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Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina (c.1155-1211) was the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius III Angelus.

Euphrosyne was the daughter of Andronikos Doukas Kamateros, a high-ranking official who held the titles of megas droungarios and pansebastos. She was related to the Emperor Constantine X and Irene Doukaina, empress of Alexius I. Both of her brothers had rebelled against Andronicus I Comnenus; one was imprisoned and the other was blinded.

Euphrosyne married Alexius, the younger brother of Isaac II Angelus, around 1170. Although Isaac bestowed many titles and honors upon his brother, Alexius seized the throne on April 8, 1195, desposing Isaac and proclaiming himself emperor. In this he was assisted by Euphrosyne, who organized a party of aristocratic supporters. Euphrosyne took control of the palace and quelled a small revolt herself, securing election of her husband to the throne by wholesale bribery.

Euphrosyne was a dominating woman with a talent for politics, and she virtually ruled the Empire in the name of Alexius, who was concerned primarily with pleasure and idle pursuits. She issued commands herself and even altered Alexius' decrees when it suited her. Euphrosyne and Alexius were criticized for their love of finery and the enrichment of their relatives at state expense. Her own brother, Basil Kamateros, and her son-in-law, Andronikos Kontostephanos, accused Euphrosyne of adultery with one of her ministers, a nobleman named Vatatzes. Alexius believed the allegations and had Vatatzes executed. Euphrosyne was stripped of her imperial robes and banished to a convent at Nematarea in October 1196. Her relatives convinced Alexius to reinstate her, and she was recalled the next spring.

In 1203, faced with the Fourth Crusade and the return of his nephew, Alexius IV Angelus, Alexius fled Constantinople with a magnificent treasure and some female relatives, including his daughter Irene. Euphrosyne was abandoned and immediately imprisoned. Alexius IV was soon strangled by Alexius Murtzouphlos, the lover of Euphrosyne's daughter Eudokia, who then proclaimed himself Alexius V. In April 1204 Euphrosyne fled the city along with her daughter and Murtzouphlos, and they made their way to Mosynoupolis, where Euphrosyne's husband Alexius III had taken refuge. Alexius III had Murtzouphlos blinded and turned him over to the crusaders to be killed.

Euphrosyne and Alexius fled across Greece to Thessalonica and Corinth, but were finally captured by Boniface of Montferrat and imprisoned. In 1209 or 1210 they were ransomed by Michael of Epirus, and Euphrosyne spent the remainder of her life in Arta. She died around 1211.

Family

By her husband, Alexius III, Euphrosyne had three daughters:

  1. Anna Angelina, married (1) Isaac Comnenus Sebastocrator, great-nephew of emperor Manuel I Comnenus; (2) Theodore I Lascaris, emperor of Nicaea.
  2. Irene Angelina, married (1) Andronicus Contostephanus; (2) Alexius Palaeologus, by whom she was the grandmother of Michael VIII Palaeologus.
  3. Eudocia Angelina, married (1) Stefan Prvovenčani, King of Serbia; (2) Alexius V; (3) Leo Sgouros, ruler of Corinth.

Sources

  • Garland, Lynda. Byzantine Empresses, 1999
  • Herrin, Judith (2001). Women in Purple:Rulers of Medieval Byzantium, London: Phoenix Press. ISBN 184212529X.

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