Person:Alexios I of Byzantium (1)

Alexios I of Byzantium
d.15 Aug 1118
Facts and Events
Name Alexios I of Byzantium
Gender Male
Birth? 1048
Death? 15 Aug 1118

Alexios I Komnenos or Alexius I Comnenus (having lived 1048 - August 15, 1118), was Byzantine emperor (1081-1118), was the son of John Komnenos and Anna Dalassena. The military, financial and territorial recovery of the Byzantine Empire known as Komnenian restoration began in his reign.

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Alexios' father declined the throne on the abdication of Isaac, who was accordingly succeeded by four emperors of other families between 1059 and 1081. Under one of these emperors, Romanos IV Diogenes (1067-1071), he served with distinction against the Seljuk Turks. Under Michael VII Doukas Parapinakes (1071-1078) and Nikephoros III Botaneiates (1078-1081) he was also employed, along with his elder brother Isaac, against rebels in Asia Minor, Thrace and in Epirus.

Alexios' mother wielded great influence during his reign and he is described by his daughter, the historian Anna Comnena, as running next to the imperial chariot that she drove. In 1074 the rebel mercenaries in Asia Minor were successfully subdued and in 1078 he was appointed commander of the field army in the West by Nikephoros III. In this capacity Alexios defeated the rebellions of two successive governors of Dyrrhachium, Nicephorus Bryennios (whose son or grandson later married Alexios' daughter Anna), and Nicephorus Basilakes. Alexios was ordered to march against his brother-in-law Nikephoros Melissenos in Asia Minor, but refused to fight his kinsman. This did not, however, lead to a demotion, as Alexios was needed to counter the expected Norman invasion led by Robert Guiscard near Dyrrhachium.

While the Byzantine troops were assembling for the expedition, Alexios was approached by the Doukas faction at court, who convinced him to join a conspiracy against Nikephoros III. Alexios was duly proclaimed emperor by his troops and marched on Constantinople. Bribing the western mercenaries guarding the city, the rebels entered Constantinople in triumph, meeting little resistance on April 1, 1081. Nikephoros III was forced to abdicate and retire to a monastery, and Patriarch Kosmas I crowned Alexios I emperor on April 4.

By that time Alexios was the lover of the Empress Maria of Alania, the daughter of King Bagrat IV of Georgia who had been successively married to Michael VII Doukas and his successor Nikephoros III Botaneiates, and was renowned for her beauty. Alexios and Maria lived almost openly together at the Palace of Mangana. However, Alexios did not marry the empress. His mother consolidated the Doukas family connection by arranging the Emperor's marriage to Irene Doukaina, granddaughter of the Caesar John Doukas, the uncle of Michael VII. As a measure intended to keep the support of the Doukai, Alexios restored Constantine Doukas, the young son of Michael VII and Maria, as co-emperor and a little later betrothed him to his own first-born daughter Anna, who moved into the Mangana Palace with her husband and his mother.

However, this situation changed drastically when Alexios' first son John II Komnenos was born in 1087: Anna's engagement to Constantine was dissolved and she was moved to the main Palace to live with her mother and grandmother. Alexios became estranged from Maria, who was stripped of her imperial title and retired to a monastery, and Constantine Doukas was deprived of his status as co-emperor. Nevertheless he remained in good relations with the imperial family and succumbed to his weak constitution soon afterwards