Maria Lekapene, Empress of the Bulgarians

Neither a Saint nor a Malefactress

Mirosław J. Leszka and Zofia A. Brzozowska

Jagiellonian University Press

Maria Lekapene, Empress of the Bulgarians

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Pub Date: December 2018

ISBN: 9788323344414

238 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $55.00£43.00

Maria Lekapene, Empress of the Bulgarians

Neither a Saint nor a Malefactress

Mirosław J. Leszka and Zofia A. Brzozowska

Jagiellonian University Press

The book presents the biography of Maria, daughter of Christopher Lekapenos (the eldest son of emperor Romanos I). For about 35 years, she was the tsaritsa of the Bulgarians at the side of her husband, Tsar Peter (927-969). Her character is but dimly visible in the sources; interestingly, the few sources that do mention her are almost exclusively of Byzantine provenance. Most scholars who have dealt with her life—usually as a side note to studies on Peter’s reign—saw in her a representative of the interests of Constantinople and a propagator of Byzantine culture. Some have gone so far as to call her a Byzantine agent at the Bulgarian court.

In this book, the first monograph on Maria ever to have been written, Mirosław J. Leszka and Zofia A. Brzozowska construct a balanced narrative of the tsaritsa’s life and her role in tenth-century Bulgaria through meticulous analysis of primary sources, putting aside biases. The publication is supplemented by a translation of the fragments of the Hellenic and Roman Chronicle of the second redaction devoted to Maria and Peter.
Zofia A. Brzozowska and Mirosław J. Leszka treat the protagonist of their book with undeniable sympathy (as signaled already in the title). Following the footprints of Maria Lekapene, the authors paint a vivid picture of Byzantium in the first half of the tenth century, as well as present the history of its neighbor – the Bulgarian state; for it is there that the grand political game of the Constantinople court ‘cast’ Maria, daughter of Romanos Lekapenos. The biography of Maria Lekapene is an eagerly awaited publication in the international Byzantinological and Slavicist community; I predict that it will be a scholarly success. Ireneusz Milewski, University of Gdańsk

About the Author

Mirosław J. Leszka is full professor at the Department of Byzantine History, Faculty of Philosophy and History, University of Lodz. His scholarly interests include imperial power in the early and middle Byzantine periods, the role of women at the court in Constantinople, and especially the history of Bulgaria (7th–11th cent.). He is the author or coauthor of eight books as well as over 150 articles and reviews.

Zofia A. Brzozowska is employed at the Department of Slavic Studies, Faculty of Philology, University of Lodz. A historian, Byzantinologist, and Paleoslavist, she focuses her research on the spiritual culture of the medieval Slavia Orthodoxa, the literature of Old Rus', and the history of women in the Middle Ages. She has authored two books as well as over fifty articles, book reviews, and translations.

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