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(kŏmnē`nəs), family name of several Byzantine emperors—Isaac IIsaac I
(Isaac Comnenus) , c.1005–1061, Byzantine emperor (1057–59), first of the Comnenus dynasty. Proclaimed emperor by the army, he deposed Michael VI, who had succeeded Theodora (reigned 1055–56), and sent him into a monastery.
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, Alexius IAlexius I
(Alexius Comnenus) , 1048–1118, Byzantine emperor (1081–1118). Under the successors of his uncle, Isaac I, the empire had fallen prey to anarchy and foreign invasions.
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, John IIJohn II
(John Comnenus) , 1088–1143, Byzantine emperor (1118–43), son and successor of Alexius I. He was crowned despite the intrigues of his sister, Anna Comnena, and of his mother, Irene.
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, Manuel IManuel I
(Manuel Comnenus) , c.1120–1180, Byzantine emperor (1143–80), son and successor of John II. He began his reign with a war against the Seljuk Turks, the subjugation of Raymond of Antioch, and an alliance with the German king, Conrad III, against Roger of
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, Alexius IIAlexius II
(Alexius Comnenus), 1168–83, Byzantine emperor (1180–83), son and successor of Manuel I. His mother, Mary of Antioch, who was regent for him, alienated the population by favoring the Latin element in Constantinople.
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, and Andronicus IAndronicus I
(Andronicus Comnenus) , 1120?–1185, Byzantine emperor (1183–85), nephew of John II. He acceded to the throne by strangling his cousin Alexius II. Though notorious in his younger years for his scandalous morals, he was a competent, if cruel, ruler.
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—who reigned in the 11th and 12th cent., and of the historian, Princess Anna ComnenaAnna Comnena
, b. 1083, d. after 1148, Byzantine princess and historian; daughter of Emperor Alexius I. She plotted, during and after her father's reign, against her brother, John II, in favor of her husband, Nicephorus Bryennius, whom she wished to rule as emperor.
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. Though unable to turn back the forces that contributed to the eventual downfall of the Byzantine EmpireByzantine Empire,
successor state to the Roman Empire (see under Rome), also called Eastern Empire and East Roman Empire. It was named after Byzantium, which Emperor Constantine I rebuilt (A.D. 330) as Constantinople and made the capital of the entire Roman Empire.
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, they were generally able rulers. Hellenism was revived during the family's reign, and contact with the West was increased. A branch of the family founded the empire of Trebizond (see Trebizond, empire ofTrebizond, empire of,
1204–1461. When the army of the Fourth Crusade overthrew (1204) the Byzantine Empire and established the Latin Empire of Constantinople, several Greek successor states sprang up.
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) after the fall of Constantinople in 1204.



(Komnēnoí), a dynasty of Byzantine emperors (1081–1185).

The Comnenus family came from Komne (Thrace?). The dynasty included five rulers: Alexius I (ruled 1081–1118), John II (1118–43), Manuel I (1143–80), Alexius II (1180–83), and Andronicus I (1183–85).

Alexius I was from the provincial military aristocracy, which was his main support in his seizure of power (although he is considered the founder of the dynasty, this role belongs in all but name to his uncle Isaac I, who rose through a revolt of the aristocracy of Asia Minor to occupy the throne in 1057, renouncing it in 1059 in favor of Constantine X of the Ducas family). During the reign of Alexius II, Mary of Antioch (the widow of Manuel I, John IPs younger son) was the young emperor’s regent until 1182, the actual ruler being Alexius Comnenus, nephew of Manuel. Andronicus I was the cousin of Manuel I. He seized power in 1182, ruling until 1183 as Alexius IPs regent. He then had Alexius II killed and was himself subsequently overthrown and executed.

The Comneni succeeded in strengthening the state and extending the borders to the east and northwest. For support they relied on the landowning and military aristocracy (which was linked by blood and marriage ties into a single “clan” and was tending toward becoming a closed social group) and in part on the provincial towns. Their foreign policy was distinguished by a system of alliances, cemented by dynastic marriages, with several Western European states and by the establishment of sovereignty over neighboring states (Hungary, Serbia, the kingdom of Antioch). The Comneni extended broad privileges on Byzantine territory to the Italian republics of Venice and Genoa.

The descendants of Andronicus I, who adopted the name Great Comneni, ruled in the Trapezond Empire from 1204 to 1461.


Kazhdan, A. P. “Zagadka Komninov.” In the collection Vizantiiskii vremennik, vol. 25. Moscow, 1964.


References in periodicals archive ?
Moreover, under the Comneni the highest positions in the government and army were monopolized by members or relatives of the Comnenus family itself.
She married the leader of Bryennium, Nicephorus Bryennius (1097), and joined her mother, the empress Irene, in a vain effort to persuade her father, during his last illness, to disinherit his son, John II Comnenus, in favor of Nicephorus.
John Vatatzes and John Comnenus questions of Style and Detail in Byzantine Numismatics", Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, III, 4 (Cambridge-Massachusetts, 1960), pp.
The capture of the Frankish stronghold of Edessa by the Muslim ruler Zengi and the deaths of the capable Byzantine emperor, John Comnenus, and Fulk of Anjou, the king of Jerusalem, left the Christian position in the Holy Land by the 1140s dangerously exposed.
Can the reader profit from a sentence such as: `What would Alexius Comnenus have done or his son John II in the place of John V Paleologus?
Urban II had wanted his great expedition to aid the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in his struggle with the Turks who had seized Asia Minor, to rescue the Christians of the East from their captivity under Islam and to liberate Jerusalem.
The Emperor Alexius I Comnenus struck a secret deal with the ambassador, 'buying' the fortress of Sinope from him.
The impetus behind the First Crusade centers upon an appeal for assistance by the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), who "had stabilized [his] empire and was keen to take military advantage of the chaos in the Islamic lands.
It was also a place of refuge for Cypriot king Isaac Comnenus who escaped when the British king Richard the Lion Heart defeated him in a battle outside Limassol.
Cameron focuses on Byzantium and mainly on the elite circles of its capital, Constantinople in the long 12th century: the Comnenian period, from the seizure of the throne by Alexius I Comnenus in 1081 to the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204.