Groesbeek – Theophanu
M39
Groesbeek
980

Groesbeek – Theophanu

Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu

For a brief moment in the year 980, Groesbeek was the centre of the world.At this time, Groesbeek was part of the Holy Roman Empire and was ruled by the young emperor, Otto II.Otto II married Theophanu, an exotic princess from far-away and civilised Byzantium (now Istanbul), who is supposed to have given birth to a son and imperial heir, Otto III, in Groesbeek.

Empress Theophanu
Although just eleven when she came to the West, Theophanu grew into a true, regal empress. She was described by her contemporaries as beautiful, intelligent and charming. 

Compared to the civilised Byzantium, the world Theophanu had arrived in was crude and uncivilised. Here, people wore clothing made of wool and leather, and learning was looked on with suspicion. Theophanu wore silk could read and write and ate her food with a knife and fork. On her arrival, the Byzantine princess brought civilisation to the court.

Twins
In 980, the imperial couple was travelling from Aachen to the imperial palace at the Valkhof in Nijmegen when Theophanu, who was heavily pregnant, was forced to stop with the imperial procession in the Ketelwoud woods between Cleves and Nijmegen. Far beneath her rank and position, Theophanu gave birth in humble conditions to twins: a boy and a girl. The little girl died before she could be baptised and no record of her name has survived. The boy was named Otto, and later became Emperor Otto III. Opinions vary as to the exact place where the empress gave birth, but the people of Groesbeek are convinced it was here.

Empress mother

One of the many things the West can be grateful to Theophanu for introducing, was Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was an important Byzantine saint who provided the model for the traditional Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (known in other cultures as Father Christmas or Santa Claus). The Valkhof in Nijmegen was one of Theophanu´s most beloved palaces. When Otto II died at a young age in 983, Theophanu became the first woman ever to control an empire. She ruled as Empress Mother (Empress dowager) on behalf of her son, Otto III. She died in her beloved Nijmegen in 991 and is buried in the Church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne.

Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
Groesbeek – Theophanu
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