28 August 2014

Another missing woman - the second wife of Theodoros I

Picture from unidentified source. Help requested.

This entry is based on a fascinating article by Angeliki Tzavara and Thierry Ganchou which can be downloaded and read  here.  Although it was published in 1999-2000, I have only just seen it through the magic of the Academia website, and as far as I can tell from 6 years of Morea research, it has been quite thoroughly ignored. Tzavara and Ganchou found a document in the Venetian archives which clearly identifies a second wife for Theodoros I of Mistra.  That the sole source is Venetian is another reminder of Byzantine misogyny in the imperial family. It may be remembered that Manuel's daughters have gone completely missing, as has his wife's mother, some of his grandchildren and others.

Theodoros is known to have been married to Bartolomea Acciaiuoli, daughter of Nerio Acciaiuoli of Corinth and Athens.  It will be recalled that Chalkokondyles said she was one of the most beautiful women of the age. She may have been, but there is no reason to rely completely on Chalkokondyles, as he also said that Nerio left Corinth to Theodoros.  Nerio did not.  At Nerio's death in 1394 he forgave the 5000 ducats Theodoros owed him, but left essentially everything to his other daughter Francesca who was married to Carlo Tocco.  Carlo Tocco took possession of Corinth. Theodoros went to war for Corinth, and eventually gained possession.  Nothing is known of what happened to Bartolomea, but she probably died after 1396.

Theodoros died of gout in June 1407.  Manuel II went to Mistra immediately and created his young son Theodoros Despot.  Manuel and his brother had him in Mistra already, so there would be no doubt about the inheritance.  Manuel's long funeral hagiography for Theodoros never mentions any marriages or children.

The second wife appears in a Venetian document of 1412, five years after Theodoros died.  In it, a judge on Rhodes appoints a procurator to act on her behalf to collect money owed her there.  This is how she is described: "illustrissima principissa et domina domina Caterina Palaiologina, relicta bone memorie serenissimi principis et domini domini Th. despotis Amoree . . . (by the) most illustrious princess and lady, Lady Caterina Palaiologina, widow of the prince and lord, Lord Theodoros, Despot of the Morea of good memory."  That is all we have, but the combined Rhodian and Venetian legal systems were not likely to have invented an imperial wife.

1 comment:

  1. I never cease to be amazed how you find these little nuggets from the past and bring them back to life. It makes such perfect sense that there would be so much inter-change between the Greeks of Morea and Venice at that time--and one can piece a sort of picture together from your vignettes. Thank you so very much!


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