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After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, what happened to the Imperial Byzantine family? Did they later establish other smaller kingdoms? Do any European Royal family trace their ancestry to them (Especially in eastern Europe). Is there anyone in this time who holds the claim to throne of the empire (as in the case of many dissolved monarchies)?

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2 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Byzantine Empire was not formally a hereditary monarchy. There was no law which regulated inheritance in Byzantine Empire.

Nevertheless the offsprings of the imperial family sold the right to claim the throne to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, Spanish monarchs. This was inherited by Charles V, Holy Roman emperor. Yet he never styled himself a Byzantine or Constantinopolian emperor. Being a Roman Emperor was a part of his title though after he was crowned Roman Emperor by the Pope (he was the last man to receive this title ever).

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That there is no formal succession law doesn't mean that a monarchy isn't hereditary. It certainly was hereditary in practice. Anyway, +1 for the second part. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 23 '12 at 9:50
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@Felix Goldberg at the time it was contested by two dynasties. The Palaiologi and the Tsimiskeses. –  Anixx Dec 23 '12 at 11:13
    
The only Byzantine emepror I remember fitting the second name you gave is John I Tzimiskes - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_I_Tzimiskes, a few hundred years before. Anyhow, many monarchies have rivalling dynasties. That's not the same being an elective monarchy, as Poland or the early HRE. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 23 '12 at 11:35
    
So I understand that the family is now extinct. But I just read in Wikipedia that the family was dissolved in 1678, like 200 years from the fall of Constantinople. They have become merchants and farmers though not nobility anymore. Interestingly, It also says that Queen Anne of Romania (b.1929) is of byzantine imperial family descent through the Arenbergs. Do not know if anyone could verify that. –  The Byzantine Dec 23 '12 at 20:08
    
@TheByzantine: How does one dissolve a family? –  Felix Goldberg Dec 23 '12 at 22:37
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In addition to Anixx's answer, check out Andreas Palaiologos - the oldest newphew of Constantine (the last emperor). Looks like he sold his "rights" to the Byzantine throne twice, both to France and Spain. And his younger brother sold them to... gasp... the Ottomans. Well, they had to get some money for high living.

Which brings us to another aspect: Mehmed II claimed that he actually was the new Roman Emperor, or Kayser-i Rum as he called it, by right of conquest. (He did have a point there). I know that Suleiman the Magnificent called himself so as well (in a letter to Charles V) but wikipedia, linked to in "claimed" above, a ssertsthat later sultans dropped the title.

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Later sultans did claim the right either to nominate the Ecumenical Patriarch or at least to ratify his election, a power of the Eastern Roman Emperor. The Republic of Turkey still places conditions on who that person might be, such as requiring him to have been born in Turkey. –  Henry Dec 23 '12 at 10:20
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