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Maria of Alania

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Maria of Alania

Maria of Alania
Byzantine Empress
Tenure 1071–1081
Predecessor Eudokia Makrembolitissa
Successor Irene Doukaina
Born 1053
Kingdom of Georgia
Died 1118 (aged 64–65)
Byzantine Empire
Spouse Michael VII (1065–1078)
Nicephorus III (1078–1081)
Issue Constantine Doukas
Dynasty Bagrationi dynasty (by birth)
Doukas dynasty (by marriage)
Father Bagrat IV of Georgia
Mother Borena of Alania
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Maria of Alania[1] (born Princess Martha of Georgia;[2] David IV, who refused to carry a Byzantine title.


  • Early years and accession to the throne 1
  • Second marriage 2
  • Maria and the second imperial coup 3
  • Life after leaving the throne 4
  • Final years 5
  • Ancestry 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early years and accession to the throne

A medieval Michael VII
A medieval miniature commemorating the marriage of Maria and Nikephoros III Botaneiates

Being a daughter of the Georgian monarch, Michael, a son of Constantine X Doukas, and became an empress when Michael was enthroned in 1071. Their marriage was an important exception because members of the Byzantine imperial family usually married only Greeks, and among the few cases of them marrying non-Greek "barbarians" was Romanos II's marriage to Bertha of Italy and Justinian II to Theodora of Khazaria.

This period of Maria's marriage was marred by Michael's military failures in Anatolia against the Seljuk Turks, as well as currency devaluation, which caused growing dissatisfaction and culminated in a 1078 coup that ousted Michael and enthroned Nikephoros III Botaneiates. Michael was forced to become a monk at the Stoudios Monastery and Maria went to a Petrion monastery with her son Constantine, but she did not become a Nun, possibly hinting that she had some future plans at the imperial court.

Second marriage

The new emperor Nikephoros' wife died shortly before his accession to the throne and he announced his intention to remarry, which triggered a fierce competition among all the unmarried girls of Constantinople, and even between Maria, her former mother-in-law Eudokia Makrembolitissa, and Eudokia's daughter Zoe. The new emperor was first inclined to marry Eudokia but Maria received a strong support of her Doukas in-laws, who convinced Nikephoros to select her because of her beauty and the benefits of having a foreign-born wife with no domestic relatives who could interfere in Nikephoros' rule.[5] In addition, by this move Nikephoros would pacify the loyalists of the ousted Doukas.[6]

Because Maria's first husband Michael was still alive, even as he was a monk, her marriage to the new emperor was considered adulterous by the Orthodox Church, and one of Maria's prominent supporters

Maria of Alania
Born: c. 1050 Died: after 1103
Royal titles
Preceded by
Eudokia Makrembolitissa
Byzantine Empress consort
Succeeded by
Irene Doukaina
  • , by Lynda Garland and Stephen H. Rapp JMart'a-Maria 'of Alania' at An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors
  • Coin of Maria "of Alania". CNG, Inc.

External links

  • Lynda Garland, Byzantine Empresses: Women and Power in Byzantium AD 527–1204, first edition (1999), Routledge, ISBN 0-415-14688-7, pages 180–186
  • Lynda Garland (2006), Byzantine Women: Varieties of Experience, 800–1200' p. 91–124, ISBN 0-7546-5737-X
  • J. M. Hussey, editor, The Cambridge Medieval History, Volume IV The Byzantine Empire, Part 1 Byzantium and Its Neighbours (Bentley House, 200 Euston Road, London: The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1966), p. 793
  1. ^ Maria's mother was Georgia.
  2. ^ On a list of commemorations given to prominent Georgians at the 1103 Georgian ecclesiastic David IV, Empress Maria is hailed as "Our Queen Martha, the Augusta". Dolidze, Kartuli samartlis dzeglebi, 126.
  3. ^ Byzantine empresses: women and power in Byzantium, AD 527–1204. Lynda Garland. p180
  4. ^ Bertha died before her marriage consummated
  5. ^ Alexiad 3.2.3–5 (Leib 1.107-8); Bryennius, Historia, 253-5; Scylitzes Cont. 181; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722.
  6. ^ Grierson. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 3.2 (Washington DC, 1973), 829
  7. ^ Scylitzes Cont. 177-8, 181–2; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722; Bryennius, Historia, 253-5;
  8. ^ S. Rapp Jr., Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan 1997), 567–70.
  9. ^ Bryennius, Historia, 221 speaks of Anna's 'ancient hatred' towards the Caesar and his family; cf. Alexiad 3.2.1 (Leib 1.106).
  10. ^ Alexiad 3.4.6 (Leib 1.115-16); Zonaras, Epitome, 3.733; cf. Dölger, Regesten, 1064. Theophylact in his Paideia Basilike, perhaps delivered in 1085/86, addresses Constantine as basileus, 'emperor' (Oratio 4, ed. Gautier 1.179).
  11. ^ Alexiad 3.1.4 (Leib 1.105)
  12. ^ Medieval Sourcebook: Anna Comnena: The Alexiad: Book III The Accession of Alexius and Interfamily Power Struggles
  13. ^ Kingdom of Georgia where she came from.
  14. ^ Alexiad 2.4.6–7 (Leib 1.73-4)
  15. ^ I. Dolidze, Kartuli samartlis dzeglebi, 126.
  16. ^ Zonaras, Epitome, 3.761



After Maria's son Constantine died in 1096, she finally moved herself to a monastery, purportedly in a heavily Georgian-influenced area like North Eastern Anatolia. She remained revered in her native Georgia, resulting in an increase in future marriages between the Georgian and Byzantine royalty, and strengthening of ties between the two countries.[15] Maria was also an influence for Komnenian women who were impressed by her past political involvement and charitable work.[16]

Final years

After her dethronement and a period at a monastery, Maria lived in the John Petrici.

Empress Maria supported then Georgian Iviron Monastery

Life after leaving the throne

[12]. She writes about Maria the following:Alexiad describes Maria's beauty in her medieval biographical text Anna Komnene

According to princess John II Komnenos, by the Empress consort Irene Doukaina in 1087: Anna’s engagement with Constantine was dissolved, the latter was deprived of his status of heir-apparent and Maria forced to retire to a monastery. Years of Maria's influence at the court, however, manifested itself in the fact that Constantine received a status of a co-emperor, a higher title than that of Emperor's older brother Isaac, and Maria received guarantees of personal safety.[10] Maria was also charged with the care of young imperial princess Anna Komnene who was very fond of her and shared all her secrets with the former empress.[11]

Lead seal of Empress Maria, 1070s

Maria and the second imperial coup


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