Constantinople In Decline, The Fall of Constantinople

In 1261, Constantinople was recaptured for Byzantium by Michael VIII Palaelogus (1258-82), who met almost no resistance in the process. He did this with the aid of the Italian city of Genoa, which was naturally disposed to fight against her rival Venice.

Yet she still exacted a crippling price for her assistance. The Genoese established the colony of Pera across the Golden Horn from Constantinople, and effectively took control of the city's trade.

Two Headed Byzantine Eagle

Two Headed Byzantine Eagle

Constantinople's recapture and reconstruction caused a flowering of scholarship and artistic activity, known as the Palaelogue Renaissance after the family of emperors. An example of the many beautiful buildings dating from this period is the Church of St Saviour in Chora.

During this period the double headed eagle was adopted as the imperial crest, with the two heads symbolizing the western and eastern halves of the empire.

Yet, within a few decades there was further discord in Constantinople, when a quarrel arose between Andronicus II (1282-1328) and his grandson Andronicus III (1328-41) over the succession. This led to the disastrous civil war of 1321-54.

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