The Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Παλαιολόγος, pl. Παλαιολόγοι) was a Byzantine Greek noble family and the last ruling
Dynastyof the Byzantine Empire. After the Fourth Crusademembers of the family escaped to Nicaea and eventually gained control of the empire-in-exile there. Michael VIII Palaiologosbecame emperor in 1259 and recaptured Constantinoplein 1261. Michael's descendants ruled until the fall of Constantinoplein 1453, becoming the longest-lived dynasty in Byzantine history.
The Palaiologoi were originally petty rulers from
Macedonia (theme). The family was an old one. George Palaiologoswas a friend of Alexios I Komnenosand commanded the garrison of Dyrrhachium during the Battle of Dyrrhachium against the Normansin 1081, but its earliest generations are unknown. The first to marry into an imperial family was one Alexios Palaiologos, whose wife was a granddaughter of Zoe Dukaina, youngest daughter of Constantine X, and her husband Adrianos Komnenos, younger brother of Emperor Alexios I. Another Alexios Palaiologos married Irene Angelina, eldest daughter of Alexios IIIand Euphrosyne Camatera. 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.
Michael VIII's son Andronikos II married Anna of
Hungaryand fathered Michael Palaiologos, sometimes numbered the ninth. His son, the grandson of Andronikos II, was Andronikos III Palaiologos.
John V was the father, with Helena, a daughter of
John VI Kantakuzenos, of Andronikos IV Palaiologosand Manuel II Palaiologos.
Manuel II was the father of
John VIII Palaiologosand Constantine XI, the last Byzantine emperor( Constantine XI Palaiologos), as well as the despots of Morea Demetrios Palaiologosand Thomas Palaiologos.
Demetrios, after giving
Mehmed IIa 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 married
Ivan III of Russiaand, on rejoining the Orthodox faith, returned to her earlier name Sophia. Her influence on the court curtailed the power of the boyarsand eventually led to the proclamation of the Grand Prince of Muscovyas the Tsarof all the Russias. Thomas's male-line descendants soon went extinct, and his descent lives on through a daughter and the family of Castriota Dukes of san Pietro di Galatina in south-Italian aristocracy.
One such female descendant, Princess d'Arenberg, married at the beginning of the 19th century a
Pfalzgrafof Zweibrücken, whereby the Dukes of Bavariadescend from Byzantine emperors. Also Queen Anne, consort of former king Michael of Romaniadescends from these Arenbergs, thus being a descendant of Byzantine emperors of Constantinople.
*Reportedly Hernia, first wife of Emperor
Isaac II Angelos(reign 1185-1195) was of the Palaiologos family.
A cadet branch
A younger son of Andronikos II became lord of
Montferratas heir of his mother. His feudal dynasty lived in north Italy, longer than the imperial branch 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-Lorraineemperors of Austria.
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Andronikos II Palaiologos, son of Michael VIII
Michael IX Palaiologos, co-emperor, son of Andronikos II
Andronikos III Palaiologos, son of Michael IX
John V Palaiologos, son of Andronicus III (disputed by John VI Kantakuzenos, a maternal relative of the Palaiologoi)
Andronikos IV Palaiologos, eldest son of John V
John VII Palaiologos, son of Andronikos IV
Andronikos V Palaiologos, co-emperor, son of John VII
Manuel II Palaiologos, younger son of John V
John VIII Palaiologos, eldest son of Manuel II
Constantine XI Palaiologos, a younger son of Manuel II
The reconstituted realm was very weak compared with the pre-1204 Empire. The Palaiologoi emperors cannot have afforded the earlier luxury of isolation. Imperial marriages and princesses became like traded goods. The future Michael VIII married
Theodora Doukaina Vatatzina, a kinswoman of the Batatzes Lascaris 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
Ivailoof Bulgariain turn.
Michael VIII was the father of Constantine, who in turn fathered John, who became the father-in-law of
Stefan Decanskyof 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, David VI of Georgia. Andronikos II Palaiologosmarried Anna of Hungary, daughter of Stephen V of Hungaryand 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 Armeniaand Queen Keran of Armenia.
His son, the grandson of Andronikos II, was
Andronikos III Palaiologos. Michael's daughter Theodora Palaiologina married Theodore Svetoslavand 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, Yolanda of Montferrat, Andronikos II had Simonis, later the wife of
Stefan Milutinof 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 first
Adelheid of Brunswick, who died without surviving issue, and second Anna of Savoywho was descended from Baldwin I of Constantinople. They were parents of John V Palaiologos. John V was compelled to marry Helena Kantakouzene, a daughter of John VI Kantakouzenos.
In order to obtain support to remove John VI, John V gave his sister Maria to Francesco I Gattilusio, who received the Duchy of
Lesbos. They founded the noble family who continued into Italian Genovese aristocracy, being ancestors of the princes of Monaco. Andronikos IV Palaiologosmarried Keratsa of Bulgaria. She was a daughter of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria. Manuel II Palaiologosmarried Helena Dragaš, daughter of Constantine Dragaswho was a regional lord of the dissolved Serbian realm. Demetrios Palaiologosdaughter Helen was a member of the harem of Mehmed IIfor a time. Thomas Palaiologos' daughter Zoe married Ivan III of Russia.
In 1446, Sofia'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 soon went extinct.
Under the rule of the Palaiologoi, the fragmented empire still claimed descent from 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 Plethoncame to prominence. The hesychasmcontroversy also took place during the rule of the Palaiologoi dynasty.
At the later days of their empire the
Peloponnesewas the largest and wealthiest part of the empire, and was ruled as the Despotate of Moreaby 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 frequently attempted to reunite the
Eastern Orthodox Churchwith the Roman Catholic Church, hoping this would lead the West to give them aid against the Turks. Every attempt at reunification was strongly opposed by 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.
Due to their relations and intermarriage with Western dynastic families, the Palaiologoi were the first Imperial family to use crests and coats of arms in the Western sense. Originally, the family's dynastic arms consisted of a gold cross on a red field. After his ascent to the imperial throne and subsequent recapture of Constantinople in 1261,
Michael VIII Palaiologosadded four outward-facing gold ' B's or Fire Steles (Greek: Πυρεκβόλα - Pyrekvola) in the quarters. Known as the "tetragrammatic cross", the stylised ' B's were interpreted as the initials of the imperial motto "King of Kings, Ruling Over Rulers" (Greek: Βασιλεύς Βασιλέων, Βασιλεύων Βασιλευόντων - " BasileusBasileōn, Basileuōn Basileuontōn"). [ [http://www.heraldica.org/topics/national/byzantin.htm Byzantine Heraldry, from "Heraldica.org"] ] Another common emblem used by the Palaiologoi was the Imperial double-headed eagle, occasionally displayed bearing the family's "sympilema", or dynastic cypher, on the breast.
* [http://genealogy.euweb.cz/byzant/byzant8.html Genealogy of the Palaiologos dynasty from Genealogy.eu]
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