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John V Palaiologos

John V Palaiologos

Byzantine emperor
The basics
Gender male
Birth June 18, 1332 (Didymoteicho, East Macedonia and Thrace, Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace)
Death February 16, 1391 (Constantinople)
Mother: Anna of Savoy
Father: Andronikos III Palaiologos
Spouse: Helena Kantakouzene
Children: Andronikos IV PalaiologosManuel II PalaiologosTheodore I PalaiologosLord of MoreaMichael Palaiologos
Authority ISNI id Library of congress id VIAF id
The details

John V Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Ίωάννης Ε' Παλαιολόγος, Iōannēs V Palaiologos; 18 June 1332 – 16 February 1391) was a Byzantine emperor, who succeeded his father in 1341 at age eight.


John V was the son of Emperor Andronikos III and his wife Anna, the daughter of Count Amadeus V of Savoy by his second wife Maria of Brabant. His long reign was marked by the gradual dissolution of imperial power amid numerous civil wars and the continuing ascendancy of the Ottoman Turks.

John V came to the throne at age eight. His reign began with an immediate civil war between his designated regent, his father's friend John Kantakouzenos, and a self-proclaimed council of regency composed of his mother Anna, the patriarch John XIV Kalekas, and the megas doux Alexios Apokaukos. During this civil war in 1343 Anna pawned the Byzantine crown jewels for 30,000 Venetian ducats. From 1346 to 1349, the Black Plague devastated Constantinople.

Victorious in 1347, John Kantakouzenos ruled as co-emperor until his son Matthew was attacked by John V in 1352, leading to a second civil war. John V asked the ruler of Serbia, Stefan Dušan for help, and Dušan obliged by sending 4,000 Serbian horsemen to his aid. Matthew Kantakouzenos asked his father for help, and 10,000 Ottoman Turks showed up at Demotika (Didymoteicho) in October 1352 and engaged the forces of John V's Serbian allies in an open field battle that resulted in the destruction of the allies and a victory for the more numerous Turks in the service of the Byzantines. The Ottoman Empire thus acquired its first European territory, at Çimpe and Gallipoli. Able to retake Constantinople in 1354, John V removed and tonsured John VI; by 1357, he had deposed Matthew as well, who had been captured by the Serbs and was ransomed to John V.

The Ottomans, who had been allied with the Kantakouzenoi, continued to press John. Suleyman Paşa, the son of the Ottoman sultan, led their forces in Europe and was able to take Adrianople and Philippopolis and to exact tribute from the emperor. John V appealed to the West for help, proposing to end the schism between the Byzantine and Latin churches by submitting the patriarchate to the supremacy of Rome.

In 1366, John V reached the Hungarian Kingdom, arriving at the Royal city of Buda to meet King Louis I of Hungary. However, the Byzantine emperor offended the king by staying on his horse, while Louis descended and approached him on foot. The Hungarian monarch then offered him help on the condition that John change his confession to the catholic, or at least achieve recognition by the Patriarch of the Pope's supremacy. The Emperor left the court of Buda with empty hands and continued his trip throughout Europe searching for assistance against the Ottomans. Impoverished by war, he was detained as a debtor when he visited Venice in 1369 and was later captured on his way back in Bulgarian territories. In 1371, he recognized the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan Murad I. Murad later assisted him against his son Andronikos when the latter deposed him in 1376.

In 1390, his grandson John VII briefly usurped the throne, but he was quickly overthrown. The same year, John ordered the strengthening of the Golden Gate in Constantinople, utilizing marble from the decayed churches in and around the city. Upon completion of this construction, Bayezid I demanded that John raze these new works, threatening war and the blinding of his son Manuel, whom he held in captivity. John V filled the Sultan's order but is said to have suffered from this humiliation and died soon thereafter on 16 February 1391.

John V was finally succeeded to the imperial throne by his son Manuel. His younger son Theodore had already acceded to the Despotate of Morea in 1383.


John V married Helena Kantakouzene, daughter of his co-emperor John VI Kantakouzenos and Irene Asanina, on 28 May 1347. They had at least six children -- four sons and at least two daughters. Their known children include:

  • Andronikos IV Palaiologos (2 April 1348 – 28 June 1385);
  • Irene Palaiologina (c. 1349 – after 1362), who married her first cousin Prince Halil of Ottoman Empire, son of Orhan I and Helena's sister Theodora Kantakouzene. The couple had two sons, Princes Gunduz and Omer.
  • Manuel II Palaiologos (27 June 1350 – 21 July 1425);
  • Theodore I Palaiologos, Lord of Morea (c. 1355 – 24 June 1407);
  • Michael Palaiologos (d. 1376/1377), who claimed the throne of the Empire of Trebizond from Alexios III;
  • Maria Palaiologina (d. 1376), who was betrothed to Murad I but died before the marriage could take place;
  • One daughter betrothed to Peter II of Cyprus, who may not be Irene or Maria;
  • Two unnamed daughters reported to have entered a monastery in 1373, who may be different women from the ones listed above.


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