Sunday, June 22, 2008

Maria Comnena

Queen of Jerusalem

Maria was the grandniece of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus of Constantinople (d.1180). Maria was also related to Theodora Comnena, who had been married to Baldwin III, brother of Maria's furture husband. Maria went to Tyre where she was married to King Amalric of Jerusalem (29 Aug 1167). Maria was given Nablus as her dower lands.

However, Maria only gave birth to daughters - one died young (prob bc.1171), and Isabella aged 2 on father's death (1173). Maria was the stepmother of King Baldwin IV (her husband's son by his first marriage of Agnes of Courtenay). Maria was hated by Amalric's first wife Agnes. After the death of her husband, Maria married again, this time to Balian of Ibelin, brother of Hugh who married Agnes (confused yet??).

Maria bore Balian a son, John of Ibelin, Lord of Beirut. Maria and Balian were happily married - an unusual occurrance for that day and age when marriages were arrange soley for policitial reasons and not for love. Maria played a substantial role in her husband's party against the machinations of the opposing party led by Agnes. Maria's daughter Isabella married Humphrey IV of Toron (1183). Whilst at Nablus drumming up support for her husband, Sibylla (daughter of Agnes) pronounced herself Queen of Jerusalem (1186). Though not part of the royal political party, her husband Balian urged Maria to send knights to go to the aid King Guy (1187) at the battle of Hattin.

Maria then went to Jerusalem, but the city was then besieged by Saladin, who gave her given safe conduct to Tyre with children and her household. Maria persuaded her daughter Isabella to divorce the weakling Humphrey of Toron and instead marry Conrad of Montferrat (1190). Maria spent her live in the Holy Land, where she constantly worked to the advantage of her family. Her daughter Isabella eventualy succeeded the the throne of Jerusalem.

As the grandmother of Alice of Champagne, Maria conducted the marriage negotiations with Cyprus (1208). This is the last time Maria is mentioned.

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