Theodore II Laskaris
|Theodore II Doukas Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Β΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις
|Emperor of Nicaea
(Byzantine Emperor in exile)
Portrait of Theodore II from a 15th-century manuscript
|Died||18 August 1258|
|Place of death||Magnesia1|
|Predecessor||John III Doukas Vatatzes|
|Successor||John IV Laskaris|
|Consort to||Elena of Bulgaria|
|Father||John III Doukas Vatatzes|
Theodore II Doukas Laskaris was the only son of Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes and Eirene Laskarina, the daughter of Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Anna Angelina, a daughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina. Theodore was born in late 1221 or early 1222, reportedly on the very day his father ascended the throne.
Theodore II received a scholarly education by Nicephorus Blemmydes and remained devoted to science and art throughout his life. In contrast with earlier practice, Theodore II was not crowned co-emperor with his father, though he assisted in the government since c. 1241. On the death of John III on November 4, 1254, Theodore II was acclaimed emperor by the army and the court, but was crowned only after the appointment of a new patriarch, Arsenios Autoreianos, in 1255.
The succession of Theodore II was exploited by the Bulgarians, who invaded Thrace under the leadership of the young and inexperienced Michael Asen I of Bulgaria in 1255. In spite of his own scholarly predisposition, Theodore II immediately marched against the Bulgarians and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. During his second expedition in 1256, he managed to conclude a favorable peace with Bulgaria, which may have plunged the latter into a crisis of leadership. Theodore II followed up his victory against Bulgaria by expanding his control in the west, where he annexed Durazzo and Servia, effectively outflanking his rivals in Epirus.
Internally, Theodore II favored bureaucrats from the middle classes, instead of members of the great aristocratic families. This caused considerable opposition by the nobility to the Emperor and his chief minister, the megas domestikos George Muzalon. The conflict led to the exile of one of the leaders of the aristocratic faction, the future Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, who was accused of conspiring with the Seljuks of Rum. In the midst of this crisis, Theodore II's epileptic condition worsened, and the Emperor died on August 18, 1258, leaving George Mouzalon as the regent for his minor son John IV Laskaris.
- John IV Doukas Laskaris
- Irene Doukaina Laskarina, who married Constantine I of Bulgaria
- Maria Doukaina Laskarina, who married Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas of Epirus
Having taken the imperial throne and made the 11-year old John IV ineligible for the emperorship by blinding him, Michael VIII Palaiologos had Theodore's three other daughters married off to Italian and Bulgarian foreigners,2 so their descendants could not threaten his own children's claim to the imperial succession. These have been:
- Eudoxia Lascaris who married Pietro I Count of Ventimiglia and Tende
- Theodora, who married Mathieu de Mons, baron of Velligosi
- The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
Theodore II Laskaris
Laskarid dynastyBorn: unknown 1221 Died: 18 August 1258
John III Doukas Vatatzes
|Emperor of Nicaea
John IV Doukas Laskaris
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