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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The later Crusades, 1189-1311

VI: The Latin Empire of Constantinople, 1204-1261,   pp. 186-233 PDF (19.2 MB)

Page 214

of Hungary, and thus became the nephew-in-law of Robert. Taking advantage
of Asen's benevolence, Robert entered Constantinople, where he was crowned
by the patriarch Matthew on March 25, 1221. In the period of five years since
the death of Henry, only the ominous advance of Theodore of Epirus on the
west had diminished Latin possessions. So well had Henry done his work that
the empire had successfully weathered the dangerous period under bailie,
empress, and bailie once more. No doubt Conon of Béthune, the Venetian
podestàs, and the papal legate John Colonna among them had provided
the necessary strength and wisdom. 
 But Emperor Robert, his contemporaries agreed, had none of the necessary
qualities: "quasi rudis et idiota" is perhaps their most succinct
and damning judgment. <27> In Constantinople, the Venetians extended
their possessions. Across the straits fighting broke out, as Theodore Lascaris
seized the opportunity provided by the death of Yolanda and broke his treaty
with the Latins. Shortly after Robert's coronation, the two sides negotiated
for peace. Theodore promised to marry his daughter Eudocia to Robert, and
prisoners were exchanged. But the Nicaean patriarch objected to the marriage
on grounds of consanguinity: Theodore was married to Robert's sister Mary.
The question was still open when Theodore Lascaris died in August 1222. When
his daughter Irene's husband, the extraordinarily able John Ducas Vatatzes
(1222-1254), succeeded to the throne, two of Theodore's brothers deserted
to the Latins. Robert made them commanders in his army. 
 For a period of two years after his coronation, Vatatzes was unable to attack
the Latins. But Theodore of Epirus continued his campaigns against them.
By early 1222 he had taken Serres, and Thessalonica was ringed. The pope
strove to restrain Theodore and encourage Robert; Oberto of Biandrate and
William of Montferrat, Honorius wrote, were on their way east to aid the
empire. But in the autumn of 1224, before the western expedition had gotten
under way, Theodore's force took Thessalonica. Young king Demetrius and the
Latin archbishop fled to Italy. Now master of the second city of the Byzantine
empire, Theodore of Epirus assumed the purple. Constantine Mesopotamites,
the Greek metropolitan of Thessalonica, refused to crown him, but the learned
Demetrius Chomatianus, archbishop of Ochrida, gladly consented to do so.
Though the Nicaeans naturally objected, and sneered at Theodore's insufficient
acquaintance with protocol, the new "emperor" of Thessalonica secured
the support of his own clergy by threatening 
 27 Aubrey of Trois-Fontaines (MGH, SS., XXIII), p. 910. 

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