Isaac II

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Electron coin, Isaac II. Angelus

Isaac II Angelos ( Middle Greek Ἰσαάκιος Βʹ Ἄγγελος , * 1155 ; † January 28, 1204 in Constantinople ) was Byzantine emperor from 1185 to 1195 as successor to Andronikos I and again from 1203 to 1204.


Issak II was a son of the imperial general Andronikos Dukas Angelos († December 1185), a son of Admiral Konstantin Angelos and son-in-law of Emperor Alexios I , his mother was Euphrosyne († 1195), daughter or niece of Theodoros Kastamonnites.

Isaac II began his rule after Andronikos I was assassinated in 1185 after a decisive victory over the Sicilian Normans who had invaded the Byzantine Empire , but was otherwise less successful. The attempt to recapture Cyprus from the rebellious nobleman Isaac Komnenos failed due to the interference of the Normans. At the same time, the Bulgarians and Wallachians rose and founded the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1186 . In 1187 the general Alexios Branas , who had been sent against the rebels after the replacement of Johannes Kantakuzenos , turned against the emperor and tried to occupy Constantinople , but was defeated and killed. Next, the east demanded the emperor's attention, where various pretenders to the throne rose and fell. In 1189, Friedrich Barbarossa tried to lead his troops through the Byzantine Empire on the Third Crusade and received permission. He had already crossed the border when Isaac, who had meanwhile come to an understanding with Saladin , began to put obstacles in his way and could only be forced to fulfill his promise by force of arms. His daughter Irene was promised to Philipp von Schwaben , who was in Germany .

For the next five years Isaac was engaged in new Wallachian uprisings , against which he waged several campaigns. During one of these campaigns his cousin Constantine proclaimed himself counter-emperor in Philippopel in 1193 , but was taken prisoner by his own people; Isaac II blinded him . In 1195, his brother Alexios took advantage of the emperor's hunting trip and his absence from the camp to proclaim himself emperor, and was also recognized by the soldiers . Isaac was blinded and imprisoned in Anemas prison.

Eight years later, on July 18, 1203, he was taken from his dungeon for six months and re-enthroned after the Fourth Crusade reached the city. However, since he was weakened both physically and mentally from captivity, his son Alexios IV took over the actual government. Isaak and Alexios were overthrown on January 25, 1204 because of their yielding to the Crusaders by an uprising of General Alexios Murtzouphlos , who ascended the throne a few days later. Isaac died on January 28 under unknown circumstances, probably he was poisoned.

Isaac II was one of the weakest and most brutal princes on the Byzantine throne. Surrounded by slaves, mistresses, and flatterers, he allowed the empire to be ruled by minions while he spent the money squeezed from the provinces on buildings and gifts to the church. The consequence of this was the progressive decline of the empire through the purchase of offices and tax usury.

Marriages and offspring

With his wife Irene Komnene, daughter of Emperor Andronikos I , he had the following children:

Isaak married the ten-year-old Margaret of Hungary (* 1175, † after 1223), daughter of Béla III in 1185 . (Hungary) and his wife Agnes de Châtillon . They had the following children:


  • Jan Louis van Dieten: Isaak II. Angelos , in: Biographical Lexicon for the History of Southeast Europe . Vol. 2. Munich 1976, pp. 238-240
  • Alexios G. Savvides, Benjamin Hendrickx (Eds.): Encyclopaedic Prosopographical Lexicon of Byzantine History and Civilization . Vol. 3: Faber Felix - Juwayni, Al- . Brepols Publishers, Turnhout 2012, ISBN 978-2-503-53243-1 , p. 330.
predecessor Office successor
Andronikos I. Emperor of Byzantium
Alexios III
Alexios III Emperor of Byzantium
Alexios IV