|Isaac II Angelos|
|Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans|
|Emperor of the Byzantine Empire|
|Reign||12 September 1185 – 8 April 1195|
|Predecessor||Andronikos I Komnenos|
|Successor||Alexios III Angelos|
|Reign||1 August 1203 – 25 January 1204|
|Predecessor||Alexios III Angelos|
|Successor||Alexios V Doukas|
|Co-Emperor||Alexios IV Angelos|
|Died||25 January 1204 (aged 47)|
|Spouse||Eirene Komnena, dau. of Andronikos I Komnenos |
|Father||Andronikos Doukas Angelos|
Isaac II Angelos (Greek : Ἰσαάκιος Β’ Ἄγγελος, Isaakios II Angelos; September 1156 – January 1204) was Byzantine Emperor from 1185 to 1195, and again from 1203 to 1204.
His father Andronikos Doukas Angelos was a military leader in Asia Minor (c. 1122 – aft. 1185) who married Euphrosyne Kastamonitissa (c. 1125 – aft. 1195). Andronikos Doukas Angelos was the son of Constantine Angelos and Theodora Komnene (b. 15 January 1096/1097), the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina. Thus Isaac was a member of the extended imperial clan of the Komnenoi.
Niketas Choniates described Isaac's physical appearance: "He had a ruddy complexion and red hair, was of average height and robust in body".
During the brief reign of Andronikos I Komnenos, Isaac was involved (alongside his father and brothers) in the revolt of Nicaea and Prousa. Atypically, the Emperor did not punish him for this disloyalty, and Isaac remained at Constantinople.
On 11 September 1185, while Andronikos was absent from the capital, his lieutenant Stephen Hagiochristophorites moved to arrest Isaac. Isaac killed Hagiochristophorites and took refuge in the church of Hagia Sophia.Andronikos was a capable ruler in some ways but was hated for his cruelty and his efforts to keep the aristocracy obedient. Isaac appealed to the populace, and a tumult arose that spread rapidly over the whole city. When Andronikos returned he found that he had lost popular support, and that Isaac had been proclaimed emperor. Andronikos attempted to flee by boat but was apprehended. Isaac handed him over to the people of the city, and he was killed on 12 September 1185.
Isaac II Angelos strengthened his position as emperor with dynastic marriages in 1185 and 1186. His niece Eudokia Angelina was married to Stefan, son of Stefan Nemanja of Serbia. Isaac's sister Theodora was married to the Italian marquis Conrad of Montferrat. In January 1186 Isaac himself married Margaret of Hungary (renamed Maria), daughter of King Béla III.Hungary was one of the Empire's largest and most powerful neighbours, and Margaret also had the benefit of high aristocratic descent, being related to the royal families of Kiev, the Holy Roman Empire, Italy, Provence, and earlier Byzantine dynasties.
Isaac inaugurated his reign with a decisive victory over the NormanKing of Sicily, William II, at the Battle of Demetritzes on 7 November 1185. William had invaded the Balkans with 80,000 men and 200 ships towards the end of Andronikos I's reign. Elsewhere Isaac's policy was less successful. In late 1185, he sent a fleet of 80 galleys to liberate his brother Alexius III from Acre, but the fleet was destroyed by the Normans of Sicily. He then sent a fleet of 70 ships, but it failed to recover Cyprus from the rebellious noble Isaac Komnenos, thanks to Norman interference. This fleet was misinterpreted by many in the Holy Land as naval support for the Muslim offensive in accordance with Isaac's alliance with Saladin. However the theory of a supposed alliance between Isaac and Saladin against the Third Crusade has been debunked by the historian Jonathan Harris.
Isaac's administration was dominated by two figures: his maternal uncle Theodore Kastamonites, who became virtually a co-emperor and handled all civil government until his death in 1193; and his replacement, Constantine Mesopotamites, who acquired even more influence over the emperor.
The oppressiveness of his taxes, increased to pay his armies and finance his marriage, resulted in a Vlach-Bulgarian uprisinglate in 1185. The rebellion led to the establishment of the Vlach-Bulgarian Empire under the Asen dynasty. In 1187 Alexios Branas, the victor over the Normans, was sent against the Bulgarians but turned his arms against his master and attempted to seize Constantinople, only to be defeated and slain by Isaac's brother-in-law Conrad of Montferrat. Also in 1187 an agreement was made with Venice, in which the Venetian Republic would provide between 40 and 100 galleys at six months' notice in exchange for favorable trading concessions. Because each Venetian galley was manned by 140 oarsmen, there were about 18,000 Venetians still in the Empire even after Manuel I's arrests.
The Emperor's attention was next demanded in the east, where several claimants to the throne successively rose and fell. In 1189 the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa sought and obtained permission to lead his troops on the Third Crusade through the Byzantine Empire.But Isaac was suspicious that Barbarossa wished to conquer Byzantium: the reasons for this suspicious attitude were the diplomatic contact of Frederick with the Bulgarians and the Serbians, foes of the Byzantine Empire during this period, also Barbarossas previous feud with Manuel. The rumors of 1160s about a German invasion in the Byzantine Empire were still remembered in the Byzantine court during Isaacs reign. In retaliation Barbarossa's army occupied the city of Philippopolis and defeated a Byzantine army of 3,000 men that attempted to recapture the city. The Byzantine troops managed to constantly and successfully harass the Crusaders but a group of Armenians revealed to the Germans the strategic plan of the Byzantines, the Crusaders who owned superior numbers caught them unprepared. Thus compelled by force of arms, Isaac II was forced to fulfill his engagements in 1190. By 1196 Isaac II had allowed the once powerful Byzantine navy to decline to only 30 galleys.
The next five years were disturbed by continued warfare with Bulgaria, against which Isaac led several expeditions in person.In spite of their promising start these ventures had little effect, and on one occasion in 1190 Isaac barely escaped with his life. The Byzantines suffered yet another major defeat in the battle of Arcadiopolis in 1194. Isaac organized yet another offensive against Bulgaria in 1195 in cooperation with the Kingdom of Hungary, but Alexios Angelos, the Emperor's older brother, taking advantage of Isaac's absence from camp on a hunting expedition, proclaimed himself emperor and was readily recognised by the soldiers as Emperor Alexios III. Alexios then canceled the expedition. Isaac was blinded and imprisoned in Constantinople.
After eight years of captivity, Isaac II was raised from the dungeon to the throne once moreafter the arrival of the Fourth Crusade and the flight of Alexios III from the capital. Both his mind and body had been enfeebled by confinement, and his son Alexios IV Angelos was associated on the throne as the effective monarch.
Heavily beholden to the crusaders, Alexios IV was unable to meet his obligations and his vacillation caused him to lose the support of both his crusader allies and his subjects. At the end of January 1204 the influential court official Alexios Doukas Mourtzouphlos took advantage of riots in the capital to imprison Alexios IV and seize the throne as Emperor Alexios V. At this point Isaac II died, allegedly of shock, while Alexios IV was strangled on 8 February.
Several pretenders rose up and attempted to wrest the throne from Isaac during his reign. These included:
Isaac has the reputation as one of the most unsuccessful rulers to occupy the Byzantine throne.Surrounded by a crowd of slaves, mistresses, and flatterers, he permitted his empire to be administered by unworthy favourites, while he squandered the money wrung from his provinces on costly buildings and expensive gifts to the churches of his metropolis. In 1185, the Empire lost Lefkada, Kefallonia, and Zakynthos to the Normans. In the same year the Vlach - Bulgarian Empire was restored after the rebellion of the brothers Asen and Peter, thus losing Moesia and parts of Thrace and Macedonia. After that Cilicia was retaken by the Armenians, and Cyprus wrested from the empire by the Franks.
Isaac II's first wife's name, Herina (i.e., Irene), is found on the necrology of Speyer Cathedral, where their daughter Irene is interred.Isaac's wife was probably the daughter of Andronikos I Komnenos, Byzantine Emperor (died 1185). A possible foreign origin is also given to her due to having the same name as her daughter. Their third child was born in 1182 or 1183 and she was dead or divorced by 1185, when Isaac remarried. Their children were:
By his second wife, Margaret of Hungary (who took the baptismal name "Maria"), Isaac II had two sons:
Alexios III Angelos was Byzantine Emperor from March 1195 to 17/18 July 1203. A member of the extended imperial family, Alexios came to throne after deposing, blinding and imprisoning his younger brother Isaac II Angelos. The most significant event of his reign was the attack of the Fourth Crusade on Constantinople in 1203, on behalf of Alexios IV Angelos. Alexios III took over the defence of the city, which he mismanaged, and then fled the city at night with one of his three daughters. From Adrianople, and then Mosynopolis, he attempted unsuccessfully to rally his supporters, only to end up a captive of Marquis Boniface of Montferrat. He was ransomed, sent to Asia Minor where he plotted against his son-in-law Theodore Laskaris, but was eventually captured and spent his last days confined to the Monastery of Hyakinthos in Nicaea, where he died.
Alexios V Doukas, in Latinised spelling Alexius V Ducas, was Byzantine emperor from 5 February to 12 April 1204, just prior to the sack of Constantinople by the participants of the Fourth Crusade. His family name was Doukas, but he was also known by the nickname Mourtzouphlos or Murtzuphlus (Μούρτζουφλος), referring to either bushy, overhanging eyebrows or a sullen, gloomy character. He achieved power through a palace coup, killing his predecessors in the process. Though he made vigorous attempts to defend Constantinople from the crusader army, his military efforts proved ineffective. His actions won the support of the mass of the populace, but he alienated the elite of the city. Following the fall, sack, and occupation of the city, Alexios V was blinded by another ex-emperor and later executed by the new Latin regime. He was the last Byzantine emperor to rule in Constantinople until the Byzantine recapture of Constantinople in 1261.
Andronikos I Komnenos, 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.
Theodore Branas or Vranas, sometimes called Theodore Komnenos Branas, was a general under the Byzantine Empire and afterwards under the Latin Empire of Constantinople. Under the Latin regime he was given the title Caesar and in 1206 he became governor and lord of Adrianople. He is called Livernas by western chroniclers of the Fourth Crusade, including Geoffroi de Villehardouin.
Isaac Doukas Komnenos was a claimant to the Byzantine Empire and the ruler of Cyprus from 1184 to 1191. Contemporary sources commonly call him the Emperor of Cyprus. He lost his empire to Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade.
Komnenos, is a noble family who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 to 1185, and later, as the Grand Komnenoi 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.
Agnes of France, renamed Anna was a Byzantine Empress by marriage to Alexios II Komnenos and Andronikos I Komnenos. She was a daughter of Louis VII of France and Adèle of Champagne.
AlexiosBranas or Vranas was a Byzantine nobleman, attempted usurper, and the last Byzantine military leader of the 12th century to gain a notable success against a foreign enemy.
Anna Komnene Angelina or Comnena Angelina was an Empress of Nicaea. She was the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos and of Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera.
Manuel Kamytzes Komnenos Doukas Angelos was a Byzantine general who was active in the late 12th century, and led an unsuccessful rebellion in 1201–02.
Stephen Hagiochristophorites was the most powerful member of the court of Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, and was killed by Isaac II Angelos, who the next day deposed and replaced Andronikos, while trying to arrest him.
John Doukas, Latinized as Ducas, was the eldest son of Constantine Angelos by Theodora Komnene, the seventh child of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina, from whose family name John Doukas took his own. He served as a military commander under Manuel I Komnenos and Isaac II Angelos. Isaac II, who was Doukas's nephew, raised him to the high rank of sebastokrator. Despite his advanced age, he continued to be an active general in the 1180s and 1190s, and until shortly before his death aspired to the imperial throne. He was the progenitor of the Komnenos Doukas line, which founded the Despotate of Epirus after the Fourth Crusade.
Pseudo-Alexios II was the most famous among several pretenders to the throne of the Byzantine Empire who appeared in the early reign of Isaac II Angelos. He claimed to be the Emperor Alexios II Komnenos, who had been murdered in 1183.
The Battle of Demetritzes in 1185 was fought between the Byzantine army and the Normans of the Kingdom of Sicily, who had recently sacked the Byzantine Empire's second city, Thessalonica. It was a decisive Byzantine victory, which ended the Norman threat to the Empire.
John Kantakouzenos was a military commander and an early member of the Kantakouzenos family. The contemporary historian Niketas Choniates describes him as a brave, audacious and experienced soldier but frequently led astray by his foolhardiness and presumption.
Andronikos Doukas Angelos was a Byzantine aristocrat related to the ruling Komnenos dynasty. During the reign of his cousin, Manuel I Komnenos, he served without success as a military commander against the Seljuk Turks, and as envoy to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Following Manuel's death, in 1182 he was sent to stop the rebellion of Andronikos I Komnenos, but was defeated and eventually defected to him. Shortly after, he led a failed conspiracy of leading aristocrats against Andronikos I. When it was discovered, Andronikos and his sons fled the Empire, ending up in Acre, where he died. He was the father of emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos.
Constantine Mesopotamites was a senior Byzantine official, and de facto chief minister under the emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos from 1193 until his fall in summer 1197. He was also archbishop of Thessalonica from c. 1197 until c. 1227, but was in exile between 1204 and 1224, when the city was occupied by Latin Crusaders. Restored to his see, he refused to crown Theodore Komnenos Doukas as emperor, and departed his see again in self-exile. He was also a colleague and correspondent of the historian Niketas Choniates, and may have commissioned some of the latter's works.
Theodore Kastamonites was a Byzantine aristocrat and the all-powerful chief minister for most of the first reign of his nephew, Emperor Isaac II Angelos.
Constantine Komnenos Angelos was a Byzantine aristocrat and military commander, and the older brother of the emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos. He was blinded by the usurper Andronikos I Komnenos, and raised to sebastokrator by his brother Isaac upon the latter's accession to the throne in 1185.
Euphrosyne Kastamonitissa was a Byzantine noble woman of the Kastamonites family, a wife of Andronikos Doukas Angelos and mother of the two future Byzantine emperors from the Angelos family: Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos.
Isaac II Angelos
Angelid dynastyBorn: September 1156 Died: January 1204
Andronikos I Komnenos
| Byzantine Emperor |
Alexios III Angelos
Alexios III Angelos
| Byzantine Emperor|
with Alexios IV Angelos (1203–1204)
Alexios V Doukas