Marie of Bourbon

Marie of Bourbon (c. 1315 - 1387) was the Empress consort of Robert of Taranto, titular Latin Emperor of Constantinople.


She was a daughter of Louis I, Duke of Bourbon and Mary of Avesnes. She was a younger sister of Peter I, Duke of Bourbon and an older sister of James I, Count of La Marche.

Their paternal grandparents were Robert, Count of Clermont and Beatrix of Bourbon. Their maternal grandparents were John II, Count of Holland and Philippa of Luxembourg.

First marriage

On 29 November, 1328, Marie was betrothed to Guy of Lusignan, titular Prince of Galilee at the Château de Bourbon. Her betrothed was a son of Hugh IV of Cyprus and his first wife Marie d'Ibelin. [Louis, Count of Mas Latrie, "A History of Cyprus" (1865), page 144] On 20 December, 1328, Marie and Guy were married by proxy. The Chronicle of Amadi records her arrival at Famagusta, Kingdom of Cyprus in June, 1329. On 31 January, 1330, Marie and Guy were married in person at Santa Sophia, Nicosia. ["Chronicle of Amadi", pages 403-404]

Hugh of Lusignan, their only known son, was born c. 1335. Her husband was appointed Constable of Cyprus between 1336 and 1338. He died in 1343 from unstated causes. The correspondence of Pope Clement VI includes a letter of condolences for the demise of Guy, dated to 24 September, 1343. The actual death likely occurred in the months preceding the letter. [ [ Profile of Guy in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ] The widowed Marie was not allowed to leave Cyprus until 1346 by orders of her father-in-law. [Peter W. Edbury, "The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades, 1191-1374" (1991), page 148]

econd marriage

In 1346, Marie and her son left Cyprus in exile. By 1347, they had settled in Naples, Kingdom of Naples, at the court of Joan I of Naples. On 9 September, 1347, Marie married her second husband Robert of Taranto, a first cousin, once removed to Joan. Her new husband was the claimant to the throne of the Latin Empire while holding both the Principality of Taranto and the Principality of Achaea. He had also been appointed a Captain General in the military of Naples.

They were soon separated for a number of years. Joan was a main suspect for orchestrating the assassination of her first husband Andrew, Duke of Calabria. On 3 November, 1347, Louis I of Hungary, older brother of Andrew, invaded the Italian Peninsula in a retaliation campaign. While Joan and her second husband Louis of Taranto, younger brother of Robert, managed to flee Naples, Robert did not. He was arrested at Aversa. In 1348, the Black Death reached the Italian Peninsula, forcing Louis I and the majority of his army to retreat back to the Kingdom of Hungary in hope of escaping the spreading epidemic. Robert was among the prisoners following Louis I to Hungary. He spend about four years in captivity and only returned to his wife in Naples during March, 1352. [ [ Profile of Robert in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ]

In 1353, Robert initiated a campaign in the Ionian Sea, attempting to re-establish his authority over a number of the Ionian Islands. By 1354, he had managed to secure control of Corfu, Kefalonia and Zante. He added to his titles the newly-coined Duke of Leucas before returning to Naples. [ [ Profile of Robert in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ] Marie benefited by the brief campaign as Robert transferred to her lands in Corfu, Kefalonia and the fiefdom of Kalamata (part of the Principality of Achaia). She would proceed to purchase the rights to the Baronies of Vostitsa and Nivelets by 1359. [ [ Profile of Marie in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ] [ [ Women in Power 1350 - 1400: "1359-63 Sovereign Countess Marie I de Bourbon of Vestitza"] ]

On 10 October, 1359, Hugh IV of Cyprus died. He was succeeded by his third son Peter I of Cyprus. According to Leontios Makhairas, Peter had been co-ruler of his father since 24 November, 1358. Hugh of Lusignan contested the succession, considering his claim to be superior due to being heir to his father, the eldest son of Hugh IV. His claim was rejected but Peter offered him an annual pension of 50,000 Bezants. [
Steven Runciman, "A History of the Crusades: Volume 3, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades" (1954)
] Not content, Hugh sought support by Pope Innocent VI in 1359. He got no effective assistance in furthering his claim but was named a Senator of Rome in 1360. [ [ Profile of Hugh in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ]


On 10 September, 1364, Robert of Taranto died. Their marriage had been childless and his legal heir was his younger brother Philip II of Taranto. However Marie contested the succession. By 1364, Marie owned sixteen castles in Achaia and thus controlled a considerable section of the Principality. She kept the title of Princess of Achaia and put forth her son Hugh as her own candidate for the throne of the principality. Hugh was still unable to claim the throne of Cyprus but his uncle Peter I named him Prince of Galilee in 1365. In 1366, Hugh invaded the Peloponnese at the head of 12,000 mercenaries, initiating a civil war for Achaia [ [ Profile of Hugh in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley] ]

On 17 January, 1369, Peter I of Cyprus was assassinated by three of his own knights, in his own bed at the Palace of La Cava, Nicosia. He was succeeded by his son Peter II of Cyprus. However Hugh saw another opportunity to claim the throne of Cyprus and left the Peloponnese to travel to Nicosia, effectively abandoning his campaign. Marie continued the civil war until 1370. Unable to secure victory, Marie sold her rights to Philip II for 6,000 gold pieces. [Mihail-Dimitri Sturdza, "Dictionnaire historique et Généalogique des grandes familles de Grèce, d'Albanie et de Constantinople" (1983), p. 500.] [Kerrebrouck, Patrick van, "Les Capétiens" (2000), pages 287-289.] Her fiefdoms of Vostitsa and Nivelets were sold to Nerio I Acciaioli, later Duke of Athens. [ [ Women in Power 1350 - 1400: "1359-63 Sovereign Countess Marie I de Bourbon of Vestitza"] ] She only retained her fiefdom of Kalamata.

Hugh of Lousignan married Marie de Morphou, a daughter of Jean de Morphou, Count of Roucha, but seems to have died childless. He predeceased his mother c. 1385. The last will and testament of Marie names her nephew Louis II, Duke of Bourbon as her sole heir. [Louis, Count of Mas Latrie, "A History of Cyprus" (1865), page 407]


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