The realm of Nicaea to be a follower state come the byzantine Empire, or fairly a byzantine Empire in exile lasting from 1204 come 1261 CE. The realm of Nicaea was started in the consequences of the sacking of Constantinople throughout the fourth Crusade and the establishment there of the crusader-run Latin empire in 1204 CE and was rule by the Laskarid Dynasty. Once the forces of Michael VIII Palaiologos recaptured Constantinople in 1261 CE, the realm of Nicaea, an empire in exile no more, effectively ended up being the byzantine Empire as soon as again, until it at some point fell to the footrest Turks in 1453 CE.

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Birth of Fire & Blood

The sacking of the byzantine capital of Constantinople shattered the byzantine Empire. As the Latin crusaders and also their Venetian backers established themselves in Europe and in the Aegean islands, three Greek successor states rose up at the peripheries that the empire. The first, and furthest away, was the empire of Trebizond top top the southeastern edge of the black color Sea. Next was the Despotate the Epiros, in modern Albania and also northwestern Greece. Finally, there to be the empire of Nicaea, focused on the ancient city of Nicaea and also controlling northwestern Anatolia.

In addition to the maelstrom of new states to be the Bulgarians to the north and also the Turks to the east. War were dealt with frequently, partnerships were made and also broken simply as quickly, and also who was preeminent in the an ar was determined by an ever-changing game of thrones. Trebizond to be too far away from the center for the to it is in a major candidate to reunify Byzantium, and thus it to be the Latins, Epirotes, Nicaeans, and the Bulgarians who ended up being the chef contenders for Constantinople.

A refugees Empire

When it to be clear that Constantinople was lost to the 4th Crusade, Theodore Laskaris fled the city and headed east. Theodore was the son-in-law of byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos (r. 1195-1203 CE), which gave him a semblance of legitimacy and enabled him to rally pendant to his banner. Although he conveniently made himself grasp of the region around Nicaea, in no short component because the brand-new crusader Latin empire based in Constantinople was attacked and also the management slaughtered or caught by the Bulgarians under Kaloyan (r. 1196-1207 CE), the still had actually to complete with the empire of Trebizond and also his father-in-law Alexios III.

The rich & cultured Nicaea, suitable temporary capital, to be replete through palaces & churches & had remained in Byzantine hands for over 1,000 years.

Theodore beat David Megas Komnenos, brothers of the Trapezuntine Emperor Alexios ns Megas Komnenos (r. 1204-1222 CE), and shortly thereafter proclaimed himself Emperor Theodore ns Laskaris (r. 1204-1222 CE). However, Theodore might not convince the exiled Patriarch the Constantinople, john Kamateros, to come to Nicaea indigenous Bulgaria, for this reason he was not officially anointed emperor till 1208 CE once he had the new patriarch perform it.

Nicaea was perfect temporary funding for byzantium in exile. The wealthy and also cultured city had actually been the seat of two ecumenical councils, was replete through palaces and also churches, and had remained in Byzantine hands, through the exception of a brief Seljuk occupation at the finish of the 11th century, for over 1,000 years.

At the exact same time, Alexios III, that was still alive and also jealous the Theodore\"s new power, i was delegated the Turkish Seljuk Sultan Kaykhusraw ns (r. 1192-1196, 1205-1211 CE) to attack the empire of Nicaea. In ~ the fight of Antioch on the Meander in 1211 CE, Theodore defeated and killed Kaykhusraw. Alexios III was placed in captivity and also died later on that year. The brand-new Latin Emperor, Henry the Flanders (r. 1205-1216 CE), took benefit of Theodore\"s preoccupation through gaining regulate of the southern shore the the Sea that Marmara. However, Theodore then used David Megas Komnenos\" death to take manage of Trebizond\"s west territories. In 1214 CE, Theodore and also Henry signed the treaty of Nymphaion, which (briefly) developed peace between the Nicaean and also Latin Empires and also served as main recognition the the realm of Nicaea by the Latins, adhered to by Venice in 1220 CE.

Establishment of one Empire

Theodore\"s competent rule had kept the realm of Nicaea lively in the results of the fall of Constantinople, yet it would certainly be his followers that set Nicaea approximately reestablish the byzantine Empire. After ~ Theodore died in 1222 CE, he was prospered by his son-in-law, man III Doukas Vatatzes (r. 1222-1254 CE), who came to be the most crucial Nicaean emperor, dominating it for the majority for its existence. After ~ a brief sequence dispute, man took the offensive versus the Latin Empire, wresting its asian territories away and also even briefly capturing the crucial city that Adrianople in Europe.

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John III Doukas Vatatzes
Cplakidas (Public Domain)

John to be pushed earlier by the an effective Theodore Komnenos Doukas, Despot that Epiros (r. 1215-1230 CE), who had caught Thessalonica and now Adrianople, being asserted emperor in the former. It showed up that Theodore would be the one come recapture Constantinople indigenous the Latins, specifically as the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Asen II (r. 1218-1241 CE) menaced Nicaean location in Europe. But John reaped the benefits once Ivan\"s forces thrashed Theodore\"s militaries at the battle of Klokotnitsa ~ Theodore had actually invaded Bulgaria. Through the effective removal the Epiros as a challenger to gain back Byzantium, Greek really hopes turned to John and the realm of Nicaea.

Seeing one opportunity, man made an alliance through Ivan against the Latin Empire. The 2 took over virtually all territory external of Constantinople from the Latin Empire. However, Ivan observed that John and also not the dice Latin empire was the an ext dangerous enemy, and also he started to ago the Latin realm instead, maintaining it alive by a thread for now. After ~ Ivan\"s fatality in 1241 CE, man captured large swaths of former byzantine territory in Europe, consisting of the compensation of Thessalonica in 1242 CE and also most that Thrace and also Epiros. John\"s play off of Epiros, Bulgaria, and the Latin realm had worked. The Despotate of Epiros became John\"s vassal. With a stranglehold roughly Constantinople, John had positioned the realm of Nicaea to restore Byzantium.

New interior Outlooks & Further international Affairs

Due to originally only holding soil in Anatolia, the realm of Nicaea concentrated on that is eastern regions much much more than had actually the last Angeloi monarchs of the oriental Empire. Theodore and also John embarked on economic and also land monitoring reforms in Anatolia come improve agricultural productivity and generate more wealth for the empire. John encouraged agriculture and reduced taxes to an increase productivity. The Laskarids additionally continued the mechanism (pronoia) the leasing properties to private individuals in exchange for managing and protecting them. This all caused a much better cared for and protected Anatolia than had actually existed under the Angeloi or their predecessors the Komnenoi.

The realm of Nicaea likewise began come foster a sense of Greek identification rather than just Roman identity, prefer the oriental Empire had previously done. The Laskarids motivated education and philosophy in Nicaea and the city soon became renowned as a center of Hellenistic learning. It organized leading Greek scholars such together Nikephoros Blemmydes and also George Akropolites. Nicaean scholars started to talk about being Greek and Hellenism; this to be the rise of a Greek identity among the Greek populace, a trend that ongoing into the revived Byzantine Empire.

John was remembered as a saint, a successful & beloved leader who had set up the realm of Nicaea to take back Constantinople.

Perhaps John\"s biggest diplomatic feat to be concluding a marital relationship alliance through Frederick II, holy Roman Emperor (r. 1220-1250 CE) and also King that Sicily (r. 1198-1250 CE), the most powerful ruler in Europe. Both males were protest to the Papacy, which to be the source of the alliance. This day this alliance is identified with John\"s reign, and also the backing the the an effective Frederick raised the prestige of Nicaea in the eye of Europe. If the friendship lasted through Frederick\"s death in 1250 CE, relations between the realm of Nicaea and Sicily unraveled under Frederick\"s son and successor, Manfred (r. 1258-1266 CE).

John also made one alliance through the Seljuks and also the empire of Trebizond against the Mongols once they invaded the an ar in the 1230s and also 1240s CE. The Mongols crushed the Seljuks, and Trebizond quickly paid tribute, however the Mongols never advanced on Nicaean territory, maintaining the realm from almost guaranteed destruction. Once John passed away in 1254 CE, he to be remembered together a saint. A successful and beloved ruler, it to be he who had collection up the empire of Nicaea to take back Constantinople. It was only a inquiry of when.

Towards the Recapture of Constantinople

John was succeeded by his son, Theodore II Laskaris (r. 1254-1258 CE). Theodore was sickly yet was incredibly learned, having studied through the finest scholars of his age, Blemmydes and Akropolites. He instituted numerous reforms, among them raising the taxes to recruit soldiers and also using indigenous Greek troops instead of international mercenaries, as had been the custom due to the fact that at the very least the 11th century CE. He additionally defeated the Bulgarians in two campaigns and also won earlier the essential Adriatic port city the Dyrrachium with his marriage to the daughter of the Despot that Epiros. He also managed to keep the Mongols from attacking his empire.

Theodore passed away young in 1258 CE, leaving his son, the eight-year-old john IV Laskaris (r. 1258-1261 CE) together emperor. The an effective general Michael Palaiologos took advantage of this situation and made self co-emperor the next year as Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259-1281 CE). Michael crushed a powerful alliance that the Despotate that Epiros, the Latin lords the Greece, and also Manfred at the fight of Pelagonia in 1259 CE. Complying with the battle, Michael recaptured all Epirote lands exterior Epiros itself and also lands in southern Greece around the city of Mistras.


Michael next planned to take back Constantinople. That signed the contract of Nymphaeum through Genoa in 1261 CE, approving commercial exception to the Genoese in exchange for army support versus the Latin Empire. In reality, this was no necessary. Michael\"s general, Alexios Strategopoulos, to be patrolling near the city and, through the Latin Empire\"s army outside the the city on one more mission, Alexios snuck into the city and recaptured Constantinople.

Shortly thereafter, the resources officially readjusted to Constantinople and also the byzantine Empire to be restored. In the minds of the Nicaeans, however, they had constantly been Byzantines; this was simply the end of their long path to re-establishing us in Constantinople. With the catch of Constantinople then, the prestige of Nicaea instantly faded and also the so-called empire of Nicaea changed to being the oriental Empire.

Postlude to an Empire

After Strategopoulos captured Constantinople, Michael VIII gone into it come proclaim self Emperor that the Romans. The byzantine Empire to be restored, although just in a dilute shape. That only controlled the west edge of Anatolia, Thrace, most of northern Greece, and also parts of southern Greece. The revived Byzantine empire would go on to survive until 1453 CE, all the while being ruled through Michael\"s descendants, the Paleologai. Also though Michael is officially the critical emperor to ascendancy from Nicaea, that is usually considered that man IV is yes, really the critical Nicaean emperor. Man IV was left behind in Nicaea once Michael moved to Constantinople, and also Michael had actually John blinded later on that year. Man was only eleven years old. Prefer the realm of Nicaea itself, man was left behind, forgotten as a minor interlude to a revitalized empire.

Editorial ReviewThis short article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and also adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

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Angold, M. \"Byzantine ‘Nationalism’ and the Nicaean Empire.\" oriental and modern-day Greek Studies, 1 (1975), pp. 49-70.


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Michael holds degrees in background and close to Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the college of Chicago, where he prmarily studied oriental history. He likewise has a J.D. Native the university of Michigan law School.