Thomas Preljubović

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Thomas Preljubović
Ruler of Epirus
Maria Paleolog.JPG
Thomas and Maria Paleologina
Reign 1366-1384
Born 14th century
Died December 23, 1384
Place of death Ioannina, Epirus
Predecessor Simeon Uroš
Successor Maria Palaeologina
Issue see Family
Father caesar Preljub
Mother Irene
Religious beliefs Serbian Orthodox Christian

Thomas Preljubović (Serbian: Тома Прељубовић / Toma Preljubović; Greek: Θωμάς Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος, Thōmas Komnēnos Palaiologos), was ruler of Epirus in Ioannina from 1366 to his death on December 23, 1384. He also held the title of Albanian-slayer (Ἀλβανιτοκτόνος).[1]


Thomas was the son of caesar Gregorios Preljub (Greek: Grēgorios Prealimpos), the Serbian governor of Thessaly, who died in late 1355 or early 1356. His mother Irene was a daughter of Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia[2] and Helena of Bulgaria.


After the violent death of his father, Thomas' claim to Thessaly was asserted by his mother Irene, but they were forced to flee to Serbia by the advance of Nikephoros II Orsini in 1356. Here Irene married Radoslav Hlapen, the ruler of Vodena, who took Thomas under his wing.

During the absence of Thessaly's new ruler Simeon Uroš Palaiologos in Epirus in 1359–1360, Hlapen invaded Thessaly, attempting to win it for his stepson. Although Simeon Uroš managed to contain the invasion, he was forced to cede Kastoria to Thomas and to marry him to his daughter Maria. Over the next several years, Simeon Uroš recognized that he could not assert effective authority over most of Epirus and delegated power in Arta and Angelokastron to local Albanian chieftains. In 1366 the citizens of Ioannina, the last major fortress to remain under Simeon Uroš's control, sent him a petition to appoint a governor who could protect them from the raids of Albanian clansmen.

Simeon Uroš responded by designating Thomas as his governor and forwarding the Ioanninan and Vagenetian (Thesprotian) embassy to him. Thomas entered Ioannina sometime in 1366 or 1367. Thomas' reign in Epirus is reflected in most detail in the so-called Chronicle of Ioannina, which is deeply prejudiced[3] and hostile against Preljubović.[4] It represents him as a cruel and capricious tyrant. Thomas seized various properties of the Church of Ioannina and awarded them to his Serbian retainers. In 1382 a new appointee to the local archbishopric, Matthew, was sent out from Constantinople, and invested Thomas with the title of despotes on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos. Nevertheless, later Thomas quarreled with the archbishop and exiled him from Ioannina.

Thomas is also accused of persecuting the local nobility and thus inspired a series of revolts against his rule. In addition to seizing ecclesiastical and private property, Thomas established new taxes and monopolies on various commodities, including fish and fruit. In addition to relying on his military forces to enforce these imposts, Thomas waged continuous war against the Albanian clans and the rulers of Arta and Angelokastron.

Soon after taking possession of Ioannina, Thomas was unsuccessfully besieged by Albanian Peter Losha of Arta; this conflict ended with the marriage of Thomas' daughter Irene to Peter's son John. When the Ljoshas lost Arta to Gjin Bua Shpata of Angelokastron, the warfare commenced anew, and was ended with a projected marriage between Gjin and Thomas' half-sister Helena. This arrangement also did not last, and in 1377 Thomas defeated an Albanian attack on Ioannina. Another attack, which came close to taking the city, was repelled in 1379. Continuously harried, Thomas turned for help to his Frankish and then his Ottoman neighbors. The latter responded promptly and dispatched an auxiliary force in 1381. Thomas put this force to good use and conquered many fortresses from his enemies in 1381–1384. His ruthless successes won him the epithet "Albanian-Slayer" (Αλβανοκτόνος, Albanoktonos).

However, Thomas had come to be on bad terms with his wife Maria, who participated in the subsequent conspiracy against her husband. On December 23, 1384, Thomas was murdered by his guards and the happy population of Ioannina swore allegiance to Maria and invited her brother John Uroš Doukas Palaiologos to come and advise her in the government.


By an unnamed mistress, Thomas II Preljubović had at least one daughter:

  • Irene, who married John Ljosha of Arta, and died in 1374/5.

By his wife Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina Thomas II possibly had a son:

  • Preljub (Prealoupes), who must have died young.


  1. ^
  2. ^ J. V. A. Fine"The Late Medieval Balkans, A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest" (1994) p 346
  3. ^ Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1984). The Despotate of Epiros, 1267-1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-521-26190-6. "The Chronicle of Ioannina is deeply prejudiced against Thomas Preljubovic." 
  4. ^ Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Edizioni Plus. p. 139. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7. "...the Chronicle of Ioannina, hostile to Thomas Preljubovic..." 


Preceded by
Simeon Uroš
Ruler of Epirus
Succeeded by