Margaret of Hungary

Margaret of Hungary
Empress consort of the Byzantine Empire
Tenure 1185–1195
Queen consort of Thessalonica
Tenure 1205–1207
Spouse Isaac II Angelos
Boniface of Montferrat
Nicholas de St Omer
Manuel Angelos
John Angelos
Demetrius of Montferrat
Bela de St Omar
Guilliaume de St Omar
Father Béla III of Hungary
Mother Agnes of Antioch
Born 1175
Died living 1223

Margaret of Hungary (Margit) (born 1175, living 1223) was the Empress consort of Isaac II Angelos, Byzantine Emperor.



Margaret was the eldest daughter of Béla III of Hungary and his first wife Agnes of Antioch. She was a younger sister of Emeric, King of Hungary. Her younger siblings were Andrew II of Hungary and Constance of Hungary. Two other siblings, Solomon and Stephen, are mentioned in the "Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europäischen Staaten" (1878) by Detlev Schwennicke. They reportedly died young.[1]

Her paternal grandparents were Géza II of Hungary and Euphrosyne of Kiev.[2] Her maternal grandparents were Raynald of Châtillon and Constance of Antioch (joint princes of Antioch).[3]

First Marriage

In Jan 1185, Margaret married the Byzantine Emperor Isaac II Angelos, who wanted a politically strategic alliance with Hungary in order to strengthen his claim to the throne. Upon this marriage, Margaret took the baptismal name "Maria".

With Isaac, she had two sons:

  • Manuel Angelos ( – d. 1212), he was evidently the elder son, being contemplated in 1205 to ascend the Byzantine throne[4]
  • John Angelos (b. ca. 1193 – d. 1259). He migrated to Hungary and ruled over Syrmia and Bacs (1227–42) as a vassal of king Béla IV of Hungary.

Isaac had been deposed and blinded in 1195 by his brother Alexios III Angelos who then assumed the throne. Isaac was imprisoned, but it's not yet clear if Margaret was also. Her step-son Alexios IV Angelos had escaped and went to join the military discussions which were shortly to launch the Fourth Crusade. There, he and others convinced the Crusaders to attack Constantinople in order to depose this false uncle and restore his imprisoned father and himself to the throne. This was done, but this restored reign was short-lived.

Second Marriage

Margaret's husband died in February, 1204, "whose end was accelerated by the fate of his son" "strangled in his dungeon after poison had failed to do its work".[5] When Boniface of Montferrat, commander of the land forces at the taken of Constantinople, took the palace Vukoleon, it was found that Margaret had taken refuge there.[6] Boniface was one of only two contenders put forth to be elected the next Emperor, but he lost to Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders. As compensation, he was granted "all the territories on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus as well as the Ille de Griesse [the Peloponnese]."[7] The coronation of the new Emperor took place in the church of St Sophia on 16 May 1204. Later that year, in Constantinople the widowed Margaret, dowager Empress, married Boniface of Montferrat, and returned to the rites of the Latin church.

Boniface had just conquered that city in the Fourth Crusade, and was soon to become king of Thessalonica. Evidently in this same year of 1204, but after his new marriage, Boniface requested that he be allowed to exchange his lands in Asia for the Kingdom of Thessalonica which he considered to be better suited for a political alignment with his new brother-in-law Andrew, then Regent of Hungary who would then be his neighbor, and the new Emperor agreed to this exchange.[8] Boniface however did not enjoy his domains in peace, being engaged in almost constant warfare until his death. Margaret's step-daughter Agnes of Montferrat was married to the new Emperor Henry of Flanders in Feb 1207. That same year, Boniface was returning to Thessalonica when attacked by a Bulgarian ambush. He was taken alive and decapitated, his head being sent to Kaloyan of Bulgaria.[9]

With Boniface, Margaret had a son:

Boniface left a will in which, he had designated Demetrius as his successor in Thessalonica, under the regency of his mother. His son William, by an earlier marriage, succeeded to the Marquisate of Montferrat. The barons however, knowing that a strong government was necessary, constituted themselves a council of regency for the infant.

Third marriage

In 1207, on his father's death, Demetrius became king of Thessalonica, at least in title. The Emperor visited Thessalonica to receive the homage, in the infant's name but was barred from the city by the bailiff Biandrate until he would agree to outrageous demands.[10] Margaret, now in the Emperor's presence, put herself in his hands and revealed the plot against the infant. At this time the Emperor crowned the new infant King of Thessalonica.[11]

Biandrate fled, but conspiring at a distance, returned once more in 1216 to claim the Regency. "In response to Queen Margaret's appeal the Emperor hurried to her assistance, but arrived on the scene only to die with mysterious suddenness in the flower of his age."[12] About 1216 Margaret fled to Hungary apparently leaving her son Demetrius in Thessalonica. She married thirdly Nicholas de St Omer, who had accompanied his uncle on the Crusade and was granted a fief in Doris. He is also called "Lord of Boetia".[13][14] The Santameri hills in this area owe their name to a corruption of "St Omer".[15]

With Nicholas, Margaret is apparently the mother of his two known sons:

  • Bela de St Omer
  • Guillaume de St Omer, who married but died childless.

Margaret was still living in 1223. Her exact death date and place, and burial location are apparently unknown.


Margaret of Hungary
Born: 1175
Royal titles
Preceded by
Agnes of France
Byzantine Empress consort
Succeeded by
Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera
Preceded by
Euphrosyne Doukaina Kamatera
Byzantine Empress consort
Succeeded by
Anna Angelina
Empire of Nicaea
Succeeded by
Maria Petraliphaina
Despotate of Epirus
Succeeded by
Theodora Axuchina
Empire of Trebizond
Succeeded by
Marie of Champagne
Latin Empire
Preceded by
New Kingdom
Queen consort of Thessalonica
Succeeded by
Titular Queens Bianca Lancia (possibly)/
Isabella of England (definitely)


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