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Latin Rulers of Constantinople

The Capture of Constantinople in 1204, oil painting by Jacopo Tintoretto (1519 - 31 May 1594), completed AD 1580, public domain via Wikimendia Commons.

Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, had conquered Jerusalem in AD 1187. Pope Innocent III launched the Fourth Crusade in AD 1202 with the goal of reclaiming Jerusalem from Saladin. Crusaders first Sacked the Christian city of Zara to pay for their fleet - this got them chastised and excommunicated by the Pope. Then they made a deal with the exiled Byzantine prince, Alexios IV Angelos, son of former emperor Isaac II Angelos, to put him on the throne and depose his brother, the current emperor, Alexios III Angelos (r. 1195-1203 CE). Unprepared for the siege by the crusaders, Alexios III fled the city on the 17th of July AD 1203 and the crusaders put Isaac II and Alexios IV on the throne.

A usurper, Alexios V Doukas, "Mourtzouphlos" seized the throne after executing Isaac and Alexios III in January AD 1204 promising the fight off the crusaders.

The crusaders decided to take the city. An initial assault on Constantinople failed on Friday, 9 April 1204. On Monday, 12 April, the crusaders gained some towers along the sea walls and Byzantine morale failed. Alexios V Doukas "Mourtzouphlos" fled the city and the crusaders took the city.

"The city was put to the sack. Terrible things happened. The accumulated treasure of nearly 1,000 years was seized and dispersed. Among the Byzantines there was complete disorientation. It was a ‘cosmic cataclysm'"." There was almost no sympathy for the Constantinopolitan élite which had ruled the Empire increasingly badly. -Michael Angold, "The Byzantine Empire, 1025 1204 A Political History", Second Edition, Longmen, 1997, p.327

This is the context for this coin issued some time AD 1204-1261 under the Latin Rulers of Constantinople established at the end of the Fourth Crusade with the capture of Constantinople.

The divisions of the Byzantine emperor after the Fourth Crusade (~AD 1214), Map by Nicholas Eynaud, 14 November 2015, under CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Nicean Empire

While Constantinople was ruled by the Latins, the Byzantine rule continues under Theodore I Laskaris (reign 1205–1221), the first emperor of The Nicean Empire established as teh successor of the Byzantine Empire after the conquest of Constantinople. This coin from Theodore's chosen successor, John III.

Empire of Nicea, John III, Ducas-Vatatzes, 1222-1254, AV hyperpyron, Magnesia

Obv: Christ enthroned facing, raising right hand in benediction, holding Gospels in left

Rev: John standing facing, holding labarum in right hand, akakia in left, being crowned by the Virgin

Ref: Hendy pl. 31, 13-15

The Byzantine empire returned to Constantinople under emperor Michael VIII on 25 July 1261.

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