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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Maria of Alania, Daughter of Bagrat IV, King of Georgia

Sale: Triton XI, Lot: 1171. Estimate $7500. 
Closing Date: Monday, 7 January 2008. 
Sold For $8000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Maria of Alania. Empress 1071/3-81. PB Seal (39mm, 32.24 g, 12h). [QEOTOKE B]OHQEI in circular inscription; MP (ligate) and QV across field; bust of Theotokos facing, wearing chiton and maphorion, holding medallion of child Christ before her chest / MARIA [C]EBACTH, crowned bust of Maria, holding scepter surmounted by cross over crescent in right hand, left hand raised before chest. BLS I -; DOCBS -; Seyrig -; Vatican -; Orghidan -; Jordanov -. Good VF, light tan patina, minor repair on the obverse.

From the Collection of Robert E. Hecht. Ex Gorny & Mosch 155 (March 5, 2007), lot 413.

Maria, a Georgian princess renowned for her beauty and intelligence, became the wife of two emperors. In 1070 she married Michael VII Ducas, with whom she had her only child, Constantine. When Michael was forced to abdicate and retire to a monastery in 1078, she married his successor, Nicephorus III Botaniates, on the condition that he name Constantine his heir. Nicephorus eventually disinherited Constantine, and Maria lent her support to Alexius I. For a moment, it appeared that Maria might become empress for a third time; upon Alexius’ accession, she stayed in the imperial palace for a week, while Alexius hesitated crowning his young wife Eirene Doukaina. Under pressure from the patriarch of Constantinople Eirene was crowned, and Maria left the palace. Her political career effectively ended with the death of Constantine. She became a nun, but retained a court at her palace and actively sponsored numerous literary figures until her death sometime after 1103.