Tornikes Ancestry
by Don Charles Stone


The following summary of the ancestry of Demetrius Tornikes is based largely on the article “[Eirene?], First Wife of Emperor Isaakios II Angelos, is a Probable Tornikina and Gateway to Antiquity” by Don C Stone and Charles R Owens, published in Foundations, vol. 3, no. 5 (January 2011):

Our argument that the first wife of Emperor Isaac II Angelos was a daughter of Demetrius Tornikes was based on a December 1203 record from the Monastery of St. John the Theologian on Patmos (Patmos Acts 2.131.14). This record names Demetrius' son Constantine Tornikes as the theios (uncle) of the emperor (Alexius IV Angelos, son of Emperor Isaac II Angelos and his first wife). At this time, theios usually meant brother or (less often) brother-in-law of the father or mother, but sometimes, for example, the son of an uncle could be called theios of a child of the nephew (we would call them first cousins once removed, assuming it's a blood relationship). Our article itemized the different possible meanings of theios, noting the rarity of each and whether it was compatible with known information about the families of Constantine Tornikes and Emperor Alexius. We concluded that mother's brother was by far the most plausible interpretation of this use of theios, i.e., that Constantine Tornikes was very likely a brother of the first wife of Emperor Isaac II Angelos.

See the cited article for a more detailed analysis of this Patmos record and related information. This is the only record known to mention a relationship between Alexius IV and the Tornikes family, but note that Alexius IV reigned for less than a half a year.


The notation used in the following chart is an adaptation of some established conventions for pedigree or lineage charts:
  • Marriage is indicated by an equals sign: . The upper line of the equals sign can be viewed as indicating the legal bond of marriage. The lower line can be viewed as indicating the physical relationship, and if the marriage produced offspring, it is reshaped to lead to the offspring: . The upper line is omitted in a non-marriage liaison producing offspring: . The upper line is dashed if the marriage is uncertain: or .
  • The parent-child relationship is shown by a connecting line (often curved or segmented) extending from the marriage or liaison symbol to the child.
  • Connecting lines may branch to show multiple children.
This notation also has these properties:
  • Males appear in rectangles and females in rectangles with rounded corners (similar to genograms, in which males appear as squares and females as circles). Emperors (augusti) and empresses (augustae) have a purple border.
  • Connections that are certain or almost certain are represented with solid connecting lines.
  • Connections that are plausible but not certain or almost certain are shown with dashed connecting lines.
  • Dotted lines are used to represent omitted generations, by analogy with ellipsis ("...") in text. (Warning: some authors use dotted rather than dashed lines to indicate uncertainty.)
A decorative ornament, , next to a dotted segment indicates a possible continuation chart. For example, at the bottom of the following chart you see a member of this flora (vine-leaf-tendril) rather than of the more traditional fauna (specifically, the foot of a crane, pe de grue in Anglo-Norman French). The person(s) to whom the decorated dotted segment is connected will be repeated at the top or bottom of a continuation chart.

A chart may have a number of dashed lines indicating uncertainty and making the lineage appear fragile and in danger of fragmentation, but sometimes there is a contrasting cohesion dynamic. For example, we may know that someone is descended from a person (or couple) several generations earlier but not know the exact route of the descent. In such cases I use a notation in which the generations from the known ancestor(s) down to the descendant have a pale background which makes that block of generations a visual unit, and I further emphasize the certainty or near certainty of descent with light blue square brackets to the left and right of the block.

For more information about notation, see

  Prepared by Don Charles Stone,  Copyright © 2018 by Don C. Stone.

  The articles cited in the comments below about evidence:
Tornikes chart