Alexios II Komnenos
|Alexios II Komnenos|
Alexios II from Guillaume Rouillé's Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum
|Reign||24 September 1180 – 24 September 1183|
|Born||10 September 1169|
|Died||24 September 1183(aged 14)|
|Place of death||Constantinople|
|Predecessor||Manuel I Komnenos|
|Successor||Andronikos I Komnenos|
|Consort to||Anna of France|
|Father||Manuel I Komnenos|
|Mother||Maria of Antioch|
Alexios II Komnenos or Alexius II Comnenus (Greek: Αλέξιος Β’ Κομνηνός, Alexios II Komnēnos) (10 September 1169 – 24 September 1183, Constantinople), Byzantine emperor (1180–1183), was the son of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and Maria, daughter of Raymond, prince of Antioch. He was the long-awaited male heir, and was named Alexius as a fulfilment of the AIMA prophecy.
His reign and death
On Manuel's death in 1180, Maria, who became a nun under the name Xene, took the position of regent (according to some historians). She excluded her young son from power, entrusting it instead to Alexios the prōtosebastos (a cousin of Alexios II), who was popularly believed to be her lover. Friends of the young Alexios II now tried to form a party against the empress mother and the prōtosebastos; Alexios II's half-sister Maria, wife of Caesar John (Renier of Montferrat), stirred up riots in the streets of the capital.
Their party was defeated (2 May 1182), but Andronikos Komnenos, a first cousin of Emperor Manuel, took advantage of these disorders to aim at the crown, entered Constantinople, where he was received with almost divine honours, and overthrew the government. His arrival was celebrated by a massacre of 80,000 Latins in Constantinople, especially the Venetian merchants, which he made no attempt to stop. He allowed Alexios II to be crowned, but was responsible for the death of most of the young emperor's actual or potential defenders, including his mother, his half-sister and the Caesar, and refused to allow him the smallest voice in public affairs.
The betrothal in 1180 of Alexios II to Agnes of France, daughter of Louis VII of France and his third wife Adèle of Champagne and at the time a child of nine, had not apparently been followed by their marriage. Andronikos was now formally proclaimed as co-emperor before the crowd on the terrace of the Church of Christ of the Chalkè, and not long afterwards, on the pretext that divided rule was injurious to the Empire, he caused Alexios II to be strangled with a bow-string (October 1183). During Alexius II's reign, the Byzantine Empire was invaded by King Béla III losing Syrmia and Bosnia to the Kingdom of Hungary in AD 1181, later even Dalmatia was lost to the Venetians. Kilij Arslan II invaded the empire in AD 1182, defeating the Byzantines at the Siege of Cotyaeum resulting in the Byzantine Empire losing Cotyaeum and Sozopolis.
Portrayal in fiction
Alexios is a character in the historical novel Agnes of France (1980) by Greek writer Kostas Kyriazis. The novel describes the events of the reigns of Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I through the eyes of Agnes.
- An alternative date of birth occasionally given is 1168 (van Dieten 1975, p. 169), based on William of Tyre's statement that Alexios was 13 in 1180. For discussion, concluding that 14 September 1169 is correct, see (Wirth 1956); (Magoulias 1984, p. 383).
- Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991
- Magdalino, Paul (1993), The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos
- Magoulias, Harry J., translator (1984), O city of Byzantium: annals of Niketas Choniates, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-1764-2
- van Dieten, J. L., editor (1975), Nicetae Choniatae historia, Berlin: De Gruyter
- Wirth, Peter (1956), "Wann wurde Kaiser Alexios II. geboren? [When was Emperor Alexios II born?]", Byzantinische Zeitschrift 49: 65–67
- Plate, William (1867), "Alexios II Komnenos", in William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (Boston: Little, Brown and Company) 1: 130
- Varzos, Konstantinos (1984). Η Γενεαλογία των Κομνηνών [The Genealogy of the Komnenoi] (in Greek). Thessaloniki: Byzantine Research Centre., Vols. A1, A2 & B
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexius II". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
Alexios II Komnenos
Komnenid dynastyBorn: 14 September 1169 Died: 24 September 1183
Manuel I Komnenos
Andronikos I Komnenos