(continued from 29/08/09)
B. THE LATIN EMPIRE, 1185-1261, 76 years
Isaac II Angelus
Kingdom of Lesser Armeniaindependent, 1198-1375
Isaac II (restored)
Alexius V Mourtzouphlos
Fourth Crusade, 1202-1204 Constantinope falls to Fourth Crusade, 1204
The worst and most disastrous dynasty in Roman history. Alexius IV brings in the Fourth Crusade, with impossible promises, to restore his incompetent father, and only succeeds in losing Constantinople to a foreign enemy for the first time ever. This may qualify as the true "Fall of Rome." The damage was bad enough, with many treasures and archives destroyed or carted off to Venice. Unlike the Goths at Rome in 410, the Crusaders stuck around for 60 years, with steadily decreasing success.
In 1195, Isaac II, or the new Emperor Alexius III, sent three Varangians on a mission to Scandinavia to seek recruits for the Varangian Guard — this is revealing when previously Danish and Norwegian monarchs had themselves come to Constantinople. We are told that Hreiðarr sendimaðr (i.e. "the Messenger") went to Norway (to King Sverre), Pétr illska went to Denmark (to King Canute VI the Pious), and Sigurðr grikker ("the Greek") Oddsson went to Sweden (to Knut I or Sverker II). Hreiðarr had the toughest time that we know of, since Sverre, anticipating war, had no warriors to spare. Allowed to recruit among farmers and merchants, it is not clear that Hreiðarr, who became embroiled in local events, ever returned to Constantinople. On the other hand, Pétr may have returned with the actual Danes who were subsequently observed by Geoffroy de Villehardouin in 1203. There are many stories about Sigurðr Oddsson, but it is not clear whether his mission was successful. Since there are references to Englishmen but not to Scandinavians in the Varangian Guard of the Palaeologi, this may be last the time when Norse warriors actively traveled to Constantinople [cf. Blöndal and Benedikz, op.cit., pp.218-222].
Alexius III, having fled the Crusaders who installed Alexius IV and restored Isaac II, takes up residence at Mosynopolis in Thrace. Alexius V Mourtzouphlos, part of the popular reaction again the Crusaders and their friends, Alexius IV and Isaac II, conducted the last defense of the City but then fled. He sought refuge with Alexius III, who was, after all, is father-in-law, but who, however, had him blinded and expelled. Captured by some French Knights and returned to Constantinople, Mourtzouphlos was thrown to his death from the Column of Theodosius. Alexius III ultimately tries to get the Turks to defeat the Lascarids and install him at Nicaea. Unfortunately, Theodore Lascaris personally killed the Sultân of Rûm in single combat. Alexius is captured, blinded, and sent to a monastery. He dies, forgotten, some time after 1211.
The Angeli continue the foreign marriages of the Comneni. One is particularly noteworthy. Irene Angelina, daughter of the Isaac II, married a son of Frederick Barbarossa, Philip of Swabia, who contended with Otto of Brunswick for the German Empire. They had no sons; but the marriages of their four daughters are among the most interesting in European history. In a reconciliation of Philip’s feud, the oldest daughter, Beatrice, married Otto himself. But they had no children. The younger daughters, Kunigunde, Marie, and Elizabeth, married King Wenceslas I of Bohemia, Duke Henry III of Lower Lorraine and Brabant, and King & St. Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon, respectively. All of these marriages produced children with living modern descendants, especially among the Hapsburgs and the royal family of Spain, as can be traced at the linked genealogies. Since Isaac himself was a great-grandson of Alexius I Comnenus, this means that a large part of modern European royalty, through this connection alone, have been descendants of the Angeli and Comneni. My impression is that Roman Imperial descent for recent royalty has often been claimed through the Macedonians, but the only certain line, as we have seen, may be from Macedonian in-laws. On the other hand, descent from the Comneni and Angeli appears to be well attested and with multiple lines. Another fruitful line will be from Maria Lascarina, who married Bela IV ofHungary. Since the Lascarids themselves derive from Anna Angelina, Maria’s mother, that connects up to the whole Comneni-Angeli house. Maria’s son, Stephen V of Hungary, had a daughter, Katalin, who married the Serbian King Stephen Dragutin, who had a daughter the married a Bosnian Ban, with many descendants. This line all the way to the Hapsburgs can be examined on a popup.
2. BULGARIA, ASENS
John I Asen
Peter II Asen
Kalojan Asen, the Roman Killer
captures Baldwin I, 1205; kills Boniface of Montferrat, 1207
John II Asen
Michael II Asen
John III Asen
Asens replaced by Terters
In 1204, the Pope recognized Kalojan as "King of the Bulgarians and the Vlachs" (Geoffroy de Villehardouin, calling him "Johanitza," even says "King of Wallachia and Bulgaria"). Indeed, the Asen brothers, founders of the dynasty, were themselves Vlachs, i.e. modern Romanians. This is therefore not a purely ethnic Bulgarian state. It also came close to succeeding to the throne in Constantinople, though later overpowered by the Mongols, Serbia and, of course, the Ottomans.
The principal setback to the Bulgarian state was the Mongol invasion of 1242, which itself was almost an afterthought as the Mongols abandoned the conquests of Poland and Hungary in 1241 and were returning to Russia. The Chingnizids needed to go to Mongolia to elect a new Great Khan. What followed for Bulgaria was a period of internal conflict, between members of the Asen dynasty and outsiders. Two unrelated usurpers, Constantine Tich and Ivaljo, figure in the table above. Another unrelated figure, however, Ivan Mytzes, becomes an Asen in-law and the father of the last Asen Emperor, John III. This is a confused period, with pretenders contending and dates uncertain. John III fled to the Mongols and then to Constantinople. He was succeeded in Bulgaria by his erstwhile minister, George Terter.
The list of Bulgarian rulers is from various Byzantine sources, including the only source of the genealogy here, which is the Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte, Volume II, Part 2, Europäiche Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser II Nord-, Ost- und Südeuropa[Andreas Thiele, R. G. Fischer Verlag, Part 2, Second Edition, 1997, pp.160-162].
Although John III lost Bulgaria, his descendants figured in affairs in Constantinople for some time. Since his granddaughter married the Emperor John VI Cantacuzenus, whose daughter Helena married the Emperor John V, all the subsequent Palaeologi are his descendants.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D. Department of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley College