I have to agree. The Komnenoi are pretty great as well, but Andronikos I kind of ruins their image.The Macedonian dynasty seems like the most reasonable choice. While there were undoubtedly some weak leaders, like with every dynasty, their negative effects weren't quite severe enough to entirely destroy the achievements that the stronger monarchs established. It was under the Macedonians that the empire reached its greatest extent in the medieval era, and was arguably at its peak in terms of power projection, military strength, and artistic and cultural developments.
Were Alexios III and Theodore I actually good emperors, though?The Komnenoi have a reputation for three capable emperors followed by a despot and then extreme decline that resulted in the Fourth Crusade. Yet this picture is largely one that William of Tyre and Niketas Choniates have prepared for us, and should be treated carefully. How do the Komnenoi come out if label later members of the dynasty as they labelled themselves? We refer to Alexios III as Angelos, yet on his seals he calls himself Komnenos, a perfectly valid claim since he's a direct grandson of Alexios I, as was his brother Isaakios II Angelos. We can say the same about Theodore I Laskaris, who places Komnenos on his seals before Laskaris, and who seems to have delayed his own official crowning because he was waiting on a member of the Komnenos house with a better direct claim.
I'll reserve my judgement on Alexios III until we have a modern study of his reign that takes into account the hostile narrative source material. As for Theodore I, yeah, I think he's pretty impressive. He was dealt one of the worst hands of any incoming Byzantine emperor - uncertainty over whether even to take the throne, Constantinople in the hands of Latins, and competing post-Byzantine states in Epirus and Trebizond. His early years were a bit rocky, but he stayed on the throne despite reverses from the Latins, attained a modus vivendi with Trebizond, and he won a major victory over the Turks of Rum in 1211 (the claim that he killed the sultan in single combat actually seems to be true, even if it was a bit less glorious than Choniates' oration would suggest). That said, much of what he was able to accomplished is owed to a century of careful Komnenian management of Anatolia, which by ca. 1200 had undergone some two centuries of economic and demographic growth.Were Alexios III and Theodore I actually good emperors, though?
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