Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus (Greek: Μιχαὴλ Η΄ Παλαιολόγος) reigned as Byzantine Emperor 1259–1282. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. He recovered Constantinople from the Latin Empire in 1261 and transformed the Empire of Nicaea into a restored Byzantine Empire.
Michael VIII Palaiologos was the son of the megas domestikos Andronikos Palaiologos by Theodora Angelina Palaiologina, the granddaughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina.
A few days after the death of Emperor Theodore Laskaris in 1258, Michael Palaiologos instigated a coup against the influential bureaucrat George Mouzalon, seizing from him the guardianship of the eight-year-old Emperor John IV Doukas Laskaris. Michael was invested with the titles of megas doux and, in November 1258, of despotēs. On 1 January 1259 Michael VIII Palaiologos was proclaimed co-emperor of Nicaea at Nymphaion.
In 1260 Michael personally led an unsuccessful attempt to capture Constantinople from the Latin Empire. Rumors of reinforcements for the city forced Michael to sign a one-year truce with the Latin Emperor Baldwin II that August. Realizing that he needed a navy to effectively besiege Constantinople, Michael concluded the Treaty of Nymphaeum with Genoa in March of the following year. Genoese help proved to be unneeded when Michael VIII's general Alexios Strategopoulos captured Constantinople from Baldwin II through treachery on 25 July 1261.
Michael VIII entered the city on 15 August and had himself crowned together with his infant son Andronikos II Palaiologos. Once in control of Constantinople, Michael abolished all Latin customs and reinstated most Byzantine ceremonies and institutions as they had existed before the Fourth Crusade.
n December John IV, who had been left behind at Nicaea, was blinded and relegated to a monastery. After rendering him ineligible for the throne, Michael VIII quickly married off John's sisters to two Italians and a Bulgarian noble, so their descendants could not threaten his own children's claim to the imperial succession. Although Michael tried to keep the blinding of John a secret, the news eventually leaked out and Patriarch Arsenios Autoreianos excommunicated Michael VIII. This ban was not lifted until six years later (1268) on the appointment of patriarch Joseph I.