(image from Georganteli and Cook 2006)


(image from the Magi Chapel of

Palazzo Medici-Ricardi, Florence)


John VIII Palaiologos (born 18 December 1392) was the eldest son of Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and the Serbian princess Helena Dragaš.  As a child, while his father journeyed in 1400-1403 to the royal courts of Western Europe during the great Ottoman blockade of Constantinople, John VIII was left in Methone in the Peloponnese. Crowned co-emperor in 1421 he reigned as a sole ruler from 1425 until his death in 1448 when his brother Constantine XI succeeded him on the throne. John VIII faced mounting military pressure from the Ottoman Turks who under Sultan Murad II (1421-1451) grew to become again a formidable power in the eastern Mediterranean. John VIII witnessed the Ottoman siege of Constantinople in 1422, the fall of Thessalonica to the Ottomans in 1430 and the debacle at Varna in 1444. Before the Council of Ferrara-Florence, John VIII had already journeyed once to the West in 1423-24, where he hoped to solicit military help from Venice and Hungary. For him the Union was a clever diplomatic move which he hoped would bring about massive Western assistance in the form of a crusade against the Ottomans. Thrice married, John VIII was a well educated man, a patron of court poets, and a masterful horseman who left memorable impressions among Renaissance artists in Italy.




See also the Patriarch, Pope, Doge and the other historical figures involved under the Prosopography section of the menu.









The Translation is © Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, IAA, University of Birmingham 2008


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Last updated 19 June 2008