Empress Theodora, if you please.  Of the Holy Roman Empire, yet.   You must admit, she made the most successful social leap of any of the ladies living here. As details of her origins are sketchy, I gave her the birthdate that makes her younger.  She might have been Syrian.  She was born into a family of entertainers, and eventually became a performer and, as usual in those days for actresses, prostitute.  One of her lovers took her to Constantinople; when he left her, she stayed.  She took the name Theodora when she converted to Christianity at about the age of twenty.  After her conversion she gave up prostitution and tried to clean up her act.  During this time she captivated Justinian, the nephew of the current Emperor. They fought impossible odds in order to marry.  And, what do you know, Justinian eventually became Emperor.
     Theodora was a powerful woman, and shared the throne with Justinian.  During a rebellion, when everyone else was about to throw in the towel, she delivered a powerful speech that persuaded the generals to stand and fight, thus saving the empire from ruin. When she wasn't saving her throne, she was working to pass laws defending the rights of women. She passed laws prohibiting forced prostitution, and opened shelters for prostitutes.  This last made her very unpopular with the official historian, Procopius, whose Secret History paints her as a very lewd woman, indeed.


bulletAn essay on Byzantine prostitution.

bulletVisit  A Women's Biography Site.

bulletPlow  through  The Secret History.

Would you like to visit  Maimie?



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