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Euphrosyne (c. 790 - after 836), a daughter of Byzantine emperor Constantine VI, the last representative of the Isaurian dynasty, and Maria of Amnia.

Life

Euphrosyne was one of two daughters born to Constantine VI and Maria of Amnia. In January, 795, Constantine divorced Maria. Maria, Euphrosyne and her sister Irene were sent to a convent in the island of Prinkipo. Constantine proceeded to marry his mistress Theodote.

Euphrosyne spend her life in the monastery until c. 823. The emperor Michael II had risen to the throne three years before but his dynastic claims were at best shaky. His first wife Thekla died early in the reign. Michael decided to strengthen his claim to the throne by marrying Euphrosyne.

Euphrosyne was thus taken from her convent and entered the court as the new Empress consort. The highly controversial marriage proved barren. Michael II died on 2 October 829. He was succeeded by Theophilos, his son from his previous marriage.

As his stepmother, Euphrosyne was still able to take some decisions for the sixteen-year-old emperor. She proclaimed a bride-show for him and seems to have handpicked her daughter-in-law Theodora. Soon after she retired to a monastery again. Theophanes Continuatus, the continuation of the chronicle started by Theophanes the Confessor, indicates that Theophilos obliged her to hold to her monastic vows. Ending the religious controversy concerning her presence in court.

Theodora would go on to restore the veneration of icons in the Empire. Whether Euphrosyne shared her Iconodule tendences and had picked her for political reasons remains vague.

Euphrosyne appears twice more in the historical record. After rumours reached Constantinople that Theophilos had been killed in his campaign against Al-Afshin in Anatolia, those senators and senior officials opposed to the Emperor did not trouble to discover if the news was true or not before considering alternative candidates for the throne. Euphrosyne, aware of these political maneuvers, sent a messenger in search of her stepson, advising him to return without delay. According to later Arabic and Syriac sources the message read "The Romans who have come have reported that you are killed and they wish to appoint another king; come quickly." Theophilos returned.[1]

St. Michael of Synkellos records Euphrosyne offering him food, drink and clothing during his imprisonment in 836. Her offer of help to an imprisoned Iconodule again raises the question of her own religious tendencies. Her time of death is not recorded.

References

  1. ^ Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium by Judith Herrin (Phoenix Press, London, 2001), ISBN 978-0691095004 pages 176-77.
Royal titles
Preceded by
Thekla
Byzantine Empress consort
c. 823–829
Succeeded by
Theodora

External links

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