Jelena of Bulgaria
Queen of Serbia, and from 1346 Empress of the Serbs and Greeks
Born c.1310 - Died c.1376
Claim to fame: a capable and respected Orthodox queen
As the sister of Ivan Alexander of Bulgaria, Jelena married King Stefan Uroš IV Dušan of Serbia in 1332 to solidify peace between Bulgaria and Serbia.
Jelena was well educated and became a prominent figure in the Serbian royal court as well as political, public and religious life. She is believed to be the first woman to visit the religious site of Mount Athos in 1347.
After the death of her husband, Jelena acted as regent of Serbia between 1355–1356. Her son, Stefan Uroš V, was known as ‘the Weak’ and remained heavily dependent on his mother and advisors even after reaching majority. Jelena continued to play an active role in her son’s politics despite becoming a nun and living under the religious name Elisaveta.
Jelena’s image above is a mid-14th century fresco from Lesnovo Monastery, Macedonia.
Wiki, Russian Wiki, Wikimedia Commons, Lesnovo Monastery