Part III - The Early Komnenian Era, 1073 - [blank for now]
The significance of the first Komnenos Emperors to the history of the Empire and the rest of the Western World cannot be understated. Much like Augustus and his immediate successors established the Empire and, through that, shaped the history of the next 500 years, and much like Justinian I and Heraclius shaped the fates of the Empire through the Dark Ages, Emperor Alexios and his successors can be considered architechts of the Revival of the Empire in the 2nd millenium. Of course, much of the groundwork for the Revival was laid down by the preceding Macedonian dynasty, but without the reforms of Alexios and the able administration of the following emperors, the empire would not have prospered as much as it has. While it is doubtful that the Roman state would have been utterly annihilated, it would definitely not have grown to be the cultural and economic driving force of Europe. In addition, the early Komnenian period gave us some of the most colorful charachters to ever don the purple: Emperor Theodoros (nicknamed Caligula II by a seventeenth century historian), Basil III the Mad, and Saint Zeno II.
Chapter V - Reign and Reforms of Emperor Alexios, 1073 - 1107
We do not know much about the early life of Alexios. He was a descendant of Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, a general of Basil II, and a nephew of Emperor Isaac Komnenos, Manuel's son. His connections to the throne explain why at 18 he was already strategos of Paphlagonia, and why, despite his youth, he was tasked with the reconquest of Sicily a year later. The war in Sicily took two years, and removed Alexios both from Constantinople and the eastern rebellion and subsequent war with the Seljuks. In fact, for most of the reign of Michael VII, Alexios stayed in Sicily, arranging administration of the newly conquered province. In late 1072 or early 1073, he and his army were summoned by Michael VII for the war against the rebels in the east. His forces, however, never got to the front lines, as Michael VII decided to invade Coloneia without the additional forces. In fact, Alexios' army only got as far as Nicea when news of the Emperor's death reached him. Michael VII's only child was a daughter, which, coupled with Alexios' army's location, gave him a perfect opportunity for the throne. Michael's brothers, Andronikos and Constantine, were too young and had too little support to challenge him. Alexios entered Constantinople unopposed and was crowned Emperor April 4, 1073.