Double-headed eagle with the family cypher
Despotate of the Morea
Duchy of Montferrat
1259 (as Imperial Family)
|Founder||Nikephoros Palaiologos (first known)|
Michael VIII Palaiologos (first emperor)
|Final ruler||Constantine XI Palaiologos (Byzantine Empire)|
Thomas Palaiologos (Morea)
Margaret Paleologa (Montferrat)
|Traditions||Greek Orthodoxy (predominantly; 11th century–1460)|
Roman Catholicism (Montferrat lineage and lineage in exile)
|Dissolution||1453 (Byzantine rule)|
1460 (rule in the Morea)
1536 (Montferrat cadet branch)
The Palaiologos (pl. Palaiologoi; Greek: Παλαιολόγος, pl. Παλαιολόγοι), also found in English-language literature as Palaeologus or Palaeologue, was the name of a Byzantine Greek family, which rose to nobility and ultimately produced the last ruling dynasty of the Byzantine Empire.
Founded by the 11th-century general Nikephoros Palaiologos and his son George, the family rose to the highest aristocratic circles through its marriage into the Doukas and Komnenos dynasties. After the Fourth Crusade, members of the family fled to the neighboring Empire of Nicaea, ruled by the Laskaris family, where Michael VIII Palaiologos became senior co-emperor to the young John IV Laskaris in 1259. In 1261, forces loyal to Michael recaptured Constantinople, which had been under the occupation of the Latin Empire since the Fourth Crusade sacked the city in 1204, and Michael VIII was crowned in the Hagia Sophia as sole emperor. For the next 192 years, Michael's descendants ruled the Byzantine Empire until the death of Constantine XI Palaiologos and the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks on May 29, 1453, becoming the longest-lived dynasty in Byzantine history.
Following the fall of Constantinople, members of the family scattered. One branch of the family, descended from Emperor Andronikos II, had ruled the Duchy of Montferrat in Italy as feudal lords since 1306 and continued to do so until its extinction in 1536. Some Palaiologoi attained prominent positions within Ottoman society in the decades following Constantinople's fall. The surviving brothers of the final emperor Constantine XI; Demetrios and Thomas Palaiologos, quarreled over who was the rightful heir to the empire, their last certain descendants with the Palaiologos name died in the 16th century, although one branch with alleged, but uncertain, descent from Thomas survived until the 17th century in Barbados and England.
Not all who bore the name Palaiologos were closely related to the imperial line, even in Byzantine times, and in the centuries following Constantinople's fall, many Palaiologoi spread out across Europe, mainly settling in Italy or choosing to remain in the Ottoman Empire. The last name, and variations of it, remains in use in Greece and elsewhere, although connections between any living Palaiologoi and the old imperial dynasty cannot be confidently established.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Imperial line
- 3 Line in Montferrat
- 4 Palaiologoi in Cornwall and Barbados
- 5 Other Palaiologoi
- 6 Legacy
- 7 Family tree of the Palaiologoi (11th–16th century)
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The origins of the Palaiologoi (lit. "old word", sometimes glossed as "ragman" or "antique collector") are unknown. Later traditions sometimes tied them to the Italian city of Viterbo (the Latin vetus verbum, a dubious etymology of the town's name, having the same meaning as the family's name) or to the Romans who immigrated east with Constantine the Great during the founding of his new capital. Both were probably fabrications created to help legitimize the dynasty. The family are first attested as local lords in Asia Minor, particularly Anatolikon, with Nikephoros Palaiologos (died 1081) rising to command over Mesopotamia under Michael VII Doukas. He supported the revolt of Nikephoros III Botaneiates, while his son George married Anna Doukaina and therefore supported his sister-in-law's husband Alexios Komnenos during his rise to power. As commander (doux) of Dyrrhachium, George faced the Norman Duke Robert Guiscard in battle.
The Palaiologoi held military offices and further united their family to the Doukai and Komnenoi during the 12th century. They followed Theodore Laskaris to Nicaea and began to assume high-ranking political offices as well. During the 13th century, the Palaiologoi continued to increase in prestige following their various marriages with prominent Byzantine families and their active role within the Empire of Nicaea, one of the Byzantine successor states founded after the crusaders of the Fourth Crusade captured Constantinople and established the Latin Empire. Alexios Palaiologos (died 1203) married a granddaughter of Zoe Doukaina (youngest daughter of Constantine X Doukas) and her husband Adrianos Komnenos (younger brother of Emperor Alexios I). Another Alexios Palaiologos married Irene Angelina, eldest daughter of Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera. The latter couple's daughter Theodora Palaiologina married her cousin Andronikos Palaiologos (c. 1190–1248/52), who was descended from Zoe. The couple were the progenitors of the imperial dynasty. Their son was Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1223–1282).
The fact that the Palaiologoi were descended from most of the major Byzantine dynasties was reflected in their choice of presenting their names. For instance, Michael VIII Palaiologos referred to himself as Michael Komnenos Doukas Angelos Palaiologos.
Under the rule of the Palaiologoi (1259–1453), the fragmented Byzantine Empire still considered themselves to be the Roman Empire, but began to focus more on the empire's Greek heritage than previous dynasties had. The word "Hellene" began to be used more frequently than before to describe themselves, after having been seen as a synonym for "pagan" for many centuries. The dynasty was a patron of literature and the arts; among others, George Gemistos Plethon came to prominence. The hesychasm controversy also took place during the rule of the Palaiologoi dynasty.
At the later days of their empire the Peloponnese was the largest and wealthiest part of the empire, and was ruled as the Despotate of Morea by members of the Palaiologos family, often two or three younger brothers simultaneously. Although they often squabbled amongst themselves they were usually fiercely loyal to the emperor in Constantinople (though sometimes they sought to supplant the emperor and rise to the throne), while their land was surrounded by hostile Venetians and Turks. The capital of the despotate was Mystras, a large fortress built by the Palaiologoi near Sparta.
The Palaiologoi twice attempted to reunite the Eastern Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church, hoping this would lead the West to give them aid against the Turks. The first attempt was at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274 under Michael VIII Palaiologos and the second in 1438-39 under John VIII Palaiologos at the Council of Ferrara-Florence. Every attempt at reunification was strongly opposed by the regular clergy and the general population.
After having been reduced in size due to outside invasion and internal civil war, the Byzantine Empire of the 15th century had shrunk to the cities of Constantinople, Thessalonica and the Morea. Thessalonica fell in the 1430s and Constantonople was eventually captured by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II on 29 May 1453, with the final Emperor, Constantine XI Palaiologos, dying in the fighting.
Michael VIII's son Andronikos II Palaiologos (1259–1332) married Anne of Hungary and fathered Michael Palaiologos (1277–1320), sometimes numbered the ninth. Michael IX married Rita of Armenia. Their son, the grandson of Andronikos II, was Andronikos III Palaiologos (1297–1341). Andronikos III married Anna of Savoy. Their son was John V Palaiologos (1332–1391). John V married Helena Kantakouzene, a daughter of his co-ruler John VI Kantakouzenos. Their sons included Andronikos IV Palaiologos (1348–1385) and Manuel II Palaiologos (1350–1425). Manuel II married Helena Dragaš. They were the parents of John VIII Palaiologos (1392–1448) and Constantine XI Palaiologos (1404–1453), the last Byzantine emperor, as well as the despots of Morea Demetrios Palaiologos (1407–1470) and Thomas Palaiologos (1409–1465).
|Michael VIII Palaiologos||1259–1282|
|Andronikos II Palaiologos||1282–1328||Son of Michael VIII|
|Michael IX Palaiologos||1295–1320; with Andronikos II||Son of Andronikos II|
|Andronikos III Palaiologos||1328–1341||Son of Michael IX|
|John V Palaiologos||1341–1376; with John VI Kantakouzenos 1347–1379
|Son of Andronikos III|
|Andronikos IV Palaiologos||1376–1379||Son of John V|
|John VII Palaiologos||1390
1403–1408; as "Emperor of All Thessaly"
|Son of Andronikos IV|
|Manuel II Palaiologos||1391–1425||Son of John V|
|Andronikos V Palaiologos||1403–1407; with John VII in Thessaly||Son of John VII|
|John VIII Palaiologos||1425–1448||Son of Manuel II|
|Constantine XI Palaiologos||1449–1453||Son of Manuel II|
After the fall of Constantinople and the death of Constantine XI, his two surviving brothers (and the co-Despots of the Morea) Demetrios and Thomas both claimed the title of emperor and civil war erupted in the Morea. In 1460, Demetrios called on sultan Mehmed II for aid, but the plan backfired as Mehmed proceeded to conquer the despotate. Although Thomas had sought aid from both the Pope and the Republic of Genoa against Demetrios and the Ottomans, little of this support had materialised. Demetrios and his wife Theodora were allowed to remain in the Ottoman Empire as subjects of the Sultan and Demetrios was even given the town of Ainos in Thrace, as well as parts of the islands of Thasos and Samothrace, as an appanage. A few years later, possibly due to attempting to cheat tax officials, Demetrios, his wife and his daughter Helena fell out of the Sultan's favor and lived the rest of their lives in poverty. Demetrios eventually retired to a monastery, taking the monastic name David, and died in 1470.
Thomas had first fled to Corfu but later moved to Rome where he made a ceremonial entrance as Emperor of Constantinople on March 7, 1461. Thomas continued to live in Rome for the rest of his life and was officially recognized as the legitimate Emperor of Constantinople by Pope Pius II. To create greater support for his cause, Thomas officially changed his religion from Greek Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Thomas actually hoped to regain his lost lands. When preparations were being made for a crusade to take Constantinople in the 1460s, Thomas toured Italy in order to raise sympathy and support, though no crusade successfully materialised.
After Thomas's death in 1465 his oldest son Andreas Palaiologos (born 1453) continued claiming the position of Emperor. Andreas and his brother Manuel had continued to live in Corfu and did not see their father again until the last few days before Thomas died. After that, Andreas lived in Rome, also with support for his claim as the heir of the eastern imperial throne. Andreas repeatedly overspent the money donated too him by the Pope (which perhaps was only enough for a meager lifestyle) and married Caterina a "lady from the streets of Rome".
Andreas did travel across Europe in search for powerful rulers who might aid him in reclaiming Constantinople and the imperial throne but there were none that would support him. In the late summer of 1481, Andreas gathered funds and support in southern Italy in order to attack the Ottomans, hoping that a great civil war would occur in the empire due to the death of Mehmed II. When this did not happen, Andreas called off the attack.
Desperate for money, Andreas sold the rights to the Byzantine crown twice; first to Charles VIII of France in 1494 and then to Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile around the year 1500. It is doubtful that he ever received the money owed as his widow had to beg the Pope for money to pay for his funeral after he died in poverty on April 7, 1502. Although it is uncertain if Andreas ever had children, Donald M. Nicol's The Immortal Emperor recognises Constantine Palaiologos, who served in the Papal Guard, and a woman named Maria, who married the Russian noble Vasily Mikhailovich, as possible children of Andreas. An illegitimate daughter of Constantine Palaiologos is present in some Italian sources; she is identified as Domitia or Dominique, the concubine of Evandro Conti (a Roman nobleman descendant of the family of Pope Innocent III) and mother of his illegitimate children: Mario (or Marzio, Mars) and Giulia. Mario Conti was Knight of Malta; who died during the Great Siege of Malta, in the defense of Fort St. Elmo, in 1565, without descendants. His sister, Giulia Conti, was a nun in the monastery of Saints Simeon and Jude, in Viterbo, under the name of Sister Stefania.
In an effort to reunite the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Pope Paul II arranged during 1472 a marriage between the Catholic daughter of Thomas Palaiologos, Zoe Palaiologina (renamed Sophia), and Grand Prince Ivan III of Russia, with the hope of making Russia a Roman Catholic country. Though the attempt to join the churches failed, the marriage became one of the building blocks from which Moscow could in later centuries claim to be the "third Rome" (after the first Rome, Rome, and the second Rome, Constantinople). Sophia was visited in both 1480 and 1491 by her brother Andreas, who both times begged her for money.
Line in Montferrat
A younger son of Emperor Andronikos II, Theodore, became lord of Montferrat in 1306 as heir of his mother. His feudal dynasty ruled in Montferrat until 1536, longer than the imperial branch did in Constantinople. This inheritance was eventually incorporated by marriage to the Gonzaga family, rulers of the Duchy of Mantua, who descend from the Palaiologoi of Montferrat. Later, that succession passed to the Dukes of Lorraine, whose later head became the progenitor of the Habsburg-Lorraine emperors of Austria.
|Theodore I||1306–1338||Son of Emperor Andronikos II|
|John II||1338–1372||Son of Theodore I|
|Secondotto||1372–1378||Son of John II|
|John III||1378–1381||Son of John II|
|Theodore II||1381–1418||Son of John II|
|John Jacob||1418–1445||Son of Theodore II|
|John IV||1445–1464||Son of John Jacob|
|William VIII||1464–1483||Son of John Jacob|
|Boniface III||1483–1494||Son of John Jacob|
|William IX||1494–1518||Son of Boniface III|
|Boniface IV||1518–1530||Son of William IX|
|John George||1530–1533||Son of Boniface III|
|Margaret||1533–1536||Daughter of William IX|
Palaiologoi in Cornwall and Barbados
In the late 16th century, three Palaiologoi who claimed descent from Thomas Palaiologos through his son John lived in the town of Pesaro in Italy; a Theodore Palaiologos and his uncles Scipione and Leonidas Palaiologos. Their lineage is uncertain though, as there is no independent evidence that Thomas had a son by the name of John. If their claims to being descended from Thomas are false, the imperial Palaiologos line became extinct with the death of Andreas Palaiologos in 1502, or with the death of his potential son Constantine at some point in the 16th century. After Theodore, Scipione and Leonidas were convicted of an attempted murder (for which Leonidas was executed), Theodore either chose or was forced to leave Italy. In the early 17th century, Theodore worked as a soldier and an assassin in the service of Henry Clinton, the Earl of Lincoln. At Tattershall Castle (Clinton's estate), Theodore met the famous captain and explorer John Smith and gradually helped him return to society after he had retired into seclusion at the castle. In 1600, Theodore married the daughter of the nobleman William Balls of Hadleigh, Suffolk, Mary Balls, with whom he had several children. Theodore finally settled down in Landulph, Cornwall. He died on the 21st of January 1636 and was buried that same year.
In total, Theodore had seven children (four sons and three daughters) with Mary, although his first son, also called Theodore, died in infancy. One of his daughters died young and it is unlikely that the other two, Maria and Dorothea (died in 1674 and 1681 respectively), had children as Maria likely never married and Dorothea only married at the age of fifty (to William Arundel, a man from Cornwall). Among his three surviving sons were another son named Theodore (born in 1609) who served as a Captain in the Parliamentarian army during the English Civil War, dying in 1644 and being buried in Westminster Abbey, a son named John Theodore Palaiologos (born in 1611) who is recorded to have lived in Barbados in his thirties and Ferdinand Palaiologos (born in 1619).
Ferdinand followed John Theodore to Barbados. They were some of the very first colonists to set foot on Barbados as it had only been discovered in 1620. John Theodore's eventual fate is unknown, no longer being mentioned in any source after 1644. Ferdinand stayed in Barbados and was known on the island as the "Greek prince from Cornwall". He married a woman called Rebecca Pomfrett with whom he had a son named Theodore, and died in October 1670. Perhaps the Imperial line of Palaiologoi never truly stopped dreaming of Constantinople; unlike the usual burial custom (feet to the west and head to the east), Ferdinand was buried with his head directly pointing towards the ancient capital. A monument with an inscription commemorating Ferdinand was erected near his grave in 1906.
Ferdinand's son Theodore returned to Europe, at first working as a sailor in England and settling in Stepney, London where he had a son and a posthumous daughter with his wife, a Martha Bradbury from Barbados. Theodore died in Spain at A Coruña in 1693. If his son was still alive by then, he was not mentioned in his will, which was solely dedicated to his wife Martha.
In the Ottoman Empire
Some branches of the Palaiologoi remained in Ottoman Constantinople, and even prospered in the immediate post-conquest period. In the decades after 1453, Ottoman tax registers show a consortium of noble Greeks co-operating to bid for the lucrative tax farming district including Constantinople and the ports of western Anatolia. This group included names like "Palologoz of Kassandros" and "Manuel Palologoz". This group stood in close contact with two powerful viziers, Mesih Pasha and Hass Murad Pasha, both of whom were Palaiologoi and had converted to Islam after the fall of Constantinople, as well as with other converted scions of Byzantine and Balkan aristocratic families like Mahmud Pasha Angelović, forming what the Ottomanist Halil İnalcık termed a "Greek faction" at the court of Mehmed II. It is possibly that Mesih Pasha and Hass Murad Pasha were the illegitimate sons of one of Constantine XI Palaiologos's brothers.
In Christian Europe
Despite the fact that the imperial line established by Michal VIII Palaiologos likely died out at some point in the 16th or 17th century, contenders for the imperial Byzantine title emerged multiple times in different parts of Europe for several centuries. The family Palaiologos had already been quite widespread during the late Byzantine Empire and not all who bore the name were closely related to the imperial line. Acting as a penniless refugee from Byzantium, the name Palaiologos could lend whoever bore it prestige, if not monetary support from a prince, a pope or a cardinal. Many such Palaiologoi settled in Venice and other parts of Italy.
Several such Palaiologoi served as cavalrymen in the service of the Republic of Venice. Among well-documented Palaiologoi were a Teodoro Paleologo, likely originally from Mystras, who died in 1532, a Giovanni around 1482, Annibale Paleologus and his son Laeziniano around 1586, a Lucio Andronico Paleologo at the beginning of the 16th century and an Andrea Paleologo Graitzas around 1460. A large number of people with the last name Palaiologos (or variations thereof) living in Athens today still claim descent from this Andrea Paleologo Graitzas.
The use of titles and claims, even fake ones, by people from the Balkans also served as a way to remind the Western Europeans of the suffering that the people of the east had endured, thus becoming a means to earn sympathy and trust. Furthermore, if you were of noble birth it was likelier that you would be treated well. There was a "Michael Palaiologos" in Rome in 1505, who managed to convince Pope Julius II to send letters to the kings of Western Europe in the hope of raising ransom money so that Michael could pay the Ottomans for the release of his wife and children. Michael claimed to be related (in various ways) to the "Duke of Constantinople". Even though "Palaiologos" might have been his real last name, he was likely not closely related to the imperial line. Although successful in convincing the Pope and travelling northern Europe with Latin translations of the Pope's letter, he had little success in raising further sympathy. When he reached Turnhout in Flanders, Michael was accused of being an impostor and promptly imprisoned, after which nothing more is known of his fate.
The Palaiologos dynasty had a lasting impact on the Greeks though the centuries of Ottoman rule, having been the last to govern independent Greek lands. The provisional government of the newly liberated Greece in the 19th century sent a delegation to Britain in search for living members or descendants of the Palaiologoi that could be offered the Greek throne and though the grave of Theodore Palaiologos in Landulph, Cornwall was noted, the delegation failed to find any living descendants. The noble who eventually was selected as the first King of Greece was Otto of Bavaria who through his ancestor John II, Duke of Bavaria, was a descendant of the Laskaris dynasty (John being a great-great-great-grandson of Theodore I Laskaris through his daughter Maria Laskarina), the dynasty which the Palaiologoi had overthrown 571 years prior.
Family tree of the Palaiologoi (11th–16th century)
duke of Mesopotamia
∞ Anna Doukaina
(grand-nephew of Constantine X Doukas)
∞ Anna Komnene Doukaina
duke of Thessalonica
(grand-daughter of Constantine X Doukas)
~ Irene Angelina
(daughter Alexios III Angelos)
∞ Irene Komnene
(niece of John III Vatatzes)
HOUSE OF VATATZES
|(1) Michael VIII|
∞ Irene Vranaina
∞ Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes
∞ John Kantakouzenos
∞ 1.Anna of Hungary
2.Irene of Montferrat
∞ Ivan III Asen-Mitso
tsar of Bulgaria
σύζ.Demetrios (Michael) Angelos Koutroyles
∞ John II of Trebizond
∞ David VI of Georgia
∞ Irene Raoulaina
∞ (daughter of pinkernes Libadarios)
∞ John II Doukas
despot of Thessaly
|(1) Michael IX|
∞ Rita of Armenia
∞ 1.Eudokia Mouzalaina
(daughter of Theodore Mouzalon)
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Irene Choumnaina
(daughter of Nikephoros Choumnos)
∞ Stefan Milutin
king of Serbia
|(2) Theodore I|
marquis of Montferrat
BRANCH OF MONTFERRAT
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Theodora Komnene
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Irene Metochitissa
(daughter of Theodore Metochites)
∞ 1.Adelaide (Irene)
2.Johanna (Anna) of Savoy
∞ 1.Thomas I Komnenos Doukas
despot of Epirus
palatine count of Cefalinia & Zakynthos
despot of Epirus
∞ 1.Theodore-Svetoslav Terter
tsar of Bulgaria
2.Michael III Shishman
tsar of Bulgaria
governor of Mesembria
marquess of Montferrat
∞ Matthew Kantakouzenos
∞ Stefan Dečanski
(daughter of John VI)
HOUSE OF KANTAKOUZENOS
∞ Michael IV Shishman
king of Bulgaria
∞ Francesco I Gattilusio
ruler of Lesbos
∞ Basil of Trebizond
marquis of Montferrat
∞ Dejan (magnate)
∞ Keratsa Maria Shishman
∞ Helena Dragaš of Serbia
despot of the Morea
∞ Bartolomea Acciaioli
(daughter of Nerio I Acciaioli
duke of Athens)
despot of Mesembria
marquess of Montferrat
∞ 1.Irene Gattilusio
despot of the Morea
∞ Cleofa Malatesta
∞ Anna of Moscow
2.Sophia of Montferrat
3.Maria of Trebizond
despot of Thessalonica
∞ 1.Theodora Tocco
despot of the Moreas
despot of the Moreas
∞ Catherine Zaccaria
princess of Achaea
marquess of Montferrat
∞ John II of Cyprus
despot of Serbia
∞ Ivan III of Russia
grand prince of Moscow
titular Byzantine Emperor
marquess of Montferrat
queen of Cyprus
1.John, Prince of Antioch
2.Louis of Cyprus
∞ Leonardo III Tocco
palatine count of Cephalonia & Zakynthos,
despot of Epirus
|Vasili III of Russia|
grand prince of Moscow
marquess of Montferrat
Emperor of Russia
- Vasiliev, Aleksandr A. (1964). History of the Byzantine Empire. 2. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 583. ISBN 9780299809263.
The dynasty of the Palaeologi belonged to a very well known Greek family which, beginning with the first Comneni, gave Byzantium many energetic and gifted men, especially in the military field.
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— Imperial house —
Founding year: 11th century
| Ruling house of the Byzantine Empire
1 January 1259 – 29 May 1453