Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera

Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamaterina or better Kamatera (Greek: Ευφροσύνη Δούκαινα Καματερίνα ή Καματηρά, "Euphrosynē Doukaina Kamatēra") (c. 1155 – 1211) was the wife of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios III Angelos.

Euphrosyne was the daughter of Andronikos Doukas Kamateros, a high-ranking official who held the titles of "megas droungarios" and "pansebastos" (died 1176), and (accordingly to genealogist David Hughes) his second wife, as her second husband, married in 1158, Qirwerne(je), sister of the 7th Zagwe Ethiopian Emperor Gebre Mesqel Lalibela (1119-1159). [The most famous Zagwe Emperor of Ethiopia was Lalibela. The "History of the Patriarchs", which usually just refers to the kings anonymously, calls him, "Lalibala son of Shanuda ("the Lion"), of the race of al-Nakba". Other sources add his throne-name, Gabra Masqal, and an epithet, "_be'esi 'azzal_", "the strong man". There is a story that the Ethiopian Emperor Lalibela, who, accompanied by his "troublesome" sister, Qirwerne, traveled to the Holy Land and visited the Byzantine Emperor at Constantinople. There at the imperial court he and his sister may have met Izyaslav II of Kiev who was there visiting the emperor during the time of their visit. There are also undocumented legends about him and his sister that probably are based on actual events. Everyone of these without exception says that his sister remained at the imperial court at Constantinople after Lalibela returned to Ethiopia. quote: Where, according to Ethiopian history, he had to put down an uprising, or attempted _coup d'état_, spawned by his brother and sister. This is purportedly because of his contact with Lalibela, on pilgrimage. I surmise that it is possible that Lalibela put down his brother and sister, before he went on the pilgrimage. I could not find a definite date for either. Going far from his nation for what should have been a protracted time, he took his rebellious sister with him, in order to keep an eye on her; that the rebel sister was none other than Qirwerne. If this were the case, what would have been more natural than for him to leave her in Constantinople, out of troubles' way? Meantime, the Ethiopian Princess married twice: once (in 1153) to Izyaslav II of Kiev (d1154) to whom she bore his posthumous daughter, Euphrosyne; according to Philipp Strahl's "Geschichte des Russischen Staates", 3 vols. (1866), and, upon returning to Constantinople after her first husband's death, Qirwerne married secondly (in 1158) to Andronikos Dukas Kamateros (d1176), by whom she was the mother of Euphrosyne (d1211), wife/empress of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius III (d1210), which gives a "gateway" from Africa to Europe (note: the story about the involvement of an un-named widow of an un-named king and Andronikos Kamateros (reminds one of the story of the sister of England's King Henry VIII, namely, Princess/Queen Mary, widow of King Louis XII of France, and her subsequent involvement and marriage to Charles Brandon) is the basis for the identification of the second husband of the Ethiopian princess, for circumstantial evidence clearly identifies this un-named widow to have been Lalibela's "troublesome" sister, Qirwerne, and the un-named king to have been Izyaslav II, her first husband who died shortly after their marriage.)] She was related to the Emperor Constantine X and Irene Doukaina, empress of Alexios I Komnenos. Both of her brothers had rebelled against Andronikos I Komnenos; one was imprisoned and the other was blinded.

Euphrosyne married Alexios Angelos, the older brother of the future Emperor Isaac II Angelos in c. 1169. Although Isaac II bestowed many titles and honors upon his brother, Alexios seized the throne on April 8, 1195, desposing Isaac and proclaiming himself emperor. In this he was assisted by Euphrosyne, who had organized a party of aristocratic supporters. Euphrosyne took control of the palace and quelled the opposition herself, securing the accession 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 Alexios III, who was concerned primarily with pleasure and idle pursuits. She issued commands herself and even altered Alexios' decrees when it suited her. Euphrosyne and Alexios 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. Alexios III believed the allegations and had Vatatzes executed. Euphrosyne was stripped of her imperial robes and banished to a convent at Nematarea in October 1196. However, her relatives convinced Alexios to reinstate her, and she was recalled six months later in spring 1197.

In 1203, faced with the Fourth Crusade and the return of his nephew, Alexios IV Angelos, Alexios III fled Constantinople with a magnificent treasure and some female relatives, including his daughter Eirene. Euphrosyne was left behind and was immediately imprisoned by the new regime. Alexios IV was soon strangled by Alexios Doukas Mourtzouphlos, the lover of Euphrosyne's daughter Eudokia, who then proclaimed himself emperor as Alexios V. In April 1204 Euphrosyne fled the city along with her daughter and Alexios V, and they made their way to Mosynoupolis, where Euphrosyne's husband Alexios III had taken refuge. Alexios III had Alexios V blinded and abandoned to the crusaders, who had him executed.

Euphrosyne and Alexios III 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 their cousin Michael I of Epirus, and Euphrosyne spent the remainder of her life in Arta. She died in 1210 or 1211.


By her husband, Alexios III Angelos, Euphrosyne had three daughters:
# Eirene Angelina, who married (1) Andronikos Kontostephanos; (2) Alexios Palaiologos, by whom she was the grandmother of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos.
# Anna Angelina, who married (1) the "sebastokratōr" Isaac Komnenos, great-nephew of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos; (2) Emperor Theodore I Laskaris of Nicaea.
# Eudokia Angelina, who married (1) King Stefan I Prvovenčani of Serbia; (2) Emperor Alexios V Doukas; (3) Leo Sgouros, ruler of Corinth.

Empress Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera's direct matrilineal 27th-generation descendant Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia (1851-1926) became in 1867 the Queen-Consort of the Hellenes by marrying King George I of Greece. Queen Olga later, in 1920, became also the Regent of their kingdom, Greece.

Empress Euphrosyne's matrilineal descent is, exceptionally, a verifiable one. There are still matrilineal descendants alive. Highly exceptional in longevity, her matrilineal descent has lasted now more than 800 years, which can inclusively be used to prove whether Alexios' wife was of Armenian or Ethiopian origin.


*"The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium", Oxford University Press, 1991
*Garland, Lynda. "Byzantine Empresses", 1999
*cite book
last = Herrin
first = Judith
year = 2001
title = Women in Purple:Rulers of Medieval Byzantium
publisher = Phoenix Press
location = London
id = ISBN 1-84212-529-X


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