|Empress Irene from Agia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul)|
And just as notable, her eldest son — who was not royal — built a house in Beirut in which, according to a visitor in 1212, the mosaics depicting a sandy shore were so realistic he “feared to tread on [it] lest he should leave a footmark.” (Wilbrand of Oldenburg, in Steven Runciman, “The Families of Outremer: The Feudal Nobility in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1291,” (London, 1960), p. 1) In addition to the mosaics, her son’s home had walls paneled with polychrome marble, vaulted ceilings painted to resemble the night sky, and glazed windows opening onto the sea or “delicious” gardens. In short, Maria retained throughout her life and passed on to her children a love of beauty and an appreciation of artistic excellence and design.
It was not until the next year, 1172, that she gave birth to a live child, a daughter who was Christened Isabella. Maria was by then 17 or 18 years old.