The fork is said to have landed on Western European plates for the first time in Venice. According to Lynda Garland in her book, Byzantine Empresses, Maria Argyropoulina, the daughter of a highly placed Byzantine official, moved to Venice and married the son of Doge Pietro Orseolo II in 1005. Along with her, she brought a set of two-pronged dining forks, something then considered bleeding-edge, early-adopter technology back in Constantinople.
Maria apparently failed to win over the hearts of the citizens her adopted homeland. Put plainly, she was seen as somewhat on the snotty side – above it all – a perception cemented by her loathsome use of forks. James Cross Giblin, in his book, From Hand to Mouth, quotes medieval passages that show how the clergy of the day was outraged by this tiney terror.
"Instead of eating with her fingers like other people, the princess cuts up her food into small pieces and eats them by means of little golden forks with two prongs."
"God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks - his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating”
When Maria tragically died of the plague in 1006, it was seen as a kind of divine referendum on fork usage. God was apparently more of a finger food guy in those days.
Credit to Dennis Sherman at BYU for some of the facts presented in this post.