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Forty days of lent in her front, Easter from her behind ...the story of an "ugly" Byzantine Empress.

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

The following text also comes from Plato Rodokanakis in his work on the Byzantine Women. It tells the story of an ugly bride for the penultimate Byzantine Emperor John XVI Palaiologos.

Ο προτελευταίος αυτοκράτορας και υιός του Μανουήλ Β' Παλαιολόγου
Ιωάννης Η' Παλαιολόγος

[...] he wanted to marry the daughter of the Marquis Montis Ferrara Sophia, who was brought from Italy to Constantinople. John seems to have revered his father too much and, because he did not want to upset him, did not immediately show how disgusted the nymph from Italy was. They were crowned, and the daughter of the Marquis Montis Ferrara entered the Palace with the insignia “Greek Empress.

But nothing more could be offered to her by King John. Because the daughter had a very nice body, a swan neck, blond hair, whose plumage reached like streams gilded up to the ankles, and she also had the advantage of walking very majestically, I was holding my head high, but unfortunately her head was the concentration of all ugliness. Its form was anything but attractive, to such an extent that, when one saw it, one was forced to recall the popular discourse in use despite the Byzantine in similar circumstances. "Forty days of lent from the front, and Easter from the back." So John was careful not to step on the doorstep of the marital dormitory. The new queen, on the other hand, dissatisfied with her husband's contempt, was locked in her rooms. [...]
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