Byzantine Emperors had ‘illegitimate’ children like most of the rulers of their time. These offspring it turns out were useful. Michael VIII Paleologus sent one such daughter (Maria Palaiologina) to be married to Hulagu Khan (a grandson of Ghenghis Khan). He however died before she arrived, so she was married to his son Abaka Khan. It then turns out that this husband was assassinated by this brother years later and Mary returned to Constantinople. Understandably (I assume) tired of international intrigue Mary became a nun and renovated the church which still stands in Istanbul known as St Mary of the Mongols. It was one of the few Orthodox churches of Constantinople to be granted permission to continue to as a church after the fall of the city in 1453. Yet another ‘diamond in the rough’ inconspicuously occupying a corner of ancient Istanbul.
Watercolour on 600gm paper