Roman Emperors Dir Mary Of Alania

mapDIR Atlas

Mart'a-Maria 'of Alania'

Lynda Garland
University of New England, Australia

with Stephen H. Rapp Jr
Georgia State University, Atlanta

Maria's origins

Maria was born the princess Mart'a, daughter of Bagrat IV, king of Georgia, and his second wife Borena. Bagrat succeeded his father on the Georgian throne in 1027 and ruled down to 1072. Maria's mother, Borena, was the sister of Dorgholeli, the ruler of Ovset'i (Alania) in northern Caucasia.[[1]] Maria had two siblings: the future Giorgi II and Mariam.   Prior to Maria's birth there had been fairly close contact between the Georgian and Byzantine courts, with Georgia as the subservient partner. Her father Bagrat had himself been sent to Constantinople as a hostage in 1023 when five years of age; he was released in 1025 just prior to the death of Basil II.[[2]] When his father, Giorgi I, died in 1027, Bagrat was a nine-year old boy and it is probable that his mother, Queen Mariam, served as regent during his minority. In 1030 Mariam undertook an important embassy to Constantinople to request the title of curopalates for Bagrat and to find him a Byzantine princess as wife. According to the author of the Chronicle of K'art'li:

"... Queen Mariam, mother of Bagrat king of the Ap'xaz, went to Greece in order to seek peace and an alliance, and also to seek the title of curopalates for her son -- as is the custom and right of their house -- and also to bring back a wife for her son. When she reached Greece and met the king of the Greeks, he joyfully fulfilled all her requests. He gave oaths and assurances of alliance and friendship, wrote chrysobulls, bestowed the title of curopalates, and gave the princess Elene [Helena] as a wife for Bagrat."[[3]]

This Byzantine princess was Helena Argyropoulaina, niece of Romanus III Argyrus (1028-1034), whom Bagrat married in 1032/1033 as his first wife. Though she died shortly afterwards, she may have had a significant influence in hellenising the Georgian court. In times of crisis, Constantinople could also be a place of refuge for a Georgian monarch. According to the Chronicle of K'art'li and the Life of Giorgi Mt'acmideli, Bagrat IV and his mother Mariam spent three years in Constantinople in the 1050s before returning to power in Georgia.[[4]]

Like princes, Georgian princesses could also be summoned as hostages to the Byzantine court. The young 'Alan princess' ('daughter of the king there' and 'one of our hostages from Alania') was Constantine IX Monomachus' mistress at the time of his death in January 1055, perhaps brought there as a pledge of good faith during Bagrat's stay in Constantinople or part of his family and entourage.[[5]] This princess, a relative of Maria's, may perhaps have been her cousin Irene, daughter of Bagrat's rebellious half-brother Demetre, who had died in 1053.[[6]] The young Mart'a herself is said to have initially arrived in Constantinople in 1056 at the end of the reign of Theodora (1055-1056), presumably, like other Georgian princelings, as a hostage for her father's conduct: her age at the time may have been perhaps three years. She was sent home a few months later at Theodora's death, returning some ten years later to marry Michael Ducas.

The eleventh-century Life of Giorgi Mt'acmideli records this episode. Giorgi Mt'acmideli (1009-65) was abbot of the Iviron monastery on Mt. Athos. His biographer Giorgi Mc'ire, c. 1070, recorded that:

"For at the time, when the kingdom of the Greeks [i.e., the Byzantine Empire] was ruled by Queen T'eodora [Theodora], she asked the king of the Ap'xaz Bagrat to give his daughter Mart'a so that she might be brought up as her own child. And King Bagrat, with great happiness, sent his daughter Mart'a [to Byzantium] along with his personal servants. And in those days, by divine will, Queen Theodora passed away [August 1056]. And at the same time, Queen Mariam, the mother of King Bagrat, was there and our holy father [Giorgi Mt'acmideli] was also there on some business. But, as we have said, at that moment when Queen Theodora passed away, they led Mart'a, the daughter of Bagrat, into the kingdom [sameup'o, also 'royal' so might refer to Constantinople, the royal city]. And when the holy man [Giorgi] saw Mart'a, within everyone's ear-range he prophesied, saying that: 'Let everyone know that today the Queen has departed and the Queen has arrived.' And then she stayed for a short time and again they brought Mart'a. And after some time had elapsed, Dukic' [i.e., Ducas] again summoned her and she was taken to the imperial city to be his daughter-in-law. Then, as had been foretold by the monk [Giorgi], when they saw how she had reached maturity, everyone was surprised and they gave thanks to God, who beforehand had revealed his will. And Queen Mariam said to the holy man [Giorgi], when she had been in the east: 'O Father, the prophesy that you foretold about Mart'a has come to fruition."[[7]]

Maria 'the Alan'

In Georgian-language sources Maria is simply known by the Georgian forms of her name, Mart'a (equivalent to the Greek Martha) and then, once empress, as Mariam (Greek: Maria). 'Mariam' is used, in Greek transliteration, in the inscription on the plaque depicting her with Michael VII Ducas on the Xaxuli (Khakhuli) triptych.[[8]] The inscription reads 'With my hands I crown Michael with Mariam'. It may have been sent as a gift to her father Bagrat on the occasion of Michael and Maria's coronation, hence the use of the Georgian form of Maria's name. Contemporary Georgian-language sources say little about Maria, and she had relatively little contact with her homeland once she had reached Constantinople,[[9]] though she was mentioned in the acts of the first formal all-Georgian ecclesiastical council called by King Davit' II in 1103.[[10]] This is evidence for the respect which was paid her in Georgia as ex-empress of Byzantium.

In Byzantine sources May is invariably known as 'the Alan'. This was presumably because of her mother Borena's origins, as 'the Iberian' or even 'the Abasgian' would have been the more common Greek usage. Anna Comnena was close to Maria and does not indicate that Maria objected to the nickname. Apart from Maria's relative, Constantine IX's mistress, there is no other prominent instance of 'Alan' having been used for 'Iberian'. Byzantine and Islamic writers usually describe contemporary Georgian rulers as the monarchs of the Ap'xaz (Greek: Abasgians) or Iberians. Only John Tzetzes, himself Georgian on his mother's side, labels Maria as 'of Abasgia'. In his poetic commentary the Chiliades (lines 591-601) he explains that Iberians (Georgians), Abasgians and Alans are all one people. His grandmother was herself an 'Abasgian' and a relative of Maria of Alania (not a servant, he insists), who came to Byzantium with her and was later to become the second wife of the sebastus Constantine, grand droungarius and nephew of the patriarch Michael Cerularius.[[11]] Maria may have been a Georgian princess, but in fact her homeland and royal parentage cut little ice with the Byzantines as a whole. Michael Psellus in his Chronographia speaks vaguely of the wealth and antiquity of her family, without even bothering to name her country of origin, even though Maria was the godmother of Psellus' grandson by his adopted daughter.[[12]] Elsewhere he comments that 'the kingdom of Alania was not particularly distinguished in itself, nor had it any great prestige: indeed, it regularly supplied pledges of loyalty, such as hostages, to the Byzantine empire'.[[13]] The Continuator of Scylitzes simply calls her an 'Alan', while Bryennius, who describes her as the daughter of Bagrat, ruler of the Iberians, is the most accurate in his terminology, perhaps because he was the husband of Anna Comnena who had been intimately acquainted with Maria and her son Constantine.[[14]]Anna herself avoids any discussion of Maria's background, as does Theophylact in his educational treatise written for her son Constantine (Oratio 4; Gautier 1.184): though royal, her non-Greek, 'barbarian' background was seen as better glossed over even by her admirers. Clearly, while the Byzantines could feel positive esteem for the rulers of western European kingdoms, Maria's Georgian background was considered somewhat of a disadvantage: in contrast, the lament in 949 for the young Frankish princess Bertha-Eudocia, the illegitimate daughter of Hugo of Provence, king of Italy (927-947) and bride of Romanus II, who had been brought to Constantinople but died before the marriage was consummated, speaks of her as coming 'from the peoples of Europe, even from those distinguished and famous for both splendour of birth and greatness of power, and possessing the thriving and most fertile of the Italian lands'.[[15]]

Maria's career was the more remarkable because she was only the second foreigner to reach the Byzantine throne in over 300 years, since Leo III had arranged the marriage of Irene, daughter of the Khazar khagan, with his son Constantine V in 732. Since that time no foreigner had married the heir to the throne. Franks were in any case traditionally seen as the only foreigners fit to marry into the Byzantine royal house as Constantine Porphyrogenitus states in his De administrando imperio, in which he roundly condemns both Constantine V's marriage to Irene the Khazar and that of his wife's niece Maria Lecapena to Peter of Bulgaria:

"And that emperor Leo [III] aforesaid contracted an alliance in marriage with the chagan of Chazaria, and received his daughter to be his wife, and thereby attached great shame to the empire of the Romans and to himself, because he annulled and disregarded the ancestral injunctions... For how can it be admissable that Christians should form marriage associations and ally themselves by marriage with infidels, when the canon forbids it and the whole church regards it as alien to and outside the Christian order? Or which of the illustrious or noble or wise emperor of the Romans has admitted it?' But if they reply: 'How then did the lord Romanus, the emperor, ally himself in marriage with the Bulgarians, and give his grand-daughter to the lord Peter the Bulgarian?', this must be the defence: 'The lord Romanus, the emperor, was a common, illiterate fellow, and not from among those who have been bred up in the palace, and have followed the Roman national customs from the beginning; nor was he of imperial and noble stock, and for this reason in most of his actions he was too arrogant and despotic, and in this instance he neither heeded the prohibition of the church, nor followed the commandment and ordinance of the great Constantine, but out of a temper arrogant and self-willed and untaught in virtue and refusing to follow what was right and good, or to submit to the ordinances handed down by our forefathers, he dared to do this thing; offering, that is, this alone by way of specious excuse, that by this action so many Christian prisoners were ransomed, and that the Bulgarians too are Christians and of like faith with us, and that in any case she who was given in marriage was not daughter of the monarch and lawful emperor, but of the third and most junior, who was still subordinate and had no share of authority in matters of government; but this was no different from giving any other of the ladies of the imperial family, whether more distantly or closely related to the imperial nobility, nor did it make any difference that she was given for some service to the common weal, or was daughter of the most junior, who had no authority to speak of. And because he did this thing contrary to the canon and to ecclesiastical tradition and the ordinance and commandment of the great and holy emperor Constantine, the aforesaid lord Romanus [Lecapenus] was in his lifetime much abused, and was slandered and hated by the senatorial council and all the commons and the church herself, so that their hatred became abundantly clear in the end to which he came; and after his death he is in the same way vilified and slandered and condemned inasmuch as he too introduced an unworthy and unseemly innovation into the noble polity of the Romans.' For each nation has different customs and divergent laws and institutions, and should consolidate those things that are proper to it, and should form and develop out of the same nation the associations for the fusion of its life. For just as each animal mates with its own tribe, so it is right that each nation also should marry and cohabit not with those of other race and tongue but of the same tribe and speech." [[16]]

Maria and Michael VII Ducas

So when Mart'a-Maria was summoned from Georgia to marry Michael VII Ducas (1071-1078), this was a radical departure from tradition. But, while her origins were not highly regarded, this did not prevent Maria from maintaining her imperial status during three reigns. After Michael's abdication she then went on to marry the usurping emperor Nicephorus III Botaniates (1078-1081) and was to aid Alexius and Isaac Comnenus in their coup against Nicephorus and retain great influence in the early part of Alexius' reign, though she was later involved in a conspiracy against him. Her only child was Constantine, son and heir of Michael VII Ducas, who was betrothed to Anna Comnena, Alexius Comnenus' eldest child, and the two were named as Alexius' heirs. During three reigns, from 1071, she maintained her position as Augusta (empress), and more importantly under Alexius secured that of her son Constantine, first as heir to the throne and then as son-in-law-designate of the emperor, until his premature death in or after 1094.

Maria arrived in Constantinople at some point between 1066 and 1071 to marry Michael Ducas. The choice of a Georgian princess was unprecedented, though it was seen in Georgia as a diplomatic success on Bagrat's side.[[17]]Michael Ducas' father Constantine X had succeeded to the throne on the abdication of Isaac Comnenus in 1059, and perhaps the fact that the regime was a new one led to this departure from tradition in order to consolidate his position and to strengthen ties with the East. A further factor may have been the young Mart'a's appearance, for beauty was much prized in an imperial bride.[[18]] According to Anna Comnena, Maria was so beautiful that -- like the Gorgon's head -- she was capable of rendering a bystander speechless or rooted to the spot.[[19]]

The account of the Chronicle of K'art'li, if strictly chronological, would suggest a date for Mart'a's arrival c. 1065-6,[[20]] while the Life of Giorgi Mt'acmideli states that she was brought to Constantinople by 'Ducas' (i.e., Constantine X), which would mean in or before 1067. However, the marriage need not have taken place immediately, as imperial brides were expected to spend a period of 'training' in the royal palace prior to their marriage. Maria and Michael may not have been actually married until Michael's accession in 1071. Certainly the couple were married and Maria a 'basilissa' (empress) by the beginning of 1072.[[21]] It was not uncommon for imperial brides to be married at fourteen or fifteen years of age, and she may have been fourteen years of age when she was brought to Constantinople as bride-designate c. 1066. She could scarcely have been less than three years of age if sent to Constantinople in Theodora's reign, and so was probably born c. 1052; Michael was born c. 1050.

During Maria's early years at the Byzantine court she must have lived in the shadow of her mother-in-law, the empress Eudocia Macrembolitissa, wife of Constantine X Ducas. On Constantine's death in 1067 Eudocia had decided to rule in her own right as 'regent' for her son Michael, instead of passing the throne over to him, even though he was technically of age. Eudocia then remarried, choosing as her consort and emperor the general Romanus Diogenes. During Romanus IV's three year reign (1068-1071) Michael appears to have played no part in politics, and the two sons of Eudocia and Romanus were crowned as co-emperors.[[22]] Eudocia even considered taking over government again after Romanus' defeat by the Turks at Mantzikert in 1071. It was only when the Ducas family manoeuvred her into a convent after a month of joint rule by Michael and Eudocia that Michael was free finally to assume power.[[23]]

Once empress, Maria's future was still not secure. Michael was not an efficient emperor and his seven years of rule (1071-1078) were marked by rising unpopularity and inflation.[[24]] A rebellion was only a matter of time. Their son Constantine was born in 1074 and soon made co-emperor: it was the future of her son which was to be Maria's main priority.[[25]] Later in 1074 Constantine was betrothed to Olympias, daughter of the Norman Robert Guiscard. Olympias was renamed Helena and brought to Constantinople to be educated by Maria, as was customary.[[26]] Psellus describes Maria as self-effacing and retiring during Michael's reign,[[27]] but she appeared on Michael's coinage, just as Eudocia Macrembolitissa had on that of her husbands. Psellus' portrait of his patron and ex-pupil's wife need not be taken at face value, though his comment that she spoke to no one but her husband may perhaps suggest that she was not entirely fluent in Greek at this point.

Maria and Georgians in Constantinople

In Byzantium there were a number of families of Armeno-Georgian descent, such as the Pakourianoi (Bakuriani) and Tornikioi, as well as possibly the Phokades, Skleroi and the Dalassenoi themselves.[[28]] At least some of these maintained a strong sense of national identity. Gregory Pakourianos, in the typikon of his monastery, specified that 'Iberians' -- 'who are near to us by blood' -- were to be given preference over other foreigners. As Ostrogorsky notes, Pakourianos, even after a brilliant career in the imperial service, felt himself to be an alien in Byzantine circles and viewed Greeks with suspicion.[[29]] Maria also brought to Constantinople a number of female relatives as part of her retinue, which strengthened her connections. One of her relatives was her 'Alan' cousin Irene ('the daughter of the ruler of Alania'), who was married by Michael to the military aristocrat Isaac Comnenus shortly after Michael's accession. The first of their seven children, John, was born in late 1073. The match was arranged by Maria according to Anna Comnena.[[30]] It is possible that this cousin Irene was the hostage at court who had been mistress of Constantine IX Monomachus,[[31]] in which case she may have been in Constantinople since c. 1054. However, Isaac Comnenus' wife was still producing children in 1096 and it is therefore unlikely that she had been Constantine's mistress more than 40 years earlier. The Irene who married Isaac Comnenus may then have been another connection of Maria's whom she brought to Constantinople. Another relative or attendant of Maria's was to become the second wife of Constantine, the grand droungarius, and Tzetzes' grandmother.[[32]] The second wife of the general Theodore Gabras, whom he married apparently in 1091 after the death of his first wife Irene, was also a 'most noble' lady from 'Alania', and the cousin of Isaac Comnenus' wife. This princess may have been Maria's own sister Mariam.[[33]] Gabras was the governor and de facto ruler of Trebizond following his recapture of it from the Turks so it was an excellent match. In addition, Maria either brought with her advisors who were placed at court, or 'Alans' were promoted under her influence: one of the close friends and advisors of her second husband Nicephorus III Botaniates was an 'Alan', while an 'Alan', who possessed the rank of magistros, was to inform the Comneni of the plot against them and precipitate Botaniates' downfall. [[34]]

Maria and Nicephorus III Botaniates

The end of Michael's reign was punctuated by the rebellions of Roussel de Bailleul, Bryennius and the elderly general Nicephorus Botaniates, and Botaniates, the eventual winner, was proclaimed emperor on 7 January 1078. Michael fled to a monastery at the end of March, later to be made bishop of Ephesus, and Botaniates entered Constantinople on 3 April.

On Michael's abdication, Maria took refuge in the Petrion monastery with her son Constantine, but did not take the veil.[[35]] Nicephorus' second wife Vevdene apparently died shortly after his accession,[[36]] perhaps in early 1079, and he was therefore in the market for another suitable empress to help legitimise his position. It was a hotly contested competition, with candidates including Maria, her mother-in-law Eudocia Macrembolitissa, and Eudocia's daughter Zoe, as well as all the unmarried girls of the capital. Botaniates' first choice seems to have been Eudocia,[[37]] but Maria received the support of her Ducas in-laws, especially that of the Caesar John Ducas, Michael's uncle, who advised Botaniates to marry her, rather than any of the other contenders, because she was extremely beautiful and was of foreign birth with no crowd of relatives to interfere in government.[[38]] At the last moment, a priest refused to perform the marriage ceremony and John Ducas had the priest removed and another substituted.[[39]]Botaniates' marriage to Maria was considered adulterous, since Michael was still alive. Furthermore, his retirement to a monastery had been forced, not voluntary, and hence any divorce and remarriage by his wife was invalid;[[40]] on these grounds the priest who celebrated it was deposed.[[41]] Indeed, according to Bryennius (Historia, 253-5), Botaniates' wife Vevdene was still alive, which would have made the marriage doubly adulterous.

Maria thus became empress for the second time and, as ex-empress, was the legitimising factor of Botaniates' reign. She appears on his silver coinage and the reverse of a miliaresion depicts their busts, with the obverse bearing the inscription 'Nicephorus and Maria, faithful basileis of the Romaioi'.[[42]] One of the illustrations in the Coislin MS of the Homilies of John Chrysostom in Paris shows Christ blessing Maria and Botaniates In fact, the codex was being made for Michael at the time of his abdication, and after some alterations was presented to Nicephorus instead.[[43]] The imperial couple are shown as equal in size and in full regalia. Nevertheless, Botaniates refused to nominate Maria's son Constantine as his successor, selecting instead his own relative Nicephorus Synadenus. Constantine was allowed various privileges of imperial rank, such as the right to wear silk shoes of various colours, but not ones entirely of the imperial purple.[[44]] There was no open break between the imperial couple, despite Constantine's loss of rank and Maria's attempts to promote her son's position. Her status was still emphasized on the coinage, and she had been granted the wealthy Constantinopolitan estates of the Mangana palace and monastery and the Hebdomon monastery by chrysobull from Botaniates.[[45]] Near the end of his reign (c. 1081) Botaniates also honoured Maria's brother, the Georgian ruler Giorgi II, granting him the high-ranking dignity of Caesar as a sign of his close connection with the imperial family, Giorgi, had previously held the ranks of curopalates (as heir), nobilissimus, and then sebastus.[[46]] Furthermore, Anna shows Botaniates at approximately this period discussing the loyalty of his dux of Illyricum (George Monomachatus) in Maria's presence ('I suspect this Monomachatus of being an enemy of the Roman Empire'): this was reported to Monomachatus by John 'an Alan', a friend of Monomachatus' who heard the remark and advised him to consult his interests (leading to negotiations with Alexius and his eventual defection).[[47]] Maria was therefore still trusted by Botaniates and privy to his discussions with his advisors.

Anna explains Maria's support of the revolt of the Comneni against her husband as a consequence of her son's demotion: Anna states that if Botaniates had left the throne to Constantine 'he would have ensured his own safety to the end... the empress, moreover, would have had more confidence in him; she would have been more loyal. The old man did not realize the unfairness and inexpediency of his plans, unaware that he was bringing evil on his own head'.[[48]] Maria was already closely linked with the Comneni through her cousin Irene's marriage to Isaac Comnenus, and it was Anna Dalassena, the mother of Isaac and Alexius Comnenus, who came up with a pretext which would enable them to visit Maria to discuss her concerns over the succession. Anna clearly saw Maria as a very valuable ally at court.[[49]] Maria's aim in supporting the coup was her desire to have Constantine reinstated as emperor. To facilitate this, Maria even adopted Alexius, who was not so much younger than herself (he was born c. 1057), as her son -- even though his own mother was very much alive -- so he could visit her frequently and in private.[[50]] She was supposedly persuaded to the adoption by officials of the women's quarters, presumably her own 'Alans' and her eunuch officials, on the advice of Isaac Comnenus: Alexius and Constantine were now adoptive brothers, and Isaac and Alexius took an oath that they would preserve Constantine's rights as emperor.[[51]] Clearly Maria passed on inside information to the brothers, who were told of the counter-plot against them by an 'Alan', one of the emperor's friends and a courtier of long-standing. Anna records the rumour that Maria was aware of his mission, suggesting that some of the emperor's closest advisers were working in her interests and against those of the emperor and that Maria herself played a pivotal part in the plot against her second husband.[[52]]

Maria and the Comneni

The coup was successful. Botaniates abdicated on 1 April 1081, and Alexius, though the younger of the two brothers, become emperor. He moved into the imperial palace with his adoptive mother Maria and his blood relatives including his brothers, and was crowned on 4 April, leaving his fourteen year-old wife Irene Ducaena with her own relatives in the 'lower' palace. Irene was only crowned a week later after pressure from the patriarch, the fleet, and her Ducas relatives. Maria may certainly have had hopes of becoming empress for a third time, perhaps with the support of Anna Dalassena, though Maria's marriage to Alexius would have been illegal because his brother Isaac was married to her cousin.[[53]] In addition, her first two husbands, Nicephorus III Botaniates and Michael VII, were still alive. In her narration of the events of April 1081 Anna Comnena states (3.1.2) that the Comneni refused to drive Maria from the palace, because of the many kindnesses they had received from her as empress and because of their close relationship, while Maria herself was reluctant to leave because of her lonely position: 'she was in a foreign country, without relatives, without friends, with nobody whatever of her own folk.' But the Caesar John Ducas now preferred to see his niece Irene on the throne, and arranged for Maria's unwilling departure from the palace, demanding that the patriarch Cosmas refuse to listen to any of Maria's arguments and instead support the Ducas faction. Anna Dalassena was also won over by Cosmas' agreement to abdicate in favour of a new patriarch, her protégé Eustratius Garidas.[[54]]

Maria was still in a powerful position as adoptive mother of the emperor, with her son Constantine as Alexius' adoptive brother. Maria had Alexius guarantee her safety and issue a chrysobull confirming Constantine's imperial privileges before she left the imperial palace for her own dwelling, the Mangana palace. In her removal she was formally escorted by Isaac, the new emperor's elder brother. Constantine was restored to his position as co-emperor and even outranked Isaac, who was only given the rank of sebastocrator. Constantine signed documents of state in purple ink after Alexius, and followed immediately after him in processions.[[55]] In acclamations his name came after that of Alexius and soon after the birth of Anna Comnena, Alexius' eldest child, in December 1083, he was betrothed to her and the two were named as heirs-apparent.[[56]]Anna went to live with Maria before she was eight years old and Maria, as her future mother-in-law, was to bring up Anna with Constantine, according to Byzantine custom. Anna was in Maria's care from c. 1090 until, it seems, Constantine's death, perhaps in 1095/6. Anna stresses that Maria was very fond of her and shared all her secrets with her.[[57]]

Maria as Monastic and Literary Patron

Maria now lived in the Mangana palace, originally built by Constantine IX Monomachus, as mother of the co-emperor and mother-in-law designate of the emperor's eldest daughter. There she held an alternative court and was the centre of a noted literary circle. She was patron of numerous literary figures, including Theophylact of Ochrid, Constantine's tutor (who became Archbishop of Bulgaria in 1088/9), and Eustratius of Nicaea (a western-influenced pupil of the philosopher John Italos). Theophylact wrote at least one letter to her: the 'despoina' ('mistress') who is addressed in letter 107 may be Maria, or perhaps Irene Ducaena,[[58]] while his letter 4 to Maria when on Principo, perhaps accompanying a gift of incense, demonstrates their patronage relationship as late as c. 1095. In his Paideia Basilike (Oration 4) on the education of her son Constantine, perhaps delivered in 1085/86, Theophylact praises her piety and love of theology. The work may have been delivered as an oral presentation in the court of the Mangana palace, as there is no reference in it to the emperor Alexius. Maria, therefore, may be assumed to have had a literary circle at which readings of appropriate works were delivered to her and her retinue. Eustratius of Nicaea, for example, dedicated 'to my lady Maria of Alania' a meteorological-cum-cosmographical-cum-geographical-cum-astronomical treatise, in which he promises to explain to her the phenomenon of thunder and lightning and other natural forces to the best of his ability. The treatise touches on such topics as: 'On thunder and lightning', 'on the dimensions of the earth', 'on stadia and miles', 'on the distance between the sky and the earth', 'on earthquakes', 'on the elements', 'on the antipodes', 'on the four seas', 'on pearls', 'on the firmament', and 'on stars', i.e., the zodiac. Eustratius also wrote an anti-Latin polemical treatise, of which the Georgian version is extant - perhaps both written and translated at Maria's instance.[[59]]  Maria was also a supporter of John Italus, whose group Alexius repressed at the beginning of his reign in 1082.[[60]] She was also probably a patron of the Georgian neo-Platonist John Petrici (Petritsi), who was a pupil of Psellus and a friend of Italus who addressed an essay to an 'Abasgian grammarian' who has been identified with Petrici.[[61]] The date of Michael Psellus' death is not known, though some of his works were apparently written after 1081,[[62]] and it would be surprising in this case if he too were not part of the literary circle which formed around his grandson's godmother and imperial pupil's ex-wife.

Theophylact wrote at her request his commentaries on the gospels of Mark and Luke and the lesser prophets. Vind. Theol. Gr. 90, which contains his commentary on St Mark and St Luke, appears to be an autograph presentation copy and the dedication to Maria reads:

"Theophylact, leading shepherd of Bulgaria, has harvested these words which flow with honey for the consideration of the Empress Maria, truly a work for a most noble soul."[[63]]

The date at which these commentaries might have been written is unknown, but clearly after 1088 when Theophylact was made Archbishop: his commentary on the Acts of the Apostles can be dated to either 1097 or 1108.[[64]] If his other commentaries were composed at the same time, these would show that Maria's active literary patronage continued even after Constantine's death and her own retirement.

Maria's position was in no way altered by her having become a nun. She had certainly taken the veil (though not, of course, retired to a convent) at the time the Paideia Basilike was delivered, for Theophylact mentions her austere clothing and ascetic lifestyle, while Zonaras mentions her as a nun at the time when she visited Michael VII at his deathbed, c. 1090, when she asked his pardon for marrying Botaniates.[[65]] But, just as in the case of Anna Dalassena, this transition made little difference to Maria's lifestyle and she continued with her involvement in charitable concerns and patronage of monastic institutions, including donations to the Georgian monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos, and the building of a convent named Kappatha at Jerusalem with her mother Borena.[[66]] Significantly, Maria not only maintained this contact with her mother, but Borena herself was a writer of religious poetry and may have influenced Maria's sponsorship of Byzantine authors and copyists.[[67]]

Maria as empress-mother

Maria's property holdings were extensive and she commanded great wealth. Within Constantinople, she possessed the Mangana palace and monastery (constructed by Constantine IX) and the Hebdomon Monastery (the burial place of Basil II). In the country west of Constantinople she owned estates called Petritzos (Petriconi in Georgian) and Pernikos, not far from the seaport of Christoupolis (Kavala). Petritzos lies between the Georgian monastery of Theotokos Petritzonissa and the city of Stenimachos (in southern Bulgaria), just a few kilometres from each. The area had close connections with Georgian families and monastic foundations. The Petritzonissa monastery (modern Bachkovo) had been founded just south of Philippopolis in 1083 by Gregory Pakourianos (Georgian: Bakuriani), a general of Armeno-Georgian ancestry, for the use of 50 Georgian monks, primarily family members and retired soldiers who had served in his army. He endowed the monastery with extensive properties in the region and he and his brother were buried there. As Grand Domestic of the West he had been one of the Comneni's fervent supporters in their coup.[[68]]
 Maria's son Constantine had separate holdings in the area, most notably a large estate at Pentegostis in Thrace, near Serres, 'a delightful place with a good supply of cold, drinkable water and apartments big enough to receive an emperor as guest'.[[69]]

Alexius remained concerned to protect Maria's interests even after his son John was born on 13 September 1087. John was crowned at his baptism, but not publicly proclaimed as co-emperor until 1092, when Constantine was 18 years of age. Naturally, however, Alexius looked to John to succeed him: when, towards the end of his life, his wife Irene nagged him to leave his throne to their daughter Anna and her husband Bryennius.Choniates has Alexius say that everyone would laugh at him and imagine that he had gone mad if he chose a son-in-law to succeed him rather than a son.]]70]] Constantine's status may have gradually declined after John's birth. Anna speaks of the public acclamations of herself and Constantine as heirs-apparent as something which she does not personally remember, which implies that they were discontinued c. 1088, when she was four or five years of age. The couple's engagement, however, continued until Constantine's death in or after 1094, after which she married Nicephorus Bryennius: they were certainly married in April 1097.[[71]] According to Bryennius, Constantine's demotion in rank was due not to John's birth, but to a serious illness, which eventually led to his death (actually more than six years later).[[72]] Maria, not unnaturally, was aggrieved at this change in Constantine's status and still hoped to see him emperor.

In the summer of 1094 Alexius, who was on campaign, visited Constantine at his estate at Pentegostis. An assassination was planned against Alexius by Nicephorus Diogenes (Michael VII's half-brother) while Alexius was at Constantine's villa. The chosen venue clearly implies that Constantine's interests were involved and the plot apparently had Maria's support. Anna states that, when Diogenes was arrested, documents were found on him which made it clear that Maria knew of the conspiracy, though (according to Anna) she disapproved of the plan to murder Alexius and was trying to dissuade Diogenes from it.[[73]] Quite clearly she had not passed on the information to Alexius, but despite her involvement in the plot Alexius took no action against her. This is the last we hear of Constantine, and he was to die shortly afterwards (at least in or before 1097).

Maria's later career

Like so many imperial women, Maria may have chosen to remove herself to a convent after Constantine's death, and there is no evidence that her removal to a convent was anything other than her own choice. Because Theophylact wrote to her c. 1095 while she was staying on the island of Principo, one of the Prince's Islands in the Sea of Marmara where there were several monastic foundations, it has been considered that it was there that she retired after the death of Constantine. However, Maria may simply have been visiting one of the imperial foundations, and a more likely scenario is that she retired to the heavily-Georgian influenced area in which her estates were situated. With Constantine, she may have founded a monastery at Mount Papikion, some 100 kilometres from the Theotokos Petritzonissa monastery, and this may have been the site of her retirement and eventual death. Excavations have uncovered a mid-eleventh century monastic complex with donor portraits in the main church depicting a mother and son (perhaps Maria and Constantine), and a grave containing clothing with silver threads and a gold signet ring with the negative inscription: '(Of) Maria Botoniatina'.]]74]] This may have been both Maria's foundation and her final resting-place.

The date of her death is not known, but the fact that she was mentioned in the acts of the ecclesiastical council called by King Davit' II in 1103, as 'Our Queen Mart'a the Augusta,' confirms that Maria was still alive at that date, at the age of about 50 years, and highly honoured in her homeland. Her name occurs in a list of commemorations given for prominent Georgians and is put in first position, even before that of her nephew King Davit' himself as befitted a Byzantine empress and the mother of an emperor.[[75]] Maria's involvement in politics and her patronage of literary figures may well have had a profound influence on Comnenian women, while further marriage alliances between Byzantium and Georgia were to strengthen relationships between the two countries: Anna Comnena's two sons were to marry Georgian princesses (the elder, Alexios Bryennios Komnenos, marrying Kata, daughter of Davit' II, Maria's great-niece, in 1116), while Andronicus I Comnenus (1183-1185) may have married c.1145 the sister of Giorgi III (father of T'amar), as his first wife.[[76]]


Primary sources

Anna Comnena (Anna Komnene). Anne Comnène, Alexiade, ed. & tr. B. Leib, 3 vols, Paris: Budé, 1937-45, repr. 1967; English translation by E. R. A. Sewter, The Alexiad of Anna Comnena. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.

Attaliates, Michael. Michaelis Attaliotae Historia, ed. E. Bekker, Bonn: CSHB, 1853.

Bryennius, Nicephorus. 1975. Histoire, ed. P. Gautier, Brussels: CFHB.

Choniates, Nicetas. Cronikh; dihvghsi", ed. J.-A. van Dieten. Berlin/New York: CFHB, 1975; English translation by H. J. Magoulias, O City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniates. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1984.

Chronicle of K'art'li: see K'art'lis c'xovreba.

Constantine Porphyrogenitus. De Administrando Imperio (DAI), ed & tr. Gy. Moravcsik & R. J. H. Jenkins, Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, rev. ed. 1967.

Gautier, P. 1984. 'Le typikon du sébaste Grégoire Pakourianos,' Revue des Etudes Byzantines, 42: 5-145.

Giorgi Mc'ire, C'xorebay giorgi mt'acmidelisay, in I. Abuladze (ed.), Dzveli k'art'uli agiograp'iuli literaturis dzeglebi [Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographical Literature], vol. 2. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 1967.

K'art'lis c'xovreba, ed. S. Qauxch'ishvili., vol. 1. T'bilisi: Saxelgami, 1955; repr. as K'art'lis c'xovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and Their Medieval Armenian Adaptation, new intro. by S. Rapp, vol. 1. Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1998. [English translation by R. W. Thomson, 1996.]

Lampros, S. P. 1978. 'Anekdotos monodia Romanou II epi to thanato tes protes autou syzygou Berthas'. Bulletin de Correspondence Hellenique, 2: 269.

Lefort, J., Oikonomides, N, et al. 1985. Actes d'Iviron, I: Des origines au milieu du XIe siècle. Paris: Lethielleux.

Lefort, J., Oikonomides, N, et al. 1990. Actes d'Iviron, II: Du milieu du XIe siècle à 1204. Paris: Lethielleux.

Life of Giorgi Mt'acmideli, see Giorgi Mc'ire.

Lolashvili, I. (ed.). 1978. Borena dedop'ali [Queen Borena], 'Vedreba ghmrt'ismshoblisadmi' ['A Prayer for the Mother of God'], in Dzveli k'art'uli literaturis dzeglebi [Monuments of Old Georgian Literature], T'bilisi: Sabchot'a sak'art'velo, 494.

Polesso Schiavon, P. 1965-66. 'Un trattato inedito di meteorologia de Eustrazio di Nicea'. Rivista de Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 12/13: 285-304.

Psellus, Michael. Chronographia, ed. & tr. E. Renauld, 2 vols. Paris: Budé, 1926-8; English translation by E. R. A. Sewter, Michael Psellus. Fourteen Byzantine Rulers. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966.

Psellus, Michael. Michaelis Pselli Scripta Minora, 2 vols, ed. E. Kurtz & F. Drexl. Milan: Società editrice 'Vita e pensiere', 1936-41.

Sathas, K. N. 1894. Bibliotheca graeca medii aevi, vol. 7. Venice & Paris.

Scylitzes, John. Ioannis Scylitzae Synopsis Historiarum, ed. I. Thurn. Berlin/NY: CFHB, 1973.

Scylitzes Continuatus. JH sunevceia th`" cronografiva" tou` jIwavnnou Skulivtzh, ed. E. Tsolakes. Thessalonika: {Idruma meletw`n Cersonhvsou tou` Ai{mou, 1968.

Sumbat Davit'is-dze, C'xorebay da ucqebay bagratoniant'a [The Life and Tale of the Bagratids], ed. G. Araxamia, T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 1990 and S. Qauxch'ishvili, K'art'lis c'xovreba, vol. 1, pp. 372-86: see K'art'lis c'xovreba.

Tarchnishvili, M. 1955. Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur. Studi e Testi, 185. Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.

Theophylact of Ochrid. Théophylacte d'Achride. vol. 1: Discours, traités, poésies, ed. P. Gautier, Thessalonika: CFHB, 1980; vol. 2. Lettres, Thessalonika: CFHB, 1986.

Thomson, R. W. (tr.). 1996. Rewriting Caucasian History: The Medieval Armenian Adaptation of the Georgian Chronicles, the Original Georgian texts and the Armenian Adaptation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Tzetzes, John. Chiliades, ed. Th. Kiessling. Leipzig, 1826.

Zonaras, John. Epitome Historiarum, ed. T. Büttner-Wobst, vol. 3. Bonn: CSHB, 1897.

Secondary sources

Alexidze, A. 1991. 'Martha-Maria: A Striking Figure in the Cultural History of Georgia and Byzantium', in M. Koromila (ed.), The Greeks in the Black Sea: From the Bronze Age to the Early Twentieth Century. Athens: Panorama, 204-12.

Amiranashvili, S. 1972. The Khakhuli Triptych. T'bilisi: Xelovneba.

Angold, M. 1995. Church and Society in Byzantium under the Comneni, 1081-1261. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Badridze, Sh. 1984. Sak'art'velos urt'iert'obebi bizantiasa da dasavlet' evropast`an (X-XIII ss.) [Georgia's Relations with Byzantium and Western Europe, 10th-13th Centuries]. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba. With Rus. sum., pp. 176-8.

Browning, R. 1975. 'Enlightenment and Repression in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries'. Past and Present, 69: 3-23.

Cheynet, J.-C. 1990. Pouvoir et Contestations à Byzance (963-1210). Paris: Sorbonne.

Clucas, L. 1981. The Trial of John Italos and the Crisis of Intellectual Values in Byzantium in the Eleventh Century. Munich.

Dölger, F. 1925. Regesten der Kaiserkunden des oströmischen Reiches, vol. 2: Regesten von 1025-1204, Munich & Berlin: Olderbourg.

Dolidze, I. 1970. K'art'uli samart'lis dzeglebi [Monuments of Georgian Law], vol. 3: Saeklesio sakanonmdeblo dzeglebi (XI-XIX ss.) [Monuments of Ecclesiastical Canon]. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba.

Evangelatou-Notara, Ph. 1994. 'Apeikonivsei" th" Augouvsta" Mariva" th" Alanhv", in Antivfwnon, Afievrwma ston Kaqhghthv N.B. Drandakes. Thessaloniki: 531-9.

Falkenhausen, V. von. 1982. 'Olympias, eine normannische Prinzessin in Konstantinopel', in Bisanzio e l'Italia. Raccolta di studi in memoria di Agostino Pertusi, Milan, 56-72.

Garland, L. 1988. 'The Life and Ideology of Byzantine Women: A Further Note on Conventions of Behaviour and Social Reality as Reflected in Eleventh and Twelfth Century Historical Sources', Byzantion, 58: 361-93.

Garland, L. 1994. 'The Eye of the Beholder: Byzantine Imperial Women and their Public Image from Zoe Porphyrogenita to Euphrosyne Kamaterissa Doukaina (1028-1203)'. Byzantion, 64: 19-39, 261-313.

Gautier, P. 1970. 'La curieuse ascendance de Jean Tzetzes'. Revue des Études Byzantines, 28: 207-20.

Gautier, P. 1972. Michel Italikos. Paris.

Grierson, P. 1973. Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 3.2. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks.

Grumel, V. 1989. Les regestes des actes du patriarchat de Constantinople, vol. 1 (fasc. 2 & 3), revised ed. Paris: Institut français d'études byzantines.

Herrin, J. 1995. 'Theophano: Considerations on the Education of a Byzantine Princess', in A. Davids (ed.), The Empress Theophano. Byzantium and the West at the Turn of the First Millennium. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 64-85.

Hill, B. 1996. 'Alexios I Komnenos and the Imperial Women', in M. Mullett and D. Smythe (eds), Alexios I Komnenos, vol. 1: Papers. Belfast: Belfast Byzantine Enterprises, 37-54.

Javaxishvili, I. 1979, 1983. K'art'veli eris istoria [A History of the Georgian People], 3rd ed., repr. in his T'xzulebani [Collected Works], vols. 1-2. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba.

Joannou, P. 1954. 'Eustrate de Nicée: trois pièces inédits de son procès (1117)'. Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 47: 358-78.

Joannou, P. 1958. 'Le sort des évêques hérétiques reconciliés: un discours inédit de Nicétas de Serres contre Eustrate de Nicée'. Byzantion, 28: 1-30.

Kalavrezou, I. 1994. 'Irregular Marriages in the Eleventh Century and the Zoe and Constantine Mosaic in Hagia Sophia', in A. E. Laiou & D. Simon (eds), Law and Society in Byzantium, Ninth to Twelfth Centuries. Washington DC: 241-59.

Kazhdan, A. 1975. Armiane v sostave gospodstvuiushchego klassa vizantiiskoi imperii v XI-XII vv. Erevan; Izd-vo AN Arminskoi SSR. [English summary, 'The Armenians in the Byzantine Ruling Class Predominantly in the Ninth through Twelfth Centuries', in T. J. Samuelian & M.E. Stone (eds), Medieval Armenian Culture. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982, 439-51.]

Kazhdan, A. P. and Epstein, A. W. 1985. Change in Byzantine Culture in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, Berkeley, Los Angeles, & London: University of California Press.

Kekelidze, K. with Baramidze, A. 1969. Dzveli k'art'uli literaturis istoria (V-XVIII ss.) [A History of Old Georgian Literature]. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba.

Laiou, A. E. 1992. 'Imperial Marriages and their Critics in the Eleventh Century; the Case of Skylitzes'. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 46: 165-76.

Laiou, A. E. 1992. Mariage, Amour et Parenté à Byzance aux XIe-XIIIe siècles. Paris: de Boccard.

Leib, B. 1950. 'Nicéphore III Botaneiatès (1078-1081) et Marie d'Alanie', in Actes du VIe Congrès international d'études byzantines (1948), vol. 1. Paris: 129-40.

Leib, B. 1956. 'Un basileus ignoré; Constantin Doucas (v. 1074-94)'. Byzantinoslavica, 17: 341-59.

Lemerle, P. 1977. Cinq études sur le XIe siècle byzantin. Paris: Éditions du Centre National de la recherche Scientifique.

Leroy-Molinghen, A. 1969. 'La descendance adoptive de Psellos'. Byzantion, 39: 284-317.

Lordkipanidze, M. 1994. Essays on Georgian History. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba.

Macrides, R. 1987. 'The Byzantine Godfather'. Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 11: 139-62.

Macrides, R. 1990. 'Kinship by Arrangement: the Case of Adoption'. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 44: 109-18.

Macrides, R. 1992. 'Dynastic Marriages and Political Kinship', in J. Shepard and S. Franklin (eds), Byzantine Diplomacy. Aldershot: Variorum, 263-80.

Mikaberidze, A. 1998. 'Maria-Martha Bagrationi in Byzanz und Georgien (Bemerkungen zu ihrer Prosopographie im Lichte jüngster archäologischer Ausgrabungen)'. Caucasica, 1: 128-59. We wish to thank Dr. Z. Sxirt'ladze for his kind assistance in obtaining this essay.

Morrisson, C. 1970. Catalogue des monnaies byzantines de la Bibliothèque Nationale, vol. II. Paris.

Mullett, M. 1984. 'Aristocracy and Patronage in the Literary Circles of Comnenian Constantinople', in M. Angold (ed.), The Byzantine Aristocracy, IX-XIIth Centuries. Oxford: 173-201.

Mullett, M. 1984. 'The "Disgrace" of the Ex-Basilissa Maria'. Byzantinoslavica, 45: 202-11.

Mullett, M. 1994. 'Alexios I Komnenos and Imperial Revival', in P. Magdalino (ed.), New Constantines. Aldershot: Variorum, 259-67.

Mullett, M. 1997. Theophylact of Ochrid. Reading the Letters of a Byzantine Archbishop. Aldershot: Variorum.

Mullett, M. and Smythe, D. (eds). 1996. Alexios I Komnenos, vol. 1: Papers. Belfast: Belfast Byzantine Enterprises.

Nodia [Nodiia], I. M. 1978. 'Gruzinskie materialy o vizantiiskoi imperatritse Marfe-Marii,' in Bizantinologiuri etiudebi/Vizantinovedcheskie etiudy. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 146-55.

Oikonomides, N. 1963. ' Le serment de l'impératrice Eudocie (1067). Un épisode de l'histoire dynastique de Byzance'. Revue des Etudes Byzantines, 21: 105-8.

Ostrogorsky, George. 1971. 'Observations on the Aristocracy in Byzantium'. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 25: 1-32.

Polemis, D. I. 1968. The Doukai. A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography. London: Athlone Press.

Polesso Schiavon, P. 1965-66. 'Un trattato inedito di meteorologia de Eustrazio di Nicea'. Rivista de Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, 12/13: 285-304.

Rapp, S. H. Jr. 1997. Imagining History at the Crossroads: Persia, Byzantium and the Architects of the Written Georgian Past. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan.

Rapp, S.H. Jr. and L. Garland, 2006. 'Mary "of Alania": Woman and Empress Between Two Worlds', in Byzantine Women AD 800-1200: Varieties of Experience, ed. L. Garland. Aldershot: Variorum (forthcoming).

Shepard, J. 1988. 'Aspects of Byzantine Attitudes and Policy towards the West in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries'. Byzantinische Forschungen, 13: 67-118.

Shepard, J. 1995. 'A Marriage too Far? Maria Lekapena and Peter of Bulgaria,' in The Empress Theophano. Byzantium and the West at the Turn of the First Millennium, ed. A. Davids. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 121-49.

Spatharakis, J. 1976. The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts. Leiden: Brill.

Toumanoff, C. 1963. Studies in Christian Caucasian History. Washington, DC.

Toumanoff, C. 1966. 'Armenia and Georgia', in The Cambridge Medieval History, ed. J.M. Hussey, vol. 4.1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 593-637.

Toumanoff, C. 1990. Les dynasties de la Caucasie chrétienne de l'Antiquité jusqu'au XIXe siècle. Rome (no publisher listed).

Varzos, K. 1984. JH genealogiva tw`n Komnhnw`n, 2 vols. Thessaloniki: Kevntron buzantinw`n ejreunw`n.

Wilson, N. G. 1983. Scholars of Byzantium. London: Duckworth.

Zekos, N. 1998. 'The Tomb of the Empress Maria Botaneiate on Mt. Papikon'. Caucasica, 1: 199-212. We wish to thank Dr. Z. Sxirt'ladze for his kind assistance in obtaining this essay.


[[1]]For the genealogy of the Bagratid dynasty, see C. Toumanoff, Les dynasties de la Caucasie chrétienne de l'Antiquité jusqu'au XIXe siècle (Rome, 1990), 134-5.

[[2]] Chronicle of K'art'li, ed. S. Qauxch'ishvili, K'art'lis c'xovreba, vol. 1 (T'bilisi, 1955); repr. as K'art'lis c'xovreba: The Georgian Royal Annals and their Medieval Armenian Adaptation, new intro. by S. Rapp, vol. 1 (Delmar, NY, 1998), 288-9, 292. The Chronicle of K'art'li was written by a contemporaneous anonymous author and is a component text of K'art'lis c'xovreba, the so-called 'Georgian Royal Annals' and 'Georgian Chronicles'. This, in its extant form, consists of thirteen distinct medieval texts composed between the ninth and fourteenth centuries.

[[3]]Chronicle of K'art'li (Qauxch'ishvili 1955) 294; R. W. Thomson, Rewriting Caucasian History: The Medieval Armenian Adaptation of the Georgian Chronicles, the Original Georgian texts and the Armenian Adaptation (Oxford, 1996), 287-8.

[[4]]Chronicle of K'art'li (Qauxch'ishvili 1955), 303; Giorgi Mc'ire, Life of Giorgi Mt'acmideli 31, in I. Abuladze (ed.), Dzveli k'art'uli agiograp'iuli literaturis dzeglebi [Monuments of Old Georgian Hagiographical Literature], vol. 2. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 1967, 101-207; cf. Scylitzes, Synopsis Historiarum, 447-8, who dates their arrival in Constantinople to 1048.

[[5]]Psellus, Chronographia, 6.151-2, 155, ed. Renauld 2.45-6, 47.

[[6]]Toumanoff, Les dynasties de la Caucasie, 135.

[[7]]Giorgi Mc'ire, C'xorebay giorgi mt'acmidelisay, ch. 14; Thomson, Rewriting Caucasian History, #33, 377-8. When K'art'lis c'xovreba was re-edited in the early eighteenth century under the direction of King Vaxtang VI, this passage -- in a slightly modified form -- was inserted into the corpus. No extant medieval MS of the corpus incorporates it.

[[8]]I.M. Nodia, 'Gruzinskie materialy o vizantiiskoi imperatritse Marfe-Marii,' in Bizantinologiuri etiudebi/Vizantinovedcheskie etiudy (T'bilisi, 1978), 150; S. Amiranashvili, The Khakhuli Triptych (T'bilisi, 1972), figs. 8, 9.

[[9]]Bagrat's daughter 'Mariam', said to have been present at his death-bed in November 1072 (Chronicle of K'art'li, Qauxch'ishvili 1955: 314), was Mariam, the sister of the empress, not Maria herself as Maria is always known as Mart'a in Georgian sources; cf. Nodia, 'Gruzinskie materialy,' 150-1; A. Alexidze, 'Martha-Maria: A Striking Figure in the Cultural History of Georgia and Byzantium,' in M. Koromila (ed.), The Greeks in the Black Sea: From the Bronze Age to the Early Twentieth Century (Athens, 1991), 207.

[[10]]I. Dolidze, K'art'uli samart'lis dzeglebi [Monuments of Georgian Law], vol. 3: Saeklesio sakanonmdeblo dzeglebi (XI-XIX ss.) [Monuments of Ecclesiastical Canon] (T'bilisi, 1970), 126.

[[11]]John Tzetzes, Chiliades, ed. Th. Kiessling (Leipzig, 1826), 5.588; cf. 592-3: 'Maria from Abasgia, whom most people incorrectly call from Alania'; P. Gautier, 'La curieuse ascendance de Jean Tzetzes,' Revue des Études Byzantines 28 (1970), 207-20.

[[12]]Psellus, Chronographia, 7.9 (Renauld 2.177); Psellus, Scripta Minora, 1.80-1; A. Leroy-Molinghen, 'La descendance adoptive de Psellus,'Byzantion 39 (1969), esp. 293-4. In later life, perhaps in 1093, the young lad was to ask the help of Theophylact, then archbishop of Ochrid (Theophylact Ep. 27; 2.219-21). As Maria had been Theophylact's literary patron and Psellus Constantine's tutor the connection was obviously through Maria.

[[13]]Chronographia, 6.151 (Renauld 2.45).

[[14]]Scylitzes Cont. 738; Bryennius, Historia, 143.

[[15]]S. Lampros, 'Anekdotos monodia Romanou II epi to thanato tes protes autou syzygou Berthas,' Bulletin de Correspondence Hellenique 2 (1978), 269; J. Shepard, 'Aspects of Byzantine Attitudes and Policy towards the West in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries,' Byzantinische Forschungen 13 (1988), 67-118, esp. 88.

[[16]]Constantine Porphyrogenitos, de administrando imperio, 13, ed. Gy. Moravcsik and tr. R. J. H. Jenkins (Washington DC, 1967), 71-7; J. Shepard, 'A Marriage too Far? Maria Lekapena and Peter of Bulgaria', in The Empress Theophano. Byzantium and the West at the Turn of the First Millennium, ed. A. Davids (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1995), 121-49. Constantine's vilification of Romanus is coloured by the fact that Romanus and his sons kept Constantine from power for more than 25 years.

[[17]]'The great king Bagrat gave his daughter Mart'a [ie, Maria] in marriage to the king of the Greeks. After this he gave his niece in marriage to the sultan, the king of the Persians [i.e., the Seljuq sultan]': Chronicle of K'art'li (Qauxch'ishvili 1955), 307-8; Thomson, Rewriting Caucasian History, 300.

[[18]]L. Garland, 'The Eye of the Beholder: Byzantine Imperial Women and their Public Image from Zoe Porphyrogenita to Euphrosyne Kamaterissa Doukaina (1028-1203),' Byzantion 64 (1994), 19-39, 261-313.

[[19]]Alexiad 3.2.4 (Leib 1.107-8); cf. Psellus, Chronographia, 7.9 (Renauld 2.177); Garland, 'The Eye of the Beholder,' 261-2. For portraits of Maria and Michael, see J. Spatharakis, The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts (Leiden, 1976), pls. 9-11, 70, 74; for the conventionalised depiction of Maria's features in minatures and on coins, see Ph. Evangelatou-Notara, 'Apeikoniseis tes Augoustas Marias tes Alanes,' in Antiphonon, Aphieroma ston N.B. Drandakes (Thessaloniki, 1994), 531-9.

[[20]]Chronicle of K'art'li (Qauxch'ishvili 1955), 308.

[[21]]Bryennius, Historia, 137.

[[22]]Alexiad 9.6.1 (Leib 2.172-3); K. N. Sathas, Bibliotheca graeca medii aevi (Venice & Paris, 1894), 7.167-8.

[[23]]Attaliates, Historia, 168-9; Scylitzes Cont. 152; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.704; Bryennius, Historia, 123-5; Alexiad 9.6.1 (Leib 2.172).

[[24]]Attaliates, Historia, 180 calls him 'old among the young'; cf. Scylitzes Cont. 156, who blames Michael's tutor Psellus for his lack of capacity. Psellus gives a eulogistic description of Michael's pedantic literary interests: Chronographia 7(Michael VII).4 (Renauld 2.174-5).

[[25]]Alexiad 3.1.3 (Leib 1.104); Psellus, Chronographia, 7.12 (Renauld 2.178; S 373); Zonaras, Epitome, 3.714; B. Leib, 'Un basileus ignoré; Constantin Doucas (v. 1074-94)'. Byzantinoslavica 17 (1956), 341-59.

[[26]]Scylitzes Cont. 720, 724; Alexiad 1.10.2, 1.12.4, 11 (Leib 1.37, 43, 46); Dölger, Regesten, 1003. The proposal was put forward in a chrysobull written by Psellus himself: Scripta Minora, 1.329-34; on Olympias, see J. Shepard, 'Aspects of Byzantine Attitudes and Policy towards the West in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries,' Byzantinische Forschungen 13 (1988), 100-2; V. von Falkenhausen 'Olympias, eine normannische Prinzessin in Konstantinopel,' in Bisanzio e l'Italia. Raccolta di studi in memoria di Agostino Pertusi (Milan, 1982), 56-72.

[[27]]Chronographia 7.9; Renauld 2.177.

[[28]]See esp. A. Kazhdan, Armiane v sostave gospodstvuiushchego klassa vizantiiskoi imperii v XI-XII vv. (Erevan, 1975); English summary, 'The Armenians in the Byzantine Ruling Class Predominantly in the Ninth through Twelfth Centuries,' in T. J. Samuelian and M.E. Stone (eds), Medieval Armenian Culture (Chico, CA, 1982), 439-51.

[[29]] Typikon of Gregory Pakourianos for the Monastery of the Mother of God Petritzonitissa in Backovo, chs. 24-5 (P. Gautier, 'Typikon for the Monastery of Theotokos Petritziotissa'. Revue des Etudes Byzantines42 (1984), 29); G. Ostrogorsky, 'Observations on the Aristocracy in Byzantium,' Dumbarton Oaks Papers 25 (1971), 30-1. Pakourianos even stated that no 'Roman' monks or priests should be admitted, on the grounds that the Greeks were 'violent by nature, deceitful, and grasping' and might take control of the institution and turn it into their property; moreover, all monks were to be able to understand written and spoken Georgian (ch. 1). Ostrogorsky points out (n. 113) that a similar attitude occurs in the Life of Sts John and Euthymios, founders of the Iviron monastery, where the 'Greeks' are criticised for trying to extirpate the Georgians from the monastery; cf. P. Lemerle, Cinq études sur le XIe siècle byzantin (Paris, 1977), 185-6: 'il lui donné un caractère essentiellement national, au point d'en exclure tout Grec'. For a translation of the Typikon of Gregory Pakourianos for the Monastery of the Mother of God Petritzonitissa in Backovo (trans. Robert Jordan), see

[[30]]Bryennius, Historia, 143; Alexiad 2.1.4; (at Leib 1.64 niece is an incorrect translation). For the children of Isaac and Irene, see K. Varzos, He Genealogia ton Komnenon (Thessaloniki, 1984), 1.134-72.

[[31]]Toumanoff, Les dynasties de la Caucasie, 135.

[[32]]Tzetzes, Chiliades, 5.588; Gautier, 'La curieuse ascendance de Jean Tzetzes,' 207-20.

[[33]]Alexiad 8.9.2 (Leib 2.152); Toumanoff, Les dynasties de la Caucasie, 135.

[[34]]Alexiad 1.16.2-3, 2.3.4, 2.4.5 (Leib 1.57-8, 70, 72-3).

[[35]]Bryennius, Historia, 253; cf. Scylitzes Cont. 178.

[[36]]Scylitzes Cont. 181-2.

[[37]]Botaniates had recalled Eudocia from exile together with her children by Diogenes and restored her possessions, as well as ensuring her a luxurious income (Attaleiates 304, Scylitzes Cont. 184). However, her first husband Constantine X, before his death, had made her promise that she would not remarrry and that she would protect the interests of their children: Attaliates, Historia, 92; Scylitzes Cont. 118; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.682; Grumel, Regestes, 898. The text of Eudocia's oath is given by N. Oikonomides, ' Le serment de l'impératrice Eudocie (1067). Un épisode de l'histoire dynastique de Byzance,' Revue des Etudes Byzantines 21 (1963), 105-8. She was also a nun (though by compulsion: Attaliates, Historia, 168-9, Scylitzes Cont. 152).

[[38]]Alexiad 3.2.3-5 (Leib 1.107-8); Bryennius, Historia, 253-5; Scylitzes Cont. 181; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722.

[[39]]Alexiad 3.2.3-5 (Leib 1.107-8); Bryennius, Historia, 251-5; Scylitzes Cont. 181-2; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722; cf. Grumel, Regestes, 910.

[[40]]I. Kalavrezou, 'Irregular Marriages in the Eleventh Century and the Zoe and Constantine Mosaic in Hagia Sophia,' in A. E. Laiou and D. Simon (eds), Law and Society in Byzantium, Ninth to Twelfth Centuries (Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1994), 249; A. E. Laiou, 'Imperial Marriages and their Critics in the Eleventh Century; the Case of Skylitzes,' Dumbarton Oaks Papers 46 (1992), 173-5

[[41]]Scylitzes Cont. 177-8, 181-2; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722; Bryennius, Historia, 253-5; Grumel, Regestes, 910; B. Leib, 'Nicéphore III Botaneiatès (1078--1081) et Marie d'Alanie,' Actes du VIe Congrès international d'études byzantines (1948), vol. 1 (Paris, 1950), 129-40; Laiou, 'Imperial Marriages,' 172-3. Bryennius mentions that the marriage was illegal (a third marriage was only permissible by canon law if one were childless); the historian Attaleiates, who is concerned to show Botaniates' reign in a good light, does not mention the marriage, which is in itself evidence for its illegality.

[[42]]P. Grierson, Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection, vol. 3.2 (Washington DC, 1973), 829; C. Morrisson, Catalogue des monnaies byzantines de la Bibliothèque Nationale, vol. 2 (Paris, 1970), 655-6.

[[43]]Spatharakis, The Portrait in Byzantine Illuminated Manuscripts, 107-18; Kalavrezou, 'Irregular Marriages,' 249.

[[44]]Alexiad 2.2.1, 3.4.5 (Leib 1.66, 115).

[[45]]Zonaras 3.733; Alexiad 3.4.5 (Leib 1.115).

[[46]]S. H. 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.

[[47]]Alexiad 1.16.2-3 (Leib 1.57-8).

[[48]]Bryennius, Historia, 221 speaks of Anna's 'ancient hatred' towards the Caesar and his family; cf. Alexiad 3.2.1 (Leib 1.106).

[[49]]Alexiad 2.2.1-2 (Leib 1.66-7).

[[50]]Alexiad 2.2.2-3, 3.1.2, cf. 3.2.6 (Leib 1.67-8, 104, 109).

[[51]]Alexiad 2.1.4-6, 2.2.2-3, 2.3.4 (Leib 1.64-8, 70); cf. Bryennius, Historia, 259, who dates the adoption to early in Botaniates' reign. On the adoption, see R. J. Macrides, 'Kinship by Arrangement: The Case of Adoption,' Dumbarton Oaks Papers 44 (1990), 109-18 117; cf. 'The Byzantine Godfather,' Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 11 (1987), 139-62.

[[52]]Alexiad 2.3.4, 2.4.5 (Leib 1.70, 72-3).

[[53]]A. E. Laiou, Mariage, Amour et Parenté à Byzance aux XIe-XIIIe siècles (Paris, 1992), 49.

[[54]]Alexiad 3.2.3, 3.2.6-7, 3.4.4 (Leib 1.107, 109-10, 115); cf. Bryennius, Historia, 221; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.734; M. Angold, Church and Society in Byzantium under the Comneni, 1081-1261 (Cambridge, 1995), 46.

[[55]]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).

[[56]]Alexiad 3.4.6, 6.8.3 (Leib 1.115-16, 2.62); Zonaras, Epitome, 3.733; Bryennius, Historia, pref. 8 (Gautier, 65-7); cf. Dölger, Regesten, 1064; cf. Zonaras 3.738.

[[57]]Alexiad 3.1.4 (Leib 1.105).

[[58]]M. Mullett, Theophylact of Ochrid. Reading the Letters of a Byzantine Archbishop (Aldershot, 1997), 96, 196.

[[59]]P. Polesso Schiavon, 'Un trattato inedito di meteorologia de Eustrazio di Nicea,' Rivista de Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici 12/13 (1965-66), 285-304; S. H. Rapp Jr. and L. Garland, 'Mary "of Alania": Woman and Empress Between Two Worlds', in Byzantine Women AD 800-1200: Varieties of Experience, ed. L. Garland (Aldershot: Variorum, forthcoming); Alexidze, 'Martha-Maria,' 210.

[[60]]R. Browning, 'Enlightenment and Repression in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries,' Past and Present 69 (1975), 3-23; L. Clucas, The Trial of John Italos and the Crisis of Intellectual Values in Byzantium in the Eleventh Century (Munich, 1981), 91. For Maria's role as literary patroness, see M. Mullett, 'Aristocracy and Patronage in the Literary Circles of Comnenian Constantinople,' in M. Angold (ed.), The Byzantine Aristocracy, IX-XIIth Centuries (Oxford,1984) 177-8; M. Mullett, The "Disgrace" of the Ex-Basilissa Maria,' Byzantinoslavica 45 (1984), 205-6.

[[61]]P. Joannou, Ioannes Italos: Quaestiones Quodlibetales, Ettal, 1956, Quaestio 64; M. Tarchnishvili, Geschichte der kirchlichen georgischen Literatur, Studi e Testi, 185 (Vatican City, 1955), 211-25; cf. Marr 1909; N. G. Wilson, Scholars of Byzantium (London, 1983), 155, 164. Petrici, an excellent Greek scholar, is said to have translated into Georgian Proclus's Elements of Theology, Nemesius's De natura hominis and two texts of Aristotle and is also generally credited with the translation into Georgian of Josephus' Antiquities, but the Georgian text contains too many translation errors for this to be feasible: N. Melik'ishvili (ed.), [Ioseb p'laviosi] Mot'xrobani iudaebrivisa dzuelsitquaobisani, Vol. 2. T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 1988. [English summary, 'The Georgian Translation of Joseph[us] Flavius' Jewish Antiquities', pp. 545-8.].

[[62]]Kazhdan, A. (in collaboration with Simon Franklin) Studies on Byzantine Literature of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 53-5.

[[63]]Patrologia Graeca, 123.35, 487-1126; 126.559-1190; Mullett, Theophylact of Ochrid, 243; Lemerle, Cinq études, 97 n.73.

[[64]]Théophylacte d'Achride, ed. P. Gautier. Vol. 1: Discours, traités, poésies (Thessaloniki, 1980), 37 n. 40.

[[65]]Theophylact, Oratio 4, ed. Gautier 1.187; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.722-3.

[[66]]Lefort, J., Oikonomides, N. and Papachryssanthou, D. 1990. Actes d'Iviron, II: Du milieu du XIe siècle à 1204 (Paris, 1990), 8, 33; Nodia, 'Gruzinskie materialy,' 142; Mikaberidze, 'Maria-Martha Bagrationi,' 149.

[[67]]Rapp and Garland, 'Mary of Alania'; I. Lolashvili (ed.), 'Borena dedop'ali [Queen Borena], Vedreba ghmrt'ismshoblisadmi' ['A Prayer for the Mother of God'], in Dzveli k'art'uli literaturis dzeglebi [Monuments of Old Georgian Literature] (T'bilisi, 1978), 494.

[[68]]Alexiad 2.4.6-7 (Leib 1.73-4); Gautier, 'Le typikon du sébaste Grégoire Pakourianos,', 5-145; Lemerle, Cinq études, esp. 177 (on the location of Petritzos), 179-80: Pakourianos himself had major holdings both near Philippopolis and north of Mosynopolis on Mount Papikion.

[[69]]Alexiad 9.5.5 (Leib 2.171-2).

[[70]]Nicetas Choniates, Historia, 5-6.

[[71]]Alexiad 6.8.3, 9.5.4, 10.9.6 (Leib 2.62, 171, 223); D. I. Polemis, The Doukai. A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography (London, 1968), 62 n.17; Bryennius, Historia, 65-7; Zonaras, Epitome, 3.738.

[[72]]Bryennius, Historia, 65-7.

[[73]]Alexiad 9.5.5, 9.7.2, 9.8.2 (Leib 2.171, 175, 178-9); J.-C. Cheynet, Pouvoir et Contestations à Byzance (963-1210) (Paris, 1990), 98; cf. Mullett, The "Disgrace" of the Ex-Basilissa Maria,' 202-11.

[[74]]N. Zekos, 'The Tomb of the Empress Maria Botaneiate on Mt. Papikon,' Caucasica 1 (1998), 199-212; it was not uncommon for Botaniates to be spelt Botoneiates (or Botoneiotes) in Georgian documents: A. Mikaberidze, 'Maria-Martha Bagrationi in Byzanz und Georgien (Bemerkungen zu ihrer Prosopographie im Lichte jüngster archäologischer Ausgrabungen),' Caucasica 1 (1998), 134.

[[75]]I. Dolidze, K'art'uli samart'lis dzeglebi, 126.

[[76]]Zonaras, Epitome, 3.761; Life of Davit' II, ed. M. Shanidze, C'xorebay mep'et'a mep'isa davit'isi (T'bilisi: Mec'niereba, 1992), 180 (ed. Qauxch'ishvili 334); C. Toumanoff, 'On the Relationship between the Founder of the Empire of Trebizond and the Georgian Queen Thamar,' Speculum 15 (1940), 299-312.

Copyright (C), Lynda Garland and Stephen Rapp, Jr.. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.

Comments to: Lynda Garland and Stephen Rapp, Jr.

For more detailed geographical information, please use the DIR/ORB Antique and Medieval Atlas below. Click on the appropriate part of the map below to access large area maps.

Clickable ImageS-EN-O/N-WS-O/S-WN-E

Return to the Imperial Index