Anna Palaiologina (1341–1347)
Anna Palaiologina was the daughter of Amadeo V, the Count of Savoy, and was sent to Constantinople to marry Andronikos III in 1326. Her arrival with her Italian retainers spread many Western customs and practices to Byzantium. When Andronikos III died in 1341, Anna assumed the regency in the name of her son John V. Anna soon quarreled with her late husband’s friend and supporter John Kantakouzenos. In her struggle against Kantakouzeons she gained the support of the patriarch John XIV Kalekas and the Grand Duke Alexios Apokaukos. As the empire slid towards civil war, Kantakouzenos was able to rely on the support of much of the aristocracy. The war lasted from 1341 until 1347, and was a disaster for the empire. Not only did brother fight brother, but both sides called in allies from outside—Serbs, Bulgars, and Turks—who, far from helping Byzantium, found profit for themselves in despoiling the crumbling empire and conquering its territories. In 1347 John Kantakouzenos was victorious, but he ruled over a rump of the former territories of Byzantium. John V was married to Kantakouzenos’s daughter, and the houses of Palaiologos and Kantakouzenos were united. Anna travelled to Thessalonike in 1351, and remained there as ruler of the city for the rest of her life.
The seals of Anna show the Mother of God enthroned holding the Christ child on the obverse, and a full-length representation of Anna on the reverse. The inscription, which contains many interesting letter forms and ligatures, proclaims Anna Palaiologina as the most pious augusta and autokratorissa of the Romans.
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