2020-03-07 05:42:44 UTC
Since there is some interest in this subject, I will plough on with it.
From now on I will give her the name Eudokia, as this was almost
certainly hers from birth rather than "Eudoxia" as documented.
Her journey from Constantinople to be married took place in conjunction
with an embassy to the French court seeking a daughter of Louis VII as
wife for Emperor Manuel I's heir Alexios, his only legitimate son (born
to his second wife, Maria of Antioch). The negotiations for this
royal/imperial union took place early in 1179. As it was by far the more
important business of the embassy, it is very unlikely that they had
delayed long in Provence and Montpellier on their way to northern France.
But of course a glitch in arrangements occurred there: Raimond Berenger
declined to marry Eudokia. According to her grandson James the Conqueror
of Aragon she was meant to marry his elder brother Alfonso II, but this
cannot be true. However, this story may not be an aggrandising invention
by James as sometimes suggested, and may have originated with the lady
herself. The troubadour Bertrand de Born wrote that she was betrayed by
Alfonso and sent back by sea - presumably meaning from Barcelona,
getting no further east than the port for Montpellier.
According to James, the Byzantine embassy (that he inaccurately says
comprised a bishop and two noblemen) were under instructions from
Emperor Manuel to bring Eudokia back to Constantinople if anything went
wrong - this too was quite probably a story from Eudokia herself, to
salvage pride from the humiliating circumstance that she had been
rejected (by a mere count of Provence) AND that Manuel evidently did not
want her back.
The embassy was hardly free to linger on the Mediterranean while a
messenger was sent all the way to Constantinople for permission to
change the bridegroom. Neither Alfonso of Aragon nor Guillem of
Montpellier would have had any incentive to offend Manuel by taking it
on themselves to marry off Eudokia to an even merer (is that a word?)
seigneur of Montpellier - both Catalan and Montpellieran traders did
business in Constantinople and getting off-side with the emperor would
have been counter-productive. When the embassy was on the way home,
Guillem provided escort ships to Pisa, behaving as Manuel's accepted
relative-by-marriage. These circumstances suggest fairly strongly to me
that the embassy had left Constantinople with no intention of returning
Eudokia there whatever happened, and that the principal ambassador had
the authority to dispose of her in marriage as he saw fit. Guillem was a
better choice than taking her on to the French court precisely because
of the trade between Montpellier and the Byzantine empire, as well as
the diplomatic relations with Alfonso of Aragon to whom he was a loyal
The Byzantine ambassadors were named by Bernardo Maragone as "Comuniano
et il conte Alexo Raynieri Strambo et Balduino Guercio" - only the first
of these was a Greek. Winfried Hecht suggested that the names were
corrupted and that "Alexo" attached to the following name may originally
have belonged to the preceding "Comuniano", so that this ambassador's
name may have been "Alexios Komnenos", but this is far-fetched. Later in
the same passage Maragone called him "Chumuniano", and he was most
probably Theodoros Choumnos who was engaged in other diplomacy with Pisa
and Genoa (and has been mistakenly distinguished from a supposed
namesake because of a wrong attribution of the title grand logothete).
This man was titled chartoularios of the stables by Choniates, making
him chief-of-staff to the protostrator who was effectively the imperial
master of the horse. In 1178/79 the protostrator was Emperor Manuel's
nephew Alexios (son of his brother Andronikos), who subsequently came to
a typically Komnenian bad end as lover of Manuel's widow Maria of
Antioch. Alexios has been conjectured as the father of another Eudokia,
married twice in Italy, but this is uncertain. In any case, as a
potential future claimiant to the imperial throne he might have had his
own reasons to want a young female relative kept out of the way.
Depending on how long Choumnos had been in the position of chartoularios
of the stables, he may have worked under the predecessor of Alexios
Komnenos, Alexios Axouchos (of Turkish ancestry through his father) who
was disgraced and forcibly tonsured in 1167. Choumnos may have stood as
guardian to Axouchos' children, since his widow died insane not long
after his fall and Manuel was hardly the man to care personally for his
orphaned relatives. Axouchos is one of two possible candidates for the
father of Eudokia of Montpellier that I think have been unduly
overlooked in the literature, the other being Emperor Manuel himself.
But I will reserve these speculations for later.