Rainer von Montferrat

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Rainer von Montferrat (Italian: Ranieri di Monferrato ; * around 1162; † 1183 ) was a member of the Margrave family of Montferrat ( Aleramiden ) in the 12th century.

He was the youngest son of the Piedmontese Margrave Wilhelm V of Montferrat († 1191) and Judith, a daughter of Margrave Leopold III. of Austria . His older brothers were Wilhelm Langschwert , Konrad and Bonifatius , who also achieved historical importance.


Rainer moved to the court of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos in Constantinople and was married to the emperor's daughter Maria "Porphyrogenita" Komnena in spring 1180 . At the same time he accepted the Greek Orthodox denomination and the name Johannes , and his father-in-law also gave him the title of Caesar . This naturalization of Rainer von Montferrat into the Byzantine nobility took place in the context of a general penetration of the Byzantine court by Latin-Western influences. The second wife of the emperor Maria (Xene) came from the Latin crusader state Antioch , both son Alexios II was married to a daughter of the king of France.

Emperor Manuel I died in the autumn of 1180, followed by Alexios II, who was still a minor and for whom the dowager empress and her lover Alexios Komnenos took over the reign. In the spring of 1181, Rainer and his wife attempted a coup by planning the assassination of the regent and the disempowerment of the empress widow with some loyal followers, including Manuel's illegitimate son Alexios Komnenos and the general Andronikos Lampardas , in order to take over the government themselves. However, the conspiracy was uncovered prematurely and Rainer and Maria "Porphyrogenita" withdrew with the Patriarch Theodosios I to the Hagia Sophia , where they entrenched themselves with Georgian and Italian mercenaries. After two months of siege, they gave up the fight and were granted amnesty. Nevertheless, Rainer and his wife continued their intrigues against the regent couple.

The situation changed suddenly in 1182, when the population of Constantinople and the high Byzantine nobility rose up against the influence of the Latins at court. This Byzantine reaction gathered around Andronikos Komnenos , another member of the imperial family, who moved into Constantinople in the spring of 1182, had almost all Latins killed in a massacre and then appointed himself regent of the emperor. In the course of 1183 Andronikos completed his seizure of power by murdering Emperor Alexios II, his mother Maria (Xene), their lover Alexios Komnenos, as well as Rainer von Montferrat and Maria "Porphyrogenita".


After Constantinople was conquered by the crusaders of the fourth crusade in 1204 and a Latin empire was established, the crusade leader Bonifatius von Montferrat rose to be lord of the kingdom of Thessaloniki . He felt legitimized to take this step because his younger brother Rainer had already been entrusted with this "kingdom" by the former Byzantine emperor. Much more likely, however, Rainer would only have received pronoia from the emperor, i.e. his basic financial support through the taxes to be paid by the city.


  • Steven Runciman : Thessalonica and the Montferrat inheritance , in: Gregorios ho Palamas 42 (1959), pp. 27-34

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