History Files

Please help the History Files

Contributed: 175

Target: 400

Totals slider

The History Files still needs your help. As a non-profit site, it is only able to support such a vast and ever-growing collection of information with your help, and this year your help is needed more than ever. Please make a donation so that we can continue to provide highly detailed historical research on a fully secure site. Your help really is appreciated.

European Kingdoms

Eastern Mediterranean


Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire
Dynasty of the Palæologus / Empire Restored (AD 1271-1453)

In AD 395, the Roman empire finally split permanently, creating formal Eastern Roman and Western Roman empires, acknowledging what had existed in practise for many years.

For members of the Jewish Diaspora who were citizens of the fractured empire, especially the long-term resident Romaniote Jews, conditions abruptly worsened following the Latin seizure of Constantinople in 1204. Anti-Semitic legislation was now more easy to pass in smaller states, and the Jews seemed to bear the brunt of it. Only the climb to power by Michael VIII Palæologus ended the persecution, mainly because he desperately needed the funds which the Jews could raise.

Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II in iconography

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Bulgarians: from pagan times to the Ottoman conquest, David Marshall Lang (Westview Press, 1976), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest, John V A Fine (University of Michigan Press, 1994), and from External Links: Bulgaria (Worldstatesmen), and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation, and Jewish Encyclopaedia, and History of the Byzantine Empire (Live Science).)


Emperor Michael, based at Nicæa, returns to Constantinople.

1261 - 1282

Michael VIII Palæologus

Restored exile in Nicæa.


The Albanian '(First) Kingdom' is established, but its founding coincides with a turbulent period in Balkans history as the Eastern Roman empire is gradually collapsing. The Ottomans and various European interests are fighting over the scraps, especially the Bulgarians, Croatians, and Serbians.


As soon as Pope Gregory takes office, having spent time on Crusade with King Edward I of England, he convenes the Second Council of Lyon. The council is called so that the pope can attempt to act upon a pledge made by Emperor Michael VIII to reunite the eastern and western churches.

Despite the apparent intention of both sides to agree to reunification, the Eastern Roman people are staunchly against it, and any agreement is soon abolished by Michael son when he succeeds to the throne. Pope Gregory X himself dies following the council, as he is travelling back from Lyon to Rome, removing another supporter from the cause.

1279 - 1280

Ivalio's successful peasant rebellion sees him marrying Maria Palaiologina Kantakouzene, widow of the late Tsar Constantine Asen, in order to cement his control in the face of hostile forces on all sides of Bulgaria's borders. Michael VIII Palæologus supports Ivan III in an attempt to claim the throne, even giving him troops to do so.

Ivalio travels to the Mongol capital to gain support there, but after feeling to Constantinople to arouse Michael's wrath, Ivan also proceeds there to ensure that the Mongols favour his seemingly better claim of legitimacy. Ivalio is killed while the Bulgarians exile Maria to Constantinople. Ivan is not restored as tsar of the Bulgars.

1282 - 1328

Andronicus II Palæologus



Following another damaging attack by Nogai Khan and his Nogai Horde division of the Golden Horde, Tsar George I of Bulgaria is apparently removed from the throne. He accepts exile, travelling to Adrianople, while his place is taken by Smilech. After a long wait, George is finally accepted into the Eastern Roman empire by Andronicus II and spends much of the last decade of his life in obscurity in Anatolia.


With the murder of Masud II, the sultanate of Rum disappears. Various small Turkic principalities emerge to control the region, still under Il-Khan vassalage. One of these is the small Ottoman state which soon begins to make inroads to the west. These gradually force various sections of it to splinter and create rival states (although some had also been created by the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204), such as Achaia, Athens, Epirus, Morea, and Trebizond.

During the reign of Andronicus II, the Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem capture the island of Rhodes.

1293 - 1320

Michael IX

1320 - 1328

In a period of anarchy Prusa [Bursa] is lost to the Ottomans in 1326.

Byzantine icon
An icon showing four episodes from the life of Christ probably painted in Thessalonica, which was the most important artistic centre in the crumbling empire after Constantinople

1328 - 1341

Andronicus III

1341 - 1376

John V Cantacuzenes

1341 - 1354

John VI


Semi-rival to the title sets up a power base in Morea, and in 1354 - 1376 is the only Byzantine power.


With the Byzantine civil war having been concluded, Emperor John Cantacuzenes has realised the threat posed by the Ottoman Turks. His attempts to form a united front alongside Serbia and Bulgaria are rebuffed, however. This is despite Bulgaria's Tsar Ivan Alexander already having lost a son and brother to Ottoman raids.

1376 - 1379

Andronicus IV

1379 - 1391

John V



John VII

1391 - 1425

Manuel II

1425 - 1448


1449 - 1453

Constantine XI (XIII) Dragases

Despot of Morea. Last Byzantine emperor.


Constantinople, capital and heart of the fading Eastern Roman (Byzantine) empire, is captured by Mahomet II of the Ottoman empire, and Greece becomes an Ottoman province. The loss is viewed as a disaster for the Christian world, despite Rome's frequent differences with the Orthodox church in Constantinople over the centuries, and with its emperors.

It also completely realigns the balance of power amongst the Turkic tribes and kingdoms to the east and north. Hajji Giray of the Crimean khanate moves quickly to establish a military alliance with Ottoman Sultan Mehmed.

Fall of Constantinople
The fall of Constantinople not only ended the last vestiges of the Roman empire, now dating back almost two millennia in its many forms, but it also opened up south-eastern Europe to the Ottoman Turks


Trebizond falls to Mehmet. End of the Roman empire.

1461 - 1924

Much of the former empire is not subsumed within the Ottoman empire. Initially much of northern Greece is known as Rumelia by the Ottomans, meaning 'land of the Romans'.

1821 - 1829

Greece fights a war of independence which leads to the founding of the kingdom of Greece.

Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original king list page for the History Files.