Prince of Achaea

The Prince of Achaea was the ruler of the Principality of Achaea, one of the crusader states founded in Greece in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204). Though more or less autonomous, the principality was never a fully independent state, initially being a vassal state subservient of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, which had supplanted the Byzantine Empire, and later of the Angevin Kingdom of Naples. During the Angevin period, the princes were often absent, being represented in the Principality by their baillis, who governed in their name.

Prince of Achaea
Princeps Achaiae
Coat of arms of the Principality of Achaea.svg
Coat of arms used under the Villehardouin dynasty
First monarchWilliam I of Champlitte
Last monarchCenturione Zaccaria
Maria Maddalena Capece Galeota
(loss of the principality)
6 April 1933
(last use of title)
AppointerHereditary, vassal of the Latin Emperor and then the King of Naples

The principality was one of the longest-lasting of the Latin states in Greece, outliving the Latin Empire itself by 171 years. It did not come to an end until 1432, when the Byzantine prince Thomas Palaiologos inherited the last remnants of the Principality through marriage to the daughter of the last prince, Centurione Zaccaria. With the Principality gone, the title of Prince of Achaea became vacant. The title was revived more than two centuries later, with Antonio di Tocco, a descendant of Thomas Palaiologos, proclaiming himself as the titular Prince of Achaea in 1642. The sequence of titular princes that began with Antonio di Tocco lasted until the death of his descendant Maria Maddalena Capece Galeota in 1933, whereafter the title became vacant once more.

List of princes of Achaea, 1205–1432Edit

Champlitte dynasty (1205–1209)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
William I
of Champlitte
Knight of the Fourth Crusade, appointed by Boniface I, King of Thessalonica after the conquest of the Peloponnese 1205 – 1209 4 years 1209
Natural causes

After a brief tenure as prince, William I received news that his brother Louis in Burgundy had died and decided to return home to France to claim the family lands. To govern the principality of Achaea, he left his old friend Geoffrey of Villehardouin as bailiff. William I died on his journey home in 1209. Champlitte had stipulated before his journey home that any lawful heir of his would have to claim the principality within a year and a day in the event of his death, or their claims would be forfeit. After his death, news reached Villehardouin that a cousin of William, Robert of Champlitte, was on his way to claim the principality. Wishing to claim the principality for himself, Villehardouin, with the assistance of Venice, placed various obstacles in Robert's way, including ensuring that he had to wait in Venice for two months before embarking, and once Robert reached Achaea, the time window stipulated by William had passed. Having obtained the principality through legal quibbles and fraud, Villehardouin was then proclaimed as the new Prince of Achaea.[2]

Villehardouin dynasty (1210–1278)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
  Geoffrey I
of Villehardouin
c. 1169 Bailiff of Achaea under William I, seized power in the aftermath of William I's death 1210 – c. 1229 c. 19 years c. 1229 (aged c. 60)
Natural causes
Geoffrey II
of Villehardouin
c. 1195 Son of Geoffrey I c. 1229 – 1246 c. 17 years 1246 (aged c. 51)
Natural causes
  William II
of Villehardouin
c. 1211
Son of Geoffrey I 1246 –
1 May 1278
32 years 1 May 1278 (aged c. 51)
Natural causes

Angevin domination (1278–1396)Edit

House of Anjou (1278–1289)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
  Charles I
of Anjou
1226–1227 King of Naples. Charles's line was designated as heirs by the sonless William II after the marriage of William's daughter Isabella of Villehardouin and Charles's son Philip of Sicily. Philip of Sicily predeceased Charles, which made Charles the heir. 1 May 1278 –
7 January 1285
6 years, 8 months and 7 days 7 January 1285 (aged 57–59)
  Charles II
of Naples
1254 King of Naples and son of Charles I 7 January 1285 –
16 September 1289
4 years, 8 months and 10 days 5 May 1309 (aged c. 55)
Natural causes

Houses of Villehardouin, Avesnes and Savoy (1289–1307)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of Villehardouin
Daughter of William II of Villehardouin. Conferred the principality by Charles II, together with her husband Florent of Hainaut, upon their marriage in 1289. 16 September 1289 –
18 years 23 January 1312 (aged c. 49/52)
Natural causes
of Hainaut

–(with Isabella)–
c. 1255
Husband of Isabella of Villehardouin 16 September 1289 –
23 January 1297
7 years, 4 months and 8 days 23 January 1297 (aged c. 42)
Died during a military campaign
  Philip I
of Savoy

–(with Isabella)–
Husband of Isabella of Villehardouin, invested as Prince of Achaea by Charles II upon their marriage in 1300 1300 – 1307 7 years 25 September 1334 (aged c. 56)
Natural causes

In 1307, Charles II revoked the position of Isabella and Philip I, on the grounds that their marriage having happened without his consent (despite having recognized Philip earlier) and Philip's refusal to assist Charles II in the king's campaigns against the Despotate of Epirus. Isabella and Florent had been granted the principality in 1289 on the condition that Isabella did not remarry without Charles II's consent in the event of Florent's death and Philip's refusal to aid Charles II constituted a gross breach of the feudal code. Isabella's eldest daughter, Matilda of Hainaut, may have unsuccessfully attempted to claim the principality in the immediate aftermath of her parents' deposition but was blocked from doing so by the local nobility, who awaited orders from Naples. Instead of seizing Achaea for himself once more, Charles bestowed it on his favorite son, Philip of Taranto, who soon after arrived in Achaea and received the allegiance of the local barons. To ensure that Isabella and Philip did not attempt to reclaim Achaea, their claims were also purchased and the couple were promised to County of Alba on the shores of the Fucine Lake as compensation.[12]

House of Anjou (1307–1313)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
  Philip II
of Taranto
10 November 1278
Son of Charles II, invested as Prince of Achaea by his father 1307 –
July 1313
6 years 1331–1332 (aged c. 53/54)
Natural causes

In 1313, Philip II married Catherine of Valois, the titular Latin Empress, who had up until their marriage arrangements been betrothed to Hugh V, Duke of Burgundy. In order to compensate the House of Burgundy, it was arranged that Louis of Burgundy, Hugh V's younger brother, would marry Matilda of Hainaut, the eldest daughter of Isabella of Villehardouin, and that the two would then be granted the Principality of Achaea.[14] After marriage, however, Louis and Matilda delayed in travelling to Greece and in the meantime, the usurper Ferdinand of Majorca seized control of the principality.[15]

House of Barcelona (1315–1316)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of Majorca
Married Isabella of Sabran, granddaughter of William II of Villehardouin, took control of the principality using a band of Italian and Aragonese mercenaries June/July 1315 –
5 July 1316
1 year 5 July 1316 (aged c. 38)
Killed at the Battle of Manolada

Houses of Avesnes and Bourbon (1316–1321)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of Hainaut
29 November 1293
Daughter of Isabella of Villehardouin and Florent of Hainaut, granted Achaea in 1313 but only took control in 1316. 5 July 1316 –
5 years 1331 (aged c. 38)
Natural causes
of Burgundy

–(with Matilda)–
Husband of Matilda, conferred the principality by Philip II together with his wife 5 July 1316 –
2 August 1316
29 days 2 August 1316 (aged c. 19)
Possibly poisoned

After she was widowed in 1316, King Robert of Naples ruled that Matilda should marry his younger brother, John of Gravina, as part of a scheme to once more return the principality to the House of Anjou. Matilda however refused, and there was also protest from Odo IV of Burgundy, the brother and designated heir of Louis. Matilda was however brought to Naples by force and in 1318 compelled to go through with the marriage ceremony to John. Still defiant, the princess was brought before Pope John XXII at Avignon and there ordered to obey. Even when forced to marry by the pope, Matilda refused and replied that she had already married the Burgundian knight Hugh de La Palice, whom she was very attached to. This secret marriage gave Robert the excuse to revoke her position as Princess of Achaea, as she had not been allowed to marry without his consent per the agreements that preceded her elevation to the position. After a brief forced marriage to John, Matilda was imprisoned and the principality was simply bestowed upon John directly.[19]

House of Anjou (1318–1381)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of Gravina
Briefly husband of Matilda of Hainaut against her will, made prince by his brother, Robert of Naples. John did not actually arrive in Greece until 1324 and left again in 1326, never returning. March 1318 –
15 years 5 April 1336 (aged c. 42)
Natural causes
of Valois
1303 Titular Latin Empress. Catherine and her son Robert were transferred the Principality of Achaea by John in 1333 in exchange for their possessions in Epirus and Albania. 1333 –
October 1346
13 years 5 April 1336 (aged c. 33)
Natural causes
of Taranto
1319–1326 Son of Catherine of Valois and Philip II. Transferred the principality by John in 1333, together with his mother. Sole ruler after 1346, though he never set foot in Achaea after his mother's death. 1333 –
10 September 1364
31 years 10 September 1364 (aged c. 45/38)
Natural causes
Maria I
of Bourbon
c. 1315
Widow of Robert of Taranto; kept the title Princess of Achaea after his death and fought with his lawful successor, Philip III, to install her son by a previous marriage, Hugh of Lusignan, as prince. 10 September 1364 –
6 years 1387 (aged c. 72)
Natural causes
of Lusignan
–(with Maria I)–
c. 1335 Son of Maria I and Guy of Lusignan, a son of Hugh IV of Cyprus, co-ruler during his mother's attempt to gain control of the principality 10 September 1364 –
6 years Unknown [22][23]
Philip III
of Taranto
1329 Brother and lawful heir of Robert of Taranto. Also purchased Maria I's rights in 1370, bringing their conflict to an end. Never visited Greece. 10 September 1364 –
25 November 1373
9 years, 2 months and 16 days 25 November 1373 (aged c. 44)
Natural causes
of Naples
December 1325
Queen of Naples and widow of James IV of Majorca, grandson of Ferdinand. Proclaimed Princess of Achaea by an envoy of Achaean barons after Philip III's death. 1373 – 1381 8 years 12 May 1382 (aged 58)
Strangled in prison
of Brunswick

–(with Joanna)–
1320 Husband of Joanna, proclaimed Prince of Achaea by her after their marriage in 1376 1376 – 1381 5 years 1 December 1398 (aged c. 78)
Natural causes
From 1377 to 1381, the Principality of Achaea is de facto under the control of the Knights Hospitaller under Grand Master Juan Fernández de Heredia, who were leased the principality by Joanna and Otto.[26]

House of Baux (1381–1383)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of Baux
Unknown Nephew and seniormost heir of Philip III, previously passed over in 1373. Invaded the principality in 1380 with the help of the Navarrese Company. 1380 –
17 July 1383
3 years 17 July 1383
Natural causes

Interregnum (1383–1396)Edit

James of Baux died childless in 1383, which left his hired army, the Navarrese Company, as the sole authority in Achaea. The commanders of the Navarrese Company, Mahiot de Coquerel (until 1386) and Peter of San Superano (after 1386) kept up the pretense that they were representatives of the Kings of Naples, the closest and strongest of the possible claimants to the principality, but they were for all intents and purposes rulers of an independent realm.[28]

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
  Charles III
of Naples

King of Naples and grandson of John of Gravina. Recognized as Prince of Achaea by the Navarrese Company. 17 July 1383 –
24 February 1386
2 years, 7 months and 8 days 24 February 1386 (aged 41)
of Naples

15 February 1377
King of Naples and son of Charles III 24 February 1386 –
10 years 6 August 1414 (aged 37)

In addition to the nominal princes listed above, there were also numerous other rival claimants that rose during this time:[30]

  • Louis I of Anjou – designated heir of James of Baux.[30]
  • Louis II, Duke of Bourbon – nephew and designated heir of Maria I of Bourbon (who ruled as princess 1364–1370).[31]
  • Amadeo of Savoy – grandson of Philip I of Savoy (who ruled as prince 1300–1307).[31]
  • Juan Fernández de Heredia, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller – sought to regain the principality for the Knights Hospitaller, eventually succeeded in purchasing the claims of Marie of Blois, though the sale was contested by Amadeo of Savoy and Antipope Clement VII annulled it.[31]

Navarrese-Genoese dynasty (1396–1432)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
of San Superano
Unknown Commander of the Navarrese Company, conferred the position of "hereditary Prince of Achaea" by Ladislaus of Naples in 1396 1396 – 1402 6 years 1402
Natural causes
Maria II
Unknown Widow of Peter, regent for his infant son 1402 – 1404 2 years Unknown [8][23][34]
Unknown Nephew of Maria, confirmed as prince by Ladislaus of Naples after taking over control from Maria 1404 – 1432 28 years 1432
Natural causes


Centurione II ZaccariaMaria II ZaccariaPedro de San SuperanoLadislaus of NaplesCharles III of NaplesJames of BauxOtto, Duke of Brunswick-GrubenhagenJoanna I of NaplesPhilip II, Prince of TarantoMarie de Bourbon, Princess of AchaeaRobert, Prince of TarantoCatherine of Valois–CourtenayJohn, Duke of DurazzoLouis of BurgundyMatilda of HainautFerdinand of MajorcaPhilip I, Prince of TarantoPhilip I of PiedmontFlorent of HainautIsabella of VillehardouinCharles II of NaplesCharles I of AnjouWilliam of VillehardouinGeoffrey II of VillehardouinGeoffrey I of VillehardouinWilliam of ChamplitteCapetian House of AnjouCapetian House of AnjouCapetian House of AnjouVillehardouin familyCapetian House of AnjouVillehardouin family

Later claimantsEdit

Portrait of Thomas Palaiologos, who inherited Centurione Zaccaria's lands in 1432

Upon the death of Centurione Zaccaria in 1432, his territories were inherited by Thomas Palaiologos, Despot of the Morea, who had married Centurione's daughter and heir, Catherine Zaccaria.[36][35] Although Thomas thus ruled portions of the Peloponnese, including all of Centurione's former territory, and had rightfully inherited the title, he never used it, and the Principality of Achaea came to an end.[36][35] Some modern historians consider Thomas Palaiologos to have been the Prince of Achaea from 1432 to 1460,[23][37] though that is a modern historiographical designation for him. Thomas Palaiologos's inheritance did not go completely unchallenged. In 1453, John Asen Zaccaria, illegitimate son of Centurione, claimed his father's title and warred against Thomas and Thomas's brother Demetrios. John was defeated in 1454 and died in exile in 1469.[38]

Some impostor pretenders to Byzantine descent historically claimed the position. From the late 15th century to 1530, the Albanian exile Constantine Arianiti claimed the title "Duke of Achaea", among others.[39] Later in the 16th century, the title might have been claimed by Giovanni Demetrio Angeli (1499–1571), part of the Angelo Flavio Comneno family, which claimed descent from the Byzantine Angelos dynasty.[40]

Titular princes of Achaea, 1642–1933Edit

On 4 November 1642, Philip IV of Spain confirmed through a royal diploma the right of Antonio di Tocco to style himself as the titular Prince of Achaea.[41] Though his ancestors had not used the title for more than two hundred years, Antonio held a legitimate claim to it, being descended from Thomas Palaiologos and Catherine Zaccaria in the female line.[42] The last fully documented and certain male-line descendants of Thomas Palaiologos died off in the early 16th century[43][a] and the Tocco family were descended from Thomas's eldest daughter, Helena Palaiologina.[50]

Tocco family (1642–1884)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
di Tocco
16 August 1618
Great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Centurione 4 November 1642 –
5 March 1678
35 years, 4 months and 1 day 5 March 1678 (aged 59)
Natural causes
Carlo Antonio
di Tocco
15 March 1668
Grandson of Antonio di Tocco 5 March 1678 –
31 January 1701
22 years, 10 months and 26 days 31 January 1701 (aged 33)
Natural causes
di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart
1 January 1698
Son of Carlo Antonio di Tocco 31 January 1701 –
31 March 1776
75 years and 2 months 31 March 1776 (aged 78)
Natural causes
di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart
6 August 1730
Son of Leonardo di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart 10 April 1776 –
21 February 1796
19 years, 10 months and 11 days 21 February 1796 (aged 65)
Natural causes
di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart
7 March 1756
Son of Restaino di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart 21 February 1796 –
19 July 1823
27 years, 4 months and 28 days 19 July 1823 (aged 67)
Natural causes
di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart
18 November 1790
Son of Carlo di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart 19 July 1823 –
16 April 1877
53 years, 8 months and 28 days 16 April 1877 (aged 86)
Natural causes
di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart
4 April 1827
Son of Francesco di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart 16 April 1877 –
24 March 1884
6 years, 11 months and 8 days 24 March 1884 (aged 56)
Natural causes

Capece Galeota family (1889–1933)Edit

Image Name Birth Succession Tenure Length of tenure Death Ref
Capece Galeota
17 February 1824
Grandson of Carlo di Tocco Cantelmo Stuart (1756–1823) 8 March 1889 –
14 August 1908
19 years, 5 months and 6 days 14 August 1908 (aged 84)
Natural causes
Maria Maddalena
Capece Galeota
11 December 1859
Daughter of Carlo Capece Galeota 14 August 1908 –
6 April 1933
24 years, 7 months and 23 days 6 April 1933 (aged 73)
Natural causes


  1. ^ After Thomas's death in 1465, his claims were taken up by his eldest son, Andreas Palaiologos, who died in 1502.[44] Andreas is commonly believed to not have left any descendants.[45] If Andreas was childless, his heir would have been his younger brother, Manuel Palaiologos, who had moved back to Constantinople and lived under Ottoman rule. Manuel died at some point in the reign of Sultan Bayezid II (r. 1481–1512).[46] Manuel's only documented son to reach adulthood, named Andreas Palaiologos after Manuel's brother, converted to Islam and died in the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520–1566).[47] Manuel's son is not believed to have had children of his own.[48] Though later members of the family are attested, the abundance of people unrelated to the imperial dynasty who bore the name, and forgers, makes the lineage of any later Palaiologoi uncertain and questionable.[49]


  1. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 49, 651.
  2. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 37, 49–50, 60–62.
  3. ^ Miller 1908, pp. , 651.
  4. ^ Longnon 1969, p. 242.
  5. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 97, 651.
  6. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 97, 146–147, 651.
  7. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 146–147, 651.
  8. ^ a b c Miller 1908, p. 651.
  9. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 177, 201, 210, 651.
  10. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 177, 196, 651.
  11. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 201, 210, 651.
  12. ^ Miller 1908, p. 204.
  13. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 204, 210, 651.
  14. ^ Miller 1908, p. 251.
  15. ^ Miller 1908, p. 252.
  16. ^ Bontas 2016, p. 2.
  17. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 252, 257, 651.
  18. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 252, 256, 651.
  19. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 257–258.
  20. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 257–258, 260–261, 651.
  21. ^ a b Miller 1908, pp. 261, 651.
  22. ^ a b c Miller 1908, pp. 285–289, 651.
  23. ^ a b c d Wilberg 1906, p. 16.
  24. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 307–308, 651.
  25. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 308, 651.
  26. ^ Miller 1908, p. 308.
  27. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 307, 310, 317, 651.
  28. ^ a b Miller 1908, pp. 317–318.
  29. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 348, 368.
  30. ^ a b c Miller 1908, pp. 317–319.
  31. ^ a b c Miller 1908, p. 318.
  32. ^ Miller 1908, p. 345.
  33. ^ Miller 1908, pp. 317–318, 368, 651.
  34. ^ Setton & Hazard 1975.
  35. ^ a b c Nicol 1992, p. 12.
  36. ^ a b Miller 1908, p. 489.
  37. ^ Setton 1978, p. 569.
  38. ^ PLP, 6490. Zαχαρίας Κεντυρίων.
  39. ^ Harris 2013, p. 653.
  40. ^ Torelli 1751, p. XXXVII.
  41. ^ Shamà 2013, p. 52.
  42. ^ Miller 1908, p. 488.
  43. ^ Nicol 1992, p. 116.
  44. ^ Setton 1978, p. 463.
  45. ^ PLP, 21426. Παλαιολόγος Ἀνδρέας.
  46. ^ Harris 2010, p. 254.
  47. ^ Miller 1908, p. 455.
  48. ^ Runciman 2009, p. 183.
  49. ^ Nicol 1992, p. 117.
  50. ^ Nicol 1992, p. 115.
  51. ^ Miller 1908, p. 489; Shamà 2013, pp. 52–54.
  52. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 57–58.
  53. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 59–60.
  54. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 62–63.
  55. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 63–64.
  56. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 71–72.
  57. ^ Shamà 2013, pp. 73–74.
  58. ^ Shamà 2013, p. 74.
  59. ^ a b Capece Galeota; Indice delle Famiglie Nobili del Mediterraneo.


Web sourcesEdit