John IV Doukas Laskaris (or Ducas Lascaris) (Greek: Ιωάννης Δ΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις, Iōannēs IV Doukas Laskaris) (December 25, 1250 – c. 1305) was emperor of Nicaea from August 18, 1258 to December 25, 1261. This small empire was one of the Greek states formed from the remaining fragments of the Byzantine Empire, after the capture of Constantinople by Western European Christians during the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
John was a son of Theodore II Doukas Laskaris and Elena of Bulgaria. His maternal grandparents were Emperor Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria and his second wife Anna Maria of Hungary. Anna was originally named Mária and was the eldest daughter of Andrew II of Hungary and Gertrude of Merania.
John IV was only seven years old when he inherited the throne on the death of his father. The young monarch was the last member of the Laskarid dynasty, which had done much to restore the Byzantine Empire. His regent was originally the bureaucrat George Mouzalon, but that position was usurped by the aristocrat Michael Palaiologos, who later made himself co-emperor as Michael VIII on January 1, 1259. (Michael was, in fact, John's second cousin once removed, since they were both descended from Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera.)
After Michael's conquest of Constantinople on July 25, 1261, John IV was left behind at Nicaea, and was later blinded on Michael's orders on his eleventh birthday, December 25, 1261. This made him ineligible for the throne, and he was exiled and imprisoned in a fortress in Bithynia. This action caused the excommunication of Michael VIII Palaiologos by the Patriarch Arsenius Autoreianus, and a later revolt led by a Pseudo-John IV near Nicaea.
John IV spent the remainder of his life as monk, under the name Joasaph. In 1290 he was visited by Andronikos II Palaiologos, who sought forgiveness for his father's blinding of John IV three decades earlier. The deposed emperor died about 1305 and was eventually recognized as a saint, whose memory was revered in Constantinople in the 14th century.
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