In September 1183, a Byzantine nobleman of the imperial family schemed his way to the throne by deposing (and perhaps killing) his young relative, Alexios II Komnenos. The schemer was the short-ruled Andronikos I Komnenos. Andornikos’ reign was marked by his distrust of Byzantine noble families and his attempts to limit their power – often by killing them. Andronikos also had many of the Western Latin Christians in Constantinople killed, seriously damaging the empire’s economy, but ridding himself of a “disloyal” population. During the summer of the second year of the emperor’s reign (1185), Byzantium faced invasion by crusading armies from Sicily looking to cross into the Holy Land. Andronikos was having none of it and came to blows with a Sicilian army. The emperor was forced to withdraw from his capital by the Western adversaries. Seizing the opportunity, Andronikos’ enemies at home declared the emperor deposed and placed Isaac Angelos on the throne. The deposed emperor attempted to make his escape, but was captured by Isaac’s men on September 12, 1185 and returned to the capital where Andronikos was sentenced to a terrible death in retribution for his own terrible actions.
Andronikos has his beard plucked and his head shaven. The wives of men he had killed or blinded were permitted to beat upon him and these women gouged out his eyes. His nose was filled with cow dung and his teeth were removed. He was marched through Constantinople and his erstwhile subjects pelted him with rocks. A well-known prostitute poured a bucket of boiling water of his head. Andronikos maintained his dignity despite these assaults and was eventually put out of his misery by being stabbed down his throat. Quite an end for a notably harsh ruler – certainly worthy of Game of Thrones!