Thomas Preljubović
Duke of Epirus
Maria Paleolog.JPG
Thomas and Maria Paleologina
PredecessorSimeon Uroš
SuccessorMaria Palaeologina
Born14th century
DiedDecember 23, 1384
Ioannina, Despotate of Epirus
SpouseMaria Palaeologina
Issuesee Family
Fathercaesar Preljub
ReligionSerbian Orthodox Christian
Map of the Serbian Empire in 1360 with territories of local rulers

Thomas Preljubović (Serbian: Тома Прељубовић / Toma Preljubović; Greek: Θωμάς Κομνηνός Παλαιολόγος, Thōmas Komnēnos Palaiologos) was ruler of the Despotate of Epirus in Ioannina from 1366 to his death on December 23, 1384. He also held the title of Albanian-slayer after receiving aid from the Ottoman Empire to capture Ioannina from Albanian ruler of the despotate of Arta, John Spata, after failing do to so independently.(Ἀλβανοκτόνος).[1]


Thomas was the son of caesar Gregorios Preljub (Greek: Grēgorios Prealimpos), the Serbian governor of Thessaly, who died in late 1355 or early 1356. His mother Irene was a daughter of Stephen Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia[2] and Helena of Bulgaria.


After the violent death of his father, Thomas' claim to Thessaly was asserted by his mother Irene, but they were forced to flee to Serbia by the advance of Nikephoros II Orsini in 1356. Here, Irene married Radoslav Hlapen, the ruler of Vodena, who took Thomas under his wing.

During the absence of Thessaly's new ruler, Simeon Uroš Palaiologos, in the Despotate of Epirus in 1359–1360, Hlapen invaded Thessaly, attempting to win it for his stepson. Although Simeon Uroš managed to contain the invasion, he was forced to cede Kastoria to Thomas and to marry him to his daughter Maria. Over the next several years, Simeon Uroš recognized that he could not assert effective authority over most of Epirus and delegated power in Arta and Angelokastron to local Albanian chieftains. In 1366 the citizens of Ioannina, the last major fortress to remain under Simeon Uroš's control, sent him a petition to appoint a governor who could protect them from the raids of Albanian clansmen.

Simeon Uroš responded by designating Thomas as his governor and forwarding the Ioanninan and Vagenetian (Thesprotian) embassy to him. Thomas entered Ioannina sometime in 1366 or 1367. Thomas' reign in Epirus is reflected in most detail in the so-called Chronicle of Ioannina, which is deeply prejudiced[3] and hostile against Preljubović.[4] It represents him as a cruel and capricious tyrant. Thomas seized various properties of the Church of Ioannina and awarded them to his Serbian retainers. In 1382 a new appointee to the local archbishopric, Matthew, was sent out from Constantinople, and invested Thomas with the title of despotes on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor John V Palaiologos. Nevertheless, later Thomas quarreled with the archbishop and exiled him from Ioannina.

Thomas was also accused of persecuting the local nobility, which inspired a series of revolts against his rule. In addition to seizing ecclesiastical and private property, Thomas established new taxes and monopolies on various commodities, including fish and fruit. In addition to relying on his military forces to enforce these imposts, Thomas waged a continuous war against the Albanians of Arta and Angelokastron.

Soon after taking possession of Ioannina, Thomas was unsuccessfully besieged by Albanian nobleman, Peter Losha of Arta.[citation needed] Thomas betrothed his daughter to Losha's son in 1370, satisfying the Albanians and ending conflicts.[5] In 1374, Peter Losha died of the plague in Arta, after which John Spata took over the city.[5] At this time he was not bound by agreement to Thomas; he laid siege to Ioannina and ravaged the country-side.[5] Thomas brought peace when he betrothed his sister Helena to John Spata the following year.[5] Attacks on Ioannina continued, however, by the Malakasioi, who were finally defeated by Thomas (1377 and 1379).[5] In May 1379, John Spata devastated the country-side of Ioannina.[6]

After repeated failure, Thomas turned for help to his Frankish and then his Ottoman neighbors. The latter responded promptly and dispatched an auxiliary force in 1381. Thomas put this force to good use and conquered many fortresses from his enemies in 1381–1384. He was given the epithet "Albanian-Slayer" (Αλβανοκτόνος, Albanoktonos).

However, Thomas had come to be on bad terms with his wife Maria, who participated in the subsequent conspiracy against her husband. On December 23, 1384, Thomas was murdered by his guards and the population of Ioannina swore allegiance to Maria and invited her brother John Uroš Doukas Palaiologos to come and advise her in the government.


By Tsarevna Princess Jerina (daughter of Tsar Dusan), Thomas II Preljubović had at least one daughter:

  • Irene, who married Gjon Bua Shpata, and died in 1374/5.

By his wife Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina Thomas II possibly had a son:

  • Preljub (Prealoupes), who must have died young.


  1. ^[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ J. V. A. Fine"The Late Medieval Balkans, A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest" (1994) p 346
  3. ^ Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (1984). The Despotate of Epiros, 1267-1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0-521-26190-6. The Chronicle of Ioannina is deeply prejudiced against Thomas Preljubovic.
  4. ^ Ellis, Steven G.; Klusáková, Lud'a (2007). Imagining Frontiers, Contesting Identities. Edizioni Plus. p. 139. ISBN 978-88-8492-466-7. ...the Chronicle of Ioannina, hostile to Thomas Preljubovic...
  5. ^ a b c d e Nicol 1984, p. 146.
  6. ^ Nicol 1984, p. 147.


  • Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994). The Late Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Late Twelfth Century to the Ottoman Conquest. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08260-5.
  • Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
  • Miller, William (1908), The Latins in the Levant, a History of Frankish Greece (1204–1566), New York: E.P. Dutton and Company
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray (2010), The Despotate of Epiros 1267–1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-13089-9
  • Soulis, George Christos (1984), The Serbs and Byzantium during the reign of Tsar Stephen Dušan (1331–1355) and his successors, Dumbarton Oaks, ISBN 0-88402-137-8
Preceded by
Simeon Uroš
Ruler of Epirus
Succeeded by