Bela-Alexios as Manuel Komnenos' heir

May 2014
48
Constantinople
#1
I'm doing some research on an Alternate History epic I've been writing for some time, the premise is that Manuel I does not have a son in 1166 (the historical Alexios II Komnenos) and that Bela-Alexios of Hungary (educated in the Roman Court) remains Manuel's heir. As Bela-Alexios was engaged to marry Manuel's heiress Maria Komnene, and held the high title of Despotes he certainly was becoming a very powerful figure in the Byzantine Empire.

Now back to the "what if". If he is Manuel's heir and is married to Maria Komnene, would he still claim the Hungarian throne in 1172 upon the death of his elder brother Stephan III, or would he remain in Constantinople as the Orthodox heir of Byzantium (I suspect the Hungarian nobles would also be wary of the Byzantine heir as their new King!).

What do you think would happen if Bela-Alexios was Manuel's sole heir? Would he rule in Constantinople, Hungary, or both?



Thanks for any help you can provide about this fascinating turning point in Byzantine history!
 
May 2014
22
Iceland
#2
What i remembered Alexios II was born in 1169 and not 1966. Dosent matter really if we take into consideration what we know now. Byzantine Empire just didn't have the time to wait for this young Alexios to grow up to take the throne.
So if Manuel didn't have a son with his wife Maria of Antioch but rather daughter.
This would mean Bela renamed Alexios to fulfilled the AMIA prophecy would have succeed Manuel as emperor in 1180.
I am not sure how Byzantine aristocracy would react having foreign born emperor but Bela-Alexios aged 32 in 1180 is just perfect choice.
He would have military experience fighting alongside Manuel and the Byzantine army and ready to reign after death of Manuel.
He would have been 28 years old during Byzantine Konya campaign in 1176. He would most defiantly be second in command. Perhaps he would have suggested to take different route to Konya. This would mean no Myriokephalon loss.
Bela-Alexios could also have used the Third crusade more effectively to benefit Byzantine agnist the Seljuk.
I cannot see Seljuk of the Rum withstanding joint armies of Frederick Barbarossa and Bela-Alexios II.

I believe Byzantine needed one or two emperor as same calibre as the first three Komnenos emperor to win the Seljuk state of Rum. This alone could have been enough to secure Byzantine survival well into modern time.
 
Sep 2008
1,855
Halicarnassus, 353BC
#3
Well I think that was part of Manuel's plan. He was hoping Bela would become king of Hungary, and through him the two countries would unite and become one. If you remember, Manuel's mother was Piroska of Hungary, so Manuel was part Hungarian himself.

This would also have the advantage of massively strengthening Byzantium, as the Hungarians were one of three neighbouring states that posed a threat. By uniting the two crowns, the combined country would then be in a very strong position to form an alliance against the Normans of Sicily and quite possibly eliminate them altogether.

Since the Seljuks were technically vassals of Manuel at the time, as were the Crusaders, that would leave the Byzantine Empire unchallenged as the supreme power of the Eastern Mediterranean. Not a bad plan. :)
 
May 2014
48
Constantinople
#5
Would Bela have been an Orthodox ruler in order to be Manuel's heir and Maria Komnene's husband? Would he have been an "absentee" King of Hungary due to Manuel's plans for him to be Basileus? Thank you for your responses, my Alt-History TL is growing and I just wanted to see if this was plausible.
 
Sep 2008
1,855
Halicarnassus, 353BC
#6
Can i ask off topic question. Had Byzantine taken different route and scouted area. Would this have chanced the outcome. If Byzantine and Seljuk had meet in area more suited to the Byzantine army.
Yes, this seems very likely. How do we know?

In 1190, a Crusader army commanded by Frederick Barbarossa attacked Konya and easily conquered the city during the Third Crusade. This was only 14 years after Myriokephalon.

Therefore it seems pretty clear that if Manuel's army had avoided the ambush and continued to the city, it would have fallen.
 
May 2014
48
Constantinople
#7
Would Bela have been an Orthodox ruler in order to be Manuel's heir and Maria Komnene's husband? Would he have been an "absentee" King of Hungary due to Manuel's plans for him to be Basileus? Thank you for your responses, my Alt-History TL is growing and I just wanted to see if this was plausible.


I guess after reading about the fate of Maria Xene and her son Alexios II, I was assuming Bela-Alexios would be Orthodox if he was Mauel's heir still. Perhaps he would be unable to assume the throne of Hungary in 1172 due to being the obvious Byzantine heir?
 
Sep 2008
1,855
Halicarnassus, 353BC
#8
I guess after reading about the fate of Maria Xene and her son Alexios II, I was assuming Bela-Alexios would be Orthodox if he was Mauel's heir still. Perhaps he would be unable to assume the throne of Hungary in 1172 due to being the obvious Byzantine heir?
Well a faction at the court of Hungary actually preferred his brother over Bela. This faction was even supported by his own mother. So if Bela stays in Byzantium in 1172, it seems his brother would've become King of Hungary. Perhaps then when Manuel dies in 1180 and Bela becomes Emperor, his first act would be to invade Hungary and claim his rightful throne!

Not a recipe for peace, it would appear.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,789
Western Eurasia
#9
Well a faction at the court of Hungary actually preferred his brother over Bela. This faction was even supported by his own mother. So if Bela stays in Byzantium in 1172, it seems his brother would've become King of Hungary. Perhaps then when Manuel dies in 1180 and Bela becomes Emperor, his first act would be to invade Hungary and claim his rightful throne!

Not a recipe for peace, it would appear.
true i agree with what you wrote. yes his brother prince Geza would be a serious rival then for the Hungarian throne if Bela remains in Constantinaple. i don't know how would a personal union work out between the 2 countries and i can imagine Bela would be also seen as alien at the Byzantine court and Andronikos conspire/murder him too. i'm happy with the way it happened, for us he was a great king, we would be poorer without him.
 
May 2014
48
Constantinople
#10
Yes he was truly a great King Tulun! I have been doing quite a bit of research on Bela III, he almost was a fine Byzantine Emperor too.

If Bela-Alexios is Manuel's clear heir in 1172, will he stay in Constantinople? Will Manuel keep him close? Would he choose to stay in New Rome in order to inherit what was then a stronger realm (Byzantium)?