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Comnēna, Anna

, daughter of the Byzantine emperor Alexius I. (Comnenus), and author of one of the most valuable of the Byzantine histories. She was born December 1st, 1083, and received a liberal education, showing at an early age a great fondness for literary pursuits, combined with an intriguing disposition, which found much to gratify it in the court of Constantinople. Failing to induce her father on his death-bed to leave the imperial crown to her, she set on foot a conspiracy to destroy the life of her brother Iohannes, the lawful heir (1118), but her husband, Nicephorus Bryennius, a nobleman of the court, refused his aid. Her brother spared her life and only temporarily deprived her of her property; but she retired from the court and, after spending some time in historical composition, entered a convent, where she died in 1148. Her life of her father, in eighteen books, is elaborately rhetorical and always eulogistic, yet it is of much value to the historian of the later Empire. Sir Walter Scott introduces her in a memorable chapter of his novel, Count Robert of Paris. The best edition of her history is that of Schopen and Reifferscheid, 2 vols. (1839-78). On her life and career, see Oster's work, Anna Comnena, 3 vols. (1868-71).

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