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)?

  • There were several byzantine ruling families, and they all left the ship at different times. Attributing the fall of the Byzantine empire as a singular event will not bear much fruit, unless you are interested in that one specific period. It was merely the last chapter. Check out Zeo Paleogos maybe for the last one. There was also one particular family that resided in Trebizond, then Crimea and then married Russians, can't remember the name off hand.
    – John Dee
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 2:19

5 Answers 5


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).

  • 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. Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 9:50
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    @Felix Goldberg at the time it was contested by two dynasties. The Palaiologi and the Tsimiskeses.
    – Anixx
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 11:13
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    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. Commented Dec 23, 2012 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. Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 20:08
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    @TheByzantine: How does one dissolve a family? Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 22:37

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
    Commented Dec 23, 2012 at 10:20

see my several answers to this question "Greek Revolution- where did the greeks look for descendants of the byzantine dynasty?"

Greek Revolution: Where did the Greeks look for descendants of the Byzantine dynasties?


A short answer is that the male line descendants died out in a few generations as far as is known, but several Palaiologos princesses married into other families and their descendants lasted after the last known male lineage descendants of the Palaiologos dynasty.

Some of the female line descndnts exist today. Thus going by male preference primogeniture the rightful heir of the Palaiologos dynasty is probably Luigi Serra, 11th Duke of Cassano.



yes, the head of the Imperial House lives in Moscow. He is H.I.H Prince Vladimir Gorshkov-Cantacuzene. check the website www.royal-byzantium.com


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    Why do you believe that site to be credible?
    – MCW
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 20:10
  • The Russian "Cantacuzene" are off-shoot of Romanian Cantacuzino which claims to be a cadet dynasty of Kantakouzenos dynasty which indeed held the Eastern Roman throne. The claims are however disputed and considered fabricated by some. The OP is however asking about the Palailogos dynasty which was the last dynasty to hold the ERE. VTD
    – NSNoob
    Commented Jul 15, 2017 at 11:45
  • because Prince Vladimir is recognized as Head of the Byzantine Imperial House by 22 Royal Families including Spain and Denmark. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 14:45

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