isaac in person in summer 1059. Shortly after, Isaac fell ill, and on the advice and pressure of Michael Psellos, he abdicated his throne in favour of Constantine X Doukas, retiring to the Stoudion monastery where he died later in 1060.

Isaac Komnenos (son of John II)

Isaac Komnenos or Comnenus (Greek: Ἰσαάκιος Κομνηνός, translit. Isaakios Komnēnos; c. 1113 – after 1146), was the third son of Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos by Irene of Hungary. He was bypassed by his father in favour of his younger brother Manuel I Komnenos for the succession, leading to a tense relationship between the two brothers after. He participated in the campaigns of his father and brother in Asia Minor, and was a fervent adherent of Patriarch Cosmas II of Constantinople, but little else is known about his life.

John II Komnenos

John II Komnenos or Comnenus (Greek: Ίωάννης Βʹ Κομνηνός, Iōannēs II Komnēnos; 13 September 1087 – 8 April 1143) was Byzantine Emperor from 1118 to 1143. Also known as "John the Beautiful" or "John the Good" (Kaloïōannēs), he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina and the second emperor to rule during the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. John was a pious and dedicated monarch who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered following the battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier.

John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors. In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians and Serbs in the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the Anatolian peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into Muslim Syria at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the evasiveness of his Crusader allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces.

Under John, the empire's population recovered to about 10 million people.The quarter-century of John II's reign is less well recorded by contemporary or near-contemporary writers than the reigns of either his father, Alexios I, or his son, Manuel I. In particular little is known of the history of John's domestic rule or policies.

John Komnenos (son of Andronikos I)

John Komnenos (Greek: Ἰωάννης Κομνηνός, translit. Iōannēs Komnēnos; August/September 1159 – September 1185) was the second son of the Byzantine aristocrat, and emperor in 1183–1185, Andronikos I Komnenos. His father appointed him co-emperor over his older brother Manuel, but when Andronikos was deposed on 12 September 1185, John was also seized and probably killed.

Manuel I Komnenos

Manuel I Komnenos (or Comnenus; Greek: Μανουήλ Α' Κομνηνός, Manouēl I Komnēnos; 28 November 1118 – 24 September 1180) was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean. His reign saw the last flowering of the Komnenian restoration, during which the Byzantine Empire had seen a resurgence of its military and economic power, and had enjoyed a cultural revival.

Eager to restore his empire to its past glories as the superpower of the Mediterranean world, Manuel pursued an energetic and ambitious foreign policy. In the process he made alliances with the Pope and the resurgent West. He invaded the Norman Kingdom of Sicily, although unsuccessfully, being the last Eastern Roman Emperor to attempt reconquests in the western Mediterranean. The passage of the potentially dangerous Second Crusade was adroitly managed through his empire. Manuel established a Byzantine protectorate over the Crusader states of Outremer. Facing Muslim advances in the Holy Land, he made common cause with the Kingdom of Jerusalem and participated in a combined invasion of Fatimid Egypt. Manuel reshaped the political maps of the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, placing the kingdoms of Hungary and Outremer under Byzantine hegemony and campaigning aggressively against his neighbours both in the west and in the east.

However, towards the end of his reign Manuel's achievements in the east were compromised by a serious defeat at Myriokephalon, which in large part resulted from his arrogance in attacking a well-defended Seljuk position. Although the Byzantines recovered and Manuel concluded an advantageous peace with Sultan Kilij Arslan II, Myriokephalon proved to be the final, unsuccessful effort by the empire to recover the interior of Anatolia from the Turks.

Called ho Megas (ὁ Μέγας, translated as "the Great") by the Greeks, Manuel is known to have inspired intense loyalty in those who served him. He also appears as the hero of a history written by his secretary, John Kinnamos, in which every virtue is attributed to him. Manuel, who was influenced by his contact with western Crusaders, enjoyed the reputation of "the most blessed emperor of Constantinople" in parts of the Latin world as well. Modern historians, however, have been less enthusiastic about him. Some of them assert that the great power he wielded was not his own personal achievement, but that of the dynasty he represented; they also argue that, since Byzantine imperial power declined catastrophically after Manuel's death, it is only natural to look for the causes of this decline in his reign.

Megas doux

The megas doux (Greek: μέγας δούξ, pronounced [ˈmeɣaz ˈðuks], "grand duke") was one of the highest positions in the hierarchy of the later Byzantine Empire, denoting the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine navy. It is sometimes also given in English by the half-Latinizations megaduke or megadux. The Greek word δούξ is the Hellenized form of the Latin term dux, meaning leader or commander.

Theodore I Laskaris

Theodoros I Komnenos Laskaris (Greek: Θεόδωρος Α' Λάσκαρις, Theodōros I Laskaris; c. 1174/5 – 1221/August 1222) was the first Emperor of Nicaea (reigned 1204/05–1221/22).

The Komnenoi of the Byzantine Empire and the Empire of Trebizond
1st generation
2nd generation
3rd generation
4th generation
5th generation
6th generation
7th generation
8th generation
9th generation
10th generation
11th generation
12th generation
13th generation
14th generation
15th generation
16th generation
Related subjects
Royal houses of Europe

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