The Fork of the Byzantine Princess, Venice, Italy

She would touch nothing with her hands. Only after the eunuchs had cut her food up into tiny pieces would she gracefully pick one up and put it to her mouth, using a small golden fork with only two tines…

Indeed it was a meal at the Ducal Palace in Venice, where Maria Argyre had arrived as a newlywed, after her marriage to the Doge’s son had taken place in Constantinople in 1004. The Byzantine princess, eating with her little golden fork, did not know that she would be changing western savoir manger forever.  That is how the fork entered the lives of Europeans.

Where she grew up – in the Byzantine court – filled with eunuchs and women, far from the storms and intrigues of the city, she lived in the peaceful confines of her flowering gardens and the gurgling of the springs near the imperial palace. Upon coming to Venice, Venetians felt her upbringing had been lax and pretentious because she didn’t want to wash herself in the common baths of the unrefined city – Venice in 1004 – and would make her servants collect rain water for her to bathe in, and she perfumed her room with wild thyme…

An excerpt from the book MY VENICE

"Byzantine Princesses" Dolce & Gabbana, Fall 2013 , Italy

"Byzantine Princesses" Dolce & Gabbana, Fall 2013 , Italy

Barbara Athanassiadis