Irene Asan, Empress of Bulgaria

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Irene Asan (Palaiologina), Empress of Bulgaria

Bulgarian: Ирина Асенина (Палеологина), Empress of Bulgaria
Birthplace: (Constantinople), Byzantium, Istanbul, Turkey
Death: 1328 (61-71)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Michael VIII, Byzantine Emperor and Princess Téodôra Dukaina Vatatzina
Wife of Ivan Asen III, emperor of Bulgaria
Mother of tzar Mihail Asen; Andronikos Asen; Maria Asanina; Manuel Asen; Isaac Asen and 2 others
Sister of Prince Manuel Palaiologos; Andronicus II, byzantine emperor; Anna Komnene Palaiologina; Konstantinos Palaiologos; Eudokia Palaiologina and 3 others
Half sister of Maria Palaiologina and Euphrosyne Palaiologina

Managed by: Henn Sarv
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About Irene Asan, Empress of Bulgaria


Eirene Palaiologina or Irene Palaiologina (Greek: Ειρήνη Παλαιολογίνα, Bulgarian: Ирина Палеологина) was Byzantine princess, daughter of emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, and empress consort of Ivan Asen III of Bulgaria. She was the eldest daughter of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos and Empress Theodora Doukaina Vatatzaina.

Fearing the rapid success of Ivaylo's revolt in Bulgaria, the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos summoned Ivan Asen, a descendant of Bulgaria's ruling dynasty living at the Byzantine empire, granted him the title of despotēs, and married him to Eirene in 1277 or 1278. Michael VIII then sent several Byzantine armies to attempt to assert Ivan Asen III on the throne of Bulgaria. This caused an alliance between Ivaylo and the dowager Bulgarian empress Maria Kantakouzena, and the widowed empress married Ivaylo, who was recognized as Bulgarian emperor in 1278, without deposing or disinheriting the minor Michael Asen II. Although Ivaylo defeated several of these attempts, he was blockaded for three months in Drăstăr (Silistra) by the Mongol allies of Michael VIII. In the interval a Byzantine force besieged the Bulgarian capital Tarnovo and, hearing a rumor of Ivaylo's death in battle, the local nobility surrendered and accepted Ivan Asen III as emperor in 1279 and Eirene became the new empress consort of Bulgaria.

Although the ex-tsarina Maria Kantakouzena and her son were sent in exile in Byzantium, Ivan Asen III and Eirene failed to assert themmself throughout the country. Byzantine authors say that the tsar and the tsarina had not felt comfortable living in the Palace where they had been surrounded by еnemies. Ivaylo reappeared before the walls of the capital and defeated two Byzantine attempts to relieve Ivan Asen III. Despairing of success, in 1280 Ivan Asen III and Eirene Palaiologina secretly fled Tarnovo with choice treasures from the palace treasury, including pieces captured from defeated Byzantine Emperors in former victories. Reaching Mesembria (Nesebar), the imperial couple sailed for Constantinople, where the enraged Michael VIII refused to receive them for days for their cowardice.

By her marriage with Ivan Asen III, Eirene Palaiologina had the following children:

1.Michael Asan, titular emperor of Bulgaria.

2.Andronikos Asan, father of Irene Asanina, wife of John VI Kantakouzenos.

3.Isaac Asan.

4.Manuel Asan.

5.Constantine Asan.

6.Theodora Asanina, who married Fernan Jimenez d'Aunez and then Manuel Tagares.

7.Maria Asanina, who married Roger de Flor.

George Pachymeres reports that in 1305 Eirene Palaiologina attempted to arrange mutiny against her brother Andronikos II Palaiologos in revenge for the assassination of her son in law Roger de Flor. The plot was uncovered and Eirene was taken under house arrest.

Ivan Asen III and Eirene Palaiologina became the progenitors of the large and influential family Asan (or Asanes) in the Byzantine Empire, which prospered in various court and provincial offices until the end of the empire and its dependencies in the mid-15th century. One of Eirene's descendants, Eirene Asanina (daughter of her son Andronikos Asan) married the future Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos and through their daughter Helena (who married emperor John V Palaiologos), became the ancestress of later Byzantine emperors.

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Irene Asan, Empress of Bulgaria's Timeline

(Constantinople), Byzantium, Istanbul, Turkey
Търново, България
Asen - son of Ivan III
Bulgaria, Asen - dtr of Ivan III
Age 66