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Maria of Trebizond (d. 1439)

Maria of Trebizond (d. 1439)

Byzantine empress. Name variations: Maria Komnene or Comneni of Trebizond. Died in 1439; third wife of John VIII Paleologus (1391–1448), emperor of Nicaea and Byzantine emperor in exile (r. 1425–1448).

Little is known of Maria of Trebizond, the third wife of John VIII Paleologus. John had previously been married briefly to Anna of Moscow , who died of the plague, and to his Italian cousin, Sophie of Montferrat , whom he had divorced. Apparently Maria was the most beloved of his wives, and following her death, he lost much of his zest for living.

Maria's death occurred while John was at the ecumenical Council of Florence, at which he had sought official reunion of the Greek Orthodox and Italian Catholic churches in order to win military support from Western Europe. In Florence, where the Council had moved when rumors of plague surfaced in Ferrara, a decree of union was signed, but when John returned to Constantinople, he found widespread opposition to the "unionizers." Now shattered by the death of his wife, John lacked the strength or desire to implement the union, and although he remained committed to the work of the Council, he did not force the union upon his subjects. Since Maria had not produced an heir, John was succeeded by his brother Constantine XI when he died in 1448.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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