Alexius I Comnenus also known as Alexius Komnenos is well-known as a Byzantine Emperor during the late 11th and early 12th Centuries. He was instrumental in the recovery of the Byzantine Empire back to power during his reign as emperor.
- He was part of the larger Comnenus House of Byzantine rulers. The programs he installed during his time of rule are known today as the “Komnenian Restoration.”
Alexius Comnenus was born in 1056 C.E. to John Comnenus who was the brother of Issac I, a Byzantine Emperor. His mother was part of the powerful Dalassene clan. She played an important role in Alexius’ rise in power after his father died.
- Alexius had four brothers and three sisters. From 1068 C.E. until 1081 C.E., Alexius and his brother Issac were soldiers and took part in military campaigns in Asia Minor, Epirus, and Thrace.
When Byzantine Emperor Issac I died, Alexius’s father did not want to take the throne. The empire was given to four different families before Alexius I took the throne as Byzantine Emperor in 1081 C.E.
Emperor Alexius I
Alexius I assumed the throne of the Byzantine Empire by way of coup. His mother’s powerful family, his brother Issac, and the Empress Maria helped dispose of Emperor Nikephoros III. Empress Maria wanted her son Constantine to become the emperor.
- Alexius I and his mother Anna promised the empress that her son would rise to power. After the coup, Alexius I and Constantine were made co-Emperors. Alexius I would eventually over take Constantine as ruler and he sent Empress Maria to a monastery.
What happened during his rule?
The biggest problem Alexius I faced as a Byzantine Emperor was to restore the empire back to a position of power. This was hard. Alexius I needed to quell the consistent invasions from the Normans and Turks.
- He was challenged many times in battle by the Norman commander Robert Guiscard. After numerous victories and defeats he was able to overcome the Norman invasions after the death of Robert Guiscard in 1085 C.E.
- Alexius I then moved towards Thrace to stop a revolt by the Paulican and Pecheneg families. He was fortunate enough to stop these rebels at the Battle of Levounoin in 1091 C.E. against the Pechenegs.
He moved onward to the conquering the Balkans. From the Balkans he went to Asia Minor where the Seljuk Turks had invaded and stole large pieces of land. Alexius I used his diplomacy skills by seeking help from Pope Urban II.
- He sent ambassadors to meet with Pope Urban II at the Council of Piacenza in 1095 C.E. After Pope Urban II preached the importance of the First Crusade, Alexius I was able to recover much of the land back from the invading Turks. This led to Byzantine warriors retaking a large portion of western Asia Minor.
The last twenty some years of Alexius I rule were marred by his persecution towards the Paulican and Bogomil sects.
- He lost most of his popularity within the Byzantine Empire because of his dealing with these two sects. One of his last requests as ruler was the burning of a Bogomil leader named Basilius.
Alexius I died while Emperor of the Byzantine Empire on August 15, 1118 C.E.
Restroing Byzantine Power
During Alexius I reign of 37 years, he instituted many reforms to help the Byzantine Empire. He was instrumental in stabilizing the Byzantine economy by creating new coinage used which was called Hyperyron.
- His new coinage made of gold and silver helped bring stability and confidence back to the Byzantine monetary system.
Another aspect to the Komnenian Restoration was Alexius’s valent efforts of war against the Normans and Seljuk Turks.
- At the time of his ascent to power the empire had become weak and lost much of the Byzantine Empire land to invaders. During his reign as emperor he recovered much of the lost land.
Important facts about Alexius I Comnenos
- Alexius I was born to John Comnenos, the brother of Byzantine Emperor Issac I.
- He was part of a large family and had four brothers and three sisters.
- Alexius I raise to power was furthered with a coup against Emperor Nikephoros III.
- He was named co-Emperor with Constantine, the son of Empress Maria.
- Alexius I assumed the role of emperor from Constantine and sent Empress Maria to a monastery.
- Alexius I was instrumental in restoring power to a failing Byzantine Empire.
- With the help of Pope Urban II, he was able to retake Byzantine land in Asia Minor against the Seljuk Turks during the First Crusade.
- Alexius I created new coinage called hyperyron made of gold and silver which helped the financial confidence of the Byzantine Empire.
- Who was the brother of Alexius’ father?
Byzantine Emperor Issac I
- Who was the Norman commander who constantly went to battle against Alexius I?
- Alexius I sought the help of which pope during the First Crusade?
Pope Urban II
- What was the name of the new coinage created by Alexius I?