In heraldry, an escutcheon is a shield that forms the main or focal element in an achievement of arms. The word is used in two related senses. First, as the shield on which a coat of arms is displayed. Escutcheon shapes are derived from actual shields used by knights in combat, thus are varied and developed by region and by era; as this shape has been regarded as a war-like device appropriate to men only, British ladies customarily bear their arms upon a lozenge, or diamond-shape, while clergymen and ladies in continental Europe bear theirs on a cartouche, or oval. Other shapes are in use, such as the roundel used for arms granted to Aboriginal Canadians by the Canadian Heraldic Authority. Second, a shield can itself be a charge within a coat of arms. More a smaller shield is placed over the middle of the main shield as a form of marshalling. In either case, the smaller shield is given the same shape as the main shield; when there is only one such shield, it is sometimes called an inescutcheon.
The word escutcheon is based on Old North French escuchon "shield". The earliest depictions of "proto-heraldic" shields in the second half of the 12th centuy still have the shape of the Norman kite shield used throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. By about the 1230s, shields used by heavy cavalry at least had become shorter and more triangular, the so-called "heater" shape. Transitional forms, intermediate between "kite" and "heater" shapes, are seen in the late 12th to early 13th centuries. Transition to the classic "heater" shape was complete by 1250. For example, the shield of William II Longespée shown with his effigy at Salisbury Cathedral is triangular, whilst the shield shown on the effigy of his father William Longespée, 3rd Earl of Salisbury is still of a more elongated form; that on the enamel monument to the latter's grandfather Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou is of full-body length. This heater-shaped form was used in warfare during the apogee of the Age of Chivalry, at about the time of the Battle of Crecy and the founding of the Order of the Garter, when the art of Heraldry reached its greatest perfection.
This equilateral shape is therefore used as a setting for armorials from this "classical age" of heraldry, in the sense that it produced the best examples of the art. Beginning in the 15th century, more throughout the early modern period, a great variety of escutcheon shapes develops. In the Tudor era the heraldic escutcheon took the shape of an inverted Tudor arch. Continental European designs use the various forms used in jousting, which incorporate "mouths" used as lance rests into the shields; the mouth is shown on the dexter side only, as jousting pitches were designed for right-handed knights. Heraldic examples of English shields à bouche can be seen in the spandrels of the trussed timber roof of Lincoln's Inn Hall, London; the shape of the top, the sides and the base may be separately described, these elements may be combined. The complex Baroque style shields of the 17th century come in many artistic variations. In English heraldry, the lozenge has for many centuries been associated with certain females as a vehicle for the display of their coats of arms, instead of the escutcheon or shield, in its origin an object of manly warfare.
In this case the lozenge is without helm, again objects of manly warfare. However, for the practical purpose of categorisation the lozenge may be treated as a variety of heraldic escutcheon. Traditionally limited categories of females have been able to display their own arms, for example a female monarch and suo jure peeresses, who may display their own arms alone on a lozenge if married. In general a female was represented by her paternal arms impaled by the arms of her husband on an escutcheon.. In modern Canadian heraldry, certain other modern heraldic jurisdictions, women may be granted their own arms and display these on an escutcheon. Life peeresses in England display their arms on a lozenge. An oval or cartouche is also used instead of the lozenge for armigerous women; as a result of rulings of the English Kings of Arms dated 7 April 1995 and 6 November 1997, married women in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and in other countries recognising the jurisdiction of the College of Arms in London have the option of using their husband's arms alone, marked with a small lozenge as a difference to show that the arms are displayed for the wife and not the husband, or of using their own personal arms alone, marked with a small shield as a brisure for the same reason.
Divorced women may theoretically until remarriage use their ex-husband's arms differenced with a mascle. Widowed women display a lozenge-shaped shield impaled, unless they are heraldic heiresses, in which case they display a lozenge-shaped shield with the unaltered escutcheon of pretence in the centre; the lozenge shape of quasi-escutcheon is used for funerary hatchments for both men and women. Pretoria High School for Girls in South Africa is one of the few all-girls schools, granted permission to use the lozenge as part of its coat of arms; the points of the shield refer to specific positions thereon and are used in blazons to describe where a charge should be placed. An inescutcheon is a smaller escutcheon, placed within or superimposed over the main shield of a coat of arms; this may be used in the following cases: as a simple mobile charge, for example as borne by the Fr
Despot (court title)
Despot or despotes was a senior Byzantine court title, bestowed on the sons or sons-in-law of reigning emperors, denoted the heir-apparent of the Byzantine emperor. From Byzantium it spread throughout the late medieval Balkans and was granted in the states under Byzantine cultural influence, such as the Latin Empire, the Second Bulgarian Empire, the Serbian Empire and its successor states, the Empire of Trebizond. With the political fragmentation of the period, the term gave rise to several principalities termed "despotates" which were ruled either as independent states or as appanages by princes bearing the title of despot. In modern usage, the word has taken a different meaning: "despotism" is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power; the semantic shift undergone by the term is mirrored by "tyrant", an ancient Greek word that bore no negative connotation, the Latin "dictator", a constitutionally sanctioned office of the Roman Republic. In colloquial Modern Greek, the word is used to refer to a bishop.
In English, the feminine form of the title is despotess or despotissa, which denoted the spouse of a despot, but the transliterated traditional female equivalent of despotes, despoina, is commonly used. The original Greek term δεσπότης meant "lord" and was synonymous with κύριος; as the Greek equivalent to the Latin dominus, despotēs was used as a form of address indicating respect. As such it was applied to any person of rank, but in a more specific sense to God and the patriarchs, the Roman and Byzantine Emperors used in formal settings, for example on coins or formal documents. Although it was used for high-ranking nobles from the early 12th century, the title of despot began being used as a specific court title by Manuel I Komnenos, who conferred it in 1163 to the future King Béla III of Hungary, the Emperor's son-in-law and, until the birth of Alexios II in 1169, heir-presumptive. According to the contemporary Byzantine historian John Kinnamos, the title of despot was analogous to Bela's Hungarian title of urum, or heir-apparent.
From this time and until the end of the Byzantine Empire, the title of despot became the highest Byzantine dignity, which placed its holders "immediately after the emperor". The Byzantine emperors from the Komnenoi to the Palaiologoi, as well as the Latin Emperors who claimed their succession and imitated their styles, continued to use the term despotes in its more generic sense of "lord" in their personal seals and in imperial coinage. In a similar manner, the holders of the two junior titles of sebastokrator and Caesar could be addressed as despota; the despot paneutychestatos. During the last centuries of Byzantium's existence, the title was awarded to the younger sons of emperors as well as to the emperor's sons-in-law; the title entailed extensive honours and privileges, including the control of large estates – the domains of Michael VIII's brother John Palaiologos for instance included the islands of Lesbos and Rhodes – to finance their extensive households. Like the junior titles of sebastokrator and Caesar however, the title of despot was a courtly dignity, was not tied to any military or administrative functions or powers.
Women bore the titles of their husbands. Thus the spouse of a despot, the despotissa, had the right to bear the same insignia as he. Among the women of the court, the despotissai took the first place after the empress; the use of the title spread to the other countries of the Balkans. The Latin Empire used it to honour the Doge of Venice Enrico Dandolo and the local ruler of the Rhodope region, Alexius Slav. After ca. 1219 it was borne by the Venetian podestàs in Constantinople, as the Venetian support became crucial to the Empire's survival. In 1279/80, it was introduced in Bulgaria to placate the powerful magnate George Terter in 1279/80. During the Serbian Empire it was awarded among the various Serbian magnates, with Jovan Oliver being the first holder, it was held by lesser principalities as well, including the self-proclaimed Albanian despots of Arta. In the 15th century, the Venetian governors of Corfu were styled as despots; as the title of despot was conferred by the emperor and implied a degree of submission by the awardee, the Palaiologan emperors tried long to persuade the Emperors of Trebizond, who claimed the Byzantine imperial title, to accept the title of despot instead.
Only John II of Trebizond and his son Alexios II, accepted the title, they continued to use the usual imperial title of "basileus" domestically. With the death of the last Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI on May 29, 1453, the creation of a despot became irregular; the title was granted by Pope Paul II to Andreas Palaiologos, heir to the Byzantine throne in 1465, by the king of Hungary to the heirs of the Serbian Despotate. From the mid-14th century on, various territories were given to imperial princes with the rank of despot to
Isabella I of Castile
Isabella I reigned as Queen of Castile from 1474 until her death. Her marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon became the basis for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Charles V. After a struggle to claim her right to the throne, she reorganized the governmental system, brought the crime rate to the lowest it had been in years, unburdened the kingdom of the enormous debt her brother had left behind, her reforms and those she made with her husband had an influence that extended well beyond the borders of their united kingdoms. Isabella and Ferdinand are known for completing the Reconquista, ordering conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects, for supporting and financing Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage that led to the opening of the New World and to the establishment of Spain as the first global power which dominated Europe and much of the world for more than a century. Isabella, granted together with her husband the title "the Catholic" by Pope Alexander VI, was recognized as a Servant of God by the Catholic Church in 1974.
Isabella was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Ávila, to John II of Castile and his second wife, Isabella of Portugal on 22 April 1451. At the time of her birth, she was second in line to the throne after her older half-brother Henry IV of Castile. Henry childless, her younger brother Alfonso of Castile was born two years on 17 November 1453, lowering her position to third in line. When her father died in 1454, her half-brother ascended to the throne as King Henry IV of Castile. Isabella and her brother Alfonso were left in King Henry's care. She, her mother, Alfonso moved to Arévalo; these were times of turmoil for Isabella. The living conditions at their castle in Arévalo were poor, they suffered from a shortage of money. Although her father arranged in his will for his children to be financially well taken care of, King Henry did not comply with their father's wishes, either from a desire to keep his half-siblings restricted, or from ineptitude. Though living conditions were difficult, under the careful eye of her mother, Isabella was instructed in lessons of practical piety and in a deep reverence for religion.
When the King's wife, Joan of Portugal, was about to give birth to their daughter Joanna and her brother Alfonso were summoned to court in Segovia to come under the direct supervision of the King and to finish their education. Alfonso was placed in the care of a tutor; some of Isabella's living conditions improved in Segovia. She always had food and clothing and lived in a castle, adorned with gold and silver. Isabella's basic education consisted of reading, writing, mathematics, chess, embroidery and religious instruction, she and her ladies-in-waiting entertained themselves with art and music. She lived a relaxed lifestyle, but she left Segovia since King Henry forbade this, her half-brother was keeping her from the political turmoils going on in the kingdom, though Isabella had full knowledge of what was going on and of her role in the feuds. The noblemen, anxious for power, confronted King Henry, demanding that his younger half-brother Infante Alfonso be named his successor, they went so far as to ask Alfonso to seize the throne.
The nobles, now in control of Alfonso and claiming that he was the true heir, clashed with King Henry's forces at the Second Battle of Olmedo in 1467. The battle was a draw. King Henry agreed to recognize Alfonso as his heir presumptive, provided that he would marry his daughter, Princess Joanna la Beltraneja. Soon after he was named Prince of Asturias, Isabella's younger brother Alfonso died in July 1468 of the plague; the nobles who had supported him suspected poisoning. As she had been named in her brother's will as his successor, the nobles asked Isabella to take his place as champion of the rebellion. However, support for the rebels had begun to wane, Isabella preferred a negotiated settlement to continuing the war, she met with her elder brother Henry at Toros de Guisando and they reached a compromise: the war would stop, King Henry would name Isabella his heir-presumptive instead of his daughter Joanna, Isabella would not marry without her brother's consent, but he would not be able to force her to marry against her will.
Isabella's side came out with most of what the nobles desired, though they did not go so far as to depose King Henry. The question of Isabella's marriage was not a new one, she had made her debut in the matrimonial market at the age of six with a betrothal to Ferdinand, the younger son of John II of Navarre. At that time, the two kings and John, were eager to show their mutual love and confidence and they believed that this double alliance would make their eternal friendship obvious to the world; this arrangement, did not last long. Ferdinand's uncle Alfonso V of Aragon died in 1458. All of Alfonso's Spanish territories, as well as the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, were left to his brother John II. John now had a stronger position than before and no longer needed the security of Henry's friendship. Henry was now in need of a new alliance, he saw the chance for this much needed new friendship in Charles of John's elder son. Charles was at odds with his father, because of this, he secretly entered into an alliance with Henry IV of Castile.
A major part of the alliance was
Saint Dmitry Ivanovich Donskoy, or Dmitry of the Don, sometimes referred to as Dmitry, son of Ivan II the Fair of Moscow, reigned as the Prince of Moscow from 1359 and Grand Prince of Vladimir from 1363 to his death. He was the first prince of Moscow to challenge Mongol authority in Russia, his nickname, alludes to his great victory against the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo, which took place on the Don River. He is venerated as a Saint in the Orthodox Church with his feast day on 19 May, or June 1. Dmitry was born in 1350, the son of Ivan the Fair, Grand Prince of Moscow, his second wife, Alexandra Vassilievna Velyaminova, the daughter of the mayor of Moscow. Dmitry was ascended the throne of the Principality of Moscow. Per the terms of Ivan's will, during Dmitry's minority, Metropolitan Aleksey served as regent. In 1360 Khizr-khan, Khan of the Golden Horde, transferred the title most prized among Russian princes, that of Grand Prince of Vladimir, to Dmitry Konstantinovich of Nizhniy Novgorod.
In 1363, after that prince was deposed, Dmitry Ivanovich was crowned at Vladimir. Three years he made peace with Dmitry Konstantinovich and married his daughter Eudoxia; the most important event during Dmitry's early reign was to start building the Moscow Kremlin. Thanks to the new fortress, the city withstood two sieges by Algirdas of Lithuania during the Lithuanian–Muscovite War; the war ended with the Treaty of Lyubutsk. In 1375, Dmitry settled, in a conflict with Mikhail II of Tver over Vladimir. Other princes of Northern Russia acknowledged his authority and contributed troops to the impending struggle against the Horde. By the end of his reign, Dmitry had more than doubled the territory of the Principality of Moscow. Mongol domination of Rus began to crumble during Dmitry's thirty-year reign; the Golden Horde was weakened by civil war and dynastic rivalries. Dmitry took advantage of this lapse in Mongol authority to challenge the Tatars. While he kept the Khan's patent to collect taxes for all of Russia, Dmitry is famous for leading the first Russian military victory over the Mongols.
Mamai, a Mongol general and claimant to the throne, tried to punish Dmitry for attempting to increase his power. In 1378 Mamai sent a Mongol army, but it was defeated by Dmitry's forces in the Battle of Vozha River. Two years Mamai led a large force against Moscow. Sergius of Radonezh blessed Dmitry Donskoy when he went to fight the Tatars in the signal Battle of Kulikovo field, but only after he was certain Dmitry had pursued all peaceful means of resolving the conflict. Sergius sent the two warrior monks Alexander Peresvet and his friend Rodion Oslyabya to join the Russian troops; the battle of Kulikovo was opened by single combat between two champions. The Russian champion was Alexander Peresvet; the Horde champion was Temir-murza. The champions killed each other in the first run. Dmitry met defeated the Horde. In gratitude for the victory, Dmitry established the Dormition monastery on the Dubenka River and built a church in honor of the Nativity of the Holy Theotokos over the graves of the fallen warriors.
The defeated Mamai was presently dethroned by Tokhtamysh. That khan reasserted overran Moscow in 1382 for Dmitry's resistance to Mamai. Dmitry, pledged his loyalty to Tokhtamysh and to the Golden Horde and was reinstated as Mongol principal tax collector and Grand Duke of Vladimir. Upon his death in 1389, Dmitry was the first Grand Duke to bequeath his titles to his son Vasili I of Russia without consulting the Khan, he was married to Eudoxia of Nizhniy Novgorod. She was a daughter of Dmitry of Vasilisa of Rostov, they had at least twelve children: Daniil Dmitriyevich. Vasiliy I of Moscow. Sofia Dmitriyevna. Married Fyodor Olegovich, Prince of Ryazan. Yuriy Dmitriyevich, Duke of Zvenigorod and Galich. Claimed the throne of Moscow against his nephew Vasiliy II of Moscow. Maria Dmitriyevna. Married Lengvenis. Anastasia Dmitriyevna. Married Ivan Vsevolodovich, Prince of Kholm. Simeon Dmitrievich. Ivan Dmitriyevich. Andrey Dmitriyevich, Prince of Mozhaysk. Pyotr Dmitriyevich, Prince of Dmitrov. Anna Dmitriyevna.
Married Yury Patrikiyevich. Her husband was Prince of Starodub and his wife Helena, his paternal grandfather was Narimantas. The marriage solidified his role as a Boyar attached to Moscow. Konstantin Dmitriyevich, Prince of Pskov. Rulers of Russia family tree Dmitry Donskoy, opera by Anton Rubinstein. Dmitri Donskoi Cawley, Charles, RUSSIA, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy
Ivan III of Russia
Ivan III Vasilyevich known as Ivan the Great, was a Grand Prince of Moscow and "Grand Prince of all Rus'". Sometimes referred to as the "gatherer of the Russian lands", he tripled the territory of his state, ended the dominance of the Mongols/Tatars over Russia by defeating the Golden Horde, renovated the Moscow Kremlin, laid the foundations of the Russian state, he was one of the longest-reigning Russian rulers in history. Ivan's rule is marked by what some historians called'the Gathering of the Russian Lands'. Ivan brought the independent duchies of different Rurikid princes under the direct control of Moscow, leaving the princes and their posterity without royal titles or land inheritance, his first enterprise was a war with the Republic of Novgorod, with which Muscovy as a Northern district of Golden Horde had fought a series of wars stretching back to at least the reign of Dmitry Donskoi. These wars were waged over Moscow's religious and political sovereignty, over Moscow's efforts to seize land in the Northern Dvina region.
Alarmed at the growing power of Moscow, Novgorod had negotiated with the Russian state of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Rus in the hope of placing itself under the protection of the neighboring Catholic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Casimir IV, King of Poland and Grand Prince of Lithuania, against the increasing attacks by the Muscovite dynasty, a would-be alliance, proclaimed by the Moscow rulers as an act of apostasy from Orthodoxy. Ivan took the field against Novgorod in 1470, after his generals had twice defeated the forces of the republic — at the Battle of Shelon River and on the Northern Dvina, both in the summer of 1471 — the Novgorodians were forced to sue for peace, agreeing to abandon their overtures to Lithuania and to cede a considerable portion of their northern territories, while paying a war indemnity of 15,500 roubles. Ivan visited Novgorod Central several times in the next several years, persecuting a number of pro-Lithuanian boyars and confiscating their lands. In 1477, two Novgorodian envoys, claiming to have been sent by the archbishops and the entire city, addressed Ivan in public audience as Gosudar instead of the usual Gospodin.
Ivan at once seized upon this as a recognition of his sovereignty, when the Novgorodians repudiated the envoys and swore in front of the Moscow ambassadors that they would turn to Lithuania again, he marched against them. Deserted by Casimir and surrounded on every side by the Moscow armies, which occupied the major monasteries around the city, Novgorod recognized Ivan's direct rule over the city and its vast hinterland in a document signed and sealed by Archbishop Feofil of Novgorod on 15 January 1478. Ivan dispossessed Novgorod of more than four-fifths of its land, keeping half for himself and giving the other half to his allies. Subsequent revolts were punished by the removal en masse of the richest and most ancient families of Novgorod to Moscow and other north-eastern Rus' cities. Archbishop Feofil was removed to Moscow for plotting against the Grand Prince; the rival republic of Pskov owed the continuance of its own political existence to the readiness with which it assisted Ivan against its ancient enemy.
The other principalities were absorbed by conquest, purchase, or marriage contract: The Principality of Yaroslavl in 1463, Rostov in 1474, Tver in 1485, Vyatka 1489. Ivan's refusal to share his conquests with his brothers, his subsequent interference with the internal politics of their inherited principalities, involved him in several wars with them, from which, though the princes were assisted by Lithuania, he emerged victorious. Ivan's new rule of government, formally set forth in his last will to the effect that the domains of all his kinsfolk, after their deaths, should pass directly to the reigning Grand Duke instead of reverting, as hitherto, to the princes' heirs, put an end once and for all to these semi-independent princelings. Ivan had four brothers; the eldest, died childless on 12 September 1472. He only had a draft of a will. Ivan seized the land, much to the fury of the surviving brothers. Boris and Andrei the Elder signed treaties with Vasily in February and September 1473, they agreed not to have secret dealings with foreign states.
It is unknown. He died in 1481. In 1491 Andrei the Elder was arrested by Ivan for refusing to aid the Crimean Tatars against the Golden Horde, he died in prison in 1493, Ivan seized his land. In 1494 Boris, the only brother able to pass his land to his sons, died. However, their land reverted to the Tsar upon their deaths in 1515 respectively. There was one semi-autonomous prince in Muscovy when Ivan acceded: Prince Mikhail Andreevich of Vereia, awarded an Appanage by Vasily II. In 1478 he was pressured into giving Belozersk to Ivan, who got all of Mikhail's land on his death in 1486; the character of the government of Moscow changed under Ivan III, taking on a new autocratic form. This was a natural consequence of the hegemony of Moscow over the other Vladimir-Suzdal lands, but to new imperial pretensions. After the fall of Constantinople, orthodox canonists were inclined to regard the Grand Princes of Moscow, where the Orthodox Metropolitan of Kiev moved in 1325 after the Mongol Invasions, as the success
Great Siege of Malta
The Great Siege of Malta took place in 1565 when the Ottoman Empire tried to invade the island of Malta held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with 2,000 footsoldiers and 400 Maltese men and children, withstood the siege and repelled the invaders; this victory became one of the most celebrated events in sixteenth-century Europe. Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta", it undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility and marked a new phase in Spanish domination of the Mediterranean; the siege was the climax of an escalating contest between a Christian alliance and the Islamic Ottoman Empire for control of the Mediterranean, a contest that included the Turkish attack on Malta in 1551, the Ottoman destruction of an allied Christian fleet at the Battle of Djerba in 1560, the decisive Battle of Lepanto in 1571. By the end of 1522, Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Sultan, had forcibly ejected the Knights from their base on Rhodes after the six-month Siege of Rhodes.
From 1523 to 1530 the Order lacked a permanent home. They became known as the Knights of Malta when, on 26 October 1530, Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Grand Master of the Knights, sailed into Malta's Grand Harbour with a number of his followers to lay claim to Malta and Gozo, granted to them by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in return for one falcon sent annually to the Viceroy of Sicily and a solemn Mass to be celebrated on All Saints Day. Charles required the Knights to garrison Tripoli on the North African coast, in territory that the Barbary Corsairs, allies of the Ottomans, controlled; the Knights accepted the offer reluctantly. Malta was a small, desolate island, for some time, many of the Knights clung to the dream of recapturing Rhodes; the Order soon turned Malta into a naval base. The island's position in the centre of the Mediterranean made it a strategically crucial gateway between East and West as the Barbary Corsairs increased their forays into the western Mediterranean throughout the 1540s and 1550s.
In particular, the corsair Dragut was proving to be a major threat to the Christian nations of the central Mediterranean. Dragut and the Knights were continually at loggerheads. In 1551, Dragut and the Ottoman admiral Sinan decided to take Malta and invaded the island with a force of about 10,000 men. After only a few days, Dragut broke off the siege and moved to the neighboring island of Gozo, where he bombarded the Cittadella for several days; the Knights' governor on Gozo, Gelatian de Sessa, having decided that resistance was futile, threw open the doors to the Cittadella. The corsairs sacked the town and took the entire population of Gozo into captivity. Dragut and Sinan sailed south to Tripoli, where they soon seized the Knights' garrison there, they installed a local leader, Aga Morat, as governor, but subsequently Dragut himself took control of the area. Expecting another Ottoman invasion within a year, Grand Master of the Knights Juan de Homedes ordered the strengthening of Fort Saint Angelo at the tip of Birgu, as well as the construction of two new forts, Fort Saint Michael on the Senglea promontory and Fort Saint Elmo at the seaward end of Mount Sciberras.
The two new forts were built in the remarkably short period of six months in 1552. All three forts proved crucial during the Great Siege; the next several years were calm, although the guerre de course, or running battle, between Muslims and Christians continued unabated. In 1557 the Knights elected Jean Parisot de Valette Grand Master of the Order, he continued his raids on non-Christian shipping, his private vessels are known to have taken some 3,000 Muslim and Jewish slaves during his tenure as Grand Master. By 1559 Dragut was causing the Christian powers such distress raiding the coasts of Spain, that Philip II organized the largest naval expedition in fifty years to evict the corsair from Tripoli; the Knights joined the expedition, which consisted of 14,000 men. This ill-fated campaign climaxed in the Battle of Djerba in May 1560, when Ottoman admiral Piyale Pasha surprised the Christian fleet off the Tunisian island of Djerba, capturing or sinking about half the Christian ships; the battle was a disaster for the Christians and it marked the high point of Ottoman domination of the Mediterranean.
After Djerba there could be little doubt that the Turks would attack Malta again. Malta was of immense strategic importance to the Ottoman long-term plan to conquer more of Europe, since Malta was a stepping stone to Sicily, Sicily in turn could be a base for an invasion of the Kingdom of Naples. In August 1560, Jean de Valette sent an order to all the Order's priories that their knights prepare to return to Malta as soon as a citazione was issued; the Turks made a strategic error in not attacking at once, while the Spanish fleet lay in ruins, as the five-year delay allowed Spain to rebuild their forces. Meanwhile, the Spaniards continued to prey on Turkish shipping. In mid-1564, the Order's most notorious seafarer, captured several large merchantmen, including one that belonged to the Chief Eunuch of the Seraglio, took numerous high-ranking prisoners, including the governor of Cairo, the governor of Alexandria, the former nurse of Sultan Suleiman's daughter. Romegas' exploits gave the Turks a casus belli, by the end of 1564, Suleiman had resolved to wipe the Knights of Malta off the face of the earth.
By early 1565, Grand Master de Valette's network of spies in Constantinople had informed him that the invasion was imminent. De Valette set about raising troo
Thomas Palaiologos or Palaeologus was Despot in Morea from 1428 until the Ottoman conquest in 1460. After the desertion of his older brother to the Turks in 1460, Thomas Palaiologos pretended to be the legitimate claimant to the Byzantine throne, a claim he maintained during his exile in Italy. Thomas Palaiologos was the youngest surviving son of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and his wife Helena Dragaš, his maternal grandfather was Serbian magnate Constantine Dragaš. His brothers included the Byzantine emperors John VIII Palaiologos and Constantine XI Palaiologos, as well as Theodore II Palaiologos and Demetrios Palaiologos, Despots of the Morea, Andronikos Palaiologos, Despot of Thessalonica; as youngest son, Thomas was never expected to reign, but his children became the only surviving heirs of the defunct Palaiologan dynasty. Like other imperial sons, Thomas Palaiologos was made a Despot, from 1428 joined his brothers Theodore and Constantine in the Morea. After the retirement of Theodore during 1443, he governed together with Constantine, until the latter became emperor during 1448.
Thomas remained Despot of the Morea, but was forced to share the rule with his older brother Demetrios beginning 1449. The Byzantine possessions in Morea had expanded at the expense of the Latin Principality of Achaea. After the last war during 1430 the entire peninsula was ruled by the Byzantines, Thomas married Catherine Zaccaria, the daughter of the last Prince of Achaea Centurione II Zaccaria, succeeding to his father-in-law's possessions during 1432. After this period of success, the fortunes of Byzantine Morea decreased, as the collegiate government by several brothers caused increasing confusion; this became serious after the arrival of Demetrios, who had a pro-Ottoman policy as opposed to Thomas' pro-western orientation. From 1447 the Despots had become vassals of the Ottoman Sultan. At the beginning of the siege of Constantinople by Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire, an Ottoman army was sent with orders to raid in the Morea, preventing help from being sent to Constantinople. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II on 29 May 1453, to maintain the status quo, the Sultan ordered the two brothers to continue as joint rulers of Morea.
This order had been accepted for the first two years because of the Kantakouzenos family's revolt which started during the siege of Constantinople by Demetrios I Kantakouzenos' grandchild Manuel. Only during the next year did the forces of the Palaiologos brothers destroy the rebel forces. In these circumstances, without Constantine XI to maintain peace in the family, Thomas sought western aid against both the Ottomans and his pro-Ottoman brother Demetrios, he allied with Republic of Genoa and the Pope and defeated Demetrios, who fled seeking help from the Ottomans during 1460. The Ottoman army duly attacked Morea and breached the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth, too long to be manned and defended by Thomas' forces. Thomas escaped with his family to Italy, where he had been recognized as the legitimate heir to the Byzantine Empire by Pope Pius II, he took with him most of the possession of his daughter, Helena Palaiologina, Despotess of Serbia, including the relic of the True Cross enshrined in a new staurotheke which bore the inscription of the Serbian Patriarchate of Peć.
In the last and tumultuous period of Serbia's independence, this relic came into the possession of the ruling Branković house, in whose realm the Patriarchate of Peć was situated. Facing an Ottoman threat, the widow of Lazar Branković entrusted the staurotheke to her father Thomas Palaiologos, Despot of Morea. Thomas Palaiologos consigned it, to the Pope; the staurotheke ended up in Pienza. The commanders of the garrisons of the fortified cities in Morea, deserted by their rulers, chose individually whether to fight or surrender, depending on their own will and circumstances. During the next year Graitzas received an offer to become general of the Republic of Venice, which he accepted, thus leaving Salmenikos to the Ottomans. After the conquest of Morea, Thomas lived in Rome, recognized throughout Christian Europe as the rightful Emperor of the East. To create greater support for his situation Thomas changed his religion to Roman Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy during his last years of life.
After his death in 1465, the position of rightful Byzantine emperor was inherited by his older son Andreas Palaiologos, born in Mistra around 1453. Mehmed II conquered the Empire of Trebizond, de facto the last free territory of the ancient Roman state, during the year 1461. Mehmed had proclaimed himself "Roman Emperor" upon capturing Constantinople. In an effort to reunite the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, Pope Paul II arranged during 1472 a marriage between the Catholic daughter of Thomas, Zoe Palaiologina, Grand Prince Ivan III of Russia, with the hope of making Russia a Roman Catholic country; this attempt to unite churches failed. Nonetheless, because of this marriage, Moscow began in the next century its imperial policy of "third Rome". Moreover, Thomas' great-grandson was Ivan IV of Russia, the first emperor of Russia to be crowned as such; the last known descendant of Zoe/Sophia was Maria of wife of Livonia's king Magnus. She died in 1610. By his marriage with Catherine Zaccaria of Achaea, Thomas Palaiologos had at least four children: Helena Palaiologina, who married Despot Lazar II of Serbia.