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Helen de Chaources or Angelos

Bulgarian: Елена, Hungarian: Ilona, French: Hélène, Serbian: Јелена Анжујска, Croatian: Jelena Nemanjić (Anžujska)
Also Known As: "Helene (Jelena)", "de Chaources", "de Chaurs"
Birthplace: Maine, France
Death: February 08, 1314 (73-82)
Shkodër (Shkodra), Albania
Place of Burial: Gradac, Raška, Serbia
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Ioannes Kaloioannes Angelos, of Syrmia and Mathilde de Vianden
Wife of Stefan Uroš I Nemanjić, king of Serbia
Mother of Brnča - Brnjača Nemanjić; Stefan Dragutin Nemanjić, king of Serbia and Stefan Uroš II Milutin Nemanjić
Sister of Maria de Chaurs

Occupation: Queen of Serbia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Helen of Anjou

Parents also seen as NN de Chaources, seigneur de Chaources (Sourches) & NN mother of Helene & Maria de Chaources

i) [HELENA [Jelena] (-Shkodra 8 Feb 1314). “Helena, Serbiæ regina” confirmed the possessions of Ragusa by charter dated 1289[848]. The biography of Archbishop Danilo states that "she was of a French family" and a continuator of the work that "the family was of royal or imperial blood"[849]. Fine says less specifically that Jelena was "of Catholic and French origin, probably of the Valois family"[850]. A Hungarian origin is suggested by Georgius Akropolites who names "Rosum Urum…Ungariæ regis generum (γαμβρόν)"[851]. According to Europäische Stammtafeln[852], she was related to the kings of Sicily [Anjou-Capet], and was sister of Marie wife of Anseau de Chaurs/Cayeux (Captain General in Albania of Charles I King of Naples and Sicily). Charles I King of Sicily and Charles II King of Sicily [Anjou-Capet] addressed (the sisters) "Jelena and Maria de Chau" as "consanguinea nostra/cognata nostra/affinis nostra"[853]. McDaniel identifies "Marie de Chau" as the wife of "Anselm de Keu"[854], who can be identified as Anseau [IV] de Cayeux. If this is correct, she was the daughter of Ioannes "Kaloiannes" Angelos and his wife Mathilde von Vianden. McDaniel provides a trail of primary sources which appears convincing. However, one big question remains: if he is correct, why did contemporary primary sources make so little of Queen Jelena’s direct male line descent from the Angelos imperial family and from the Hungarian kings through her paternal grandmother?

m ([1250]%29 STEFAN UROŠ I "Veliki/the Great" or "Arapavi/the Holy" King of Serbia, son of STEFAN "Prvovenčani/the First-Crowned" King [Kralj] of Serbia & his third wife Anna Dandolo (-1 May 1280, bur Sopoćani).]

From Curator Pam Wilson ( December 2019): The identity of the sisters Maria (Marie) "de Chaurs" and Helene (Helen, Jelena), "Helen of Anjou" and Queen of Serbia, has proven to be quite confusing to generations of historical and genealogical researchers. The majority of the confusion stems from the seemingly irregular spellings of several key surnames and toponyms as they've been translated and transcribed across a number of European languages, resulting in a slew of interpretations and assumptions.

The givens are that the sisters, and Maria's husband Anselme, had French roots. However, they lived in and were active participants in an era in which many members of high-ranking French families were assigned positions in French-dominated 13th-century kingdoms in southern, central and eastern Europe, most particularly in their association with Charles of Anjou (who became Charles I of Sicily). Because these three historical figures and their families were transplanted, presumably from France to Serbia (as well as, perhaps, Romania and Albania), any misspellings of their original toponymic surnames has led to later confusion about place and family of origin.

The two couples in question are Helene/Helen/Jelena "of Anjou" who became a beloved Queen of Serbia upon her marriage to King Uroš (who reigned from 1243-76), and her sister Marie/Maria who, after the death of her husband Anselme "de Chau" or "de Keu" around 1280 received permission from Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily, to travel to Serbia to live near her sister.

The confusion rests upon names as given in archival documentation, mostly regarding Maria, found in the papers of Charles d'Anjou as well as a 1253-54 marriage dispensation and license issued by Pope Innocent IV for Maria and Anselme. Researchers have also closely studied the nuances of interfamily politics across Europe during this period following hints found in various sources about allied families. To add to the confusion, the studies that have been done have been published in a multiplicity of languages, not all of which have been accessible to all researchers. Below, I'll include summaries of the work of Gordon McDaniel (a 1982 article, in which he summarizes the earlier Serbian research before proposing his own theory) and a 2015 article by Nicholas Petrovich.

In conclusion, no agreement exists. McDaniel's 1980s work concluded that Maria (and thus Helen/Jelena) were daughters of John "Kaloiōannēs" Angelos, a Byzantine prince and vassal of the King of Hungary, and his wife Mathilde de Vianden (daughter of French noblewoman Marguerite de Courtenay and Henri, count of Vianden). He names her husband as Anselme de Keu (with Keu being a town in Serbia). The more recent (2015) work by Nicholas Petrovich interprets Maria's name as a variation of "de Chaources," a prominent French family from Maine closely tied to Charles of Anjou and posits her husband as Anselme de Cayeux, a second-generation member of what might be considered the diplomatic corps or foreign attache for first, the Holy Roman Empire, and then, for Charles of Anjou to Albania (and also maternal grandson of Emperor Theodoros Lascaris). This, of course, implicates Helen Queen of Serbia as also being from the de Chaources family.

Background and more details

According to McDaniel (lengthy quote):

"In an exhaustive examination of the question of Jelena's ancestry, K. Mijatovic proposed the hypothesis that Jelena and Maria were the daughters of either Elizabeth of Montague or Raul of Courtenay. In so doing, he attempted both to take into account contemporary sources and to explain the conclusions of later historians (17). It will be helpful to summarize his discussion before proceeding to the new hypothesis which I propose in this study.

"Mijatovic cited three contemporary sources that include some information on Jelena's ancestry. Her biographer, Archbishop Danilo II, stated only that she was of a French family (ot plemene fruskaago, dsti susti slavnyju roditelju), while a continuator of his work added that the family was of royal or imperial blood (ot plemene carska) (18). Charles I and Charles II of Anjou, Kings of Sicily and Naples, addressed Jelena and Maria de Chau as "cousins" or "relatives" in numerous documents (consanguinea nostra carissima, cognata nostra, affinis nostra carissima) (19). The Byzantine historian Acropolites did not mention Helen by name but stated that Uros I was the son-in-law of the Hungarian king (ton Hroson Ourov, tou regos Ougrias epi thygatri telounta gambron) (20).

"Acropolites could not have been correct, Mijatovic showed, since neither Andrew II nor Bela IV had daughters that could be identified as Jelena and Maria, and furthermore, no contemporary or later Hungarian historian mentioned a marriage of a daughter to Uros, which surely would have been done. Mijatovic also dismissed claims that Jelena was the daughter of Louis IV of France or Baldwin II, or that she was related to the families of Chaurs or Chieriz.

"The Serbian and Latin sources led Mijatovic to the Courtenay family, rulers of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, and relatives of the French royal family and the house of Anjou. Besides these obvious connections to the French and Anjou ruling houses, there was also a connection to the Hungarian royal house, since a Courtenay was married to the Hungarian king.

"Mijatovic's attention was drawn first to Elizabeth, a sister of Baldwin II and the second wife of Odon of Montague and Chanly. Citing Baldwin's letter of August 1243 to Blanche of France requesting assistance in persuading Elizabeth to send one of her daughters as the bride for the Sultan of Iconia (Rum), Mijatovic noted that this marriage never took place, and suggested that perhaps one of these daughters might have been selected for Uros (an important possible ally for both Hungary and the Latins in Greece). Raoul of Courtenay, son of Baldwin II's uncle Robert, and count of Chieti, was considered a possibility because of references to Maria de Chau as "de Chieriz" or "de Chiutiz" (21).

"Neither hypothesis could be supported by documentary evidence, as Mijatovic himself admitted, but his "conclusions", or correlations of the hypotheses with the contemporary sources and later traditions, were and remain sound: the house of Courtenay was closely related to the French royal house, hence a member of the house of Courtenay would be related to Louis IX and Charles I Anjou; Jelena would be related to Louis IX and Charles I Anjou; Jelena would be related to Baldwin II, hence a source could have mistaken her for his daughter; Jelena would be related by marriage to the Hungarian royal family, hence making it possible for Acropolites and some Serbian chronicles to state that she was the daughter of the Hungarian king."

In his 1982 article, "On Hungarian-Serbian Relations in the 13th Century: John Angelos and Queen Jelena," which is available online in full text at, McDaniel

Notes from the academic journal article by Nicholas Petrovich, "La Reine de Serbie Helene d'Anjou et la Maison de Chaources," in Crusades, Vol. 14, 2015, pp. 167-182 (Routledge publishes this journal for The Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East) (abstracted/translated/paraphrased from the French for Geni by Curator Pam Wilson) follow:

Helen of Anjou was married to King Uroš (1243-76) and mother to King Dragutin (1275-82) and King Milutin (1282-1321) of Serbia. This new study into her origins reveals that she came from the House of Chaources in Maine, France, a dynasty that also took root in England as the House of Chaworth, as well as in Angevin Sicily. The family backed the crusader Charles of Anjou [(early 1226/1227 – 7 January 1285)][son of Louis VIII, King of France and a member of the royal Capetian dynasty and the founder of the second House of Anjou. He was Count of Provence and Forcalquier in the Holy Roman Empire, Count of Anjou and Maine in France; he was also King of Naples & Sicily and Prince of Achaea.] His influence in the Mediterranean and the Balkans (and thus Serbia) was substantial; Angevin history in Serbia is symbolized by the name Helen of Anjou, who married the Serb King Uroš between 1244-1250. She was canonized by the Orthodox Church three years after her death 8 Feb 1314. She was said to have been of royal and French blood. 18th c historian Daniele Farlati revealed that Queen Helene had a sister named Marie who, after she was widowed, came and established herself at Ulcinj. Her place of origin is inscribed upon her tomb but had been mistranscribed. Recently, three letters of Charles of Anjou, archived in Naples, named Helen's sister as Maria de Chaurs (married to de Chau), widow of Anselme de Chau (a crusader, member of the Picardy House of Cayeux and a diplomat in Albania for Charles), and mother of a son. Anselme I de Cayeux, an ancestor of the same name, was "one of the heroes" of the conquest of Constantinople in 1204 and one of the grand dignitaries of that empire; his son Anselme II was regent of Romania in 1238, having most likely married in 1224 Eudoxie Lascaris (dau of Theodore, the Nicean Greek Emperor). Their son Anselme III was Chambrier of the Holy Roman Empire before Charles of Anjou named him as Captain and Vicar General of Albania in 1273, where he died a year later. He and wife Maria had a son Anselme, named as seigneur de Dominois (Somme, France) who made donations to the Abbey of Dommartin in 1275 and the Abbey of Valloires in 1283 and also had a wife named Marie.

Petrovich makes a strong case to explain that previous historians had assumed the de Chau and de Chaurs were variants on the same name, assuming that Maria was being called by her husband's name; however, he argues that the two names were distinct and that de Chaurs was Maria's birth name and was a variant of de Chaources. He notes that in 1254 among the knights loyal to Charles of Anjou were three Chaources of Maine: Pierre, Patrice and Payen, and that at least three members of that family had followed Charles to Italy: Patrice, Herve and Henri. Patrice appears regularly in the Angevin archives from 1277-82 and was named in 1280 as Justiciar of the Terra di Otranto [a region of Apulia, ancient part of the Kingdom of Sicily]--the same year Maria obtained permission from Charles I to travel to Serbia to be with her sister Helene. He believes that Marie and Helene were relatives of this Patrice (although the exact relationship is unknown).

This is a very different account from that given in Wikipedia for the origins of Helen and Maria, based primarily on McDaniel's earlier work: "Her origin is not known for certain;[2] she was born in ca 1236, and the biography of Archbishop Danilo states that "she was of a French family" and a continuator of the work that "the family was of royal or imperial blood".[3] John Fine, Jr. states that she was "of Catholic and French origin, probably of the House of Valois".[4] According to Europäische Stammtafeln, she descended from a side branch of the Byzantine emperor's family and the Hungarian royal house, in which case she may have been the daughter of John Angelus of Syrmia and a sister of Maria Angelina, wife of Anselm de Keu (Anseau de Cayeux), Captain General in Albania for Charles I of Naples. Charles I mentioned her as a relative in a letter dated 1273. She may have been the granddaughter of the sister of Baldwin II of Constantinople."

"In 1280, Charles I of Sicily issued documents to Maria Angelina allowing her to travel from Apulia to Serbia to visit "her sister the queen of Serbia". Maria Angelina's parents are known from her marriage license, issued in 1253 by the pope, as Calojohanni and imperatore Constantinopolitano, eiusdem Matildis avunculo...Matildis dominæ de Posaga, natæ comitissæ Viennensis, that is, Kaloioannes Angelos, lord of Srem, and Mathilde, daughter of Marguerite de Courtenay (the sister of the Latin emperors Robert and Baldwin II) and Henry I, Count of Vianden.[5] Therefore, Helena, like her sister Maria, was a paternal granddaughter of the Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelos by his second wife, Margaret of Hungary." (retrieved 11-29-2019 from]

Helen of Anjou

Hélène d'Anjou and her son king Milutin, a fresco from Gračanica monastery Queen consort of Serbia Tenure around 1245 - 1276

Spouse Stephen Uroš I Issue

  • Stephen Dragutin
  • Stephen Milutin

House Capetian House of Anjou House of Nemanjić

Born about 1236 Died 8 February 1314

Shkodër Burial Gradac monastery Religion Serbian Orthodox

Helen of Anjou or Hélène d'Anjou (Serbian: Јелена Анжујска / Jelena Anžujska; about 1236[1] - 8 February 1314) was a queen consort of Serbia, wife of Serbian king Stefan Uroš I and mother of kings Dragutin and Milutin.

Modern Russian icon: Helen married Uroš I around 1245[2]. She descended from the side branch of the Byzantine emperor's family and the Hungarian royal house. Her sister was Marie, wife of Anseau de Chars, Captain General in Albania of Charles I of Naples[citation needed]. Helen was a Catholic and of French origin probably of the House of Valois. It is also known that she was a second cousin once removed of Charles I of Naples, who mentioned her as a relative in a letter dated 1273[1].

With Uroš I she had at least four children:

  • Dragutin, Serbian king 1276-1282
  • Milutin, Serbian king 1282-1321
  • Stefan
  • Brnča, daughter

For some time, she was a ruler of Zeta, Travunia, Plav and Poibarje. During that time, Serbia was divided into three parts, and the rulers of the other two parts were Dragutin and Milutin. Helen became a nun at the Church of St. Nicholas in Shkodër, where she died on 8 February 1314[1].

She founded the first girl's school in medieval Serbia. Helen's palace was in modern Kosovo, in the town of Brnjaci, on Mokra Gora mountain (not to be confused with Mokra Gora village), where the school was located. Other than this palace, she possessed the town of Jelač at Rogozna mountain. As did other Nemanjićs, she built monasteries. She built the Gradac monastery, where she was buried, the Church of St. Nicholas in Shkodër where she died,[1] and the Shirgj Monastery.[3]

Helen of Anjou was canonized by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Her feast day is 12 November [O.S. 30 October] [4].

[edit] See also Rulers of Serbia House of Nemanjić House of Anjou Royal titles Preceded by Beloslava of Bulgaria Queen consort of Serbia 1245/1250-1276 Succeeded by Catherine of Hungary Preceded by Beloslava of Bulgaria Queen of Zeta, Travunia, Plav and Poibarje Succeeded by Catherine of Hungary


1.^ a b c d Helen of Anjou at Genealogics 2.^ *Vladimir Ćorović "Istorija srpskog naroda": Zapadnjačka orijentacija u Srbiji (Serbian) 3.^ Ndreca, Ardian (14 September 2008). "Rrënojat e Abacisë së Shirgjit dhe shpëtimi i tyne". Gazeta 55. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 4.^ see: Srpsko nasleđe: Sveta Jelena Anžujska in #External links

External links

Srpsko nasleđe: Sveta Jelena Anžujska (Serbian) Srpsko nasleđe: Nemanjići i žene (Serbian) Justin Popović: Spomen svete Jelene, kraljice srpske (Žitija svetih za oktobar) (Serbian)[dead link] Manastir Gradac: Gradila ga Jelena Anžujska (Serbian) Portreti kraljevske porodice Nemanjića na istočnom zidu Sopoćana (Serbian) Jelena Anžujska, tema na istorijskom forum Descendants of Helen of Anjou at Genealogics

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