Helen of Zadar

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Helen of Zadar
Kraljica Jelena 200807.jpg
Bust of Queen Helen, Solin
(artists's impression)
Queen consort of Croatia
Tenure 946–976
Coronation 946
Successor Stephen Držislav
Spouse Michael Krešimir II of Croatia
House House of Madi
House of Trpimirović
Born Zadar
Died 8 October 976
Croatia
Burial Church of St. Mary, Solin

Helen of Zadar (Croatian: Jelena) (died 8 October 976), also known as Helen the Glorious, was the queen consort of the Kingdom of Croatia, as the wife of King Michael Krešimir II, from 946 to 969, a period which was allegedly marked by "peace, order and expeditious growth". She became the queen dowager of Croatia after her husband and reigned until her death. Queen Helen was "revered by her subjects" and "most adored for her charity".

She originated from the old patrician family Madi from Zadar.

Life[edit]

Queen Helen built the churches of St Stephen and St. Mary in Solin. The atrium of the St Stephen latter became the Mausoleum of Croatian Kings and is preserved to the present day. Helen was also known by her subjects as "Mother of the Kingdom and protectress of orphans and widows". Jelena played a central role in uniting Croatian and Latin elements within the Kingdom thus laying the groundwork for her son, Stephen Držislav, to assume sovereignty over the Dalmatian thema (which was under nominal Byzantine rule).

Epitaph[edit]

Helen died in October 976 and is buried next to her husband in St Mary's. The royal inscription on her sarcophagus was an epitaph discovered by archaeologists. The epitaph, which shed light on the genealogy of early Croatian rulers, was discovered by Don Frane Bulić on 28 August 1898. The epitaph also shows that older rulers, prior to her son Stephen Držislav bore the title of kings. The English translation of the epitaph is:[1]

(in Latin) (t)UMULO Q(ui)ESCIT HELENA FAMO(sa) (quae fui) UXOR MICHAELI REGI MATERQ(ue) STEFANI R(egis) (pacemque) (obt)ENUIT REGNI. VIII IDUS M(ensis) OCT(obris) (in pac)E HIC OR(dinata) FUIT AN(no) AB INCARNA(tione) (Domini) DCCCCLXXVI IND. IV CICL(o) L(un) V. (ep) XVII (ciclo sol) V LUN. V. (conc)URRENTE VI. ISTAQ(ue) VIVENS FU(it) REGN(i) MATER FUIT PUPILOR(um) TUTO(rque) VIDUAR(um) ICQUE ASPICIENS VIR ANIME DIC MISERERE DEUS.

(in English) In this grave rests Helen the Glorious, wife of King Michael, mother of King Stephen. She ruled/ brought peace to the Kingdom. On the 8th day of October 976 from the incarnation of Our Lord..... she was buried here. During her life as Queen she was also mother of orphans and protectress of widows. May those who look here say: God have mercy upon her soul.

— The royal inscription on her sarcophagus

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