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Leonardo III Tocco

Despot of epirus
The basics
Date of birth
Date of death 1479 Rome, Province of Rome, Lazio, Italy
The details

Leonardo III Tocco was the last ruler of Epirus, from 1448 to 1479.


Leonardo III Tocco was the son of Carlo II Tocco (count of Cephalonia and Zante, duke of Leukas, and ruler of Epirus) and Ramondina of Ventimiglia. On his father's death in October 1448, Leonardo succeeded as a minor to all his titles and possessions. He reigned as ruler of Epirus from Arta until 24 March 1449, when the city was taken by the Ottoman Turks.

His mainland possessions reduced to three fortresses, Leonardo established himself in Angelokastron. In 1460, this city was also lost to the Turks, leaving only Vonitsa in the possession of Leonardo, who moved to his islands. On 1 May 1463 Leonardo married his first wife Milica of Serbia. She was a daughter of Lazar Branković and Helena Palaiologina. Milica died in childbirth in 1464.

In 1477, Leonardo married his second wife Francesca Marzano, an illegitimate granddaughter of King Alfonso of Naples. According to William Miller, Leonardo believed the Republic of Venice would not extend their protection to his realm, and his second marriage was an effort to form family ties with the ruling house of the Kingdom of Naples and secure their support. However, Venice had no desire to see Neapolitan influence return to the Ionian Islands, and this marriage only alienated that power further. So when the Ottomans found an excuse to invade his realm, Leonardo offered no resistance and instead fled with his valuables, his wife, and his three sons for Taranto, and then to Naples.

A new Turkish advance in 1479 captured Vonitsa and then Cephalonia, Leukas, and Zante later the same year. Deprived of both Epirus and the Ionian Islands, Leonardo fled to the Kingdom of Naples, where he was invested with several fiefs by Ferdinand I of Naples. He died in c. 1499.

Marriages and children

By Milica of Serbia, Leonardo had only Carlo III Tocco (1464–1518), who succeeded him as titular ruler of Epirus (Arta) and Zakynthos.

By Francesca Marzano, he had five children, but their order of birth is unknown: Hippolyta Tocco, Leonora Tocco (a nun), Maria Tocco (who married Pietro Talamanca), Pietro Tocco (considered to have died young) and Ramondina Tocco (who married Federigo Pico della Mirandola).

Leonardo also had an illegitimate son, Ferrante Tocco (d. 1535). According to Miller, Ferrante served as Spanish ambassador to the court of Henry VII of England in 1506. Benet Tocco (Spanish: Benito), a son of Ferrante, became Bishop of Girona from 1572 to 1583. Benet also served as Bishop of Lleida from 1583 to his death in 1585.

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