|Irene Kantakouzene Branković
Irene Kantakouzene (Greek: Ειρήνη Καντακουζηνή, Byzantine Greek: [iriˈni kantakuzziˈni]; Serbian: Јерина Бранковић, Jerina Branković, pronounced [jɛ̌rina brǎːŋkɔʋit͡ɕ], c. 1400 – May 2/May 3, 1457 at Rudnik) was the wife of Serbian Despot Đurađ Branković. In Serbian folk legends, she is the founder of many fortresses in Serbia.
Irene and her relations are named in "Dell'Imperadori Constantinopolitani", a manuscript held in the Vatican Library. The document is also known as the "Massarelli manuscript" because it was found in the papers of Angelo Massarelli (1510–1566). Masarelli is better known as the general secretary of the Council of Trent, who recorded the daily occurrings of the council.
Her parents were Theodore Kantakouzenos and Euphrosyne Palaiologina. The Massarelli manuscript names her brothers in order of birth as Demetrios, Manuel, George, Andronikos and Thomas. Andronikos in noted as father to a younger Theodore Kantakouzenos. This Theodore married Maria Notaraina, a daughter of Loukas Notaras and his wife Palaiologina. Theodore was executed along with his father-in-law by orders of Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire in 1453. Thomas is given as a son-in-law of a Holy Roman Emperor but the manuscript does not clarify which one. He is noted as dying in 1463.
Theodora is given as the youngest daughter of her parents. Her older sisters are given as Theodora Kantakouzene and Maria Kantakouzene. Maria was married to Alexios IV of Trebizond. Theodore Spandounes, a 16th century historian, names another sister of Irene as Helena Kantakouzene. He calls her wife of David of Trebizond, a son of Theodora. The marriage of an aunt to a nephew was within the prohibited degree of kinship as defined by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Spandounes was possibly confused on which Emperor of Trebizond was brother-in-law to Eirene.
The manuscript is silent on which member of the Kantakouzenoi was the paternal grandfather of Theodora. Byzantine naming conventions named the eldest grandson of a couple by the name of a grandparent. Since in this case the eldest was named Demetrios, the paternal grandfather was likely also named Demetrios Kantakouzenos. Demetrios I Kantakouzenos has been suggested. Later genealogies have depicted Demetrios I as the father of Irene, ignoring the Massarelli manuscript.
 Marriage and children
- Todor Branković (d. before 1429). Not mentioned in the Masarelli manuscrpipt, probably died early
- Grgur (Gregory) Branković (c. 1415 - October 16, 1459 – October 17, 1459). Mentioned first in the Masarelli manuscript. Father of Vuk Grgurević.
- Mara Branković (c. 1416 - September 14, 1487). Mentioned second in the Masarelli manuscript. Married Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.
- Stefan Branković (c. 1417 - 1476). Mentioned third in the Masarelli manuscript. Blinded in 1441. Claimed the throne of Serbia following the death of his younger brother Lazar.
- Catherine Cantacuzena (c. 1418 - 1490). Married Ulrich II of Celje. Mentioned fourth in the Masarelli manuscript.
- Lazar Branković (c. 1421/27 - January 20, 1458 – June 20, 1458). Mentioned fifth and last in the Masarelli manuscript.
Being a Greek and with her brothers very influential to the new despot, people began to dislike her, attributing to her many vicious and evil characteristics including that building of Smederevo was her caprice. In folk poetry she has been dubbed Prokleta Jerina (the "Damned Jerina" or "Jerina the Cursed"), but nothing of this can be confirmed from historical sources.
The Maglič fortress, nearby Kraljevo in Serbia is also known as the fortress of damned Jerina. It was built in 13th century. Damned Jerina, who used to throw her lovers into the deep well inside the walls, built it, the legend reads.
The Užice fortress has the legend similar to this. In local tradition she is described as a cruel queen who threw children from highest tower to dark river Đetinja. The meaning of river's name can be translated as "of the children".
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić wrote several Serbian folk songs where she is mentioned: "Đurđeva Jerina", "Dva Despotovića", "Ženidba Đurđa Smederevca", "Kad je Janko vojvoda udarao Đurđa despota buzdohanom", "Oblak Radosav" and "Starina Novak i knez Bogosav".
The anthroponym Irina became Jerina and it can be seen from three aspects: (1) From the aspect of phonetic adaptation of the anthroponym: the Greek name Irina became the Serbian name Jerina; (2) from the aspect of derivation of the appellative jerina (the ruins of an old town) from the anthroponym Jerina, and (3) from the aspect of the change in the meaning of the name Irina (meaning "peace" in Greek) into the name which bears a negative connotation in Serbia and the name that becomes a protective name: that is, the new-born female children, in the families which have no male children, are named Jerina in order to stop the birth of further female children.
 See also
|Despotess of Serbia
- Tony Hoskins, "Anglocentric medieval genealogy"
- "The Archives: the past & the present", section "The Council of Trent"
- Cawley, Charles, Profile of Theodore Kantakouzenos and his children, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
- Marek, Miroslav. "Kantakuzenos family". Genealogy.EU.[self-published source][better source needed]
- Cawley, Charles, Profile of Matthew, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
- Cawley, Charles, Profile of John VI, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
- Cawley, Charles, Profile of Đurađ, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy, retrieved August 2012,[better source needed]
- "Ethno Serbia Tour - Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro". Travel Library. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "Облак Радосав – Викизворник" (in (Serbian)). Sr.wikisource.org. 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2012-08-08.
- "Zena i mirisi". Uzice.net. Retrieved 2012-08-08.