1465: Thomas Palaiologos Converted from Orthodoxy to Catholicism

1465: Thomas Palaiologos Converted from Orthodoxy to Catholicism
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, Rome's Cathedral

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 15 May 1465
  • Thomas Palaiologos settled in Rome, where he was considered the heir to the Byzantine Empire.

On this day in 1465, Thomas Palaiologos, a pretender to the title of Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, died in Rome.

Thomas was the younger brother of the last emperor in Constantinople – Constantine XI Palaeologus. His capital was occupied by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

Constantine XI Palaeologus was killed on the same day when the Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror conquered Constantinople, and the throne of the Byzantine Empire “became vacant”.

At the time of his brother’s reign, Thomas Palaiologos was a despot in Morea (the Peloponnese). The title of a despot (a provincial governor) was awarded to younger brothers of emperors.

When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, only the mentioned Morea and other, smaller areas still belonged to the Byzantine Empire.

Thomas Palaiologos established contact with the Pope in Rome, trying to retain its authority in Morea with a help of the West.

But the Sultan conquered the last Byzantine stronghold in Morea, and Thomas Palaiologos fled to Rome. There, he was considered the rightful heir to the Byzantine Empire, because his brother Demetrius had changed sides, and became the Ottomans’ ally.

Thomas Palaiologos converted from Orthodoxy to Catholicism.

He had a son, Andrew Palaeologus, who also became pretender to the throne, and had two daughters. His older daughter married the Serbian despot Lazar Branković.

Thomas’s younger daughter married the Grand Prince Ivan III of Moscow (the Rurik dynasty).

It is interesting to note that his younger daughter was the grandmother of the Russian Emperor Ivan IV Terrible, who considered himself the successor of the Byzantine emperors due to that (therefore, Moscow became the “Third Rome”).

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