Palaeologus [key], Greek dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire from its restoration in 1261 to its final conquest by the Turks in 1453. The first emperor was Michael VIII, restorer of the empire. He was succeeded by Andronicus II (reigned 1282–1328) and Andronicus III (reigned 1328–41). John V acceded in 1341, but was kept from the throne until 1354 by John VI (John Cantacuzene) and from 1376 until 1379 by his son, Andronicus IV. At his death (1391) Manuel II succeeded and ruled until 1425; he had to share his rule with John VII after 1399. Manuel's sons John VIII (reigned 1425–48) and Constantine XI (reigned 1449–53) succeeded him. Constantine XI was killed when the Turks stormed Constantinople. Branches of the Palaeologus family survived in various European countries. One branch ruled the Italian marquisate of Montferrat from the 14th cent. until the family's extinction in 1536. Distinguished for their erudition, the Palaeologi helped the Greek people to retain their cultural identity after their conquest by the Ottoman Turks. As statesmen they had to contend with the pressure of the Turks and with the reluctance of Western Europe to come to the aid of the Orthodox Greeks. Their rule marked the high point of feudalism, partitions of the empire, and internal conflict between religious and secular groups.
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