Sophia Palaiologina

Sophia Palaiologina

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Sophia Palaiologina

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Zoe Palaiologina (), later changed her name to Sophia Palaiologina (; between 1440 and 1449 or c. 1455 – 7 April 1503), Grand Duchess of Moscow, was a niece of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI and second wife of Ivan III of Russia. She was also the grandmother of Ivan the Terrible.


Her father was Thomas Palaeologus, the Despot of Morea. Together with her brothers, she was taken to Rome after the conquest of Morea by Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire in 1460. In Rome, her Greek name Zoe was changed to Sophia. Born as an Orthodox, it is possible that she was raised as a Catholic in Rome.

In 1469, Pope Paul II offered to marry her to the Russian monarch in order to unite the Orthodox and Catholic churches. She entered Russia with a grand entourage and was welcomed in the city of Pskov, where she was officially celebrated – it was noticed that she thanked the public herself for the celebrations. The widowed Russian prince married Sophia at the Dormition Cathedral, Moscow on 12 November 1472. The cardinal Johannes Bessarion, sent by the Pope to Moscow, however, did not succeed in his mission.

Over the years, Sophia gained great influence in her husband's decision making. She was described as a "shrewd" character, and it was rumoured that her husband let himself be directed by her suggestions.<ref...
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