Constantine XI Palaeologus, Byzantine Emperor
CONSTANTINE XI PALAEOLOGUS, BYZANTINE EMPEROR
Born in Constantinople, 1404; d. May 29, 1453. He was the fourth son of Manuel II Palaeologus and Helen Dragases. At his death (1425) Manuel II had divided the empire among his sons, and Constantine received the Greek Peloponnesus, which had been enlarged by his brother John's conquests. Constantine took Patras (1430) and the rest of Achaia (1432), thus obtaining all the Peloponnesus except for four city ports controlled by the Venetians. During John's absence in Italy (1437–40) Constantine was viceregent in Constantinople. He then ruled cities on the Black Sea, which in 1443 he exchanged for the Peloponnesus because of dynastic quarrels. He rebuilt the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth and established himself in northern Greece in 1444 and 1445; but after the Christian defeat at Varna, the Turks destroyed the Hexamilion and invaded the Peloponnesus, making Constantine their tributary. After John's death (October 1448) Constantine was crowned emperor in Mistra on Jan. 6, 1449. In Constantinople he tried unsuccessfully to settle the unionistic controversy in the Church, and the antiunionists refused to pray for him in the Liturgy. He repaired fortifications and doubled
his embassies to the West when Muḥammad II began his preparations for the siege of Constantinople. He accepted the promulgation of the union of Florence (Dec. 12, 1452); and fought valiantly and died during the siege (April 7 to May 23).
Bibliography: g. phrantzes, Chronicon, I, ed. j. b. papadopoulos (Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana 1935); Annales, ed. i. bekker (Bonn 1838), with a Lat. tr. by e. brockhoff. d. a. zakythinos, Le Despotat grec de Morée (Paris 1932). j. gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge, Eng. 1959).
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