978-960-14-1836-0 Pages 381
by the best-selling author George Leonardos who has written
fourteen novels, successful both in Greece and abroad, on the
age of the Palaeologos Dynasty, traces the roots of the
centuries-long, enduring and traditional bonds between Greece
From Greek Mystra to Catholic Rome, and from
there to medieval Moscow, the life of Zoe-Sophia Palaeologina
traces the collapse of one civilisation and the rise of
a new one. Heir to the imperial titles of the Second Rome,
vanquished Constantinople, the daring Byzantine princess
managed to escape Vatican intrigues and, as the wife of Ivan
III, create the Third Rome from the emerging Russian Empire.
The first Tsarina in Russian history, the avowed enemy of the
Tatars who had Russian lands under their yoke, comes alive in
the pages of his new historical novel by Giorgos Leonardos,
and sheds light on aspects of history that are not widely
Historical scholarship, a thrilling adventure, a
reminder of the true power of Orthodoxy and of Russia, in a
plot that thunders forward like a juggernaut.
The novel depicts the developing relations
between the Byzantine Empire and the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
The bonds strengthened after the marriage of Zoe-Sophia
Palaeologos, niece of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine
XI Palaeologos who fell defending the City against the Ottoman
invaders, to Ivan III the Great, himself a descendant of the
Riurik Dynasty. With the help and at the instigation of his
Greek consort, Ivan III managed to reject the Tatar yoke and
unite the fragmented principalities and hegemonies under a
large, and powerful central leadership, the predecessor to
today’s Russia. Because of his marriage to Sophia
Palaeologos, the sole heir to the Byzantine Empire, he also
succeeded in making his state the heir to the vanquished and
fragmented Eastern Roman Empire, and thus adopted the Empire’s
symbols, such as the double-headed eagle, and also became a
power in the Orthodox world, declaring Moscow the Third Rome,
after Rome itself and Byzantium.
The novel begins in Rome where Zoe Palaeologina
was raised and describes the machinations of the Greek
Orthodox and later Catholic Cardinal Bessarion and a series of
Popes, the last of whom was Sixtus IV, to marry Zoe off to
Ivan III, then Grand Duke of Moscow, so that she could convert
the Russians to Catholicism.
As soon as she planted her feet on Russian soil,
Sophia’s Byzantine Orthodoxy awoke and she changed her
name to Sophia, as the Russians considered the name Zoe to be
At Sophia’s instigation – she often
nagged him that she had not “married to become a vassal
of the Tatar infidels” – Ivan managed to overthrow
Tatar hegemony over the Russian people, particularly after the
bloodless confrontation in the Ugra River, and make his
domains a powerful state. It was for this reason, as well as
his patriotism and policies that Ivan III was proclaimed ‘the
Great’, the first in Russian history.
and Sophia’s grandson was Ivan the Terrible.