Alexios III Angelos (1195-1203)
Alexios III's climb to power set in chain a series of events that would ultimately lead to the crusader sack of Constantinople in 1204. Alexios was brother to Isaac II Angelos, himself a usurper. While on campaign against the Bulgarians, Alexios took control of Isaac's army, had himself proclaimed emperor, and blinded his brother. Alexios proceeded to oversee the decline of the state in the lead-up to the Fourth Crusade. Alexios chose to replace Christ on his seals with an image of St. Constantine. Perhaps, after the unsuccessful and short reigns of Alexios II, Andronikos I, and Isaac II Alexios wished to portray himself as a second Constantine, the founder of Constantinople and the reviver of the Roman Empire. The addition of a patron saint, one associated strongly not only with the state but also with Christianity, emphatically supports Alexios’s own legitimacy to rule. In 1203 Isaac II's son, Alexios, returned to Constantinople at the head of a Venetian fleet and a crusader army. Alexios III fled the city and was eventually confined to a monastery by his son–in–law Theodore Laskaris, the Emperor of Nicaea.