Who was who at the court of Constantine XI, 1449-1453

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


During his short reign as the last emperor of Byzantium, Constantine XI Palaiologos had little opportunity to exercise patronage in the way that his remote predecessor had done. He inherited a shrunken and bankrupt empire and was unable to afford the upkeep of his own palace, let alone distribute largesse to his courtiers. His chief advisers were all men of substantial means who often used their wealth to subsidise the emperor. His less well-off courtiers, such as George Sphrantzes, had to content themselves with titles and the occasional gift as the reward for their service. Those with no private means could not afford to work for the emperor at all, as in the famous example of the Hungarian cannon-maker Urban who was compelled to take his skills to the Ottoman sultan when his wages went unpaid. Nevertheless, there were people working for Constantine such as John Ierarchis and Frankoulios Servopoulos who both held court titles, who were both probably of mixed Latin-Greek descent and who both seem to have acted as interpreters. This article will consider exactly what their relationship with Constantine’s court was, how they were paid and what their willingness to serve the emperor says about the ways in which Greeks under Latin rule constructed their own identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emperor in the Byzantine World
Subtitle of host publicationPapers from the Forty-Seventh Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies
EditorsShaun Tougher
Place of PublicationAbingdon and New York
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780429060984
ISBN (Print)9781138218680
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019

Publication series

NameSociety for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies

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