|Republican Coup of 1663
Principia Moderni III
Some of the mercenaries recruited to take part in the coup.
| Roman Empire||Republican Revolutionaries|
|Commanders and leaders|
| John IX || Andronikos Mouzalon
The Republican Coup of 1663 was an attempt to overthrow the monarchy within the Roman Empire and replace it with a constitutional republic. The coup, while ultimately a failure, had considerable effects on the Roman political system.
The coup was attempted by Andronikos Mouzalon, the consul of the Senate and an avid radical Republican, and some members of the military who felt slighted by the monarchy. Mouzalon supplemented his forces with mercenaries. Unlike the previous Theodore's Revolution, there was no general desire amongst the majority of the government or the population at large for a radical change of political structure.
Mouzalon gathered his forces and stationed them at key points throughout Constantinople, namely the harbors, the gates, and around the Imperial Palace, which was also the meeting place of the Senate. When this was done, Mouzalon walked into the Senate, declaring that the Empire had been liberated from the corrupt forces that oppressed the people. The Senate did not know how to react, with some Senators in favor of the coup while others were clearly opposed, but stayed silent in the face of Mouzalon's forces.
Unbeknownst to Mouzalon, John IX was not present in the Imperial Palace at the time. Instead, he was at the Church of the Holy Apostles, touring the tombs of his predecessors and praying. Word reached his Paramonoi before Mouzalon's forces could reach the Church, and John IX and his loyalists were able to flee. Loyal elements within the city guard were able to open the Gates of Adrianople, allowing the Emperor to flee the city. This was the third time Constantinople had fallen by deception.
John IX was able to reach Adrianople, where the local government swore allegiance to him and pledged their forces to his cause. As news spread throughout Greece, many cities and armies did the same. John IX was soon able to raise a powerful army and resolved to regain his throne, by force if needed.
Mouzalon overestimated how much support there would be for a new republican government, and few in Constantinople, let alone the Empire, declared support. He also expected the various Archons, traditional supporters of the Republican Faction and their ideas of devolved government, to support him. None did so because of his belief of no nobility and no real desire to decentralize the power away from Constantinople.
Attempts by Mouzalon to gain international support also faltered. In a bid to gain support, Mouzalon sought to moderate his image by crowning Sophia Angelina Empress in her own right. This backfired further, as Sophia was popular with the people of Constantinople, and both the people and the Senate knew this was a sham. Her use as a political pawn was very unpopular, and upon hearing of it John IX resolved to crush the coup completely.
By the time the Imperial Army had reached the city, Mouzalon was in complete control of the city. A fleet of fifty ships was readied to storm the harbors if needed, as the fortifications of Constantinople were extensive and Mouzalon had no means to obstruct both a land and naval attack. However, an assault was not needed, as the people of Constantinople opened the gates and harbors for the Emperor's forces.
Worried for his life, Mouzalon planned to hold Sophia and other members of the royal family as hostages and execute them if he did not get his wish. Fearful that their lives would be forfeit if John IX's family was murdered, the Senate took them into its custody. As Imperial troops stormed the city, the Senate denounced Mouzalon and declared that he was under arrest for high treason. The coup had lasted less than a year.
John IX regained his throne and his capital and was reunited with his family. Mouzalon was tortured, mutilated, and then hung, drawn, and quartered, the last Roman to be executed in such a fashion. Some of his closest conspirators were executed by hanging. Many of the mercenaries were exiled from the Empire, never to return on pain of death.
Mouzalon had only finished part of his five year term as Consul, and as a clear reminder of the abuse of power his seat was left vacant until the scheduled end of his term and the subsequent elections. Following the coup any support for a instant transition to a Republican system evaporated.
The affair inspired Republican Stephen Feraios to write "Unto the Defender General," one of the more popular patriotic songs in Roman culture. It also solidified Constantinople's reputation as a city that can't be stormed by force, only by treachery or popular will.