Introduction. The recapture of Constantinople by a small detachment of Nicaeans in 1261 looks like an accident and the successful combination of circumstances for the Byzantines. However, we cannot accept this event as accidental. Of particular importance are the consistent conquering efforts of the Empire of Nicaea. In this case, the capture of the city should be considered as the final stage of a long and multifaceted military operation. The main objective of the article is the military-historical reconstruction of these events. The long-term military campaign of Michael VIII Palaiologos to conquer Constantinople is also of interest for the study of combat practice. In addition, it is of particular importance in the study of the Early Palaiologan military-strategic concept and the Late Byzantine military art in general. Methods. The reconstruction of the events of the long-term campaign to retake Constantinople is based on the use of all classical methods of historical research and a systematic approach. Analysis and results. The result of our research makes thinking that Constantinople was not taken by chance in 1261. The retaken of the capital was as a result of the implementation of the essentially insidious plan of Emperor Michael VIII. Lacking sufficient armed forces and means for a full-fledged siege of the city, the emperor twice tried to seize the capital of the Latin Empire. He counted on the effect of an internal factor in the form of treason or support for anti-Latin forces. It is quite obvious that the second option was successful. Authors’ contribution. N.D. Barabanov analyzed the event-chronological aspect of the campaign of Michael VIII in 1259–1261, while V.A. Zolotovskiy reconstructed the final military operation to capture Constantinople by Byzantine troops in 1261.

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