Manuel II Palaiologos

Manuel II Palaiologos

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Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: Μανουήλ Β΄ Παλαιολόγος, Manouēl II Palaiologos) (27 June 1350 – 21 July 1425) was Byzantine Emperor from 1391 to 1425.


Manuel II Palaiologos was the second son of Emperor John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos was a Byzantine emperor, who succeeded his father in 1341, at age nine.-Biography:...

 and his wife Helena Kantakouzene
Helena Kantakouzene
Helena Kantakouzene was the Empress consort of John V Palaiologos in the Byzantine Empire.-Family:She was a daughter of John VI Kantakouzenos and Irene Asanina.She was a sister of Matthew Kantakouzenos and Manuel Kantakouzenos...

. His maternal grandparents were Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos or Cantacuzenus was the Byzantine emperor from 1347 to 1354.-Early life:Born in Constantinople, John Kantakouzenos was the son of a Michael Kantakouzenos, governor of the Morea. Through his mother Theodora Palaiologina Angelina, he was a descendant of the reigning house of...

 (1347–1354) and Irene Asanina
Irene Asanina
Irene Asanina was the Empress consort of John VI Kantakouzenos of the Byzantine Empire.-Family:Asanina was a daughter of Andronikos Asen and his wife Tarchanaiotissa.Her paternal grandparents were Ivan Asen III of Bulgaria and Irene Palaiologina...


Created despotēs
Despot , was a senior Byzantine court title that was bestowed on the sons or sons-in-law of reigning emperors, and initially denoted the heir-apparent...

by his father, the future Manuel II traveled west to seek support for the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in 1365 and in 1370, serving as governor in Thessalonica from 1369. The failed attempt at usurpation by his older brother Andronikos IV Palaiologos
Andronikos IV Palaiologos
Andronikos IV Palaiologos was Byzantine Emperor from 1376 to 1379.-Life:...

 in 1373 led to Manuel being proclaimed heir and co-emperor of his father. In 1376–1379 and again in 1390 they were supplanted
Byzantine civil war of 1373–1379
The Byzantine civil war of 1373–1379 was a military conflict fought in the Byzantine Empire between Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos and his son, Andronikos IV Palaiologos. It began when Andronikos sought to overthrow his father in 1373. Although he failed, with Genoese aid, Andronikos was...

 by Andronikos IV and then his son John VII
John VII Palaiologos
John VII Palaiologos was Byzantine Emperor for five months in 1390.-Life:...

, but Manuel personally defeated his nephew with help from the Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

 in 1390. Although John V had been restored, Manuel was forced to go as an honorary hostage to the court of the Ottoman Sultan
Ottoman Dynasty
The Ottoman Dynasty ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1299 to 1922, beginning with Osman I , though the dynasty was not proclaimed until Orhan Bey declared himself sultan...

 Bayezid I
Bayezid I
Bayezid I was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1389 to 1402. He was the son of Murad I and Valide Sultan Gülçiçek Hatun.-Biography:Bayezid was born in Edirne and spent his youth in Bursa, where he received a high-level education...

 at Prousa (Bursa
Bursa, Turkey
Bursa is a city in northwestern Turkey and the seat of Bursa Province. The metropolitan area in the entire Bursa province had a population of 2.6 million as of 2010, making the city fourth most populous in Turkey. The city is equally one of the most industrialized metropolitan centers in the...

). During his stay, Manuel was forced to participate in the Ottoman campaign that reduced Philadelpheia, the last Byzantine enclave in Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...


Hearing 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. Although relations with John VII improved, Sultan Bayezid I besieged Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

 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
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 from the courts of western Europe, including those of Henry IV
Henry IV of England
Henry IV was King of England and Lord of Ireland . He was the ninth King of England of the House of Plantagenet and also asserted his grandfather's claim to the title King of France. He was born at Bolingbroke Castle in Lincolnshire, hence his other name, Henry Bolingbroke...

 of England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

 (making him the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England – he was welcomed from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace
Eltham Palace is a large house in Eltham, within the London Borough of Greenwich, South East London, England. It is an unoccupied royal residence and owned by the Crown Estate. In 1995 its management was handed over to English Heritage which restored the building in 1999 and opened it to the public...

, and a joust
Jousting is a martial game or hastilude between two knights mounted on horses and using lances, often as part of a tournament.Jousting emerged in the High Middle Ages based on the military use of the lance by heavy cavalry. The first camels tournament was staged in 1066, but jousting itself did not...

 took place in his honour), Charles VI of France
Charles VI of France
Charles VI , called the Beloved and the Mad , was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois. His bouts with madness, which seem to have begun in 1392, led to quarrels among the French royal family, which were exploited by the neighbouring powers of England and Burgundy...

, the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, Queen Margaret I of Denmark
Margaret I of Denmark
Margaret I was Queen of Denmark, Norway and Sweden and founder of the Kalmar Union, which united the Scandinavian countries for over a century. Although she acted as queen regnant, the laws of contemporary Danish succession denied her formal queenship. Her title in Denmark was derived from her...

 and from Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

. In 1399, French King Charles VI sent Marshal Boucicaut with 6 ships carrying 1,200 men from Aigues-Mortes
Aigues-Mortes is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.The medieval city walls surrounding the city are well preserved.-History:...

 to Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, later 300 men under Seigneur Jean de Chateaumorand remained to defend the city against Bayezid.

Meanwhile an anti-Ottoman crusade led by the Hungarian
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 King Sigismund of Luxemburg
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

 failed at the Battle of Nicopolis
Battle of Nicopolis
The Battle of Nicopolis took place on 25 September 1396 and resulted in the rout of an allied army of Hungarian, Wallachian, French, Burgundian, German and assorted troops at the hands of an Ottoman force, raising of the siege of the Danubian fortress of Nicopolis and leading to the end of the...

 on 25 September 1396, but the Ottomans were themselves crushingly defeated by Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 at the Battle of Ankara
Battle of Ankara
The Battle of Ankara or Battle of Angora, fought on July 20, 1402, took place at the field of Çubuk between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I and the Turko-Mongol forces of Timur, ruler of the Timurid Empire. The battle was a major victory for Timur, and it led to a period of crisis for...

 in 1402. Manuel II had sent 10 ships to help the Crusade of Nicopolis. As the sons of Bayezid I struggled with each other over the succession in the Ottoman Interregnum
Ottoman Interregnum
The Ottoman Interregnum began in 20 July 1402, when chaos reigned in the Ottoman Empire following the defeat of Sultan Bayezid I by the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur...

, John VII was able to secure the return of the European coast of the Sea of Marmara
Sea of Marmara
The Sea of Marmara , also known as the Sea of Marmora or the Marmara Sea, and in the context of classical antiquity as the Propontis , is the inland sea that connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, thus separating Turkey's Asian and European parts. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Black...

 and of Thessalonica to the Byzantine Empire. 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. Manuel also regained from Ottomans Nesebar
Nesebar is an ancient town and one of the major seaside resorts on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, located in Burgas Province. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Nesebar Municipality...

 (1403–1453), Varna
Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv, with a population of 334,870 inhabitants according to Census 2011...

 (1403–1415), and the Marmara coast from Scutari
Üsküdar is a large and densely populated municipality of Istanbul, Turkey, on the Anatolian shore of the Bosphorus. It is bordered on the north by Beykoz, on the east by Ümraniye, on the southeast by Ataşehir, on the south by Kadıköy, and on the west by the Bosphorus, with the areas of Beşiktaş,...

 to Nicomedia
İzmit is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Istanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city center has a population of 294.875...

 between 1403–1421.

Manuel II Palaiologos used this period of respite to bolster the defences of the Despotate of Morea
Despotate of Morea
The Despotate of the Morea or Despotate of Mystras was a province of the Byzantine Empire which existed between the mid-14th and mid-15th centuries. Its territory varied in size during its 100 years of existence but eventually grew to take in almost all the southern Greek peninsula, the...

, where the Byzantine Empire was actually expanding at the expense of the remnants of the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

. Here Manuel supervised the building of the Hexamilion (six-mile wall) across the Isthmus of Corinth
Isthmus of Corinth
The Isthmus of Corinth is the narrow land bridge which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece, near the city of Corinth. The word "isthmus" comes from the Ancient Greek word for "neck" and refers to the narrowness of the land. The Isthmus was known in the ancient...

, intended to defend the Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 from the Ottomans.

Manuel II stood on friendly terms with the victor in the Ottoman civil war, Mehmed I
Mehmed I
Mehmed I Çelebi was a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1413 to 1421. He was one of the sons of Bayezid I and Valide Sultan Devlet Hatun Mehmed I Çelebi (Ottoman: چلبی محمد, Mehmed I or Mehmed Çelebi) (1382, Bursa – May 26, 1421, Edirne, Ottoman Empire) was a Sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

 (1402–1421), but his attempts to meddle in the next contested succession led to a new assault on Constantinople
Siege of Constantinople (1422)
The first full-scale Ottoman Siege of Constantinople took place in 1422 as a result of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II's attempts to interfere in the succession of Ottoman Sultans, after the death of Mehmed I in 1421...

 by Murad II
Murad II
Murad II Kodja was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1421 to 1451 ....

 (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
John VIII Palaiologos
John VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus , was the penultimate reigning Byzantine Emperor, ruling from 1425 to 1448.-Life:John VIII Palaiologos was the eldest son of Manuel II Palaiologos and Helena Dragaš, the daughter of the Serbian prince Constantine Dragaš...

, and in 1424 they 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
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, and an epitaph for his brother Theodore I Palaiologos and a mirror of prince for his son and heir Ioannes. 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
Helena Dragaš
Helena Dragaš Helena was born to Constantine Dragaš of the noble House of Dejanović. Constantine was a Serbian provincial lord, ruling one of the principalities that emerged after the breakup of the Serbian Empire, centered at Velbăžd . Her mother was Constantine's unnamed first wife...

, the daughter of the Serbian
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

 prince Constantine Dragas
Constantine Dragas
Constantine Dragaš Dejanović was a Serbian magnate that ruled the area around Kyustendil from 1378, during the fall of the Serbian Empire, until his death on May 17, 1395 at the battle of Rovine...

, 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
    Doria, originally de Auria , meaning "the sons of Auria", and then de Oria or d'Oria, is the name of an old and extremely wealthy Genoese family who played a major role in the history of the Republic of Genoa and in Italy, from the 12th century to the 16th century.-Origins:According to legend, a...

  • Constantine Palaiologos. Died young.
  • John VIII Palaiologos
    John VIII Palaiologos
    John VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus , was the penultimate reigning Byzantine Emperor, ruling from 1425 to 1448.-Life:John VIII Palaiologos was the eldest son of Manuel II Palaiologos and Helena Dragaš, the daughter of the Serbian prince Constantine Dragaš...

     (18 December, 1392 - 31 October, 1448). Byzantine emperor, 1425-1448.
  • Andronikos Palaiologos, Lord of Thessalonike
    Andronikos Palaiologos, Lord of Thessalonike
    Andronikos Palaiologos or Andronicus Palaeologus was a Byzantine prince and the last Byzantine governor of Thessalonica with the title of despot , from 1408 to 1423....

     (d. 1429).
  • A second daughter. Also not named in the text.
  • Theodore II Palaiologos, Lord of Morea
    Theodore II Palaiologos, Lord of Morea
    Theodore II Palaiologos or Palaeologus was Despot in Morea from 1407 to 1443.-Life:...

     (d. 1448).
  • Michael Palaiologos. Died young.
  • Constantine XI Dragases Palaiologos (8 February, 1405 - 29 May, 1453). Despotēs in the Morea and subsequently the last Byzantine emperor, 1448-1453.
  • Demetrios Palaiologos
    Demetrios Palaiologos
    Demetrios Palaiologos or Demetrius Palaeologus , Despot in the Morea de facto 1436–1438 and 1451–1460 and de jure 1438–1451, previously governor of Lemnos 1422–1440, and of Mesembria 1440–1451...

     (c. 1407 - 1470). Despotēs in the Morea.
  • Thomas Palaiologos
    Thomas Palaiologos
    Thomas Palaiologos was Despot in Morea from 1428 until the Ottoman conquest in 1460. After the desertion of his older brother to the Turks in 1460, Thomas Palaiologos became the legitimate claimant to the Byzantine throne...

     (c. 1409 - 12 May, 1465). Despotēs in the Morea.


Pope Benedict XVI controversy

In a lecture delivered on 12 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 quoted from a dialogue believed to have occurred in 1391 between Manuel II and a Persian scholar and recorded in a book by Manuel II (Dialogue 7 of Twenty-six Dialogues with a Persian) in which the Emperor stated: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Many Muslims were offended by what was perceived as a denigration of Muhammad, and many reacted violently. In his book, Manuel II then continues, saying, "God is not pleased by blood – and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death..."


  • Karl Förstel (ed.): Manuel II. Palaiologos: Dialoge mit einem Muslim (Corpus Islamo-Christianum. Series Graeca 4). 3 vol. Echter Verlag, Würzburg 1995; ISBN 3-89375-078-9, ISBN 3-89375-104-1, ISBN 3-89375-133-5 (Greek Text with German translation and commentary).
  • Erich Trapp: Manuel II. Palaiologos: Dialoge mit einem „Perser“. Verlag Böhlau, Wien 1966, ISBN 3-7001-0965-2. (German)

External links

Further reading

  • Manuel II Palaeologus Funeral Oration on His Brother Theodore. J. Chrysostomides (editor & translator). Association for Byzantine Research: Thessalonike, 1985.
  • Manuel II Palaeologus, The Letters of Manuel II Palaeologus George T. Dennis (translator), Dumbarton Oaks, 1977. ISBN 0-88402-068-1. ISBN 978-3-7001-6685-6
  • Jonathan Harris, The End of Byzantium. Yale University Press, 2010. ISBN 978 0 30011786 8
  • George Sphrantzes. The Fall of the Byzantine Empire: A Chronicle by George Sphrantzes, 1401–1477. Marios Philippides (editor & translator). University of Massachusetts Press, 1980. ISBN 0-87023-290-8.