emperor throne vices
ISAAC II., ANGELUS, Roman emperor of the East from 1185 to 1195, and again in 1203-4, who came to the throne in the manner described under ANDRONICUS I. (vol. ii. p. 23), succeeded also to the unfinished Sicilian war. The favourable close of that was counterbalanced by the failure of an attempt to recover Cyprus, where Isaac Comnenus had established an independent throne. Of the numerous revolts excited during Isaac's reign by his vices and incapacity, the most serious was the rebellion of the Bulgarians and Wallachians between Mount lamas and the Danube, which, breaking out in 1186, resulted in the independence of a second Bulgarian kingdom, Alexis Dramas, the general sent against the rebels in 1187, after temporarily repulsing them, treacherously turned his arms against his master, and, leading his troops to Constantinople, attempted to seize the city. There lie met with more resistance than Isaac's vices had led him to expect, and in the ensuing battle was defeated and slain. After a hastily-arranged truce with the Bulgarians, the emperor's attention was next demanded in the east, where several claimants to the throne successively rose and fell. In 1189 Frederick Barbarossa of Germany sought and obtained leave to lead his troops on the third crusade through the Byzantine territory ; but he had no sooner crossed the border than the wily and treacherous Greek, who had meanwhile sought an alliance with Saladin, threw every impediment in his way, and was only by force of arms compelled to fulfil his engagements. The next five years were disturbed by fresh rebellions of the Wallachians, against whom Isaac led several expeditions in person. During one of these, in 1195, Alexius, the emperor's brother, taking advantage of the latter's absence from camp on a hunting expedition, proclaimed himself emperor, and was joyfully hailed by the soldiers, who heartily despised the craven vices of their late emperor. Isaac was seized; his eyes were put out, and lie was imprisoned in a lonely tower at Constantinople. It has already been related (CRUSADES, vol. vi. p. 629) how after eight years Isaac was raised for six months from his dungeon to his throne once more. But both mind and body had been enfeebled by captivity, and his son Alexius IV. was the actual monarch. Isaac's feeble hold on life was loosened by the turmoil which followed the restoration, and he died in 1204. He was one of the weakest and most vicious princes that ever occupied the Byzantine throne. His father had been censured as a general for cowardice, and Isaac II. seems to have inherited a full share of the paternal failing, which his connexion on the mother's side with the Comnenian family had not counteracted. 1Ie was vain, superstitious, and sensual ; and, while lie neglected the duties of his lofty position, ho abandoned himself to all the pleasures which it commanded. Surrounded by a crowd of slaves, mistresses, and flatterers, he permitted his empire to be administered by unworthy favourites, while he squandered the vast sums of money wrung from his unhappy provinces on costly buildings and expensive gifts to the churches of his metropolis. It is little to be wondered at that his cowardice and vice stirred up numerous rivals, who sought to emulate the ease with which a creature so worthless had obtained an empire.