The son of John II and grandson of Alexius I, Manuel was made emperor while his father was on his deathbed. John had led a formidable army towards Latin-held Antioch with the purpose of retaking this city, had just begun its siege and settled in for a protracted affair. Immediately after his ill-timed death, however, Manuel lifted the siege and immediately set course back home lest any of his brothers might attempt to contest the throne.
Manuel was a vigorous leader who possessed many of the positive characteristics common to both John and Alexius. Militarily as well as diplomatically he was unable to regain much territory lost to either the East or West but he sure put up a good fight and, at any rate, was able to arrest further nibbling at the borders; in itself a challenging task. Before dying of illness he managed to marry his son Alexius to a daughter of the King of France in a bid to strengthen the eternally shaky relations with the Western nations.
SB 1956, DOC IV 1 AU Hyperpyron Obv: Half length bust of Christ facing.
Rev: Manuel standing facing, holding labarum and globus-cruciger; manus Dei above. c.1143-1152 (Constantinople). $650 5/21/03.
SB 1957 AU (Electrum) Aspron Trachy Obv: Christ enthroned facing, beardless, wearing nimbus cross, pallium and colobium, and raising right hand in benediction, in left, scroll; on either side of nimbus, IC XC
Rev: The Virgin, nimbate on right and Manuel, beardless on left both standing facing; the Virgin wears pallium and maphorium, and with Her right hand crowns the emperor, who wears divitision and loros, and holds labarum and akakia.
SB 1970 AE Tetarteron Obv: ov mp - Virgin Mary facing with halo with a cross behind head, both hands raised.
Rev: MANOHAAEC - Manuel I facing bust wearing crown and holding labarum and cross on globe. $6 9/5/02.
SB 1977 AE Tetarteron Obv: Manuel I standing, facing, holding labarum and globe.
Rev: Monogram. $18 7/10/04.
SB 1963 AE Trachy Obv: IC - XC - Christ on throne
Rev: Manuel standing on left holding globus cruciger being crowned by Mary.