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The Angelos family Greek: Ἄγγελος, feminine form Angelina Άγγελίνα, plural Angeloi Ἄγγελοι, was a Greek noble lineage which gave rise to three Byzantine emperors who ruled between 1185 and 1204 From the 13th to the 14th century, a branch of the family ruled Epiros, Thessaly and Thessaloniki under the name of Komnenos Doukas The family name means angel messenger of God

The lineage was founded by Constantine Angelos, a minor noble from Philadelphia Asia Minor, who married Theodora Komnene born 1096, a daughter of emperor Alexios I Komnenos According to a 12th-century historian, Constantine was brave, skilled and handsome, but of lowly origin He was the son of one Manuel Angelos from Philadelphia and had three brothers: Nicholas Angelos, Michael Angelos and John Angelos Constantine and Theodora had three sons: the sebastokrator John Doukas, Andronikos Doukas Angelos and Alexios Komnenos Angelos, who erected a church in Nerezi in 1164, famed for its frescoes Several members of the Angelos family, like John Doukas and his sons, often preferred to use other surnames rather than the family name

Constantine's son Andronikos was the progenitor of the Angelos dynasty In 1185, Andronikos' son Isaac II Angelos deposed Andronikos I Komnenos and was proclaimed Byzantine Emperor Irene Angelina, a daughter of Isaac II Angelos, married Philip of Swabia, King of the Germans Their daughters married into a number of western European royal and princely families Many of the extant aristocratic families of Europe are, therefore, descendants of the Angeloi Isaac was deposed by his brother Alexios III Angelos, who was in turn overthrown by Alexios IV Angelos with the aid of the Fourth Crusade Under the corrupt and dissolute reign of the Angelos dynasty, the Byzantine empire deteriorated and soon fell prey to Latin crusaders and Venetians in the Fourth Crusade

After the fall of Constantinople and the establishment of the Latin Empire in 1204, John Doukas' illegitimate son, Michael I Komnenos Doukas, founded the Despotate of Epirus, choosing the city of Arta as its capital In 1224, Michael's half-brother Theodore captured the Kingdom of Thessalonica from the crusaders and proclaimed himself as the legitimate Byzantine emperor basileus in Thessalonica However, Theodore was defeated and captured by John II Asen in the Battle of Klokotnitsa in 1230, and the Empire of Thessalonica quickly declined During Theodore's captivity, his brother Manuel ruled over Thessalonica, succeeded by Theodore's sons John and Demetrios Eventually, the city was lost to the Nicaean emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes in 1246, marking the end of the rule of the Angeloi in Thessalonica

In 1230, Theodore's nephew Michael II, son of Michael I, established himself as ruler of Epirus and Thessaly After the death of Michael II in 1271, Epirus was ruled by his legitimate son Nikephoros I, while Thessaly was given to his illegitimate son John I Doukas In 1318, Nicholas Orsini murdered Nikephoros' son Thomas, ending the rule of the family in Epirus In Thessaly, John I Doukas was succeeded by his son Constantine, followed by John II, who ruled from 1302/03 until his death in 1318 In the same year, the south of Thessaly was seized by the Catalan Grand Company and annexed to the Duchy of Athens, while the north passed to a series of autonomous magnates

Having re-established Byzantine control over Epirou and Thessaly in 1340, emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos appointed the pinkernes cup-bearer John Angelos, a nephew of megas domestikos John Kantakouzenos, to the governorship of Epirus John extended his rule to Thessaly in 1342, but died from the plague in 1348 Epirus and Thessaly were conquered by the Serbian ruler Stefan Dušan soon afterwards

Descendants of John Angelos continued to govern Thessaly under Simeon Uroš and John Uroš John Uroš, the last Nemanjić, abdicated in favour of Alexios Angelos Philanthropenos, the kaisar of Thessaly Alexios' brother Manuel Angelos Philanthropenos was the last Byzantine Greek ruler of Thessaly

After the Ottoman conquest of Thessaly in 1394, the Angeloi Philanthropenoi took refuge in Serbia A grandson of either Alexios or Manuel, Mihailo Anđelović, served as an official at the court of Đurađ and Lazar Branković Mihailo's brother Mahmud, captured in his infancy by Ottoman soldiers, was brought to Edirne, where he converted to Islam He later rose to the highest ranks of the Ottoman Empire, becoming beylerbey of Rumelia in 1451 and Grand Vizier in 1455 Thus, in the negotiations between Serb despot Lazar Branković and Mehmed II in 1457, the two sides were represented by the brothers Mihailo and Mahmud Anđelović


  • A Kazhdan: "Angelos" In: The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, New York/Oxford, 1991
  • G Ostrogorsky: "Anđeli" In: Enciklopedija Jugoslavije, 1st ed, Zagreb, 1955
  • G Prinzing: "Angeloi" In: Lexikon des Mittelalters, Stuttgart/Weimar, 1999

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