John II (Byzantium)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John II and Empress Irene ( mosaic in Hagia Sophia )

John II Komnenos ( Middle Greek Ἰωάννης Βʹ Κομνηνός , born September 13, 1087 in Constantinople ; † April 8, 1143 in the Taurus Mountains ) was Byzantine emperor from 1118 to 1143 .


John II comes from the House of the Comnenes, the longest ruling Byzantine ruling family. He was the eldest son of Emperor Alexios I with his wife Irene Dukaina and is also known as Kaloioannes (the beautiful John).


The beginning of his reign was overshadowed by an intrigue by his sister, Anna Komnena , who wanted to secure the throne for her husband Nikephoros Bryennios . However, Johannes was able to assert himself relatively easily and rewarded his helpers by assigning several titular posts to them. He transferred the command of the army to his youth companion Johannes Axuch .

Because of his gentle and just government, he was called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius . Through his personal role model, he brought about a significant improvement in the morals of the time, above all he devoted his time to the restoration of the Byzantine Empire to its earlier extent, before the catastrophe in the Battle of Mantzikert in 1071 ( Restauratio imperii ).

His victories against the invading Pechenegs (1122), Hungarians and rebellious Serbs secured peace in the European part of the Byzantine Empire and finally eliminated the Pechenegist threat, so that he could devote himself to the reconquest of the lost territories in Asia. His successes against the Seljuks (1135) could partially destroy their progress since the Battle of Mantzikert in Asia Minor and thus secure the Byzantine eastern border. His attempts to establish Byzantine suzerainty over the small Armenian empire in Cilicia (1137) and the Crusader states , namely the principality of Antioch (also 1137) and the county of Edessa , greatly improved the reputation of his empire. He even tried to advance against the Arabs in Syria , but his surprise attack on Aleppo failed because the residents were warned. He also had to give up the siege of Shaizar after days of bombardment, which, however, turned out to be fortunate because his Frankish vassals showed no energy and an army of Zengis , the Atabeg of Mosul , marched against him.

The rise of the Normans in Sicily under their King Roger II brought John to come to terms with the German kings Lothar III. and Konrad III. in the Treaty of Thessaloniki and to support them financially.

He suffered his only serious setback against the Republic of Venice , on whose maritime power he was dependent after the collapse of the Byzantine fleet in the 11th century. His efforts to curtail their extensive privileges within the empire, which in the long term could destroy its economic foundations, ended in a humiliating return to the status quo after a number of Byzantine ports of Venice were looted. However, Johannes operated a fairly successful financial policy.

When hunting wild boar in Taurus he retired with an arrow wound, a blood poisoning, from which he died. But he was still able to arrange his successor and installed his fourth son, Manuel I Komnenos, as emperor. His older sons Alexios and Andronikos had died earlier, but Isaac was passed over in the succession to the throne.

Marriage and children

Emperor Johannes II. Komnenos married Piroska of Hungary (* 1085/90; † 13 August 1134) in 1104/05 , who took the name Eirene as Empress and is venerated as Holy Eirene in the Greek Orthodox Church. She was a daughter of the Hungarian King Ladislaus I the Holy .

There were eight children from this marriage:

⚭ 1.) 1122 Dobrodjeja (Eupraxia) Mstislawna of Kiev († 1136), daughter of Mstislaw I , Grand Duke of Kiev, Prince of Novgorod
⚭ 2.) Kata (Eirene) of Georgia, daughter of David IV. , King of Georgia ( Bagratids )
  • Maria Komnene (February 1106; † 1143/55);
Johannes Roger Dalassenos , "Kaisar", 1143 pretender to the throne, 1152 Dux von Strumitza, † as a widower and monk
⚭ around 1124 Eirene Aineiadissa († 1150/51), went to the monastery of Pantokratoros in Constantinople as a nun in 1144
  • Anna Komnene (* around 1100),
⚭ 1125 Stephanos Kontostephanos (X 1149 in Corfu), "Panhypersebastos", Megas Dux
⚭ 1.) 1134 Theodora Kamaterina († 1144), daughter of Gregorios Kamateros and Eirene Dukaina
⚭ 2.) 1146 Eirene Diplosynadene
  • Theodora Komnene, (* around 1116; † as a widow and nun May 12, 1157)
⚭ Manuel Anemas († 1146/47), "Panhyperprotosebastohypertatos"
  • Eudokia Komnene (* 1119),
Theodoros Batatzes († before 1166), general, "Pansebastohypertatos", Dux of Cilicia
  • Manuel I. Komnenus (born November 28, 1118; † September 24, 1180), 1143–1180 Emperor of Byzantium, 1122 "Sebastokrator"
⚭ 1.) 1146 Bertha von Sulzbach (coronation name Eirene , * around 1110, † 1160), sister-in-law of the Roman-German King Konrad III. , Daughter of Count Berengar I von Sulzbach
⚭ 2.) 1161 Maria of Antioch (* 1145; † August 27, 1183), 1180–1182 regent of the Byzantine Empire, daughter of Raymond of Poitiers , prince of Antioch


  • Κωνσταντίνος Βαρζός: Η Γενεαλογία των Κομνηνών (= Βυζαντινά Κείμενα και Μελέται. T. 20α, ZDB -ID 420491-8 ). Τόμος Α '. Κέντρο Βυζαντινών Ερευνών - ΑΠΘ, Θεσσαλονίκη 1984, pp. 203–228 No. 34, digitized version (PDF; 264 MB) .
  • 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 , pp. 356-360.

Web links

Commons : John II  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Detlev Schwennicke , European Family Tables , New Series, Volume II. Plate 175 a. 177
  2. Detlev Schwennicke, European Family Tables, New Series, Volume II. Plate 154
predecessor Office successor
Alexios I. Emperor of Byzantium
Manuel I.