Andronikos III Palaiologos (1328–1341)
Andronikos III was responsible for the first of the disastrous civil wars that wracked Byzantium in the fourteenth century. After causing the death of his brother, he was disowned by his grandfather Andronikos II. Supported by his friend John Kantakouzenos and the younger generation of aristocrats, Andronikos fought a seven-year war against his grandfather that resulted in his eventual victory and coronation as Andronikos III. During his reign Andronikos left many of the cares of empire to his megas domestikos John Kantakouzenos. Andronikos and John campaigned vigorously in Europe, conquering Thessaly and Epiros. However, they failed to stem the tide of Ottoman conquest in Asia Minor, where Nicaea and Nicomedia fell despite mustering forces for what would be the last imperial offensive on the continent. Andronikos’s reign is notable for the rise of Stefan IV Dushan of Serbia and the Ottoman e
mirs, who would become the leading contenders for the carcass and legacy of the failing empire. When Andronikos fell ill while campaigning, he convinced his friend Kantakouzenos to rule on behalf of his son. However, Andronikos recovered and when he later died at the age of 44, he failed to make any provisions for who would rule, thus setting the scene for the second great civil war of the fourteenth century.
Andronikos’s seal shows Christ standing on a dais on the obverse and Andronikos III standing on a dais on the reverse. Andronikos wears a loros and crown with pendilia, while holding a labarum in his right hand and an akakia in his left. A Manus Dei can be seen blessing the emperor. The inscription gives Andronikos the title of despotes, and records his family name of Palaiologos.
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