Michael VIII Palaeologus°

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MICHAEL VIII PALAEOLOGUS °, Byzantine emperor (1259–82). In 1261 Michael recaptured Constantinople from the Latins, who had held it from 1204, and restored an independent if greatly reduced empire. Unlike his predecessors in Nicaea, he had no reason to suspect his Jewish subjects of having contact with Jews in hostile territory and was anxious to gain their support. Therefore as recorded by Jacob ben Elijah, the only contemporary Hebrew source, he called together the leaders of the Jewish communities and promised them religious tolerance as well as thus ending a series of nearly 40 years of persecutions (see *Epirus). Michael also persuaded his son and co-emperor Andronicus ii Palaeologus (1282–1328) to continue and expand this policy, so that the Jews of Constantinople – as distinct from Jewish merchants of hostile Venice living in Constantinople – were allowed to live and build synagogues wherever they wished – to the displeasure of Patriarch Athanasius i.


J. Starr, Romania (1949), 20–23; J. Mann, in: rej, 82 (1926), 372–3; P. Charanis, in: Speculum, 22 (1947), 75–76.

[Andrew Sharf]

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Michael VIII Palaeologus°

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