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Theodore II Doukas Laskaris
Θεόδωρος Β΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις
Emperor of Nicaea
(Byzantine Emperor in exile)
Reign 1254 – 1258
Born c. 1222
Birthplace Nicaea
Died 18 August 1258
Place of death Magnesia[1]
Predecessor John III Doukas Vatatzes
Successor John IV Laskaris
Consort to Elena of Bulgaria
Offspring John IV Doukas Laskaris
Irene Doukaina Laskarina
Maria Doukaina Laskarina
Father John III Doukas Vatatzes
Mother Irene Lascarina

Theodore II Doukas Laskaris or Ducas Lascaris (Greek: Θεόδωρος Β΄ Δούκας Λάσκαρις, Theodōros II Doukas Laskaris) (1221/1222 – August 18, 1258) was emperor of Nicaea, 1254–1258.



Theodore II Doukas Laskaris was the only son of Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes and Eirene Laskarina, the daughter of Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Anna Angelina. Anna was a daughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina.

Theodore II received a scholarly education by Nicephorus Blemmydes and remained devoted to science and art throughout his life. In contrast with earlier practice, Theodore II was not crowned co-emperor with his father, though he assisted in the government since c. 1241. On the death of John III on November 4, 1254, Theodore II was acclaimed emperor by the army and the court, but was crowned only after the appointment of a new patriarch, Arsenios Autoreianos, in 1255.

The succession of Theodore II was exploited by the Bulgarians, who invaded Thrace under the leadership of the young and inexperienced Michael Asen I of Bulgaria in 1255. In spite of his own scholarly predisposition, Theodore II immediately marched against the Bulgarians and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. During his second expedition in 1256, he managed to conclude a favorable peace with Bulgaria, which may have plunged the latter into a crisis of leadership. Theodore II followed up his victory against Bulgaria by expanding his control in the west, where he annexed Durazzo and Servia, effectively outflanking his rivals in Epirus.

Internally, Theodore II favored bureaucrats from the middle classes, instead of members of the great aristocratic families. This caused considerable opposition by the nobility to the emperor and his chief minister, the megas domestikos George Muzalon. The conflict led to the exile of one of the leaders of the aristocratic faction, the future Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, who was accused of conspiring with the Seljuks of Rum. In the midst of this crisis, Theodore II's epileptic condition worsened, and the emperor died on August 18, 1258, leaving George Mouzalon as the regent for his minor son John IV Laskaris.


Theodore II Doukas Laskaris married Elena of Bulgaria, daughter of Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria in 1235, by whom he had several children including:

Having taken the imperial throne and made the 11-year old John IV ineligible for the emperorship by blinding him, Michael VIII Palaiologos had Theodore's three other daughters[2] married off to italian and bulgarian [3] foreigners, so their descendants could not threaten his own children's claim to the imperial succession. These have been:


  1. ^ Finlay, George, History of the Byzantine and Greek Empires, Vol 2, pg 411
  2. ^ The Last Centuries of Byzantium (1261-1453), Chapter The price of survival Donald M. Nicol, Cambridge University Press, 1993, ISBN 0521439914
  3. ^ Nicols, Idem


Theodore II Laskaris
Laskarid dynasty
Born: unknown 1221 Died: 18 August 1258
Regnal titles
Preceded by
John III Doukas Vatatzes
Emperor of Nicaea
Succeeded by
John IV Doukas Laskaris


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