Although technically crowned emperor shortly after the death of his father Andronicus III, John was too young to have played any meaningful part in politics while his mother Anne was his regent. She, whose most incredible act during this regency was to pawn the very crown jewels for some spending cash, would become entangled in a three-way power struggle between herself, John VI and the city's top religious leaders. This continued until he was old enough to rid himself of her and stood up to John VI. John VI was the leader Byzantium really needed but he thought himself the equal and by right the true emperor. So after John VI abdicated to save the empire further stress the affairs of state were left to him.
For the rest of his long reign he might as well have twiddled his fingers. The Turks are now an unstoppable force that is aggressively annexing not only the former Byzantine territories but also those of the Bulgars, Macedonia, Thessaly and Serbia. He is also completely ineffectual in bringing to order his own domestic headaches. For while the invaders were gobbling up their lands the Byzantine powers could not settle their differences or put on hold their imperial ambitions for the common cause. All this bickering, this hopeless situation, drove him to do the unthinkable. And that was to go straight to the Sultan and sell himself out. With that he became the first Byzantine emperor puppet. And in this capacity he would be employed in the most humiliating actions against his own people for the Sultan's benefit. The only reward for his traitorous loyalty was the word of the Sultan who promised to spare Constantinople. By the time of his death in 1391, all former Byzantine cities of any signifance had been lost and the "empire" consisted of little more than Constantinople and a couple scragly provinces.
SB 2526, Grierson 1296 AU Hyperpyron Obv: Bust of Virgin orans within city walls.
Rev: Christ crowning kneeling John V and John VI. May 1347 - April 1353. $2,850 5/21/03.
SB 2474 (Andronicus III), DOC V 944 AR Basilikon Obv: St. Demetrius at left, standing facing, holding cross, and Andronicus III at right, standing facing, hand to breast.
Rev: John V standing facing, holding labarum and globus cruciger; nimbate bust of Christ above. 1341 (Constantinopolis). $1,900 5/21/03.
SB 2531 AR Half Basilikon Obv: Nimbate St. John the Baptist (or St. Demetrius) standing, holding staff and shield.
Rev: John V and VI, each clad in loros and holding labarum at sides, holding long cross between them. 1347-1353. $3,300 9/19/01.
SB 2533, DOC V 1197 Billon Tornese Obv: John V and VI standing, facing, holding labarum between them.
Rev: Cross; B's and stars in angles. 1347-1353 (Constantinople). $825 5/21/03.