Alexios Strategopoulos (Greek: Ἀλέξιος Στρατηγόπουλος) was a Byzantine general during the reign of Michael VIII Palaiologos, rising to the rank of megas domestikos and Caesar. He is most notable for leading the reconquest of Constantinople from the Latins in 1261.
Early life 
Nothing is known of the early years of his life. A seal dated to ca. 1255 has been found bearing the inscription "Alexios Strategopoulos from the Komnenos family", but his exact connection to the Komnenoi remains unclear. He first appears in the chronicles in 1252-1253, during the reign of John III Doukas Vatatzes, when he led a detachment of the army sent to plunder the areas of the Despotate of Epirus around Lake Ostrovo. In 1254, he was based at Serres, and in the next year, he participated, along with pinkernes Konstantinos Tornikes, in a failed campaign against the fortress of Tzepaina in the western Rhodope mountains. As a result, and because of his close connection to the aristocratic faction around Michael Palaiologos, he was removed of his offices. At some point afterwards, his son Constantine was blinded as a traitor, and in 1258, Alexios himself was imprisoned.
He did not remain in prison for long, being released shortly after the death of Theodore II Laskaris, and was a prominent supporter of Michael Palaiologos' successful coup against George Mouzalon in a bid to assume the regency of the infant John IV Laskaris. In the same year he was raised by Michael to the rank of megas domestikos of the Empire of Nicaea, and accompanied the army under sebastokrator John Palaiologos to Macedonia. Alexios participated in the campaign against the Despotate of Epirus, which led to the decisive Battle of Pelagonia. After the Byzantine victory, John Palaiologos invaded Thessaly, while Alexios and John Raoul were tasked with reducing Epirus. Alexios succeeded in taking the Despotate's capital, Arta, releasing many Nicaean prisoners and forcing the Despot Michael II to flee to the island of Cephalonia. For this success, he was raised to the position of Caesar. In the next year however, the Nicaean successes were largely undone: Despot Michael with his sons and an Italian mercenary army landed at Arta, and the Epirote population rallied to his cause. The Epirote army clashed with Alexios' forces at the Trikorfon pass near Nafpaktos; the Nicaean army was routed, and Alexios himself captured.
Recapture of Constantinople 
Despite these reverses, in 1260, Emperor Michael VIII set his sights on capturing the great prize: Constantinople, which had been the seat of the Latin Empire since 1204. He concluded an alliance with Genoa, and in July 1261, Strategopoulos, recently released from Epirote custody, was sent with a small advance force of 800 soldiers, most of them Cumans, to keep a watch on the Bulgarians and spy out the defences of the Latins. When the Byzantine force reached the village of Selymbria, they learned from independent local farmers (thelematarioi) that the entire Latin garrison, and the Venetian fleet, were absent conducting a raid against the Nicaean island of Daphnousia. Although initially hesitant, due to both the small size of his force, which might be destroyed if the Latin army returned, and because he would exceed his orders, Alexios eventually decided not to lose such a golden opportunity to retake the city.
On the night of July 25, 1261, Alexios and his men approached the city walls and hid at a monastery near the Pege Gate. Alexios sent a detachment of his men, who, led by some of the thelematarioi, made their way to the city through a secret passage. They attacked the walls from the inside, surprised the guards and opened the gate, allowing the Byzantine force entry into the city. The Latins were taken completely by surprise, and after some fighting, the Byzantine force gained control of the land walls. Fearing the revenge the Byzantines would exact upon them, the Latin inhabitants, from Emperor Baldwin II downwards, hurriedly rushed to the harbour, hoping to escape by ship. Thanks to the timely arrival of the returning Venetian fleet, they were evacuated, but the city was lost for good. The recapture of Constantinople meant the restoration of the Byzantine Empire by the Nicaeans, and on August 15, the day of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Emperor Michael entered the city in triumph and was crowned at the Hagia Sophia.
Later life 
After this feat that earned him fame and glory, in 1262 Alexios was appointed again to lead an army against Epirus. Here however he was defeated by Nikephoros Doukas and captured. He was ransomed in 1265 in exchange for Constance II of Hohenstaufen, and died sometime between 1271 and 1275.
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- Vougiouklaki (2003)
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- Nicol (1993), p. 32
- Bartusis (1997), p. 27
- Nicol (1993), p. 35
- Bartusis (1997), p. 40
- Bartusis (1997), p. 41
- Bartusis (1997), p. 48
- Bartusis, Mark C. (1997). The Late Byzantine Army: Arms and Society, 1204–1453. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1620-2.
- Geanakoplos, Deno John (1959), Emperor Michael Palaeologus and the West, 1258–1282 - A Study in Byzantine-Latin Relations, Harvard University Press
- Macrides, Ruth (2007), George Akropolites: The History - Introduction, translation and commentary, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-921067-1
- Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1993), The Last Centuries of Byzantium, 1261–1453, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-43991-6
- Vougiouklaki, Pinelopi (2003-11-27). "Alexios Strategopoulos". Encyclopedia of the Hellenic World. Retrieved 2010-05-15.