On account of his mild and just reign he has been called the Byzantine Marcus Aurelius. By the personal purity and piety of his character he effected a notable improvement in the manners of his age, and he devoted his reign to restoring the Byzantine Empire to its former extents, before the disaster at Manzikert in 1071. His various successes against the invading Petchenegs, Serbians and Seljuk Turks, whose progress in Asia Minor he reverted, along with his attempts to establish Byzantine suzerainity over the Crusader States in Antioch and Edessa, did much to restore the reputation of his empire, even if the Comnenian dynasty in hindsight gave Byzantium, torn apart by corruption and invasions, but a brief respite against disintegration. His only serious - but very telling - setbacks were against the Venetians, upon whose naval strength the empire was dependent after the breakdown of the Byzantine fleet in the 11th century. An effort to reduce their extensive privileges within the empire ended with a humiliating return to status quo, many Byzantine ports being plundered in the process.
He was accidentally poisoned by his own arrow during a wild-boar hunt on Mount Taurus, on April 8, 1143.