Andronikos III Palaiologos

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Andronikos III Palaiologos, Latinized as Andronicus III Palaeologus (Greek: Ανδρόνικος Γ' Παλαιολόγος, Andronikos III Paleologos; March 25, 1297, Constantinople – June 15, 1341, Constantinople) reigned as Byzantine emperor 1328–1341, after being rival emperor since 1321. Andronikos III was the son of Michael IX Palaiologos and Princess Rita of Armenia (renamed Maria). His maternal grandparents were King Levon II of Armenia and Queen Keran of Armenia.



In 1320, Andronikos accidentally murdered his brother Manuel, whereupon their father died of grief. The murder, and the general dissolute behaviour of Andronikos and his coterie, mostly the young scions of the Empire's great aristocratic clans, resulted in a deep rift in the relations between him and his grandfather, Andronikos II Palaiologos. The elder Andronikos disowned his grandson, whereupon Andronikos III fled the capital and rallied his supporters around him in Thrace. From there he waged an intermittent civil war against his grandfather, which first secured him recognition of his post as co-emperor, and ultimately led to the deposition of Andronikos II in 1328.

Effective administrative authority during the reign of Andronikos III was wielded by his megas domestikos John Kantakouzenos, while the emperor enjoyed himself hunting or waging war. An alliance with his brother-in-law Michael Asen III of Bulgaria against Stefan Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia failed to secure any gains, as the Serbians defeated the Bulgarians before the latter could join with the Byzantines in the Battle of Velbazhd(Kyustendil) in 1330. Andronikos III's attempt to make up for this setback by annexing Bulgarian Thrace failed in 1331, when he was defeated by the new Bulgarian emperor Ivan Alexander at Rousokastron. Peace with Bulgaria was secured through territorial concessions and a diplomatic marriage between the children of the two emperors.

The subsequent years witnessed the gradual extinction of Byzantine rule in Asia Minor, as Orhan of the Ottoman Turks, who had already defeated Andronikos III at Pelekanos in 1329, took Nicaea in 1331 and Nicomedia in 1337. After that, only Philadelpheia and a handful of ports remained under Byzantine control in Asia Minor. Earlier Andronikos III had effected the recovery of Phocaea and the islands of Lesbos and Chios from Benedetto Zaccaria in 1329, but this did little to stem the Ottoman advance in Asia Minor.

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