Mariya Angelika of Reza
Princess Mariya Angelika Barbanov (15th of The Deep Cold, 1705 - 6th of the Grand Harvest, 1738), nicknamed Blackwing, was a Haeseni princess and member of House Barbanov, later marrying Duke Adrian of Adria and thus becoming the Duchess-Consort of Adria. She'd become the female face of the Holy Orenian Empire when her husband was elected to the position of Lord Protector in 1731 following the death and scandal of Alexander II. As the eldest daughter of King Marius II and his primary consort, the late Valera of Adria, she was additionally bestowed the titular honor of Princess-Royal at birth.
As the firstborn child to the then Crown-Prince of Hanseti-Ruska, Marius I and his consort Valera of Adria, Mariya Angelika's birth was widely celebrated throughout the Haeseni lands. Though much of the population longed for a son and future heir, the birth of a healthy child to the couple brought upon great joy over the young Princess-Consort’s fertility. Mariya was bestowed the honorary title of ‘Princess Royal of Reza’, being the first royal daughter born to the new capital. Her mother would bear two other children, before ultimately succumbing to sickness following the birth of her final child, Prince Petyr Andrik, whomst would also pass soon after. Valera's death was considered to have had a profound affect upon young Mariya, effectively ridding her of her only source of maternal influence. Throughout her childhood, she was known for her widely volatile and snide temperament, having largely assimilated into the renowned image of her distant aunt and primary carer, Aleksandra of Vidaus.
Mariya's relationship with her various siblings would prove difficult. Her younger sister Sofiya stayed far out of the public eye, leaving Mariya in a fairly solitary position during court events, and the likes. Though for the most part cordial to her much younger half-siblings, she was known to have despised her Father's second wife, Klaudia of Vasiland. With Marius proving a distant Father, Mariya largely spent her times within the manor of the Alimar family, becoming quick companions of their two sons- Kazimar and Vladrick, who'd become lifelong friends. She was also noted to have been close with the Lady Milena of Adria, publicly supporting her claim to Mariya's brother, Andrew III's consortship.
Despite a brief courtship shared with Tiberius Tiber in her early teenage years, Mariya's first formal betrothal was to that of her close childhood friend, Vladrick I, Prince of Rubern. It was rumoured that the Princess had broken off relations with Tiberius in anticipation of Vladrick's return to court, and the two were known to have been incredibly happy together. Most notably, however, they chose to remain unwed for a number of years- a decision in which would later cripple the engagement.
It was during this time in which the Duke of Adria, Adrian Sarkozic arrived upon the doors of the city of Reza, declaring his intent to seek a Barbov bride. He was promptly suggested Mariya by her sister Sofiya Theodosiya, despite her public engagement to the Ruberni Prince Vladrick.
She was henceforth brought forth to the Duke, immediately rejecting his offer of marriage due to her standing engagement. Her sister Sofiya, however, persisted in urging Mariya towards Adrian, and after ongoing negotiations, caused her sister to relent in favour of the Duke's offer. Though reluctant, Mariya was convinced of a favourable political alliance between the Haenseni and Adrian people.
The betrothal would later prove to inspire a widely known scandal of the time, as the Duke was found to be engaged to both Mariya and the Princess Ester of Curonia, at the same time. Adrian had sought a Barbov alliance without first nullifying his prior arrangements, leading an explosive confrontation during Emperor Alexander's coming of age feast, where the two princesses discovered each other’s promised marriage. Secondary to the double-engagement discovery, it was at this same event where Prince Vladrick was informed of the loss of the betrothal to his beloved princess.
The scandal caused tensions to quickly rise between Rubern and Adria, with the Duke and Prince establishing a rivalry-like relationship. Accompanied by a sizeable retinue of soldiers, Adrian later petitioned the court of Mariya’s brother, King Andrew III for her official hand in marriage- where it was thus declared that she was to wed the Duke of Adria.
The pair married within Reza’s cathedral on the 8th of the Sun’s Smile, 1729, sealing in matrimony a historic alliance of crows.
As Duchess of Adria
Following her wedding, the Princess relocated to the town of Renzfeld, capital of the Duchy of Adria. She immediately thrust herself into her duties as Duchess, finding solace in the straightforwardness and simplicity of her work. Two years after their marriage, the ducal pair welcomed their first child- a healthy baby boy. Struggling to connect emotionally with her child, Mariya found motherhood inherently difficult, often times leaving her son's early upbringing entirely to the staff of the court.
She was known to have engaged with the affairs of Adrian life, aiding in a number of ventures both internally in the Duchy, as well as outside relations. Despite a tumultuous relationship, Mariya and Adrian were collectively propelled by a devout patriotism to Highland beliefs.
It was that same year in which her husband was declared as the Lord-Protector of Oren following the death and legitimacy scandal of Alexander II.
The house of Sarkozic, now rebranded as de Sarkozy, then took residence within the Imperial city of Helena- beginning to rebuild the fractured pieces of the empire. This started first and foremost with the formation of a new capital city, to which Mariya aided in small parts of the design, as well as overseeing the construction. Within a letter to her Aunt Mariya Oliviya of Haense, the Lady-Protector is allegedly to have quoted:
A city stands anew upon the ruins of war, the curses of empires prior. For each man and woman's toils in her construction, there shall be thrice those who prosper within Helena's walls. No longer shall she lack Imperial grandeur, for the epitome of one's presence is in one's veneer, is it not?
Throughout her residency within Helena, and further her positions within the Empire, Mariya is regarded to have somewhat lessened in her former cold and detached demeanour. The Duchess took upon her role with pride, hosting a variety of guests within the Palace's walls, as well as arranging for numerous amount of events to be held. It was in this time that Mariya bore three more children, one son and two daughters. Even given their lacklustre marriage, Mariya and Adrian confided within eachother, sporting plans for an empire of new- an Empire beneath the rule of Sarkozy. The pair began preparations for a likely ascension to Imperial rule following the conclusion of the Orcish war.
Driven by a newfound desire for power, she'd embrace the coming responsibility, the role of Empress- a position she was not born, nor raised to ever hold. Alongside her cousin-in-law, Helaine Sarkozy, she began drafting extensive plans for a revival of Imperial courtly life. She'd also have the Empress' suite within the Novellen palace tailored custom to her, even though she did not yet reside within the room, nor have public authority to own it. A grand mural of Reza was painted across the suite's roof, as well as a number of Haenseni portraits and art pieces commissioned to occupy the wall space.
Allegedly, the Duchess also had Coronation garments tailored, as well as a variety of crowns worthy of an Empress-Consort. Correspondence spoke of a cascading golden gown, decorated with intricate embroidery symbols of both her Hanseni and Imperial heritage. To accompany, both a red sash and a historic headpiece- a crown inspired by the one in which her Mother Valera had worn in a single instance, her wedding to the King Marius, and never again. The existence of said gown is contested, as no proof was ever found, par a few letters exchanged between Mariya and Milena.
However tragedy would strike the Empire, with the Lord Protector, Mariya's husband, falling ill and passing away shortly after the a victory in the Orcish battle. With her plans shattered, now both widowed and without power, she fell into an extreme depressive state. From there onward, she lived between Helena and Haense- finding much grief in the memories held within the new Imperial Capital. Mariya wore the darkened colours of mourning for the remainder of her life, rarely seen outside of the confines of her room.
"Yet if I’ve learnt anything from my time in the capital, it is that we must cherish the moments we can. I cherish that moment, even if I must return to a grimmer reality moments later. I advise you to do the same, Queen Milena. We cannot pour our hearts into each waking hour, for they will only fall subject to the pains of rulership." -Mariya in her final letter to the Queen Milena of Adria
But a single year following Adrian's death, Mariya paid a visit to the ruins of her prior home, Reza. It was within the remnants of the Prikaz palace that the Duchess met a gruesome end- murdered assumedly by one opposing the Sarkozic regime. Her body was later recovered, though details of her death are left mostly unknown.
Following her murder, those handmaidens closest to Mariya delivered a series of letters- detailing her final words to numerous people, as well as leaving items to her will. Months later, the Queen Milena was officially coronated wearing a dress with stark similarities to words spoken of the Duchess' alleged coronation gown, sparking theories that in fact, it was passed on to the Hanseni Queen.
|Joseph Clement, Duke of Helena||1st of Malin's Welcome, 1731||Alive||Anne Augusta, Princess Imperial||Firstborn child of Adrian and Maria. Sucessor of Adrian, Duke of Adria.|
|George Casimir de Sarkozy||19th of the First Seed, 1735||Alive||Henrietta, Princess of Alstion||Secondborn child of Adrian and Maria. Count of Pompourelia|
|Philippa Valeria de Sarkozy||7th of the Grand Harvest, 1736||Alive||Unwed||Thirdborn child of Adrian and Maria. Left the Imperial lifestyle to retire to a convent in her early years, alongside her sister Anna.|
|Anna Carolina de Sarkozy||12th of the Deep Cold, 1737||Alive||Unwed||Fourthborn child of Adrian and Maria. Left the Imperial lifestyle to retire to a convent in her early years, alongside her sister Philippa.|
|Ancestors of Mariya Angelika of Reza|