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Michael VIII Palaiologos

Michael VIII Palaiologos

Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Μιχαὴλ Η΄ Παλαιολόγος, romanized: Mikhaēl VIII Palaiologos; 1223 – 11 December 1282) reigned as the co-emperor of the Empire of Nicaea from 1259 to 1261, and as Byzantine Emperor from 1261 until his death. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. He recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261 and transformed the Empire of Nicaea into a restored Byzantine Empire.

His reign would see considerable recovery of Byzantine power, including the enlargement of the Byzantine army and navy. It would also include the reconstruction of the city of Constantinople, and the increase of its population. He reestablished the University of Constantinople, which would lead to what is regarded as the Paliologian Renaissance during the 14th and 15th centuries. It would also be at this time that the focus of the Byzantine military shifted to the Balkans, against the Bulgarians, leaving the Anatolian frontier neglected. His successors would also not fix this issue, and the Byzantine civil war made this situation much worse, draining the empire's strength, economy, and resources. These internal conflicts lead to the permanent losses of important provinces such as Epirus to the Serbian Empire. Eventually, the consequences of these conflicts would allow for the Anatolian beyliks to rise in power, most notably the one of Osman, later called the Ottoman Empire. His successors would conquer more parts of the empire, until finally the city of Constantinople itself in 1453, under the leadership of Mehmed II.

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