Blanche d'Artois, Regent of Navarre

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Recently on Gen-Medieval, a Descent From Antiquity was proposed behind Blanche d'Artois (died 1302), Regent of Navarre and wife of Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster and of Leicester.

The descent relies on a few newer connections being recognized. As Leo van de Pas sources, ES already gives us the ascent from Blanche up to Isaac II Angelos, Emperor of Byzantium (d 1204) and his wife Herina or Eirene. However ES gives no parentage for this Eirene. Leo notes "Isaac's wife may have been a member of the Palaiologos family."

However a Gen-Medieval posting by Shawn Potter makes this connection definite citing: "Rudolf Hiestand, “Die Erste Ehe Isaaks II Angelus und Seine Kinder” in Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik, 47 [1997]: 199-208. On January 18-19, 2000, Don Stone cited this and other articles to support the proposition that the first wife of Isaac II Angelos was a daughter of Georgios Comnenodukas Palaiologos, whose wife was a Georgian princess. He also wrote that Jean-Claude Cheynet and Jean-Francois Vannier, in Etudes Prosopographiques, 1986, esp. 156-158, 162-163, show that Andronikos Palaiologos was called “beloved brother-in-law” of Isaac II Angelos, Emperor of Byzantium. See here. On March 15-24, 2003, Igor Sklar provided additional information indicating that the mother-in-law of Isaac II Angelos was Aspa of Ossetia, daughter of David of Ossetia and Rusudan of Georgia, daughter of David IV, King of Georgia and Rusudan of Armenia, see here"

In that discussion, Don Stone states : "Hiestand's article is of special interest because it explores the hypothesis that the first wife of Isaac II is a member of the Palaiologos family, perhaps the daughter of Georgios Palaiologos Komnenodoukas, megas hetaireiarches (Grand Heteriarque). This is based on a reference to Andronikos Palaiologos (probable son of Georgios) as beloved "gambros" [brother-in-law or son-in-law, though the former is more likely] of Emp. Isaac II in a document (from 1191, I think) printed in A. Papadopoulos- Kerameus's _Analekta ..._, II, Petersburg, 1894, p. 362. Unfortunately, the genealogy of the early Palaiologoi is somewhat murky; Lindsay Brook's "The Byzantine Ancestry of the Prince of Wales," _The Genealogist_ 2 (1981): 3-51, gives (p. 22) Andronikos as son rather than brother of Alexios, son of Georgios, and _The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium_, 1991, v. 2, p. 1558, gives Andronikos as son-in-law of Alexios. (From the latter source we also learn that palaiologos means "junkman.") In any case, _The Doukai_ by Demetrios I. Polemis, 1968, asserts (top of p. 156) that Georgios had a son Alexios by an unidentified wife.

Georgios Palaiologos's wife might be Aspae, a cousin of the Georgian princess Kata or Katae; Aspae and Katae are mentioned in a scholion to the histories of John Tzetzes. (See, e.g., Paul Gautier, "La Curieuse Ascendance de Jean Tzetzes," _Revue des Etudes Byzantines_ 28 (1970): pp. 207, ff., esp. pp. 208-9. See also A. Kazhdan, "Rus'-Byzantine Princely Marriages in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries," _Harvard Ukrainian Studies_ 12/13 (1988/1989): 414-429, esp. p. 423. And finally, see Jean-Claude Cheynette and Jean-Francois Vannier, _Etudes Prosopographiques_, 1986, esp. pp.156-158, 162-163.)

Katae married (as second wife) Alexios, son of Emp. John II Komnenos. This is a different princess Kata from the one (probably a generation earlier), daughter of David IV the Builder (b. 1070, king from 1089-1125, d. 1125), who Rafal Prinke has shown was the wife of the sebastokrator Isaak Kommnenos and the mother of Emp. Andronikos I Komnenos. Cheynette and Vannier, p. 162, say that Alexios married his first wife Dobrodeja in 1122, that she died in 1131, and that he then married Katae, who was probably (from chronological considerations) a daughter of the Georgian king Demetrios I (d. 1156/8), son of David the Builder. At court Katae used the first name Eudocia. On the following page they say that Aspae was married to a Palaiologos ca. 1135; Hiestand says (p. 206) the marriage took place ca. 1145. Cheynette and Vannier call attention to a letter of Tzetzes addressed to the wife of the Grand Heteriarque at the time of the march of the Germans against Constantinople in July-Aug. 1147; they believe that this Grand Heteriarque is George Paleologus and that his wife (to whom the letter was addressed) is perhaps Aspae.

There is thus the possibility of a Georgian royal descent for the first wife of Isaac II Angelos, though it may be hard to confirm or pin down details. Rafal: could you inquire of your Georgian correspondent, Prof. Mariam Lordkipanidze, whether modern Georgian scholarship sheds any light on Aspae? "

Pierre Aronax here, points out that the ascent from Aspa is very tentative, hardly more than one theory among many.


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