Theodora Doukaina Selvo

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Theodora Doukaina (Greek: Θεοδώρα Δούκαινα) (before 1059– after 1075[1]) was a Byzantine princess and dogaressa.


She was the second daughter of Byzantine emperor Constantine X Dukas and his second wife Eudokia Makrembolitissa.[1] After 1071 she became the wife of Domenico Selvo, Doge of Venice, who received the title of protoproedros at the occasion.[1]

As she is mentioned as alive in the work of Michael Psellos (1075), it is assumed she died after this last date.[1] It is not known if she had children, and she is not mentioned otherwise.[1]

Confusion with Maria Argyropoulaina[edit]

Peter Damian, the Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, wrote a chapter entitled "De Veneti ducis uxore quae prius nimium delicata, demum toto corpore computruit" ("Of the Venetian Doge's wife, whose body, after her excessive delicacy, entirely rotted away.") about an unnamed Byzantine princess whose manners[2] he considered scandalously lavish and which brought to her a horrible death as a divine punishment.[1] This woman has been mistakenly (since Damian died 1072) identified with Domenico Selvo's wife by later Venetian chroniclers (incl. Andrea Dandolo and Marino Sanudo the Younger) followed afterwards by various modern authors;[3] however since the work in which Damianus' chapter is contained is dated ca 1059 it refers probably to Maria Argyropoulaina who had died a half century before.[4][1][5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Polemis 1968, p. 54.
  2. ^ "she scorned even to wash herself in common water, obliging her servants instead to collect the dew that fell from the heavens for her to bathe in. Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. Her rooms, too, were so heavy with incense and various perfumes (...)" (Damianus as cited by Norwich, John Julius (1982). A history of Venice (1st American ed.). New York: Knopf. ISBN 0394524101. OCLC 8033556.)
  3. ^ such as Romanin (Storia documentata di Venezia), Molmenti (la Dogaressa), Staley (The Dogaressas of Venice), Kretschmayr, Henisch (Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society), Pertusi (Venezia e Bisanzio) etc
  4. ^ Hodgson, p.192
  5. ^ Nicol, pp.46-47


  • Polemis, Demetrios I. (1968). The Doukai: A Contribution to Byzantine Prosopography. London: Athlone Press.
  • Hodgson, Francis Cotterell. The Early History of Venice: From the Foundation to the Conquest of Constantinople, A.D. 1204. G. Allen, 1901. pp. 191–192 ([1])
  • Nicol, Donald MacGillivray. Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations. Cambridge University Press, 1992. pp. 46–47

Works confusing Theodora and Maria[edit]

  • Henisch, Bridget Ann (1976), Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society ISBN 0-271-01230-7
  • Staley, Edgcumbe (c1910), The Dogaressas of Venice
Unconfirmed predecessor
Title last held by
Grimelda of Hungary
Dogaressa of Venice
Succeeded by
Cornella Bembo