|Empress consort of Bulgaria|
|Manuscript miniature of Sarah-Theodora (Tetraevangelia of Ivan Alexander).|
|Predecessor||Theodora of Wallachia|
|Spouse||Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria|
Desislava of Bulgaria
|House||House of Shishman|
Sources agree that she was Jewish, having lived with her family in the Jewish neighbourhood in Tarnovo. Ivan Alexander divorced his wife of many years, Theodora of Wallachia, who was forced to become a nun, and Sarah converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, accepted the name Theodora and soon became the Tsar’s second consort. Their marriage took place in the late 1340s.
The new Tsaritsa was renowned for her fierce support of her new religion, the Eastern Orthodox Christianity. She was one of the instigators of a church council against her compatriots, the Jews. She restored many churches and built a lot of monasteries and this is the reason why she was held in such high regard by the Bulgarian Church.
There is no doubt that Theodora played a significant role in the separation of the Bulgarian Empire between her firstborn, Ivan Shishman, and Ivan Sratsimir, the sole surviving son of the former Tsaritsa. Since Ivan Shishman was the first son born to Ivan Alexander after his accession to the throne ("born in the purple"), Theodora insisted that he was the only one worthy of the crown. Ivan Shishman was crowned co-emperor by his father who made his elder son Despot of Vidin in exchange. After Ivan Alexander died in 1371, Ivan Shishman became Tsar and Ivan Sratsimir declared Vidin a separate empire. From now on, the relationship between the two Bulgarian Empires became cold and remained so despite the threat of the forthcoming Ottoman invasion.
The date of the death of the Tsaritsa is unknown, although some historians assume she died in the late 1380s.
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- Иван Божилов, "Фамилията на Асеневци (1186-1460). Генеалогия и просопография", Издателство на Българската академия на науките "Марин Дринов", София, 1994, стр. 168 - 170 (in Bulgarian; in English: Ivan Bozhilov, "The family of the Asens (1186-1460). Genealogy and prosopography", Publishing house of the Bulgarian Academy of sciences "Marin Drinov", Sofia, 1994, p. 168-170).
Theodora of Wallachia
|Empress consort of Bulgaria