Catherine of Valois–Courtenay

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Catherine II, also Catherine of Valois or Catherine of Taranto (before 15 April 1303 – October 1346), was the recognised Latin Empress of Constantinople from 1307–1346, although she lived in exile and only had authority over Crusader States in Greece. She was Princess consort of Achaea and Taranto, and also regent of Achaea from 1332–1341, and Governor of Cephalonia from 1341–1346.

Catherine of Valois–Courtenay
Princess consort of Taranto, Princess consort of Achaea, and Queen consort of Albania
Catherine of Courtenay.jpg
Latin Empress of Constantinople
Reign11 October 1307 – October 1346
PredecessorCatherine I of Courtenay
SuccessorPhilip III of Taranto
BornBefore 15 April 1303
DiedOctober 1346
Naples
Consort
IssueMargaret, Duchess of Andria
Robert, Emperor of Constantinople
Louis I, King of Naples
Philip II, Emperor of Constantinople
HouseHouse of Valois
FatherCharles, Count of Valois
MotherCatherine I, Empress of Constantinople

LifeEdit

She was born in 1303, sometime before 15 April, the eldest daughter of Charles, count of Valois, and Catherine I of Courtenay.[1]

Her mother was recognized as Empress of the Latin Empire of Constantinople by the Latin states in Greece, despite the city having been captured by the Empire of Nicaea in 1261. Catherine inherited her claims as the titular Empress on 11 October 1307.[2] She was still a child and remained in the custody of her father, who managed her claims to the empire until his death in 1325.

An early betrothal to Hugh V, Duke of Burgundy, made on 15 April 1303 when she was an infant, was renounced in 1312.[3]

NaplesEdit

In July 1313, Catherine married Philip I of Taranto, King of Albania and Prince of Achaea, who was the younger brother of Robert, King of Naples.[4] Philip was the fourth son of King Charles II of Naples and thus the brother-in-law of Catherine's father from his first wife, Margaret, Countess of Anjou. Catherine associated her husband Philip as titular Emperor of Constantinople (as Philip II), and retained the claim to the Constantinople Empire after his death on 23 December 1332. Robert, their eldest surviving son, succeeded him as Prince of Taranto in 1331. Catherine later became influential at the court of Naples.

Catherine's court was more worldly than the pious Naples court of King Robert and his pious wife, Sancha of Majorca. During the reign of her niece, Queen Joanna I of Naples, she opposed the marriage of Joan's younger sister, Maria of Calabria, to Charles, Duke of Durazzo. This was because Maria was heir-presumptive to the throne of Naples, and the Durazzos were rivals to her own family. She and her family were thus compensated with a cash settlement from the royal treasury.

AchaeaEdit

In 1333, her son Robert received the Principality of Achaea through an agreement with his uncle, John of Gravina.[5] However, the thirteen-year-old boy was deemed too young to reign alone, and his mother became his co-ruler for the rest of her life. Initially ruling through appointed baillis, in summer 1338 Catherine mustered a fleet and took her whole household to Achaea, where she took an active part in its government. She gave refuge to Nikephoros II Orsini of Epirus, and supported him in his attempt to assert himself in his land against the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos.

Final YearsEdit

Her presence in Achaea was no longer needed by the time Robert reached adulthood in 1341. She became Governor of Cephalonia and spent the last five years of her life in this responsibility. After the murder of Joan's husband, Andrew of Hungary, Joan sought a new husband amongst her Taranto cousins. Catherine supported her younger son, Louis of Taranto, against her older son, Robert. She sheltered Charles of Artois, a bastard son of Robert the Wise, and his son Bertrand, who were both suspected of complicity. When asked to give them up, she refused and stated she would punish them herself if they were guilty.

She died in Naples in October 1346.[6] Queen Joan organized her funeral at the church of San Domenico.

IssueEdit

By Philip I of Taranto, Catherine of Valois had four children:

  • Margaret of Taranto (c. 1325–1380), married Francis of Baux, Duke of Andria. By Francis, she was the mother of James of Baux, who succeeded as Prince of Achaea and titular Emperor of Constantinople. Margaret died about September 1380 in imprisonment.[7]
  • Robert of Taranto (1326–1364), Prince of Taranto, titular Emperor of Constantinople (as Robert II).
  • Louis of Taranto (1327/28–1362), Prince of Taranto and King of Naples (as Louis I) by right of his wife Queeen Joanna I of Naples who was his first cousin.
  • Philip II of Taranto (1329–1374), Prince of Taranto and Achaea, succeeded as titular Emperor of Constantinople (as Philip III) after his elder brother Robert died.

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Jackson-Laufer, 83-84.
  2. ^ A History of the Crusades: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 46.
  3. ^ A History of the Crusades: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 109.
  4. ^ Jackson-Laufer, 83-84.
  5. ^ A History of the Crusades: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 124.
  6. ^ A History of the Crusades: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, 672.
  7. ^ Douglas Richardson. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study In Colonial And Medieval Families, 2nd Edition, 2011. pg 401.

ReferencesEdit

  • Guida Myrl Jackson-Laufer, Women Rulers Throughout the Ages: An Illustrated Guide, ABC-CLIO, 1999.
  • Setton, Kenneth M.; Hazard, Harry W., eds. (1975). A History of the Crusades, Volume III: The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Madison and London: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-06670-3.

External linksEdit

Catherine of Valois–Courtenay
Born: before 15 April 1303 Died: October 1346
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Catherine I
— TITULAR —
Latin Empress of Constantinople
1307–1346
Succeeded by
Robert II