Theodore I Laskaris
|Theodore I Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Α΄ Λάσκαρις
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
Portrait of Theodore I from a 15th-century manuscript
Emperor of Nicaea
Claimant Byzantine Emperor
|Successor||John III Doukas Vatatzes|
Early life [ edit ]
Parentage [ edit ]
Theodore Komnenos Laskaris was born to a noble but not particularly renowned Byzantine family around 1175.[note 1] The names of his ancestors are unknown. If Theodore followed the Byzantine custom of giving his father's name to his firstborn son, his father was called Nicholas. Theodore's mother must have belonged to an unidentified branch of the imperial Komnenos family, because he proudly adopted the Komnenos surname. Theodore had no less than six brothers—Constantine, George, Alexios, Isaac, Manuel and Michael. Bearing the surname Tzamantouros instead of Komnenos, Manuel and Michael must have been born to a different mother. Theodore was also related to the aristocratic Phokas family, most probably through the marriage of one of his aunts. The Byzantine historian George Akropolites left a description of Theodore, stating that Theodore was "small in body but not excessively so, quite dark, and had a flowing beard forked at the end".
The Laskaris held estates in western Asia Minor. Both Theodore and his brother, Constantine, had a seal representing Saint George and bearing the inscription Diasorites. The seal expressed their connection to the monastery Saint George Diasorites, located in Pyrgion in the valley of the river Kaistros.
Early career [ edit ]
The contemporaneous historian Niketas Choniates introduced Theodore as a "daring youth and fierce warrior" in his chronicle. Theodore rose to prominence through his family ties with the Komneni. His first extant seal mentions his titles of sebastos and protovestiarites. The first one was a court title, granted to the Byzantine emperors' relatives, although Emperor Alexios III Angelos (r. 1195–1203) started to sell it to wealthy merchants. As protovestiarites, Theodore was the commander of a cadet unit of the guards of the imperial palace.
Alexios III who had not fathered sons wanted to solve the problem of succession through marrying off his two eldest daughters. Late in 1200, he gave his firstborn daughter, Irene, in marriage to Alexios Palaiologos, and her younger sister, Anna to Theodore. Palaiologos was elevated to the rank of despot, demonstrating his right to succeed his father-in-law on the throne. When Palaiologos died before 1203, Theodore assumed the title of despot.
Fall of Constantinople [ edit ]
Emperor Alexios III blinded and imprisoned his elder brother, Isaac II Angelos (r. 1185–1195), to seize the imperial throne. Isaac's son, Alexios, fled from Constantinople to Germany to seek assistance from his Catholic relatives. The younger Alexios concluded an agreement with the leaders of the Fourth Crusade, promising a large sum, 800,000 hyperpyra, for their support against Alexios III. The crusaders reached Constantinople and captured Pera on the opposite coast of the Golden Horn on 6 July 1203. Theodore made raids against the crusaders, but they laid siege to the Byzantine capital. The walls of Constantinople alongside the Golden Horn were vulnerable and Alexios III fled in panic to Thrace during the night of 17–18 July. He drained the treasury and took the imperial insignia with him.
Isaac II was released and his son was crowned his co-emperor as Alexios IV. Theodore was imprisoned after his father-in-law's flight, but he escaped in September 1203. The details of his escape are unknown, but Choniates stated that Theodore left Constantinople "armed only with practical wisdom and a brave spirit". For a while, Theodore was hiding in a church dedicated to Saint Michael. Theodore himself claimed that God "miraculously removed" him from the prison and guided him across the Bosporus to Asia Minor. His wife and daughters accompanied him. They reached Nicaea, but the burghers of the town only admitted his family, because they feared of Alexios IV's revenge. Theodore, as he later remembered, moved "from one region to another", avoiding the traps that his (unidentified) enemies laid to him.
Alexios IV could not pay off the crusaders and they refused to leave Constantinople. The Byzantines blamed Alexios IV for the crusaders' acts. His army rebelled and proclaimed Alexios Mourtzouphlos Doukas emperor on 28 January 1204. Isaac II had already died and Alexios V had Alexios IV murdered, providing the crusaders with an excuse to again lay siege to Constantinople. When they breached the walls on 12 April, Alexios V run away. A group of burghers who assembled in the Hagia Sophia offered the imperial crown to Theodore's brother, Constantine, but he rejected. The crusaders captured Constantinople and thoroughly plundered it.
Although the Byzantine capital fell to the crusaders, neither Alexios III Angelos nor Alexios V Doukas did abandon their claim to the throne. A third claimant soon appeared on the scene: a grandson of Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos (r. 1183–1185), Alexios, seized Trapezunt on the Black Sea coast in Anatolia and assumed the title of emperor. The crusaders (or Latins) elected one of their leader, Baldwin IX of Flandres, emperor in May 1204.
Resistance [ edit ]
By the time of Theodore's arrival, Asia Minor had been a centre of rebellions against the imperial government for decades. A rebellious magnate, Theodore Mangaphas, held Philadelphia; an other aristocrat, Sabas Asidenos, ruled Sampson and the nearby region; Nikephoros Kontostephanos controlled the lands on the upper course of the Maeander River. Theodore appeared as his father-in-law's representative and secured the Bythinian towns' loyalty in Alexios III's name. He established his main seat in Bursa, but he made frequent journeys to attend assemblies and dinners and to encourage the Greeks' resistance against the Latins. He also took control of financial resources and he could offer money to the Seljuq Sultan of Rum, Rukn al-Din Suleiman II, in return for his assistance against the Latins. Suleiman II died and his underage son, Izz al-Din Kilij Arslan III, succeeded him in June 1204.
The crusaders and the Venetians set up a joint commission to distribute the Byzantine territories among themselves in September. In Asia Minor, the "duchy of Nicaea" was granted to Louis I, Count of Blois, and the "duchy of Philadelphia" to Stephen of Perche, although the crusaders had not conquered these lands. The Venetians seized the port of Lampsacus on the Asian side of the Hellespont and a French knight, Peter of Bracieux, captured the nearby Pegai. Emperor Alexios I of Trapezunt's brother, David Komnenos, launched a military campaign into Paphlagonia and occupied the towns along the Black Sea coast. His invasion enabled Bracieux to invade Bythinia and route Theodore at Poemanenum on 6 December. After his victory, Bracieux seized Bythinian forts. The Latins captured and publicly executed Alexios V in Constantinople. They also arrested Alexios IV in Thessaly, forcing him to cede the imperial insignia to them early in 1205.
A grandson of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos (r. 1143–1180), Manuel Maurozomes, and Maurozomes's son-in-law, the deposed Sultan of Rum, Ghiyāth al-Dīn Kaykhusraw I, came to Nicaea. Theodore detained them for a while, but he concluded an agreement with them. He lent money to Kaykhusraw to regain his throne in return for his promise of military support. Kaykhusraw and Maurozomes hurried to Konya, the capital of Rum. They dethroned the underage Kilij Arslan in Kaykhusraw's favor in March 1205.
The Latins had captured Thrace, Thessaly and northern Greece by the end of 1204. Emperor Alexios III's cousin, Michael Doukas, who organized the Greeks' resistance against the Latins in Epirus, was forced to swear fealty to Pope Innocent III to secure his protection. Emperor Baldwin dispatched his brother, Henry, to conquer Asia Minor early in 1205. Henry defeated Theodore Mangaphas and Theodore's brother, Constantine, in the Battle of Adramyttion on 19 March 1205. The Latins could not follow up their victory, because Tzar Kaloyan of Bulgaria stirred up a rebellion against them in Thrace and invaded the province. Kaloyan's invasion forced Emperor Baldwin to withdraw the Latin knights from Anatolia. Kaloyan inflicted a crushing defeat on the Latin army in the Battle of Adrianople on 14 April 1205. Louis of Blois and Stephen of Perche perished in the battlefield. Baldwin was captured and died in captivity in Bulgaria.
Theodore emerged as the main beneficiary of Kaloyan's victory. The Latins' defeat revealed the fragility of their rule and secured Theodore's position. He expelled the Latin garrisons from most Anatolian fortresses and transferred his capital from Brusa to Nicaea. Greeks were swarming to his realm from the European territories under the Latins' rule. Mangaphas ceded Philadelphia to Theodore and Asidenos's lands were also absorbed into Theodore's realm.[note 2] Theodore extracted an oath of fealty from Michael I of Epirus's brother, Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who had settled in Asia Minor, before allowing him to leave for Epirus.
Reign [ edit ]
Towards coronation [ edit ]
David Komnenos sent an army to Bythinia, but Theodore defeated the invaders and their Latin allies at Nicomedia. Sultan Kaykhusraw I rent Seljuq troops to his father-in-law, Maurozomes, to invade the valley of the Maeander River in the spring of 1205, but they were soon defeated. Theodore made a peace with Maurozomes, allowing him to rule two fortresses, Chonae and Laodicea on the Lycus, as the Sultan's lieutenant. Theodore assumed the title of emperor early in 1205 (either after his victory at Nicomedia or after his peace treaty with Maurozomes). His claim to the emperorship was feeble, because many Greeks refused to recognize it. He approached the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, John Kamateros, who lived in exile in Thrace, offering him to move to Nicaea, but the elderly patriarch refused.
Byzantine aristocrats who had held lost their Thracian, Thessalian or Peloponnese estates came to Nicea and Theodore gave assylum to them.[note 3] He also invited former high-ranking Byzantine officials to Nicea, although he could only finance a simplified state administration. His wife's uncle, the blind Basil Doukas Kamateros—a former logothetes tou dromou (or minister of foreign affairs)—assisted him to set up a new administrative system. Theodore had much confidence in his brothers and rewarded them with court titles.
Patriarch John Kamateros died in June 1206. The Orthodox clergy of Constantinople asked Pope Innocent III to authorize them to elect a new patriarch, but the Latin authorities sharply opposed their plan. The new Latin Emperor of Constantinople, Henry of Flanders, made an alliance with David Komnenos against Theodore. Theodore decided to capture Heraclea Pontica from David, but the Latins attacked his army from the rear when he was marching towards the town. He had to abandond the military campaign to chase the Latin troops off. The Latins invaded Asia Minor and captured Nicomedia and Cyzicus during the winter of 1206–1207. Theodore allied himself with Kaloyan who launched an incursion into Thrace, forcing Emperor Henry to recall his troops from Asia Minor. After Theodore and his brothers laid siege to Nicomedia, Henry agreed to sign a two-year truce and to destroy the fortifications at Nicomedia and Cyzicus.
The Orthodox clerics' negotiations with the Holy See about the appointment of an Orthodox patriarch proved unsuccessful. Theodore addressed a letter to Pope Innocent III, requesting him to authorize the Orthodox clerics to elect the new patriarch. He also tried to persuade the Pope to acknowledge him as the supreme head of the Orthodox community, but the Pope ignored both requests. When the Latins broke the truce early in 1208, Theodore again approached the Pope and asked him to mediate a peace, proposing the Sea of Marmora as the permanent frontier between the Latin Empire and his realm.
Theodore convoked a Church council in Nicaea in Holy Week 1208. The assembled prelates elected a high-ranking cleric, Michael Autoreianos, patriarch on 20 March 1208. The new patriarch crowned and anointed Theodore emperor in Nicaea on Easter Sunday. His coronation by the new Ecumenical Patriarch sanctioned Theodore's claim to be the legitimate successor of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire. His legitimacy, however, could easily be challenged, because only a lawful emperor could appoint a legitimate patriarch and only a legitimate patriarch could crown a lawful emperor. Theodore's opponents argued that the synod electing Michael Autoreianos as the new patriarch was actually an assembly of randomly chosen bishops. In response, his supporters emphasized that the exceptional situation after the fall of Constantinople required the flexible interpretation of laws.
The situation was complicated by the invasion of Sultan Kaykhusraw I of Rum at the instigation of the deposed Alexios III in 1211; however, the Nicaeans defeated the Seljuk army at the Battle of Antioch on the Meander where Theodore Laskaris killed the sultan in single combat. Although the danger from Rum and Alexios III was thus neutralized, Emperor Henry defeated Theodore in October of the same year, and established his control over the southern shores of the Sea of Marmara. In spite of this defeat, Theodore was able to take advantage of the death of David Megas Komnenos, the brother of Emperor Alexios I of Trebizond in 1212 and to extend his own control over Paphlagonia.
In 1214 Theodore concluded a peace treaty with the Latin Empire at Nymphaion, and in 1219 he married Marie de Courtenay, a niece of now deceased Emperor Henry and daughter of the current regent, Yolanda of Flanders. In spite of predominantly peaceful relations, Theodore attacked the Latin Empire again in 1220, but peace was restored. Theodore died in November 1221 and was succeeded by his son-in-law John III Doukas Vatatzes. He was buried in the Monastery of Hyakinthos in Nicaea.
At the end of his reign he ruled over a territory roughly coterminous with the old Roman provinces of Asia and Bithynia. Though there is no proof of higher qualities of statesmanship in him, by his courage and military skill he enabled the Byzantine nation not merely to survive, but ultimately to beat back the Latin invasion.
Marriages and children [ edit ]
Theodore married three times. His first wife was Anna Komnene Angelina (b. c. 1176), whom he married in 1199. With Anna, Theodore had three daughters and two sons who died young:
- Nicholas Laskaris (d. c. 1212)
- John Laskaris (d. c. 1212)
- Irene Laskarina, who married first the general Andronikos Palaiologos and then John III Doukas Vatatzes
- Maria Laskarina, who married King Béla IV of Hungary
- Sophia Eudokia Laskarina (renamed Sophia, born between 1210 and 1212, died between 1247 and 1253), engaged to Robert of Courtenay, married firstly and divorced Frederick II, Duke of Austria, secondly (bef. 1230) Anseau de Cayeux, Governor of Asia Minor
After Anna Angelina died in 1212, Theodore took Philippa of Armenia (1183-aft. 1219) as his second wife. She was a niece of Leo I, King of Armenia; this marriage was annulled a year later and they divorced in 1216. Gardiner mentions the theory that Leo wanted to marry his daughter to another, and sent his niece in her place; once Theodore found he had been duped, he sent her and the son born to them, Constantine Laskaris, born in 1214, back to Cilicia.
Theodore's third wife was Maria of Courtenay (1204-September, 1222), whom he married in 1219. She was the daughter of Emperor Peter II of Courtenay and Empress Yolanda of Flanders, but they had no children.
See also [ edit ]
Notes [ edit ]
- Akropolites stated that Theodore was "more than 45 years old but less than 50" when he died in 1221, implying that Theodore was born between 1171 and 1176. Nicephorus Gregoras said that Theodore was "around 30 years old" when he was proclaimed emperor in 1205.
- Historian Dimiter Angelov says Theodore seized Philadelphia peacefully, but Warren Treadgold writes that Theodore imprisoned Mangaphas.
- Members of the Raoul, Vranas, Kantakouzenos and Palaiologos family came to Nicaea during Theodore's rule.
References [ edit ]
- Angelov 2019, pp. 16, 236.
- Angelov 2019, p. 16.
- Volkoff 2015, p. 198.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 16–17.
- Angelov 2019, p. 17.
- Head 1980, p. 238.
- Volkoff 2015, p. 197.
- Angelov 2019, p. 19.
- Angelov 2019, p. 18.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 18–19.
- Angelov 2019, p. 20.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 659.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 662.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 20–21.
- Angelov 2019, p. 21.
- Angold 2017, p. 734.
- Angelov 2019, p. 23.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 23–24.
- Angelov 2019, p. 25.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 664.
- Angelov 2019, p. 22.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 666.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 710.
- Treadgold 1997, pp. 709–710.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 23–25.
- Korobeinikov 2017, p. 718.
- Fine 2009, p. 81.
- Nicol 1999, p. 149.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 713.
- Angelov 2019, p. 26.
- Treadgold 1997, pp. 711–713.
- Nicol 1999, p. 151.
- Angold 2017, p. 731.
- Fine 2009, pp. 81–82.
- Fine 2009, p. 83.
- Fine 2009, p. 90.
- Nicol 1999, p. 161.
- Angelov 2019, p. 27.
- Fine 2009, p. 68.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 714.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 26–27.
- Angelov 2019, pp. 27, 30.
- Angelov 2019, p. 28.
- Angelov 2019, p. 29.
- Treadgold 1997, p. 715.
- Angelov 2019, p. 30.
- Angold 2017, pp. 742–743.
- Angold 2017, p. 742.
- Fine 2009, p. 91.
- ODB, "Theodore I Laskaris" (M. J. Angold), pp. 2039–2040.
- Gardiner, The Lascarids, p. 94
- Judith Herrin, Guillaume Saint-Guillain. Identities and Allegiances in the Eastern Mediterranean After 1204. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2011 ISBN 1409410986 p 52
- John Carr. Fighting Emperors of Byzantium Pen and Sword, 30 apr. 2015 ISBN 147385640X p 255
- Chisholm 1911.
- Gardiner, The Lascarids, pp. 87f
Sources [ edit ]
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Theodore Lascaris". Encyclopædia Britannica. 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Angelov, Dimiter (2019). The Byzantine Hellene: The Life of Emperor Thodore Laskaris and Byzantium in the Thirteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-48071-0.
- Angold, Michael (2017) . "After the Fourth Crusade: the Greek rump states and the recovery of Byzantium". In Shepard, Jonathan (ed.). The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, c. 500–1492. Cambridge University Press. pp. 731–758. ISBN 978-0-521-83231-1.
- Fine, John V. A (2009) . The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. The University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5.
- Head, Constance (1980). "Physical Descriptions of the Emperors in Byzantine Historical Writing". Byzantion. 50 (1): 226–240. ISSN 0378-2506.
- The New Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. V, Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-521-36289-X, 9780521362894
- Korobeinikov, D. A. (2017) . "Raiders and neighbours: the Turks (1040–1304)". In Shepard, Jonathan (ed.). The Cambridge History of the Byzantine Empire, c. 500–1492. Cambridge University Press. pp. 692–727. ISBN 978-0-521-83231-1.
- Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.
- Macrides, Ruth (2007). George Akropolites: The History - Introduction, translation and commentary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-921067-1.
- Magoulias, Harry J., ed. (1984). O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1764-2.
- Nicol, Donald M. (1999) . Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42894-7.
- Van Tricht, Filip (2011). The Latin Renovatio of Byzantium: The Empire of Constantinople (1204–1228). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-20323-5.
- Treadgold, Warren (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2630-2.
- Volkoff, Angelina Anne (2015). "Komnenian Double Surnames on Lead Seals: Problems of Methodology and Understanding". Dumbarton Oaks Papers. 69: 197–208. JSTOR 26497715.
Theodore I Laskaris
Laskarid dynastyBorn: unknown 1174 Died: unknown 1222
|Emperor of Nicaea
John III Doukas Vatatzes