The Info List - John II Komnenos

--- Advertisement ---

John II Komnenos
or Comnenus (Greek: Ίωάννης Βʹ Κομνηνός, Iōannēs II Komnēnos; 13 September 1087 – 8 April 1143) was Byzantine Emperor
Byzantine Emperor
from 1118 to 1143. Also known as "John the Beautiful" or "John the Good" (Kaloïōannēs), he was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos
and Irene Doukaina
Irene Doukaina
and the second emperor to rule during the Komnenian restoration of the Byzantine Empire. John was a pious and dedicated monarch who was determined to undo the damage his empire had suffered following the battle of Manzikert, half a century earlier. John has been assessed as the greatest of the Komnenian emperors.[1] In the course of his twenty-five year reign, John made alliances with the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
in the west, decisively defeated the Pechenegs, Hungarians
and Serbs
in the Balkans, and personally led numerous campaigns against the Turks in Asia Minor. John's campaigns fundamentally changed the balance of power in the east, forcing the Turks onto the defensive and restoring to the Byzantines many towns, fortresses and cities right across the peninsula. In the southeast, John extended Byzantine control from the Maeander in the west all the way to Cilicia
and Tarsus in the east. In an effort to demonstrate the Byzantine ideal of the emperor's role as the leader of the Christian world, John marched into Muslim
at the head of the combined forces of Byzantium and the Crusader states; yet despite the great vigour with which he pressed the campaign, John's hopes were disappointed by the evasiveness of his Crusader allies and their reluctance to fight alongside his forces. Also under John, the empire's population recovered to about 10 million people.[2] Unfortunately, John's reign is less well recorded by contemporary or near-contemporary writers than those of either his father, Alexios I, or his son, Manuel I. In particular little is known of the history of John's domestic rule or policies.


1 Physical appearance and character 2 Accession to the throne 3 Military and civil administration 4 Diplomacy 5 Religious matters 6 Military exploits

6.1 Conflict with Venice 6.2 The Pechenegs
destroyed 6.3 War with the Hungarians
and Serbs 6.4 War of attrition against the Anatolian Turks 6.5 Campaigning in Cilicia
and Syria 6.6 Final campaigns

7 Death and succession 8 The legacy of John II 9 Family 10 Ancestry 11 See also 12 External links 13 Sources 14 Further reading 15 Citations

Physical appearance and character[edit] The Latin historian William of Tyre
William of Tyre
described John as short and unusually ugly, with eyes, hair and complexion so dark he was known as 'the Moor'.[3] Yet despite his physical appearance, John was known as Kaloïōannēs, "John the Good" or "John the Beautiful". The epithet referred not to his body but to his character. Both his parents had been unusually pious and John surpassed them. Members of his court were expected to restrict their conversation to serious subjects only. The food served at the emperor's table was very frugal and John lectured courtiers who lived in excessive luxury. His speech was dignified, but he engaged in repartee on occasion and his seriousness did not exclude a sense of humour. As a father he was affectionate, though he demanded high standards from his children, and he was a faithful husband to his wife. Despite his personal austerity, John had a high conception of the imperial role and would appear in full ceremonial splendour when this was advantageous. He was highly respected and honoured by his subjects.[4] John was famed for his piety and his remarkably mild and just reign. He is an exceptional example of a moral ruler, at a time when cruelty was the norm. He is reputed never to have condemned anyone to death or mutilation. Charity was dispensed lavishly. For this reason, he has been called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius.[5] By the example of his personal purity and piety he effected a notable improvement in the manners of his age. Descriptions of him and his actions indicate that he had great self-control and personal courage, was an excellent strategist and an expert imperator in the field, and through his many campaigns he devoted himself to the preservation of his empire.[4] Accession to the throne[edit]

John II (left) and his eldest son Alexios, crowned by Christ. Byzantine manuscript, early 12th century

John II succeeded his father as ruling basileus in 1118, but had already been proclaimed co-emperor by Alexios I on September 1, 1092. Niketas Choniates
Niketas Choniates
alone tells of the actions by which John II secured his own accession to power. Alexios I had favoured John to succeed him over his wife Irene's favourite, the Caesar Nikephoros Bryennios, who was married to their daughter Anna Komnena. Alexios resorted to dissimulation in order to avert Irene's criticism of his choice and her demands that Nikephoros should succeed. As Alexios lay on his deathbed in the monastery of the Mangana on 15 August 1118, John, consorting with relatives whom he could trust, among whom was his brother, the sebastokratōr Isaac Komnenos, stole into the monastery and took the imperial signet ring from his dying father. Then, taking up arms, he rode to the Great Palace, gathering the support of the citizenry who acclaimed him emperor. Irene was taken by surprise and was unable either to persuade her son to desist, or to induce Nikephoros to act against him. Although the palace guard at first refused to admit John without proof of his father's wishes, the mob surrounding the new emperor simply forced entry.[6][7] Alexios died the following night. John refused to join the funeral procession, in spite of his mother's urging, because his hold on power was so tenuous. However, in the space of a few days, his position seemed secure. Within a year of his accession, however, John II uncovered a conspiracy to overthrow him which implicated his mother and sister. Anna's husband Nikephoros had little sympathy with her ambitions, and it was his lack of support which doomed the conspiracy. Anna was stripped of her property, which was offered to the emperor's friend John Axouch. Axouch wisely declined and his influence ensured that Anna's property was eventually returned to her and that John II and his sister became reconciled, at least to a degree. Irene retired to a monastery and Anna seems to have been effectively removed from public life, taking up the less active occupation of historian. However, Nikephoros remained on good terms with his brother-in-law.[8] To safeguard his own succession, John crowned his young son Alexios co-emperor in 1122.[9] Military and civil administration[edit]

Gold coin of John II Komnenos, depicting the Virgin Mary
Virgin Mary
and John holding a cross.

The family intrigues that challenged his succession to the throne probably contributed to John's approach to rulership, which was to appoint men from outside the imperial family to help him govern the empire. This was a radical departure from the methods of his father, who had used the imperial family and its many connections to fill almost all senior administrative and military posts. John Axouch
John Axouch
was John II's closest adviser and was his only intimate friend. Axouch was a Turk captured as a child at the Siege of Nicaea, who had been given as a gift to John's father. Emperor Alexios had thought him a good companion for his son, and so he had been brought up alongside the prince in the imperial household. Axouch was immediately appointed Grand Domestic
Grand Domestic
(in Greek: μέγας δομέστικος, megas domestikos), upon the accession of John II. The Grand Domestic
Grand Domestic
was the commander in chief of the Byzantine armies. It has been suggested that references to Axouch's possession of the imperial seal early in the reign of John's successor Manuel I meant that he was, in addition to his military duties, the head of the civil administration of the Empire. This was an unofficial position known at the time as the mesazon, and equivalent to a vizier or 'prime-minister.'[10] Such an appointment was remarkable, and a radical departure from the nepotism that had characterised the reign of Alexios I. The imperial family harboured some degree of resentment at this decision, which was reinforced by the fact that they were required to make obeisance to John Axouch
John Axouch
whenever they met him.[11] The emperor had complete confidence in his appointees, many of whom had been chosen on merit rather than their connection to the imperial family and related aristocratic clans. John's unwillingness to allow his family to influence his government to any great extent was to remain constant for the rest of his reign. John appointed a number of his father's personal retainers to high office, men such as Eustathios Kamytzes, Michaelitzes Styppeiotes and George Dekanos. These were men who had been politically eclipsed during the ascendancy exercised by John's mother in the later years of the reign of Alexios I.[12] A number of 'new men' were raised to prominence by John II, these included Gregory Taronites, Manuel Anemas and Theodore Vatatzes, the latter two also became his sons-in-law.[13] Despite his move away from close reliance on the imperial family and its connections, John's court and government had many similarities to that of his father, not least in its serious tone and piety. Indeed, an extant collection of political advice couched in poetic form, called the Mousai, are attributed to Alexios I. The Mousai are addressed directly to John II and exhort him, amongst other things, to maintain justice during his reign and a full treasury. Alexios' advice on rulership therefore continued to be available to his son, even after the old emperor's death.[14] The increase in military security and economic stability within Byzantine western Anatolia
created by John II's campaigns allowed him to begin the establishment of a formal provincial system in these regions. The theme (province) of Thrakesion
was re-established, with its administrative centre at Philadelphia. A new theme, named Mylasa and Melanoudion, was created to the south of Thrakesion.[15] Diplomacy[edit]

A letter from John II to Pope Innocent II

The central tenet of the foreign policy of John II in the West was to maintain an alliance with the German emperors (Holy Roman Empire). This was necessary to limit the threat posed by the Normans
of southern Italy to Byzantine territory in the Balkans. This threat became especially acute after Roger II of Sicily
Roger II of Sicily
made himself supreme in southern Italy and assumed the title of king. Emperor Lothair III had Byzantine backing, including a large financial subsidy, for his invasion of Norman territory in 1136, which reached as far south as Bari. Pope Innocent II, with the Church's possessions in Italy under threat by Roger II, who supported Antipope Anacletus II, was also party to the alliance of Lothair and John II. However, this alliance proved unable to resist Roger, who extracted by force a recognition of his royal title from the Pope in 1139 (Treaty of Mignano).[16] Lothair's successor Conrad III was approached in 1140 for a royal German bride for John's youngest son Manuel. Bertha of Sulzbach, Conrad's sister-in-law, was chosen and despatched to Byzantium.[17] At much the same time Roger II applied to John II for an imperial bride for his son, but was unsuccessful.[18] John's penchant for interfering with his wife's family, the rulers of Hungary, was problematic. The welcome accorded to ousted claimants of the Hungarian throne in Constantinople
was seen by the Byzantines as a useful insurance policy and source of political leverage. However, the Hungarians
treated this interference as a fighting matter. A Hungarian alliance with the Serbs
produced serious consequences for continued Byzantine dominance in the western Balkans.[19] In the East John attempted, like his father, to exploit the differences between the Seljuq Sultan of Iconium and the Danishmendid dynasty controlling the northeastern, inland, parts of Anatolia. In 1134 the Seljuq sultan Mas'ud provided troops for John's attack on the Danishmend-held city of Kastamuni, however, the alliance proved unreliable as the Seljuq troops abandoned the expedition, decamping during the night.[20] In the Crusader states
Crusader states
of the Levant it was generally admitted that the Byzantine claims over Antioch were legally valid, though it was pragmatically viewed that only when the Byzantine emperor was in a position to enforce them militarily were they likely to be recognised in practice. The high point of John's diplomacy in the Levant was in 1137 when he extracted formal homage from the rulers of the Principality of Antioch, County of Edessa
County of Edessa
and the County of Tripoli. The Byzantine desire to be seen as holding a level of suzerainty over all of the Crusader states
Crusader states
was taken seriously, as evidenced by the alarm shown in the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
when John informed King Fulk of his plan for an armed pilgrimage to the Holy City (1142).[21] Religious matters[edit]

Former Imperial Chapel of Christ Pantokrator, now the Zeyrek Mosque, Istanbul

The reign of John II was taken up with almost constant warfare and, unlike his father who delighted in active participation in theological and doctrinal disputes, John appears to have been content to leave ecclesiastical matters to the Patriarch and the church hierarchy. Only when religion impinged directly on imperial policy, as in relations with the papacy and the possible union of the Greek and Latin churches, did John take an active part. He organised a number of disputations between Greek and Latin theologians.[22] John, alongside his wife who shared in his religious and charitable works, is known to have undertaken church building on a considerable scale, including construction of the Monastery of Christ Pantokrator (Zeyrek Mosque) in Constantinople. This monastery, with its three churches, has been described as one of the most important and influential architectural constructions of Middle Byzantine Constantinople. Attached to the monastery was a hospital, of 5 wards, open to people of all social classes. The hospital was staffed by trained layman doctors rather than monks. The monastery also served as the imperial sepulchre for the Komnenian dynasty.[23][24] Very active persecution of the followers of the Paulician and Bogomil heresies characterised the last few years of the reign of Alexios I.[25] No records from the reign of John mention such persecution, though countermeasures against heresy by the Byzantine Church remained in force. A permanent synod in Constantinople
investigated the writings of a deceased monk named Constantine Chrysomallos which had been circulating in certain monasteries. These works were ordered to be burnt by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Leo Styppes, in May 1140, on the grounds that they incorporated elements of Bogomil belief and practices.[26] One of the few members of the imperial family to be placed in an important position by John was his cousin Adrian Komnenos
(son of John's uncle the sebastokrator Isaac). Adrian had become a monk and had accompanied John on his campaigns of 1138. Soon afterwards Adrian was appointed Archbishop of Bulgaria. Bulgaria was an autocephalus see and required a prestigious man as archbishop.[27] Military exploits[edit] Though he fought a number of notable pitched battles, the military strategy of John II relied on taking and holding fortified settlements in order to construct defensible frontiers. John personally conducted approximately twenty five sieges during his reign.[28] Conflict with Venice[edit]

John II in full imperial regalia, Byzantine low relief sculpture in marble, early 12th century.

After his accession, John II had refused to confirm his father's 1082 treaty with the Republic of Venice, which had given the Italian republic unique and generous trading rights within the Byzantine Empire. Yet the change in policy was not motivated by financial concerns. An incident involving the abuse of a member of the imperial family by Venetians led to a dangerous conflict, especially as Byzantium had depended on Venice for its naval strength. After a Byzantine retaliatory attack on Kerkyra, John exiled the Venetian merchants from Constantinople. But this produced further retaliation, and a Venetian fleet of 72 ships plundered Rhodes, Chios, Samos, Lesbos, Andros
and captured Kefalonia
in the Ionian Sea.[29] Eventually John was forced to come to terms; the war was costing him more than it was worth, and he was not prepared to transfer funds from the imperial land forces to the navy for the construction of new ships. John re-confirmed the treaty of 1082.[30] Nevertheless, this embarrassment was not entirely forgotten, and it seems likely that it played a part in inspiring John's successor (Manuel I Komnenos) to re-establish a powerful Byzantine fleet some years later. The Pechenegs
destroyed[edit] In 1119–1121 John defeated the Seljuq Turks, establishing his control over southwestern Anatolia. However, immediately afterwards, in 1122, John quickly transferred his troops to Europe to counter a Pecheneg invasion across the Danube
frontier into Paristrion. These invaders had been auxiliaries of the Prince of Kiev. John surrounded the Pechenegs
as they burst into Thrace, tricked them into believing that he would grant them a favourable treaty, and then launched a devastating surprise attack upon their fortified camp. The ensuing Battle of Beroia
Battle of Beroia
was hard fought, John was wounded in the leg by an arrow, but by the end of the day the Byzantine army had won a crushing victory. The decisive moment of the battle was when John led the Varangian Guard, largely composed of Englishmen, to assault defensive Pecheneg wagon laager, employing their famous axes to hack their way in.[9][31] The battle put an effective end to the Pechenegs
as an independent people; many of the captives taken in the conflict were settled as soldier-farmers within the Byzantine frontier.[32] War with the Hungarians
and Serbs[edit] Main article: Byzantine–Hungarian War (1127–29) John's marriage to the Hungarian princess Piroska involved him in the dynastic struggles of the Kingdom of Hungary. In giving asylum to Álmos, a blinded claimant to the Hungarian throne, John aroused the suspicion of the Hungarians. The Hungarians, led by Stephen II, then invaded Byzantium's Balkan provinces in 1127, with hostilities lasting until 1129; however, an alternative chronology has been suggested with the Hungarian attack and Byzantine retaliation taking place in 1125 with a renewal of hostilities in 1126.[33][34][35] John launched a punitive raid against the Serbs, who had dangerously aligned themselves with Hungary, many of whom were rounded up and transported to Nicomedia
in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
to serve as military colonists. This was done partly to cow the Serbs
into submission ( Serbia
was, at least nominally, a Byzantine protectorate), and partly to strengthen the Byzantine frontier in the east against the Turks. The Serbs
were forced to acknowledge Byzantine suzerainty once again.[32] The Serbian campaign may have taken place between two distinct phases in the war against Hungary.[36] The Hungarians
attacked Belgrade, Nish and Sofia; John, who was near Philippopolis in Thrace, counterattacked, supported by a naval flotilla operating on the Danube.[9] After a challenging campaign, the details of which are obscure, the emperor managed to defeat the Hungarians
and their Serbian allies at the fortress of Haram or Chramon, which is the modern Nova Palanka; many Hungarian troops were killed when a bridge they were crossing collapsed as they were fleeing from a Byzantine attack.[37] Following this the Hungarians
renewed hostilities by attacking Braničevo, which was immediately rebuilt by John. Further Byzantine military successes, Choniates mentions several engagements, resulted in a restoration of peace.[38][39][40] The Byzantines were confirmed in their control of Braničevo, Belgrade
and Zemun and they also recovered the region of Sirmium (called Frangochorion in Choniates), which had been Hungarian since the 1060s. The Hungarian pretender Álmos died in 1129, removing the major source of friction.[36] War of attrition against the Anatolian Turks[edit] Main article: Byzantine-Seljuq Wars

v t e

Byzantine–Seljuq wars

Kapetron 1st Manzikert Caesarea Iconium 2nd Manzikert Seljuq campaigns in the Aegean 1st Nicaea 2nd Nicaea Philomelion Campaigns of John I Komnenos Myriokephalon Hyelion and Leimocheir 1st Trebizond Antalya Antioch on the Meander Sinope 2nd Trebizond

Seljuq period architectural fragment from Konya, showing Seljuq appropriation of the double-headed eagle often associated with Byzantium. Ince Minare Museum, Konya. The naturalism of the sculpture looks more Greek than Syrian or Iranian in workmanship.

Early in John's reign the Turks were pressing forward against the Byzantine frontier in western Asia Minor, and he was determined to drive them back. In 1119, the Seljuqs had cut the land route to the city of Attaleia on the southern coast of Anatolia. John II and Axouch the Grand Domestic
Grand Domestic
recaptured Laodicea and Sozopolis, re-opening land communication with Attaleia.[41] This route was especially important as it also led to Cilicia
and the Crusader states of Syria.[32] Following the end of hostilities with Hungary, John was able to concentrate on Asia Minor
Asia Minor
during most of his remaining years. He undertook a campaign against the Danishmendid
emirate in Malatya
on the upper Euphrates
from 1130 to 1135. Thanks to his energetic campaigning, Turkish attempts at expansion in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
were halted, and John prepared to take the fight to the enemy. In order to restore the region to Byzantine control, he led a series of well planned and executed campaigns against the Turks, one of which resulted in the reconquest of the ancestral home of the Komnenoi at Kastamonu
(Kastra Komnenon); he then left a garrison of 2,000 men at Gangra. John quickly earned a formidable reputation as a wall-breaker, taking one stronghold after another from his enemies. Regions that had been lost to the empire since the Battle of Manzikert
Battle of Manzikert
were recovered and garrisoned. Yet resistance, particularly from the Danishmends
of the northeast, was strong, and the difficult nature of holding the new conquests is illustrated by the fact that Kastamonu
was recaptured by the Turks even as John was in Constantinople
celebrating its return to Byzantine rule. John persevered, however, and Kastamonu
soon changed hands once more.[20][42][43] In the spring of 1139, the emperor campaigned with success against Turks, probably nomadic Turkomans, who were raiding the regions along the Sangarios River, striking their means of subsistence by driving off their herds.[44] He then marched for the final time against the Danishmend Turks, his army proceeding along the southern coast of the Black Sea
Black Sea
through Bithynia
and Paphlagonia. The breakaway Byzantine regime of Constantine Gabras in Trebizond was ended, and the region of Chaldia
brought back under direct imperial control. John then besieged but failed to take the city of Neocaesarea, in 1140. The Byzantines were defeated by the conditions rather than by the Turks: the weather was very bad, large numbers of the army's horses died, and provisions became scarce.[45][46][47] Campaigning in Cilicia
and Syria[edit]

John II directs the Siege of Shaizar
Siege of Shaizar
while his allies sit inactive in their camp, French manuscript 1338

In the Levant, the emperor sought to re-inforce Byzantine claims to suzerainty over the Crusader States and to assert his rights over Antioch. In 1137 he conquered Tarsus, Adana, and Mopsuestia
from the Principality of Armenian Cilicia, and in 1138 Prince Levon I of Armenia and most of his family were brought as captives to Constantinople.[48][49] This opened the route to the Principality of Antioch, where Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch, and Joscelin II, Count of Edessa, recognized themselves as vassals of the emperor in 1137. Even Raymond II, the Count of Tripoli, hastened northwards to pay homage to John, repeating the homage that his predecessor had given John's father in 1109.[50] There then followed a joint campaign as John led the armies of Byzantium, Antioch, and Edessa against Muslim
Syria. Aleppo
proved too strong to attack, but the fortresses of Balat, Biza'a, Athereb, Maarat al-Numan, and Kafartab
were taken by assault.[51] Although John fought hard for the Christian
cause in the campaign in Syria, his allies Prince Raymond of Antioch and Count Joscelin II of Edessa remained in their camp playing dice and feasting instead of helping to press the siege of the city of Shaizar. The Crusader Princes were suspicious of each other and of John, and neither wanted the other to gain from participating in the campaign. Raymond also wanted to hold on to Antioch, which he had agreed to hand over to John if the campaign was successful in capturing Aleppo, Shaizar, Homs, and Hama. Latin and Muslim
sources describe John's energy and personal courage in prosecuting the siege. The city was taken, but the citadel defied assault. The Emir of Shaizar
offered to pay a large indemnity, become John's vassal, and pay yearly tribute. John had lost all confidence in his allies, and a Muslim
army under Zengi was approaching to try to relieve the city, therefore the emperor reluctantly accepted the offer.[52] The emperor was distracted by a Seljuq raid on Cilicia
and developments in the west, where he was pursuing a German alliance directed against the threat posed by the Normans
of Sicily. Joscelin and Raymond conspired to delay the promised handover of Antioch's citadel to the emperor, stirring up popular unrest in the city directed at John and the local Greek community. John had little choice but to leave Syria
with his ambitions only partially realised.[53] Final campaigns[edit] In early 1142 John campaigned against the Seljuqs of Iconium to secure his lines of communication through Antalya. During this campaign his eldest son and co-emperor Alexios died of a fever. Having secured his route, John embarked on a new expedition into Syria
determined to reduce Antioch to direct imperial rule.[54] This expedition included a planned pilgrimage to Jerusalem on which he intended to take his army. King Fulk of Jerusalem, fearing that the emperor's presence with overwhelming military force would constrain him to make an act of homage and formally recognise Byzantine suzerainty over his kingdom, begged the emperor to bring only a modest escort. Fulk cited the inability of his largely barren kingdom to support the passage of a substantial army.[21][55] This lukewarm response resulted in John II deciding to postpone his pilgrimage. John descended rapidly on northern Syria, forcing Joscelin II of Edessa to render hostages, including his daughter, as a guarantee of his good behaviour. He then advanced on Antioch demanding that the city and its citadel be surrendered to him. Raymond of Poitiers
Raymond of Poitiers
played for time, putting the proposal to the vote of the Antiochene general assembly. With the season well advanced John decided to take his army into winter quarters in Cilicia, proposing to renew his attack on Antioch the following year.[56] Death and succession[edit]

John II hunting, French manuscript of the 14th Century

Having prepared his army for a renewed attack on Antioch, John amused himself by hunting wild boar on Mount Taurus
Mount Taurus
in Cilicia, where, on April 1, 1143, he accidentally cut himself on the hand with a poisoned arrow.[57] John initially ignored the wound and it became infected. He died a number of days after the accident, on April 8, probably of septicaemia. It has been suggested that John was assassinated by a conspiracy within the units of his army of Latin origins who were unhappy at fighting their co-religionists of Antioch, and who wanted to place his pro-western son Manuel on the throne.[58] However, there is very little overt support for this hypothesis in the primary sources.[59] John's final action as emperor was to choose Manuel, the younger of his surviving sons, to be his successor. John is recorded as citing two main reasons for choosing Manuel over his older brother Isaac: Isaac's irascibility, and the courage that Manuel had shown on campaign at Neocaesareia.[60][61] Another theory alleges that the reason for this choice was the AIMA prophecy, which foretold that John's successor should be one whose name began with an "M". Fittingly, John's close friend John Axouch, although he is recorded as having tried hard to persuade the dying emperor that Isaac was the better candidate to succeed, was instrumental in ensuring that Manuel's assumption of power was free from any overt opposition.[62] The legacy of John II[edit]

The Byzantine empire under John II Komnenos, c. 1143.

Historian John Birkenmeier argued that John's reign was the most successful of the Komnenian period. In The Development of the Komnenian Army 1081–1180, he stresses the wisdom of John's approach to warfare, which focused on sieges rather than risking pitched battles. Birkenmeier argues that John's strategy of launching annual campaigns with limited, realistic objectives was a more sensible one than that followed by his son Manuel I. According to this view, John's campaigns benefited the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
because they protected the empire's heartland, which lacked reliable borders, while gradually extending its territory in Asia Minor. The Turks were forced onto the defensive, while John kept his diplomatic situation relatively simple by allying with the Holy Roman Emperor against the Normans
of Sicily.[63] Overall, it is clear that John II Komnenos
left the empire a great deal better off than he had found it. By the time of his death substantial territories had been recovered, and the goals of the recovery of control over central Anatolia
and the re-establishment of a frontier on the Euphrates
seemed achievable. However, the Greeks of the interior of Anatolia
were becoming increasingly accustomed to Turkish rule and often found it preferable to that of Byzantium. Also, though it was relatively easy to extract submission and admissions of vassalage from the Anatolian Turks, Serbs
and Crusader States of the Levant, converting these relationships into concrete gains for the security of the Empire had proven elusive. These problems were left for his gifted and mercurial son, Manuel, to attempt to solve.[64] Family[edit]

Empress Irene, from the Komnenos
mosaic in the Hagia Sofia

John II Komnenos
married Princess Piroska of Hungary
Piroska of Hungary
(renamed Irene), a daughter of King Ladislaus I of Hungary in 1104; the marriage was intended as compensation for the loss of some territories to King Coloman of Hungary. She played little part in government, devoting herself to piety and their large brood of children. Irene died on August 13, 1134 and was later venerated as Saint Irene. John II and Irene had 8 children:

Alexios Komnenos, co-emperor from 1122 to 1142 Maria Komnene (twin to Alexios), who married John Roger Dalassenos Andronikos Komnenos
(died 1142) Anna Komnene, who married Stephen Kontostephanos Isaac Komnenos
(died 1154) Theodora Komnene, who married Manuel Anemas Eudokia Komnene, who married Theodore Vatatzes Manuel I Komnenos
(died 1180)


Ancestors of John II Komnenos

16. Isaac, strategos of Thrace?[70]

8. Manuel Erotikos Komnenos[68]

4. John Komnenos
(brother of Isaac I Komnenos)[66]

2. Alexios I Komnenos

10. Alexios Charon[69]

5. Anna Dalassena[66]

11. Adriane Dalassene[69]

1. John II Komnenos

24. Andronikos Doukas[67]

12. John Doukas (brother of Constantine X Doukas)[67]

6. Andronikos Doukas[67]

13. Irene Pegonitissa[67]

3. Irene Doukaina[65]

28. Ivan Vladislav of Bulgaria[71]

14. Troian of Bulgaria

29. Maria[71]

7. Maria of Bulgaria[65]

15. Kontostephane Aballanta?

See also[edit]

Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire

Byzantium under the Komnenos
dynasty Komnenian army List of Byzantine emperors

External links[edit]

John II Comnenus' Hungarian campaigns An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors Mosaic of John Komnenos, Eirene and Alexios in Hagia Sophia

Sources[edit] Primary

Choniates, Niketas (1984). O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates. transl. by H. Magoulias. Detroit. ISBN 0-8143-1764-2.  Kinnamos, John (John Cinnamus), Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus, trans. Charles M. Brand. Columbia University Press, 1976. William of Tyre, Historia Rerum In Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum (A History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea), translated by E. A. Babock and A. C. Krey (Columbia University Press, 1943). See the original text in the Latin library.


Angold, Michael, (1984) The Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
1025–1204, a political history, Longman. ISBN 978-0-58-249060-4 Angold, Michael, (1995) Church and Society in Byzantium under the Comneni, 1081–1261. Cambridge University Press.Poetry and its Contexts in Eleventh-century Byzantium Bernard, F. and Demoen, K. (2013) Poetry and its Contexts in Eleventh-century Byzantium, Ashgate Publishing Birkenmeier, John W. (2002). The Development of the Komnenian Army: 1081–1180. Brill. ISBN 90-04-11710-5.  Bucossi, Alessandra and Rodriguez Suarez, (2016) John II Komnenos, emperor of Byzantium: in the shadow of father and son, Routledge. ISBN 978-1-47-246024-0 Fine, John, V.A. (1983), The Early Medieval Balkans, Ann Arbor. Finlay, George (1854), History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 1057–1453, Volume 2, William Blackwood & Sons Haldon, John F. (1999). Warfare, State and Society in the Byzantine World, 565–1204. London, United Kingdom: University College London Press (Taylor & Francis Group). ISBN 1-85728-495-X.  Harris, Jonathan (2014), Byzantium and the Crusades, Bloomsbury, 2nd ed. ISBN 978-1-78093-767-0 Holt, P.M.; Lambton, Ann K.S.; Lewis, Bernard (1995). The Cambridge History of Islam. 1A. Cambridge University Press.  Loos, Milan (1974) Dualist Heresy in the Middle Ages Vol. 10, Springer, The Hague. Magdalino, Paul The Empire of Manuel I Komnenos
Manuel I Komnenos
1143–1180, Cambridge University Press, 1993. Necipoğlu, Nevra (ed.) (2001) Byzantine Constantinople, Brill. Norwich, John J. Byzantium; Vol. 3: The Decline and Fall. Viking, 1995 ISBN 0-670-82377-5 Runciman, Steven (1952) A History of the Crusades, Vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem, Cambridge University Press. Treadgold, Warren (1997). A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-2630-2. Urbansky, Andrew B. Byzantium and the Danube
Frontier, Twayne Publishers, 1968

Further reading[edit]

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991. Bucossi, Alessandra and Rodriguez Suarez, (2016) John II Komnenos, emperor of Byzantium: in the shadow of father and son, Routledge. ISBN 978-1-47-246024-0 Varzos, Konstantinos (1984). Η Γενεαλογία των Κομνηνών [The Genealogy of the Komnenoi] (in Greek). Thessaloniki: Byzantine Research Centre. , Vols. A1, A2 & B


^ Birkenmeier, p. 85 ^ W. Treadgold, A History of the Byzantine State and Society, 700 ^ Runciman, p. 209 ^ a b Choniates, p. 27 ^ John II, The World-wide Encyclopedia and Gazetteer, Vol. V, Ed. William Harrison De Puy, (The Christian
Herald, 1908), 3654. ^ Choniates, p. 6 ^ Angold (1984), pp. 152–153 ^ Choniates, pp. 8–9 ^ a b c Choniates, p. 11 ^ Magdalino, p. 254 ^ Choniates, p. 7 ^ Angold (1984), p. 152 ^ Magdalino, pp. 207–208 ^ Bernard and Demoen, p. 21 ^ Haldon, p. 97 ^ Kinnamos, pp. 74–75 ^ Angold (1984), p. 159 ^ Kinnamos, pp. 75–76 ^ Angold (1984), pp. 153–154 ^ a b Choniates, pp. 12–13 ^ a b Runciman, pp. 212–213, 222–224 ^ Angold (1995), p. 75 ^ Necipoğlu, p. 133 ^ Angold (1995), p. 310 ^ Finlay, p. 81 ^ Loos, pp. 98–99 ^ Angold (1995), pp. 173–174 ^ Birkenmeier, pp. 86–87 ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, 70 ^ Angold (1084), p. 154-155 ^ Kinnamos, p. 16 ^ a b c Angold (1984), p. 153 ^ Angold (1984), p. 154 ^ Fine, pp. 235–236 ^ Note:The primary sources, Kinnamos and Choniates, give little detail about this campaign, no dates are specified, and what they do say differs considerably. The chronology presented here, 1127–1129, follows that of Angold and other scholars, Fine has the events taking place earlier, in 1125–1126. ^ a b Fine, p. 235 ^ Kinnamos, p. 18 ^ Angold, p. 154 ^ Choniates, pp. 11–12 ^ A. Urbansky, Byzantium and the Danube
Frontier, 46 ^ Holt, Lambton & Lewis 1995, p. 240. ^ Kinnamos, pp. 20–21 ^ Angold (1984), p. 155 ^ Choniates, p 19 ^ Choniates, pp. 20–21 ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, 82 ^ Angold (1984), p. 157 ^ Kinnamos, pp. 21–22 ^ J. Norwich, Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, 76 ^ Runciman, p. 309 ^ Runciman, p. 215 ^ Runciman, pp. 215–217 ^ Angold (1984), p. 156 ^ Choniates p.22 ^ J. Harris, Byzantium and The Crusades, p. 86 ^ Angold (1984), pp. 157 ^ Choniates, p. 23 ^ Magdalino, p. 41 ^ Two rather ambiguous Byzantine rhetorical allusions were the basis of this theory – all contemporary historical writing unanimously agrees on an accidental cause for the death of John II. ^ Choniates, pp. 24–26 ^ Angold (1984), pp. 157–158 ^ Magdalino, p. 195 ^ Birkenmeier, pp. 98–99 ^ Angold (1984), pp. 158–159 ^ a b Garland, Lynda (25 May 2007), Anna Dalassena, Mother of Alexius I Comnenus (1081–1118), De Imperatoribus Romanis (An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers)  ^ a b Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.  ^ a b c d Finlay, George (1854). History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires from 1057-1453. 2. William Blackwood & Sons. p. 16.  ^ Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 1143–1144. ISBN 0-19-504652-8.  ^ a b Lilie, Ralph-Johannes; Ludwig, Claudia; Zielke, Beate; Pratsch, Thomas, eds. (2013). " Alexios Charon (#20250)". Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit Online. Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Nach Vorarbeiten F. Winkelmanns erstellt (in German). De Gruyter. Retrieved 10 November 2014.  ^ Varzos, Konstantinos (1984). Η Γενεαλογία των Κομνηνών [The Genealogy of the Komnenoi] (PDF) (in Greek). A. Thessaloniki: Centre for Byzantine Studies, University of Thessaloniki. pp. 37–38.  ^ a b Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-19-504652-8. 

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ioannes II Komnenos.

John II Komnenos Komnenid dynasty Born: 13 September 1087 Died: 8 April 1143

Regnal titles

Preceded by Alexios I Byzantine Emperor 15 August 1118 –8 April 1143 with Alexios I (1092–1118) Alexios (1122–1142) Succeeded by Manuel I

v t e

Roman and Byzantine emperors

Principate 27 BC – 235 AD

Augustus Tiberius Caligula Claudius Nero Galba Otho Vitellius Vespasian Titus Domitian Nerva Trajan Hadrian Antoninus Pius Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius
and Lucius Verus Commodus Pertinax Didius Julianus (Pescennius Niger) (Clodius Albinus) Septimius Severus Caracalla
with Geta Macrinus
with Diadumenian Elagabalus Severus Alexander

Crisis 235–284

Maximinus Thrax Gordian I
Gordian I
and Gordian II Pupienus
and Balbinus Gordian III Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
with Philip II Decius
with Herennius Etruscus Hostilian Trebonianus Gallus
Trebonianus Gallus
with Volusianus Aemilianus Valerian Gallienus
with Saloninus and Valerian II Claudius
Gothicus Quintillus Aurelian Tacitus Florian Probus Carus Carinus
and Numerian

Gallic Emperors: Postumus (Laelianus) Marius Victorinus (Domitianus II) Tetricus I
Tetricus I
with Tetricus II
Tetricus II
as Caesar

Dominate 284–395

(whole empire) Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
(West) Diocletian
(East) and Maximian
(West) with Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) as Caesares Galerius
(East) and Constantius Chlorus
Constantius Chlorus
(West) with Severus (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
(East) and Severus (West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
(East) and Maxentius
(West) with Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Galerius
(East) and Licinius
I (West) with Constantine the Great (West) and Maximinus II (East) as Caesares Maxentius
(alone) Licinius
I (West) and Maximinus II (East) with Constantine the Great (Self-proclaimed Augustus) and Valerius Valens Licinius
I (East) and Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(West) with Licinius
II, Constantine II, and Crispus
as Caesares (Martinian) Constantine the Great
Constantine the Great
(whole empire) with son Crispus
as Caesar Constantine II Constans
I Magnentius
with Decentius as Caesar Constantius II
Constantius II
with Vetranio Julian Jovian Valentinian the Great Valens Gratian Valentinian II Magnus Maximus
Magnus Maximus
with Victor Theodosius the Great (Eugenius)

Western Empire 395–480

Honorius Constantine III with son Constans
II) Constantius III Joannes Valentinian III Petronius Maximus
Petronius Maximus
with Palladius Avitus Majorian Libius Severus Anthemius Olybrius Glycerius Julius Nepos Romulus Augustulus

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 395–1204

Arcadius Theodosius II Pulcheria Marcian Leo I the Thracian Leo II Zeno (first reign) Basiliscus
with son Marcus as co-emperor Zeno (second reign) Anastasius I Dicorus Justin I Justinian the Great Justin II Tiberius
II Constantine Maurice with son Theodosius as co-emperor Phocas Heraclius Constantine III Heraklonas Constans
II Constantine IV
Constantine IV
with brothers Heraclius
and Tiberius
and then Justinian II as co-emperors Justinian II
Justinian II
(first reign) Leontios Tiberios III Justinian II
Justinian II
(second reign) with son Tiberius
as co-emperor Philippikos Anastasios II Theodosius III Leo III the Isaurian Constantine V Artabasdos Leo IV the Khazar Constantine VI Irene Nikephoros I Staurakios Michael I Rangabe
Michael I Rangabe
with son Theophylact as co-emperor Leo V the Armenian
Leo V the Armenian
with Symbatios-Constantine as junior emperor Michael II
Michael II
the Amorian Theophilos Michael III Basil I
Basil I
the Macedonian Leo VI the Wise Alexander Constantine VII
Constantine VII
Porphyrogennetos Romanos I Lekapenos
Romanos I Lekapenos
with sons Christopher, Stephen and Constantine as junior co-emperors Romanos II Nikephoros II Phokas John I Tzimiskes Basil II Constantine VIII Zoë (first reign) and Romanos III Argyros Zoë (first reign) and Michael IV the Paphlagonian Michael V Kalaphates Zoë (second reign) with Theodora Zoë (second reign) and Constantine IX Monomachos Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos
(sole emperor) Theodora Michael VI Bringas Isaac I Komnenos Constantine X Doukas Romanos IV Diogenes Michael VII Doukas
Michael VII Doukas
with brothers Andronikos and Konstantios and son Constantine Nikephoros III Botaneiates Alexios I Komnenos John II Komnenos
with Alexios Komnenos
as co-emperor Manuel I Komnenos Alexios II Komnenos Andronikos I Komnenos Isaac II Angelos Alexios III Angelos Alexios IV Angelos Nicholas Kanabos (chosen by the Senate) Alexios V Doukas

Empire of Nicaea 1204–1261

Constantine Laskaris Theodore I Laskaris John III Doukas Vatatzes Theodore II Laskaris John IV Laskaris

Eastern/ Byzantine Empire 1261–1453

Michael VIII Palaiologos Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
with Michael IX Palaiologos
Michael IX Palaiologos
as co-emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos John V Palaiologos John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
with John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
and Matthew Kantakouzenos as co-emperors John V Palaiologos Andronikos IV Palaiologos John VII Palaiologos Andronikos V Palaiologos Manuel II Palaiologos John VIII Palaiologos Constantine XI Palaiologos

Italics indicates a co-emperor, while underlining indicates an usurper.

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 5725630 LCCN: n79072661 ISNI: 0000 0001 1589 3188 GND: 11871245