Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Θωμᾶς
Παλαιολόγος, translit. Thomas Palaiologos; 1409 – 12
May 1465) was Despot in
Morea from 1428 until the Ottoman conquest in
1460. After the desertion of his older brother to the Turks in 1460,
Palaiologos became the legitimate claimant to the Byzantine
throne, a claim he maintained during his exile in Italy.
2 Imperial heirs
5 See also
Palaiologos was the youngest surviving son of the Byzantine
Emperor Manuel II
Palaiologos  and his wife Helena
Dragaš. His maternal grandfather was Serbian magnate Constantine
Dragaš. His brothers included the Byzantine emperors John VIII
Palaiologos and Constantine XI Palaiologos, as well as Theodore II
Palaiologos and Demetrios Palaiologos, Despots of the Morea, and
Andronikos Palaiologos, Despot of Thessalonica. As youngest son,
Thomas was never expected to reign, but his children became the only
surviving heirs of the defunct Palaiologan dynasty.
Like other imperial sons, Thomas
Palaiologos was made a Despot
(despotēs), and from 1428 joined his brothers Theodore and
Constantine in the Morea. After the retirement of Theodore during
1443, he governed together with Constantine, until the latter became
emperor (as Constantine XI) during 1448. Thomas remained Despot of the
Morea, but was forced to share the rule with his older brother
Demetrios beginning 1449. The Byzantine possessions in
expanded considerably at the expense of the Latin Principality of
Achaea. After the last war during 1430 virtually the entire peninsula
was ruled by the Byzantines, and Thomas married Catherine Zaccaria,
the daughter of the last Prince of Achaea Centurione II Zaccaria,
succeeding to his father-in-law's possessions during 1432.
The division of the
Despotate of the Morea
Despotate of the Morea between Thomas and
Demetrios during 1450.
After this period of success, the fortunes of Byzantine Morea
decreased, as the collegiate government by several brothers caused
increasing confusion. This became especially serious after the arrival
of Demetrios, who had a pro-Ottoman policy as opposed to Thomas'
pro-western orientation. From 1447 the Despots had become vassals of
the Ottoman Sultan. At the beginning of the siege of Constantinople by
Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire, an Ottoman army was sent with orders
to raid in the Morea, preventing help from being sent to
Constantinople. After the conquest of Constantinople by
Mehmed II on
29 May 1453, to maintain the status quo, the Sultan ordered the two
brothers to continue as joint rulers of Morea.
This order had been accepted for the first two years because of the
Kantakouzenos family's revolt which started during the siege of
Constantinople (1453) by Demetrios I Kantakouzenos' grandchild Manuel.
Only during the next year did the forces of the
destroy the rebel forces.
In these circumstances, and without Constantine XI to maintain peace
in the family, Thomas sought western aid against both the Ottomans and
his pro-Ottoman brother Demetrios. He allied with Republic of Genoa
Pope and defeated Demetrios, who fled seeking help from the
Ottomans during 1460. The Ottoman army duly attacked
Morea and quickly
Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth, which was
too long to be effectively manned and defended by Thomas' forces.
Thomas escaped with his family to Italy, where he had already been
recognized as the legitimate heir to the
Byzantine Empire by the Pope.
The commanders of the garrisons of the fortified cities in Morea,
deserted by their rulers, chose individually whether to fight or
surrender, depending on their own will and circumstances. During the
next year Graitzas received an offer to become general of the Republic
of Venice, which he accepted, thus leaving Salmenikos to the Ottomans.
After the conquest of Morea, Thomas lived in Rome, recognized
Europe as the rightful Emperor of the East. To
create greater support for his situation Thomas changed his religion
to Roman Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy during his last years of
life. After his death in 1465, the position of rightful Byzantine
emperor was inherited by his older son Andreas Palaiologos, born in
Mistra around 1453.
Mehmed II conquered the Empire of Trebizond, de facto the last free
territory of the ancient Roman state, during the year 1461.
Nevertheless, Mehmed had already proclaimed himself "Roman Emperor"
upon capturing Constantinople (1453).
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, Zoe Palaiologina (renamed Sophia), and Grand
Prince Ivan III of Russia, with the hope of making Russia a Roman
Catholic country. This attempt to unite churches failed. Nonetheless,
because of this marriage, Moscow began in the next century its
imperial policy of "third Rome". Moreover, Thomas' great-grandson was
Ivan IV of Russia, the first emperor (tsar) of Russia to be crowned as
such (the imperial title had already come into use by Ivan III and his
son Vasili III of Russia). The last known descendant of Zoe/Sophia was
Maria of Staritsa, wife of Livonia's king Magnus. She died in 1610.
By his marriage with Catherine (Caterina) Zaccaria of Achaea, Thomas
Palaiologos had at least four children:
Helena Palaiologina, who married Despot Lazar II of Serbia.
Andrew (Andreas) Palaiologos, who succeeded as claimant to the
Zoe Palaiologina (renamed Sophia), who married Grand Prince Ivan III
Ancestors of Thomas Palaiologos
16. Michael IX Palaiologos
8. Andronikos III Palaiologos
17. Rita of Armenia
4. John V Palaiologos
18. Amadeus V, Count of Savoy
9. Anna of Savoy
19. Maria of Brabant
2. Manuel II Palaiologos
20. Michael Kantakouzenos
10. John VI Kantakouzenos
21. Theodora Palaiologina Angelina Kantakouzene
5. Helena Kantakouzene
22. Andronikos Asen
11. Irene Asanina
1. Thomas Palaiologos
6. Constantine Dragaš
26. Stefan Uroš III Dečanski of Serbia
13. Theodora Nemanjić
27. Maria Palaiologina
3. Helena Dragaš
Byzantine Empire portal
List of Byzantine emperors
George Sphrantzes, The Fall of the Byzantine Empire, trans. Marios
Philippides, Amherst MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.
Jonathan Harris, Greek Émigrés in the West, 1400-1520, Camberley:
Porphyrogenitus, 1995. ISBN 1-871328-11-X
Jonathan Harris 'A worthless prince? Andreas Palaeologus in Rome,
1465-1502', Orientalia Christiana Periodica 61 (1995), 537-54
Donald M. Nicol, The Immortal Emperor, Cambridge University Press,
1992. ISBN 0-521-41456-3.
Nicol, Donald M. (1993) . The Last Centuries of Byzantium,
1261-1453. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, 1991.
Steven Runciman, The
Fall of Constantinople
Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University
Press, 1965. ISBN 0-521-09573-5
^ The Oxford handbook of Byzantine studies, Elizabeth Jeffreys, John
F. Haldon, Robin Cormack, Oxford University Press, 2008, p.292
^ History of the Byzantine Jews: a microcosmos in the thousand year
empire, Elli Kohen, University press of America, 2007, p.156
^ Empire of magic: medieval romance and the politics of cultural
fantasy, Geraldine Heng, Columbia University Press, 2003, p.152
Born: 1409 Died: 12 May 1465
Despot of the Morea
with Demetrios Palaiologos
Ottoman conquest of the Morea
Titles in pretence
Constantine XI Palaiologos
— TITULAR —
(formally "Emperor of Constantinople")
with Demetrios Palaiologos
Reason for succession failure:
Ottoman conquest of Constantinople ends the Byzantine Empire