Baldwin II of Constantinople
Baldwin II of Courtenay (late 1217 Constantinople – October 1273 Naples) was the last emperor of the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

 of Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...


He was a younger son of Yolanda of Flanders
Yolanda of Flanders
Yolanda of Flanders ruled the Latin Empire in Constantinople for her husband Peter II of Courtenay from 1217 to 1219.She was the daughter of Baldwin V, Count of Hainault, and Countess Margaret I of Flanders. Two of her brothers, Baldwin I and then Henry, were emperors in Constantinople...

, sister of the first two emperors, Baldwin I
Baldwin I of Constantinople
Baldwin I , the first emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, as Baldwin IX Count of Flanders and as Baldwin VI Count of Hainaut, was one of the most prominent leaders of the Fourth Crusade, which resulted in the capture of Constantinople, the conquest of the greater part of the Byzantine...

 and Henry of Flanders
Henry of Flanders
Henry was the second emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. He was a younger son of Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut , and Margaret I of Flanders, sister of Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders....

. Her husband, Peter of Courtenay, was third emperor of the Latin Empire (also known as Romania, not to be confused with modern Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

), and had been followed by his son Robert of Courtenay
Robert of Courtenay
Robert of Courtenay , emperor of the Latin Empire, or of Constantinople, was a younger son of the emperor Peter II of Courtenay, and a descendant of the French king, Louis VI, while his mother Yolanda of Flanders was a sister of Baldwin and Henry of Flanders, the first and second emperors of the...

, on whose death in 1228 the succession passed to Baldwin, then an 11-year-old boy.

The barons chose John of Brienne
John of Brienne
John of Brienne was a French nobleman who became King of Jerusalem by marriage, and ruled the Latin Empire of Constantinople as regent.-Life:...

 (titular king of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

) as emperor-regent for life; Baldwin was to rule the Asiatic possessions of the empire when he reached the age of twenty. He was also to marry Marie of Brienne
Marie of Brienne
Marie of Brienne was the Empress consort of Baldwin II of Courtenay, Latin Emperor of Constantinople.-Family:She was a daughter of John of Brienne and his third wife Berenguela of Leon. Marie was a younger, paternal half-sister of Yolande of Jerusalem...

, daughter of John and his third wife Berenguela of Leon
Berenguela of León
Berengaria of León was the third wife but only empress consort of John of Brienne, Latin Emperor of Constantinople.-Family:...

, and on John's death to enjoy the full imperial sovereignty. The marriage contract was carried out in 1234. Since the death of Baldwin's uncle, Emperor Henry of Flanders
Henry of Flanders
Henry was the second emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. He was a younger son of Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut , and Margaret I of Flanders, sister of Philip of Alsace, count of Flanders....

 in 1216, the Latin Empire had declined and the Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

Empire of Nicaea
The Empire of Nicaea was the largest of the three Byzantine Greek successor states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade...

) power advanced; and the hopes that John of Brienne might restore it were disappointed.

The realm which Baldwin governed was little more than the city of Constantinople. His financial situation was desperate, and his life was chiefly occupied in begging at European courts. He went to the West in 1236, visited Rome, France and Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, trying to raise money and men to recover the lost territory of his realm. In 1237, with the support of the King of France and the Countess of Flanders, he chased his sister Margaret
Margaret, Marchioness of Namur
Margaret, Marchioness of Namur was the daughter of Peter II of Courtenay and Yolanda of Flanders.Margaret married Raoul lord of Issoudun in 1210. She succeeded her husband as Lady of Châteauneuf-sur-Cher and Mareuil-en-Berry in 1216. Soon after the death of her first husband she married Henry I,...

 from power to become the next Count of Namur. But Baldwin is practically never present, and after the invasion and conquest of Namur by Henry V, Count of Luxembourg in 1256, he sells the rights on the County to his cousin Guy, Count of Flanders.

In 1237, Baldwin II pawned the Crown of Thorns
Crown of Thorns
In Christianity, the Crown of Thorns, one of the instruments of the Passion, was woven of thorn branches and placed on Jesus Christ before his crucifixion...

 to a Venetian merchant for 13,134 gold pieces. His efforts met with success, and in 1240 he returned to Constantinople (through Germany and Hungary) at the head of a considerable army. Circumstances hindered him from accomplishing anything with this help, and in 1245 he traveled again to the West, first to Italy and then to France, where he spent two years. The empress Marie and Philip of Toucy governed during his absence. He was happy to be able to get money from King Louis IX
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

 in exchange for relics. In 1249 he was with King Louis at Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

The extremity of his financial straits reduced him soon afterwards to handing over his only son, Philip
Philip of Courtenay
Philip I of Courtenay was titular Emperor of Constantinople 1273–1283. He was the son of Baldwin II of Constantinople and Marie of Brienne....

, to Venetian
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 merchants as a pledge for loans of money. Philip was later redeemed by Alfonso X of Castile
Alfonso X of Castile
Alfonso X was a Castilian monarch who ruled as the King of Castile, León and Galicia from 1252 until his death...

. The rest of his reign was spent by Baldwin in mendicant tours in western Europe. In 1261 Constantinople was captured by Michael VIII Palaeologus, and Baldwin’s rule came to an end. He escaped in a Venetian galley to Negropont, and then proceeded to Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, thence to Apulia
Apulia is a region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises , and...

, finally to France. As titular emperor, his role was still the same, to beg help from the western powers. In 1267 he went to Italy; his hopes were centred on Charles of Anjou. Charles seriously entertained the idea of conquering Constantinople, though his efforts were destroyed during the Sicilian Vespers
Sicilian Vespers
The Sicilian Vespers is the name given to the successful rebellion on the island of Sicily that broke out on the Easter of 1282 against the rule of the French/Angevin king Charles I, who had ruled the Kingdom of Sicily since 1266. Within six weeks three thousand French men and women were slain by...

, an event perhaps engineered by Michael VIII Palaeologus of Constantinople. To this intent, he signed the Treaty of Viterbo
Treaty of Viterbo
The Treaty of Viterbo was a pair of agreements made by Charles I of Sicily with Baldwin II of Constantinople and William II Villehardouin, Prince of Achaea, on 27 May 1267, which transferred much of the rights to the Latin Empire from Baldwin to Charles.-Background:The recapture of Constantinople...

 with Baldwin (May 1267). During the next year Baldwin and his son Philip lived on pensions from Charles. In October 1273 Philip married Beatrice, daughter of Charles, at Foggia
Foggia is a city and comune of Apulia, Italy, capital of the province of Foggia. Foggia is the main city of a plain called Tavoliere, also known as the "granary of Italy".-History:...

. A few days later Baldwin died. Under Baldwin II, Constantinople's population had fallen to a mere 35,000 people.
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