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Maria Comnena (1152-1182) was the eldest daughter of the Emperor Manuel I Comnenus by his first wife, Bertha of Sulzbach. She was known as Maria Porphyrogenita because she had been "born in the purple", i.e. born to a reigning emperor.

Maria was probably born in March 1152. She was engaged at different times to King Béla III of Hungary and King William II of Sicily, but politics prevented either marriage from taking place. Finally, in 1179, Maria Porphyrogenita was married to Renier of Montferrat, who was renamed "John" and given the title of Caesar.

After the death of the Emperor Manuel in 1180, Maria and Renier became involved in intrigues against Maria's stepmother, the Empress Maria (Xena), who was ruling as Regent for her young son Alexius II Comnenus. A riot broke out against the empress, encouraged by Maria Porphyrogenita and Renier, but their attempt to seize the throne failed. The couple later died, apparently by poison, following the usurpation of the regency by Andronicus I Comnenus


Choniates, Niketas, Historia, ed. J.-L. Van Dieten, 2 vols., Berlin and New York, 1975; trans. as O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates, by H.J. Magoulias, Detroit; Wayne State University Press, 1984.

Garland, Lynda, & Stone, Andrew, "Maria Porphyrogenita, daughter of Manuel I Comnenus", De Imperatoribus Romanis

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