HARRIS J. A Worthless Prince? Andreas Palaiologos in Rome 1464–1502: The Renewed Version

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2022.6.24

Jonathan Harris

PhD, Professor,

Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London,

Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, United Kingdom

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Abstract. Andreas Palaiologos (1453–1502), the nephew of Emperor Constantine XI and claimant to the Byzantine imperial title from exile in Rome, has been dismissed by historians as an insignificant person who spent most of his life in poverty thanks to his own improvidence. This article exploits documentation from the Archivio Segreto Vaticano, the Archivio di Stato di Venezia and other archive collections to demonstrate that many of the charges made against him by contemporaries cannot be substantiated. There were other reasons behind his financial difficulties, such as the constant curtailment of his pension and his need to support other émigré Byzantines who formed his household. In view of that, his activities need to be reassessed. Looked at dispassionately, they can be seen as a continuation of a policy pursued by Byzantine emperors and their advisers since the second half of the fourteenth century. They had consistently sought to enrol the assistance of Russia and the Christian West against the Ottoman Turks. Three of them, John V, Manuel II and John VIII had travelled to Italy and beyond to negotiate this assistance in person and their envoys had ranged much further afield. Their appeals did give rise to two crusades against the Ottomans in 1395 and 1443 but they were unable to save Constantinople in 1453. Nevertheless, Andreas’ travels to Western courts and to Russia should be seen in the light of those made by his forebears. Similarly, his attempts to organise armed incursions into Ottoman territory and his adoption of the imperial title were not the products of delusion or mere affectation but a claim to leadership among Balkan exiles in the West.

Key words: Byzantine Empire, Papacy, Greek diaspora, Ottoman Empire.

Citation. Harris J. A Worthless Prince? Andreas Palaiologos in Rome 1464–1502: The Renewed Version. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2022, vol. 27, no. 6, pp. 368-383. (in Russian). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/jvolsu4.2022.6.24.

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A Worthless Prince? Andreas Palaiologos in Rome 1464–1502: The Renewed Version by Harris J. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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