Byzantine civil war of 1321–1328

Byzantine civil war of 1321–1328

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The Byzantine civil war of 1321–1328 was a series of conflicts fought in the 1320s between the Byzantine emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos , Latinized as Andronicus II Palaeologus, was Byzantine emperor from 1282 to 1328. He was the eldest surviving son of Michael VIII Palaiologos and Theodora Doukaina Vatatzina, grandniece of John III Doukas Vatatzes...

 and his grandson Andronikos III Palaiologos
Andronikos III Palaiologos
Andronikos III Palaiologos, Latinized as Andronicus III Palaeologus was Byzantine emperor from 1328 to 1341, after being rival emperor since 1321. Andronikos III was the son of Michael IX Palaiologos and Rita of Armenia...

 over control of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...


Prelude to the civil war

Following the accidental murder of his brother Manuel over a love affair, the emperor Andronikos II excluded Andronikos III from the succession, while Michael IX, the son of Andronikos II and next in line for succession, died from shock over his son's death.

1321: First conflict

Andronikos III had many supporters, chief among them John Kantakouzenos and Syrgiannes Palaiologos, who bought themselves governorships in Thrace, where discontent with the old emperor was high. On Easter 1321, Andronikos III fled the capital to Adrianople, where he set up his court and initiated an uprising against his grandfather. Syrgiannes Palaiologos led a large army towards the capital, forcing the old emperor to negotiate. On 6 June 1321 a peace agreement was concluded, whereby Andronikos III was recognized as co-emperor and assigned Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and districts in Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

, while the rest, including Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, remained under Andronikos II, who, as senior emperor, would also direct the empire's foreign policy.

1322: Second conflict

The peace agreement of 1321 did last long, as both Andronikoi pursued virtually independent foreign policies. Within the faction of Andronikos III a rift arose between the Syrgiannes and megas domestikos John Kantakouzenos. Syrgiannes felt that he had not been sufficiently rewarded for his support, and he also resented the greater favour shown by Andronikos II to Kantakouzenos. Furthermore, there is also a story that Andronikos III attempted to seduce Syrgiannes' wife. As a result, in December 1321 Syrgiannes switched support to the old emperor, fleeing to Constantinople. Rewarded with the title of megas doux
Megas Doux
The megas doux was one of the highest positions in the hierarchy of the later Byzantine Empire, denoting the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine navy. It is sometimes also given by the half-Latinizations megaduke or megadux...

, he then convinced Andronikos II to resume the war. After several cities in the area of Constantinople went over to the younger Andronikos, another agreement in July 1322 restored the previous status quo. This agreement between grandfather and grandson, which left Syrgiannes in an awkward position. Having failed in his endeavours, he began plotting to assassinate Andronikos II and seize the throne for himself. The plot was foiled however, and Syrgiannes was sentenced to life imprisonment.

On 2 February 1325, Andronikos III was formally crowned as co-emperor by his grandfather. Although there was little fighting during this conflict, the effects had a major impact on the empire: constant troop movements from levied
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

 peasants reduced agricultural production and trade was severely interrupted.

1327-28: Third conflict

In February 1327 a new conflict occurred between Andronikos III Palaiologos and his grandfather Andronikos II Palaiologos, but this time the Balkan countries were involved in war. On Andronikos II Palaiologos' side stood the Serbian king Stefan Decanski and on the other's Bulgarian emperor Michael Shishman
Michael Shishman of Bulgaria
Michael Asen III ), ruled as emperor of Bulgaria from 1323 to 1330. The exact year of his birth is unknown but it was between 1280 and 1292. He was the founder of the last ruling dynasty of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Shishman dynasty...

, as agreed by the Treaty of Chernomen
Treaty of Chernomen
The Treaty of Chernomen was a treaty between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire signed on 13 May 1327 by Michael Shishman and Andronikos III Palaiologos...

. Battles were fought for the Macedonian territories and after this victories these territories along with the city of Salonika went into hands of Andronikos III Palaiologos. In January 1328 Andronikos III Palaiologos and his commander John Kantakouzenos entered Salonika. After these victories in Macedonia, Andronikos III decided to capture Constantinopole and in May 1328 he entered into city and forced his grandfather to abdicate and took power in charge. Two years later the old emperor was taken to monastery where he died on February 13, 1328.

With Andronikos III Palaiologos (1328–1341) came a new generation with John Kantakouzenos as leader, who was in charge of politics while Andronikos III was in charge of army. The civil war exhausted the empire, the value of money dropped, but the new government took care of law and courts.