Alexios IV Angelos

Alexios IV Angelos

Infobox Monarch
name =Alexius IV Angelus
title =Emperor of the Byzantine Empire

caption =
reign =1203 – 1204
coronation =
othertitles =
full name =Alexius IV Angelus
predecessor =Alexius III Angelus
successor =Nicolas Canabus
suc-type =
heir =
queen =
consort =
spouse 1 =
spouse 2 =
spouse 3 =
spouse 4 =
spouse 5 =
spouse 6 =
issue =
royal house =
dynasty =Angelus
royal anthem =
father =Isaac II Angelus
mother =Irene
date of birth =circa 1182
place of birth =
date of death =February 8, 1204
place of death =
date of burial =
place of burial =|

Alexios IV Angelos or Alexius IV Angelus (Greek: Αλέξιος Δ' Άγγελος) (c. 1182 – February 8, 1204) was Byzantine Emperor from August 1203 to January 1204. He was the son of emperor Isaac II Angelus and his first wife Irene. His paternal uncle was Emperor Alexius III Angelus.

Prince in exile

The young Alexios was imprisoned in 1195 when Alexios III overthrew Isaac II in a coup. In 1201, two Pisan merchants were employed to smuggle Alexius out of Constantinople to the Holy Roman Empire, where he took refuge with his brother-in-law Philip of Swabia [Philip was married to Irene Angelina, a sister of Alexios IV.] , King of Germany.

While there he met with Marquis Boniface of Montferrat, Philip's cousin, who had been chosen to lead the Fourth Crusade, but had temporarily left the Crusade during the siege of Zara to visit Philip. Boniface and Alexios discussed diverting the Crusade to Constantinople so that Alexios could be restored to his father's throne; in return, Alexios would give them 10,000 Byzantine soldiers to help fight in the Crusade, maintain 500 knights in the Holy Land, the service of the Byzantine navy (20 ships) in transporting the Crusader army to Egypt, as well as money to pay off the Crusaders' debt to the Republic of Venice with 200,000 silver marks. Additionally, he promised to bring the Greek Orthodox Church under the authority of the pope. Alexios accompanied Boniface back to the Crusader fleet, which had moved on to Corcyra, and the Venetians were in favour of the plan when they learned of it. In 1202 the fleet arrived at Constantinople. Alexios was paraded outside the walls, but the citizens were apathetic, as Alexios III, though a usurper and illegitimate in the eyes of the westerners, was an acceptable emperor for the Byzantine citizens.


On July 18, 1203 the Crusaders launched an assault on the city, and Alexios III immediately fled into Thrace. The next morning the Crusaders were surprised to find that the citizens had released Isaac II from prison and proclaimed him emperor, despite the fact that he had been blinded to make him ineligible to rule. The Crusaders could not accept this, and forced Isaac II to proclaim his son Alexios IV co-emperor on August 1.

Despite Alexios' grand promises, Isaac, the more experienced and practical of the two, knew that the Crusaders' debt could never be repaid from the imperial treasury. Alexios, however, had apparently not grasped how far the empire's financial resources had fallen during the previous fifty years. Alexios did manage to raise half the sum promised (100,000 silver marks), by appropriating treasures from the church and by confiscating the property of his enemies. He then attempted to defeat his uncle Alexios III, who remained in control of Thrace. The sack of some Thracian towns helped Alexios' situation a little, but meanwhile hostility between the restive Crusaders and the inhabitants of Constantinople was growing.

In December 1203 violence exploded between the Constantinopolitans and the Crusaders. Enraged mobs seized and brutally murdered any foreigner they could lay hands upon, and the Crusaders felt that Alexios had not fulfilled his promises to them. Alexios refused their demands, and is quoted as saying, "I will not do any more than I have done." While relations with the Crusaders were deteriorating, Alexios had become deeply unpopular with the Greek citizenry, and with his own father. Blinded and nearly powerless, Isaac II resented having to share the throne with his son; he spread rumors of Alexios' supposed sexual perversity, alleging he kept company with "depraved men". The chronicler Nicetas Choniates dismissed Alexios as "childish" and criticized his familiarity with the Crusaders and his lavish lifestyle. At the beginning of January 1204, Alexios IV retaliates against the Crusaders by setting fire to 17 ships and sending it against the Venetian fleet, but the attempt fails.

Deposition and death

At the end of January 1204, the populace of Constantinople rebelled and tried to proclaim a rival emperor in Hagia Sophia. Alexios IV attempted to reach a reconciliation with the Crusaders, entrusting the anti-western courtier Alexios Doukas "Murzuphlus" with a mission to gain Crusader support. However, Alexios Doukas imprisoned both Alexios IV and his father on the night of January 27-28 1204. Isaac II died soon afterwards, possibly of old age or from poison, and Alexios IV was strangled on February 8. Alexios Doukas was proclaimed emperor as Alexios V. During Alexios IV's brief reign, the empire lost its territories along the Black Sea coast to the Empire of Trebizond.



* Angold, Michael, "The Fourth Crusade" (London and New York, 2004).
* Brand, C.M., 'A Byzantine Plan for the Fourth Crusade', "Speculum", 43 (1968), pp. 462-75.
* Harris, Jonathan, "Byzantium and the Crusades" (London and New York, 2003).
* "The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium", Oxford University Press, 1991.
* Phillips, Jonathan, "The Fourth Crusade And The Sack Of Constantinople" (London and New York, 2004).
*cite encyclopedia | last = Plate | first = William | authorlink = | title = Alexios IV Angelos | editor = William Smith | encyclopedia = Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology | volume = 1 | pages = 131 | publisher = Little, Brown and Company | location = Boston | year = 1867 | url =;cc=moa;idno=acl3129.0001.001;q1=demosthenes;size=l;frm=frameset;seq=146;page=root;view=image

s-ttl|title=Byzantine Emperor|years=1203–1204
regent1=Isaac II Angelus

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Alexios III Angelos — (Greek: Αλέξιος Γ Άγγελος) (c. 1153 ndash; 1211) was Byzantine emperor from 1195 to 1203. Early lifeAlexios III Angelos was the second son of Andronicos Angelos and Euphrosyne Castamonitissa. Andronicus was himself a son of Theodora Comnene, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Alexios III. Angelos — Kaiser Alexius III. mit seiner Gattin Kaiserin Euphrosyne Alexios III. Angelos (griechisch Ἀλέξιος Γ Ἄγγελος; † nach 1210 in Nicäa) war byzantinischer Kaiser von 1195 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alexios III Angelos —    Emperor (q.v.) from 1195 1203 who came to the throne by blinding and imprisoning his brother Isaac Angelos II (q.v.). Weak and ineffectual at a time when the empire was disintegrating, Alexios was threatened by Serbia, Bulgaria (qq.v.), and by …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Alexios IV Angelos —    Emperor (q.v.) from 1203 1204, who conspired with the Fourth Crusade (q.v.). He was the son of deposed emperor Isaac Angelos II (q.v.). Alexios escaped to the West, where the leadership of the Fourth Crusade took him to Constantinople (q.v.)… …   Historical dictionary of Byzantium

  • Alexios V Doukas — Αλέξιος Ε’ Δούκας Emperor of the Byzantine Empire Alexios V, from an illuminated manuscript Reign 1204 …   Wikipedia

  • Alexios IV. (Byzanz) — Alexios IV. Angelos Alexios IV. Angelos (griechisch Ἀλέξιος Δ Ἄγγελος, * 1182; † 28. Januar 1204) war byzantinischer Kaiser vom 1. August 1203 bis zum 25. Januar 1204, als er für abgesetzt erklärt wurde. Leben Alexios Angelos war der Sohn …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alexios III. (Byzanz) — Alexios III. Angelos (griechisch Ἀλέξιος Γ Ἄγγελος; † nach 1210 in Nicäa) war ein byzantinischer Kaiser von 1195 bis 1203. Er war der zweite Sohn des Andronikos Angelos, eines Neffen des Kaisers Alexios II. Aspron Trachy Münze in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alexios Angelos — might refer to: * Alexios III Angelos, Byzantine emperor, died 1211 * Alexios IV Angelos, Byzantine emperor, died 1204 …   Wikipedia

  • Angelos — The Angelos family (pl. Angeloi, Greek: Ἄγγελος, fem. Άγγελίνα) was a noble Byzantine lineage which gave rise to three Byzantine emperors from 1185 to 1204. From 13th to 15th century, a stirp (branch) of the family ruled Epiros, Thessaly and… …   Wikipedia

  • Alexios I Komnenos — Infobox Monarch name =Alexios I Komnenos title =Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire reign =4 April, 1081 – 15 August, 1118 coronation =4 April, 1081 predecessor =Nicephorus III Botaneiates successor =John II Comnenus spouse 1 =Irene Ducaena issue …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”