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Michael VIII Palaiologos
Emperor and Autocrat of the Romans
Michael VIII Palaiologos (head).jpg
Miniature from the manuscript of Pachymeres' Historia
Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
Reign 15 August 1261 – 11 December 1282
Predecessor Baldwin II (Latin Empire)
Successor Andronikos II Palaiologos
Co-Emperor of Nicaea
Reign 1 January 1259 – 15 August 1261
Predecessor John IV Laskaris
Born 1223
Empire of Nicaea
Died 11 December 1282(1282-12-11) (aged 59)
Pachomion, near Lysimachia, Byzantine Empire
Spouse Theodora Palaiologina
Issue Manuel Palaiologos
Irene Palaiologina
Andronikos II Palaiologos
Anna Palaiologina
Constantine Palaiologos
Theodora Palaiologina
Eudokia Palaiologina
Theodore Palaiologos
Euphrosyne Palaiologina
Maria Palaiologina
Dynasty Palaiologos
Father Andronikos Doukas Komnenos Palaiologos
Mother Theodora Angelina Palaiologina
Religion Orthodox/Catholic

Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Μιχαήλ Δούκας Ἄγγελος Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος; 1223 – 11 December 1282) reigned as the co-emperor of the Empire of Nicaea from 1259 to 1261, and as Byzantine Emperor from 1261 until his death. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. He recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261 and transformed the Empire of Nicaea into a restored Byzantine Empire.

His reign saw considerable recovery of Byzantine power, including the enlargement of the Byzantine army and navy. It would also include the reconstruction of the city of Constantinople, and the increase of its population. He reestablished the University of Constantinople, which led to what is regarded as the Palaiologan Renaissance between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was also at this time that the focus of the Byzantine military shifted to the Balkans, against the Bulgarians, leaving the Anatolian frontier neglected. His successors could not compensate for this inadequacy, and both the Arsenite schism and two civil wars (cf. Byzantine civil war of 1321–1328, Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347) undermined further efforts toward territorial consolidation and recovery, draining the empire's strength, economy, and resources. Regular conflict between Byzantine successor states such as the Empire of Thessalonica, Trebizond, Epirus and Serbia resulted in permanent fragmentation of former Byzantine territory and opportunity for increasingly successful conquests of expansive territories by post-Seljuk Anatolian beyliks, most notably that of Osman, later called the Ottoman Empire.

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