Anna of Savoy

Anna of Savoy, born Giovanna, (1306–1359) was the second wife of Andronikos III Palaiologos.


She was a daughter of Amadeus V, Count of Savoy and his second wife Maria of Brabant. Her maternal grandparents were John I, Duke of Brabant and Margaret of Flanders.

Margaret was a daughter of Guy of Dampierre and his first wife Matilda of Bethune.


She was betrothed to Andronikos III Palaiologos. At the time Andronikos III was involved in a civil war with his paternal grandfather Andronikos II Palaiologos. He had claimed the throne since 1321.

According to the history of John VI Kantakouzenos, the marriage took place in October, 1326. She joined the Eastern Orthodox Church and took the name Anna.

In 1328, Andronikos III entered Constantinople and finally deposed his grandfather. Andronikos III and Anna had four children:

* Maria (renamed Eirene) Palaiologina (1327 - after 1356), who married Michael Asen IV оf Bulgaria. Her husband was the eldest son of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria and his first wife Theodora of Wallachia. He was co-ruler of his father until predeceasing him during the Bulgarian-Ottoman Wars.
* John V Palaiologos (18 June, 1332 - 16 February, 1391).
* Michael Palaiologos, "despotes" (1337 - before 1370). He entered the court of Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia in 1351/1352.
* Eirene (renamed Maria) (d. 1401), who married Francesco I of Lesbos.


On 15 June, 1341, Andronikos III died. He was succeeded by their son John V who was still three days short of his ninth birthday. Anna was appointed regent for her son. However Andronikos III had entrusted the administration to his advisor John Kantakouzenos. Anna did not trust the powerful advisor.

At about the same time, Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia launched an invasion of Northern Thrace. Kantakouzenos left Constantinople to try to restore order to the area. In his absence, Patriarch John XIV of Constantinople and courtier Alexios Apokaukos convinced Anna that the senior advisor was her enemy. Anna declared Kantakouzenos an enemy of the state and offered his title of prefect of Constantinople to Apokavkos.

Kantakouzenos was still in control of part of the Byzantine army. On 26 October 1341, he answered by proclaiming himself emperor and crowned emperor at Didymoteicho. This was the beginning of a civil war that would last until 1347. Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria soon allied with the faction under John V and Anna while Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia sided with John VI. Both rulers were actually taking advantage of the civil war for their own political and territorial gains. In time John VI would ally himself with Orhan I of the nascent Ottoman Sultanate.

At the same time Anna was attempting to gain support from Western Europe. In Summer, 1343 an emissary proclaimed her loyalty to Pope Clement VI in Avignon. In August, 1343, Anna pawned the Byzantine crown jewels to the Republic of Venice for 30,000 ducats as part of an attempt to secure more finances for the war. However Anna at last lost the war.

On 3 February, 1347, the two sides reached an agreement. John VI was accepted as senior emperor with John V as his junior co-ruler. The agreement with the marriage of John V to Helena Kantakouzene, a daughter of John VI. John VI entered Constantinople and took effective control of the city.

Later years

In 1351, Anna left Constantinople for Thessaloniki. She held her own court in the city, issuing decrees in her name and even controlling a mint. She was the second Byzantine empress to hold court in Thessaloniki, following Eirene of Montferrat. Her rule there lasted to about 1359/1360.

Her last official act was the donation of a convent in the memory of "Agioi Anargyroi" (Greek: «Άγιοι Ανάργυροι» "The Holy Unmercenaries"). Agioi Anargyroi is the joined description of Saints Cosmas and Damian, who supposedly offered free medical services. Their worshipers usually pray for healing. The donation may indicate Anna suffering from poor health and hoping for a cure. A little later she became a nun and died under the name "Anastasia" ca. 1359.

External links

[ Her listing in "Medieval lands" by Charles Cawley.] The project "involves extracting and analysing detailed information from primary sources, including contemporary chronicles, cartularies, necrologies and testaments."

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