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Constance II of Hohenstaufen

Constance II of Hohenstaufen

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Anna of Hohenstaufen born Constance, was the daughter of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

 and Bianca Lancia
Bianca Lancia
Bianca Lancia d'Agliano was an Italian noblewoman, who was the mistress and later wife of emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, although the marriage, conducted while she was on her deathbed, was considered non-canonical.- Family :Born ca...


Byzantine Empress

She married John III Doukas Vatatzes
John III Doukas Vatatzes
John III Doukas Vatatzes, Latinized as Ducas Vatatzes |Nymphaion]]) was emperor of Nicaea 1221–1254.-Life:John Doukas Vatatzes was probably the son of the general Basileios Vatatzes, Duke of Thrace, who died in 1193, and his wife, an unnamed daughter of Isaakios Angelos and cousin of the Emperors...

 Emperor of Nicaea
Empire of Nicaea
The Empire of Nicaea was the largest of the three Byzantine Greek successor states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade...

 as part of an alliance between her father and husband. The marriage is recorded by the chronicles of both George Acropolites and George Pachymeres
George Pachymeres
Georgius Pachymeres , a Byzantine Greek historian and miscellaneous writer, was born at Nicaea, in Bithynia, where his father had taken refuge after the capture of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204...

. "The Lascarids of Nicaea: the Story of an Empire in Exile" (1912–1913) by Alice Gardner considers the alliance a result of their common anti-clericalism
Anti-clericalism is a historical movement that opposes religious institutional power and influence, real or alleged, in all aspects of public and political life, and the involvement of religion in the everyday life of the citizen...

, particularly their hostile relations to the Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...


The marriage occurred in 1244. Constance took the name Anna following her marriage. At her arrival she was accompanied by a governess, Marchesa della Fricca. According to George Acropolites the governess became the mistress of John III and "rival in love" of Anna.

In time the Marchesa came to have considerable influence at court. Nicephorus Blemmydes
Nicephorus Blemmydes
Nikephoros Blemmydes was 13th-century Byzantine literary figure.He was born in 1197 in Constantinople as the second child of a physician. After the conquest of Constantinople by the forces of the Fourth Crusade in 1204, he migrated to Asia Minor. There, he received a liberal education in Prusa,...

 called her "rival empress". However Blemmydes' negative criticism resulted in an attempt at his life by followers of her. Blemmydes survived and Marchesa lost the favor of John III who proceeded to dismiss her from court. Blemmydes' account was later included in his autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...



Constance remained Empress until the death of her husband on 3 November 1254. Her stepson Theodore II Laskaris
Theodore II Laskaris
Theodore II Doukas Laskaris or Ducas Lascaris was emperor of Nicaea, 1254–1258.-Life:Theodore II Doukas Laskaris was the only son of Emperor John III Doukas Vatatzes and Eirene Laskarina, the daughter of Emperor Theodore I Laskaris and Anna Angelina, a daughter of Emperor Alexios III Angelos and...

 succeeded to the throne. By that time Frederick II had also died. Pachymeres records her staying in Nicaea through the reigns of both Theodore II (1254–1258) and her step-grandson John IV Laskaris
John IV Laskaris
John IV Doukas Laskaris was emperor of Nicaea from August 18, 1258 to December 25, 1261...

 (1259–1261). Alice Gardner suggested that she was still politically useful as a hostage against the remaining members of the House of Hohenstaufen, particularly her brother Manfred of Sicily
Manfred of Sicily
Manfred was the King of Sicily from 1258 to 1266. He was a natural son of the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen but his mother, Bianca Lancia , is reported by Matthew of Paris to have been married to the emperor while on her deathbed.-Background:Manfred was born in Venosa...


John IV was underage through his brief reign. His regent and co-ruler was Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos
Michael VIII Palaiologos or Palaeologus reigned as Byzantine Emperor 1259–1282. Michael VIII was the founder of the Palaiologan dynasty that would rule the Byzantine Empire until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453...

. According to Pachymeres, Michael fell in love with Anna and attempted to marry her. But the widowed Empress rejected him. However Michael was married to Theodora Doukaina Vatatzina
Theodora Doukaina Vatatzina
Theodora Doukaina Vatatzaina was the Empress consort of Michael VIII Palaiologos.-Family:Theodora was a daughter of Ioannes Doukas Vatatzes and wife Eudokia Angelina. The names of her parents were recorded by George Acropolites.Her paternal grandparents were sebastokrator Isaakios Doukas...

 since 1253. Whether the account of Pachymeres suggests plans for divorce and remarriage or Michael wanted Anna as his mistress is unclear.

On 25 July 1261, Alexios Strategopoulos
Alexios Strategopoulos
Alexios Strategopoulos was a Byzantine general during the reign of Michael VIII Palaiologos, rising to the rank of megas domestikos and Caesar. He is most notable for leading the reconquest of Constantinople from the Latins in 1261.- Early life :...

 captured Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, capital of the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

. This victory for Nicaea allowed Michael to both move his court to the newly annexed city and depose his young co-ruler John IV. Anna was no longer part of the reigning dynasty. She was allowed to leave the new court for the Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 in 1263.

Again known as Constance, she joined the court of her brother Manfred. On 25 February 1266, Manfred was killed at the Battle of Benevento
Battle of Benevento
The Battle of Benevento was fought near Benevento, in present-day Southern Italy, on February 26, 1266, between the troops of Charles of Anjou and Manfred of Sicily. Manfred's defeat and death resulted in the capture of the Kingdom of Sicily by Charles....

. He was succeeded by his victorious enemy Charles of Anjou. Constance fled the Sicilian court for that of James I of Aragon
James I of Aragon
James I the Conqueror was the King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona, and Lord of Montpellier from 1213 to 1276...

, joining her niece, Constance of Sicily, who was a daughter of Manfred of Sicily
Manfred of Sicily
Manfred was the King of Sicily from 1258 to 1266. He was a natural son of the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen but his mother, Bianca Lancia , is reported by Matthew of Paris to have been married to the emperor while on her deathbed.-Background:Manfred was born in Venosa...

 and queen consort of Peter III of Aragon
Peter III of Aragon
Peter the Great was the King of Aragon of Valencia , and Count of Barcelona from 1276 to his death. He conquered Sicily and became its king in 1282. He was one of the greatest of medieval Aragonese monarchs.-Youth and succession:Peter was the eldest son of James I of Aragon and his second wife...


She found refuge at the court of Zaragoza
Zaragoza , also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the Zaragoza Province and of the autonomous community of Aragon, Spain...

 for some time but eventually retired to a monastery. She died in Valencia, Spain as a nun.

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