Manuel, the name of two Byzantine emperors.
Manuel I. Comneiins, born about 1120, died Sept. 24, 1180. The valor which he had displayed against the Turks induced his father John II. (Culo-Joannes) to bequeath the crown to him rather than to his elder brother Isaac, and he succeeded him in 1143. He was at once involved in wars both in the East and the West, which hunted with brief intermissions through bis reign. In 1144 ho subjected Raymond, the Latin prince of Antioch. In 1115 he defeated the sultan of Iconium in successive pitched battles. In 1147 he promised his aid to the new crusade headed by Louis VII of France and Conrad III. of Germany; and he allowed them a passage through his dominions but gave secret information to the Turks. In 1148 he began the most important war of his reign with Roger, the Norman king of Sicily who had taken Corfu and prepared to invade Greece. He formed an alliance with the Venetians, who within a year joined him before the fortress of Corfu, which was surrendered after an obstinate siege. He was prevented from invading Sicily by hostilities of the Servians and Hungarians, instigated by Roger, the former of whom were vanquished in two campaigns, but the latter protracted the Avar till 1152. In that year he suffered a reverse from the Turks in Cilicia, but his general John Ducas gained so great successes in southern Italy that Manuel conceived the project of reuniting the eastern and western empires.
The defeat of Alexis, the successor of John Ducas, by William, the successor of Roger, soon followed; the Sicilian admiral Maius routed the Greek fleet off Negropont, and advanced toward Constantinople; and Manuel therefore accepted an honorable peace in 1155. Those Greek prisoners who were silk weavers were retained in Italy, and gave origin to the Italian silk manufactures. In the following years he waged successful wars with Raymond, prince of Antioch, and Az ed-Din, the Turkish sultan. A new war soon broke out with Gejza II., king of Hungary, which was terminated by the defeat of the Hungarians. In 1176 he was defeated by Az ed-Din in the mountains of Pisidia, and was obliged to sign a disadvantageous peace. By breaking the treaty and renewing the war he obtained honorable terms. Depressed by this disastrous expedition, he never recovered his former military enterprise and ambition.
Manuel II. Palseologos, born in 1348, died July 21, 1425. At the death of his father John V. in 1391, he fled to Constantinople from the court of the sultan Bajazet, with whom he had been left as a hostage. The consequence was a war with Bajazet, in which Manuel was supported by an army of Hungarians, Germans, and French. The allies, under the command of Sigismund, king of Hungary and afterward emperor of Germany, were defeated in the bloody battle of Nicopolis in 1396, with the loss of 10,000 men. Constantinople was besieged, and its fall seemed impending, when the conquests of Tamerlane diverted the arms of the sultan. Manuel visited Italy, France, England, and Germany, vainly seeking assistance from the western princes. In the conflict between the Tartars and the Turks, he acted with diplomatic skill, and secured peace to his empire. He sent ambassadors to the council of Constance with instructions to urge a union of the Latin and Greek churches; but his real object was only to obtain aid from the kingdoms of the West, and to alarm the Turks by the negotiations.