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As the months passed, and the privations in Constantinople increased, the pro-Kantakouzenos faction in the capital grew as the Empress refused even to consider negotiations. Sony VAIO PCG-81114L battery

Twice agents were sent to assassinate Kantakouzenos, but they failed. The Empress eventually fell out with Patriarch John Kalekas, who was deposed in a synod on 2 February 1347. On the same night, supporters of Kantakouzenos opened the disused Golden Gate, and Kantakouzenos entered the city with 1,000 men.[88]Meeting no resistance, his troops surrounded the Palace of Blachernae, Sony VAIO PCG-81115L battery

the imperial residence, the next morning, but the Empress refused to surrender for several days, still fearful of the fate that awaited her. Kantakouzenos' men grew impatient and stormed part of the palace complex, and John V persuaded his mother to accept a settlement.

On 8 February 1347, the war formally ended with an agreement making Kantakouzenos senior emperor for ten years, after which he and John V would reign as equals. Sony VAIO PCG-81214L battery

Kantakouzenos also promised to pardon anyone who had fought against him.[90] To seal the pact, John V married Kantakouzenos' daughter Helena, and in May, Kantakouzenos was crowned again in the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae.[91] In the end, as Donald Nicol commented, the long conflict had been meaningless, with terms that "could have been agreed five years before and saved the Empire so much bitterness, hatred and destruction."[92] Sony VAIO PCG-81312L battery

Despite the moderation and clemency shown by Kantakouzenos in this settlement, it did not gain universal acceptance. Supporters of the Palaiologoi still distrusted him, while his own partisans would have preferred to depose the Palaiologoi outright and install the Kantakouzenoi as the reigning dynasty.[93] Kantakouzenos' eldest son, Matthew, also resented being passed over in favour of John V, Sony VAIO PCG-8131L battery

and had to be placated with the creation of a semi-autonomous appanage covering much of western Thrace, which doubled as a march against Dushan's Serbia.[94] Of the remaining Byzantine territories, only the Zealots in Thessalonica, now an isolated exclave surrounded by the Serbs, refused to acknowledge the new arrangement, instead leading a de facto independent existence until Kantakouzenos conquered them in 1350.[95] Sony VAIO PCG-8141L battery

After 1347, John VI Kantakouzenos tried to revive the Empire, but met with limited success. Aided by the depopulation brought by about by the Black Death, Dushan and his general Preljub took Kantakouzenos' Macedonian strongholds as well as Epirus and Thessaly in 1347–1348, thereby completing their conquest of the remaining Byzantine lands in mainland Greece.[96] Sony VAIO PCG-8152L battery

An attempt to break Byzantium's dependence for food and maritime commerce on the Genoese merchants of Galata led to a Byzantine–Genoese war, which ended in 1352 with a compromise peace.[97] In 1350, Kantakouzenos took advantage of Dushan's preoccupation with a war againstBosnia to recover Thessalonica from the Zealots as well as Berroia, Sony VAIO PCG-8161L battery

Vodena and other Macedonian cities from the Serbs, but the Serbian emperor quickly reversed the Byzantine gains. Again, only Thessalonica remained in Byzantine hands.[98]Steadily deteriorating relations between Matthew Kantakouzenos, who now ruled eastern Thrace, and John V Palaiologos, who had taken over Matthew's former domain in western Thrace, sowed the seeds of yet another internal conflict. Sony VAIO PCG-9131L battery

Open warfare broke out in 1352, when John V, supported by Venetian and Turkish troops, launched an attack on Matthew Kantakouzenos. John Kantakouzenos came to his son's aid with 10,000 Ottoman troops who retook the cities of Thrace, liberally plundering them in the process. In October 1352, at Demotika, the Ottoman force met and defeated 4,000 Serbs provided to John V by Stephen Dushan.[99] This was the Ottomans' first victory in Europe and an ominous portent. Two years later their capture of Gallipoli maSony VAIO PCG-3E1M battery

rked the beginning of the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans, culminating a century later in the Fall of Constantinople.[100] Meanwhile, John V fled to the island of Tenedos, from where he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize Constantinople in March 1353. John VI Kantakouzenos responded by having Matthew crowned as co-emperor, but John V Palaiologos, enlisting Genoese support and relying on the declining popularity of Kantakouzenos, Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery

succeeded in entering the capital in November 1354. John VI abdicated and retired to a monastery. Matthew held out in Thrace until 1357, when he too abdicated, leaving John V Palaiologos as the sole master of a rump state.

The civil war proved a critical turning point in the history of the Byzantine Empire. In the words of the Byzantinist Angeliki Laiou, "after the end of the second civil war, Sony VAIO PCG-7148L battery

Byzantium was an empire in name only",[103] while according to Eva de Vries-Van der Velden, it marks "the point of rapture between the "decline" and "the fall" of the Byzantine Empire".[104]

The Byzantines' division and reliance on foreign troops, especially the Serbs and Turks, encouraged the latter's expansionism. Dushan in particular proved adept in exploiting the civil war to expand his state at Byzantium's expense.[29][105Sony VAIO PCG-7151L battery

] Aside from huge territorial losses, the prolonged conflict exhausted the Byzantine state's resources, as it brought "anarchy to the cities and devastation to the countryside" (Alice-Mary Talbot). Thrace, the largest contiguous territory remaining in the Empire, suffered such destruction that, along with Constantinople, it became dependent on grain imported from Bulgaria and theCrimea.[29][1Sony VAIO PCG-7152L battery

06] Trade had stopped, and the treasury contained, in the words of Gregoras, "nothing but the atoms of Epicurus". Kantakouzenos had exhausted his own personal fortune, and Empress Anne had left the Empire heavily indebted to the Venetians. The war also led to the collapse of the centralized imperial administration in the provinces, causing control of the Thracian countryside to shift to a manorial system run by the local magnates. Sony VAIO PCG-7153L battery

Despite their considerable wealth, the magnates, through exemptions or outright evasion, managed to avoid paying taxes to the imperial government.[107] In addition, the arrival in 1347 of the Black Death and its recurrent outbreaks further reduced the Empire's tax and recruitment base, curtailing its ability to reverse the Serbian territorial gains.[108] Sony VAIO PCG-7154L battery

Along with the renewal of the civil war in 1352, these factors destroyed any chance of even a modest recovery similar to that experienced under Andronikos III.[109]Thereafter, Byzantium remained under the menacing threat of stronger neighbours, unable to pursue an independent foreign policy, handicapped by a shortage of resources and riven by internal strife.[110] Sony VAIO PCG-7161L battery

Nevertheless, through a combination of fortuitous external circumstances and adroit diplomacy, it survived for another century, until finally conquered by the Ottomans in 1453.[111] Only the Byzantine exclave in the Morea remained prosperous, having been spared the ravages of the civil war because of its relative isolation. Sony VAIO PCG-7162L battery

The appointment of Manuel Kantakouzenos as its despotes in 1349 heralded the creation of the semi-independent Despotate of the Morea, which experienced the last economic and cultural flowering of the Byzantine world before it too fell to the Ottomans in 1460. Sony VAIO PCG-7171L battery

The Byzantine Empire under the Palaiologoi dynasty is a period of Byzantine history spanning from 1260 to 1453 AD, from the restoration of Roman rule to Constantinople by the usurper Michael VIII Palaiologos to the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire.

From the start, the régime faced numerous problems.[1] The Turks of Asia Minor had since 1263 been raiding and expanding into Byzantine territory in Asia Minor. Sony VAIO PCG-7172L battery

Anatolia, which had formed the very heart of the shrinking empire, was systematically lost to numerous Turkic ghazis, whose raids evolved into conquering expeditions inspired by Islamic zeal. With a decreasing source of food and manpower, the Palaiologoi were forced to fight on several fronts, most of them being Christian states: the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Empire, the remnants of the Latin Empire and even the Knights Hospitaller. Sony VAIO PCG-7173L battery

The loss of the land in the east to the Turks and in the west to Bulgarians was complemented by two disastrous civil wars, the Black Death and the 1354 earthquake at Gallipoli, whose destruction and evacuation allowed the Turks to occupy it. By 1380, the Byzantine Empire consisted of the capital Constantinople and a few other isolated exclaves, which only nominally recognized the Emperor as their lord. Sony VAIO PCG-7174L battery

Nonetheless, Byzantine diplomacy coupled with the adroit exploitation of internal divisions and external threats among their enemies, and above all the invasion of Anatolia by Timur, allowed Byzantium to survive until 1453. The last remnants of the Byzantine Empire, the Despotate of the Morea and the Empire of Trebizond, fell shortly afterwards. Sony VAIO PCG-7181L battery

However, the Palaiologan period witnessed a renewed flourishing in art and the letters, in what has been called the "Palaiologian Renaissance". The migration of Byzantine scholars to the West also helped to spark the Renaissance in Italy.

Following the Fourth Crusade, the Byzantine Empire had fractured into the Greek successor-states of Nicaea, Sony VAIO PCG-7182L battery

Epirus and Trebizond, with a multitude of Frankish and Latin possessions occupying the remainder, nominally subject to the Latin Emperors at Constantinople. In addition, the disintegration of the Byzantine Empire allowed the Bulgarians, the Serbs and the various Turcoman emirates of Anatolia to make gains. Although Epirus was initially the strongest of the three Greek states, Sony VAIO PCG-7183L battery

the Nicaeans were the ones who succeeded in taking back the city of Constantinople from the Latin Empire.[2]

The Nicaean Empire was successful in holding its own against its Latin and Seljuk opponents. At the Battle of Meander Valley, a Turkic force was repelled[2] and an earlier assault on Nicaea led to the death of the Seljuk Sultan. Sony VAIO PCG-7184L battery

In the west, the Latins were unable to expand into Anatolia; consolidating Thrace against Bulgaria was a challenge that kept the Latins occupied for the duration of the Latin Empire.

In 1261, the Empire of Nicaea was ruled by John IV Laskaris, a boy of ten years.[2] However, John IV was overshadowed by his co-emperor, Michael VIII Palaiologos. Sony VAIO PCG-7185L battery

Palaiologos was a leading noble of military standing and the main figure of the regency of John IV, who had used this role to propel himself to the throne, and set the stage for his becoming sole Emperor of the restored Byzantine Empire.

In 1261, while the bulk of the Latin Empire's military forces were absent from Constantinople, Byzantine General Alexios Strategopoulos used the opportunity to seize the city with 600 troops. Sony VAIO PCG-381L battery

Thrace, Macedonia and Thessalonica had already been taken by Nicaea in 1246.[2] Following the capture of Constantinople, Michael ordered the blinding of John IV in December 1261, so as to become sole emperor.[2] As a result, Patriarch Arsenios excommunicated Michael, but he was deposed and replaced by Joseph I. Sony VAIO PCG-382L battery

The Fourth Crusade and their successors, the Latin Empire, had done much to reduce Byzantium's finest city to an underpopulated wreck.[3] Michael VIII began the task of restoring many monasteries, public buildings and defence works.[4] The Hagia Sophia, horribly looted in the Crusade of 1204, was refurbished to Greek Orthodox tradition. Sony VAIO PCG-383L battery

The Kontoskalion harbour and the walls of Constantinople were all strengthened against a possible new expedition by the Latin West. Many hospitals, hospices, markets, baths, streets and churches were built, some with private patronage. Even a new Mosque was built to compensate for the one burnt during the Fourth Crusade.[4] These attempts were costly and crippling taxes were placed on the peasantry.[5Sony VAIO PCG-384L battery

] Nonetheless, the city grew new cultural and diplomatic contacts, notably with the Mamelukes. Both had common enemies; Latin aggression, and later on, the Ottoman Turks.

The Sultanate of Rum was in chaos and decentralized ever since the Mongol invasions in ca. 1240.[6] As a result, the greatest threat to Byzantium was not the Muslims but their Christian counterparts in the West — Sony VAIO PCG-391L battery

Michael VIII knew that the Venetians and the Franks would no doubt launch another attempt to establish Latin rule in Constantinople. The situation became worse when Charles of Anjou, brother of the King of France, conquered Sicily from the Hohenstaufens in 1266.[7] In 1267, Pope Clement IV arranged a pact, whereby Charles would receive land in the East in return for assisting a new military expedition to Constantinople.[7] Sony VAIO PCG-393L battery

A delay on Charles' end meant that Michael VIII was given enough time to negotiate a union between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople in 1274, thus removing Papal support for an invasion of Constantinople.

Unfortunately for Michael VIII, the new union was seen as a fake by the Clement's successor, Martin IV. Sony VAIO PCG-394L battery

The Greek Church was excommunicated, and Charles was given renewed Papal support for the invasion of Constantinople.[8] In order to counter this, Michael VIII subsidized Peter III of Aragon's attempts to seize Sicily from Charles. Michael's efforts paid off with the outbreak of the Sicilian Vespers, a revolt that overthrew the Angevin King of Sicily and installed Peter III of Aragon as King of Sicily in 1281.[8] Sony VAIO PCG-3A1L battery

For the remainder of his life, Michael campaigned to drive the Latins out of Greece and the Balkans, and secure his position versus the Bulgarians. He was largely successful, regaining several islands in the Aegean, and establishing a foothold in the Peloponnese, that would grow to become the Despotate of the Morea. Sony VAIO PCG-3A2L battery

The downside however was that Michael's efforts in the West absorbed most of the Empire's manpower and resources, and neglected the Asian provinces, where a new and fateful threat was rising: the beylik of Osman I, who by 1263 had captured Sogut. Nevertheless, the border was kept relatively secure, and no significant losses occurred in Asia Minor during Michael's reign. Sony VAIO PCG-3A3L battery

Michael VIII's foreign policy relied heavily on diplomacy;[8] nevertheless, his construction projects and military campaigns against the remaining Latins were extensive as well as expensive; the Nicaean army was modeled around the Komnenian army, and while it was not as effective, it was just as burdensome on the treasury. The result was that heavy taxes were levied on the peasantry,[5] Sony VAIO PCG-3A4L battery

something that the Ottomans would later use to their advantage, winning over these poverty-stricken peasants with promises of lower taxes.The Second Council of Lyons and the ostensible union of the two Churches did little to avert Catholic aggression, while at the same time the Orthodox population, led by large parts of the priesthood, denounced Michael VIII as a traitor.[8Sony VAIO PCG-41112L battery

] His death in 1282 came as a relief to many, and his body was denied an Orthodox funeral, as a result of his policies towards Rome.

Michael VIII was a very energetic, ambitious and capable emperor, who had enlarged and preserved the Empire and had once again made Byzantium a power to be reckoned with in the region. His army however was still small, and diplomacy was relied upon more than ever. Sony VAIO PCG-51211L battery

An extortionate tax system supported his ambitious and successful foreign policies of expansion, as well as his numerous bribes and gifts to various potentates. He had put Byzantium on the road of recovery, but his achievements were still perilously fragile, as events would soon show.

Andronikos II was tied down with events in the West and the East. Sony VAIO PCG-51311L battery

The Serbians under King Stefan Uroš II Milutin had begun invading the Balkans and took Skopje in 1282[12] and raids against Macedonia were launched throughout the 1290s. Byzantine counter-attacks failed to stop these, and as a result Andronikos was forced to resort to diplomacy, marrying his 5-year-old daughter to the Serbian King[12] and conceding a number of forts from Ohrid to Stip to Strumica as a "dowry". Sony VAIO PCG-51312L battery

Nonetheless, the Serbs continued their expansion.

Unlike his father, Andronikos II recognized the gravity of the situation in Asia Minor,[12] and tried to drive out the Turks, utilizing a variety of methods. His first action was to move his court to Asia Minor, where he could better oversee the construction of fortifications and raise troop morale.[13] Sony VAIO PCG-51411L battery

His General, Alexios Philanthropenos, was an able commander, campaigning with some success against the Turks in the Meander Valley. Unfortunately Byzantium was robbed of his services when he staged an unsuccessful coup, leading to his blinding.[13] Next Andronikos sent his son, Michael IX, and the Heteriarch George Mouzalon to attack the Turks who were laying siege to Nicomedia, but they were beaten at the Battle of Bapheus in 1302. Sony VAIO PCG-51412L battery

Not giving up, Andronikos hired the 6,500 strong "Catalan Company" of Almogavars, led by Roger de Flor. Originating from Catalonia, these hardy mercenaries were used to skirmishing against the Moors in Spain and now, for an extraordinarily high price, they drove the Turks back in Asia Minor.[13] Once again, these successes were nullified when their leader, Roger de Flor, was assassinated on his way to meet Andronikos; Sony VAIO PCG-51511L battery

the Catalans then revolted against imperial authority, and began pillaging and raiding cities in Thrace, leaving Asia Minor open to Turkish incursions. After this, Andronikos turned to diplomacy, asking the Ilkhanids of Persia to send troops to attack the Turks, but negotiations for such an alliance failed.

Andronikos II ordered the Union of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches to be canceled, a move which pleased many. Sony VAIO PCG-51513L battery

But he also ordered drastic reductions in the military, and effectively disbanded the navy,[12] which his father had worked hard to build up. As a result, tax reductions throughout the Empire were possible,[12] earning him greater popularity while seriously undermining Byzantium's abilities to deal with its opponents. He debased the hyperpyron currency[12] and heavily taxed the military elite of the pronoiarioiSony VAIO PCG-5N2L battery

thereby further reducing Byzantium's military capability. Whilst these solved some problems that Michael VIII had left for his son, it unraveled his father's attempts at restoring the power of the Byzantine Empire; where Michael VIII had attempted to deal with problems outside the Empire, Andronikos aimed to solve the internal problems resulting from his father's reign. Sony VAIO PCG-5N4L battery

Andronikos II's policies were not successful in dealing with Byzantium's external problems; however, it would be threats from within the Empire that led to his abdication — in 1320 Andronikos III, the young (in his twenties) grandson of Andronikos II was disinherited by the Emperor.[14] Andronikos III's brother had been murdered and his father (Michael IX), the son of Andronikos II, died of shock. Sony VAIO PCG-5P2L battery

Andronikos III did not take his disinheritance lightly — organizing an armed opposition, he succeeded in drawing support with promises of generous tax cuts, even beyond those enacted by Andronikos II.[14] Andronikos II was powerless to stop the young usurper; he granted him Thrace as an appanage in 1321,[14] the title of co-emperor in 1322,[14] and after a small war where the Bulgarians and Serbians played the two sides against each other, Sony VAIO PCG-5P4L battery

Andronikos II was forced to abdicate and retire as a monk to a monastery, where he died in 1332.[14]

Despite the calamities of the civil war, Andronikos III was about to revitalise the Empire.[14] Though Asia Minor was at this point destined to fall to the Turks, it had been in a worse position in 1091 and yet still recovered by Byzantium.

The rule of Andronikos III is characterized as the last genuine attempt to restore Byzantine fortunes. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1L battery

His attempts came close to fruition, but the many hostile neighbors of Byzantium eventually took their toll on an Empire in decline.His first concern was that of Asia Minor. Nicaea, until 1261 the capital of the Empire, was under siege by Ottoman Turks. In the summer of 1329, Andronikos III launched a relief attempt which culminated in a defeat at the Battle of Pelekanon on June 10,[15] and in 1331, the city fell. Sony VAIO PCG-5R2L battery

Not wishing to see Nicomedia or the other few remaining forts in Asia Minor suffer the same fate, Andronikos III sought to pay off the Ottomans with tribute — the Ottomans did not stop at this and seized Nicomedia as well in 1337.

Despite this, Andronikos III scored a few successes as well in the Aegean: in 1329, Chios was recovered,[15]and in 1335, Andronikos arranged an alliance involving financial indemnities with the Turkic Emir Bahud-din Umur, Sony VAIO PCG-5S1L battery

Bey of Aydin, and was able to recover Lesbos and Phocaea from the Latins.[15]

In Europe, Andronikos III had mixed results; Thessaly returned to Imperial rule in 1333, but Serbia once again began expanding southwards: led by the Byzantine renegade Syrgiannes Palaiologos, Serbian forces took five key forts from Byzantium in 1334 and forced it to recognize the new borders.[15] Sony VAIO PCG-5S2L battery

Nevertheless, Andronikos was able to bring back Epirus into the fold in 1341 through the use of diplomacy.[15] The result was that whilst the Empire was reduced to its European territories, it had succeeded in bringing much of Greece under its control. Unfortunately for the newly expanded Byzantium, Stephen Dusan (ruling Serbia from 1331) decided to take these lands as well from Byzantium. Sony VAIO PCG-5S3L battery

The death of Andronikos III and the resulting chaos left the Empire in no position to fight back.

Though ultimately unsuccessful, the reign of Andronikos III was one of the last bright spots in Byzantine history, as the Empire's position was becoming increasingly precarious. Diplomacy became less useful, as Byzantium's enemies realized that the Emperor had not the military or even economic might to back his word. Sony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery

Whilst there was a general decline in the Empire's fortunes, Andronikos III's death would be the coup de grâce for the Empire — his 10-year-old son was led by a regency that was torn apart in dynastic rivalries which would lead to a civil war from which Byzantium would never recover.

The Byzantine Empire entered into a new era of decay in 1341. Sony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery

The Empire was ravaged by every possible disaster[16] — alongside wars and civil wars, renewed epidemics of bubonic plague swept through its diminished lands. The first outbreak occurred in 1347, and between the 1360s and 1420s, eight further outbreaks of plague are recorded. Cities were full of social unrest between the corrupt wealthy (who had been exploiting the tax system for their own benefit) Sony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery

and the countless landless peasants burdened by the demands of the government.[16] Religious controversy, the cancer of Byzantium in the 7th and 8th centuries, once again emerged in the form of the Hesychasm controversy,[16] which eventually became a doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox church. There were numerous earthquakes, destroying Byzantium's infrastructure — the fortress of Sony VAIO PCG-61111L battery

Gallipoli was destroyed in 1354 by such an earthquake[16] and the Ottoman Turks lost no time in taking it and establishing a bridgehead in Europe. Meanwhile, the Serbs continued pressing south, removing any nominal Imperial control in Epirus. The Empire shrunk in size and when the civil war ended, Byzantium would be a petty city state, hanging on to life through the respites of her foes, and soon to-be protectors. Sony VAIO PCG-61112L battery

John V, ten years old at his ascension, was guided by a regency consisting of his mother, Anna of Savoy, John VI Kantakouzenos and the Patriarch of Constantinople (John XIV Kalekas).[16]

The Patriarch, aided by the ambitious Alexios Apokaukos, sparked the civil conflict when he convinced the Empress that John V's rule was threatened by the ambitions of Kantakouzenos. Sony VAIO PCG-61411L battery

In September 1341, whilst Kantakouzenos was in Thrace, Kalekas declared himself as regent and launched a vicious attack on Kantakouzenos, his supporters and family.[16] In October, Anna ordered Kantakouzenos to resign his command.[17] Kantakouzenos not only refused, but declared himself Emperor atDidymoteichon, allegedly to protect John V's rule from Kalekas. Sony VAIO PCG-71111L battery

Whether or not Kantakouzenos wished to be Emperor is not known, but the provocative actions of the Patriarch forced Kantakouzenos to fight to retain his power and started the civil war.

There were not nearly enough troops to defend Byzantium's borders at the time and there certainly was not enough for the two factions to split; consequently, foreigner mercenaries were brought in. Sony VAIO PCG-7141L battery

Kantakouzenos hired Turks and Serbs — his main supply of Turkish mercenaries came from the Bey of Aydin, a nominal ally established by Andronikos III. The Regency of John V relied on Turkish mercenaries as well. However, Kantakouzenos began to draw support from the Ottoman Sultan Orkhan, who wed Kantakouzenos' daughter in 1345. By 1347, Kantakouzenos had triumphed and entered Constantinople. Sony VAIO PCG-7142L battery

However, in his hour of victory, he came to an accord with Anna and her son, John V: John V (now 15 years of age) and Kantakouzenos would rule as co-emperors, though John V would be the junior in this relationship.[18] This unlikely partnership was not destined to last long.

Kantakouzenos had a son, Matthew Kantakouzenos — and any hope of keeping peace between John V and Matthew became more remote as the two grew older and more independent. Sony VAIO PCG-81113L battery

John V wed Kantakouzenos' daughter, thus becoming his son in law,[18]in a move designed to bind the two families, but it was destined to fail.

In 1353, Kantakouzenos was still hopeful that peace would be maintained, but in that year, John V launched a military attack on Matthew,[18] thereby re-igniting the civil war. John V was demoted and exiled to the island of Tenedos, one of the few islands in the Aegean still under Byzantine control, Sony VAIO PCG-81114L battery

while Kantakouzenos made his son Matthew co-emperor. John V would not give up so easy however, and in 1354 Ottoman troops began crossing over into Thrace in his support. The citizens of Constantinople became gripped with fear and in November of that same year, John V launched a successful coup with Genoan aid. Kantakouzenos now abdicated and retired to a monastery, where he would write his memoirs and thoughts until his death in 1383.[19] Sony VAIO PCG-81115L battery

Matthew Kantakouzenos, no doubt disappointed with his father's failure, continued to resist John V. Since the Ottoman Sultan Orkhan was his brother-in-law, he was able to obtain troops from him, but had barely begun his campaign when he was captured in the summer of 1356. He was forced to renounce his claims in 1357 and exiled to the Morea sometime between 1361 and 1383,[19] though other sources indicate 1391 a possible date. Sony VAIO PCG-81214L battery

At 25 years, John V had managed to establish himself firmly as ruler of the Empire, at the cost of bleeding out all its resources.The lands ravaged and depopulated by the civil war were filled up by arriving Turks who colonised the land through a mixture of conquest and trade.[19] Sony VAIO PCG-81312L battery

The result was that Byzantium's power was undermined beyond all recovery — two hundred years ago Byzantium could rely on the people living in the lands of Anatolia, Greece, Macedonia and several large islands like Cyprus and Crete. Now the population under its control was limited to the few remaining cities in Byzantine possession, namely Thessalonica and Constantinople and the surrounding countryside, and the Despotate of the Morea. Sony VAIO PCG-8131L battery

The immigration of Turks would be decisive in the survival of the Empire as it gave her most dire enemy, the Ottomans, a new power base, not in Asia but now in Europe.

Like his predecessors Alexios I Komnenos and Michael VIII, John V now turned to the Pope and offered the promise of a Union of the two Churches in the hopes of receiving military assistance. Sony VAIO PCG-8141L battery

As a guarantee of compliance, John V offered his son, Manuel. In the past, Byzantium's cry for assistance were answered with mixed results — pillaging Crusaders would sack both friend and foe but the First Crusade had been largely beneficial and no doubt John V envisioned a repeat of such a Crusade. This time, however, the Papacy was unmoved by the calamity facing the Byzantine Empire.[20] Sony VAIO PCG-8152L battery

Fortunately for John V, he had other European connections — his mother was Anna of Savoy, and her nephew (being John V's cousin) was concerned for the safety of his Greek counterpart.[20] Sailing from Venice in June 1366 with dreams of initiating yet another Crusade, Amadeo VI of Savoy arrived at and seized the fortress of Gallipoli from the Ottomans and handed it back to the Byzantines, Sony VAIO PCG-8161L battery

hoping that this would stem the tide of Turkish emigration into Thrace.[20] However, the Turks had by now firmly established themselves in Thrace. Amadeo and John spent much time between 1367 and 1369 thinking of ways to stave off defeat. Amadeo returned to Europe via Rome and brought with him Byzantine envoys. The Pope again was uninterested, but called for John V to visit him.[20] Sony VAIO PCG-9131L battery

In 1369, when the Ottomans finally captured Adrianople (though some sources indicate 1365),[20] John V rushed to Rome and confessed his Catholic faith both privately and at a public spectacle.[20]

Nevertheless, in 1371 John V returned empty-handed, having humiliated himself and done nothing to improve the deteriorating situation in the Balkans. Sony VAIO PCG-3E1M battery

In 1371, the Serbs mustered their strength and prepared to launch an attack to drive back the Turks from Thrace. In a crushing victory, the Ottomans annihilated the Serbian army at the Battle of Maritsa,[20] and in its aftermath, many surviving lords submitted to the Ottoman Sultan Murad I. Byzantium was in no better position and after taking Serres from the defeated Serbs, John V swore allegiance as a vassal to Murad. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery

John V's rule was an unhappy one, resulting in his vassalage to Murad I. However, it must have been all the more worse when his eldest son and heir to the throne Andronikos IV Palaiologos rebelled against his father in 1373.[21] Curiously, this rebellion coincided with the rebellion of Murad I's son, Savci Celebi[21] and the two worked towards fomenting revolution in their peoples.SONY VAIO PCG-81111V battery

Consequently, both the Byzantine and Ottoman rulers were facing their sons and as a result, coordinated efforts were made to defeat both.[21] John V had his eldest son, Andronikos IV, along with the latter's son, John VII, partially blinded, while Murad I defeated his son, Savci, and had him executed.[22] Manuel, the second son of John V, was made co-emperor and heir to the throne. SONY VAIO PCG-81211V battery

Unfortunately for John V, Andronikos IV and his son John VII escaped. With Genoan and Turkish aid, they returned to Constantinople and succeeded in overthrowing John V, imprisoning him and Manuel.[22] In exchange for Ottoman aid, Andronikos IV handed the fortress of Gallipoli over to the Ottomans, thus rendering the only genuine European aid, provided by Amadeoof Savoy, useless. SONY VAIO PCG-51111V battery

Again, prison break became the next event with John V and Manuel escaping Constantinople, offering the Ottoman Sultan higher tribute than normally paid, in return for help in taking over Constantinople.[22] Andronikos IV, having been beaten yet again, evaded capture and slipped into the Genoese district of Galata with his family and hostages. SONY VAIO PCG-51111M battery

John V, only interested in securing his throne and stability, came to conclude a pact with Andronikos IV in 1381, recognizing him as heir with John VII as heir apparent,[22] thus removing Manuel from the line of succession.

Naturally, Manuel felt betrayed by this move which demoted him from co-emperor. Returning to Thessalonica in 1382, he rebelled and established his rule over Thessaly and Epirus, thus "expanding" the Empire, at least nominally, SONY VAIO PCG-51112M battery

and thereby catching the Ottoman Sultan's attention.[22] Murad I besieged Thessalonica in 1383, beginning a siege that would last until 1387. Meanwhile, Andronikos IV died and his son, John VII, began quarreling with his grandfather, John V.

With Thessalonica surrendering in 1387 and his position rather hopeless, Manuel returned to John V and, with the Sultan's assent, began making conciliatory offers to his father.[23] SONY VAIO PCG-51211M battery

John V realized that accepting his second son back would cause his grandson to rebel in turn, and therefore he simply kept Manuel in exile in Lemnos.[23] Eventually, John VII did rebel against his grandfather — news of Manuel's arrival at Constantinople and John V's reconciliation talks with him prompted John VII to head to Genoa and then to the new Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid the Thunderbolt, to seek aid in order to topple John V. SONY VAIO PCG-51212M battery

John VII's rebellion succeeded initially, taking Constantinople from John V,[23] but Manuel countered by rousing the rest of the empire and its few remaining military assets and turned them against John VII. Manuel also received aid from the Knights of St. John stationed at Rhodes, where he "donated" religious relics made of precious metals to them for their support.[23] SONY PCG-7134M battery

John refused to give up his right to rule as Emperor of Byzantium until his death in 1408. By then however, the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid had recognized Manuel II Palaiologos as co-emperor of Byzantium alongside his father John V, and finally, when John V died in 1391, as sole Emperor.

Manuel II's reign saw another temporary respite for the Byzantines. For an Empire in such trouble, he succeeded in retaking some territory and held it to the end of his reign. SONY PCG-7131M battery

His limited success largely came through the resurrection of Mongol Power in the East and the great friendship achieved between Manuel II and Mehmed I. However, he lived long enough to see his son undo much of his achievements.

Manuel II's first priority was to establish an agreement with Bayezid the Thunderbolt. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/W Battery

John VII was a favorite of Bayezid so Manuel II was in a dangerous position. He eventually sealed an agreement. However, the Ottoman Sultan became infuriated by Manuel II's attempts to reconcile his nephew John VII.[24] Manuel was concerned that John VII might once again launch a coup against him so wished to end the threat diplomatically. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G Battery

Bayezid ordered Manuel's execution, but then reduced his furious response and instead demanded that Constantinople build another Mosque and that a colony of Turks be established.

Manuel's next steps were bold and seemingly foolish — not only did he refuse to pay the Sultan tribute, he refused to answer the Sultan's messages and Bayezid set about laying siege to Constantinople.[24Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/B Battery

] In 1394, his siege began and would continue for 8 years. Manuel II realized that whilst the City could endure a half-hearted blockade, it did not have the military assets to man the walls of Constantinople. At first, the situation was not so dire — a massive counter-attack by the West was to be launched as the Crusade of Nicopolis.[26] In a titanic battle, Bayezid force-marched his army to a stunning yet costly victory. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/L Battery

Thousands were killed, but now Bayezid was able to turn his armies fully against Constantinople.

The situation was dire; so much so that John VII, Manuel' dire opponent, was left in charge of Constantinople. He made one grand tour of Europe in 1399, stopping atVenice, Padua, Milan, Paris and London, where he met the English King Henry IV; Sony VAIO PCG-5N1M battery

in England, he was well received[26] and treated to a jousting tournament. However, Manuel was unable to secure any help from Western Christendom.

In the end, it would be Eastern Islam that would come to Constantinople's aid — Timur, the Khan of the Chagatai Mongols led his army deep into Anatolia, decisively defeating Bayezid and his exhausted army in 1402 near Ankara. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1M battery

The defeat caused a panic amongst the Turks in Anatolia, who frantically began crossing over to Europe, albeit with hired Byzantine ships.

Manuel, who was still in Europe, arrived in 1403 to a welcoming sight — Constantinople free from Ottoman siege. John VII remained loyal, handing back the capital and even taking Thessalonica back from the Ottomans. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/W Battery

The defeat of the Ottomans considerably changed the mood within Constantinople. The rewards reaped by the Empire were outstanding considering that only a short time had passed since the city (and possibly the Empire itself) stood on the brink of destruction. John VII appeared to have achieved numerous other benefits for Byzantium. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/P Battery

The first was a non-aggression treaty between the local Christian powers (who were also free from Ottoman servitude), meaning that the disasters of Andronikos III's later rule would not be repeated. Next were a treaty between Byzantium and the successor of Bayezid, Suleyman who was in Asia Minor, confirming Byzantium's freedom from paying tribute. The Empire also gained Mount Athos and coastal land of the Black Sea from Constantinople to Varna. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13G/R Battery

As an added bonus, Imperial authority was asserted over a number of Aegean Islands. The importance of the latter should not be underestimated as these would serve in the future as refuge for any seeking to escape Ottoman expansion, even if only as a temporary refuge.

Bayezid's sons lost no time fighting each other for their father's shattered realm. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/L Battery

By 1413, Mehmed I had emerged as the victor. However, the Byzantines had made sure to support the victor and Mehmed I did not forget the kindness of the Byzantines and was able to "control" his Turk subjects from expanding into Byzantine territory.

Manuel II Palaiologos was 70 years of age in 1421 and believed that the time had come for him to retire and give his eldest son,Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/P Battery

John VIII, the opportunity to rule with a more aggressive manner than he had done so. At the same time, a far less restrained Murad II, son of Mehmed I, came to the Ottoman throne in May of that year. With two un-diplomatic men on thrones of Byzantium and the Ottoman Sultanate, war was inevitable.

The Byzantines were the first to make a move when John VIII and his advisors made a risky decision by inciting a rebellion within the Ottoman Empire. Sony Vaio VGN-CR13T/R Battery

In August 1421, they backed a man named Mustafa who claimed to be a long lost son of Bayezid the Thunderbolt. In Europe, Mustafa's rebellion worked well and he gathered some support. However in August 1422, Murad II had this rebellion crushed and Mustafa received the traditional execution (hanging) shortly after, something any rebel would have expected. Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M battery

Murad II was enraged and had an army sent to Constantinople and to Thessalonika, the latter falling in 1430. Murad II was unable to take Constantinople by force. Nonetheless, the situation in the Capital was dire enough for Manuel II to come out of retirement and incite yet another rebellion in Asia Minor under Murad II's brother, Kucuk Mustafa. Sony VAIO PCG-7171M battery

Initial rebel success, including a siege of Brusa was too much for Murad II to ignore so the siege of Constantinople was lifted to deal with this threat, and to the Byzantines' greatest despair, dealt with it indeed.

Manuel II was now out of tricks to save the erroneous rule of his son, John VIII. In September 1423, Sony PCG-61211M battery

Thessalonika was surrendered to the Venetians, no doubt hoping to draw in the Western Powers into crusading mode and, if not, at least their wealth would enable them to defend it better. In February 1424, Manuel II Palaiologos re-established Byzantium as a vassal of the Ottomans — 300,000 silver coins were to be paid to the Sultan on annual basis. Sony PCG-71213M battery

That the Empire managed to accomplish this at its lowest ebb is remarkable. Nonetheless until c. 1450, the Ottomans would not make any concerted efforts to overcome the walls of Constantinople; the city retained a tenuous security for the next two decades.Sony PCG-71311M battery,Sony PCG-71212M battery,Sony PCG-71313M battery

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