Author Topic: EUPHROSYNE: THE UNKNOWN MOTHER OF THE ANGELOI  (Read 295 times)

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EUPHROSYNE: THE UNKNOWN MOTHER OF THE ANGELOI
« on: May 07, 2019, 10:56:25 AM »
EUPHROSYNE: THE UNKNOWN MOTHER OF THE ANGELOI

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Fresco of the Theotokos, from the Church of St George in Kurbinovo, North Macedonia. The Church was constructed under the orders of her son and Emperor Isaac in 1191.

Euphrosyne Kastamonitissa was a member of the Asia Minor family of Kastamonitai, a clan with origins to the city of Kastamon in Paphlagonia. She married Andronikos Doukas Angelos,most likely near 1150, during the reign of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos. Andronikos was a son of Constantine Angelos and of the Porphyrogenita Theodora Komnene, thus a grandson of the great Roman Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. Euphrosyne offered to Andronikos eight children, six sons and two daughters. Among those children were the two notorious Angeloi eastern Roman Emperors: Isaac II Angelos and Alexios III Angelos that governed the Empire before the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade.

After almost three decades of walking in the same path with Euphrosyne, Andronikos attempted to annul his legal marriage with her at 1179/1180, so to marry an other woman that he had suddenly fallen in love with. Andronikos aspiring matrimonial plans failed thanks to the intervention of Emperor Manuel (who despised his cousins cowardice manners in the battlefield) in favor of Euphrosyne. Also the synod that was asked to solve this issue decided in favor of Kastamonitissa. This both political and religious support to Euphrosynes persona indicates that Euphrosyne had a strong network of friends inside the higher circles of Constantinople.

During the reign of Andronikos I Komnenos (1182-1185) her husband and sons rebelled against the Emperor. Sadly for Euphrosyne the plot was uncovered and her husband along with many of her sons were blinded.

Later her son Isaac also revolted against Andronikos and barricaded himself behind the strong walls of the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor. In order to break the morale of the besieged the Emperor brought Euphrosyne from Constantinople. He planned to use her as a shield against the machines of the besieged, however he changed his mind and placed her in the top of a battering ram, at the frontline of his enemies weapons, as thought she was a carriage that moved the engines of war to the wall.



Euphrosynes sons. Left a depiction of Isaakios II Angelos (1st tenure 1185-1195, 2nd 1203-1204) and right Emperor Alexios III Angelos (1195-1203).

Niketas Choniates mentions that it was marvelous that Euphrosyne didn’t passed away from the terror of Andronikos punishment. Nevertheless the defenders kept sending missiles towards Andronikos men, but they were very careful not to harm Euphrosynes exposed body. Choniates writes about that:

«The defenders discharged their missiles from the walls as before, but with great care, so as to wound and strike down the attackers while preserving the noblewoman from all bodily harm; it was as though by gesturing with her hands and nodding, she deflected the missiles away from herself and transfixed them in the hearts of the enemy.»

The Nicaeans during the night dashed from their gates and burned the war machines of Andronikos, like Harpies they saved Euphrosyne and pulled her up in the safety of the city with a rope.

After the fall of Andronikos (1185) thanks to the popular demand of the Roman People of Constantinople, her son Isaakios became Emperor of the Romans in the most unexpected manner. Euphrosyne must felt extreme satisfaction for the torturous epilogue of Andronikos at the streets of Constantinople. Afterall he was the man that had mutiliated almost all her sons, thus destroying their potential of a really happy life.



Isaac Angelos rides victorious in the streets of Constantinople, after overthrowing Andronikos with the aid of the citizens of Constantinople.

Euphrosyne also descended from a family of bureaucrats that assister her son Isaac to establish his rule once in the throne. Isaac was presured by both the military and court aristocrats as an «outcast» Basileus, thus in the face of the imperial bureaucracy he found the backbone of his regime.Theodore Kastamonitis, her brother, became the all powerful chief minister of Isaac and dominated the political picture of the Empire for several years.



Frescoes from the Church of St. George, Kurbinovo in North Macedonia depicting Constantine the Great and Augusta Helena, it has been speculated that Euphrosynes son Isaac and his spouse Margaret of Hungary are the figures behind those artworks.

Euphrosyne was fortunate to see her son as sovereign of the Roman state for only one year. In 1186 as «Emperor-Mother» («matrem Isaacii Angeli Euphrosynam») she accompanied her son Isaac in his campaign against the governor of Dyrrachium in Epirus, who had rebelled against Constantinople. Isaac besieged and stormed the city but Euphrosyne died during his victorious return to Constantinople. Isaac recieved the comforting words of the Megas Drougarius for his mothers passing (αοιδίμου μητρός αυτού Ευφροσύνης).

The choice of Euphrosyne to leave the comfort of the capital and travel with her son in the battlefield of the provinces, is an indication that she was perhaps planning to interfere more active on the affairs of the state in the «Anna Dalassene way», but her sudden passing never gave her the chance to.
DISPOSE OUR DAYS IN THY PEACE, AND COMMAND US TO BE DELIVERED FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION, AND TO BE NUMBERED IN THE FLOCK OF THINE ELECT.
 
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