- Alexios III Angelos
Alexios III Angelos (Greek: Αλέξιος Γ' Άγγελος) (c. 1153 – 1211) was Byzantine emperor from 1195 to 1203.
Alexios III Angelos was the second son of Andronicos Angelos and Euphrosyne Castamonitissa. Andronicus was himself a son of Theodora Comnene, the youngest daughter of Emperor
Alexios I Komnenosand Irene Ducaena. Thus Alexius Angelus was a member of the extended imperial family. Together with his father and brothers, Alexios had conspired against Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos(c. 1183), and thus he spent several years in exile in Muslim courts, including that of Saladin.
His younger brother
Isaac II Angelos, was threatened with execution under orders of their first cousin once removed Andronicos I Comnenos on September 11, 1185. Isaac made a desperate attack on the imperial agents and killed their leader Stephanus Hagiochristophorites. He then took refuge in the church of Hagia Sophiaand from there appealed to the populace. His actions provoked a riot, which resulted in the deposition of Andronicus I, and the proclamation of Isaac II Angelus as emperor. Alexius was now closer to the imperial throne than ever before.
By 1190 Alexios Angelos had returned to the court of his younger brother, from whom he received the elevated title of "sebastokratōr". In 1195, while Isaac II was away hunting in
Thrace, Alexius was acclaimed as emperor by the troops with the conniving of Alexios' wife Euphrosyne Ducaena Camatera. Alexios captured Isaac at Stagirain Macedonia, put out his eyes, and thenceforth kept him a close prisoner, though he had been redeemed by him from captivity at Antiochand loaded with honours.
To compensate for this crime and to solidify his position as emperor, Alexios had to scatter money so lavishly as to empty his treasury, and to allow such licence to the officers of the army as to leave the Empire practically defenceless. He consummated the financial ruin of the state. In 1195, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI forced Alexios III to pay him a tribute of 1,000 pounds of gold (originally 5,000 pounds of gold). The able and forceful empress Euphrosyne Ducaena Camatera tried in vain to sustain his credit and his court; Vatatzes, the favourite instrument of her attempts at reform, was assassinated by the emperor's orders.
In the east the Empire was overrun by the
Seljuk Turks; from the north Bulgariansand Vlachsdescended unchecked to ravage the plains of Macedonia and Thrace, and Kaloyan of Bulgariaannexed several important cities, while Alexius squandered the public treasure on his palaces and gardens and attempted to deal with the crisis through diplomatic means. The emperor's attempts to bolster the empire's defenses by special concessions to Byzantine and Bulgarian notables in the frontier zone backfired, as the latter built up regional autonomy. Byzantine authority survived, but in a much weakened state.
Soon Alexios was threatened by a new and yet more formidable danger. In 1202 the Western princes assembled at
Venicelaunched the Fourth Crusade. Alexios IV Angelos, the son of the deposed Isaac II, had recently escaped from Constantinopleand now appealed to the crusaders, promising to end the schism of East and West, to pay for their transport, and to provide military support to the crusaders if they helped him to depose his uncle and sit on his father's throne.
The crusaders, whose objective had been
Egypt, were persuaded to set their course for Constantinople before which they appeared in June 1203, proclaiming Alexios as emperor and inviting the populace of the capital to depose his uncle. Alexius III took no efficient measures to resist, and his attempts to bribe the crusaders failed. His son-in-law, Theodore Lascaris, who was the only one to attempt anything significant, was defeated at Scutari, and the siege of Constantinople began. Unfortunately for Constantinople, Alexius III's misgovernment had left the Byzantine navy with only 20 worm-eaten hulks by the time the Crusaders arrived.
In July, the crusaders, led by the aged Doge
Enrico Dandolo, scaled the walls and took control of a major section. In the ensuing fighting, the crusaders set the city on fire, ultimately leaving 20,000 people homeless. Alexios III finally took action, and led 17 divisions from the St. Romanus Gate, vastly outnumbering the crusaders. But his courage failed, and the Byzantine army returned to the city without a fight. His courtiers demanded action, and Alexius promised to fight. Instead, that night (July 17/18), Alexios III hid in the palace, and finally, with one of his daughters, Eirene, and such treasures (1,000 pounds of gold) as he could collect, got into a boat and escaped to Develtonin Thrace, leaving his wife and his other daughters behind. Isaac II, drawn from his prison and robed once more in the imperial purple, received his son in state.
Life in exile
Alexius attempted to organize a resistance to the new regime from
Adrianopleand then Mosynopolis, where he was joined by the later usurper Alexius V Ducas "Murtzuphlus" in April 1204, after the definitive fall of Constantinople to the crusaders and the establishment of the Latin Empire.
At first Alexios III received Alexius V well, even allowing him to marry his daughter
Eudocia Angelina. Later Alexios V was blinded and deserted by his father-in-law, who fled from the crusaders into Thessaly. Here Alexius III eventually surrendered, with Euphrosyne, to Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, who was establishing himself as ruler of the Kingdom of Thessalonica.
Trying to escape Boniface's "protection", Alexius III attempted to seek shelter with
Michael I Ducas, the ruler of Epirus, in 1205. Captured by Boniface, Alexius III and his retinue were sent to Montferrat, before being brought back to Thessalonicac. 1209. At that point the deposed emperor was ransomed by Michael I of Epirus, who sent him to Asia Minor, where Alexios' son-in-law Theodore I Lascarisof the Empire of Nicaeawas holding his own against the Latins.
Here Alexios III conspired against his son-in-law after the latter refused to recognize Alexius' authority, and received the support of
Kay Khusrau I, the sultanof Rüm. In the battle of Antioch on the Maeander in 1211, the sultan was defeated and killed, and Alexius III was captured by Theodore Lascaris. Alexius III was relegated to a monasteryat Nicaea, where he died later in 1211.
By his marriage to Euphrosyne Doucaena Camaterina Alexios had three daughters:
* Eirene Angelina, who married (1) Andronicus Contostephanus, and (2) Alexius Palaeologus, by whom she was the grandmother of Emperor
Michael VIII Palaeologus.
Anna Angelina, who married (1) the "sebastokrator" Isaac Komnenos, great-nephew of emperor Manuel I Comnenus, and (2) Theodore Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea.
Eudocia Angelina, who married (1) King Stefan I "Prvovenčani" of Serbia, then (2) Emperor Alexius V, and (3) Leo Sgouros, ruler of Corinth.
Michael Angold, "The Byzantine Empire, 1025-1204: A Political History", second edition (London and New York, 1997)
* C.M. Brand, "Byzantium Confronts the West" (Cambridge, MA, 1968)
* Jonathan Harris, "Byzantium and the Crusades" (London and New York, 2003)
* Jonathan Harris, "Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium" (London and New York, 2007)
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium" (Oxford , 1991), 3 vols.
* K. Varzos, "Ē genealogia tōn Komnēnōn" (Thessalonica, 1984)
*cite encyclopedia | last = Plate | first = William | authorlink = | title = Alexios III Angelos | editor = William Smith | encyclopedia =
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology| volume = 1 | pages = 130 | publisher = Little, Brown and Company| location = Boston | year = 1867 | url = http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moa;cc=moa;idno=acl3129.0001.001;q1=demosthenes;size=l;frm=frameset;seq=145;page=root;view=image
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