Anna Comnena

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Anna Komnene or Comnena (Greek: Άννα Κομνηνή, Anna Komnēnē; December 1 10831153) was a Byzantine princess and scholar, daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos and Irene Doukaina. She is one of the first known female historians: she wrote the Alexiad.

[edit] Life

Anna was her father's favourite and eldest child and was carefully trained in the study of poetry, science and Greek philosophy. Although learned and studious, she was intriguing and ambitious, and ready to go to any lengths to gratify her longing for power.

At a very early age she was engaged to marry Constantine Doukas, the son of Emperor Michael VII and Maria of Alania, who was proclaimed co-emperor first with his own father, and then with Alexios I. After the birth of Alexios' own son John, the sickly Constantine Doukas lost his imperial position.

Anna eventually married, in 1097, an accomplished young nobleman, the kaisar (Caesar) Nikephoros Bryennios, who belonged to one of the aristocratic families that had contested the throne before Alexios' accession. She united with her mother, Irene Doukaina, in a vain attempt to prevail over her father during his last illness, to disinherit his son John and give the crown to Anna's husband.

Undeterred, she entered into a conspiracy in 1118 to depose her brother John II Komnenos after his accession; and when her husband refused to join in the enterprise, she exclaimed that "nature had mistaken their sexes, for he ought to have been the woman." The plot was discovered, and Anna forfeited her property and imperial family status. By her brother's clemency she escaped with her life and was dispatched to a convent. She had been married for exactly 40 years, and had four children.

Anna used her leisure to write the Alexiad -- a history in Greek of her father's life and reign (10811118), supplementing the historical work of her husband. A determined opponent of the Roman Catholic Church and an enthusiastic admirer of the Byzantine Empire, Anna Komnene regarded the Crusades as a political and religious danger. Her models are Thucydides, Polybius and Xenophon, and her style exhibits the striving after the Atticism characteristic of the period, with the result that the language is highly artificial. Her chronology is generally sound when recounting events that occurred before her enforced status as a nun, but becomes especially defective afterwards, as she was obviously isolated from her Palace sources. Nevertheless, her history meets the standards of her time and place (Catholic Encyclopedia).

A fictional account of Anna Komnene's life is given in the 1999 novel Anna of Byzantium by Tracy Barrett.

[edit] Family

By the kaisar Nikephoros Bryennios, Anna Komnene had several children, including:

  1. Alexios Komnenos, megas doux, c. 1102–c. 1161/1167
  2. John Doukas, c. 1103–after 1173
  3. Eirene Doukaina, c. 1105–?
  4. Maria Bryennaina Komnene, c. 1107–?

[edit] References

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the publicАнна Комнина de:Anna Komnena el:Άννα Κομνηνή es:Ana Comnena fr:Anne Comnène it:Anna Comnena nl:Anna Comnena mk:Ана Комнен pl:Anna Komnena ru:Анна Комнина sl:Anna Comnena sr:Ана Комнина fi:Anna Komnena sv:Anna Komnena

Anna Comnena

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