Eastern Roman History
Eastern Roman History, YouTube, 2020
Ruling from AD1328-1341, Andronikos III Palaiologos, led the Eastern Roman Empire's last genuine revival before its decline and fall in 1453. Andronikos, son of emperor Michael IX, came to the throne after a civil war with his grandfather, Andronikos II, who had been emperor since 1282.
On the night of 23 May 1328, Andronikos III bribed a guard patrolling the walls of Constantinople. He let down a rope ladder that allowed Andronikos' men entry. They threw open the St. Romanos gate and his army of 800 soldiers entered the city. Andronikos II abdicated the throne and was exiled to a monastery, where he died in 1332.
The newly crowned soldier-emperor, Andronikos III, and his best friend, John Kantakuzenos, fended off the Bulgarian Tsar's invasion of Thrace in June 1328. After defeating the Tsar, Andronikos signed a peace treaty with him which secured the border.
John Kantakuzenos revitalised the Imperial navy with the construction of 10 warships that were largely paid for by donations from the aristocracy. The fleet helped secure the coasts of the empire from attack and relieved the Eastern Roman Empire's total dependence on Italian merchant republics for naval aid.
In 1329, Andronikos and John led an army of 4,000 troops into Bithynia to rescue the cities of Nikomedia and Nicaea, which were besieged by the Ottoman Turks. On route to Nikomedia, the Romans engaged the Ottomans at the Battle of Pelekanon. The Romans were winning until Andronikos III was wounded and word quickly spread that the emperor was dying. The army panicked and routed. The Ottomans pursued and inflicted heavy casualties on the Eastern Roman Army. Andronikos and John withdrew from Bithynia. While Andronikos recovered, he asked John to become co-emperor but John refused. The Battle of Pelekanon was significant because it was the last time the Romans attempted to reverse their declining fortunes in Asia Minor. It was also one of the only major battles fought between the Ottomans and the Romans.