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Country Empire of Nicaea
Titles Byzantine Emperor
Founder Theodore I Laskaris
Final ruler John IV Laskaris
Ethnicity Greek

The Laskaris or Lascaris (George Pachymeres, they were also called Tzamantouros (Tζαμάντουρος). The feminine form of the name is Laskarina (Λασκαρίνα).


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Laskarid emperors of Nicaea 3
  • In Italy 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7


The origin of the name is disputed: according to the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, the "most probable" etymology derives from the Persian word Lashgarī (Persian: لشگری‎‎, also Arabic askari Arabic: عسکری‎), meaning "warrior, soldier".[1][2] D. Polemis suggested that it comes from δάσκαρης, a Cappadocian variant for "teacher".[3]


The first occurrence of the name is in 1059, in a will by Eustathios Boilas, but the people mentioned there were simple peasants. Another family surnamed Laskaris appears in Thessalonica from ca. 1180 on, but the relation with the imperial dynasty, if any, is unclear.[1]

The first Laskaris of note were Constantine and Theodore, the sons of Manuel "Manolis" Laskaris and Ioanna Phokaina Karatzaina (Ἰωάννα Φώκαινα Καράτζαινα), who became prominent in Constantinople during the latter years of the Angeloi dynasty, when Theodore had married Anna Komnene Angelina, a daughter of Alexios III Angelos. According to Niketas Choniates, immediately prior to the sack of the city by the Fourth Crusade, Constantine was elected emperor by the people, but had to flee before the Latins. Together with Theodore, he led the anti-Latin resistance of the native Byzantine Greek population in Asia Minor, but it was Theodore who established a new empire in exile, the Empire of Nicaea. There were also three older brothers, Manuel, Michael and George, and two younger ones, Alexios and Isaac.

Constantine died probably ca. 1211. Theodore I, whose children Nikolaos and John died ca. 1212, was succeeded in 1222 by his son-in-law, Palaiologan dynasty, the Laskarids retained a certain prominence: several members of the family were local governors and courtiers. Among the most notable members are Manuel Laskaris, Domestic of the Schools ca. 1320, and Alexios, a megas hetaireiarches ca. 1370.[1] John Pegonites Laskaris was a composer who lived in Venetian-held Crete in the first half of the 15th century, while the scholars Constantine Lascaris and John Ryndakenos Laskaris were among the many who fled the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans and found refuge in Italy,[1] where they helped spark the Renaissance.

Laskarid emperors of Nicaea

In Italy

In 1269 the Count of Ventimiglia, Gugliemo Pietro I Balbo married Eudossia Laskaris, daughter of Emperor Theodore II Laskaris.[4] From this union came the dynasty of the Lascaris of Tenda, who governed the sovereign County of Tenda until 1501 when the last of them, Anna Lascaris, married Renato of Savoy (in French René de Savoie) and transferred the County to his cadet branch of the Savoy dynasty. The most famous member of this branch of Lascaris was Beatrice of Tenda.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kazhdan (1991), p. 1180
  2. ^ Marcus Louis Rautman, Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire, (Greenwood Publishing, 2006), 19.
  3. ^ Polemis (1968), p. 139
  4. ^ W.A.B. Coolidge, "The History of the Col de Tenda", The English Historical Review, 31 (1916), p. 202.


  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991),  
  • Polemis, Demetrios I. (1968), The Doukai: A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography, London: Athlone Press 
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