Angelos


Angelos

The Angelos family (pl. Angeloi, Greek: Ἄγγελος, fem. Άγγελίνα) was a noble Byzantine lineage which gave rise to three Byzantine emperors from 1185 to 1204. From 13th to 15th century, a stirp (branch) of the family ruled Epiros, Thessaly and Thessaloniki under the name of Angelos Komnenos Doukas.

The family name Angelos is derived either from "angel" (messenger) or from the toponym "Angel" ("Agel"), a district near Amida. In today's Greece, several places bear the name of Angelokastron.

The lineage was founded by Constantine Angelos from Philadelphia (Asia Minor), who married Theodora Komnene (born 1096), a daughter of emperor Alexios I Komnenos. According to a 12th-century historian, Constantine was handsome but of lowly origin. Constantine and Theodora had three sons: the "sebastokrator" John Angelos, Andronikos Angelos and Alexios "Komnenos" Angelos, who erected a church in Nerezi in 1164, famed for its frescoes. During the reign of Manuel I Komnenos, several Angeloi attained rank as military commanders and officials of the Byzantine empire.

In 1185, Andronikos Angelos' son Isaac II Angelos deposed Andronikos I Komnenos and was proclaimed Byzantine Emperor. He was succeeded by his brother Alexios III Angelos and his son Alexios IV Angelos. Under the weak reign of the Angelos dynasty, the Byzantine empire deteriorated and soon fell prey to Latin crusaders and Venetians in the Fourth Crusade.

After the fall of Constantinople and the establishment of the Latin empire in 1204, members of the Angeloi assumed power in Epiros and Thessaly, naming themselves "Angeloi Komnenoi Doukai" in order to distinguish themselves from the "humble" Angeloi, who were known as officials, physicians and clergymen.

Michael I Angelos, an illegitimate son of the "sebastokrator" John Angelos, founded the Despotate of Epiros, chosing the city of Arta as its capital. In 1224, Michael's half-brother Theodore captured the Kingdom of Thessalonica from the crusaders and proclaimed himself "basileus" of Salonika. However, Theodore was defeated and captured by John II Asen in the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230. During Theodore's captivity, his brother Manuel Angelos ruled over Thessaloniki, succeeded by Theodore's sons John Angelos and Demetrios Angelos. Eventually, the city was lost to John III Doukas Vatatzes in 1246, marking the end of the rule of the Angeloi in Thessaloniki.

In 1230, Theodore's nephew Michael II Angelos, son of Michael I, established himself as ruler of Epiros and Thessaly. After the death of Michael II in 1271, Epiros was ruled by his legitimate son Nikephoros I Angelos, while Thessaly was given to his illegitimate son John I Angelos. In 1318, Nicholas Orsini murdered Nikephoros' son Thomas I Angelos, ending the rule of the Angeloi in Epiros. In Thessaly, John I Angelos was succeeded by his son Constantine, followed by John II Angelos, who ruled from 1302/03 until his death in 1318. In the same year, Thessaly was seized by the Catalan Grand Company and annexed to the Duchy of Athens.

Having re-established Byzantine control over Epiros and Thessaly in 1340, emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos appointed the "pinkernes" (cup-bearer) John Angelos, a nephew of "megas domestikos" John Kantakouzenos, to governor of Epiros. John extended his rule to Thessaly in 1342, but died from the plague in 1348. Epiros and Thessaly were conquered by Stefan Dušan soon afterwards.

Descendants of John Angelos continued to govern Thessaly under Simeon Uroš and John Uroš. John Uroš, the last Nemanjić, abdicated in favour of Alexios Angelos Philantropenos, the "kaisar" of Great Wallachia. Alexios' brother Manuel Angelos Philantropenos was the last Byzantine ruler of Thessaly.

After the Ottoman conquest of Thessaly in 1394, the Angeloi Philantropenoi took refuge in Serbia. A grandson of either Alexios or Manuel, Mihailo Anđelović, served as an official at the court of Đurađ and Lazar Branković. Mihailo's brother Mahmud, captured in his infancy by Ottoman soldiers, was brought to Edirne, where he took Islam. He later rose to the highest ranks of the Ottoman empire, becoming beylerbey of Rumelia in 1451 and Grand Vizier in 1455. In the negotiations between Serb despot Lazar Branković and Mehmed II in 1457, the brothers Mihailo and Mahmud Anđelović were representing both sides.

References

* A. Kazhdan: "Angelos". In: The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, New York/Oxford, 1991.
* G. Ostrogorsky: "Anđeli". In: Enciklopedija Jugoslavije, 1st ed., Zagreb, 1955.
* G. Prinzing: "Angeloi". In: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Stuttgart/Weimar, 1999.


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