Page 1023

1023 ROME-THE LATIN DYNASTY.

the establishment of the Latin dynasty, dropped

away, leaving the new Emperor to his own resources. He proved not unequal to the tasks

imposed on the imperiled crown. In the mean

time the conduct of King John, of Bulgaria,

had led the Greeks again to prefer a refined

despot to a zealous savage. They supplicated

the Emperor's favor, and being forgiven, left

their barbarous ally to retire in disgrace towards his own kingdom. He was presently

stabbed in his tent, and the Empire was freed

from the menace of his sword.

In the year 1216, Henry died, and was succeeded by his sister Yolande, wife of the Count

of Auxerre. Her husband sailed to the East

to join her at the coronation, but he was seized

by the Epirotes, and died in prison. While

the proclamation was suspended awaiting his

arrival, a son was born to the Empress, who

received the name of Baldwin. But to avoid

a long minority, an elder son of Yolande,

named Robert, was called to the throne, who

from 1221 to 1228 supported as well as he

might the tottering fabric of the Empire. It

was during his reign that the remaining Asiatic provinces of the Imperial dominions were

swept away by the conquests of John Vataces,

the successor of Theodore Lascaris.

When the Emperor Robert died, Baldwin

was as yet but seven years of age. The Latin

barons considered it unsafe to entrust the scepter to hands so feeble, and called upon the distinguished crusader, John OF Brienne, to assume the government. It was provided, however, that his second daughter should be married to Baldwin, and that the latter should, on

reaching his majority, be raised to the throne.

Soon after the settlement of the government

an alliance was made between Vataces and

Azan, the king of Bulgaria, with a view to

the capture of Constantinople. They attacked

the city by land and sea, but the Emperor

John went forth and scattered their forces.

In 1236, the sovereign who had so ably supported the Latin dynasty died, and his son-in-law came to the throne with the title of Baldwin II.

On all sides the limits of the Empire were

narrowed and narrowing. Between Vataces

on the east and Azan on the west it appeared

that the Imperial dominions would be crushed

out of existence. During the twenty-five years

in which the throne was held by Baldwin II.

the menaces of the neighboring states were

constant and angry. In 1255 Vataces was

succeeded by his son Theodore, who, after a

busy reign of four years, left his boyish heir,

the Prince John, to the care of Michael Paiaeologus as regent. The latter was one of the most able and farsighted statesman of his

time, a Greek by birth, and in rank a nobleman. It was agreed by the council of the

late king that both John and Michael should

be proclaimed; but on the day of coronation

the first place was given to the latter, while

the former was reduced to a subordinate relation, with Palaeologus as his guardian.

The new sovereign, as soon as he found

himself in possession of ample power, began to

mature his plans for the capture of Constantinople and the restoration of the Greeks to

their lost dominion. In the spring of 1261 a

division of troops under command of Alexius

Strategopulus was sent across the Hellespont

into Thrace to attack the Latins. The people

of the country, sympathizing with the invader,

joined his standard until the army was swelled

to twenty-five thousand men. With a chosen

body of troops Alexius pressed on to Constantinople, reached the capital in the night,

gained possession of the Golden Gate, and

before the Latins were aware of the danger,

rose in the midst of the city. Baldwin fled to

the sea-shore and boarded a Venetian galley.

The Latin Empire perished more suddenly

than it had arisen. Within twenty days Michael Palaeologus entered the city. The Frankish barons followed in the flight of Baldwin,

but the great mass of the Latins remained in

the city and were undisturbed.