DIR Logo
An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

map DIR Atlas

Eudocia (third wife of Constantine V)

Lynda Garland
University of New England, New South Wales

It was considered a sign of Constantine's religious unorthodoxy and tendency to heresy that he contracted a third marriage, which was always frowned on by some sections of the Orthodox Church: the next emperor to contract a third marriage was Leo VI in 899.

The date of Constantine's marriage to Eudocia is not known (his second wife, Maria, apparently died early in 751), but by 769 the couple had five sons -- Christopher, Nicephorus, Nicetas, Eudoxius, and Anthimus -- and at least one daughter, Anthusa, which means 'flourishing'.[[1]] Nicephorus who appears to have been the second eldest son, was certainly old enough to be the figure-head of an attempted coup against Irene in October 780, which might imply that the marriage took place c. 755 or before[[2]]

It was not until 769 that Eudocia was crowned: 'in this year the thrice-married emperor crowned his wife Eudocia as his third Augusta in the Tribunal of the Nineteen Couches on 1 April, a Saturday. And the two [eldest] sons he had by her, Christopher and Nicephorus, he appointed Caesars in the same Tribunal on the next day, which was 2 April and Easter Sunday… He likewise placed a golden mantle and a crown upon their youngest brother Nicetas, whom he appointed nobilissimus.' Eudocia's coronation is thus specifically linked with her production of imperial sons. Following this ceremony, in the course of the customary procession to St Sophia the new appointees gave largess in the form of newly minted-coins to passers-by between the palace and the Great Church.[[3]]

Like Constantine's first wife, the Chazar princess Irene, Eudocia appears to have been an unashamed iconophile and an enthusiastic supporter of monastic institutions, despite her husband's iconoclast and anti-monastic policies. She certainly made generous donations to the monastery of St Anthusa of Mantineon, where she went for help during a difficult pregnancy. Furthermore, her daughter Anthusa, who was presumably named in honour of this saint, was also an iconophile and later became a nun. That her sister-in-law Anthusa was named by the empress Irene (widow of Leo IV) in 780 as a possible co-regent with her for her son Constantine VI perhaps implies that Eudocia was no longer alive, though Irene may have had a hidden agenda here as in so much else: in any case Anthusa refused the honour and remained in the palace devoting herself to good works.[[4]]


Theophanes, Chronographia, trans. C. Mango & R. Scott, with G. Greatrex, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History AD 284-813, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople: Short History, ed. & tr. C. Mango, Washington DC, 1990.

Synaxarium Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae, ed. H. Delehaye, Propylaeum ad AASS Nov., Brussels, 1902, 613-14, 848-52.

C. Mango, 'St Anthusa of Mantineon and the Family of Constantine V,' Analecta Bollandiana 100 (1982), 408-09.

R. Morris, Monks and Laymen in Byzantium 843-1118, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1995).


[[1]]Theophanes AM 6259, 6260 [AD 766/7, 767/8]. The patriarch Nicephorus only records the birth of Nicetas (in 763) and Anthimus (in 768/9): Short History, 78, 86.

[[2]]Theophanes AM 6273 [AD 780/1].

[[3]] Theophanes AM 6260 [AD 767/8]; Nicephorus 87.

[[4]] Mango, Analecta Bollandiana, 100 (1982) 408-09; Syn. CP. 613-14, 848-52.

Copyright (C) 2000, Lynda Garland. This file may be copied on the condition that the entire contents, including the header and this copyright notice, remain intact.
Comments to: Lynda Garland.

Updated:26 July 2000

For more detailed geographical information, please use the DIR/ORBAntique and Medieval Atlas below. Click on the appropriate part of the map below to access large area maps.

Clickable ImageS-EN-O/N-WS-O/S-WN-E

Return to the Imperial Index