Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Empress Theodora

Theodora I (c. 500 – June 28, 548), was empress of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Like her husband, she is a saint in the Orthodox Church, commemorated on November 14. Theodora is perhaps the most influential and powerful woman in the Roman Empire's history.
Her influence on Justinian was so strong that after her death, he worked to bring harmony between the Monophysites and the Orthodox Christians in the Empire, and he kept his promise to protect her little community of Monophysite refugees in the Hormisdas Palace. Theodora provided much political support for the ministry of Jacob Baradaeus, and apparently personal friendship as well. Diehl attributes the modern existence of Jacobite Christianity equally to Baradaeus and to Theodora.
Theodora is considered a great female figure of the Byzantine Empire, and a pioneer of feminism, because of the laws she passed, increasing the rights of women. As a result of Theodora's efforts, the status of women in the Byzantine Empire was elevated far above that of women in the Middle East and the rest of Europe.
Olbia in Cyrenaica renamed itself Theodorias after Theodora. (It was a common event that ancient cities renamed themselves to honor an emperor or empress.) The city, now called Qasr Libya, is known for its splendid sixth-century mosaics.

The Empress Theodora at the Colosseum, oil painting by Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant

Leesah

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