03 September, 2016

Philip Of Taranto, His Brother John of Gravina, And Their Marital (Mis)Adventures

Philip of Taranto (10 November 1278 - 23 December 1332) and his younger brother John of Gravina (c. 1294 - 5 April 1336) were second cousins of both Edward II and Philip IV of France: their paternal grandmother Beatrice of Provence, wife of Louis IX of France's brother Charles of Anjou and queen of Sicily, was the youngest of the four Provençal sisters who all became queens. Philip IV's paternal grandmother Marguerite, wife of Louis IX of France, was the eldest, and Edward's paternal grandmother Eleanor, wife of Henry III of England, the second eldest. Philip of Taranto and John of Gravina were two of the fourteen children of Charles of Naples and Marie of Hungary. Their siblings included Charles Martel, titular king of Hungary, father of Clemence of Hungary, who married Isabella of France's eldest brother Louis X as his second wife; Robert 'the Wise', king of Naples and Sicily, grandfather of the famous Joan, queen of Naples and Sicily who was murdered in 1382; Louis, bishop of Toulouse, canonised in 1317 a few years after his death; Marguerite, countess of Anjou in her own right, who married Isabella of France's uncle Charles of Valois and was the mother of Philip VI of France and the grandmother of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault; and the queens-consort of Aragon, Mallorca and Sicily.

Philip of Taranto was married firstly to Thamar Angelina Komnena, part of the house of the despotate of Epirus, which was a successor state of the Byzantine Empire (Epirus is in modern-day Albania and northwestern Greece). She was the daughter of the despot Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, and her mother Anna was the niece of the Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus. Via Thamar, Philip was the king of Albania and despot of Epirus as well as the prince of Taranto (Italy) and Achaea (Greece). Philip and Thamar married in 1294 and had half a dozen children together, including the queen-consort of Armenia, the despot of Romania and the duchess of Athens.

In 1309, Philip accused Thamar of committing adultery with no fewer than forty men, and imprisoned her. She died in prison in 1311. Whether Thamar Angelina Komnena really committed adultery, or whether this was a convenient charge for her husband to rid himself of her so that he could marry another well-connected wife and gain more lands, is unclear, though I strongly suspect the latter (I mean, forty men? Wow.)

On 29 July 1313, Philip, then almost thirty-five, married his second wife, who was only about ten or eleven at the time. She was Catherine de Valois, eldest daughter of Catherine Courtenay (1274-1307), titular empress of Constantinople in her own right, and Charles, count of Valois, brother of Philip IV and uncle of Edward II's queen Isabella. Catherine de Valois inherited her mother's claim to the Latin empire of Constantinople, was the younger half-sister of Philip VI of France, and the aunt of Edward III's queen Philippa of Hainault, whose mother was Jeanne de Valois. The first wife of Catherine de Valois's father Charles de Valois was Marguerite of Anjou-Naples, eldest sister of Philip of Taranto. Yes, this means that Catherine married the brother of her father's first wife, who was the uncle of her older half-siblings. At this point, I just LOL. The wedding took place on the same day as the wedding of Philip de Valois (the future King Philip VI), who was the bride's half-brother and the groom's nephew, and Joan of Burgundy.

At the end of March 1321, Edward II - then attempting unsuccessfully to prevent the imminent Despenser War - wrote to Philip of Taranto’s elder brother Robert ‘the Wise’, king of Naples, Sicily and Jerusalem, regarding the abduction by their brother John of Gravina, duke of Durazzo, of Matilda of Hainault, princess of Achaea. Edward asked Robert to ensure that John freed Matilda and allowed her to complete her marriage to Hugh de Palicia or Palice, to which she had been travelling when John of Gravina captured her. John was duke of Durazzo and count of Gravina, and was born in about 1294; he was the youngest of the many sons of Charles of Naples and Marie of Hungary, though had a younger sister, Beatrice. The brother closest to John in age was the excellently-named Peter Tempesta, meaning 'storm', who died childless in 1315 and whose heir to the county of Gravina John was. Matilda of Hainault was a first cousin of Edward III's father-in-law William, count of Hainault and Holland, and inherited the principality of Achaea  from her mother Isabelle of Villehardouin. She had already been widowed twice, from the duke of Athens and the titular king of Thessalonica, Louis of Burgundy (one of the brothers of Joan of Burgundy, queen of Philip VI of France, above). In the end, John of Gravina repudiated Matilda in 1321, and married instead Agnes of Périgord later that year, while Matilda married Hugh de Palice after all and died childless in 1331.


Anerje said...

Edward has fascinating relatives. Thamor committing adultery with 40 men is excessive lol! Thanks to your blog, and reading up of John of Gaunt, I'm gaining a much better knowledge of the links between European royalty.

Btw, thanks for your comment on my blog. I can't imagine a ghostly Piers pushing anybody - I think he'd pop up with an insult! It got me thinking though - I don't recall Edward II haunting anywhere. I'm not a believer in ghosts as such, but isn't it odd that not even Berkeley Castle claim Edward II haunts there. Usually, stories spread pretty quickly - and if Edward died as horribly there as is claimed, no-one has heard ghostly cries - is that because the rumour of his survival was more widespread than we know? Hope you can make sense of what I'm trying to say!

sami parkkonen said...

Forty men, well. That is a lot specially in those days and for a lady in her position. I think we can assume she was not that busy even if she had a fling or two in real life.

But once again, stunning amount of information. You must be flooded with family charts and details etc. Admiration, that is what I feel for you, my dear.

Kathryn Warner said...

Anerje, I understand it completely! Makes a lot of sense!

Sami, all the family charts are in my head, heh :)

Sonetka said...

Interesting all around -- "Thamar And The Forty Men" definitely sounds much more invented than real. Just out of curiosity, were any of the supposed forty men ever identified, let alone penalized? I'm thinking of Anne Boleyn's supposed lovers and Katherine Howard's real ones, not to mention Isabella's sisters-in-law and that strange situation where they were supposedly caught having it off with some knights. In every case the men got it as bad if not worse than the women.

Kathryn Warner said...

Sonetka, I'm not sure, unfortunately, as I haven't looked at the primary sources relating to this story. Forty seems a heck of a lot :o When two of Isabella of France's sisters-in-law were found to have been committing adultery in 1314, the two men were hideously executed.