Gregoria

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This article is about the Byzantine empress. For the genus of sea anemones, see Gregoria (genus).
Gregoria
Empress of the Byzantine Empire
Full name Gregoria
Consort to Constantine III
Issue Constans II, Theodosius, Manyanh
Dynasty Heraclian Dynasty
Father Niketas

Gregoria was the Empress consort of Constantine III of the Byzantine Empire. She was a daughter of Niketas, a first cousin of Heraclius[1] who had led an overland invasion of Roman Egypt in 608 in the revolt which elevated Heraclius to the throne

Family[edit]

Niketas fought against the representatives of Phocas in Egypt and seems to have secured control of the province by 610.[2]

On 5 October 610, Heraclius succeeded Phocas as the Emperor. Niketas was rewarded with the social rank of patrician and the military position of Comes Excubitorum, commander of the Excubitors. He seems to have remained in control of Egypt and took part in the defense against the invasion of Khosrau II of the Sassanid Empire. Egypt was lost to Khosrau in 618 but Niketas survived. Niketas was then appointed Exarch of the Exarchate of Africa. His term started in 619 and lasted to his death in 628/629.[2]

Her paternal grandfather was Gregorius, brother to Heraclius the Elder.[1] Heraclius had been appointed Exarch of Africa by Maurice and lived to support the revolt of his son. But not to its conclusion. Gregorius seems to have served under the command of his brother but the extent of his role is unknown.

Heraclius of Edessa[edit]

The further ancestry of the two brothers is uncertain. Cyril Mango in Deux études sur Byzance et la Perse Sassanide (1985) speculated they were descendants of Heraclius of Edessa, a general under Leo I and Zeno. He was appointed Comes rei militaris prior to 468. He assisted the Kingdom of Egrisi against the invasions of Peroz I of the Sassanids and Vakhtang I of Iberia but had to withdraw when his supply support proved insufficient.[3]

Heraclius of Edessa and Marcellinus led troops from Roman Egypt against Geiseric of the Vandals in 468. Their forces had successfully captured Sardinia and a number of cities in Tripolitania. They were marching to Carthage, the capital of the Vandals, when the main Roman force under Basiliscus was ambushed and defeated by Geiseric.[1] One half of the Roman fleet was burned, sunk, or captured, and the other half followed the fugitive Basiliscus. The whole expedition had failed. Heraclius effected his retreat through the desert into Tripolitania, holding the position for two years until recalled; Marcellinus retired to Sicily.[4]

According to Theophanes, Heraclius of Edessa sided with Leo I against his magister militum Aspar in 471. The conflict ended with the deaths of both Aspar and his son Ardabur by order of Leo. In 474, Heraclius served as magister militum per Thracias(Master of the Soldiers of Thrace) when he was captured in battle by Theodoric Strabo, a Goth chieftain formerly loyal to Aspar. He was executed by Theodoric despite the payment of a ransom for him by Zeno.[3]

Heraclius of Edessa is mentioned as son of Florus by Theophanes the Confessor. Theophanes identifies Florus as a consul but his name does not appear in consul lists. The explanation may be an honorary consulship. Another explanation suggested by Ernest Stein in Histoire du Bas-Empire (1951) was that Florus was another name for Flavius Florentius, a Roman Consul in 429.[3]

Empress[edit]

Gregoria was betrothed to her second cousin Constantine III, only known son of Heraclius and his first wife Eudokia. Constantine was crowned co-emperor by his father on 22 January 613.

Their marriage took place in 629/630. The groom was about seventeen years old. Gregoria was likely of equivalent age. She had arrived to Constantinople from the Western Pentapolis in Cyrenaica. Since Cyrenaica was in the territory of her father Niketas, Gregoria is assumed to have been brought up under his supervision instead of that of her father-in-law.[5] She was the junior Empress with Martina as the senior one.

Gregoria and her husband had at least two sons. Constans II was born on 7 November 630. According to Theophanes, a second son was named Theodosius. He was executed by Constans in 659/660. A genealogical theory also adds a daughter to the list of children. The daughter is given as Manyanh, a purported granddaughter of Heraclius and wife of Yazdgerd III.[6]

Heraclius died on 11 February 641. Constantine III became senior Emperor with his paternal half-brother Heraklonas as his co-ruler. Constantine died of tuberculosis between April and May of the same year. A revolt in favor of Constans resulted in the deposition of Heraklonas by September. Her role in the new regime under her son is not mentioned in Byzantine sources.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. 3
  2. ^ a b Walter Emil Kaegi, Heraclius, Emperor of Byzantium (2003)
  3. ^ a b c Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. 2
  4. ^ Friell, Gerard; Williams, Stephen (December 1998). The Rome That Did Not Fall. Routledge. pp. 184–186. ISBN 0-415-15403-0. 
  5. ^ a b Lynda Garland, "Gregoria, Wife of Heraclius Constantine
  6. ^ "Manyanh Princess of Byzantium"

External links[edit]

Royal titles
Preceded by
Martina
Byzantine Empress consort
641
Succeeded by
Fausta
Empress-Mother of the Byzantine Empire
641–688
with Fausta (654–September 685)