Andronikos I Komnenos
- Emperor (q.v.) from 1183-1185, whose reign has remained controversial. He was a fascinating, complex, and unscrupulous personality, and a cousin and rival to Manuel I (q.v.), from whose suspicions he fled. He spent most of Manuel's reign seeking refuge in the courts of Muslim and Russian princes. Finally pardoned, Andronikos became governor of Pontos, on the shores of the Black Sea (q.v.), in 1180, the same year Manuel died. The pro-Latin regency for Manuel's son Alexios II (q.v.), headed by Manuel's wife Maria of Antioch (q.v.), proved unpopular and Andronikos saw his chance. Styling himself the protector of the young Alexios II, he marched on Constantinople (q.v.) in 1182, which provoked a vicious massacre of Latins there. Andronikos forced young Alexios II to sign his mother's death warrant, and he was crowned co-emperor with the boy in September 1183. Two months later he had Alexios II strangled and married his widow, Agnes-Anna of France, who was just 13 (Andronikos was then about 65). His ruth-lessness now turned against corrupt tax collectors in the provinces, and against those who plundered wrecked ships. This gained him popular acclaim, but a vendetta against the landed aristocracy and the provincial towns, which supported his immediate predecessors, created turmoil. Soon his popularity faded. His dependence on Venetian (q.v.) naval power, was one reason. Cyprus (q.v.) was lost to Isaac Komnenos (q.v.), Hungarians and Serbs (qq.v.) invaded Byzantine territory, and the Normans (q.v.) captured Dyrrachion and Thessalonike (qq.v.). When the Normans began to advance on Constantinople (q.v.) a popular revolution overthrew Andronikos. He was tortured to death by a mob in the streets of the capital.
Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . John H. Rosser .
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