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Constantine Palaiologos

Author(s) : Radic Radivoj (5/28/2003)
Translation : Sioris Georgios , Velentzas Georgios

For citation: Radic Radivoj, "Constantine Palaiologos",
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=9835>

Κωνσταντίνος Παλαιολόγος (6/26/2008 v.1) Constantine Palaiologos (2/21/2006 v.1) 

1. General Information

Son of megas domestikos Andronikos Palaiologos from his second marriage, half brother of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1261-1282). He was born around 1230.1 Constantine, along with his half brother John Palaiologos stood by the side of their brother Michael (later Michael VIII), particularly during the turbulent events in the summer of 1258. The younger brothers, without having received any noble title but following Michael’s wish, joined the group around the young emperor John IV Laskaris; eventually their brother managed to assume power in the Byzantine Empire of Nicaea.

When in the beginning of 1259 Michael VIII Palaiologos was crowned emperor, he granted some of his relatives and closest associates noble titles. So, he took the opportunity to award Constantine Palaiologos the title of caesar. Furthermore, wishing to strengthen his position with intermarriages, the new emperor wed his half brother to Eirene, the daughter of general Branas. Constantine had five children with Eirene: Michael, Andronikos, Maria, Theodora and another daughter, whose name has not been recorded, but we know that she married the czar of Bulgaria Smilec (1292-1298).

2. Military career

In the same year, 1259, the newly appointed caesar with his half brother John Palaiologos took part in the battle of Pelagonia, where the army of Nicaea defeated the numerous but heterogeneous army of the prince of Achaia, Guillaume II de Villehardouin, the king of Sicily Manfred and the despotes of Epirus Michael II Angelus.2 This great and of decisive importance success was followed by new recognitions and honors bestowed to those in charge of the army of Nicaea. Constantine Palaiologos received the title of sebastokrator, who in the hierarchy of titles came immediately after the emperor and the despotes. At the same time, the title of caesar was given to Constantine Tornikios, but, as mentioned by George Akropolites, the brother of the emperor had yet another emblem that distinguished him: he wore blue shoes with golden eagles, while Tornikios doesn't seem to have received similar insignia.3

The next mention to Constantine Palaiologos is dated from the period after the restoration of the Byzantine Empire. As George Pachymeres says, Michael VIII sent his half brother with Genovese ships to Monemvasia together with an army of Turkoman mercenaries and Byzantines from Asia Minor. This campaign took place in 12624 and was an important step in the Byzantine efforts to regain the Peloponnese. With Constantine Palaiologos they had also sent megas domestikos Alexios Philes and John Makrenos. The sebastokrator quickly subdued the Slavic population on Mount Taigetos, built several fortresses and besieged Sparta. He later abandoned the siege and left for Andravida, capital of the hegemony of Achaia. However, a Latin battalion surprised the numerous army of Constantine and defeated him.5The remains of his army gathered in Mystras, where the sebastokratormanaged to regroup his forces.

Later, probably in the summer of 1263, Constantine Palaiologos repeated his campaign in the Peloponnese and tried to occupy Andravida once again. First, he besieged the fortress of Nikli. However, the Muslim mercenaries of his army, who had not received payment for several months, abandoned him and joined forces with Guillaume II de Villehardouin. Constantine withdrew from the campaign and on the pretext of illness returned to Constantinople, relinquishing command to Alexios Philes and John Makrenos. After these two were defeated and captured, the Byzantine military operations degraded into border skirmishes.

The sources do not mention anything about the late career of Constantine Palaiologos, though it is known that Manuel Philes dedicated two poems to him. Nevertheless it seems that Constantine died relatively young (before 1275), as monk Kallinikos, and the same probably holds true for his wife Eirene, who as a nun had taken the name Maria.6 In the typikon of the Monastery of the Vevaia Elpis (the Certain Hope), which was founded by their daughter Theodora, the day for the commemoration of Constantine is the 25th of October.

1. Papadopulos, A., Versuch einer Genealogie der Palaiologen, 1259-1453 (München 1938; repr. Amsterdam 1962), no. 5, p. 6: Constantine Palaiologos was supposedly born after 1226. In the Prosopographisches Lexikon der Palaiologenzeit IX (Wien 1989), no. 21498, p. 98, the date of his birth is estimated around 1230. Taking under consideration that his older half brother John was born after 1225, it is impossible to estimate the date of his birth more accurately.

2. One of the last studies on the battle of Pelagonia, written by Аџиевски К. Пелагонија во средниот век (од доаѓањето на Словените до паѓањето под турска власт) (Скопје 1994), pp. 154-160, cites all relevant sources and bibliography.

3. Georgii Acropolitae Opera, ed. A. Heisenberg, (Stuttgart 1978), p. 173.

4. In older litterature, the date of the campaignwas usually considered to be 1263; however, Failler, A., “Chronologie et composition dans l’Histoire de Georges Pachymérès”, Revue des études byzantines 38 (1980), pp. 85-103, dates the Byzantine military operations in 1262.

5. Chronicle of the Morea, ed. J. Schmitt (London 1904), v. 4706-4855.

6. Delehaye, H., Deux typica byzantins de l’époque des Paléologues. Mémoires de l’Academie de Belgique, Classe des lettres, Ser. II (1921), pp. 13-4 . See also Spatharakis, I., The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts (Byzantina Neerlandica, Leiden 1976), pp. 192-193.


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