Who was Alexios Branas?
Alexios Branas was doubly linked to the imperial Komnenos family. He was the son of Michael Branas and of Maria Komnene, who was the great-niece of Alexios I Komnenos. He himself married Anna Vatatzaina, the niece of Manuel I Komnenos, and her sister, Theodora, was Manuel's lover.
Branas was one of relatively few generals who never rebelled against Andronikos I Komnenos, who rewarded his loyalty by raising him to the exalted rank of protosebastos. Branas led several successful campaigns on his behalf, against the forces of Béla III of Hungary in 1183, against a rebellion led by Andronikos, Isaac and Alexios Angelos in 1184, and against the Norman invaders under William II of Sicily in 1185.
In 1187, shortly after the accession of Isaac II Angelos, Branas was sent to counter the Vlach-Bulgarian Rebellion. This time he did rebel, but was defeated by Conrad of Montferrat, the emperor's brother-in-law, who commanded the centre of the imperial forces in the battle. Branas wounded Conrad, who nevertheless unhorsed him, his lance striking the cheekpiece of his helmet.
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