Marie of Antioch (d. 1183)

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Marie of Antioch (d. 1183)

Empress and regent of the Byzantine empire . Name variations: Mary of Antioch; Maria of Antioch. Born before 1149, possibly in the 1130s; died in 1183;daughter of Constance of Antioch (1128–1164) and Raymond I of Poitiers, prince of Antioch; sister of Bohemund III, prince of Antioch (r. 1163–1201); second wife of Manuel I Comnenus or Komnenos (c. 1120–1180), Byzantine emperor (r. 1143–1180); children: Alexius II Comnenus (c. 1168–1183), emperor of Byzantium (r. 1180–1183).

After the death of his first wife Bertha-Irene of Sulzbach in 1161, Manuel I Comnenus married Marie of Antioch. Their son Alexius II Comnenus was born around 1168. When the king died in 1180, the frail Alexius acceded the throne at age 11, and his mother became regent. Marie of Antioch's pro-Western policies and indulgence of corrupt favorites made her unpopular. She was also Italian, and Italians were resented by the Byzantines. Opportunistic Italian merchants held a monopoly on trade. In 1182, Andronicus I Comnenus, a cousin of the imperial family, invaded Constantinople, ostensibly as a protector to the boy-king and foe to the Latins. Citizens took the opportunity for widespread revolt. In the "Latin Massacre," they slaughtered thousands, including the Italian merchants. Andronicus compelled the boy Alexius to sign a death warrant for his mother, then had himself crowned co-emperor. Two months later, Alexius was murdered. Then his ordered execution was carried out: Marie of Antioch was strangled to death in 1183.