Theophanu, Empress Consort

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Theophano Sklerina Kaiserin des HRR (Skleraina), cesarzowa

Also Known As: "Theophania"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Constantinople, Byzantium
Death: Died in Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Konstantinos Skleros and Sophia Phokaina
Wife of Otto II Holy Roman Emperor
Mother of Zofia; Adelheid Liudolfinga; Mathilde von Sachsen, Princess of the Holy Roman Empire; NN Liudolfinga; Otto III and 2 others

Occupation: Kaiserin
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Theophanu, Empress Consort

Theophanu Skleraina


Statue at St Dionysius Church, Eschwege

Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire Tenure 972–983 Coronation 14 April 972


Spouse Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor

Issue:

  • Sophie I, Abbess of Gandersheim
  • Adelheid I, Abbess of Quedlinburg
  • Matilda, Countess Palatine of Lorraine
  • Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor

Theophanu (Greek: Θεοφανώ Σκλήραινα, Theophano Skleraina; circa 960 – June 15, 991), also spelled Theophania (Θεοφάνια), Theophana or Theophano, was the niece of the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes. By her marriage with Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, she was Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire and held regency as Empress dowager upon her husband's death in 983. Her name is derived from Medieval Greek Theophaneia (Θεοφάνεια), "appearance of God" (Theophany).

Family


Marriage certificate,

Lower Saxon State Archive, WolfenbüttelAccording to the marriage certificate issued on 14 April 972—a masterpiece of the Ottonian Renaissance—Theophanu is identified as the neptis (niece or granddaughter) of Emperor John I Tzimiskes (925–976). She was nevertheless of distinguished noble heritage: recent research has established her as the daughter of Tzimiskes' brother-in-law (from his first marriage) Constantine Skleros (c. 920–989), and of Sophia Phokaina, Tzimiskes' cousin as the daughter of Kouropalatēs Leo Phokas, brother of Emperor Nikephoros II (c. 912–969).

Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great had requested a Byzantine princess for his son, Otto II, to seal a treaty between the Holy Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. An unwise reference by the Pope to Emperor Nikephoros II as "Greek" in a letter[citation needed] while Otto's ambassador, Bishop Liutprand of Cremona, was at the Byzantine court, had destroyed the first round of negotiations[citation needed]. With the ascension of John I Tzimiskes, who had not been personally referred to other than as Roman Emperor, the treaty negotiations were able to resume. However, not until a third delegation led by Archbishop Gero of Cologne arrived in Constantinople, were they successfully completed.

According to the Saxon chronicler Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg, Theophanu was not the virgo desiderata, the anticipated imperial princess, as the Ottonian dynasty had marked out Anna Porphyrogenita, a daughter of late Emperor Romanos II. Nevertheless, when Archbishop Gero conducted her to Rome, Emperor Otto knew that he could not refuse the offer. The 12-year-old princess duly arrived in grand style in 972, with a magnificent escort including Byzantine artists, architects and artisans, and bearing great treasure.

Marriage and children

Otto II and Theophanu, crowned and blessed by Jesus Christ, Byzantine ivory relief, Musée de Cluny, ParisTheophanu and Otto were married by Pope John XIII on April 14, 972 at Saint Peter's and she was crowned empress the same day in Rome.

Their children were:

  • Sophie I, Abbess of Gandersheim and Essen, born 975, died 1039.
  • Adelheid I, Abbess of Quedlinburg and Gandersheim, born November or December 977, died 1040.
  • Matilda, born 979, died 1025, married Ezzo, count palatine of Lotharingia
  • Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, born June or July 980
  • A daughter, a twin to Otto III, who died before October 8, 980

Life as Empress

Otto II succeeded his father on 8 May 973. Theophanu accompanied her husband on all his journeys, and she is mentioned in ca. one quarter of the emperor's formal documents, evidence of her privileged position, influence and interest in affairs of the empire. It is known that she was frequently at odds with her mother-in-law, Adelaide of Italy, which caused an estrangement between Otto II and Adelaide. According to Abbot Odilo of Cluny, Adelaide was very happy when "that Greek woman" died.

The Benedictine chronicler Alpert of Metz describes Theophanu as being an unpleasant and talkative woman. Theophanu was also criticized for her decadence, which manifested in her bathing once a day and introducing luxurious garments and jewelry into Germany. She is credited with introducing the fork to Western Europe - chronographers mention the astonishment she caused when she "used a golden double prong to bring food to her mouth" instead of using her hands as was the norm." The theologian Peter Damian even asserts that Theophanu had a love affair with John Philagathos, a Greek monk who briefly reigned as Antipope John XVI.

Otto II died suddenly on 7 December 983 at the age of 28, probably from malaria. His three-year-old son, Otto III, had already been appointed King of the Romans during a diet held on pentecost of that year at Verona. On Christmas Theophanu had him crowned by the Mainz archbishop Willigis at Aachen Cathedral, with herself ruling as Empress Regent on his behalf. Upon the death of Emperor Otto II, Bishop Folcmar of Utrecht released his cousin, the Bavarian duke Henry the Quarrelsome from custody. Duke Henry allied with Archbishop Warin of Cologne and seized his nephew Otto III in spring 984, while Theophanu was still in Italy. Nevertheless he was forced to surrender the child to his mother, who was backed by Archbishop Willigis of Mainz and Bishop Hildebald of Worms.

Theophanu officially took over regency in May 985 and reigned the Holy Roman Empire until her death in 991, including the lands of Italy and Lotharingia. By her prudent policies, she also was able to conclude peace with Duke Henry's former supporter Duke Mieszko I of Poland and to safeguard her minor son's interests. Like the Byzantine empress regnants Irene of Athens (752–803) and Theodora (815–867), who also had ruled for their minor sons, she issued diplomas in her own name as imperator augustus, "Emperor", the years of her reign counted from the accession of her husband in 972.

She died at Nijmegen and was buried in the Church of St. Pantaleon near her wittum in Cologne. The chronicler Thietmar eulogized her as follows: "Though [Theophanu] was of the weak sex she possessed moderation, trustworthiness, and good manners. In this way she protected with male vigilance the royal power for her son, friendly with all those who were honest, but with terrifying superiority against rebels."

Because Otto III was still a child, his grandmother Adelaide of Italy took over the regency until Otto III became old enough to rule on his own.

Disputed Ancestry

Her parentage is not certain. She has been called a daughter of Roman II or of Konstantinos Skleros, patrikios. If the daughter of Skleros, then it is not certain whether by his wife Sophia Prokas or his wife Agatha Taronitissa.

Wagner gives her parents as possibly Roman II, Byzantine Emperor, and his wife Theophana, daughter of Romanus I, Byzantine Emperor. Theophana as daughter of Roman II is logical but in doubt. It appears in Weis, Ancestral Roots (3rd edition), as well as Complete Peerage, but was dropped from the 4th and 5th editions, based on a manuscript by Moriarty showing Theophana's probable descent as a daughter of Sophia Prokas, daughter of Leo Prokos, and her husband Konstantinos Skleros, brother of Marie, first wife of the Emperor John Tsimices. (Ancestral Roots, 6th edition, accepts the Moriarty material._ The Moriarty manuscript cites "Wer War die Kaiserin Theophano" (1939). -- adapted from Stuart, pp. 123, 133, 174.

"The parentage of Theophano, wife of the Emperor Otto II, has been much disputed. The evidence and arguments are summaried and discussed in a recent article by Count Rüdt-Collenberg, "Wer war Theophana" [Who was Theophana]. Prince Toumanoff (in a letter of 5 November 1972) comments that though this well sums up all the arguments, it fails, in his view, to draw the correct conclusions. "That she is referred to as a niece of John Tsimisces, instead of as a daughter of Romanus II is no argument, because at the moment of her marriage she was indeed the niece of the then reigning Emperor, that is, John I." Vasiliev has shown that Romanus and Theophano indeed had another child, so that there is room for Theophano in their family. Her name, rare enough, is that of Romanus II's low-born wife, assumed after her elevation.

"Finally, there is only one serious argument, cited by Rüdt-Collenberg, namely that of affinity and no trace of dispensation, in connexion with the marriage, or just bethrothal, of Romanus II's granddaughter Zoë to Theophano's son Otto III, that is, her first cousin. But the situation is not as simple as that. On the Western side, the fact (adduced by Rüdt-Collenberg) that we have no trace of a dispensation for such a marriage is rather an argument from silence, and silence complicated by the presence of an anti-Pope; he was a Byzantine creature and it was he who, prior to becoming anti-Pope, carried on the negotiations for the marriage (C.M.H., 6, (1966), p.184); he quite obviously would have acceded to the wishes of his Imperial protector at Constantinople. On the Byzantine side, one notices very often that the intransigence of the clergy withers before a forceful Emperor such as Basil II. Indeed, Zoë later married her second cousin (once removed) Romanus Argyrus and no questions were asked. In the view of all this, I personally consider Theophano a daughter of Romanus II, unless stronger argument to the contrary is produced." (Sir Anthony Wagner, Pedigree and Progress (London, 1975), p. 258).

"I would answer that arguing from a cited relationship is not conclusive in either direction. On the other hand, while an argument from silence is scarcely a strong argument against Theophana being a daughter of Romanus II, it is equally weak to argue that an anti-Pope, just because he conducted the negotiations, would have been likely to overlook the relationship. Just because a Pope (or anti-Pope) apparently permitted Zoë to marry her second cousin once removed with no known dispensation does not necessarily mean that there was no dispensation. Further, it is no evidence that he would or could have allowed her to marry her first cousin - a much more obvious relationship - in the same way. The argument that this Pope was a creature of the Emperor would be equally valid if it were argued that a dispensation would surely have been easily granted if one had been needed. Given the universal tendency to inflate the parentage of women when there is some question - and in this case, an understandable desire that the brilliant Byzantine marriage of the Emperor Otto have been made with the daughter of an Emperor rather than merely with a niece - I am inclined to accept the lesser (and equally plausible) line."

-------------------- Leo: Europäische Stammtafeln, Band I, Frank Baron Freytag von Loringhoven, 1975, Isenburg, W. K. Prinz von, Reference: Page 3.

Leo: Genealogists' Magazine, Journal of the Society of Genealogists, London, Reference: March 1991.

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 volumes, New York, Oxford, 1991. -------------------- Theophanu (Greek: Θεοφανώ Σκλήραινα, Theophano Skleraina; c. 955 – June 15, 991), also spelled Theophania (Θεοφάνια), Theophana or Theophano, was the niece of the Byzantine Emperor John I Tzimiskes. By her marriage with Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, she was Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire and held regency as Empress dowager upon her husband's death in 983. Her name is derived from Medieval Greek Theophaneia (Θεοφάνεια), "appearance of God" (Theophany).

According to the marriage certificate issued on 14 April 972—a masterpiece of the Ottonian Renaissance—Theophanu is identified as the neptis (niece or granddaughter) of Emperor John I Tzimiskes (925–976) who was of Armenian descent. She was nevertheless of distinguished noble heritage: recent research speculates that she was the daughter of Tzimiskes' brother-in-law (from his first marriage) Constantine Skleros (c. 920–989), and of Sophia Phokaina, Tzimiskes' cousin as the daughter of Kouropalatēs Leo Phokas, brother of Emperor Nikephoros II (c. 912–969).[1][2]

Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great had requested a Byzantine princess for his son, Otto II, to seal a treaty between the Holy Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. An unwise reference by the Pope to Emperor Nikephoros II as "Greek" in a letter [3] while Otto's ambassador, Bishop Liutprand of Cremona, was at the Byzantine court, had destroyed the first round of negotiations.[4] With the ascension of John I Tzimiskes, who had not been personally referred to other than as Roman Emperor, the treaty negotiations were able to resume. However, not until a third delegation led by Archbishop Gero of Cologne arrived in Constantinople, were they successfully completed.

According to the Saxon chronicler Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg, Theophanu was not the virgo desiderata, the anticipated imperial princess, as the Ottonian dynasty had marked out Anna Porphyrogenita, a daughter of late Emperor Romanos II. Nevertheless, when Archbishop Gero conducted her to Rome, Emperor Otto knew that he could not refuse the offer. The young princess duly arrived in grand style in 972, with a magnificent escort including Byzantine artists, architects and artisans, and bearing great treasure.

Theophanu and Otto were married by Pope John XIII on April 14, 972 at Saint Peter's and she was crowned empress the same day in Rome. Their children were:

Sophie I, Abbess of Gandersheim and Essen, born c 975, died 1039. Adelheid I, Abbess of Quedlinburg and Gandersheim, born November or December 977, died 1040. Matilda, born 979, died 1025, married Ezzo, count palatine of Lotharingia Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor, born June or July 980 A daughter, a twin to Otto III, who died before October 8, 980 Theophanu is not to be confused with her granddaughter Theophanu, Abbess of Essen Abbey from 1039–1058, daughter of Otto III.

Otto II succeeded his father on 8 May 973. Theophanu accompanied her husband on all his journeys, and she is mentioned in ca. one quarter of the emperor's formal documents, evidence of her privileged position, influence and interest in affairs of the empire. It is known that she was frequently at odds with her mother-in-law, Adelaide of Italy, which caused an estrangement between Otto II and Adelaide. According to Abbot Odilo of Cluny, Adelaide was very happy when "that Greek woman" died.

The Benedictine chronicler Alpert of Metz describes Theophanu as being an unpleasant and talkative woman. Theophanu was also criticized for her decadence, which manifested in her bathing once a day and introducing luxurious garments and jewelry into Germany. She is credited with introducing the fork to Western Europe - chronographers mention the astonishment she caused when she "used a golden double prong to bring food to her mouth" instead of using her hands as was the norm." The theologian Peter Damian even asserts that Theophanu had a love affair with John Philagathos, a Greek monk who briefly reigned as Antipope John XVI.

Otto II died suddenly on 7 December 983 at the age of 28, probably from malaria. His three-year-old son, Otto III, had already been appointed King of the Romans during a diet held on Pentecost of that year at Verona. At Christmas, Theophanu had him crowned by the Mainz archbishop Willigis at Aachen Cathedral, with herself ruling as Empress Regent on his behalf. Upon the death of Emperor Otto II, Bishop Folcmar of Utrecht released his cousin, the Bavarian duke Henry the Quarrelsome from custody. Duke Henry allied with Archbishop Warin of Cologne and seized his nephew Otto III in spring 984, while Theophanu was still in Italy. Nevertheless he was forced to surrender the child to his mother, who was backed by Archbishop Willigis of Mainz and Bishop Hildebald of Worms.

Theophanu officially took over regency in May 985 and reigned the Holy Roman Empire until her death in 991, including the lands of Italy and Lotharingia. By her prudent policies, she also was able to conclude peace with Duke Henry's former supporter Duke Mieszko I of Poland and to safeguard her minor son's interests. Like the Byzantine empress regnants Irene of Athens (752–803) and Theodora (815–867), who also had ruled for their minor sons, she issued diplomas in her own name as imperator augustus, "Emperor", the years of her reign counted from the accession of her husband in 972.

She died at Nijmegen and was buried in the Church of St. Pantaleon near her wittum in Cologne. The chronicler Thietmar eulogized her as follows: "Though [Theophanu] was of the weak sex she possessed moderation, trustworthiness, and good manners. In this way she protected with male vigilance the royal power for her son, friendly with all those who were honest, but with terrifying superiority against rebels."

Because Otto III was still a child, his grandmother Adelaide of Italy took over the regency until Otto III became old enough to rule on his own.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophano_Sklerina_of_Byzantium

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Theophanu, Empress Consort's Timeline

956
956
Constantinople, Byzantium
972
972
Age 16
Rzym
977
December 977
Age 21
978
978
Age 22
979
June 979
Age 23
Saxony Germany
980
June 23, 980
Age 24
Goch, Niederlothringen, Deutschland(HRR)
June 23, 980
Age 24
991
June 15, 991
Age 35
Nijmegen, The Netherlands
991
Age 35
????