Theodore Branas

Theodore Branas or Vranas (Greek: Θεόδωρος Βρανᾶς, Theodōros Branas) was a general under the Byzantine Empire and afterwards under the Latin Empire of Constantinople. He is called Li Vernas by western chroniclers of the Fourth Crusade, including Geoffroi de Villehardouin.

Theodore was the son of general Alexios Branas and of Anna Komnene Vatatzina. He was probably born in Adrianople, where his family held hereditary lands. In 1193, according to the chronicler Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, Theodore became the lover of the dowager empress Anna, then aged 22. She was the daughter of King Louis VII of France by his third wife Adèle of Champagne, and the sister of Philip II of France; she had originally come to Constantinople to be betrothed to Alexios II Komnenos, but Alexios was murdered by his co-emperor and regent Andronikos I Komnenos in 1183. She was then married to Andronikos, and was widowed on his violent death in 1185.

Theodore fought with limited success under Isaac II Angelos. Together with John Petraliphas, Michael Kantakouzenos and others, he was involved in the successful plot to replace Isaac with his brother Alexios III Angelos in 1195. He fought against various enemies under Alexios III. He was prominent in the initial defence of Constantinople against the Fourth Crusade, in 12021203.

Theodore and Anna married, on the urging of the Latin Emperor Baldwin I of Constantinople, immediately after the establishment of the Latin Empire in summer 1204. They had at least one daughter, who married Narjot de Toucy. For several years after 1204 Theodore, and presumably Anna, were of invaluable assistance to the Empire. Theodore was one of the few notable Greeks to offer it his immediate support, and received the title of Caesar in return. He acted as an ambassador to Henry of Flanders when the Greeks of Adrianople and Demotica wished to break their alliance from Kaloyan of Bulgaria and seek the protection of their cities by the Latins.

Theodore was Lord of Adrianople and Apros (known to the Latins as Naples or Napoli). The last record of him is in 1219, when, like his son-in-law Narjot de Toucy, he briefly governed Constantinople.


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