Theodore Palaiologos Kantakouzenos

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About Theodore Palaiologos Kantakouzenos

Theodore Palaiologos Kantakouzenos (Greek: Θεόδωρος Παλαιολόγος Καντακουζηνός, romanized: Theodoros Palaiologos Kantakouzenos; after 1361 – 1410) was a Byzantine nobleman and probable close relation to the Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos.

Disputed parents

Grandson of Matthew Asanes Kantakouzenos by either his son Johann Kantakouzenos (of whom little is known) or Demetrius I Kantakouzenos, despot of Morea

Theodore is theorised to have been the son of Matthew Kantakouzenos, son of Emperor John VI, and his wife Irene Palaiologina. Were this identification to be accurate, Theodore would likely have been born after the couple had taken residence in the Peloponnese in 1361, since he was not listed by the former emperor as being among his descendants prior to this time.[1] Alternatively, given the unusually large age gap between Theodore's children and Matthew,[note 1] it may be more likely that Theodore was instead the child of one of Matthew's sons, Demetrios or John, both of whom had reached maturity by 1361. As there is evidence to support both identifications, it is not possible to establish Theodore's parentage with any more certainty.[2]


Theodore's wife was Helena Ouresina Doukaina, a daughter of John Uroš, ruler of Thessaly.[10] He is believed to have had the following issue:

  1. George Palaiologos Kantakouzenos, "Sachatai" (d. circa 1456–59), scholar and military commander, defended Smederevo during a Hungarian attack in 1456
  2. Andronikos Palaiologos Kantakouzenos (d. June 3/4, 1453, executed), the last Grand Domestic of the Byzantine Empire
  3. Thomas Kantakouzenos (d. July 25, 1463 in Adrianople), diplomat for Đurađ Branković, Despot of Serbia
  4. Irene Kantakouzene (d. May 1457), wife of Serbian Despot Đurađ Branković
  5. Helena Kantakouzene or Theodora Kantakouzene, Empress of Trebizond[11][note 2]
  6. A daughter who married George VIII, King of Georgia

The Byzantist Donald Nicol, who initially attributed the offspring to Demetrios Kantakouzenos, later reversed his position and stated that it was more likely that Theodore was the actual father. His reason was that, given that George's eldest son was also named Theodore, the new theory would correlate with a common Byzantine practice of naming the eldest son for their grandfather.[1] Similarly, one of Irene's sons was named Todor, possibly also being named after Theodore.[12]


  • 1. According to historian Lindsay L Brook, "it is unlikely on chronological grounds that Matthias, probably born shortly after 1325, could have been the grandfather of Eirene and her brothers (all of whom died between 1453 and 1463)."[2]
  • 2. Thierry Ganchou has more recently argued that Helena is a phantom, and had never existed. He states that she was likely confused with her supposed husband's mother, Theodora, who may have been the actual child of Theodore.


Theodore was probably among the volunteers who left Constantinople in 1383 to join Manuel II in the defence of Thessaloniki against the Turks. He is known to have maintained correspondence with Demetrios Kydones and John Chortasmenos, who had composed verses giving praise to his house as well as to Theodore himself.[4] During the summer of 1397, Constantinople was besieged by the Ottomans under Sultan Bayezid I. Due to the desperation of the situation, Theodore, alongside John of Natala, was sent to the court of Charles VI of France as an imperial ambassador, bearing a letter from Manuel requesting the French king's military aid. Arriving in October, Theodore was received by a sympathetic Charles, who treated the ambassadors with great courtesy and promised to send assistance within the year. Further to this, Charles also provided funds for the two nobles to travel to the British Isles to treat with King Richard II of England, with the aim of soliciting further aid.[4][5] Though the latter was too distracted by domestic troubles at this point to provide any support,[6] Theodore and John were able to return with six hundred French troops lead by the Marshal Boucicaut, clearing the immediate approach to Constantinople and breaking the blockade.[7]

In the autumn of 1398, Theodore was named ambassador to Venice, where he maintained both a commercial presence as well as a political one, and was awarded citizenship of the republic by the Doge in December of that year.[4][8] In 1409, he attended the synod in Constantinople which condemned the two wayward bishops, Makarios of Ankyra and Matthew of Medeia. He was described as being a Senator during this time. He died of plague in 1410.[9][4] page 12

Alexios IV, Emperor of Trebizond, 1417-1429 married Theodora Kantakouzene (Trapp, 1976, no.12069) shortly after 5 September 1395, when she arrived at Trebizond from Constantinople (Lampsidis,1958, p.81). She died at Trebizond on 12 November 1426 and was buried in the church of the Theotokos Chrysokephalos in the family mausoleum of the emperors (Lampsidis, p.81). Ganchou (2000a), citing Massarelli’s unpublished Dell’Imperadori Constantinoplitani (Vat. Lat. MS. 12127, f. 349v-353), shows that she was a daughter of Theodoros Palaiologos Kantakouzenos (d.1410), the Byzantine ambassador to France and Venice, 1397-1398, and theios of Emperor Manuel II Kantakouzenos 16 (Nicol,1973,pp.312-313) .

THEODOROS Palaiologos Kantakouzenos, son of [DEMETRIOS] Kantakouzenos & his wife --- (after 1361-1410). His parentage is not known. If it is correct as suggested below that Theodoros's eldest son was named Demetrios, it is probable that Theodoros's father was also named Demetrios, consistent with the Byzantine custom of naming the eldest son after his paternal grandfather[574]. Ambassador 1397. Senator 1409. Patrician of Venice 27 Dec 1398. He died of the plague.

m (after 1383) EUPHROSYNE, daughter of --- Sincrula Palaiologos & his wife ---. She is named as wife of Theodoros in the Masarelli Vatican manuscript ...

Theodoros Kantakouzenos & his wife had [nine] children: ...


  • Nicol, Donald M. (1968). The Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos (Cantacuzenus), ca. 1100–1460: A Genealogical and Prosopographical Study. Dumbarton Oaks studies 11. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies. OCLC 390843. GoogleBooks
  • Nicol, Donald M. “The Byzantine Family of Kantakouzenos: Some Addenda and Corrigenda.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 27, 1973, pp. 309–315. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Mar. 2021.
  • seems off by a generation. Shows the children of Theodore Kantakouzenos & Helena Ouresina Doukaina (not listed) as the children (E1 - E6) of “D2. Demetrios I Kantakouzenos, titled as sebastokrator in XII.1357, Despot of Morea (1383), *ca 1343, +btw 1384-1420; m.NN”. This is not supported by Donald Nicol.
  • -
  • 10. Williams, Kelsey Jackson (2006). "A Genealogy of the Grand Komnenoi of Trebizond" (PDF). Foundations. 2 (3): 171–89. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 June 2019. PDF page 12:
    • 16. Nicol (1968, pp.176-192) published an accurate account of Theodoros’ children but mistakenly attributed them to the sebastokrator Demetrios Kantakouzenos (d.c.1384), an error which Hunger noted in his edition of Chortasmenos and which Nicol corrected in his addenda (1973, pp.312-313). Brook (1989, pp.6-8) establishes that Theodoros’ wife, and consequently Theodora’s mother, was Helena Uroš Doukaina, daughter of Ioannes Uroš Doukas, Emperor in Thessaly, c.1371-1372, and grandson of Stefan Uroš III Dečanski, King of Serbia.
  • cites Europäische Stammtafeln, J.A. Stargardt Verlag, Marburg, Schwennicke, Detlev (Ed.). 2:181