Theodora

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Theodora

(thēədôr`ə), d. 548, Byzantine empress. Information about her early career comes from the often-questionable source, the Secret History of ProcopiusProcopius
, d. 565?, Byzantine historian, b. Caesarea in Palestine. He accompanied Belisarius on his campaigns as his secretary, and later he commanded the imperial navy and served (562) as prefect of Constantinople.
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. It appears that she was the daughter of an animal trainer in the circus, and that she was an actress and prostitute before her marriage (523) to Justinian IJustinian I
, 483–565, Byzantine emperor (527–65), nephew and successor of Justin I. He was responsible for much imperial policy during his uncle's reign. Soon after becoming emperor, Justinian instituted major administrative changes and tried to increase state
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, who, on his accession in 527, made her joint ruler of the empire. A stronger person than her husband, she helped save the throne through her energetic action in the Nika riot (532; see Blues and GreensBlues and Greens,
political factions in the Byzantine Empire in the 6th cent. They took their names from two of the four colors worn by the circus charioteers. Their clashes were intensified by religious differences.
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). In her youth Theodora came under the influence of the Monophysite sect; Justinian's efforts to reconcile the Monophysites to orthodoxy were probably inspired by her. She is represented in the mosaics of the church of San Vitale, in Ravenna.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Theodora

 

Born circa 500; died June 28, 548, in Constantinople. Byzantine empress from 527. Wife of Justinian I.

The daughter of a circus attendant, Theodora was a circus performer before she became the wife of the heir to the throne. After Justinian’s accession, she helped run the government and did much to support the Monophysites. By forestalling Justinian’s flight from the capital, Theodora played an important role in the suppression of the Nika revolt.

REFERENCES

Dil’, Sh. Vizantiiskie portrety, vol. 1. Moscow, 1914. Chapter 3.
Browning, R. Justinian and Theodora, London, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Theodora

?500--548 ad, Byzantine empress; wife and counsellor of Justinian I
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005