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Michael VIII Palaeologus

Michael VIII (1225-1282) was the founder of the Palaelogos dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire to the end in 1453. He ruled the Empire from 1261 to his death.

He deposed of John IV Lascaris, whose regent he had been. He capitalized on the attempts of his predecessors to restore the throne in the capital city and put the Empire back on the map as a force to be reckoned with. He realized that the danger existed that the Latin West, particularly his neighbors in Italy (Charles of Anjou, Pope Martin IV, the Venetians) would be unified against him and set out to avoid the mistakes of Manuel I.

To drive a wedge between the pope and the others he decided to unify the Byzantine church with the Catholic one; a tenuous union between the Greek and Latin church was signed at the Council of Lyons[?] in 1274. He did so at a great price at home: his prisons filled with many disgruntled people of Orthodox faith. For a while the wedge worked but in the end Martin IV (working in part for Charles of Anjou) excommunicated him. Then he needed a new wedge and used truly "Byzantine" diplomacy to get the Catalans of Peter III of Aragon to attack Sicily, thus cutting Charles's kingdom in half. (See the Sicilian Vespers[?] massacre.)

Preceded by:
John IV (in Nicaea)
Baldwin II (Latin Empire)
Byzantine emperors Followed by:
Andronicus II



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