Gregory Brown
513 Agnes Arnold Hall
Department of Philosophy
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204-3004

John II. Comnenus

Byzantine Emperor (1118-1143)

born 1088
died April 8, 1143

Byzantine emperor (1118–43) whose reign was characterized by unremitting attempts to reconquer all important Byzantine territory lost to the Arabs, Turks, and Christian crusaders.

A son of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus and Irene Ducas, John kept an austere court and spent most of his reign with his troops. He sought to strengthen Byzantine finances by ending Venetian trading privileges in the empire, but was forced to restore them after an unsuccessful war (1122). He thwarted Pecheneg, Hungarian, and Serbian threats during the 1120s, and in 1130 allied himself with the German emperor Lothair III. (1075-1137) against the Norman king Roger II. (1095-1154) of Sicily.

In the later part of his reign John focussed his activities on the East. In 1135 he defeated the Danismend emirate of Melitene. Two years later he reconquered all of Cilicia from the kingdom of Lower Armenia and later forced Raymond of Poitiers, prince of Antioch, to recognize Byzantine suzerainty. Though John and Raymond formed an alliance against the Turkish Atabegs of Syria, their campaigns were not particularly successful. In 1143 John returned to press his claims to Antioch. He died following a hunting accident after naming his fourth son, Manuel I. Comnenus (1122-1180), to succeed him.

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  • Encylopedia Britannica 2002, Expanded Edition DVD