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The Orthodox Nationalist: The Reign of Emperor St. John III of Nicaea - TON 080118

ton 080118

Dr Matthew Raphael Johnson hosts a podcast on the reign of Emperor St. John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea.

Nicaea was one of two successor states of Byzantium when the Crusaders sacked the city in 1204. The other was Epirus. John III was the second ruler of the Nicaean Empire, and created a prosperous, just and purified version of the Byzantine idea under the harshest of circumstances.

The Latin Crusader states were blatant failures. Unstable, poorly led and deeply divided, they became too dependent on the money from the oligarchs of Venice, Genoa and elsewhere. After the Greeks were driven out of their capital city, they regrouped into two smaller empires that eventually consolidating into Nicaea, retook the city. They could not have done this without the military patience and genius of John III.

John guaranteed all subjects land that could never be taken by debtors. He banned all usury. He controlled the currency; coins used even by his enemies. He banned the importing of western luxury goods and strictly oversaw the morals of the court aristocracy. An intense ascetic, he frowned on any display of personal ostentation while the empire was still in exile and suffering. Out of nothing, John created an empire that was large, powerful, wealthy and just in the face of a tottering Latin presence in Constantinople.

Indeed, John is one of the greatest military and legal figures of the middle ages and the model for all Orthodox monarchs. Stressing Greek nationalism as opposed to Venetian cosmopolitanism, he forced the Jews to go to Islam to find an ally. Allied with both Germany and Bulgaria, John created the foundation for a new, stronger and more pure Byzantine empire that would soon sweep the Venetian interlopers from power.

Presented by Matt Johnson

The Orthodox Nationalist: The Reign of Emperor St. John III of Nicaea – TON 080118


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