An Italian marquis of a very unusual origin died on this day. Namely, Marquis Theodore I of Montferrat was actually the son of the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus. He therefore belonged to the famous dynasty of Palaeologus (Palaiologos), which ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1259 till 1453. Indeed, it was the longest ruling of all Byzantine dynasties, and also the last that ruled Byzantium before the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople.
Therefore, Theodore had the highest imperial origins. He became a marquis in Italy through his mother, who was from the Italian Aleramici dynasty, which ruled the Marquisate (Margraviate) of Montferrat for centuries. This property was located roughly in the triangle between Turin, Milan and Genoa. Theodore’s uncle (mother’s brother) was the last male descendant of the Aleramici dynasty, and Theodore inherited the title of Marquis of Montferrat and the associated landholdings in Italy.
From Theodore onwards, the Marquises of Montferrat were from the Palaeologus dynasty, and kept the position for more than two centuries. Even when the Palaeologuses lost the Byzantine imperial throne, the Montferrat branch continued to rule in Italy. Naturally, because of their imperial origin, they had a great reputation among European nobility.