Discussion:
"Eudoxia" of Montpellier - part 4/3 - title as "empress" and parentage
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Peter Stewart
2020-03-10 00:44:03 UTC
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The parentage accepted by Barzos and others mentioned before, as the
youngest daughter of Manuel I's elder brother Isaakios, was first put
forward by Du Cange in 1680. This has the merits of identifying her with
a female family member known to have existed (though not with any
certainty to have been named Eudokia, despite the misplaced confidence
of Barzos on this score relying on a modern authority) and ascribing to
her a father who was no longer alive (or in any event recorded as
active) by the time she was married to Guillem VIII of Montpellier in
1178/79.

The last point is of somewhat mixed import: it seems unlikely that a
father of the stature of Isaakios - if he really was held in prison from
1154 and then freed in time to allow for his having a daughter born well
over a decade after her only full-sister - would have been consulted
before she was bartered off to a mere seigneur in the Midi for the sake
of a slight and ephemeral diplomatic advantage to Manuel over Frederick
Barbarossa far from home.

However, this conjectured relationship within the Komnenos family does
connect Eudokia fairly closely to the namesake grandson of Isaakios who
was proclaimed emperor in Cyprus in 1184, and in turn this suggests a
linkage to the fictional story related in the Vida of the troubadour
Peire Vidal, that his paramour in Cyprus was a niece of the emperor of
Constantinople and had a claim worth pursuing to his throne.

If Isaakios had been her father but dead before Eudokia was married, she
would have had other prestigious and/or influential relatives who might
have had something to say about her marriage: her full sister Theodora
who was a widowed queen of Jerusalem, her half-sister Maria (if still
living) who was a widowed queen of Hungary, and another half-sister
whose husband Konstantinos Doukas, known as "Makrodoukas", rejoiced in
the titles pansebastos sebastos and panhypersebastos (they did not stint
themselves in piling on ludicrous honorifics, any more than they did in
love-making, murder and political chicanery).

The other speculation that is still fairly widely current is the
proposal of Szabolcs de Vajay, which despite being arrived at through
inane reasoning based on specious premises is by no means impossible all
the same. But his has serious demerits not adequately addressed by
Vajay: first, her proposed father the protostrator and protovestiarios
Alexios had no particular throne-right over numerous other agnates that
he could transmit to a daughter, secondly he had no recorded or even
remotely implied daughter anyway, and thirdly he was one of the
highest-ranking court officials at the time of her wedding to Guillem in
1178/79, unlikely to have had his (apparently) only daughter wasted on
an insignificant marriage at the far end of the Mediterranean without so
much as a by-your-leave from his subordinate Choumnos, the ambassador in
charge of Eudokia.

A possible relationship to Manuel that I think more plausible avoids
most of these problems, though I emphasise that this is just another
speculation in a field where we can have nothing but speculation to go
by. I don't suggest it as a solution that should be taken as definitive,
verifiable or factual, but merely as an overlooked possibility worth
bearing in mind.

The Axouchos family was new to the Byzantine empire as recently as the
lifetime of Manuel's father, Emperor Ioannes II. He was brought up from
boyhood with a companion who became his lifelong friend and virtual
prime minister, Ioannes Axouchos, a captured Turkish child taken into
the imperial household and converted to Christianity after luckily
avoiding emasculation.

We know much more about the career of Ioannes Axouchos than we do about
his family - as megas domestikos he was highly respected, extremely
powerful and vastly rich, but we don't have a record of his marriage/s
or even the names of his wife/wives and children apart from his eldest
son and one of his daughters.

The eldest son Alexios will be covered in more detail in the next (and I
hope last) posting in this series except for discussion. The daughter
was named Eudokia, which at least proves that a wife of Ioannes did not
also have this name since it would have been an unexampled breach of
custom to name a girl after her mother. This Eudokia Axouchina married
Stephanos Komnenos, a second cousin of Emperor Manuel I, and had a
daughter named Eirene which was apparently not his mother's name and may
or may not have been hers.

There were other children but we can't say how many. The megas Komnenos
Ioannes I Axouchos, emperor of Trebizond in the early-13th century, is
thought to have had an Axouchina as his mother who was probably a
great-granddaughter of the first Ioannes in the family, the megas
domestikos (and if so perhaps a niece of Eudokia of Montpellier). It is
thought that the whole of the surviving Axouchos family may have fled to
Trebizond in 1204 when the Byzantine empire was taken over by Latin
crusaders - it was certainly not a good time to flaunt Turkish
antecedents in Constantinople under their cranky misrule, and they were
far too well-known to keep this a secret.

Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart
2020-03-10 00:52:54 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
The parentage accepted by Barzos and others mentioned before, as the
youngest daughter of Manuel I's elder brother Isaakios, was first put
forward by Du Cange in 1680. This has the merits of identifying her with
a female family member known to have existed (though not with any
certainty to have been named Eudokia, despite the misplaced confidence
of Barzos on this score relying on a modern authority) and ascribing to
her a father who was no longer alive (or in any event recorded as
active) by the time she was married to Guillem VIII of Montpellier in
1178/79.
The last point is of somewhat mixed import: it seems unlikely that a
father of the stature of Isaakios - if he really was held in prison from
1154 and then freed in time to allow for his having a daughter born well
over a decade after her only full-sister - would have been consulted
before she was bartered off to a mere seigneur in the Midi for the sake
of a slight and ephemeral diplomatic advantage to Manuel over Frederick
Barbarossa far from home.
Eek - I meant: it seems unlikely that a father of the stature of
Isaakios ... would NOT have been consulted ...

That imp who takes control of my fingers occasionally has also learned
how to put them out of action.

Peter Stewart

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