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1260 Siege of Constantinople ★ ★ ★ ★
Outcome: A failed attempt by the Byzantines of Nicaea to recapture Constantinople 1260
War  &  Enemy: Enemy:
Nicaean-Latin Wars
Battle Type:
The Battlefield Constantinople Location:
Modern Country:
  The Byzantines(emperor:  Michael VIII Palaiologos) The Enemies
Commander: Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos Emperor Baldwin II of Constantinople
Background story: After the Fall of Constantinople to the Latins of the 4th Crusade in 1204, a first attempt was made by the Byzantines of Nicaea to recapture the capital in 1235 during the reign of John III Doukas Vatatzes.That attempt failed but under Vatatzes, the Nicaeans seized most of Thrace and Macedonia from Epirus and Bulgaria, becoming the strongest state of the region.
Reduced to Constantinople and the territory immediately surrounding it, surrounded on east and west by Nicaea and without sufficient funds to attract any armed support, the Latin Empire seemed ripe for the taking by the time of Vatatzes' death. Even the papacy seemed willing to accept the inevitable in exchange for concessions in theological matters and the question of papal primacy. The Latin Empire gained a short reprieve with Vatatzes' death, as his son and successor Theodore II Laskaris (r. 1254–1258) was forced to confront numerous attacks on his territories in the Balkans.
Soon after Theodore II's death, the ambitious Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282) ascended the throne, at first ostensibly as guardian of the infant John IV Laskaris (r. 1259–1261). At this juncture, a coalition of Nicaea's enemies was formed, comprising Epirus, the Principality of Achaea, and the Kingdom of Sicily. The alliance however was dealt a crushing blow at the Battle of Pelagonia in summer 1259. With his chief enemies either dead, in captivity or temporary exile after Pelagonia, Palaiologos was free to turn his sight towards Constantinople.
The Battle:
Michael VII organized a large-scale operation against Constantinople in the summer of 1260. It involved a preliminary campaign to isolate the city by capturing the outlying forts and settlements controlling the approaches, as far as Selymbria (some 60 km from the city), as well as a direct assault on Galata. The operation was supervised personally by Michael from a conspicuous elevated place, with siege engines and attempts at undermining the wall. Michael led his men to encamp at Galata, ostensibly preparing to attack the fortress of Galata on the northern shore of the Golden Horn anticipating the help of nobles from inside the city (that never came).
Galata held due to the determined resistance of its inhabitants and the reinforcements shipped over from the city in rowboats. In the face of this, and worried by news of imminent relief for the besieged, Michael lifted the siege.
Aftermath: In August 1260, an armistice was signed between Michael VIII and Baldwin II for the duration of one year (until August 1261). Michael however started preparations for a new attack next year.