Manuel II Palaiologos

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Manuel II Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Μανουήλ Β΄ Παλαιολόγος, Manouēl II Palaiologos) (27 June 1350 – 21 July 1425) was Byzantine emperor from 1391 to 1425.

Contents

Life

Manuel II Palaiologos was the second son of Emperor John V Palaiologos (1341–1376, 1379–1390, 1390–1391) and his wife Helena Kantakouzene. His maternal grandparents were Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (1347–1354) and Irene Asanina.

Created despotēs by his father, the future Manuel II traveled west to seek support for the Byzantine Empire in 1365 and in 1370, serving as governor in Thessalonica from 1369. The failed attempt at usurpation by his older brother Andronikos IV Palaiologos in 1373 led to Manuel being proclaimed heir and co-emperor of his father. In 1376–1379 and again in 1390 they were supplanted by Andronikos IV and then his son John VII, but Manuel personally defeated his nephew with help from the Republic of Venice in 1390. Although John V had been restored, Manuel was forced to go as an honorary hostage to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I at Prousa (Bursa). During his stay, Manuel was forced to participate in the Ottoman campaign that reduced Philadelpheia, the last Byzantine enclave in Anatolia.

Hearing of his father's death in February 1391, Manuel II Palaiologos fled the Ottoman court and secured the capital against any potential claim by his nephew John VII. Although relations with John VII improved, Sultan Bayezid I besieged Constantinople from 1394 to 1402. After some five years of siege, Manuel II entrusted the city to his nephew and embarked (along with a suite of 40 people) on a long trip abroad to seek assistance against the Ottoman Empire from the courts of western Europe, including those of Henry IV of England (making him the only Byzantine emperor ever to visit England – he was welcomed from December 1400 to January 1401 at Eltham Palace, and a joust took place in his honour[1]), Charles VI of France, the Holy Roman Empire, Queen Margaret I of Denmark and from Aragon. In 1399, French King Charles VI sent Marshal Boucicaut with 6 ships carrying 1,200 men from Aigues-Mortes to Constantinople, later 300 men under Seigneur Jean de Chateaumorand remained to defend the city against Bayezid.

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