John III Doukas Vatatzes
John III Doukas Vatatzes, Latinized as Ducas Vatatzes, was Emperor of Nicaea from 1222 to 1254. He was succeeded by his son, known as Theodore II Laskaris. John Doukas Vatatzes, born in about 1192 in Didymoteicho, was the son of the general Basileios Vatatzes, Duke of Thrace, who died in 1193, his wife, an unnamed daughter of Isaakios Angelos and cousin of the Emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos; the Vatatzes family had first become prominent in Byzantine society during the Komnenian period and had forged early imperial connections when Theodore Vatatzes married the porphyrogennete princess Eudokia Komnene, daughter of Emperor John II Komnenos. John Doukas Vatatzes had two older brothers; the eldest was Isaac Doukas Vatatzes, who married and had two children: John Vatatzes, who married to Eudokia Angelina and had two daughters: Theodora Doukaina Vatatzaina, who married Michael VIII Palaiologos. A successful soldier from a military family, John was chosen in about 1216 by Emperor Theodore I Laskaris as the second husband for his daughter Irene Laskarina and as heir to the throne, following the death of her first husband, Andronikos Palaiologos.
This arrangement excluded members of the Laskarid family from the succession, when John III Doukas Vatatzes became emperor in mid-December 1221, following Theodore I's death in November, he had to suppress opposition to his rule. The struggle ended with the Battle of Poimanenon in 1224, in which his opponents were defeated in spite of support from the Latin Empire of Constantinople. John III's victory led to territorial concessions by the Latin Empire in 1225, followed by John's incursion into Europe, where he seized Adrianople. John III's possession of Adrianople was terminated by Theodore Komnenos Doukas of Epirus and Thessalonica, who drove the Nicaean garrison out of Adrianople and annexed much of Thrace in 1227; the elimination of Theodore by Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria in 1230 put an end to the danger posed by Thessalonica, John III made an alliance with Bulgaria against the Latin Empire. In 1235 this alliance resulted in the restoration of the Bulgarian patriarchate and the marriage between Elena of Bulgaria and Theodore II Ivan Asen II's daughter and John III's son.
In that same year, the Bulgarians and Nicaeans campaigned against the Latin Empire, in 1236 they attempted a siege of Constantinople. Subsequently, Ivan Asen II adopted an ambivalent policy becoming neutral, leaving John III to his own devices. John III Vatatzes was interested in the collection and copying of manuscripts, William of Rubruck reports that he owned a copy of the missing books from Ovid’s Fasti. Ruburck was critical of the Hellenic traditions he encountered in the Empire of Nicaea the feast day for Felicitas favored by John Vatatzes, which Risch suggests would have been the Felicitanalia, practiced by Sulla to venerate Felicitas in the 1st Century with an emphasis on inverting social norms, extolling truth and beauty, reciting profane and satirical verse and wearing ornamented "cenatoria", or dinner robes during the day. In spite of some reverses against the Latin Empire in 1240, John III was able to take advantage of Ivan Asen II's death in 1241 to impose his own suzerainty over Thessalonica, to annex this city, as well as much of Bulgarian Thrace in 1246.
Afterwards, John III was able to establish an effective stranglehold on Constantinople in 1247. In the last years of his reign Nicaean authority extended far to the west, where John III attempted to contain the expansion of Epirus. Michael's allies Golem of Kruja and Theodore Petraliphas defected to John III in 1252. John III died in Nymphaion in 1254, was buried in the monastery of Sosandra, which he had founded, in the region of Magensia. John III Doukas Vatatzes married first Irene Lascarina, the daughter of his predecessor Theodore I Laskaris in 1212, they had the future Theodore II Doukas Laskaris. Irene was so badly injured that she was unable to have any more children. Irene retired to a convent, taking the monastic name Eugenia, died there in 1239. John III married as his second wife Constance II of Hohenstaufen, an illegitimate daughter of Emperor Frederick II by his mistress Bianca Lancia, they had no children. John III Doukas Vatatzes was a successful ruler who laid the groundwork for Nicaea's recovery of Constantinople.
He was successful in maintaining peaceful relations with his most powerful neighbors and the Sultanate of Rum, his network of diplomatic relations extended to the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy, while his armed forces included Frankish mercenaries. John III effected Nicaean expansion into Europe, where by the end of his reign he had annexed his former rival Thessalonica and had expanded at the expense of Bulgaria and Epirus, he expanded Nicaean control over much of the Aegean and annexed the important island of Rhodes, while he supported initiatives to free Crete from Venetian occupation aiming toward its re-unification with the Byzantine empire of Nicaea. Moreover, John III is credited with developing the internal prosperity and economy of his realm, encouraging justice and charity. In spite of his epilepsy, John III had provided active leadership in both peace and war, claimed to be the true inheritor of the Roman Empire, was known for bountiful harvest festivals which drew on traditions from the Felicitas feast days described in the missing 11th book of Ovid’s Book of Days.
A half-century after his death, John III was
Komnenos, Latinized Comnenus, plural Komnenoi or Comneni, is a noble family who ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 to 1185, as the Grand Komnenoi founded and ruled the Empire of Trebizond. Through intermarriages with other noble families, notably the Doukai and Palaiologoi, the Komnenos name appears among most of the major noble houses of the late Byzantine world. Michael Psellos reports that the family originated from the village of Komne in Thrace—usually identified with the "Fields of Komnene" mentioned in the 14th century by John Kantakouzenos—a view accepted by modern scholarship; the first known member of the family, Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, acquired extensive estates at Kastamon in Paphlagonia, which became the stronghold of the family in the 11th century. The family thereby became associated with the powerful and prestigious military aristocracy of Asia Minor, so that despite its Thracian origins it came to be considered "eastern"; the 17th-century scholar Du Cange suggested that the family descended from a Roman noble family that followed Constantine the Great to Constantinople, but although such mythical genealogies were common—and are indeed attested for the related Doukas clan—the complete absence of any such assertion in the Byzantine sources argues against Du Cange's view.
The Romanian historian George Murnu suggested in 1924 that the Komnenoi were of Aromanian descent, but this view too is now rejected. Modern scholars consider the family to have been of Greek origin. Manuel Erotikos Komnenos was the father of Isaac I Komnenos and grandfather, through Isaac's younger brother John Komnenos, of Alexios I Komnenos. Isaac I Komnenos, a Stratopedarch of the East under Michael VI, founded the Komnenos dynasty of Byzantine emperors. In 1057 Isaac was proclaimed emperor. Although his reign lasted only till 1059, when his courtiers pressured him to abdicate and become a monk, Isaac initiated many useful reforms; the dynasty returned to the throne with the accession of Alexios I Komnenos, Isaac I's nephew, in 1081. By this time, descendants of all the previous dynasties of Byzantium seem to have disappeared from the realm, such as the important Scleros and Argyros families. Descendants of those emperors lived abroad, having married into the royal families of Georgia, France, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Serbia.
Upon their rise to the throne, the Komnenoi became intermarried with the previous Doukas dynasty: Alexios I married Irene Doukaina, the grandniece of Constantine X Doukas, who had succeeded Isaac I in 1059. Thereafter the combined clan was referred as "Komnenodoukai" and several individuals used both surnames together. Several families descended from the Komnenodoukai, such as Palaiologos, Angelos and Laskaris. Alexios and Irene's youngest daughter Theodora ensured the future success of the Angelos family by marrying into it: Theodora's grandsons became the emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos. Under Alexios I and his successors the Empire was prosperous and stable. Alexios moved the imperial palace to the Blachernae section of Constantinople. Much of Anatolia was recovered from the Seljuk Turks, who had captured it just prior to Alexios' reign. Alexios saw the First Crusade pass through Byzantine territory, leading to the establishment of the Crusader states in the east; the Komnenos dynasty was much involved in crusader affairs, intermarried with the reigning families of the Principality of Antioch and the Kingdom of Jerusalem - Theodora Komnene, niece of Manuel I Komnenos, married Baldwin III of Jerusalem, Maria, grandniece of Manuel, married Amalric I of Jerusalem.
Remarkably, Alexios ruled for 37 years, his son John II ruled for 25, after uncovering a conspiracy against him by his sister, the chronicler Anna Komnene. John's son Manuel ruled for another 37 years; the Komnenos dynasty produced a number of branches. As imperial succession was not in a determined order but rather depended on personal power and the wishes of one's predecessor, within a few generations several relatives were able to present themselves as claimants. After Manuel I's reign the Komnenos dynasty fell into conspiracies and plots like many of its predecessors; the Angeloi were overthrown during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, by Alexios Doukas, a relative from the Doukas family. Several weeks before the occupation of Constantinople by crusaders in 1204, one branch of the Komnenoi fled back to their homelands in Paphlagonia, along the eastern Black Sea and its hinterland in the Pontic Alps, where they established the Empire of Trebizond, their first'emperor', named Alexios I, was the grandson of Emperor Andronikos I.
These emperors – the "Grand Komnenoi" as they were known – ruled in Trebizond for over 250 years, until 1461, when David Komnenos was defeated and executed by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II. Mehmed himself claimed descent from the Komnenos family via John Tzelepes Komnenos; the Trapezutine branch of the Komnenos dynasty held the name of Axouchos as descendants of John Axouch, a Byzantine nobleman and minister to the
Sérres is a city in Macedonia, capital of the Serres regional unit and second largest city in the region of Central Macedonia, after Thessaloniki. Serres is one of the economic centers of Northern Greece; the city is situated in a fertile plain at an elevation of about 70 metres, some 24 kilometres northeast of the Strymon river and 69 km north-east of Thessaloniki, respectively. Serres' official municipal population was 76,817 in 2011 with the total number of people living in the city and its immediate surroundings estimated at around 100,000; the city is home to the Department of Physical Education and Sport Science of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Technological Educational Institute of Central Macedonia, composed of the School of Technological Applications, the School of Management and Finance and the School of Graphic Arts and Design, with at least 10,000 Greek and international students. The Ancient Greek historian Herodotus mentions the city as Siris in the 5th century BC.
Theopompus refers to the city as Sirra. It is mentioned as Sirae, in the plural, by the Roman historian Livy. Since the name of the city has remained plural and by the 5th century AD it was in the contemporary form as Serrae or Sérrai, which remained the Katharevousa form for the name till modern times. In the local Greek dialect, the city is known as "ta Serras", a corruption of the plural Accusative "tas Serras" of the archaic form "ai Serrai". Τhe oldest mention of this form is attested in a document of the Docheiariou Monastery in Mount Athos from 1383, while there are many other such references in documents from the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It was known as Siroz in Turkish. In the Slavic languages, the city is known as Ser in Serbian, while in Bulgarian it is known as Syar or Ser. Although the earliest mention of Serres is dating in the 5th century BC, the city was founded long before the Trojan War at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC; the ancient city was built on a steep hill just north of Serres.
It held a strategic position, since it controlled a land road, which following the valley of the river Strymon led from the shores of Strymonian Gulf to the Danubian countries. The most ancient known inhabitants of the area were the Bryges and Strymonians. Afterwards were the Paeonian tribes of the Odomantes; these populations engaged in agriculture and cattle-raising worshiped the Sun, the deified river Strymon and the "Thracian horseman". The ancient city of Serraepolis was founded in Cilicia by Siropaiones exiled from Serres. In Roman antiquity the city is mentioned in sources under the name Sirra and in inscriptions as Sirraion polis, it was an important city of the Roman province of Macedonia, with the status of a civitas stipendiaria. It flourished during the imperial period thanks to the Pax Romana. During the great crisis of the Roman Empire, the city declined and only in the times of Diocletian, with its reforms, returned to prosperity; as regards the urban structure it featured, like all Greek cities, a market, theater and temples.
As we know from epigraphic evidence, the local government was based on the known Greek institutions, which were the parliament, the municipality and the archons. It was the seat of a federation of five cities and participated in the provincial life and organization of the Macedonians. Sirra as a city-state, apart from the usual Greek institutions, held its own territory, which occupied the area of the former province of Serres; the organization of its territory was based on villages, whose many sites have been found in various places near modern villages, such as Lefkonas, Ano Vrontou, Neo Souli, Agio Pnevma, Paralimnio etc. Within the limits of its territory have discovered traces of marble quarries and iron mines, which indicate systematic exploitation of the existing mineral wealth in the imperial period. In terms of population, except the most numerous Greek element, are recognized some population substrates from prehistoric times. Concerning the society, the main feature was its distinction in lower social strata.
Concerning the cults of the residents, except the known panhellenic cults, are evidenced and some local and Thracian cults as the Thracian horseman. Many inscriptions of Roman times have been found in the city. From these inscriptions, the eight are votive or honorific and all other on epitaph reliefs or steles; the first attested bishop of the city is recorded as participating in the Second Council of Ephesus in 449. In the early Middle Ages, Serres became the site of a major fortress built by the Byzantine Empire to guard the empire's northern frontier and the strategic Rupel Pass; the city's history was
The Latin term primicerius, hellenized as primikērios, was a title applied in the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire to the heads of administrative departments, used by the Church to denote the heads of various colleges. Etymologically the term derives from primus in cera, to say in tabula cerata, the first name in a list of a class of officials, inscribed on a waxed tablet. From their origin in the court of the Dominate, there were several primicerii. In the court, there was the primicerius sacri cubiculi, in charge of the emperor's bedchamber always a eunuch; the title was given to court officials in combination with other offices connected to the imperial person, such as the special treasury or the imperial wardrobe. Other primicerii headed some of the scrinia of the palace, chiefly the notarii. In the Late Roman army, the primicerius was senior to the senator, they are best attested in units associated with chiefly imperial guards. Thus in the 4th to 6th centuries there were the primicerii of the protectores domestici and of the Scholae Palatinae, but primicerii in charge of the armament factories, like the Scholae, where under the jurisdiction of the magister officiorum.
Primicerii are to be found in the staffs of regional military commanders, as well as in some regular military units. In the Byzantine era, under the Komnenian emperors, primikērioi appear as commanders in the palace regiments of the Manglabitai, Vardariōtai and the Varangians. In the late 11th century, the dignity of megas primikērios was established, which ranked high in court hierarchy well into the Palaiologan period, where he functioned as a chief of ceremonies. Primikērioi continue to be in evidence in the Byzantine Empire and the Despotate of Morea until their fall to the Ottomans. In ecclesiastical use the term was given to heads of the colleges of Notarii and Defensores, which occupied an important place in the administration of the Roman Church in Late Antiquity and in the Early Middle Ages; when young clerics were assembled in schools for training in the ecclesiastical service in the different districts of the Western Church, the directors of these schools were given this title. Thus, an inscription of the year 551 from Lyon mentions a "Stephanus primicerius scolae lectorum servientium in ecclesia Lugdunensi".
Isidore of Seville treats of the obligations of the primicerius of the lower clerics in his "Epistola ad Ludefredum". From this position the primicerius derived certain powers in the direction of liturgical functions. In the regulation of the common life of the clergy in collegiate and cathedral churches, according to the Rule of Chrodegang and the statutes of Amalarius of Metz, the primicerius appears as the first capitular after the archdeacon and archpresbyter, controlling the lower clerics and directing the liturgical functions and chant; the primicerius thus became a special dignitary of many chapters by a gradual development from the position of the old primicerius of the scola cantorum or lectorum. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the title was used for the heads of the colleges of the notarioi and taboularioi in the Church bureaucracy, but for the chief lectors, etc. of a church. In modern usage of the Russian Orthodox Church, the word primicerius is reserved for a junior cleric holding a torch or a candle before officiating bishop during the divine service.
Le Blant, "Inscriptions chrétiennes de la Gaule", I, 142, n. 45 Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange, "Glossarium" Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Francorum", II, xxxvii St. Isidore of Seville, "Epistola ad Ludefredum", P. L. LXXXIII, 896 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed.. "Primicerius". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton
Theodore II Laskaris
Theodore II Doukas Laskaris or Ducas Lascaris was Emperor of Nicaea from 1254 to 1258. 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, a daughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina. Theodore was born in late 1221 or early 1222 on the day his father ascended the throne. Theodore II received a scholarly education by George Akropolites and Nicephorus Blemmydes the latter who would become a tutor to him, 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 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 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 followed up his victory against Bulgaria by expanding his control in the west, where he annexed Durazzo and Servia outflanking his rivals in Epirus. Internally, Theodore favored bureaucrats from the middle classes instead of members of the great aristocratic families. Michael Angold explains this as in part, a matter of his temperament: He was happier in the company of a cultivated circle of friends, some of whom had been his childhood companions, he disliked what he considered the philistinism prevalent among a section of the young men at his father's court. Theodore's favoring of commoners faced considerable opposition by the nobility to the Emperor and his chief minister, the megas domestikos George Mouzalon, who grew up with Theodore II as his childhood companion.
The conflict led to the exile of one of the leaders of the aristocratic faction, the future Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, accused of conspiring with the Seljuks of Rum. In the midst of this crisis, Theodore's epileptic condition worsened, the Emperor died on August 16, 1258, leaving George Mouzalon as the regent for his minor son John IV Laskaris, seven years old at the time. Theodore II Doukas Laskaris married Elena Asenina of Bulgaria, daughter of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria in 1235, by whom he had several children including: Irene Doukaina Laskarina, who married Constantine I of Bulgaria Maria Doukaina Laskarina, who married Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas of EpirusHaving taken the imperial throne and made the 11-year-old John IV ineligible for the emperorship by blinding him, Michael VIII Palaiologos had Theodore's three other daughters married off to Italian and Bulgarian foreigners, so their descendants could not threaten his own children's claim to the imperial succession; these have been: Theodora, who married Mathieu de Mons, baron of Veligosti Eudoxia Laskarina, who married Pietro I Count of Ventimiglia and Arnaud Roger Count of Pallars-Subirà According to George Pachymeres Theodore had a fifth daughter, who might have been illegitimate, but who married Svetoslav, despot of Bulgaria.
John IV Doukas Laskaris List of Byzantine emperors Rosser, John H.. Historical Dictionary of Byzantium. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0810874770; the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991. Dimiter G. Angelov, "The'Moral Pieces' by Theodore II Laskaris", Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 65/66, pp. 237–269
Thessaly is a traditional geographic and modern administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, appears thus in Homer's Odyssey. Thessaly became part of the modern Greek state in 1881, after four and a half centuries of Ottoman rule. Since 1987 it has formed one of the country's 13 regions and is further sub-divided into 5 regional units and 25 municipalities; the capital of the region is Larissa. Thessaly lies in northern Greece and borders the regions of Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Sea on the east; the Thessaly region includes the Sporades islands. In Homer's epic, the Odyssey, the hero Odysseus visited the kingdom of Aeolus, the old name for Thessaly; the Plain of Thessaly, which lies between Mount Oeta/Othrys and Mount Olympus, was the site of the battle between the Titans and the Olympians. According to legend and the Argonauts launched their search for the Golden Fleece from the Magnesia Peninsula.
Thessaly was home to extensive Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures around 6000–2500 BC. Mycenaean settlements have been discovered, for example at the sites of Iolcos and Sesklo. In Archaic and Classical times, the lowlands of Thessaly became the home of baronial families, such as the Aleuadae of Larissa or the Scopads of Crannon. In the summer of 480 BC, the Persians invaded Thessaly; the Greek army that guarded the Vale of Tempe evacuated the road before the enemy arrived. Not much Thessaly surrendered to the Persians; the Thessalian family of Aleuadae joined the Persians subsequently. In the 4th century BC, after the Greco-Persian Wars had long ended, Jason of Pherae transformed the region into a significant military power, recalling the glory of Early Archaic times. Shortly after, Philip II of Macedon was appointed Archon of Thessaly, Thessaly was thereafter associated with the Macedonian Kingdom for the next centuries. Thessaly became part of the Roman Empire as part of the province of Macedonia.
Thessaly remained part of the East Roman "Byzantine" Empire after the collapse of Roman power in the west, subsequently suffered many invasions, such as by the Slavic tribe of the Belegezites in the 7th century AD. The Avars had arrived in Europe in the late 550s, they asserted their authority over many Slavs. Many Slavs were galvanized by the Avars. In the 7th century the Avar-Slav alliance began to raid the Byzantine Empire, laying siege to Thessalonica and the imperial capital Constantinople itself. By the 8th century, Slavs had occupied most of the Balkans from Austria to the Peloponnese, from the Adriatic to the Black seas, with the exception of the coastal areas and certain mountainous regions of the Greek peninsula. Relations between the Slavs and Greeks were peaceful apart from the initial settlement and intermittent uprisings. Being agriculturalists, the Slavs traded with the Greeks inside towns, it is that the re-Hellenization had begun by way of this contact. This process would be completed by a newly reinvigorated Byzantine Empire.
With the abatement of Arab-Byzantine Wars, the Byzantine Empire began to consolidate its power in those areas of mainland Greece occupied by Proto-Slavic tribes. Following the campaigns of the Byzantine general Staurakios in 782–783, the Byzantine Empire recovered Thessaly, taking many Slavs as prisoners. Apart from military expeditions against Slavs, the re-Hellenization process begun under Nicephorus I involved transfer of peoples. Many Slavs were moved to other parts of the empire such as Anatolia and made to serve in the military. In return, many Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor were brought to the interior of Greece, to increase the number of defenders at the Emperor's disposal and dilute the concentration of Slavs. In 977 Byzantine Thessaly was raided by the Bulgarian Empire. In 1066 dissatisfaction with the taxation policy led the Aromanian and Bulgarian population of Thessaly to revolt against the Byzantine Empire under the leadership of a local lord, Nikoulitzas Delphinas; the revolt, which began in Larissa, soon expanded to Trikala and northwards to the Byzantine-Bulgarian border.
In 1199–1201 another unsuccessful revolt was led by Manuel Kamytzes, son-in-law of Byzantine emperor Alexios III Angelos, with the support of Dobromir Chrysos, the autonomous ruler of Prosek. Kamytzes managed to establish a short-lived principality in northern Thessaly, before he was overcome by an imperial expedition. Following the siege of Constantinople and the dissolution of the Byzantine Empire by the Fourth Crusade in April 1204, Thessaly passed to Boniface of Montferrat's Kingdom of Thessalonica in the wider context of the Frankokratia. In 1212, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, ruler of Epirus, led his troops into Thessaly. Larissa and much of central Thessaly came under Epirote rule, thereby separating Thessalonica from the Crusader principalities in southern Greece. Michael's work was completed by his half-brother and successor, Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who by 1220 completed the recovery of the entire region; the Vlachs of Thessaly first appear in Byzantine sources in the 11th century, in the Strategikon of Kekaumenos and Anna Komnene's Alexiad).
In the 12th century, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela records the
George Mouzalon was a high official of the Empire of Nicaea - an empire that covered part of what is now Turkey - under Theodore II Laskaris. Of humble origin, he became Theodore's companion in childhood and was raised to high state office upon the latter's assumption of power; this caused great resentment from the aristocracy, which had monopolized high offices and opposed Theodore's policies. Shortly before Theodore's death in 1258, he was appointed regent of Theodore's under-age son John IV Laskaris, he was assassinated only a few days by soldiers, as the result of a conspiracy led by the nobles under the soon-to-be emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos. The Mouzalon family is first attested in the 11th century, but produced few notable members until the mid-13th century, with exception of Nicholas IV Mouzalon, Patriarch of Constantinople in 1147–1151. George Mouzalon was born at Adramyttium on the Anatolian coast in circa 1220, his family was considered as low-born, but he and his brothers became the childhood friends of Theodore II, being raised with him in the palace as his paidopouloi.
It is assumed that they were educated along with Theodore, sharing his classes under the scholar Nikephoros Blemmydes. There were at least two sisters, one of whom was married to a member of the Hagiotheodorites family; when Theodore became Emperor in November 1254, he raised the Mouzalones to the highest state offices: George was made megas domestikos while two of his brothers and Theodore, were made protovestiarios and protokynegos respectively. According to the contemporary chroniclers, the emperor loved George "above all others". During Theodore's reign, George was his most trusted advisor. Little is known, however, on his personal involvement in the governance of the state, except for his participation in the council convened to discuss the proper reaction to the invasion of Nicaea's Macedonian holdings by the Bulgarians after Vatatzes's death. George Mouzalon supported the majority opinion that Theodore himself should campaign against the invaders. During Theodore's absence on campaign in 1255, George was left behind as regent of the state.
Upon his return, Theodore raised George further, naming him protosebastos and protovestiarios and instituting the new title of megas stratopedarches for him. Andronikos Mouzalon succeeded George as megas domestikos, it was an high honour: the combined title "protosebastos and protovestiarios" was conferred only to close kinsmen of the emperor, while the offices of protovestiarios and megas domestikos had always until been the preserve of aristocratic families. The elevation of the Mouzalones was not only a mark of personal affection or favour, but in line with Theodore's policies, which aimed to curb the influence and independence of the powerful nobility; the appointment of low-born "new men" to such high posts, Theodore's harsh and arbitrary treatment of the nobles, aroused the ire of the traditional aristocracy, the capable and ambitious Michael Palaiologos. The aristocrats' hostility was further intensified when the emperor gave his low-born favourites noble brides: George Mouzalon wedded Theodora Kantakouzene, a niece of Michael Palaiologos, Andronikos married a daughter of the former protovestiarios Alexios Raoul.
After Mouzalon's murder, Theodora would marry the protovestiarios John Raoul Petraliphas. A staunch opponent of her uncle's unionist religious policies, she became a nun. After Michael's death, she restored the monastery of Saint Andrew in Krisei, to where she transferred the relics of Patriarch Arsenios Autoreianos, was a prominent member of the capital's literary circles. Shortly before Theodore II died on 16 August 1258, he left George Mouzalon as regent and guardian of his 8-year-old son John IV. Patriarch Arsenios may have shared guardianship of John: although the historians Nikephoros Gregoras and Makarios Melissenos say the Patriarch was named in this context, the contemporary historians Pachymeres and George Akropolites name only Mouzalon; this appointment further enraged the aristocracy, Mouzalon's position became precarious. Mouzalon was unpopular with the clergy because he was associated with Theodore's high-handed treatment of the Church, with the people, who feared that he would try to usurp the throne.
Most however, he faced the hostility of the army, in particular the Latin mercenaries, denied the usual stipends and donatives. In addition, they resented Theodore's intention to raise a "national" army composed of Byzantine Greeks, Mouzalon is recorded by Pachymeres to have taken such measures. Palaiologos, who as megas konostaulos held command over the Latins, was in a good position to exploit these grievances. To prevent any action against his testament's provisions for his son's succession and the regency, Theodore on his deathbed demanded an oath to be taken by Senate, army and clergy, both those present at court and those absent elsewhere in the state. After his death, George Mouzalon, aware of his vulnerability and his complete lack of support, called an assembly of the leading nobles and military commanders, he offered to resign from his post in favour of any person that the assembly chose, but the dignitaries, led by Michael Palaiologos, dissuaded him and encouraged him to stay on and accepted to take an oath of loyalty to him as well as to the young emperor.
It was a sham, as a