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Ioannis Komnenos, 29th Great-Grandfather

May 30, 2017 1 Comment

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire

John Komnenos (Greek: Ἰωάννης Κομνηνός; ca. 1015 – 12 July 1067) was a Byzantine aristocrat and military leader. The younger brother of Emperor Isaac I Komnenos, he served as Domestic of the Schools during Isaac’s brief reign (1057–59). When Isaac I abdicated, Constantine X Doukas became emperor and John withdrew from public life until his death in 1067. Through his son Alexios I Komnenos, who became emperor in 1081, he was the progenitor of the Komnenian dynasty that ruled the Byzantine Empire from 1081 until 1185, and the Empire of Trebizond from 1204 until 1461.


John Komnenos was born ca. 1015 as the younger son of the patrikios Manuel Erotikos Komnenos, a senior military commander in the late reign of Basil II (ruled 976–1025). He is first mentioned in 1057, the year his elder brother Isaac I Komnenos, at the head of a group of generals, rebelled against Michael VI and forced him off the throne. At the time of the revolt, John held the post of doux, but after his brother’s victory, he was raised to the rank of kouropalates and appointed as Domestic of the Schools of the West.

Nothing is known of John’s activities during his brother’s reign, although Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger, who married John’s granddaughter Anna Komnene, says that in his capacity as Domestic of the West he left his (unspecified) acts as an “immortal monument” to the people of the Balkan provinces.

Isaac’s reign was cut short by his clash with the powerful Patriarch of Constantinople,Michael Keroularios, who had been instrumental in securing Michael VI’s abdication, and the powerful civil aristocracy of the capital. Keroularios and his supporters led the opposition against Isaac’s stringent economizing policies, forcing him to resign on 22 November 1059, after which he withdrew to the Stoudios Monastery.

The crown then passed to Constantine X Doukas (r. 1059–67), although Bryennios asserts that it was first offered to John, who refused it, despite the pressure of his wife, Anna Dalassene, to accept. According to the historian Konstantinos Varzos, however, this version is suspect, and may well be a post-fact attempt at legitimizing the eventual usurpation of the throne by John’s son, Alexios I Komnenos (r. 1081–1118).

John is not mentioned in the sources during the reign of Constantine X, perhaps indicating, according to Konstantinos Varzos, that he was in imperial disfavour, despite Bryennios’ assertion that both he and his brother remained much honoured by the new emperor.The late 12th-century typikon of the Monastery of Christ Philanthropos, founded by Alexios I’s wife Irene Doukaina, is the only source to record that John Komnenos retired to a monastery, probably at the same time as his wife, Anna Dalassene. He died as a monk on 12 July 1067.

Family..John Komnenos married Anna Dalassene, the daughter of Alexios Charon, most likely in 1044. Anna, born ca. 1028, long outlived her husband and after his death ran the family as its undisputed matriarch. Anna became involved in conspiracies against the Doukas family, whom she never forgave for taking the throne in 1059. Later she also played a major role in the successful overthrow of Nikephoros III Botaneiates (r. 1078–81) and the rise of her son Alexios to the throne. After that, and for about fifteen years, she served as the virtual co-ruler of the empire along her son. She then retired to a monastery, where she died in 1100 or 1102.

With Anna, John had eight children, five boys and three girls:

  • Manuel Komnenos (ca. 1045 – 1071), kouropalates and protostrator, married a relative ofRomanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068–71)
  • Maria Komnene (ca. 1047 – after 1094), married the panhypersebastos Michael Taronites
  • Isaac Komnenos (ca. 1050 – 1102/4), sebastokrator, married Irene, daughter of the ruler of Alania
  • Eudokia Komnene (ca. 1052 – before 1136), married Nikephoros Melissenos.
  • Theodora Komnene (ca. 1054 – before 1136), married the kouropalates Constantine Diogenes, son of Romanos IV.
  • Alexios Komnenos (1057–1118), the future emperor, married Irene Doukaina.
  • Adrianos Komnenos (ca. 1060 – 1105), protosebastos, married Zoe Doukaina.
  • Nikephoros Komnenos (ca. 1062 – after 1136), pansebastos sebastos and droungarios of the fleet.

IOANNES Komnenos, son of MANUEL Erotikos Komnenos & his wife — ([1015]-12 Jul 1067).  Nikephoros Bryennios names “maiori natu Isaacio…iunior Ioannes” as the two sons of “Comneni Manuelis” .  His parentage is confirmed by the Alexeiad which describes Emperor Isaakios Komnenos as brother-in-law of Anna Dalassena, an earlier passage naming him Ioannes [43].  Patrikios.  Skylitzes records that Emperor Isaakios created “Joannem fratrem et Catacalon Combustum curopalatas” and “fratrem suum magnum domesticum” after his accession, in 1057 .  His brother abdicated in his favour 25 Dec 1059, but Ioannes refused the throne.  He became a monk as IOANNES.  The list of obituaries of Empress Eirene Doukas’s family records the death “12 Jul, monk John father of Emperor”.

m ([1042]) ANNA Dalassena, daughter of ALEXIOS Kharon Prefect of Italy & his wife — Dalassena (-1 Nov/27 Apr 1100/01).  Nikephoros Bryennios records the marriage of “Ioanni” and “filia Charonis Alexii…Anna”, recording that her mother was “genus a Dalassenis”.  The Alexeiad names “Anna Dalassena, the mother of the Komneni” when recording that she arranged the marriage of “the grandson of Botaneiates and the daughter of Manuel her eldest son”.  Despoina 1048/57.  Regent of Byzantium 1081 and 1094-1095.  She became a nun at Pantopopte convent which she founded.  The list of obituaries of Empress Eirene Doukas’s family records the death “1 Nov, Anna, mother of the Emperor”.

Ioannes Komnenos & his wife had eight children:

  1. MANUEL Komnenos (-killed in battle Bithynia 17 Apr [1070/early 1071]).  Nikephoros Bryennios names (in order) “Manuel, Isaacius, Alexius, Adrianus, Nicephorus” as the five sons of “Ioanni” and his wife Anna [50].  The Alexeiad records that “Isaakios and Alexios had an elder brother Manuel, the first-born of all the children [of] Ioannes Komnenos” and that he was appointed “commander-in-chief of the whole of Asia” by Emperor Romanos Diogenes [51].  Nikephoros Bryennios records that “Manuel” was invested as “curopalates, dux summus Orientalium” by Emperor Romanos but was captured by the Turks “cum duobus sororem suarum viris, Melisseno et Taronita” .  Protoproedros.  Kuropalates [1068].  Protostrator and strategos autokrator in Anatolia 1067/71.  His death is dated from the Alexeiad recording that the mother of the future Emperor Alexios I prevented her son from campaigning with Emperor Romanos Diogenes because “she was mourning the recent death of her eldest son Manuel” [53].  The list of obituaries of Empress Eirene Doukas’s family records the death “17 Apr, Manuel brother of the Emperor” .  m ([1068]) — Diogene, relative of ROMANOS Diogenes, daughter of —.  The primary source which confirms her parentage and marriage has not yet been identified.  The name of Manuel’s wife is not known.  The list of obituaries of Empress Eirene Doukas’s family records the death “15 May, Irene, wife of brother of the Emperor”, without specifying to which brother this refers.  It is probable that it refers to Irena, wife of Isaakios.  However, Irena is recorded as having become a nun as Xene and, as the list of obituaries mainly uses the monastic names of all individuals where relevant, it is not impossible that it relates to the wife of one of the emperor’s other brothers, Manuel or Nikephoros, whose wives’ names are not otherwise known.  It is felt least likely that it refers to the wife of Manuel, as she probably remarried after her husband’s early death and may not thereafter have been considered a member of the family whose death needed to be recorded in the list of obituaries.
Ioannis Komnenos (1015 – 1067)
29th great-grandfather
Alexios I Emperor of the Byzantine Empire Comnenus (1048 – 1118)
son of Ioannis Komnenos
Theodora Comnena (1096 – 1139)
daughter of Alexios I Emperor of the Byzantine Empire Comnenus
Andronikos Dukas Angelos (1122 – 1185)
son of Theodora Comnena
Alexios Emperor Byzantine Empire (1153 – 1204)
son of Andronikos Dukas Angelos
Empress Anna Komnene Angelina Nicaea (1176 – 1212)
daughter of Alexios Emperor Byzantine Empire
MARIA Laskarina (1206 – 1270)
daughter of Empress Anna Komnene Angelina Nicaea
King of Hungary Stephen V (1240 – 1277)
son of MARIA Laskarina
Marie DeHungary (1257 – 1323)
daughter of King of Hungary Stephen V
Marguerite Sicily Naples (1273 – 1299)
daughter of Marie DeHungary
Jeanne DeVALOIS (1294 – 1342)
daughter of Marguerite Sicily Naples
Philippa deHainault (1311 – 1369)
daughter of Jeanne DeVALOIS
John of Gaunt – Duke of Lancaster – Plantagenet (1340 – 1399)
son of Philippa deHainault
Elizabeth Plantagenet (1363 – 1425)
daughter of John of Gaunt – Duke of Lancaster – Plantagenet
John Holland (1395 – 1447)
son of Elizabeth Plantagenet
Henry Holland (1430 – 1475)
son of John Holland
Henry Holland (1485 – 1561)
son of Henry Holland
Henry Holland (1527 – 1561)
son of Henry Holland
John Holland (1556 – 1628)
son of Henry Holland
Gabriell Francis Holland (1596 – 1660)
son of John Holland
John Holland (1628 – 1710)
son of Gabriell Francis Holland
Mary Elizabeth Holland (1620 – 1681)
daughter of John Holland
Richard Dearden (1645 – 1747)
son of Mary Elizabeth Holland
George Dearden (1705 – 1749)
son of Richard Dearden
George Darden (1734 – 1807)
son of George Dearden
David Darden (1770 – 1820)
son of George Darden
Minerva Truly Darden (1806 – 1837)
daughter of David Darden
Sarah E Hughes (1829 – 1911)
daughter of Minerva Truly Darden
Lucinda Jane Armer (1847 – 1939)
daughter of Sarah E Hughes
George Harvey Taylor (1884 – 1941)
son of Lucinda Jane Armer
Ruby Lee Taylor (1922 – 2008)
daughter of George Harvey Taylor
Pamela Morse
I am the daughter of Ruby Lee Taylor


Magical Marjoram

July 16, 2015 3 Comments

marjoram plant

marjoram plant

Marjoram has been used medicinally for centuries. The botanical name, Origanum majorana, is derived from Greek words meaning joy (oros) of the mountains (ganos).  This culinary herb is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes to add a warm woody flavor.  As an herbal remedy the tea made from dried leaves and flowers is used as a treatment for liver disease, vocal chord distress, insomnia, coughs, indigestion, headaches and migraines. The antispasmodic qualities of the herb are used topically in ointments and massage oils to relive muscle soreness.

The marjoram in my garden is highly productive, so I have looked into ways to use my large harvest.  I do cook with it, but have not yet tried drinking the tea.  On the new moon each month I do a clean sweep ritual.  I clean and clear my home of stale energy, throw away or give away items no longer needed, then refresh the marjoram sachets in the 4 corners of my home.  The bundles are symbolic as well as aromatic.  I meditate on new beginnings and fresh projects while I dispose of the old herbs in the back yard and replace them with freshly harvested marjoram from my front yard.  The process only takes about 5 minutes but it establishes a clean start attitude in my home.  The fresh scent fades, but the mini ritual refreshes my creativity and wellness.

I have learned that the Egyptians dedicated this planet to the god Osiris, who ruled the afterlife.  They used it on the graves of the dead as well as in medicinal preparations.  In Greece both marjoram and oregano, cousins with different effects, were created by Aphrodite. Love potions were made with marjoram, and Greeks crowned the bridal couple with wreaths of marjoram at weddings to ensure happiness.  Continuing the funeral custom, ancient Greeks believed that if marjoram grows on someone’s grave they are content in the afterlife.

I have been trying techniques to enhance my sleep lately.  I developed a couple of small muscular strains yesterday, so I decided to try a marjoram bath in the evening.  I have been using  Epsom salts in my bath to put me to sleep soundly with great success.  I have added ginger as a general tonic, so I thought I would compare that experience to marjoram bathing.  I stayed in the first time for about 30 minutes, got out and sweated into my terry cloth robe for about 10 minutes, then soaked again for 20 minutes .  The effect was very positive.  Not only did I fall deeply and soundly to sleep, but this morning all the little aches had left my body.  One of them had been hanging around for weeks, not too painful, just annoying.  I have already brewed marjoram tea for my bath tonight, with plans to continue this simple and effective remedy from my garden.  I have discovered my own version of the fountain of youth. All I need to do to erase minor pain and alter my level of stress is soak in my own tub.  Tonight I may add a cup of tea internally to add to the sedative effects.  Do remember that sedative and anti depressant are not the same.  This herb, although mild, is used as a downer.  If you want a lift try lemon balm in your bath.

marjoram plant

marjoram plant

Irene, Goddess of Peace and Spring

May 18, 2015 7 Comments

There are several goddesses involved in different aspects of peace.  Spring was a season in ancient Greece associated with military campaigns, therefore a time when peace was hard to achieve. Irene is a daughter of Zeus and Themis, one of the Horai. Along with her sisters she rules natural timing and seasons. Her season is Spring. She is a peace goddess who guards the gates of Mount Olympus. Conscious clear peace is a result of coming into alignment with Divine Time.  Peace and harmony are results of staying in tune with natural rhythm and seasonal harvests.

As mistress of timing and peace Irene is a natural diplomat.  She has the skills and power to negotiate differences between sides to reach solutions. Her symbols, Herme’s staff, corn and the infant Ploutus, represent wealth and abundance.  In times of peace prosperity can flourish and progress can be made.  Now, as in ancient times, war is devastating to both civil and economic success. In personal ways we can employ the wisdom of Irene to bring more peace into our existence.  Take note of the phases of the moon, the seasonal changes around you, and the longer cycles of global warming and dramatic weather.  You don’t have to be a farmer to feel the power of nature’s timekeeping.  How do you fit into the seasons, Gentle Reader?


The Dactyls

May 10, 2015 1 Comment



The race of spirit men who are attendants to the Goddess Cybele are known as the Dactyls. They are small and phallic, like the fingers of human hands.  Cybele is a 5th century Anatolian goddess who became popular in Greece, then Rome in the 3rd century.  She is principally a nature goddess, but has responsibility for nations and the welfare of the people.  She is merged with various other mother figures in Greece and Rome.  The Dactyls discovered metal and metal smithing and taught it to humans.  They are skilled musicians and magicians.  On Crete they are said to have discovered copper.

In English poetry a dactyl is a foot in poetic meter.  The word poetry itself is a dactyl, one long syllable followed by two short.  Greek elegiac poetry was written as a line of dactylic hexameter followed by a line of dactylic pentameter.  This was done to make the lines easy for the players to remember, since they had to memorize and recite long choruses.  This three beat rhythm is a verbal waltz.

Digital now refers to things not crafted by hands, but in cyberspace.  These miracles of programming still require fingers to type in the codes.  Take some time today to consider the meaning of fingers and the ability to employ them.  Prayer position, or namaste, pressing the fingers of both hands together, is significant as a symbol of gratitude and honor.  Sensitivity in each finger brings sensory information to us and allows us to reach out and touch others with feeling.  Everything we touch nourishes our inner wisdom and feeds our souls.  Give some thanks today for everyone who has given you a hand in life.  In what ways do you give as well as receive with your hands? Acknowledge the magic in these exchanges of energy and emotion.

Mintha, Green Goddess

January 18, 2013 2 Comments

Persephone stomps on Mintha

Persephone stomps on Mintha

Mintha, Greek goddess of the mint plant is a fertile herbal mother.  Stewing, growing, and drinking mint can cause euphoric uplift.  Soothing, aiding digestion of food and intuition, mint tea opens the senses and the mind.  Bathing or washing with mint stimulates the skin and the circulation.  The high notes of these aromas evaporate quickly.  The use of mint in aromatherapy is widespread and well accepted.  Peppermint oil is used for everything from headache cure to memory tonic. In the middle east, especially Morocco, mint tea is the beverage of choice for all occasions.

Growing mint is easy.  I grow several varieties, with the most dominant ones winning out and taking over the space.  A source of moisture is all they need to spread like crazy underground.  To harvest it, cut it and hang your bundles in a dry dark place until dry.  I store mine in brown paper bags once dry because I have too much to use jars. I harvest mass amounts throughout the year.   In the summer we drink it every day for the cooling qualities.  Mints mix very well with other herbs and fruits to create flavor layers in tea.

Mintha, the water nymph of myth, had an affair with Haides, god of the underworld, pissing off Persephone, his wife.  In an all too common scenario in Greek mythology, angry wife takes revenge on the nymph, in this case by by stomping on her.  She turns into the mint plant so that every time Persephone steps on her the aroma of mint wafts all over the angry queen.  So whether  you want to uplift your spirits or annoy an angry queen, the goddess Mintha is the tool for the job.

Fumigate Congress

December 2, 2012 5 Comments

Greek Senate

Greek Senate

I watched an excellent program on the history channel about the use of drugs in history. During the discussion of ancient Greece they showed the Senate (from the same word as senility) being fumigated with herbs before they met to discuss matters. The Greeks hot boxed the lawmakers in the chamber with hallucinogenic herbs to make them cordial.  How have we not thought of this?  How did this practice ever disappear?  These people invented classic.  Why has the CIA not been given a mission to find the fumigation recipe they used?

We know they are all on a number of pharmaceuticals, mind and soul altering drugs with disastrous side effects.  We know that they can not distinguish between health care and wellness.  We know we do not trust them with our money, and they have our money.  I say we dose them, gentle readers, and NOT with their own medicine.  It is time for a major toga party on the hill.

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