Andronicus II and Michael IX
Under the rule of Andronicus II the Empire went into the decline from which it was destined never to fully recover. The vigorous policies of Michael VIII had sapped the strength of the newly restored State, and its actual weakness had been disguised by the diplomatic genius of its ruler.
Andronicus did not possess his fatherís great gifts for statesmanship hut he was a highly cultured man and Constantinople remained an intellectual centre throughout his long reign. In religious matters he pursued a strictly orthodox policy and the Union of the Churches, proclaimed under his father, was repudiated immediately after his accession. However, as the feudalization of the Empire gathered pace the central government soon found itself in dire financial straits, and Andronicus was obliged to make drastic cuts in the armed forces thus placing the State at the mercy of its powerful enemies. Almost the whole of Asia Minor was overrun by fresh hordes of Turkish tribes as early as 1300.
In 1295 Andronicusí son was crowned co-emperor as Michael IX and the joint reign lasted a quarter of a century until Michaelís premature death on 12th October 1320. The young Andronicus Palaeologus, son of the late co-emperor, then advanced his claim to imperial rank but his grandfather had a low opinion of the headstrong youth and rejected the demand. A period of civil war ensued which weakened the State still further. Andronicus III was ultimately triumphant and the aged Andronicus II was forced to abdicate (24th May 1328). He retired to a monastery where he died four years later as the monk Anthony.