Manuel II Palaiologos, Byzantine emperor

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Manuel Palaiologos

Greek, Ancient: Μανουήλ Παλαιολόγος
Also Known As: "Manojlo", "Мануил II Палеолог"
Birthplace: Constantinopolis, Istanbul, Turkey
Death: July 21, 1425 (75)
Constantinopolis, Istanbul, Turkey
Place of Burial: İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey
Immediate Family:

Son of John V Palaiologos, byzantine emperor and Empress Helena Palaiologos
Husband of Helena Palaiologos, saint Hypomone
Partner of Mistress
Father of Isabella Doria; John VIII Palaiologos, Byzantine Emperor; Prince Konstantinos Palaiologos; prince Theodore II Palaiologos, despot of Morea; Prince Andronikos Palaiologos, Despot of Thessalonica and 5 others
Brother of Andronikos IV Palaiologos, byzantine emperor; Princess Eirene Palaiologina; Michael Palaiologos; Theodore I Palaiologos, despot of Morea; Maria Palaiologos and 1 other

Occupation: Byzantine Emperor, починал ок. 1376/1377 г.
Managed by: Carlos F. Bunge
Last Updated:

About Manuel II Palaiologos, Byzantine emperor

Not to be confused with Manuel Palaiologos, his grandson by the same name.

Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Μανουήλ ὁ Παλαιολόγος, romanized: Manouēl ho Palaiologos; 27 June 1350 – 21 July 1425) was Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425. Shortly before his death he was tonsured a monk and received the name Matthew. His wife Helena Dragaš saw to it that their sons, John VIII Palaiologos and Constantine XI Palaiologos, become emperors.

Manuel is commemorated on July 21.[1]


Manuel II Palaiologos was the second son of Emperor John V Palaiologos and his wife Helena Kantakouzene.[2]

Granted the title of despotēs by his father, the future Manuel II traveled west to seek support for the Byzantine Empire in 1365 and in 1370, serving as governor in Thessalonica from 1369. The failed attempt at usurpation by his older brother Andronikos IV Palaiologos in 1373 led to Manuel's being proclaimed heir and co-emperor of his father. In 1376–1379 and again in 1390 they were supplanted by Andronikos IV and then his son John VII, but Manuel personally defeated his nephew with help from the Republic of Venice in 1390. Although John V had been restored, Manuel was forced to go as an honorary hostage to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I at Prousa (Bursa). During his stay, Manuel was forced to participate in the Ottoman campaign that reduced Philadelpheia, the last Byzantine enclave in Anatolia.

Having heard of his father's death in February 1391, Manuel II Palaiologos fled the Ottoman court and secured the capital against any potential claim by his nephew John VII.[2] Although relations with John VII improved, Sultan Bayezid I besieged Constantinople from 1394 to 1402. After some five years of siege, Manuel II entrusted the city to his nephew and embarked (along with a suite of 40 people) on a long trip abroad to seek assistance against the Ottoman Empire from the courts of western Europe, including those of Henry IV of England (making him the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England – he was welcomed from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace, and a joust took place in his honour[3]), Charles VI of France, Sigismund the Holy Roman Emperor, Queen Margaret I of Denmark and king Martin of Aragon. In 1399, the French King Charles VI sent Marshal Jean Le Maingre with six ships carrying 1,200 men from Aigues-Mortes to Constantinople; later 300 men under Seigneur Jean de Chateaumorand remained to defend the city against Bayezid.

Meanwhile, an anti-Ottoman crusade led by the Hungarian King Sigismund of Luxemburg failed at the Battle of Nicopolis on 25 September 1396, but the Ottomans were themselves crushingly defeated by Timur at the Battle of Ankara in 1402. Manuel II had sent 10 ships to help in the Crusade of Nicopolis. As the sons of Bayezid I struggled with each other over the succession in the Ottoman Interregnum, John VII was able to secure the return of the European coast of the Sea of Marmara and of Thessalonica to the Byzantine Empire in the Treaty of Gallipoli. When Manuel II returned home in 1403, his nephew duly surrendered control of Constantinople and received as a reward the governorship of newly recovered Thessalonica. The treaty also regained from the Ottomans Nesebar (1403–1453), Varna (1403–1415), and the Marmara coast from Scutari to Nicomedia (between 1403–1421).

On 25 July 1414, with a fleet consisting of four galleys and two other vessels carrying contingents of infantry and cavalry, departed Constantinople for Thessalonica. The purpose of this force soon became clear when he made an unannounced stop at Thasos, a normally unimportant island which was then under threat from a son of the lord of Lesbos, Francesco Gattilusio. It took Manuel three months to reassert imperial authority on the island. Only then did he continue on to Thessalonica, where he was warmly met by his son Andronicus, who then governed the city. In the spring of 1415, he and his soldiers left for the Peloponnese, arriving at the little port of Kenchreai on Good Friday, 29 March. Manuel II Palaiologos used his time there to bolster the defences of the Despotate of Morea, where the Byzantine Empire was actually expanding at the expense of the remnants of the Latin Empire. Here Manuel supervised the building of the Hexamilion (six-mile wall) across the Isthmus of Corinth, intended to defend the Peloponnese from the Ottomans.

Manuel II stood on friendly terms with the victor in the Ottoman civil war, Mehmed I (1402–1421), but his attempts to meddle in the next contested succession led to a new assault on Constantinople by Murad II (1421–1451) in 1422. During the last years of his life, Manuel II relinquished most official duties to his son and heir John VIII Palaiologos, and went back to Europe searching for assistance against the Ottomans, this time to the King Sigismund of Hungary, staying for two months in his court of Buda. Sigismund (after suffering a defeat against the Turks in the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396) never rejected the possibility of fighting against the Ottoman Empire. However, with the Hussite wars in Bohemia, it was impossible to count on the Czech or German armies, and the Hungarian ones were needed to protect the Kingdom and control the religious conflicts.[4] Unhappily Manuel returned home with empty hands from the Hungarian Kingdom, and in 1424 he and his son were forced to sign an unfavourable peace treaty with the Ottoman Turks, whereby the Byzantine Empire had to pay tribute to the sultan. Manuel II died on 21 July 1425.

Manuel II was the author of numerous works of varied character, including letters, poems, a Saint's Life, treatises on theology and rhetoric, and an epitaph for his brother Theodore I Palaiologos and a mirror of prince for his son and heir John. This mirror of prince has special value, because it is the last sample of this literary genre bequeathed to us by Byzantines.


By his wife Helena Dragas, the daughter of the Serbian prince Constantine Dragas, Manuel II Palaiologos had several children, including:

  • A daughter. Mentioned as the eldest daughter but not named. Possibly confused with Isabella Palaiologina, an illegitimate daughter of Manuel II known to have married Ilario Doria.
  • Constantine Palaiologos. Born ca. 1393/8, died before 1405 in Monemvasia.[5]
  • John VIII Palaiologos (18 December 1392 – 31 October 1448). Byzantine emperor, 1425–1448.
  • Andronikos Palaiologos, Lord of Thessalonica (d. 1429).
  • A second daughter. Also not named in the text.
  • Theodore II Palaiologos, Lord of Morea (d. 1448).
  • Michael Palaiologos. Born 1406/7, died 1409/10 of the plague.[6]
  • Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos (8 February 1405 – 29 May 1453). Despotēs in the Morea and subsequently the last Byzantine emperor, 1448–1453.
  • Demetrios Palaiologos (c. 1407–1470). Despotēs in the Morea.
  • Thomas Palaiologos (c. 1409 – 12 May 1465). Despotēs in the Morea.

The Palaiologos family

The early generations of this family are confused and uncertain. The first certain ancestor is one Andronikos Dukas Komnenos Palaiologos, Gov of Thessalonica, +after 1246; m.his cousin Theodora Palaiologina; they had issue:

  • A1. MICHAÉL VIII Dukas Komnenos Palaiologos, Emperor of Byzantium (1259-82), *1224/5, +1282; m.1253 Theodora Dukaina Batatzaina (*1240 +1303)
    • ...
    • B2. ANDRONIKOS II Palaiologos, Emp of Byzantium (1282-1328), *25.3.1259, +Monte Athos 13.2.1332; 1m: 1273 Anna (+1281/2) dau.of King Stephen V of Hungary; 2m: 1285 Yolanda=Eirene of Montferrat (*1274 +1317)
      • C1. [1m.] MICHAÉL IX Palaiologos, co-emperor of Byzantium (1295-1320), *1277, +12.10.1320; m.1295 Rita of Armenia (*1278 +VII.1333)
        • D1. ANDRONIKOS III Palaiologos, Emp of Byzantium (1328-41), *1296, +15.7.1341; 1m: 1318 Adelaide=Eirene von Braunschweig (+1324); 2m: 1326 Joanna=Anna of Savoy (*1306 +1359/60) - Regent of Byzantium (1341-47)
          • ...
          • E2. IÓANNÉS V Palaiologos, Emp of Byzantium (1341-76)+(1379-91) -cr.19.11.1341, *18.6.1332, +Blachernai Palace, Constantinople 16.2.1391; m.Blachernai 28/29.5.1347 Helene Kantkouzene (*1333 +1396)
            • ...
            • F6. [illegitimate] Manuel Palaiologos, +after 1422
view all 14

Manuel II Palaiologos, Byzantine emperor's Timeline

June 27, 1350
Constantinopolis, Istanbul, Turkey
December 18, 1392
Constantinople, Turkey
Constantinople , Fatih, İstanbul, 34083, Turkey
Monemvasia, Greece
February 8, 1404
Constantinople, Byzantine Empire
Costantinopoli, İstanbul (Byzantium), Turkey