Eirene Doukaina, Byzantine empress, A.D. 1067-1133

Eirene Doukaina, Byzantine empress, A.D. 1067-1133

By Elizabeth C. Lundy

Master’s Thesis, University of Ottawa, 1988

Abstract: Eirene Doukaina was born in Constantinople in the year 1067 into the wealthy aristocratic family of the Doukai. she was destined to become the wife of Alexios Komnenos, emperor of Byzantium from 1081 to 1118, and her descendants remained on the throne until the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The eleventh century was a troubled period in Byzantine history, and Eirene’s marriage to Alexios formed an alliance between the military faction and the civil aristocracy  which gave Alexios the necessary support to restore some of Byzantium’s political and economic stability.

Although much has been written about Alexios I and his reign, little has been written about the woman who shared his life for forty year. This thesis begins with a discussion of the sources for the biography of the Empress Eirene and briefly summarizes the historical background of the period. Chapters 1 throught 3 follow Eirene’s development from a shy, young girl to a powerful, influential empress. Chapter 4 discusses the Monastery of Theotokos Kercharitimene which Eirene founded around 1100 as a place for her and her daughters and granddaughters to retire in after the death of the Emperor Alexios. Chapters 5,6 and 7 examine Eirene’s and Alexios’ personalities, their family life, and their last year’s together.

The thesis concludes with a final look at the Dowager Empress Eirene from 1118 to 1133, during the years of retirement in the palace beside her monastery, and proposes the Eirene’s salient characteristics and actions reveal her to be a woman with conflicting feelings about the men in her life, but with a strong protective instinct for her female descendants.

Click here to read/download this thesis (PDF file)

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