AP World History
January 12th, 2011
Important Individuals in History Project: Empress Theodora (c. 500-548) Theodora of Byzatium, also known as Empress Theodora, was the empress of the Byzantine Empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. Along with her husband; she is a saint in the Orthodox Church. Theodora was born into the lower class of Byzantine society in Constantinople around the year 500 CE to a bear keeper for the circus and an actress/dancer. Her father died when Theodora was a child; her mother in need of money introduced her daughters to the field of entertainment (Diehl 9-11). At the age of fifteen, she was extremely beautiful and began working as a dancer and actress. She emerged as a comic actress in burlesque theater and she was renowned for her animal acts. Theodora became very popular on and off-stage due to her revealing her body in public. However, during the time acting was considered disreputable so Theodora left the theater for the profession of spinning wool (Steinem 29). Before meeting Justinian she served as the mistress of a wealthy man who was appointed governor over the small province, Pentapolis; with which she had her first child which she did not want. Theodora moved with the man to Pentapolis however he later dismissed her and she was left with no money (Diehl 14). Later in her life, as she was living in Alexandria; she became an adherent of the Monophysite sect of Christianity when she met the leaders of the Monophysite religion. Theodora converted to Christianity and renounced her previous lifestyle (Diehl 23). Soon after, Theodora caught the attention of the emperor’s nephew Justinian and the two fell in love. Under Constantinopolitan law, marriage across classes was prohibited but Justinian used his position in the royal family to have the law changed. In 523, Theodora married Justinian. In 527, Justinian I made her the joint ruler of the empire, and regarded her as a full partner in their ruler ship. In 548, Empress...
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