Andronikos I Komnenos
|Andronikos I Komnenos
Ανδρόνικος Α’ Κομνηνός
|Emperor of the Byzantine Empire|
Billon trachy (a cup-shaped coin) of Andronikos I Komnenos
|Reign||24 September 1183 – 12 September 1185|
|Died||12 September 1185
|Place of death||Constantinople|
|Predecessor||Alexios II Komnenos|
|Successor||Isaac II Angelos|
|Consort to||Anna of France
Philippa of Antioch
|Mother||Irene of Galicia or Kata of Georgia|
Andronikos I Komnenos (or Andronicus I Comnenus, Greek: Ανδρόνικος Α’ Κομνηνός, Andronikos I Komninos; c. 1118 – September 12, 1185) was Byzantine Emperor from 1183 to 1185). He was the son of Isaac Komnenos and grandson of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.
Early years 
Andronikos Komnenos was born early in the 12th century, around 1118. He was endowed by nature with the most remarkable gifts both of mind and body: he was handsome and eloquent, but licentious; and, at the same time, active, hardy, courageous, a great general and an able politician.
Andronikos' early years were spent alternately in pleasure and in military service. In 1141 he was taken captive by the Seljuq Turks and remained in their hands for a year. On being ransomed he went to Constantinople, where was held the court of his cousin, the Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, with whom he was a great favourite. Here the charms of his niece, Eudoxia, attracted him and she became his mistress.
In 1152, accompanied by Eudoxia, he set out for an important command in Cilicia. Failing in his principal enterprise, an attack upon Mopsuestia, he returned, but was again appointed to the command of a province. This second post he seems also to have left after a short interval, for he appeared again in Constantinople, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of the brothers of Eudoxia.
About this time (1153) a conspiracy against the Emperor, in which Andronikos participated, was discovered and he was thrown into prison. There he remained for about twelve years, during which time he made repeated but unsuccessful attempts to escape.
At last, in 1165, he was successful in escaping. After passing through many dangers, including captivity in Vlachs territory, he reached the court of his cousin Yaroslav Osmomysl of Galicia. While under the protection of Yaroslav, Andronikos brought about an alliance between him and the Emperor Manuel I, and so restored himself to the emperor's favour. With a Galician army he joined Manuel in the invasion of Hungary and assisted at the siege of Semlin.
After a successful campaign Manuel I and Andronikos returned together to Constantinople (1168); but a year later, Andronikos refused to take the oath of allegiance to the future king Béla III of Hungary, whom Manuel desired to become his successor. He was removed from court, but received the province of Cilicia.
Being still under the displeasure of the Emperor, Andronikos fled to the court of Raymond, prince of Antioch. While residing here he captivated and seduced the beautiful daughter of the prince, Philippa, sister of the Empress Maria. The anger of the Emperor was again roused by this dishonour, and Andronikos was compelled to flee.
He took refuge with King Amalric I of Jerusalem, whose favour he gained, and who invested him with the Lordship of Beirut. In Jerusalem he saw Theodora Komnene, the beautiful widow of King Baldwin III and niece of the Emperor Manuel. Although Andronikos was at that time fifty-six years old, age had not diminished his charms, and Theodora became the next victim of his artful seduction.
To avoid the vengeance of the Emperor, she fled with Andronikos to the court of Nur ad-Din, the Sultan of Damascus; but not deeming themselves safe there, they continued their perilous journey through the Caucasus and Anatolia. They were well received by the king, George III of Georgia, whose anonymous sister had probably been Andronikos’ first wife. Andronikos was granted estates in Kakhetia, in the east of Georgia. In 1073 or 1074, he accompanied the Georgian army on an expedition to Shirvan up to the Caspian shores, where George recaptured the fortress of Shabaran from the invaders from Darband for his cousin, the Shirvanshah Akhsitan I.
While Andronikos was on one of his incursions, his castle was surprised by the governor of Trebizond, and Theodora and her two children were captured and sent to Constantinople. To obtain their release Andronikos in early 1180 made abject submission to the Emperor and, appearing in chains before him, besought pardon. This he obtained, and was allowed to retire with Theodora into banishment at Oinaion.
In 1180 the Emperor Manuel died and was succeeded by his ten-year-old son Alexios II, who was under the guardianship of his mother, Empress Maria. Her Latin origins and culture however led to creeping resentment from her Greek subjects (who felt insulted enough by the late Manuel's Western tastes, let alone being ruled by his Western wife), building up to an explosion of rioting that almost became a full civil war. This gave Andronikos the opportunity to seize the crown for himself, leaving his retirement in 1182 and marching to Constantinople with an army that (according to non-Byzantine sources) included Muslim contingents. The defection of the commander of the Byzantine navy, megas doux Andronikos Kontostephanos, and the general Andronikos Angelos, played a key role in allowing the rebellious forces to enter Constantinople. Andronikos Komnenos' arrival was soon followed by a massacre of the Latin inhabitants of the city, who virtually controlled the economy of the city, with the massacre resulting in the deaths of 80,000 "Latins", i.e. Westerners. He was believed to have arranged the poisoning of Alexios II's elder sister Maria the Porphyrogenita and her husband Renier of Montferrat, although Maria herself had encouraged him to intervene. The poisoner was said to be the eunuch Pterygeonites. Soon afterwards he had the Empress Maria imprisoned and then killed (forcing a signature from the child Emperor Alexius to put his mother to death), by Pterygeonites and the hetaireiarches Constantine Tripsychos. Alexios II was compelled to acknowledge Andronikos as colleague in the empire in front of the crowd on the terrace of the Church of Christ of the Chalkè and was then quickly put to death in turn; the killing was carried out by Tripsychos, Theodore Dadibrenos and Stephen Hagiochristophorites.
Andronikos, now (1183) sole emperor, married twelve-year-old Agnes of France, previously betrothed to Alexios II. Agnes was a daughter of King Louis VII of France and his third wife Adèle of Champagne. By November 1183, Andronikos associated his younger legitimate son John Komnenos on the throne. A Venetian embassy visited Constantinople in 1184 and an agreement was reached that compensation of 1,500 gold pieces would be paid for the losses incurred in 1171.
His short reign was characterized by strong and harsh measures. He resolved to suppress many abuses, but above all things, to check feudalism and limit the power of the nobles, who were rivals for his throne. The people, who felt the severity of his laws, at the same time acknowledged their justice and found themselves protected from the rapacity of their superiors who had grown corrupt under the safety and opulence of Manuel I rule. However, as Andronikos' rule went on, the Emperor became increasingly paranoid and violent – in September 1185, Andronikos ordered the execution of all prisoners, exiles and their families for collusion with the invaders – and the Byzantine Empire descended into a terror state. The aristocrats in turn were infuriated against him. There were several revolts, the stories of chaos leading to an invasion by King William of the Norman Sicilians. William (with a fleet of 200 ships) landed in Epirus with a strong force (80,000 men including 5,000 knights), and marched as far as Thessalonica, which he took and pillaged ruthlessly (7,000 Greeks died). Andronikos hastily assembled five different armies to stop the Sicilian army from reaching Constantinople, but none of these five smaller armies would stand[clarification needed] against the Sicilian forces and retreated to the outlying hills. Andronikos also assembled a fleet of 100 ships to stop the Norman fleet from entering the Sea of Marmara. The invaders were finally driven out in 1186 by his successor, Isaac Angelos.
Andronikos seems then to have resolved to exterminate the aristocracy, and his plans were nearly successful. But on September 11, 1185, during his absence from the capital, Stephen Hagiochristophorites moved to arrest Isaac Angelos, whose loyalty was suspect. Isaac killed Hagiochristophorites and took refuge in the church of Hagia Sophia. He appealed to the populace, and a tumult arose which spread rapidly over the whole city.
When Andronikos arrived he found that his authority was overthrown: Isaac had been proclaimed Emperor. The deposed Emperor attempted to escape in a boat with his wife Agnes and his mistress, but was captured (note that by some, Andronikos not only survived, but also managed to escape to the then self-proclaimed Kingdom of Cyprus). Isaac handed him over to the city mob and for three days he was exposed to their fury and resentment, remaining for that period tied to a post and beaten. His right hand was cut off, his teeth and hair were pulled out, one of his eyes was gouged out, and, among many other sufferings, boiling water was thrown in his face, punishment probably associated with his handsomeness and life of licentiousness. At last, led to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, he was hung up by the feet between two pillars, and two Latin soldiers competed as to whose sword would penetrate his body more deeply, and finally his body, according to the representation of his death, was torn apart. He died on September 12, 1185. At the news of the emperor's death, his son and co-emperor John was murdered by his own troops in Thrace.
Andronikos I was the last of the Komnenoi to rule Constantinople, although his grandsons Alexios and David founded the Empire of Trebizond in 1204. Their branch of the dynasty was known as the "Great Komnenoi" (Megaskomnenoi).
Andronikos I Komnenos was married twice and had numerous mistresses. By his first wife, whose name is not known, he had three children:
- Manuel Komnenos (born 1145), who married Rusudan of Georgia and was the father of Emperor Alexios I and David Komnenos, the founders of the Empire of Trebizond
- John Komnenos (apparently born 1159 or 1160), who was co-emperor with his father from 1183 to 1185 and was killed in that year
- Maria Komnene
By his mistress Theodora Komnene, Andronikos I had the following issue:
- Alexios Komnenos (c. 1170–1199), an alleged forefather of the Georgian noble family of Andronikashvili.
- Eirene Komnene (born c. 1169), who was briefly married to Alexios Komnenos, a son of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos by Theodora Batatzina.
Portrayal in fiction 
Andronikos is the main protagonist in Michael Arnold's Against the Fall of Night (Garden City, New York: Doubleday 1975), as well as Ange Vlachos' Their Most Serene Majesties (Vanguard Press, 1964). He is mentioned in the Louis L'Amour medieval historical novel, The Walking Drum.
He is among the main characters of the historical novel Agnes of France (1980) by Greek writer Kostas Kyriazis (b. 1920). The novel describes the events of the reigns of Manuel I, Alexios II and Andronikos I through the eyes of Agnes. The novel ends with the death of Andronikos.
- The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, Volume 2 p. 22
- Minorsky, Vladimir, "Khāqānī and Andronicus Comnenus". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 11, No. 3 (1945), pp. 557–558
- Ibn Jubayr p. 355 Broadhurst (Turks and Arabs); William of Tyre, Historia Transmarina 22.11 (innumeras Barbararum nationum secum trahens copias); Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium 2.18 (Turks).
- Angold p. 267
- Niketas Choniates, Histories pp. 260–274 van Dieten.
- Kelsey Jackson Williams (2006), A Genealogy of the Grand Komnenoi of Trebizond. Foundations – the Journal of the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy – Vol. 2, No. 3.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Andronicus I. (Comnenus)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Angold, Michael (1997). The Byzantine Empire, 1025–1204. Longman. ISBN 0-582-29468-1.
- Gibbon, Edward. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 48.
- Harris, Jonathan, Byzantium and the Crusades, Hambledon and London, 2003. ISBN 978-1-85-285501-7
- Harris, Jonathan, 'Collusion with the infidel as a pretext for military action against Byzantium', in Clash of Cultures: the Languages of Love and Hate, ed. Sarah Lambert and Helen Nicholson, Brepols, 2012, pp. 99–117. ISBN 978 2503 520643
- The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
- Mihai Tiuliumeanu, Andronic I Comnenul, Iași, 2000. (Romanian)
- Treadgold, Warren, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, Stanford University Press, 1997
- K. Varzos, Ē genealogia tōn Komnēnōn (Thessalonica, 1984) vol. 1 pp. 493–638.
- Eustathios of Thessaloniki 'The Capture of Thessaloniki' (Byzantina Australiensia 8), Canberra 1988.
- The full text of a lecture by John Melville-Jones on the life of this emperor is located at: . It is accompanied by an extensive bibliography.
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Andronikos I Komnenos
Komnenid dynastyBorn: 1118 Died: 12 September 1185
Alexios II Komnenos
Isaac II Angelos