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Maria of Bulgaria

Maria of Bulgaria

Byzantine noblewoman
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Byzantine noblewoman
Gender female
The details
Biography

Maria of Bulgaria (d. after 1081), protovestiaria, was the wife of protovestiarios and domestikos ton scholon Andronikos Doukas and mother of Irene Doukaina.

Life

Maria was a daughter of Troian of Bulgaria by an unnamed Byzantine noblewoman descended from the families of Kontostephanos and Phokas, and a granddaughter of Ivan Vladislav of Bulgaria.

Maria married Andronikos Doukas well before 1066. Her husband was a son of the Caesar John Doukas, a major power player in Byzantine politics of the era, and Eirene Pelagonitissa. He was also a nephew of Constantine X and first cousin of Michael VII.

Maria was endowed with an inheritance of vast land holdings around Lake Ohrid, and her considerable income was used to support her husband's lavish lifestyle and political ambitions. As the last descendants of the ruling family of Bulgaria, Maria and her daughters Irene and Anna, who married the first notable member of the Palaiologos family, carried not only immense wealth but also legitimisation of Byzantine authority over the Bulgarian population: her (and her daughters') prominent marriages are evidence for the eventual integration of the descendants of the Cometopuli dynasty into the court nobility in Constantinople.

As mother of the Empress Irene Doukaina, Maria was a woman of some influence in the early years of the reign of Alexios I Komnenos, although she, as a widow, shunned the Imperial court and chose to live in her Lake Ohrid estate. Her granddaughter Anna Komnene praises her beauty and wisdom in the Alexiad.

Family

Maria of Bulgaria and Andronikos Doukas had five children:

  • Michael Doukas
  • John Doukas
  • Irene Doukaina, who married Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.
  • Anna Doukaina, who married George Palaiologos
  • Theodora Doukaina, a nun

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