Σάββατο, 23 Απριλίου 2016

Maria Palaiologina : The influential byzantine queen of the Mongol Ilkhanate

Maria Palaiologina (Μαρία Παλαιολογίνα) was an illegitimate daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (ruled 1258-1282), the wife of the Mongol ruler Abaqa Khan, and an influential Christian leader among the Mongols. After Abaqa's death she became the leader of a Monastery in Constantinople which was popularly named after her as Saint Mary of the Mongols. In the 13th century, the Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan had expanded to its greatest extent. Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis, had swept with his army through Persia and Syria, destroying centuries-old Islamic caliphates, those of the Abbasids and Ayyubids, and led the 1258 Sack of Baghdad, considered to be the single most disastrous event in the history of Islam. However, the Mongol Empire was experiencing internal dissension, and though the center of power was the Great Khan in Karakorum, the Empire had split into four "khanates", one for each of four of Genghis's grandsons. Hulagu's portion was known as the Ilkhanate and stretched through the area today that covers parts of Turkey and Iran on the west, and Pakistan on the east. The section to the north, covering parts of Russian and Eastern Europe, was known as the Golden Horde. Relations between the khanates were not friendly, and battles erupted between them, even as they both were attempting to further extend the Empire westwards towards Europe, Greece, and the Middle East. Michael VIII, the Byzantine Emperor based in Constantinople, attempted to stay on friendly relations with both khanates. Hulagu had been negotiating for a lady of the imperial family of Constantinople to be added to his number of wives, and Michael selected his illegitimate daughter Maria. He also betrothed another of his daughters, Maria's sister Euphrosyne Palaiologina, to Nogai Khan, head of the Golden Horde. Both khanates maintained an attitude of tolerance towards the Christians. On her journey to marry Hulagu, Maria left Constantinople in 1265, escorted by the abbot of Pantokrator monastery, Theodosius de Villehardouin. Historian Steven Runciman relates how she was accompanied by the Patriarch Euthymius of Antioch. However, in Caesarea they learned that Hulagu had died, so Maria was instead married to his son, Abaqa Khan. She led a pious life and was quite influential on the politics and the religious outlooks of the Mongols, many of whom were already Nestorian Christians. They had previously looked to Doquz Khatun, Hulagu's wife, as a religious leader. When Doquz also died in 1265, this sentiment turned to Maria, who was called "Despina Khatun" by the Mongols (Δέσποινα being Greek for "Lady"). Maria resided in Persia at court of Abaqa for a period of 15 years, until her husband - follower of Tengri - died and was succeeded by his Muslim brother Ahmad. According to Orlean's manuscript, Baidu Khan was close to Maria during her time in Persia and frequently visited her ordo (nomadic palace) to hear interesting stories about Christianity. She eventually returned to Constantinople, but in 1307, during the reign of Andronicus II, she was offered again as bride to a Mongolian prince, Charbanda, the Mongol ruler of the Middle East in order to obtain an alliance against the rising power of the Ottomans, who at that time were threatening the Byzantine city of Nicaea. Maria went there, both to encourage its defense and to hasten the negotiations with the Mongols about her wedding. She met with the Ottoman Sultan, Othman, but her menacing behaviour aroused the spirit of the Ottomans. Before the 30,000 troops sent to her aid by the Mongols could reach the city, the Ottomans stormed the fortress of Tricocca, which was the key to Nicaea, and conquered it. Maria was then forced to go back to Constantinople once again, where she became the Ktetorissaof the Panagiotissa Monastery, and remained there for the rest of her life.
The church of the monastery was officially dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but due to Maria's association with it, it became popularly known as the "Church of Saint Mary of the Mongols". Maria herself was never canonized. The Church is called by the Turks “the Church of Blood” (Kanli Kilise), as the building saw violent combat during the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. The Church is the only one in Constantinople to have never been converted to a mosque, following an order by Mehmet the Conqueror. It is located in Tevkii Cafer Mektebi Sok, in the quarter of Fener. There is a surviving mosaic portrait of Maria, from the narthexat the Chora Monastery (she appears as a nun, with an inscription with her monastic name of Melania), in the lower right hand corner of the Deesis scene. Saint Mary of the Mongols (Θεοτòκος Παναγιώτισσα η Παναγία Μουχλιώτισσα) is an Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul. It is the only Byzantine church of Constantinople that has never been converted to a mosque, always remaining open to the Greek Orthodox Church. The church, which usually is not open to the public and lies behind a high wall, is placed in the district of Fatih, in the neighborhood of Fener. It lies on Tevkii Cafer Mektebi Sokak, at the summit of a slope overlooking the Golden Horn, and near to the imposing building of the Phanar Greek Orthodox College. In 1281, Maria Palaiologina, illegitimate daughter of Emperor Michael VIII and widow of Abaqa, Khan of the Mongolian Il-Khanate, returned to Constantinople after an absence of 15 years. She is said to have rebuilt the nunnery and the church (which then assumed the shape still seen today), deserving the title of Ktētorissa ("foundress") of that complex, and retired there until her death. Since that time, the nunnery and the church got the appellation of Mouchliōtissa. After her death the convent decayed, because her heirs used the properties of the nunnery for their purposes, and had even raised a mortgage on them. Finally the nuns started a suit with the heirs first before the Emperor, and then before the Patriarch. The heirs presented as proof of their right an imperial chrysobull certifying the purchase of the nunnery from Maria Palaiologina, but the document was deemed false, so that the Patriarchate restored the rights of the nuns. The nunnery existed until the end of the Empire, then was abandoned. On May 29, 1453, the day of the Fall of Constantinople, the surroundings of the building saw the last desperate resistance of the Greeks against the invading Ottomans. Due to that, the church got the name "Church of the Blood", and the road that leads to it from the Golden Horn is still named the Ascent of the Standard Bearer, in honour of an Ottoman standard bearer who found his death fighting here. Tradition holds that Sultan Mehmed II endowed the church to the mother of Christodoulos, the Greek architect of the mosque of Fatih, in acknowledgment of his work. The grant was confirmed by Bayazid II, in recognition of the services of the nephew of Christodoulos, who built the mosque, which bears that sultan's name. Under Sultan Selim I and Ahmed II there were two Ottoman attempts to convert the church into a mosque (the last one, pursued by Grand Vizier Ali Koprülü at the end of the seventeenth century, was thwarted by Dimitrie Cantemir) and, thanks to the grants of Mehmed II and Bayazid II, the church remained a parish of the Greek community. Thus, Saint Mary of the Mongols is one among the few Byzantine churches of Istanbul whose ancient dedication was never forgotten. Damaged several times (in 1633, 1640 and 1729) by fires that ravaged Fener, the building was repaired and enlarged, losing altogether its primitive elegance. At the end of nineteenth century a small school was built close to it, and in 1892 a small bell tower was added. In 1955, the church was damaged during the anti-Greek Istanbul Pogrom, and since then it has been restored. The complex lies behind a high wall, and it is usually not open to the public. Although it has always remained in Greek hands, the building has been modified much more heavily than those converted into mosques. It has, or originally had, a tetraconchplan with a central dome enclosed by a tower, which renders it a unicum in the Byzantine architecture of Constantinople and, on a much smaller scale surprisingly anticipates those of many great Ottoman mosques. The dome rests on a cross formed by four half-domes. Thenarthex has three bays, whose central bay is covered by a barrel vault. On the south side, the church has been demolished and rebuilt, and the southern half dome and the southern bay of the narthex have been removed and replaced by three aisles. The interior has been stripped of the original decoration, but it is filled with icons and other ornaments, making an examination of the church very difficult. On the eastern wall there is a large representation of the Last Judgement, perhaps painted by Modestos in 1266. Moreover, noteworthy are a mosaic Icon from the eleventh century portraying the Theotokos, and four Icons dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth century. Under the church are visible excavations, and an underground passage said to reach Hagia Sophia (although the two buildings are several kilometers apart). Despite its historical importance, the church has never been studied from an architectural point of view.
Πηγή https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Palaiologina

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