Irene Palaiologina

Irene Palaiologina was the Empress consort of Matthew Kantakouzenos.


Irene was a daughter of "despotes" Demetrios Palaiologos and his wife Theodora. Her paternal grandparents were Andronikos II Palaiologos and his second wife Eirene of Montferrat.

The paternal uncles of Irene included Michael IX Palaiologos and Theodore I, Marquess of Montferrat. Her maternal aunts included Simonida.


The "History" of John VI Kantakouzenos records the marriage of Irene to Matthew Kantakouzenos in 1340. Matthew was a son of John VI and Irene Asanina.

The couple had at least five children:

*John Kantakouzenos (c. 1342 - after 1361), "despotēs".
*Demetrios I Kantakouzenos (c. 1343 - 1383), "sebastokratōr". Briefly ruled the Despotate of Morea.
*Theodora Kantakouzene. Eldest daughter. The "History" records her being educated by her paternal grandmother Irene Asanina, under the monastic name Eugenia. Presumed to have become a nun herself.
*Helena Kantakouzene. Married Count Luis Fadrique of Salona. Her husband was a son of Alfonso Fadrique. She served as Regent of Salona from 1382 to 1394.
*Maria Kantakouzene. Married John Laskaris Kalopheros, a man of senatorial rank from the Kingdom of Cyprus.


On 26 October, 1341, her father-in-law John VI was crowned emperor at Didymoteicho. His rival John V Palaiologos reigned from Constantinople. The civil war between them lasted until 1347. 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.

On 15 April, 1353, Matthew was declared co-emperor. The conflict between John V and John VI had been raging again. John VI was attempting to secure his succession. Irene was the third Empress consort with her mother-in-law Irene Asanina (wife of John VI) and sister-in-law Helena Kantakouzene (wife of John V).

On 4 December, 1354, John VI abdicated. He and Asanina retired to separate monasteries while John V secured control of Constantinople. Matthew kept his title and part of Thrace as his own dominion.

Matthew and Irene were captured by Serbian forces in February, 1356. They remained in captivity until delivered to John V in December, 1357. Matthew was forced to abdicate and Irene ceased beng considered an Empress. There is no report for her time of death.

s-ttl|title=Byzantine Empress consort|years=1353–1357
regent1=Irene Asanina|years1=1353–1354
regent2=Helena Kantakouzene|years2=1353–1357

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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