Michael VIII Palaiologos

   Emperor (q.v.) from 1259-1282, and founder of the Palaiologan dynasty (q.v.). Michael's career had notable triumphs and failures. He began his career as a successful general for John III Vatatzes and Theodore II Laskaris of the Empire of Nicaea (qq.v.), winning an important victory at the battle of Pelagonia (q.v.) in 1259. He reclaimed Constantinople (q.v.) in 1261, bringing to an end the Latin Empire (q.v.). His blinding ofco-emperor John IV Laskaris (q.v.) in that same year made him sole emperor, but at the expense of excommunication by Patriarch Arsenios (qq.v.). This produced a schism within the church between the loyal supporters of Arsenios and those who recognized his successor, Joseph I (q.v.). Michael's union of the churches at the Council of Lyons (qq.v.) in 1274 achieved its goal of preventing the planned invasion by Charles I ofAnjou (q.v.), who Michael further stymied in the Sicilian Vespers (q.v.). However, his lasting legacy was the spectre of a church and populace disaffected from their emperor over the union of the churches. Church union was repudiated by Michael's immediate successor Andronikos II Palaiologos (q.v.). Nevertheless, the prospect of another church union continued to haunt imperial policy toward the West, and the subsequent union of the churches in 1438-1439 at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (q.v.) proved just as divisive and fleeting as the church union Michael VIII achieved at Lyons.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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