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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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In the 11th century, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus made the first recorded reference to a distinct area of land known as Albania and to its people.
The ban on women originated some time between the 10th and 12th centuries, with historians telling us that it was the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus who banned the female of all species.
Taqiyah was used in the 15th century AD by a conqueror originating from a Bysantine aristocracy - the Comneni of Italian origin (from Comnenus) - who took the Prophet Muhammad's mantle, took Constantinople, proclaimed himself caliph - as Muhammad-II The Conqueror - and built-up the Ottoman Empire further, using Anatolia's Islamic Osmanli Tribe (founded by Osman - in Arabic 'Uthman; in the West Ottoman).
Anna Comnena, the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus (r.
The film never makes any mention of the Byzantine Empire, which is ironic as it was the Byzantine Empire that made the Crusades possible in the first place when Emperor Alexius Comnenus invited the Pope to send an army to help him in the East.
The Third Crusade is prelude to the main event; the seizure of Cyprus from the usurper, Isaac Comnenus, seems to be a prefiguring to the conquest of Constantinople.
In fact, it was the Turkish threat that prompted Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I to appeal to Rome for military help, thus prompting the Crusades.
Emperor Alexios Comnenus I, founder of the Comnenian dynasty, nevertheless appealed to the Pope for aid against the Turks and Western Europe responded with the First Crusade (1096-1099).
The anonymous The Unfortunate Usurper (1663), probably written in the early 1640s and later revised, was one of three plays published in 1663-64 using the life of the tyrannical, twelfth-century Byzantine emperor Andronicus Comnenus to satirize Puritan politics.(53) The London Stage contains no record of performance or publication for The Unfortunate Usurper.
It began in 1165, when one of the most talented and erudite theologians of the Armenian church had a serious conversation with Duke Alexis, a representative of the Byzantine emperor Manuel Comnenus (1143-80).
The chrysobull, dated 1218, was drawn for Theodore Comnenus Doukas, ruler of Epirus.