Philippa of Antioch (1148 - 1178)
Mistress of: Andronikos I Komnenos.
Tenure: 1166 – 1167.
Royal Bastards: None.
Fall From Power: He Left her.
In about 1153, Prince Andronikos I Komnenos was caught conspiring against Emperor Manuel I Komnenos. For his crime, Andronikos was thrown in prison. He spent the next decade or so trying to escape, before he was finally successful. Andronikos hurried off to Kiev under the protection of his cousin Yaroslav Osmomysl of Galicia. Meanwhile, Andronikos smoothed things over with the Emperor by using Yarosalv’s army to help Manuel invade Hungary. The campaign was successful, and the two men returned to Constantinople as best buds. Their friendship was quickly broken again when Andronikos refused to take an oak of allegiance to the new King of Hungary, whom Manuel desired to be his own successor. It probably also didn’t help matters that Andronikos was now sleeping with the Emperor’s niece. Andronikos was handsome and courageous and quite popular with the ladies, but he was also vain and licentious, and this little affair was just a little too close to home for the Emperor.
For his misconduct, Andronikos was told to leave court, and he ran off to live with Raymond, Prince of Antioch, where he was happily greeted by Raymond’s two lovely daughters. The oldest daughter was Maria, the second wife of his friend/enemy Manuel, who was a renowned beauty. Perhaps wisely, however, Andronikos decided it best not to sleep with her, instead turning his attention to the younger sister, Philippa, who was likewise attractive, being a tall and charming blonde. Andronikos turned on the charisma and quickly seduced Philippa. Manuel was livid when news of Andronikos’ debauchery reached him, and with the threat of imprisonment (or worse) looming, Andronikos decided it best to flee – he abandoned Philippa and settled in Jerusalem, where he befriended the King there.
Back in Antioch, Philippa was wed to a much more suitable partner: Humphrey II of Toron, a widower and lord. She had no children by her husband and died around the age of thirty in 1178. Andronikos went on to invade Constantinople; he had Maria strangled and likely also arranged the murder of her son and Manuel’s heir after declaring himself co-emperor. Andronikos settled nicely onto the throne, and married the twelve-year-old Agnes of France, making her 53 years younger than her husband. Andronikos was not faithful to his young bride; however, and continued having affairs.
Andronikos resolved to eliminate the aristocracy, and he was nearly successful. He became increasingly violent and paranoid, and in 1185 ordered that all prisoners, exiles and their families be executed, leading to several revolts. A few months later, Andronikos was deposed and brutally tortured by an angry mob while tied to a post. He died after two soldiers decided to see who could penetrate his body deeper with a sword.
- Portraits of ” Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and his second wife Maria” by an unknown artist, c. 1100s (image). Maria was Philippa’s elder sister, whom she said was to greatly resemble.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), “Andronicus I” , Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 975–976.
- Kyhlberg, Ola Gånget ut min hand (Riddarholmskyrkans stiftargravar Kungl). Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien. Stockholm: 1997.
- Steven Runciman. A History of the Crusades, Vol. II: The Kingdom of Jerusalem. Cambridge University Press, 1952.