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Palaeologus, Palaeologue
Imperial Family
Byzantine Eagle.svg
Double-headed eagle with the family cypher
Country Byzantine Empire
Despotate of the Morea
Duchy of Montferrat (remaining lineage after Empire annexed by Ottomans)
Founded 11th century (11th century)
Founder Nikephoros Palaiologos (first known)
Final ruler Constantine XI Palaiologos (Byzantine Empire)
Margaret Paleologa (Montferrat)
Style(s) "Augustus"
Traditions Greek Orthodoxy (predominantly)
Roman Catholicism (remaining lineage in Montferrat)
Dissolution 1533 (1533)
Palaiologan dynasty
Michael VIII 1259–1282
with Andronikos II as co-emperor, 1261–1282
Andronikos II 1282–1328
with Michael IX (1294–1320) and Andronikos III (1321–1328) as co-emperors
Andronikos III 1328–1341
John V 1341–1391
with John VI Kantakouzenos (1347–1354), Matthew Kantakouzenos (1342–1357) and Manuel II (1373–1391) as co-emperors
Usurpation of Andronikos IV 1376–1379
Usurpation of John VII 1390
Manuel II 1391–1425
with Andronikos V (1403–1407) and John VIII (ca. 1416–1425) as co-emperors
John VIII 1425–1448
Constantine XI 1448–1453
Preceded by
Laskarids of Nicaea
Followed by
Ottoman conquest
Byzantine imperial flag under the Palaiologos dynasty

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[1] 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, where Michael VIII Palaiologos became co-emperor in 1259, recaptured Constantinople and was crowned sole emperor of the Byzantine Empire in 1261.[2] His descendants ruled the empire until the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks on May 29, 1453, becoming the longest-lived dynasty in Byzantine history; some continued to be prominent in Ottoman society long afterwards. A branch of the Palaiologos became the feudal lords of Montferrat, Italy. This inheritance was eventually incorporated by marriage to the Gonzaga family, rulers of the Duchy of Mantua, who are descendants of the Palaiologoi of Montferrat.

Dynastic genealogy

The origins of the Palaiologoi (lit. "old word", sometimes glossed as "ragman"[3] or "antique collector"[4]) 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.[4] Both were probably fabrications created to help legitimize the dynasty.[5] The family are first attested as local lords in Asia Minor, particularly Anatolikon,[4] with Nikephoros Palaiologos 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.[5] 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.[5] They followed Theodore Laskaris to Nicaea and began to assume high-ranking political offices as well.[5] Alexios Palaiologos, whose wife was a granddaughter of Zoe Doukaina (youngest daughter of Constantine X Doukas) and her husband Adrianos Komnenos (younger brother of Emperor Alexios I).[clarification needed] 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, who was descended from Zoe. The couple were the progenitors of the imperial dynasty. Their son was Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1223–1282).

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). Demetrios, after giving Mehmed II a pretext to invade Morea, was kept from his throne and remained in captivity. His daughter Helen was a member of the sultan's harem for a time. Thomas, in exile in Venice, sold the imperial title to Charles VIII of France, who however never used it for formal purposes.

Thomas' daughter Zoe (died 1503) married Ivan III of Russia and, on rejoining the Orthodox faith, returned to her earlier name Sophia. Her influence on the court curtailed the power of the boyars and eventually led to the proclamation of the Grand Prince of Muscovy as the Tsar of all the Russias. Though Thomas's male-line descendants soon became extinct, his descent lives on through a daughter and the family of Castriota Dukes of san Pietro di Galatina in south-Italian aristocracy.

Descent from Thomas to many of the current and former ruling houses of Europe comes from his descendant Charles Marie Raymond d'Arenberg. His daughter, Princess and Duchess Leopoldine d'Arenberg, married Joseph Nicholas of Windisch-Graetz, chamberlain to Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria. The Dukes in Bavaria descend from this line, as do the ruling houses of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein, and the former ruling houses of Portugal, Italy, and Romania.

Other 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".[6][7] This group stood in close contact with two powerful viziers, Mesih Pasha and Hass Murad Pasha, both of whom were members of the Palaiologos family 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.[6]

Palaiologoi emperors

Name Reign Notes
Michael VIII Palaiologos.jpg Michael VIII Palaiologos
Μιχαήλ Η΄ Παλαιολόγος
1259 - 1282
Andronikos II Palaiologos (head).jpg Andronikos II Palaiologos
Ανδρόνικος Β' Παλαιολόγος
1282–1328 Son of Michael VIII.
Michael IX Palaiologos.jpg Michael IX Palaiologos
Μιχαήλ Θ΄ Παλαιολόγος
1294 - 1320 Co-emperor, son of Andronikos II.
Andronikos III Palaiologos.jpg Andronikos III Palaiologos
Ανδρόνικος Γ' Παλαιολόγος
1328 - 1341 Son of Michael IX.
John V Palaiologos.jpg John V Palaiologos
Ιωάννης Ε' Παλαιολόγος
1341 - 1347
1354 - 1376
1379 - 1390
1390 - 1391
Son of Andronikos III (disputed by John VI Kantakouzenos, a maternal relative of the Palaiologoi).
Andronikos IV Palaiologos.jpg Andronikos IV Palaiologos
Ανδρόνικος Δ' Παλαιολόγος
1376 - 1379 Eldest son of John V.
John VII Palaiologos.gif John VII Palaiologos
Iωάννης Ζ' Παλαιολόγος
1399 - 1402
Son of Andronikos IV.
Andronikos V Palaiologos
Ανδρόνικος Ε' Παλαιολόγος
1403 - 1407 Co-emperor, son of John VII.
Manuel II Paleologus.jpg Manuel II Palaiologos
Μανουήλ Β΄ Παλαιολόγος
1391 - 1425 Younger son of John V.
Palaio.jpg John VIII Palaiologos
Ιωάννης Η' Παλαιολόγος
1425 - 1448 Eldest son of Manuel II.
Constantine XI Palaiologos miniature.jpg Constantine XI Palaiologos
Κωνσταντίνος ΙΑ' Δραγάσης
1448 - 1453 A younger son of Manuel II.

Montferrat cadet branch

A younger son of Andronikos II became lord of Montferrat as heir of his mother. His feudal dynasty ruled in Montferrat, 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.

The Paleologo-Oriundi, an extant line, descends from Flaminio, an illegitimate son of the last Palaiologos marquess John George.[8]

Dynastic relations

The reconstituted realm was very weak compared with the pre-1204 Empire. The Palaiologoi emperors were not granted the earlier luxury of isolation. Imperial marriages became increasingly mercenary and royal princesses regarded as little more than merchandise. The future Michael VIII married Theodora Palaiologina, a kinswoman of the Vatatzes Laskaris family, in order to solidify his position in the Nicean Empire.

Michael VIII's sister, Andronikos and Theodora's daughter Irene Palaiologina, was the mother of Maria Kantakuzenos, who married Constantine Tikh and Ivailo of Bulgaria in turn.

Michael VIII was the father of Constantine, who in turn fathered John, who became the father-in-law of Stefan Dečanski of Serbia.

Michael's daughter Irene married Ivan Asen III of Bulgaria, and another daughter, Eudokia Palaiologina, married John II Komnenos of Trebizond, and another daughter, Theodora, married David VI of Georgia.

Andronikos II Palaiologos married Anna of Hungary, daughter of Stephen V of Hungary and Elizabeth the Cuman. They were parents of Michael IX Palaiologos, who predeceased his father but was a co-regent, as such sometimes numbered the ninth. This Michael married Rita of Armenia, a princess of Cilician Armenia as daughter of Leo III of Armenia and Queen Keran of Armenia.

His son, the grandson of Andronikos II, was Andronikos III Palaiologos. Michael's daughter Theodora Palaiologina married Theodore Svetoslav and Michael Shishman, rulers of Bulgaria, in turn. A daughter Anna Palaiologina married first Thomas I Komnenos Doukas, Ruler of Epirus and then his successor Nicholas Orsini, already count of Kefalonia.

By his second wife, Irene of Montferrat, Andronikos II had Simonis, later the wife of Stefan Milutin of Serbia. His son, Theodore I, Marquess of Montferrat, became lord of Montferrat as heir of his mother. Theodore' inheritance was eventually incorporated by marriage to the Gonzaga family, rulers of the Duchy of Mantua.

Andronikos III married firstly Irene of Brunswick, who died without surviving issue, and secondly Anna of Savoy who was descended from Baldwin I of Constantinople. They were the parents of John V Palaiologos. John V was compelled to marry Helena Kantakouzene, a daughter of John VI Kantakouzenos.

Relief at the Castle of Mytilene, showing the family cypher of the Palaiologoi (center left) and the Gattilusi coat of arms (center right)

In order to obtain support to remove John VI, John V gave his sister Maria to Francesco I Gattilusio, who received the lordship of Lesbos, an island which remained under the control of the Genoese until the Ottoman conquest of Lesbos in 1462. They founded the noble family who continued into Italian Genoese aristocracy, being ancestors of the princes of Monaco.

Andronikos IV Palaiologos married Keratsa of Bulgaria. She was a daughter of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria.

Manuel II Palaiologos married Helena Dragaš, daughter of Constantine Dragaš who was a regional lord of the dissolved Serbian realm.

Thomas Palaiologos' daughter Zoe married Ivan III of Russia.

In 1446, Zoe's elder sister Helena Palaiologina was married to Lazar Branković, a Serbian prince. Their descendants continued for some time in the Balkans. Thomas's male-line descendants shortly became extinct.

Political history

Under the rule of the Palaiologoi (1261 - 1453), the fragmented Byzantine Empire still considered themselves to be the Roman Empire, but began to focus more on the empire's Greek heritage. The word "Hellene" began to be used again to describe themselves, after having been 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.

The family had connections throughout Europe. They married into the Bulgarian, Georgian and Serbian royal families, as well as the noble families of Trebizond, Epirus, the Republic of Genoa, Montferrat, and Muscovy.

Family tree of the House of Palaiologos

duke of Mesopotamia
∞ Anna Doukaina
(grand-nephew of Constantine X Doukas)
∞ Anna Komnene Doukaina
duke of Thessalonica
∞ Komnene
(grand-daughter of Constantine X Doukas)
megas eteriarxes
~ Irene Angelina
(daughter Alexios III Angelos)
megas doux
∞ Irene Komnene
1.Teodora Palaiologina
megas domestikos
Theodora Vatatzaina
(niece of John III Vatatzes)
(1) Michael VIII
Byzantine Emperor
(1) John
megas domestikos
∞ Tornikaina
(2) Constantine
∞ Irene Vranaina
∞ Nikephoros Tarchaneiotes
∞ John Kantakouzenos
Andronikos II
Byzantine Emperor
∞ 1.Anna of Hungary
2.Irene of Montferrat
Ivan III Asen-Mitso
tsar of Bulgaria
σύζ.Demetrios (Michael) Angelos Koutroyles
Eudokia Palaiologina
John II of Trebizond
David VI of Georgia
∞ Irene Raoulaina
∞ (daughter of pinkernes Libadarios)
(illeg.) Irene
John II Doukas
despot of Thessaly
(1) Michael IX
Byzantine Emperor
Rita of Armenia
(1) Costantine
∞ 1.Eudokia Mouzalaina
(daughter of Theodore Mouzalon)
(2) John
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Irene Choumnaina
(daughter of Nikephoros Choumnos)
(2) Simonis
Stefan Milutin
king of Serbia
(2) Theodore I
marquis of Montferrat
(2) Demetrios
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Theodora Komnene
ruler of Thessalonica
∞ Irene Metochitissa
(daughter of Theodore Metochites)
Andronikos III
Byzantine Emperor
∞ 1.Adelaide (Irene)
of Welf-Brunswick
2.Johanna (Anna) of Savoy
∞ 1.Thomas I Komnenos Doukas
despot of Epirus
2.Nicholas Orsini
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
John II
marquess of Montferrat
Matthew Kantakouzenos
Stefan Dečanski
Helena Kantakouzene
(daughter of John VI)
John V
Byzantine Emperor
Maria (Irene)
Michael IV Shishman
king of Bulgaria
Irene (Maria)
Francesco I Gattilusio
ruler of Lesbos
(illeg.) Irene
Basil of Trebizond
Theodore II
marquis of Montferrat
Dejan (magnate)
Andronikos IV
Byzantine Emperor
Keratsa Maria Shishman
of Bulgaria
Manuel II
Byzantine Emperor
Helena Dragaš of Serbia
Theodore I
despot of the Morea
Bartolomea Acciaioli
(daughter of Nerio I Acciaioli
duke of Athens)
despot of Mesembria
John Jacob
marquess of Montferrat
Konstantin Dejanović
John VII
Byzantine Emperor
∞ 1.Irene Gattilusio
Theodor II
despot of the Morea
Cleofa Malatesta
Byzantine Emperor
Anna of Moscow
2.Sophia of Montferrat
3.Maria of Trebizond
despot of Thessalonica
Constantine XI
Byzantine Emperor
∞ 1.Theodora Tocco
2.Caterina Gattilusio
despot of the Moreas
∞ 1.Kantakoyzene
2.Zoe Paraspondyle
3.Theodora Asanina
despot of the Moreas
Catherine Zaccaria
princess of Achaea
Boniface III
marquess of Montferrat
Helena Dragaš
Andronikos V
Byzantine Emperor
John II of Cyprus
1.Lazar Branković
despot of Serbia
Zoe (Sophia)
Ivan III of Russia
grand prince of Moscow
titular Byzantine Emperor
∞ Catherina
William IX
marquess of Montferrat
queen of Cyprus
1.John, Prince of Antioch
2.Louis of Cyprus
Milica Branković
Leonardo III Tocco
palatine count of Cephalonia & Zakynthos,
despot of Epirus
Vasili III of Russia
grand prince of Moscow
Boniface IV
marquess of Montferrat
Ivan IV
Emperor of Russia

See also

  • Paul Palaiologos Tagaris (c. 1320/40 – after 1394), monk and religious impostor, Latin patriarch of Constantinople, claimed spurious kinship to the Palaiologoi
  • Jacob Palaeologus (c. 1520 – 1585), reformist theologian, claimed spurious kinship to the Palaiologoi


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Gill, Joseph (1980). "Family feuds in fourteenth century Byzantium: Palaeologi and Cantacuzeni". Conspectus of History. Ball State University. 1 (5): 64.
  3. ^ Kazhdan, Alexander P. (1991). "Palaiologos". Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. III. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 1557. doi:10.1093/acref/9780195046526.001.0001. ISBN 9780195046526.
  4. ^ a b c Vannier, Jean-François (1986). "Les premiers Paléologues. Étude généalogique et prosopographique". In Cheynet, Jean-Claude (ed.). Études prosopographiques. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne. p. 129. ISBN 9782859441104.
  5. ^ a b c d "Palaeologan Dynasty (1259-1453)". Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World. Asia Minor: Foundation of the Hellenic World. 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  6. ^ a b Papademetriou 2015, p. 190.
  7. ^ Vryonis, Speros (1969). "The Byzantine Legacy and Ottoman Forms". Dumbarton Oaks Papers. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University. 23/24: 251–308. doi:10.2307/1291294. JSTOR 1291294. OCLC 31601728.
  8. ^ Cassano, Gian Paolo (July 2017). "Organo di informazione del Circolo Culturale "I Marchesi del Monferrato" "in attesa di registrazione in Tribunale"" (PDF). Bollettino del Marchesato. Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria. 3 (16): 3–9. Retrieved 13 July 2018.


  • Papademetriou, Tom (2015). Render Unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, and the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-871789-8.

External links

  • Marek, Miroslav. "Genealogy of the Palaiologos dynasty from". Genealogy.EU.
Palaiologos dynasty
Founding year: 11th century
Preceded by
Laskaris dynasty
Ruling house of the Byzantine Empire
1 January 1259 – 29 May 1453
Ottoman conquest
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