In ancient Roman culture, felicitas is a condition of divinely inspired productivity, blessedness, or happiness. Felicitas could encompass both a woman's fertility, a general's luck or good fortune; the divine personification of Felicitas was cultivated as a goddess. Although felicitas may be translated as "good luck," and the goddess Felicitas shares some characteristics and attributes with Fortuna, the two were distinguished in Roman religion. Fortuna was unpredictable and her effects could be negative, as the existence of an altar to Mala Fortuna acknowledges. Felicitas, always had a positive significance, she appears with several epithets. Felicitas had a temple in Rome as early as the mid-2nd century BC, during the Republican era was honored at two official festivals of Roman state religion, on July 1 in conjunction with Juno and October 9 as Fausta Felicitas. Felicitas continued to play an important role in Imperial cult, was portrayed on coins as a symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Roman Empire.
Her primary attributes are cornucopia. The English word "felicity" derives from felicitas. In its religious sense, felix means "blessed, under the favour of the gods. That, felix has achieved the pax divom, a state of harmony or peace with the divine world; the word derives from Indo-European *dhel, meaning "happy, productive, full of nourishment." Related Latin words include femina, "woman". The continued magical association of sexual potency and general good fortune in productivity is indicated by the inscription Hic habitat Felicitas on an apotropaic relief of a phallus at a bakery in Pompeii. In archaic Roman culture, felicitas was a quality expressing the close bonds between religion and agriculture. Felicitas was at issue when the suovetaurilia sacrifice conducted by Cato the Elder as censor in 184 BC was challenged as having been unproductive for vitium, ritual error. In the following three years Rome had been plagued by a number of ill omens and prodigies, such as severe storms, "showers of blood," which had required a series of expiations.
The speech Cato gave to justify himself is known as the Oratio de lustri sui felicitate, "Speech on the Felicitas of his Lustrum", survives only as a possible quotation by a source. Cato says that a lustrum should be found to have produced felicitas "if the crops had filled up the storehouses, if the vintage had been abundant, if the olive oil had flowed deliberately from the groves", regardless of whatever else might have occurred; the efficacy of a ritual might be thus expressed as its felicitas. The ability to promote felicitas became proof of one's divine favor. Felicitas was a divine gift, a quality that resided within an individual, a contagious capacity for generating productive conditions outside oneself: it was a form of "charismatic authority". Cicero lists felicitas as one of the four virtues of the exemplary general, along with knowledge of military science and auctoritas, "authority." Virtus was a regular complement to felicitas, not thought to attach to those who were unworthy.
Cicero attributed felicitas to Pompeius Magnus, distinguished this felicitas from the divine good luck enjoyed by successful generals such as Fabius Maximus, Scipio the Younger and Marius. The sayings of Publilius Syrus are attached to divine qualities, including Felicitas: "The people's Felicitas is powerful when she is merciful". Epithets of Felicitas include: Augusta, the goddess in her association with the emperor and Imperial cult. Fausta, a state divinity cultivated on October 9 in conjunction with Venus Victrix and the Genius Populi Romani. Publica, the "public" Felicitas. Temporum, the Felicitas "of the times", a title which emphasize the felicitas being experienced in current circumstances; the cult of Felicitas is first recorded in the mid-2nd century BC, when a temple was dedicated to her by Lucius Licinius Lucullus, grandfather of the famous Lucullus, using booty from his military campaigns in Spain in 151–150 BC. Predecessor to a noted connoisseur of art, Lucullus obtained and dedicated several statues looted by Mummius from Greece, including works by Praxiteles: the Thespiades, a statue group of the Muses brought from Thespiae, a Venus.
This Temple of Felicitas was among several that had a secondary function as art museums, was recommended by Cicero along with the Temple of Fortuna Huiusce Diei for those who enjoyed viewing art but lacked the means to amass private collections. The temple was located in the Velabrum in the Vicus Tuscus of the Campus Martius, along a route associated with triumphs: the axle of Julius Caesar's triumphal chariot in 46 BC is supposed to have broken in front of it; the temple was destroyed by a fire during the reign of Claudius. It was not rebuilt at this site. Sulla identified himself so with the quality of felicitcas that he adopted the agnomen Felix, his domination as dictator
Born in the purple
Traditionally, born in the purple was a category of members of royal families born during the reign of their parent. This notion was loosely expanded to include all children born of prominent or high-ranking parents; the parents must be prominent at the time of the child's birth so that the child is always in the spotlight and destined for a prominent role in life. A child born before the parents become prominent would not be "born in the purple"; this color purple came to refer to Tyrian purple, restricted by law and the expense of creating it to royalty. Porphyrogénnētos was an honorific title in the Byzantine Empire given to a son, or daughter, born after the father had become emperor. In addition to this, the birth had to meet other conditions in order for the title to apply. Both imperial or Tyrian purple, a dye for cloth, the purple stone porphyry were rare and expensive, at times reserved for imperial use. In particular there was a room in the imperial Great Palace of Constantinople lined with porphyry, where reigning empresses gave birth.
The concept of porphyrogennetos was known from the sixth century in connection with growing ideas of hereditary legitimacy but the first secure use of the word is not found until 846. The term became common by the 10th century in connection with Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, its use continued into the Palaiologan period. Imperial purple was a luxury dye obtained from sea snails, used to colour cloth, its production was expensive, so the dye was used as a status symbol by the Romans e.g. a purple stripe on the togas of magistrates. By the Byzantine period the colour had become associated with the emperors, sumptuary laws restricted its use by anyone except the imperial household. Purple was thus seen as an imperial colour. Constantine VII, himself porphyrogénnētos, described the ceremonies which took place during the birth of a porphyrogénnētos child in his work De Ceremoniis aulae byzantinae; the most distinctive condition was that the child be born in the "Πορφύρα": no child born anywhere else could legitimately be called Porphyrogénnētos.
As the Porphyrogennētē Anna Komnena described it, the room rested on one of the Palace's many terraces, overlooking the Sea of Marmora and the Bosphorus Strait, "where the stone oxen and the lions stand", was in the form of a perfect square from floor to ceiling, with the latter ending in a pyramid. Its walls and ceiling were veneered with imperial porphyry, "generally of a purple colour throughout, but with white spots like sand sprinkled over it." The Palace of the Porphyrogenitus is a late 13th-century Byzantine palace in the north-western part of the old city of Constantinople named after Constantine Palaiologos. The purple chamber of the Imperial Palace was said by Anna Comnena to be "set apart long ago for an Empress's confinement" and, decorated with expensive porphyry; the other important qualification for status as a Porphyrogénnētos was that the father must be a reigning Basileus, the mother must be married to the Basileus and additionally must have undergone a formal, sacred ceremony creating her an Augusta.
In Imperial diplomacy a porphyrogénnēta bride was sometimes sent to seal a bargain, or a foreign princess may have gone to Constantinople to marry a porphyrogénnētos. Liutprand of Cremona, for instance, visited Constantinople in 968 on a diplomatic mission from Otto I to secure a purple-born bride for the prince who would become Otto II, in which mission he failed. A different bride who wasn't purple-born, Theophanu Skleraina, was subsequently acquired in 971. To be "born in the purple" is seen as a limitation to be escaped rather than a benefit or a blessing; the term refers to someone born with immense talent that shapes their career and forces them into paths they might not otherwise wish to follow. An obituary of the British composer Hubert Parry complains that his immense natural talent forced him to take on teaching and administrative duties that prevented him from composing in the manner that might have been allowed to someone who had to develop their talent. In this sense, the parent's prominence predetermines the child's role in life.
A royal child, for instance, is denied the opportunity to an ordinary life because of his parent's royal rank. An example of this usage can be seen in the following discussion comparing the German Kaiser William II with his grandfather, William I, his father, Frederick III: Compare this with his grandfather, the old Emperor, who, if he had not been born in the purple, could only have been a soldier, not, it must be added, one who could have held high commands. Compare him again with his father; the classic definition restricted use of the category to the legitimate offspring born to reigning monarchs after they ascended to the throne. It did not include children born prior to their parents' accession or, in an strict definition, their coronation. Crown prince Divine right of kings Dynasty Nepotism Royal and noble styles Royal prerogative Silver spoon Gilbert, Paul. Born in the Purple: The Priv
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
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus reigned as the co-emperor of the Empire of Nicaea from 1259 to 1261, as Byzantine Emperor from 1261 until his death. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, he recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261 and transformed the Empire of Nicaea into a restored Byzantine Empire. His reign would see considerable recovery of Byzantine power, including the enlargement of the Byzantine army and navy, it would include the reconstruction of the city of Constantinople, the increase of its population. He reestablished the University of Constantinople, which would lead to what is regarded as the Paliologian Renaissance during the 14th and 15th centuries, it would be at this time that the focus of the Byzantine military shifted to the Balkans, against the Bulgarians, leaving the Anatolian frontier neglected. His successors would not fix this issue, the Byzantine civil war made this situation much worse, draining the empire's strength and resources.
These internal conflicts lead to the permanent losses of important provinces such as Epirus to the Serbian Empire. The consequences of these conflicts would allow for the Anatolian beyliks to rise in power, most notably the one of Osman called the Ottoman Empire, his successors would conquer more parts of the empire, until the city of Constantinople itself in 1453, under the leadership of Mehmed II. Michael VIII Palaiologos was the son of the megas domestikos Andronikos Palaiologos by Theodora Angelina Palaiologina, the granddaughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina. According to Deno John Geanakoplos, Michael's ancestry could be traced back to all three imperial houses that ruled the empire in the centuries before the capture of Constantinople in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade, his mother does not appear to have played a significant role in his early life. Michael rose to distinction at an early age, serving as the governor of the Thracian towns of Melnik and Serres under the command of his father Andronikos.
However, in the autumn of 1253 Michael was accused before the Emperor John III Vatatzes of plotting against the throne. The only way Michael was allowed to prove his innocence was through trial by ordeal, holding a red-hot iron; when the Emperor ordered him to take hold of the red-hot metal, the young Michael answered "with the astuteness, to characterize his career as Emperor": if the Metropolitan Phokas of Philadelphia, who evidently supported this proposal, could take the iron from the altar with his own hands and place it in Michael's, he would gladly receive it in faith that the truth would be revealed. Although Michael avoided punishment, afterwards was married to the Emperor's granddaughter and appointed megas konostaulos of the Latin mercenaries in the employment of the emperors of Nicaea, he was still mistrusted. Following the death of John Vatatzes, Michael crossed the Sangarios River with a few close friends and took service with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. From late 1256 to 1258 he served as commander of the Christian mercenaries fighting for Sultan Kaykaus II.
A few days after the death of Emperor Theodore Laskaris in 1258, Michael Palaiologos instigated a coup against the influential bureaucrat George Mouzalon, seizing from him the guardianship of the eight-year-old Emperor John IV Doukas Laskaris. Michael was invested with the titles of megas doux and, in November 1258, of despotēs. On 1 January 1259 Michael VIII Palaiologos was proclaimed co-emperor at Nymphaion. In 1259 Michael VIII defeated the alliance of William of Villehardouin, Prince of Achaea, Michael II Komnenos Doukas of Epirus at the Battle of Pelagonia. According to Geanakoplos, "n the period preceding the Nicene reconquest of Constantinople in 1261 no event was of greater importance than Michael Palaeologus' victory at Pelagonia." This not only neutralized, for the immediate time, the possibility of an attack from enemies on his Western borders, but improved Michael's legitimacy by showing him as a competent leader. Despite this brilliant victory, only one event could remove the stigma of usurper from the eyes of his subjects — recovery of Constantinople itself.
In 1260 Michael led an unsuccessful attempt to capture the city. Rumors of reinforcements for the beleaguered city forced Michael to sign a one-year truce with the Latin Emperor Baldwin II that August. Realizing that he needed a navy to besiege Constantinople, Michael concluded the Treaty of Nymphaeum with Genoa in March of the following year. Genoese help proved to be unneeded when Michael VIII's general Alexios Strategopoulos captured Constantinople from Baldwin II through treachery on 25 July 1261. News of the captured city first reached Michael's sister Eulogia, he was not convinced until a messenger arrived from Strategopoulos bearing the crown and sword Baldwin had abandoned in his flight from his palace. Michael VIII entered the city on 15 August and had himself crowned together with his infant son Andronikos II Palaiologos. Once in control of Constantinople, Michael abolished all Latin customs and reinstated most Byzantine ceremonies and institutions as they had existed before the Fourth Crusade.
The hyperpyron was a Byzantine coin in use during the late Middle Ages, replacing the solidus as the Byzantine Empire's gold coinage. The traditional gold currency of the Byzantine Empire had been the solidus or nomisma, whose gold content had remained steady at 24 carats for seven centuries and was highly prized. From the 1030s, the coin was debased, until in the 1080s, following the military disasters and civil wars of the previous decade, its gold content was reduced to zero. In 1092, Emperor Alexios I Komnenos undertook a drastic overhaul of the Byzantine coinage system and introduced a new gold coin, the hyperpyron; this was of the same standard weight as the solidus, but of less gold content due to the recycling of earlier debased coins. The hyperpyron remained the standard gold coin until gold coins ceased to be minted by the Byzantines in the mid-14th century, it too, was subject to gradual debasement: under the Empire of Nicaea, its gold content fell to 18 carats, under Michael VIII Palaiologos to 15 and under his son and successor Andronikos II Palaiologos to 12 carats.
At the same time, the quality of the coins declined as well, in the 14th century, their weight was far from uniform. The last hyperpyra, thus the last Byzantine gold coins, were struck by Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos; the name remained in use thereafter as a money of account, divided into 24 keratia. The name was adopted in various forms by Western Europeans and the Slavic countries of the Balkans designating various coins silver, as well as moneys of account. More in the West the hyperpyron was called the bezant among Italian merchants. In the early Komnenian period, the hyperpyron was the equivalent of three electrum trachea, 48 billon trachea or 864 copper tetartera, although with the debasement of the trachea it came to rate 12 electrum trachea and 288 to 384 billon trachea. In the 14th century, the hyperpyron equalled 12 of the new silver basilika, 96 tournesia, 384 copper trachea and 768 copper assaria. Medieval Bulgarian coinage Ragusan perpera Serbian perper Grierson, Philip. Byzantine Coinage.
Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks. ISBN 978-0-88402-274-9. Archived from the original on 2013-12-14. Kazhdan, Alexander, ed.. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6. Grierson, Philip. Byzantine Coins. London: Methuen. ISBN 978-0-416-71360-2. Hendy, Michael F.. The Economy, Fiscal Administration and Coinage of Byzantium. London: Variorum Reprints. ISBN 0-86078-253-0. Hendy, Michael F.. Studies in the Byzantine Monetary Economy c. 300–1450. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-24715-2
The Empire of Romania, more known in historiography as the Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople, known to the Byzantines as the Frankokratia or the Latin Occupation, was a feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Eastern Roman Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261; the Latin Empire was intended to supplant the Byzantine Empire as the titular Roman Empire in the east, with a Western Roman Catholic emperor enthroned in place of the Eastern Orthodox Roman emperors. Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders, was crowned the first Latin emperor as Baldwin I on 16 May 1204; the Latin Empire failed to attain political or economic dominance over the other Latin powers, established in former Byzantine territories in the wake of the Fourth Crusade Venice, after a short initial period of military successes it went into a steady decline. Weakened by constant warfare with the Bulgarians and the unconquered sections of the empire, it fell when Byzantines recaptured Constantinople under Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos in 1261.
The last Latin emperor, Baldwin II, went into exile, but the imperial title survived, with several pretenders to it, until the 14th century. The original name of this state in the Latin language was Imperium Romaniae; this name was used based on the fact that the common name for the Eastern Roman Empire in this period had been Romania. The names Byzantine and Latin were not contemporaneous terms, they were invented much by historians seeking to differentiate between the classical period of the Roman Empire, the medieval period of the Eastern Roman Empire, the late medieval Latin Empire, all of which called themselves "Roman." The term Latin has been used because the crusaders were Roman Catholic and used Latin as their liturgical and scholarly language. It is used in contrast to the Eastern Orthodox locals who used Greek in both liturgy and common speech. After the fall of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, the crusaders agreed to divide up Byzantine territory. In the Partitio terrarum imperii Romaniae, signed on 1 October 1204, three eighths of the empire — including Crete and other islands — went to the Republic of Venice.
The Latin Empire claimed the remainder and exerted control over: areas of Greece, divided into vassal fiefs: the Kingdom of Thessalonica the Principality of Achaea the Duchy of Athens the Duchy of the Archipelago the short-lived Duchy of Philippopolis in north Thrace two further duchies were projected for Nicaea and Philadelphia in Asia Minor, but they were forestalled by the establishment of the Empire of Nicaea. The Doge of Venice did not rank as a vassal to the Latin Empire, but his position in control of three-eighths of its territory and of parts of Constantinople itself ensured Venice's influence in the Empire's affairs. However, much of the former Byzantine territory remained in the hands of rival successor states led by Byzantine Greek aristocrats, such as the Despotate of Epirus, the Empire of Nicaea, the Empire of Trebizond, each bent on reconquest from the Latins; the crowning of Baldwin I and the establishment of the Latin Empire had the curious effect of creating three existing entities claiming to be successors of the Roman Empire: the Latin Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the remnants of the Byzantine Empire.
None of these polities controlled the city of Rome, which remained under the temporal authority of the Pope. The initial campaigns of the crusaders in Asia Minor resulted in the capture of most of Bithynia by 1205, with the defeat of the forces of Theodore I Laskaris at Poemanenum and Prusa. Latin successes continued, in 1207 a truce was signed with Theodore, newly proclaimed Emperor of Nicaea; the Latins inflicted a further defeat on Nicaean forces at the Rhyndakos river in October 1211, three years the Treaty of Nymphaeum recognized their control of most of Bithynia and Mysia. The peace was maintained until 1222, when the resurgent power of Nicaea felt sufficiently strong to challenge the Latin Empire, by that time weakened by constant warfare in its European provinces. At the battle of Poimanenon in 1224, the Latin army was defeated, by the next year Emperor Robert of Courtenay was forced to cede all his Asian possessions to Nicaea, except for Nicomedia and the territories directly across from Constantinople.
Nicaea turned to the Aegean, capturing the islands awarded to the empire. In 1235 the last Latin possessions fell to Nicaea. Unlike in Asia, where the Latin Empire faced only an weak Nicaea, in Europe it was confronted with a powerful enemy: the Bulgarian tsar Kaloyan; when Baldwin campaigned against the Byzantine lords of Thrace, they called upon Kaloyan for help. At the Battle of Adrianople on 14 April 1205, the Latin heavy cavalry and knights were crushed by Kaloyan's troops and Cuman allies, Emperor Baldwin was captured, he was imprisoned in the Bulgarian capital Tarnovo until his death in 1205. Kaloyan was murdered a couple of years during a siege of Thessalonica, the Bulgarian threat conclusively defeated with a victory the following year, which allowed Baldwin's successor, Henry of Flanders, to reclaim most of the lost territories in Thrace until 1210, when peace was concluded with the marriage of Henry to Maria of Bulgaria, tsar Kaloyan's daughter. At the same time, another Greek successor state, the Despotate of Epirus, under Michael I Komnenos Doukas, posed a threat to the empire's vassals in Thessalonica and Athens.
Alexios III Angelos
Alexios III Angelos was Byzantine Emperor from March 1195 to July 17/18, 1203. A member of the extended imperial family, Alexios came to throne after deposing and imprisoning his younger brother Isaac II Angelos; the most significant event of his reign was the attack of the Fourth Crusade on Constantinople in 1203, on behalf of Alexios IV Angelos. Alexios III took over the defense of the city, which he mismanaged fled the city at night with one of his three daughters. From Adrianople, Mosynopolis, he unsuccessfully attempted to rally his supporters, only to end up a captive of Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, he was ransomed, sent to Asia Minor where he plotted against his son-in-law Theodore Laskaris, but was arrested and spent his last days confined to the Monastery of Hyakinthos in Nicaea, where he died. Alexios III Angelos was the second son of Andronikos Doukas Angelos and Euphrosyne Kastamonitissa. Andronikos was himself a son of Theodora Komnene, the youngest daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina.
Thus Alexios Angelos was a member of the extended imperial family. Together with his father and brothers, Alexios had conspired against Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos, thus he spent several years in exile in Muslim courts, including that of Saladin, his younger brother Isaac was threatened with execution under orders of Andronikos I, their first-cousin once-removed, on September 11, 1185. Isaac made a desperate attack on the imperial agents and soon killed their leader Stephen Hagiochristophorites, he took refuge in the church of Hagia Sophia and from there appealed to the populace. His actions provoked a riot, which resulted in the deposition of Andronikos I and the proclamation of Isaac as Emperor. Alexios was now closer to the imperial throne than before. By 1190 Alexios had returned to the court of his younger brother, from whom he received the elevated title of sebastokratōr. In March 1195 while Isaac II was away hunting in Thrace, Alexios was acclaimed as emperor by the troops with the covert support of Alexios' wife Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera.
Alexios captured Isaac at Stagira in Macedonia, put out his eyes, thenceforth kept him a close prisoner, despite having been redeemed by Alexios from captivity at Antioch and showered 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, to allow such licence to the officers of the army as to leave the Empire defenceless; these actions led to the financial ruin of the state. At Christmas 1196, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI attempted to force Alexios to pay him a tribute of 5,000 pounds of gold or face invasion. Alexios gathered the money by plundering imperial tombs at the church of the Holy Apostles and taxing the people though Henry's death in September 1197 meant the gold was never dispatched; the able and forceful empress Euphrosyne tried in vain to sustain his court. In the east the Empire was overrun by the Seljuk Turks; the Emperor's attempts to bolster the empire's defences by special concessions to pronoiars in the frontier zone backfired, as the latter increased their regional autonomy.
Byzantine authority survived, but in a much weakened state. In 1197, local lord Dobromir Chrysos established himself in region of Vardar Macedonia, defying the imperial power for several years. During first years of Alexios reign, relations between Byzantium and Serbia were good, since his daughter Eudokia Angelina was married to Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanjić, granted the title of sebastokrator, but in 1200, those relations deteriorated. Marriage between Stefan and Eudokia was dissolved, alliance between Serbia and Byzantium ended, leaving Byzantium without a single ally in Southeastern Europe. Soon Alexios was threatened by more formidable danger. In 1202, soldiers assembled at Venice to launch the Fourth Crusade. Alexios IV Angelos, the son of the deposed Isaac II, had escaped from Constantinople and now appealed for support to the crusaders, promising to end the schism of East and West, to pay for their transport, to provide military support if they would help him depose his uncle and ascend to his father's throne.
The crusaders, whose objective had been Egypt, were persuaded to set their course for Constantinople, arriving there in June 1203, proclaiming Alexios IV as Emperor, inviting the populace of the capital to depose his uncle. Alexios III took no effective measures to resist, his attempts to bribe the crusaders failed, his son-in-law, Theodore Laskaris, the only one to attempt anything significant, was defeated at Scutari, the siege of Constantinople began. For the city, misgovernment by Alexios III 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 of the city. In the ensuing fighting, the crusaders set the city on fire leaving 20,000 people homeless. On 17 July Alexios III took action and led 17 divisions from the St. Romanus Gate, vastly outnumbering the crusaders, his courage failed and the Byzantine army returned to t