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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



In Byzantium:

Manuel I Comnenus. Born 1123 (?) in Constantinople; died there Sept. 24, 1180. Emperor from 1143.

Manuel I drew his support from the Comnenus clan as well as from the provincial petty and middle feudal lords and the provincial cities. Manuel sought to consolidate feudal landownership; in accordance with the decrees of 1158 and 1170 land could be obtained only by those of senatorial rank or by members of the stratiotai (military) class. He attracted foreign troops into his service, including Turks. In 1158 he forbade the churches and monasteries to expand their holdings. Manuel freed the empire from the power of the Venetian merchants (mass arrests of Venetian merchants were carried out in March 1171); he entered into an alliance directed against Venice with Genoa (1169) and Pisa (1170). Manuel unsuccessfully attempted to restore Byzantine domination in Italy and Egypt. He supported lurii Dolgorukii in his struggle for the Kievan throne. He conducted successful wars that led to the recognition by Hungary (1164) and Serbia (1172) of the sovereignty of the Byzantine Empire. On Sept. 17, 1176, he suffered defeat at the hands of the Seljuks at Myriocephalum (in Asia Minor), after which he was compelled to cede to them the fortifications at Dorylaeum and Sublaeum.

Manuel II Palaeologus Born June 27, 1350; died Aug. 21 (?), 1425, in Constantinople. Emperor from 1391.

Manuel II came to the throne during the period when a considerable portion of Byzantium had been captured by the Turks; he was, in fact, a vassal of Bajazet I. The Crusaders who were summoned by Manuel to his aid suffered defeat at Nicopolis on Sept. 25, 1396. In 1399-1403, Manuel traveled throughout Italy, France, and England in search of assistance. After the defeat of the Turkish troops by Timur in the battle of Ankara (1402), Manuel strengthened his position in the Peloponnesus, and in 1403 he returned Thessalonica to the Byzantine Empire. In 1424 he was again obliged to pay tribute to the Turks. In 1425 he abdicated from the throne and became a monk (under the name of Matthew). Manuel supported the humanistic movement, and he was also well known as a writer.


Vasil’ev, A. A. Puteshestvie vizantiiskogo imperatora Manuila II Paleologapo Zapadnoi Evrope (1399-1403). St. Petersburg, 1912.
Dennis, G. T. The Reign of Manuel II Palaeologus in Thessalonica, 1382-1387. Rome, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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