), the last Latin emperor of the east, was descended from the noble family of Courtenay, and was the son of Peter I. of Courtenay, emperor of Constantinople, and the empress Yolanda, countess of Flanders.
He was born in 1217, and succeeded his brother, Robert, in 1228, but, on account of his youth, was put under the guardianship of John of Brienne, count De la Marche and king of Jerusalem.
The empire was in a dangerous position, being attacked in the south by Vatatzes, the Greek emperor of Nicaea, and in the north by Asan, king of Bulgaria, who in 1234 concluded an alliance with Vatatzes and laid siege to Constantinople by sea and land. Until then the regent had done very little for his ward and the realm, but when the enemy appeared under the walls of the capital the danger roused him to energy, and he compelled the besiegers to withdraw after having sustained severe losses. John of Brienne died soon afterwards. In 1337 Vatatzes and Asan once more laid siege to Constantinople, which was defended by Geoffroy de Villehardouin, prince of Achaia, while the emperor made a mendicant visit to Europe. Begging for assistance, he appeared successively at the courts of France, England, and Italy, and was exposed to humiliations of every description; he left his son Philip at Venice as a security for a debt.
At last he succeeded in gaining the friendship of Louis IX., king of France, of the emperor Frederic II., and of Pope Gregory IX., among whom Louis IX. was the most useful to him. The French king gave the unhappy emperor a large sum of money and other assistance, in return for which Baldwin permitted the king to keep several most holy relics.
With the assistance of the Latins, Baldwin obtained some advantages over Vatatzes, and in 1243 concluded an alliance with the Turks Seljuks; but notwithstanding this, he was again compelled to seek assistance among the western princes. He was present at the council of Lyon in 1245, and returned to Greece after obtaining some feeble assistance, which was of no avail against the forces of Michael Palaeologus, who had made himself master of the Nicaean empire. On the night of the 15th of July, 1261, Constantinople was taken by surprise by Alexis Caesar Strategopulus, one of the generals of Michael Palaeologus. Baldwin fled to Italy. In 1270 he nearly persuaded Charles, king of Naples, to fit out a new expedition against Michael Palaeologus, and Louis IX. of France promised to second him in the undertaking; but the death of Louis in Tunis deterred the Latin princes from any new expedition against the East. Baldwin II. died in 1275, leaving a son, Philip of Courtenay, by his wife Maria, the daughter of John of Brienne. The Latin empire in the East had lasted fifty-seven years. (Acropolita, 14, 27, 37, 78, 85, &c.; Pachymeres, Michael Palaeologus,
3.31,&c., 4.29; Nicephorus Gregor. 4.4, &c., 8.2, &c.)