Eudokia Komnene

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Eudokia Komnene
Spouse(s) William VIII of Montpellier
Noble family Komnenos
Father Alexios Komnenos
Mother Maria Dukaina
Born c. 1160
Died c. 1203

Eudokia Komnene (or Eudocia Comnena) (Greek: Εὐδοκία Κομνηνή, Eudokia Komnēnē) (c. 1160 – c. 1203) was a niece of Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, and wife of William VIII of Montpellier.

Eudokia was a daughter of Alexios Komnenos (1136–1183), lover of the Empress Maria Komnena and leader of her Regency Council, murdered in 1183, and wife Maria Dukaina. She had a brother, Andronikos Komnenos, who died young after falling from horse. Her father was a son of Andronikos Komnenos and Eirene Aineidasa.

Eudokia Komnene was sent to Provence by Manuel in 1174 to be betrothed to a son of the royal family of Aragon-Barcelona. According to untrustworthy troubadour narrative, her projected husband was to be their eldest son, King Alfonso II of Aragon (who had just married Sancha of Castile). The Annals of the city of Pisa report that the intended bridegroom was to be Alfonso's younger brother, Raymond Berenger V, comte de Provence. The projected marriage aimed at thwarting the influence of the Emperor Barbarossa through an Aragonese and Provençal alliance with Emperor Manuel I of Constantinople. However the betrothal was terminated by Emperor Frederick I as the liege lord over the Comté de Provence, the emperor proposing Guilhem of Montpellier as a suitable alternative to become her husband. The betrothal with Raymond Berenger was at end in 1179 at latest. Count Raymond died in 1181, incidentally in Montpellier.

As the troubadour Peire Vidal put it, the young king had preferred a poor Castilian maid to the emperor Manuel's golden camel.

After much indecision Eudokia married William VIII of Montpellier in 1180, having made it a condition (to which all male citizens of Montpellier were required to swear) that their firstborn child, boy or girl, would succeed him in the lordship of Montpellier.

Eudokia was sometimes described by contemporaries, including the troubadours Folquet de Marselha and Guiraut de Bornelh, as an empress (Occitan emperairitz) and was commonly said to be a daughter of the emperor Manuel, which has led to some confusion among modern authors about her family links. Other sources, such as Guillaume de Puylaurens, correctly identify her as Manuel's niece.

William VIII and Eudokia had one daughter, Maria of Montpellier, born in 1182. In April 1187 her husband divorced her (because she encouraged the advances of Folquet de Marselha, according to the Biographies des Troubadours; because William VIII wanted a male heir, according to documents likely to be more reliable). Eudokia was thereafter held at the monastery of Aniane and took the veil as a Benedictine nun. She died about 1203, shortly before her daughter's third marriage to King Peter II of Aragon.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • W. Hecht. 'Zur Geschichte der "Kaiserin" von Montpellier, Eudoxia Komnena' in Revue des études byzantines, Vol. 26 (1968), pp. 161–169.
  • K. Varzos. Ē genealogia tōn Komnēnōn, (Thessalonica, 1984) Vol. 2, pp. 346–359.