Theodore II Laskaris


Theodore II Laskaris

Infobox Monarch
name =Theodore II Doukas Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Β΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις
title =Emperor of Nicaea
(Byzantine Emperor in exile)


caption =
reign =1254 – 1258
predecessor =John III Doukas Vatatzes
successor =John IV Laskaris
spouse =Elena of Bulgaria
issue =John IV Doukas Laskaris
Irene Doukaina Laskarina
Maria Doukaina Laskarina
father =John III Doukas Vatatzes
mother =Irene Lascarina
date of birth =c. 1222
place of birth =Nicaea
date of death =death date|1258|8|18|df=y
place of death =Nypmhaion, near Smyrna|

Theodore II Doukas Laskaris or Ducas Lascaris ( _el. Θεόδωρος Β΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις, "Theodōros II Doukas Laskaris") (1221/1222 – August 18 1258) was emperor of Nicaea, 1254–1258.

Life

Theodore II Doukas Laskaris was the only son of Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes and Eirene Laskarina, the daughter of Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Anna Angelina. Anna was a daughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina.

Theodore II received a scholarly education and remained devoted to science and art throughout his life. In contrast with earlier practice, Theodore II was not crowned co-emperor with his father, though he assisted in the government since c. 1241. On the death of John III on November 4, 1254, Theodore II was acclaimed emperor by the army and the court, but was crowned only after the appointment of a new patriarch, Arsenios Autoreianos, in 1255.

The succession of Theodore II was exploited by the Bulgarians, who invaded Thrace under the leadership of the young and inexperienced Michael Asen I of Bulgaria in 1255. In spite of his own scholarly predisposition, Theodore II immediately marched against the Bulgarians and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. During his second expedition in 1256, he managed to conclude a favorable peace with Bulgaria, which may have plunged the latter into a crisis of leadership. Theodore II followed up his victory against Bulgaria by expanding his control in the west, where he annexed Durazzo and Servia, effectively outflanking his rivals in Epirus.

Internally, Theodore II favored bureaucrats from the middle classes, instead of members of the great aristocratic families. This caused considerable opposition by the nobility to the emperor and his chief minister, the "megas domestikos" George Mouzalon. The conflict led to the exile of one of the leaders of the aristocratic faction, the future Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, who was accused of conspiring with the Seljuks of Rum. In the midst of this crisis, Theodore II's epileptic condition worsened, and the emperor died on August 18 1258, leaving George Mouzalon as the regent for his minor son John IV Laskaris.

Family

Theodore II Doukas Laskaris married Elena of Bulgaria, daughter of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria in 1235, by whom he had several children including:
* John IV Doukas Laskaris
* Irene Doukaina Laskarina, who married Constantine I of Bulgaria
* Maria Doukaina Laskarina, who married Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas of Epirus

Michael VIII Palaiologos, having taken the imperial throne and made the 11-year old John IV ineligible for the emperorship by blinding, had Theodore's daughters married off to foreigners, so their descendants could not threaten his own children's claim to the imperial succession.

References

* "The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium", Oxford University Press, 1991.


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