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The Byzantine civil war of 1341–47, sometimes referred to as the Second Palaiologan Civil War,[1] was a conflict that broke out after the death of Andronikos III Palaiologos over the guardianship of his nine-year-old son and heir,John V Palaiologos. French Macaron Pillow ,Creative Cushion - Matty's 

It pitted on the one hand Andronikos III's chief minister, John VI Kantakouzenos, and on the other the Empress-Dowager Anna of Savoy, the Patriarch of Constantinople John XIV Kalekas, and the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos. The war polarized Byzantine society along class lines, with the aristocracy backing Kantakouzenos and the lower and middle classes supporting the regency.SONY PCG-7122M battery

To a lesser extent, the conflict acquired religious overtones. Byzantium was embroiled in the Hesychast controversy, and adherence to the mystical doctrine of Hesychasm was often equated with support for Kantakouzenos.

As the chief aide and closest friend of Emperor Andronikos III, Kantakouzenos became regent for the under-age John V upon the Emperor's death in June 1341. SONY PCG-7121M battery

While Kantakouzenos was absent from Constantinople in September the same year, a coup d'état led by Alexios Apokaukos and the Patriarch John XIV secured the support of Empress Anna and established a new regency. In response, Kantakouzenos' army and supporters proclaimed him co-emperor in October, cementing the rift between himself and the new regency. The split immediately escalated into armed conflict. SONY VAIO PCG-7192M battery

During the first years of the war, forces of the new regency prevailed. In the wake of several anti-aristocratic uprisings, most notably that of the Zealots in Thessalonica, a majority of the cities in Thrace and Macedonia came under regency control. With assistance from Stephen Dushan of Serbia and Umur Beg of Aydin, Kantakouzenos successfully reversed these gains. SONY VAIO PCG-7194M battery

By 1345, despite Dushan's defection to the opposition and the withdrawal of Umur, Kantakouzenos retained the upper hand through the assistance of Orhan, ruler of the Ottoman emirate. The June 1345 murder of megas doux Apokaukos, the regency's chief administrator, dealt the regency a severe blow. Formally crowned as emperor in Adrianople in 1346, Kantakouzenos entered Constantinople on 3 February 1347. SONY VAIO PCG-7195M battery

By agreement, he was to rule for ten years as the senior emperor and regent for John V, until the boy came of age and ruled alongside him. Despite this apparent victory, subsequentresumption of the civil war forced John VI Kantakouzenos to abdicate and retire to become a monk in 1354.

The consequences of the prolonged conflict proved disastrous for the Empire, which had regained a measure of stability under Andronikos III. SONY VAIO PCG-7196M battery

Seven years of warfare, the presence of marauding armies, social turmoil, and the advent of theBlack Death devastated Byzantium and reduced it to a rump state. The conflict also allowed Dushan to conquer Albania,Epirus and most of Macedonia, where he established the Serbian Empire. The Bulgarian Empire also acquired territory north of the Evros river. SONY VAIO PCG-7191V battery

In 1341, the once-mighty Byzantine Empire was in a state of flux. Despite the restoration of the Empire's capital to Constantinople and the recovery of a measure of its former power by Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282), the policies implemented during his reign had exhausted the state's resources, and the Empire's strength waned under his successor, Andronikos II Palaiologos (r. 1282–1328).[2] SONY VAIO PCG-7192V battery

During Andronikos II's long reign, the remaining Byzantine possessions in Asia Minor slowly fell to the advancing Turks, most notably the newly established Ottoman emirate. This caused a flood of refugees into Byzantium's European provinces, while at the same time the Catalan Company wrought havoc in the imperial domains. Taxes also rose dramatically to finance tributes to the Empire's enemies. SONY VAIO PCG-71111M battery

A combination of these failures and personal ambition moved the Emperor's grandson and heir, the young Andronikos III Palaiologos, to revolt. Supported by a group of young aristocrats led by John Kantakouzenos and Syrgiannes Palaiologos, Andronikos III deposed his grandfather after a series of conflicts during the 1320s.[3] Sony VAIO VGN-FW31Z battery

Although successful in removing the old Emperor from power, the war did not augur well for the future, as the Empire's neighbours—the Serbs, Bulgarians, Turks,Genoese and Venetians—took advantage of Byzantine infighting to gain territory or expand their influence within the Empire.

The only son of a former governor of the Byzantine holdings in the Morea, John Kantakouzenos was related to the Palaiologoi through his mother. Sony VGN-NR11Z Battery

He inherited vast estates in Macedonia, Thrace and Thessaly, and became a childhood friend and the closest and most trusted advisor of Andronikos III.[5] During Andronikos III's reign (1328–1341), John Kantakouzenos acted as his chief minister, holding the office of megas domestikos, commander-in-chief of the Byzantine army.[6] The relationship between the two remained close, and in 1330, SONY VAIO PCG-21211M battery

when the heirless Andronikos III (John V was born in 1332) fell ill he insisted that Kantakouzenos be proclaimed Emperor or regent after his death.[7] Their ties were further strengthened in the spring of 1341, when the latter's eldest son, Matthew Kantakouzenos, wed Irene Palaiologina, a cousin of the Emperor.[8]

Unlike Andronikos II, who had disbanded the Byzantine army and navy, and who favoured monks and intellectuals, SONY VAIO PCG-21212M battery

Andronikos III was an energetic ruler who personally led his forces in military campaigns.[4] In 1329, his first campaign against the Ottomans resulted in a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Pelekanos, after which the Byzantine position in Bithynia rapidly collapsed.[9] Subsequent sorties into the Balkans were nevertheless successful in shoring up Andronikos' tottering realm. SONY VAIO PCG-21212V battery

Thessaly and the Despotate of Epirus, two territories separated from the Empire after the Fourth Crusade, were restored to imperial rule, almost without bloodshed in 1328 and 1337 respectively.[10] Andronikos III also rebuilt a modest fleet, which allowed him to recover the rich and strategically placed island of Chios from the Genoese Zaccaria family in 1329 as well as to claim the allegiance of Andreolo Cattaneo, Sony VGN-NR11S Battery

the Genoese governor of Phocaea on the Anatolian mainland.[11] In 1335, however, Cattaneo with Genoese assistance captured the island of Lesbos. The Emperor led a fleet to recover it and Phocaea, and requested the aid of the Turkish emirs of Saruhan and Aydin. Saruhan sent troops and supplies, but Aydin's ruler Umur Beg came to meet the Emperor in person. SONY VAIO PCG-21213V battery

It was during this encounter that Kantakouzenos and Umur established a long-lasting close friendship and alliance.[12]

A war with Serbia in 1331–1334 proved less successful for the Emperor when several towns in Macedonia were captured by the Serbs, led by the renegade Syrgiannes Palaiologos. These gains were only curtailed when the assassination of Syrgiannes and the threat of a Hungarian invasion forced the Serbian ruler, SONY VAIO PCG-21214V battery

Stephen Dushan, to seek a negotiated settlement.[13] The subsequent peace treaty concluded between Andronikos III and Dushan was important for the future of Byzantine-Serbian relations. For the first time, the Byzantines recognized the extensive gains the Serbs had made at the Empire's expense in the central Balkans during Andronikos II's reign. In the aftermath of the pact, Dushan also moved his seat, and with it his realm's centre of gravity, south to Prilep.[14] Sony VAIO PCG-31111M battery

Although the loss of Asia Minor proved irreversible, successes in Epirus and Thessaly led to a consolidation of the Empire in the Greek-speaking lands of the southern Balkans. Andronikos III and Kantakouzenos planned further campaigns to recover the Latin principalities of southern Greece, a project of major long-term importance, for, as the historian Donald Nicol writes, Sony VAIO PCG-31311M battery

"if the whole peninsula of Greece could be united under Byzantine government then the Empire would once again be a homogeneous structure, able to stand up to the Serbians, the Italians and its other enemies. It would be small, but it would be a compact and manageable economic and administrative unit running from Cape Matapan to Thessalonica and Constantinople".Sony VAIO PCG-8152M battery

Following a short illness, on the night of 14–15 June 1341 the emperor Andronikos III died at the relatively early age of 45. His nine-year-old son John (John V) was the obvious successor, but he had not been officially proclaimed or crowned as co-emperor.[15] This left a legal vacuum, and raised the question of who would lead the Empire's government. Sony VAIO PCG-8131M battery

According to Byzantine custom, the empress-dowager automatically headed any regency. Nevertheless, despite the lack of any formal appointment, Kantakouzenos placed Andronikos III's sons and the Empress-dowager Anna of Savoy under armed guard in the palace, and in a meeting of the Byzantine Senate claimed for himself the regency and governance of the state by virtue of his close association with the deceased Emperor. Sony VAIO PCG-5P1M battery

He also demanded that John V marry forthwith his own daughter Helena Kantakouzene. This claim was disputed by Patriarch John XIV Kalekas, who presented a document from Andronikos dating from 1334, assigning to him the care of the imperial family in the case of his death. Only after a demonstration of the capital's troops on 20 June did Kantakouzenos secure recognition as regent and control of the reins of government, as well as maintaining control over the army as its megas domestikos.[17] SONY VAIO PCG-81212M battery

Nevertheless, opposition to Kantakouzenos began to coalesce around three figures: the Patriarch, a forceful man determined to have a voice in the governance of the Empire, the Empress-regent, who feared that Kantakouzenos would dispossess her son, and last but not least Alexios Apokaukos, the ambitious megas doux (commander-in-chief of the navy) and head of the bureaucracy.[18] Sony Vaio VGN-CR13/R Battery

A "new man" promoted to high office as the protégé of Andronikos III and possibly the richest man in the Empire by 1341, Apokaukos was distrusted by the hereditary aristocracy. The only surviving narrative accounts of the period, Kantakouzenos's memoirs and the history of Nikephoros Gregoras, with their pro-aristocracy bias, paint a very negative picture of the man.[19] SONY PCG-8113M battery

According to Kantakouzenos, Apokaukos' adherence to the Patriarch's camp resulted from his ambition: Apokaukos sought further advancement by trying to convince Kantakouzenos to declare himself Emperor. When the latter refused, Apokaukos secretly switched his allegiance.[20]

In Donald Nicol's opinion, had Kantakouzenos remained at Constantinople, his authority might have remained secure. SONY PCG-8112M battery

As the megas domestikos and regent however, he had the duty of dealing with the Empire's various enemies, who sought to take advantage of Andronikos' death. Dushan had invaded Macedonia, the Emir of Saruhanraided the coasts of Thrace, and Tsar Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria threatened war.[21] In July Kantakouzenos left the capital at the head of the army, leaving control of the government to Apokaukos, whom he still believed loyal to him. Sony VAIO PCG-7148L battery

Kantakouzenos' campaign proved successful. He persuaded Dushan to withdraw and repulsed the Turkish raiders, while Ivan Alexander, threatened by a fleet from the Emirate of Aydin, renewed his peace treaty with Byzantium.[16][22] To crown this success, Kantakouzenos received an embassy of the Latin barons of the Principality of Achaea in the Morea. Sony VAIO PCG-7151L battery

They expressed readiness to surrender the country in exchange for a guarantee of their property and rights. It was a unique opportunity, as Kantakouzenos himself recognized in his memoirs, since if successful, the Catalan-controlled Duchy of Athens was bound to follow, consolidating Byzantine control over Greece.[23]

At this point Kantakouzenos received grave news from Constantinople. Sony VAIO PCG-7152L battery

In late August Apokaukos attempted a coup and tried to kidnap John V. Having failed, he fled to his fortified house at Epibatai, where he was blockaded by troops. Kantakouzenos returned to Constantinople in early September, where he stayed for a few weeks consulting with the Empress. On his way back to Thrace to prepare for a campaign into the Morea, he went to Epibatai, where he pardoned Apokaukos and restored him to his former offices. Sony VAIO PCG-7153L battery

Kantakouzenos' second departure proved a great error. Back in the capital, his enemies moved in his absence. Apokaukos gathered a group of high-ranking aristocrats around him, including men such as the megas droungarios John Gabalas or George Choumnos, whom he tied to himself by marriage alliances. The Patriarch, backed by Apokaukos' group and the authority of the Empress, Sony VAIO PCG-7154L battery

dismissed Kantakouzenos from his offices and declared him a public enemy. Kalekas himself was proclaimed regent and Apokaukos named Eparch of Constantinople. Kantakouzenos' relatives and supporters were imprisoned or forced to flee the city, and their properties confiscated.[25] Although Kantakouzenos' wife and children were safe in his headquarters at Demotika (Didymoteicho), the regency placed his mother, Theodora, under house arrest. Sony VAIO PCG-7161L battery

The privations she suffered during her imprisonment were to cause her eventual death.

As the first groups of his partisans fleeing the capital arrived at Demotika, Kantakouzenos, by his own account, tried to negotiate with the new regency, but his approach was rebuffed.[27] Finally forced to take decisive action, on 26 October 1341, the army (2,000 cavalry and 4,000 infantry, according to Gregoras) and his supporters, Sony VAIO PCG-7162L battery

largely drawn from the land-holding aristocracy, proclaimed Kantakouzenos Emperor. Although he still presented himself officially as a junior colleague to John V, and claimed to be only acting in the boy's name, having staked his claim on the throne, he had effectively started a civil war.[28][29] Kantakouzenos still hoped that negotiation might resolve the situation, but all his envoys were imprisoned and he and his supporters excommunicated by Patriarch John XIV. Sony VAIO PCG-7171L battery

On 19 November 1341, the regency responded to Kantakouzenos' proclamation as Emperor with the formal coronation of John V.[30]

Reaction to Kantakouzenos' proclamation caused a rift in Byzantine society, with the rich and powerful land-holding magnates (traditionally called the dynatoi, the "powerful ones")[31] who dominated the countryside quickly rallying to support him, while the ordinary population, Sony VAIO PCG-7172L battery

often living in abject conditions and suffering under oppressive taxation, supported the Empress-dowager and the Patriarch.[32] Apokaukos was especially quick to capitalize upon this division and foment popular dislike for the aristocracy, by widely publicizing the immense wealth confiscated from Kantakouzenos' and his supporters' houses and estates.[33] Sony VAIO PCG-7173L battery

In the words of Donald Nicol, "it was against him [Kantakouzenos] and everything that he stood for as a millionaire and landowning aristocrat that the people rose up. 'Kantakouzenism' became their war cry, the slogan of their discontent".[34]

Thus the battle lines of the civil war were drawn up between urban and rural factions. Sony VAIO PCG-7174L battery

The cities, dominated by the middle-class civil bureaucracy and merchant class (the "people of the market"), favoured a more mercantile economy and close relations with the Italian maritime republics, while the countryside remained under the control of the conservative landed aristocracy, which derived its wealth from its estates and traditionally shunned commercial and entrepreneurial activities as unworthy of its status. Sony VAIO PCG-7181L battery

The lower social strata tended to support the respective dominant faction, the middle classes in the cities and the landholding magnates in the countryside.[35]Polarization of this nature was not new in the Byzantine Empire. Evidence of competition between the landed aristocracy and the city-based middle classes in the political, economic and social spheres has been attested since the 11th century, but the scale of the conflict that erupted in 1341 was unprecedented. Sony VAIO PCG-7182L battery

This class conflict was mirrored in the breakaway Byzantine Empire of Trebizond, as well, where a pro-imperial and pro-Constantinopolitan urban faction confronted the provincial landholding aristocracy between 1340 and 1349.[36] The more conservative and anti-Western tendencies of the aristocrats, and their links to the staunchlyOrthodox and anti-Catholic monasteries, also explain their increased attachment to the mystical Hesychasm movement advocated by GSony VAIO PCG-7183L battery

regory Palamas, whose views were mostly opposed in the cities.[37] Although several significant exceptions leave the issue open to question, in the contemporary popular mind (and in traditional historiography), the supporters of "Palamism" and of "Kantakouzenism" were usually equated.[38] Kantakouzenos' eventual victory also meant the victory of Hesychasm,confirmed in a synod in Constantinople in 1351. Sony VAIO PCG-7184L battery

Hesychasm became a hallmark of the Orthodox church tradition, although it was rejected by the Catholics as a heresy.[29][39]

The first manifestation of this social division appeared in Adrianople where, on 27 October, the populace expelled the city's aristocrats, securing it for the regency. Sony VAIO PCG-7185L battery

This event was repeated over the next weeks in town after town throughout Thrace and Macedonia, as the people declared their support for the regency and against the despised forces of "Kantakouzenism".[40] In this hostile atmosphere, many of Kantakouzenos' soldiers abandoned him and returned to Constantinople.[41] In Demotika alone the popular uprising was quelled, and the town remained Kantakouzenos' main stronghold in Thrace throughout the war. Sony VAIO PCG-381L battery

When heavy snowfall rendered campaigning impossible during the following winter, Kantakouzenos instead sent envoys, including an embassy of monks from Mount Athosto Constantinople. However, they too were dismissed by the Patriarch.[43] By then, almost all of the Byzantine provinces and their governors had declared themselves for the regency. Sony VAIO PCG-382L battery

Only Theodore Synadenos, an old associate of Kantakouzenos who was the governor of the Empire's second city, Thessalonica, indicated his support. Synadenos had kept his allegiance to Kantakouzenos secret from the city's populace, and intended to surrender Thessalonica in collusion with the local aristocracy. Furthermore, Hrelja, the Serbian magnate and virtually independent ruler of Strumica and the Strymon River valley, Sony VAIO PCG-383L battery

seemed to lean towards Kantakouzenos. Consequently, as soon as the weather improved, on 2 March 1342, Kantakouzenos left his wife Irene Asanina, his brother-in-law Manuel Asen and his daughters to hold Demotika and marched west with his army toward Thessalonica.[44] On the way, he first attacked Peritheorion but was repelled and continued westward. Sony VAIO PCG-384L battery

Kantakouzenos was however able to take fortress Melnik, where he met with Hrelja to forge an alliance. Their two armies marched toward Thessalonica, but arrived too late to take control. As they approached the city, they were met by Synadenos and other aristocrats, who had fled after an uprising led by a radical popular party, theZealots.[45] Soon afterwards a fleet of 70 ships led by Apokaukos reinforced the city. Sony VAIO PCG-391L battery

Synadenos, whose family had remained behind in Thessalonica, defected to the regency. Apokaukos' son John was appointed governor of Thessalonica, although effective power rested with the Zealots, who for the next seven years led an autonomous regime unparalleled in Byzantine history.

At the same time, the regency's army campaigned in Thrace, formally taking possession of towns secured by popular revolt. Sony VAIO PCG-393L battery

With Thessalonica barred against him, his supply lines to Thrace cut, and desertions having reduced his army to 2,000 men, of whom half belonged to Hrelja, Kantakouzenos was forced to withdraw north to Serbia, where he hoped to secure the aid of Stephen Dushan. Soon after, Hrelja also deserted Kantakouzenos and joined the regency, hoping to gain control of Melnik for himself.[47]Sony VAIO PCG-394L battery

In July 1342, Kantakouzenos met Dushan near Pristina. The Serbian ruler appeared initially reluctant to form an alliance. Nevertheless, under pressure from his nobles, especially the powerful Jovan Oliver, he could not afford to miss this unique opportunity to expand south. Desperately in need of Serbian aid, Kantakouzenos apparently agreed that the Serbs could keep any town they took, despite his own later account to the contrary. Sony VAIO PCG-3A1L battery

According to Nikephoros Gregoras, the Serbs claimed all of Macedonia west of Christopolis (Kavala), except for Thessalonica and its environs. The only concession Kantakouzenos secured was that an exception be made for those towns that surrendered to him in person. To seal the pact, Kantakouzenos' younger son, Manuel, was to be wed to the daughter of Jovan Oliver, although after Dushan later broke the alliance, the marriage did not take place.[48] Sony VAIO PCG-3A2L battery

Hrelja too acceded to the pact, in exchange for the surrender of Melnik by Kantakouzenos' garrison. After Hrelja's death later that year, Melnik was seized by Dushan.[49]

In late summer 1342, Kantakouzenos, accompanied by several Serbian magnates, marched into Macedonia at the head of a Greek and Serbian force, intending to break through to his wife, who still held out at Demotika.[50] Sony VAIO PCG-3A3L battery

His advance was stopped almost immediately beforeSerres when the city refused to surrender, and the subsequent siege had to be abandoned after an epidemic killed most of his men, forcing him to retreat into Serbia with a rump force of barely 500 soldiers. Dushan led a more successful parallel campaign, capturing Vodena (Edessa).[51] Serbian forces captured Florina and Kastoria shortly afterwards, thereby extending their hold over western Macedonia. Sony VAIO PCG-3A4L battery

The Serbs also expanded their control over Albania, so that by the summer of 1343, with the exception of Angevin-controlledDyrrhachium, all of the region appears to have fallen under Serbian rule.[52] Morale among Kantakouzenos' followers fell dramatically. Rumours circulated in Constantinople that a dejected Kantakouzenos planned to retire to Mount Athos as a monk, and riots broke out in the city in which several rich men were killed and their houses looted by the populace.[53] Sony VAIO PCG-41112L battery

In late fall, Empress Anna twice sent embassies to Dushan trying to convince him to surrender Kantakouzenos, but the Serbian ruler, seeking to extract more profit from their alliance, refused.[54] Kantakouzenos' fortunes began to improve when a delegation of the nobles of Thessaly reached him and offered to accept his authority. Kantakouzenos appointed his relative John Angelos as the province's governor. Sony VAIO PCG-51211L battery

Although in effect a semi-independent ruler, Angelos was both loyal and effective. He soon brought Epirus—which he had governed in Andronikos II's name in 1340—into the Kantakouzenist camp, and even made gains in Thessaly at the expense of the Catalans of Athens.[55] Another effort by Kantakouzenos to break from Serbia into Macedonia failed before Serres.[56] Sony VAIO PCG-51311L battery

In the meantime, Kantakouzenos' wife Irene called upon the aid of the Bulgarians to help relieve the blockade of Demotika by the regency's army. Ivan Alexander dispatched troops, but although they clashed with the regency's forces, they made no effort in assisting the city, instead pillaging the countryside.

At this point, Kantakouzenos' position was greatly strengthened by the intervention of his old friend, Sony VAIO PCG-51312L battery

Umur Bey, who in late 1342 or early 1343 sailed up the Evros river with a fleet of 300 ships and 29,000 (according to Kantakouzenos) or 15,000 (according to Turkish sources) men-in-arms and relieved Demotika both from the siege by the regency's forces and from the depredations of the Bulgarians. After pillaging Thrace for a few months, Umur was forced to retreat to Asia at the onset of winter, to which the Turks were unaccustomed.[58] Sony VAIO PCG-51411L battery

This turn of events displeased Dushan, for Kantakouzenos now had an independent power base and was less reliant on the Serbian ruler's goodwill. The final rift between Kantakouzenos and Dushan occurred in April 1343, when Kantakouzenos persuaded the town of Berroia, besieged by the Serbs, to surrender to him instead of Dushan. This was followed by the surrender of several other forts in the area to Kantakouzenos, including Servia and Platamon. Sony VAIO PCG-51412L battery

These moves strengthened Kantakouzenos' position and independence from Dushan, thereby thwarting the latter's plans for expansion. Realizing that he had little to gain by continuing to support Kantakouzenos, Dushan opened negotiations with the regency and concluded a formal alliance with them in the summer of 1343.[59] Sony VAIO PCG-51511L battery

Meanwhile, Kantakouzenos and his army camped outside Thessalonica, hoping to take the city through the aid of his supporters within the walls. Apokaukos arrived at the head of the Byzantine fleet to aid the Zealots, pinning Kantakouzenos down in Macedonia between Thessalonica and Dushan's possessions. Once again Umur of Aydin came to Kantakouzenos' assistance with a fleet carrying some 6,000 men, Sony VAIO PCG-51513L battery

whereupon Apokaukos and his ships fled from the superior Turkish navy. Nevertheless, a reinforced Thessalonica was able to hold out against a siege by Kantakouzenos and Umur.[60] Although he had failed to take Thessalonica, the presence of his Turkish allies allowed Kantakouzenos to turn his attention towards Thrace. In late 1343 he left his son Manuel as governor of Berroia and western Macedonia and marched towards Demotika, Sony VAIO PCG-5N2L battery

relieving the city and seeing his wife for the first time in almost two years. On his way to Demotika, Kantakouzenos had seized a number of fortresses in Thrace, although another siege of Peritheorion failed. He followed up with a successful campaign that took Komotini and other fortresses in the Rhodope area.[61] Sony VAIO PCG-5N4L battery

Over the next couple of years, the towns and forts of Thrace came over to Kantakouzenos' camp one by one, but at great cost, as his mainly Turkish troops repeatedly plundered the countryside.[62] The shifting tide of the war did not go unnoticed in the opposing camp. In late 1344, several prominent personalities defected to Kantakouzenos, including John Vatatzes, a general and relative by marriage to both the Patriarch and Apokaukos, Sony VAIO PCG-5P2L battery

the Patriarch of Jerusalem Lazaros, and, most importantly, Manuel Apokaukos, son of the megas doux and governor of Adrianople.

At the same time, the regency's alliance with Dushan was paying dividends for the Serbian ruler alone, as he had free rein to plunder and occupy all of Macedonia and Epirus. By the end of 1345, only Thessalonica, held by the Zealots, Sony VAIO PCG-5P4L battery

Serres and the surrounding region, which remained loyal to the regency, along with Berroia, which still held out under Manuel Kantakouzenos, remained outside Serbian control.[65]

These developments placed the regency in considerable difficulties. In spite of Apokaukos' adroit management of the state's finances, the devastation caused by the prolonged wars had emptied the treasury. Sony VAIO PCG-5R1L battery

In August 1343, Empress Anna was forced to pawn the crown jewels to Venice for 30,000 ducats. In addition, Turkish ravages in Thrace led to a scarcity of food in Constantinople.[66] Hoping for Western aid, Anna appealed to the Pope, promising the submission of herself, John V, Apokaukos and even the Patriarch to his authority, and began persecuting the pro-Kantakouzenists and anti-Western Palamists. Sony VAIO PCG-5R2L battery

In 1344, the regency concluded a further alliance with Bulgaria, which required the surrender of Philippopolis (Plovdiv) and nine other towns in northern Thrace along the river Evros. Nevertheless, after their occupation, Ivan Alexander refrained from direct action against Kantakouzenos' forces operating in southern and eastern Thrace.[68] Sony VAIO PCG-5S1L battery

At the same time, Momchil, a formerbrigand whom Kantakouzenos had entrusted with control over the region of Merope in the Rhodope mountains, switched over to the regency.[69] In early 1344, Kantakouzenos was deprived of Umur and the bulk of his army, who had sailed home to repel a Latin attack on his main harbour, Smyrna. On their way, the Turkish force was attacked by the Serbs under Gregory Preljub, Sony VAIO PCG-5S2L battery

but prevailed at the Battle of Stephaniana.[70] Nevertheless, Kantakouzenos was able to ward off joint attacks by Dushan and Apokaukos until Umur returned to his aid the next spring at the head of an army of 20,000 men.[71]

Kantakouzenos and Umur raided Bulgaria, and then turned against Momchil. The latter had exploited the power vacuum in the Rhodope, an effective no man's land between the Serbs, Sony VAIO PCG-5S3L battery

Bulgarians and Byzantines, to set himself up as a quasi-independent prince, supported by a substantial force of around 5,000 men. On 7 July 1345, the two armies clashed at Peritheorion. Momchil's army was crushed, and he himself fell in the field.[69] Soon afterwards, Dushan arrived before Serres and laid siege to the city. Rejecting demands by Kantakouzenos to withdraw, Sony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery

a clash appeared inevitable until the murder of Alexios Apokaukos in Constantinople forced Kantakouzenos to direct his attention there.In early 1345, Kantakouzenos sent Franciscan monks to the regency to make an offer of conciliation, but it was rejected. Despite this show of confidence, the regency's position remained insecure. The defections of the previous winter had weakened their control of the capital, and in response Apokaukos launched a series of proscriptions. Sony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery

He also ordered the construction of a new prison to house political prisoners. On 11 June 1345, while undertaking an inspection of the prison unaccompanied by his bodyguard, Apokaukos was lynched by the prisoners.

When Kantakouzenos heard the news he marched towards Constantinople, urged by his supporters, who expected that the death of Apokaukos would result in the collapse of the regency. Kantakouzenos was more sceptical, and indeed the Patriarch and Empress Anna quickly brought the situation under control.[75Sony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery

] At the same time, Kantakouzenos suffered a series of reverses. These began when John Apokaukos, the nominal governor of Thessalonica, openly announced his allegiance to Kantakouzenos and his plans to surrender the city. He was immediately thwarted by the Zealots who rose up again and killed Apokaukos and the other Kantakouzenist sympathizers in the city.[76] Sony VAIO PCG-61111L battery

Then John Vatatzes, who had defected to Kantakouzenos the year before, once more switched sides. He attempted to take some of Kantakouzenos' Turkish allies and a few Thracian cities with him, but was murdered soon afterwards.[77] Finally, Kantakouzenos lost the support of his most crucial ally, Umur of Aydin, who left with his army to confront the crusaders in Smyrna. Sony VAIO PCG-61112L battery

Kantakouzenos replaced him by allying himself with the Emir of Saruhan and, more importantly, Orhan I of the rising Ottoman emirate in Bithynia.[29][78]

In September 1345, after a long siege, Serres fell to Dushan. The Serbian ruler, who by now controlled about half of the pre-1341 Byzantine realm, was spurred by this success to lay his own claim on the Byzantine throne. Sony VAIO PCG-61411L battery

Consequently, on Easter Sunday, 16 April 1346, he was crowned "Emperor of the Serbs and the Romans" in Skopje, thereby founding the Serbian Empire.[79] This development prompted Kantakouzenos, who had only been acclaimed Emperor in 1341, to have himself formally crowned in a ceremony held at Adrianople on 21 May, presided over by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Lazaros. Sony VAIO PCG-71111L battery

Lazaros then convened a synod of bishops to excommunicate the Patriarch of Constantinople, John Kalekas.[80] Not long afterwards, Kantakouzenos' ties with his new ally Orhan were cemented through the marriage of his daughter Theodora Kantakouzene to the Ottoman emir at an elaborate ceremony in Selymbria.[81]

For the regency, the situation had become desperate. Empress Anna's requests for aid from foreign powers proved unsuccessful, as both Orhan and the beylik of Karasi rebuffed her overtures for assistance.[82] Sony VAIO PCG-7141L battery

Only Balik, the ruler of Dobruja, sent an elite force of 1,000 men under his brothers Theodore and Dobrotitsa, but they were routed by a Kantakouzenist army under protostrator George Phakrases.[83] The emirate of Saruhan offered a more substantial force of 6,000 men in the summer of 1346, but instead of fighting, they plundered Thrace and then defected to join Kantakouzenos' army.[84Sony VAIO PCG-7142L battery

] Revenue remained scarce for the regency, the Genoese once again seized the imperial possessions of Chios and Phocaea, and on 19 May 1346, a part of the Hagia Sophia cathedral collapsed, a terrible omen in the eyes of the capital's inhabitants.[85]

By the summer of 1346, Kantakouzenos stood on the verge of victory. He left Thrace under the control of his son Matthew and moved on to Selymbria, close to Constantinople.[86Sony VAIO PCG-81113L battery

] He did not attack the capital, but waited for almost a year for the city to surrender. In his memoirs, he explains that he did not want to turn his Turks on the city, although contemporaries such as Gregoras accused him of indecision and of needlessly prolonging the war.[87]

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